Thursday, October 12, 2006

Not so free time.

Most Chicago sports fans know the name Bruce Wolf and many recognize his distinct voice.

He’s become a figure of controversy recently.

This winter, after spending 18 years at the Fox-affiliate WFLD, he was canned. Wolf had two recent suspensions before the station let him go. One involved an awkard on-air incident with a local radio personality. The second was a result of him keying a car. To his defense, he thought he was being punked by the station.

Many speculate that the decision to let Wolf go was based on money—let the expensive talent go and bring in the new (and cheap) guy. Many loyalists hoped he would soon find a home on other airwaves.

And he did. Wolf was picked up by WMAQ. Now you can see him delivering traffic and sports during the morning show.

But if you’re not awake during the pre-Today hours, you can still hear Wolf’s voice. Try tuning in to 97.9-- Wolf is the voice of Outback Steakhouse on WLUP-FM.

If you have a problem with a local newsman also playing local pitchman, you’re not alone. WMAQ managers also had a problem with it.

However, the question remains. Is it wrong for local news “personalities” to use their own time for financial advantage?

The stations do it. Why do you think Katie Couric’s face was plastered on EVERY bus in NYC pre-roll out of the world’s most anticipated newscast?

Lou Dobbs has a new book coming out. You can bet that will be publicized and advertised across the board. Is that crossing the line?

I know that working for a political candidate or being paid by a certain company can appear to compromise credibility. But where should journalists draw the line in their not so free time?



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