When announcing his choice of Republican Sheryl Allen as his lieutenant governor nominee, Peter Corroon chose an increasingly typical forum: KSL Radio's Doug Wright Show.---
In doing so at close to 9 a.m. Monday, Corroon actually scooped his own scheduled press conference, which was at 9:45 a.m. outside of Washington Elementary in Salt Lake City's Capitol Hill neighborhood.
When asked why they chose to go on Wright's radio show and scoop their own news conference, Stella Thurkill, the brand-new communications director for Corroon's campaign who previously worked for KUTV Channel 2, said it came down to simple numbers. Oh, and a little bit of the Wright savoir faire.
"Doug asked us if we would make the announcement on the show, and we said we would consider it. We gave him a 20 minute scoop. We knew some people would be upset, but he has a huge listening audience."
By "some people upset," Thurkill specifically means Fox 13. When KSL Radio started promoting the big announcement Monday morning, Fox 13's news director, Renai Bodley, said the station put in a call to the Corroon campaign to ask them to also make the announcement on their morning show. Doing so would have meant Fox 13 got the scoop, however, since their show ended at 9, when Wright's show started.
The station's request was denied, which Bodley said is a shame for their viewers and for Utah media, in general. "We wanted Fox 13's Good Day Utah viewers to have the same opportunity as KSL News Radio listeners. It's disappointing Corroon's campaign chose to release major news via one media outlet."
Other reporters who responded to a Twitter query described the decision to use Wright's show as "bush league" and an "epic fail." But Joe Pyrah of The Daily Herald said that everyone is starting to do this because it's "semi-softball questions in an environment they can control."
Thurkill, however, said it did not damped the enthusiasm for the announcement with other media outlets. In fact, she pointed out, the only one not present was City Weekly -- which is true. Why? Because I decided to listen to the announcement on KSL Radio and post a blog as soon as he made it, at 9:10. In other words, by not going to the news conference, I was the first reporter in Salt Lake to have a semi-decent story (yes, a blog is a story, and no, Doug Wright is not a reporter, so he doesn't count as competition).
Corroon isn't the first one to choose Wright's show as a forum for a major announcement. In the past year, state Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, gave Wright the exclusive on his decision to not challenge Gov. Gary Herbert. And in November 2009, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff told Wright's listeners first that he was dropping out of the U.S. Senate race.
Disclaimer: I am friends with multiple people involved in running Corroon's campaign. I am also friends with people who work for Herbert. In fact, I'm friends with a lot of people.