- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2003

That swoosh you hear is the sound of the AIR Awards deflating. The AIR Awards annual competition, also known as the Achievement in Radio Awards, honored excellence in Washington-area radio. Organizers decided last week to scrap the competition, which doubled as a fund-raiser for the National Capital Area March of Dimes.

“It was a really good run, but both the charity and the radio community felt it had kind of run its course,” said Joel A. Oxley, general manager of WTOP (1500 AM and 107.7 FM) and WGMS-FM (103.5) and chairman of the AIR Awards’ board of governors.

This year’s event was slated for November. March of Dimes chapters in Boston and Chicago pulled the plug on their AIR Awards competitions, too.

The local competition began in 1987. The banquet where the awards were handed out was always a big draw, but some folks criticized the judging criteria and proliferation of categories.

Last year, awards were handed out in 38 categories, including “Best Morning Drive Show” and “Best Non-English Community Service On-Air Campaign.”

“We’re still looking as an industry to figure out what we want to do to acknowledge our people,” Mr. Oxley said.

Last year’s AIR Awards raised $41,500 for the March of Dimes.

WASH out

Clear Channel Communications Inc. relieved Steve Allan of his duties as program director of soft rock music station WASH-FM (97.1) last week.

Mr. Allan confirmed his ouster yesterday. He said he will continue to program Clear Channel’s oldies station, WBIG-FM (100.3), but declined further comment.

According to Arbitron Inc. ratings released this week, WASH dipped in key time periods among advertisers’ prized demographic, adults 25 to 54.

The most dramatic drop occurred weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., where WASH fell from second place in spring 2002 to 12th place this spring — not good for a broadcaster that bills itself as “Washington’s No. 1 at-work radio station.”

Mr. Allan masterminded WASH’s popular stunt of playing round-the-clock holiday music in December. He also championed WASH’s snappy Sunday-evening chat show “Girl Talk,” one of the more innovative programs on the local airwaves.

Bill Hess, a Clear Channel programmer in Providence, R.I., replaces Mr. Allan at WASH on Aug. 4. The watercooler buzz at 1801 Rockville Pike, where WASH and WBIG are based, is the company plans to jazz up WASH’s playlist.

Anchors in the news

• Mike Buchanan is expected to return to WUSA-TV (Channel 9) on Monday following his July 10 car accident. On Aug. 4, Mike Walter succeeds Mr. Buchanan on the early news. Mr. Buchanan will become a WUSA feature reporter, although he will also do some crime reporting.

• Amy Robach, the popular early-morning news anchor at WTTG-TV (Channel 5), is mulling a plum out-of-town job offer, sources at the Fox affiliate said. Ms. Robach, who previously reported from WTTG’s “Sky Fox” helicopter, did not return calls.

• Although Jim Handly’s agent has been shopping his client around town, the WRC-TV (Channel 4) afternoon anchor is expected to remain with the NBC affiliate, sources say.

• The National Association of Black Journalists has honored WJLA-TV (Channel 7) anchor Del Walters for a report on retaliation against two federal employees who blew the whistle on government security gaps. Mr. Walters’ report won first place in a category that included entries from network correspondents and reporters from the top 15 television markets.

Call Chris Baker at 202/636-3139 or send an e-mail to cbaker@washingtontimes.com.

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