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Applause for the Cause

Pillowtex workers and others benefit from media efforts


'Tis the season to say "good job" to local media outlets that've been putting their broadcast reach to good use by fundraising for a number of causes. In the weeks after the Pillowtext debacle, it's commendable that local media power has been used this way.

A favorite of mine is WSOC-TV's "School Tools," which, by using a boatload of sponsorships and partnerships, collects and distributes school supplies to several counties. Baseball teams, Food Lion, and even the US Postal service get into the act. In 2002 alone, 160,000 students in Channel 9's 22-county viewing area received these supplies. It's hard for many of us to imagine kids not having that new book bag, notebooks, or even pencils to start the school year, but it assuredly happens.

September 8 marked the "Chris Justice Classic," a golf tournament by the NBC6 morning anchor of the same name, with proceeds going to the Special Olympics.

WBTV, WBT-AM, and WLNK-FM are partnering with the Foundation of the Carolinas for the "Pillowtex Carolina's Care Fund." Donations from the public will be distributed to nonprofit agencies to provide assistance to families in Cabarrus County, where Pillowtex was located, and in surrounding counties that are also affected, like Rowan County. WLNK went the extra mile by sponsoring "Factory Aid" August 25, which was a concert, job fair, and fundraising opportunity rolled into one. Darius Rucker headlined the event.

Star 104.7 has created a "Star Family Sponsor" program. The station is linking up unemployed Pillowtex workers with "sponsors" willing to help a family for 60 to 90 days.

WSOC-FM is running the "Good Neighbor Fund" and donations can be made at any Wachovia branch. It also has job opportunity listings posted on the station website.

And, UNC-TV was scheduled to air "Displaced: Pillowtex and Beyond" September 9 which featured a panel discussion about the plant closing and examined resources available for the unemployed to take advantage of. A list of those services is available at

No plans yet as to what WBT-AM is going to do with its afternoon drive talk show after the sudden firing of co-host Richard Spires, of "Spires and Krantz", in a move announced on-air September 3. Brad Krantz, who had been hosting the show solo for several days, said in discussing the firing that day, "This is not about him and me, or us being in a fighting situation; it is not. I will claim a zone for Richard's privacy."

For his part, Spires alluded to advertiser pressure over his viewpoints, and some anti-war opinions in the station's move. But station GM Rick Jackson told me, "We get calls every day from advertisers, and we got calls on his take on the war. But if it had had anything to do with his anti-war comments, we would have fired him then. Literally, this is an internal thing. It has nothing to do with advertisers or his opinion."

"Spires and Krantz" had gotten good ratings and national recognition over its three year history.

I'd love to bring you some scoop straight from Etienne Williams, Charlotte's American Idol winner, who's now going on to Hollywood in the next round to get on the TV talent show.No dice, amigos. I called Williams the day after he made the cut with Simon Cowell and company, and he's already harnessed to the Idol machine.

"I'd love to talk to you, but I can't say anything to anyone in the media because we had to sign these papers," he said apologetically. "You have to go through the Fox publicity department now." And he hasn't even made it to the finals yet.

So much for a scoop bonanza for Fox18, the local station that carries "Idol." Instead of an interview or even promos with the guy, they're shut out too. "Idol" producers have tight control over all of the remaining contestants.

We do know that Williams will go for the "final cut" in Los Angeles in October. We also hear that sarcastic Simon called Williams' "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" performance "cabaret," but hey, I didn't get that from him.

CATCHING UP ON THE INBOX... Sheila Stewart, of WPEG-FM and WBTV traffic reports, presented eight high school seniors with $5,000 college scholarships via her education foundation. Her fund has been around since 1989, and since then, Stewart's awarded over 30 students with scholarships. . .

WSOC-FM's Jeff Roper is up for "Broadcast Personality of the Year" for large radio markets by the Country Music Association. He's a past winner of the prize. . .

With the spring Arbitron radio ratings recalled and reissued because of a KISS-FM fan filling out more than one ratings diary (KISS-FM isn't at fault here), it does show you what a difference a diary makes. Gurus digging through the numbers, which help set ad rates every three months, had one nugget: in the readjusting ratings, the FM station fell from first to third in women listeners 25-34. Ouch. Stay tuned. . .

Shannon Reichley is the producer of "Lending a Hand; Habitat for Humanity," airing on the DIY cable network the week of September 22-26. E-mail at

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