- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Popular traffic reporter Lisa Baden will join WJLA-TV (Channel 7) Monday, giving the ABC affiliate an extra dose of star power in the mornings.
Ms. Baden will deliver traffic updates on WJLA's "Good Morning Washington," which airs weekdays from 5 to 7 a.m. She also will give updates during the local news cut-ins on ABC's "Good Morning America," seen weekdays from 7 to 9 a.m. on WJLA.
She will continue reporting for all-news radio station WTOP (1500 and 820 AM, 107.7 FM), where she airs between 5 and 11 a.m. weekdays.
"People can wake up, flip us on and get the traffic from Lisa, and then get in the car and keep listening to her on their way to work," said Steven D. Hammel, WJLA's vice president and news director.
WJLA will air Ms. Baden's updates and meteorologist Alexandra Steele's weather reports together every 10 minutes, beginning at 5:01 a.m. The station previously aired traffic and weather in 10-minute intervals beginning at seven minutes past the hour.
The station made the switch to accommodate Ms. Baden's commitment to WTOP, which sticks to a rigid format of traffic reports every 10 minutes, beginning at eight minutes past the hour.
"Lisa is simply the best traffic reporter in Washington. We wanted to do whatever we could do to get her on our airwaves," Mr. Hammel said.
Metro Networks/Shadow Broadcast Services, the leading provider of traffic news to local television and radio stations, employs Ms. Baden, who was on vacation yesterday. WJLA will contract with Metro for her services.
She previously juggled her WTOP duties with traffic reports on NewsChannel 8, WJLA's sister cable station.
At WJLA, Ms. Baden replaces Mikki Scarlotta, also a Metro employee. Ms. Scarlotta will be given another assignment, a Metro spokesman said.
In Ms. Baden, WJLA has found a bona fide superstar. Her quirky style she occasionally breaks into song during her reports has made her one of Washington's most popular broadcasters and an icon for commuters.
Her addition to the WJLA roster is "a natural extension" of the station's relationship with WTOP, Mr. Hammel said. He noted that WJLA chief meteorologist Doug Hill gives weather reports several times a day on the radio station.
Allbritton Communications Co. owns WJLA. Bonneville International Corp. owns WTOP.
Ms. Baden joins WJLA just as it is beginning to making inroads in the morning-news wars.
The station's numbers have risen since it named Andrea McCarren and Elliott Francis as its morning anchors in March.
During the 28-day ratings sweep that concludes today, an average 39,368 households tuned into "Good Morning Washington" weekdays, 15.6 percent more than in July 2001.
For a while, it looked as if WJLA might get a new morning weathercaster, too.
The station considered replacing Ms. Steele, but ultimately decided to renew her contract. Among the candidates it considered: Dallas forecaster Gwen Tolbert, who signed with Fox affiliate WTTG-TV (Channel 5) last week.
Segal sued
A Frederick, Md., woman who poses nude on the Internet has sued rock music station WWDC-FM (101.1) and morning man Elliot Segal for defamation of character and invasion of privacy, among other things.
Cynthia Hollander is seeking $1 million in punitive damages. She filed the suit in Montgomery County Circuit Court July 1.
Mrs. Hollander says Mr. Segal called her a prostitute and urged his listeners to visit her workplace and harass her during a Jan. 17 broadcast.
"I was very upset," Mrs. Hollander said. Some neighbors have shunned her since the broadcast, she said.
"I did not hear the broadcast, but from what I've been told, the accusations are unfounded," said Bennett A. Zier, an executive vice president for Clear Channel Communications Inc., which owns WWDC.
Mrs. Hollander's attorney, Ranji M. Garrett, said she and her husband operate a Web site that features nude photographs of her. The site, which costs $9.95 a month to access, does not give her address, Mr. Garrett said.
Mrs. Hollander also works as a receptionist for her husband's automotive shop, Mr. Garrett said.
Some staffers at Rockville-based WWDC said the lawsuit surprised them. Mrs. Hollander and her husband called into Mr. Segal's show after the Jan. 17 broadcast, and seemed to patch things up with the host, the staffers said.
Not so, Mr. Garrett said. "At that point, the damage was already done," he said.
Mr. Garrett said he has a portion of the Jan. 17 broadcast on tape, but he would not say how the tape fits into his legal strategy.
Mr. Segal didn't want to discuss the incident in detail. "That's what the lawyers upstairs are for," he said.
In other news
Bonneville International's three Washington-area radio stations all-news WTOP, classical-music station WGMS-FM (103.5) and adult pop music station WWZZ-FM (104.1) will go commercial-free September 11 to mark the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
ABC-owned news and talk station WMAL-AM (630) will broadcast University of Maryland football games for three years, beginning Aug. 31. WTEM-AM (980), a Clear Channel-owned sports station, previously held the broadcast rights. WMAL also has inked a deal to continue broadcasting the university's basketball games for the next three years. Terms weren't disclosed.
Got a tip for Channel Surfing? Call Chris Baker at 202/636-3139 or send an e-mail to cbaker@washingtontimes.com.

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