Media and Port of Seattle


After years of mismanagement, does the board of directors at public KCTS-TV finally get it? Critics are warily optimistic. The board on Monday installed interim president and CEO Bill Mohlerironically, the retired head of Bates Technical College in Tacoma, which oversaw KCTS' PBS rival, KBTC-TV. Mohler says he will shortly seek talks with the Tacoma station about possible cost-saving collaboration. More important, he's put a kibosh on further layoffs, at least for now. Nineteen staffers were going to be asked to leave on May 15, but Mohler says he wants to find out what he's dealing with first. "I'm thinking that laying off staff is way down the list of other options," those being job sharing, reduced hours, and, he adds with a little sardonic emphasis, increased revenue. Mohler's moves will be watched carefully by several interested parties who are thinking of starting a citizens group to help turn the station around. The instigator is Barry Mitzman, for years a host and producer at KCTS, who now works in corporate communications at Microsoft. "Our first challenge would be to try to restore public confidence," Mitzman says. NINA SHAPIRO

Elsewhere in public-broadcasting, what's going on at KUOW-FM? That's what many National Public Radio listeners are wondering since the station stopped airing the network's Talk of the Nation program in March. The move, says program director Jeff Hansen, came about because of the Iraq war and because Tacoma-based KPLU-FM began airing Talk. KUOW used the opening, Hansen says, to experiment with the BBC and Public Radio International in the 11 a.m.-1 p.m. time slot. Hansen says the station may not resume airing Talk. One possibility is to move Rewind host Bill Radke to midday with a program similar in format to his current Weeknight. Hansen says the station will lock into a new midday schedule by summer. He laughs at one rumor, that KUOW is going to drop Morning Edition and All Things Considered in favor of programming from the Pacifica Radio Network. "That is wild," he says, pointing out that Pacifica's Democracy Now program is already carried on Bellevue-based KBCS-FM. PHILIP DAWDY


The long-running fish war continues at Interbay. The Port of Seattle says it has expanded fish sales off boats at Fisherman's Terminal. Yet some fishers say they've been put out of business. According to Port spokesperson Mick Schultz, "The Port is, in fact, liberalizing its policy on off-the-boat fish sales" at the terminal's West Wall. Last week, the Port announced that fish sales, once limited to whole fresh or frozen products, could now include fillets or steaks. "This is good for fishermen and consumers," Port chair Patricia Davis was quoted as saying, and David Harsila, a gillnetter, termed it "a positive step forward." But the next day, fisher Pete Knutson, who has long done battle with the Port, says he was evicted from the West Wall. "I am officially shut down," Knutson said. Port officials had seen his wife, Hing, selling fish and informed her of a new catch: Only fishers, not family members, can peddle from the boat. The intent, apparently, is to leave tourists with an authentic experience: They can brag to the folks back home they bought a real fish caught by a real fisher. Knutson calls it absurd. It's OK for family members to sell at Pike Place Market but not at Fisherman's Terminal? He's talking to a lawyer. RICK ANDERSON

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