Jon James, Denny Trease are off the air

ssloan@herald-leader.comJanuary 4, 2010 

Jon James, chief meteorologist at WTVQ (Channel 36), is no longer with the ABC affiliate. James' last day on the air was Dec. 23.

James could not be reached for comment, and General Manager Chris Aldridge declined to discuss whether James' departure was linked to the station's financial moves in recent months.

Since the beginning of 2009, the station has reduced expenses by eliminating a few positions — both full-time and part-time — and also instituting a voluntary program where contracted news employees reduced their salaries in exchange for additional time off.

The station also declined to renew the contracts of three reporters, including veteran Michelle Rauch.

Aldridge said a search has begun to replace James, who came to the station in 2003 from WSYX in Columbus, Ohio, and supplanted veteran weatherman Brad James in the role of chief meteorologist. Brad James, who is no relation to Jon James, continued to provide weather coverage on weekends until his retirement in 2008.

Aldridge said meteorologists Mary Wasson and Geoff Cornish, both candidates for James' job, will "assume his duties until further notice."

Trease gone from WKYT

Denny Trease, a longtime reporter for CBS affiliate WKYT (Channel 27), has left the station.

"I'm no longer there because we were unable to work out a suitable contract agreement," Trease said, declining to comment further.

News Director Robert Thomas declined to discuss Trease's departure.

Trease had two stints at WKYT. He provided sports coverage at the station from 1972 to 1980 before leaving to become the voice of the Kansas City Royals. That was his job for 13 years, until his station was outbid for the game rights. Eventually he was hired to do public relations for the Royals but later went back into TV news in Knoxville and then returned to WKYT in 2000.

Trease was also known in Lexington for his longtime association with the Todd Trease Teddy Bear Fund, named for Trease's late son. The fund provided toys for young patients in emergency rooms.

He served as weekend anchor for a time at WKYT but recently had been doing only reporting.

WoodSongs eyes HD

The WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour is looking to raise $260,000 to convert its television production from standard definition to high-definition.

The radio show, produced at the Kentucky Theatre, is broadcast by a number of PBS member networks around the country, as well as by cable provider Insight Communications.

"If we don't move now, we will begin losing this massive TV base we have achieved," wrote Woodsongs host Michael Johnathon on his blog. "Staying standard-def would be no different than if we stayed mono while the world turned stereo."

To donate or for more information, call (859) 255-5700 or e-mail radio@woodsongs.com.

WLEX's Searcy behind Salvation Army event

The recent holiday tours of CastlePost, the iconic castle-turned-hotel at the Fayette-Woodford county line, were the brainchild of reporter Leigh Searcy at NBC affiliate WLEX (Channel 18).

The tours raised money for the Lexington Salvation Army, and came about after Searcy met owner Thomas R. Post and his staff during a Scott County Humane Society fund-raiser there over the summer.

Searcy said she thought of the event after WLEX News Director Bruce Carter encouraged the staff to take part in the Salvation Army's celebrity bell-ringer program.

"I thought, 'Wow. That would be really something if you could open up the castle for Christmas tours,'" she said.

Organized within a couple of weeks, the event raised more than $71,328.97, said Maj. Debra Ashcraft of the Lexington Salvation Army.

"It was more than we ever dreamed," Ashcraft said.

The proceeds helped purchase Christmas food or food gift cards for more than 3,100 families. Proceeds also supplemented the organization's Angel Tree program.

WLEX expanding weather offerings

WLEX recently launched several new weather products.

In November, the station began offering the LEX18 StormTracker WeatherCall alert system. The service uses computerized mapping to determine if subscribers reside in an area under a storm warning. If so, subscribers are called and alerted to the warning or can have the message e-mailed or texted to them. The service costs $9.95 annually. To register, visit www.lex18.com.

The station also recently launched a free interactive radar service on its Web site. Users can examine weather throughout the state or country, as well as see severe weather bulletins.

"It's like having your own Doppler," said Carter, the station's news director.

Spanish papers sharing content, more

La Voz, Lexington's bilingual newspaper, and Al Dia en America, the Spanish language paper in Louisville, reached an agreement to share advertising and distribution responsibilities, as well as some news content.

The move will allow the papers, which have a combined circulation of 20,000, to save money while growing distribution.

La Voz, which has been owned by editor Andres Cruz since 2003, has four employees and readership of about 25,000. Al Dia has three full-time employees and 12 part-time staff members and contributors. The newspaper, which is owned by Jose Neil Donis, was started in 2004 and has a readership of about 65,000 people.

"Sharing staff in markets where our distribution overlaps, and giving advertisers the opportunity to reach Hispanic readers in Louisville, Lexington and surrounding areas through a single buy, enables Al Dia and La Voz to continue expanding to meet the needs of Kentucky's evolving Hispanic population," Donis said in a news release.

Weekend change at WTVQ

WTVQ has a new face on the weekends. Doug High has been hired as the station's weekend anchor, replacing the departing Carla Wade.

High has hosted programs for organizations including Insight Communications. He previously worked in markets including Toledo, Ohio.

Wade, who had been at WTVQ for six years, left to take a job at KOCO in Oklahoma City in her home state of Oklahoma.

New magazine for youth

Lane Communications Group, publisher of The Lane Report business magazine, is launching a magazine aimed at young professionals.

The twice-yearly magazine, bg, will be mailed to recipients of The Lane Report, as well as college seniors, post-graduate students and young professionals.

Herald-Leader staff writer Karla Ward contributed to this report. Reach Scott Sloan at (859) 231-1447 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 1447.

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