DEAN OF RADIO. I would describe Dean Johnson's radio column in the Boston Herald every Friday as indispensable, but I guess that would be technically inaccurate. Because Media Log has learned that the Herald's editors have decided it's very much dispensable. Johnson, a longtime Herald staffer who also covers comedy and other entertainment-related stories, will continue to write for the arts pages. But his radio column is no more.
Johnson declined to comment, but he's got plenty of readers. Radio is a specialty beat - the Globe's radio column is written by a freelancer, Clea Simon - and I suppose you could make the case that it's less interesting now that every station in the country is owned by two giant media conglomerates. (I exaggerate only slightly.) Still, Johnson's take was authoritative, and it was certainly one I always looked forward to.
"Personally, I think this is outrageous - his radio column was one of the best; he also wrote about pop culture and reviewed various shows for the Herald, always objective and always fair. If something was happening in media in Boston, Dean was on top of it. For him to be treated this way after 20 years is blatantly unfair," e-mails a radio junkie and Media Log reader.
Herald managing editor Kevin Convey is playing this as a better-for-everyone proposition, e-mailing, "Very, simply, we're interested in covering radio on a breaking basis rather than on a once-weekly basis. We want Dean, with his long history and wealth of contacts in the business, to translate the effort he put into the column into daily coverage. Hence, the column goes. But our hope is that Dean will be in the paper with news of the industry on a much more regular basis now."
That sounds like more-Dean-on-radio, but will it shake out that way? Yes, there's breaking news when there's turmoil, such as Jane Christo's recent resignation as general manager of WBUR (90.9 FM), or scandal, such as the mind-boggling story of Brad Bleidt and WBIX (AM 1060). Other than that, though, is there really much breaking news in radio? I want Johnson's perspective even when there isn't news breaking.
FREE SPEECH ON CAMPUS. The US Court of Appeals struck a blow for free speech yesterday by prohibiting the Pentagon from enforcing the Solomon Amendment, which requires law schools to allow military recruiters on campus as a condition of receiving federal funds.
Last Fourth of July the Phoenix bestowed one of its annual Muzzle Awards on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for his vigorous enforcement of the Solomon Amendment. (Click here, scroll to the bottom, and click on "page 6.")
The issue is pretty basic. The military discriminates against lesbians and gay men through its "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Other employers that discriminate are not allowed on campus.
Although I wish the military would stop discriminating, I also wish colleges and universities would voluntarily allow recruiters from any organization to exercise their free-speech rights on campus. But the Solomon Amendment was coercion, and we should all be glad that the court recognized it as such.