- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 28, 2009

Longtime radio personality Melanie Morgan and award-winning newspaper columnist John McCaslin have been named the anchors for The Washington Times’ new morning-drive radio show, set to debut nationwide June 15.

“America’s Morning News” will hit the airwaves from 6 to 9 a.m., five days a week, showcasing The Times’ investigative and accountability journalism. The new team will hash out politics, defense, security, policy, culture and entertainment from a newly built, state-of-the-art broadcast facility inside The Times’ newsroom.

“Melanie and John will leverage every ounce of expertise, energy and gumshoe reporting out of The Times’ investigative newsroom. They know how to break stories that matter to the American public, are passionate about holding the powerful to account and are committed to unearthing the stories that matter most to Americans - at the dinner table, by the water cooler and inside their pocketbook,” Executive Editor John Solomon said.

The show is being syndicated by Talk Radio Network, which has developed and launched long-form radio programming for such national talents as Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage and Monica Crowley.

“We are thrilled at the opportunity to partner with The Washington Times in developing this unique and highly entertaining new program. It will rank with the giants,” said Talk Radio Network Chief Executive Mark Masters.

The show enters a radio marketplace rocked by financial difficulties that have forced many stations to cut their production costs and lay off local personalities. The TRN-Times show aims to offer cost-cutting stations an option that combines personality and opinion with fast-moving, exclusive news targeted for the morning drive-time audience, the partners said.

“This show will be fast-paced and compelling with great storytelling by the reporters breaking the stories. Morning radio in America will have a new player heavy on information and riveting content,” said Phil Boyce, president of programming for Talk Radio Network.

Mrs. Morgan worked for 23 years as a news correspondent and opinion host on ABC television and radio in San Francisco, offering eyewitness accounts from war-torn Beirut and the student protests of Tiananmen Square in Beijing. She most recently worked for 14 years as the morning radio host at San Francisco’s KSFO-AM station. For years, she has been an outspoken activist supporting U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mrs. Morgan also has co-authored a best-selling book, “American Mourning,” which focused on the lives of two families whose sons became best friends and died within six days of each other in the Iraq war.

A self-described conservative, Mrs. Morgan has unabashedly tangled with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller and antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan. She also was the subject of a made-for-TV movie that traced her efforts earlier in life to overcome a gambling addiction.

Mr. McCaslin, whose work in radio includes serving as an occasional substitute host for “The Rush Limbaugh Show,” has served as a reporter and editor at The Times for the past 25 years. He has authored a best-selling book and penned one of the newspaper’s most popular daily columns, the syndicated Inside the Beltway, which frequently breaks news about happenings inside the nation’s capital.

“John McCaslin has demonstrated his cutting-edge reporting abilities for two decades and connects the show to the best of The Times’ news reporting. Melanie is a master of opinion with the uncanny knack of connecting the news of the day to the thoughts rattling in the back of Americans’ minds, stirring a debate on the most important issues we face,” Mr. Solomon said. “Together, they will get America to think more about the forces, people and events shaping our world.”

Mrs. Morgan has won awards for demonstrating mettle and street smarts during her radio career.

With the help of a Saudi prince and his private jet, for example, she became the first person in the world to offer a live report of the disastrous Mexico City earthquake, which claimed the lives of 10,000 people in 1985. To cover unfolding events in Beijing’s violent crackdown on pro-democracy activists, she smuggled in videotape and cameras.

Among Mrs. Morgan’s accolades: the Omni Excellence Award in broadcasting, the Associated Press awards for best live reporting and the Mark Twain Award for best special programming. She has been lauded for her reporting by the Peninsula Press Club and the Radio-Television News Directors Association.

“I am thrilled with this opportunity. The Washington Times is known for its journalistic prowess, biting editorial comment and years of innovative coverage of complex issues. This is the exact approach that we will be taking as we debut our new show, and I am honored to be a part of a fantastic team,” Mrs. Morgan said.

“At a time when other newspapers, radio and TV stations are cutting back resources, only The Times is doubling down and investing in more - not less - journalism. I’m packing my bags and leaving California for Washington energized over my good fortune to be part of this groundbreaking effort,” she added.

Mr. McCaslin, a former United Press International correspondent, arrived at The Times in 1984 to cover the White House and Congress. As metropolitan editor, Mr. McCaslin ran a desk that included 45 reporters and editors.

He is also the author of two books - the 2004 best-seller “Inside the Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops and Shenanigans From Around the Nation’s Capital” and the just-released “Weed Man: The Remarkable Journey of Jimmy Divine.” He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Society of Newspaper Columnists Items Award, the Blinded American Veterans Foundation Congressional Award and the 2006 Hodding Carter Outstanding Journalism Award.

He also has extensive broadcast experience, rising from local stations to appearances on many major radio, broadcast and cable networks as commentator, correspondent and host. Besides Mr. Limbaugh, he has substituted for such talk-radio hosts as Sam Donaldson, Mary Matalin, Michael Reagan and Oliver North.

“My heart has always been in radio, ever since I first worked in broadcast out of college,” Mr. McCaslin said. “I’ve always kept a part of me behind the microphone, and I’m delighted now to have a partner - a really good one. I look forward to working with Melanie, and I welcome her to Washington.”

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