Flashes By Rick Griffin 4.17.2017

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In July 2016, TV newscaster Jason Austell left KNSD/NBC 7 after 12 years to join XETV-TV/Channel 6 as weekday evening anchor. Then in March, CW6 ended its newscasts and Austell was out of a job. Now KUSI-NEWS/Channel 9 has hired Austell to co-anchor with Elizabeth Alvarez its “Good Morning San Diego” (6 to 11 a.m.) weekend edition. “I’m looking forward to joining the circus,” Austell joked during an introductory interview last week (click here to view the interview, bit.ly/2o6JL4i). Austell will replace Dan Plante. A KUSI press release said Austell is the first on-air news personality from XETV to land a position at another San Diego station. The son of a naval aviator, Austell graduated from San Pasqual High School in Escondido (class of 1984). After attending Palomar College, Austell moved to Whitefish, Montana, to work in radio. He returned to San Diego to work as a traffic reporter for local radio stations (1990-1997). He then spent the next six years (1997-2003) as a traffic reporter for KFMB-TV/Channel 8, before joining KNSD in 2004. In 1997, Austell was aboard San Diego’s first news helicopter equipped with a gyro-stabilized camera. Austell spent four years (2004-2008) flying in a helicopter as a traffic and news reporter for KNSD. Then, in 2008, when Bill Menish left as morning anchor to become a professional auctioneer, Austell asked for a tryout and got the job. Austell spent the next eight years as anchor on the “NBC 7 News Today” morning show. Austell and his wife, Moji, live in La Jolla where she operates a Pilates studio.

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KUSI-TV’s news director Steve Cohen has commented on the ongoing controversy over Fox News Channel anchor Bill O’Reilly. The New York Times has reported there have been multiple settlements related to sexual harassment allegations against him. In response, some advertisers have dropped support for “The O’Reilly Factor” show, the top-rated cable news network show for the past 16 years. Cohen has worked in television news for the past 40 years, including at stations in Boston and New York with O’Reilly. In a recent editorial piece originally posted on Mediaite, Cohen wrote, “Bill O’Reilly is the current target of the mainstream media, the left, and a coterie of pundits who do not like him. The New York Times made it so, reporting on settlements by Fox News and O’Reilly with female colleagues, who claimed he had harassed them. By now O’Reilly has been arraigned, tried, and found guilty, with no due process, in the artificial court of public opinion. The cases were settled, of course, with no admission of guilt by either Fox or O’Reilly, and with the requirement that the parties would not speak about the case. O’Reilly seems to have honored his legal commitments, but it’s evident that certain unnamed sources have not. The result has been the repetition of allegations that are all unproven. Unlike Bill O’Reilly’s detractors, I actually know the man. I have been his boss, colleague and friend for over 40 years. He is not as portrayed, and he does not fit the canard that the American liberal establishment has thrust upon him.” Click here to read Cohen’s column, http://bit.ly/2oGf759.

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The San Diego Advertising Fund for Emergencies (SAFE) will host its annual fundraising party from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 20, at the Karl Strauss Tasting Room and Beer Garden, 5985 Santa Fe St., San Diego. SAFE is a volunteer, nonprofit organization providing confidential financial assistance to local advertising and marketing professionals and their families facing a life crisis emergency. SAFE’s major fundraiser of the year, now in its 16th year, will feature food, craft beer, networking, cornhole tournament and raffle to benefit grant recipients. The public is invited to attend. Theme of this year’s party is “SAFE & Sound.” Live music will be performed by The Routine and Down North. Cost is $20 per person, which includes your first drink and souvenir pint glass (while supplies last). Venue is an indoor-outdoor setting and dress is casual. Sponsors include Cox Media, KFMB Stations, Univision Radio, Sycuan Casino, MeringCarson, Entercom, California Bank and Trust, Brown Marketing Strategies, Creative Media Concepts, BrandSavants, Media Access Partners, Media Planning and Placement, Entravision Solutions, Rowlbertos Media and Boundless Network. For tickets and more information, visit SafeSanDiego.org. SAFE officials said the nonprofit has helped more than 100 people in the advertising and marketing industry with more than $260,000 in grants.

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After attorney Cory Briggs became the subject of a series of investigations by inewsource, a San Diego news organization, a lawsuit was filed by San Diegans for Open Government, a group associated with Briggs. The lawsuit claimed conflicts of interest tainted the lease agreement between the inewsource, San Diego State University and KPBS. The nonprofit inewsource shares office space and resources with KPBS on the university’s campus in exchange for news stories. A three-judge appellate court recently heard oral arguments and took the case under submission. Read more here, http://bit.ly/2oifvEz.

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