This is posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 by Rodney Ho on the AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Eric Von Haessler, a weekend and fill-in host on News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB, announced this week on Facebook that he will not be watching 24-hour cable news at all for at least a year.
"I was on vacation last week and I made a conscious decision to completely unplug for the week," Von Haessler said in an interview this week. He decided to just read instead. "I realized, 'Wow! This feels so good to be out of that maelstrom, to be taking information through reading again.' My blood pressure felt like it went down. I realize not everything is the end of the world!"
It worked so well, he decided to make it a more permanent habit not to plop himself on a couch and watch hours of Anderson Cooper or Sean Hannity or Chris Matthews.
He doesn't begrudge cable news for always focusing on the latest shiny ball. He understands the draw for TV ratings. For years on radio, he said he too "exploited the news cycle to get the phones ringing. There's an art to it."
While watching CNN, MSNBC or Fox News, he felt like he was getting sucked into the pointless back and forth, the endless screaming matches. "I might get excited about something but I don't feel more enriched. I don't feel like I learn something new."
"I don't think I'm better than anybody else," he said. "This is just a personal experiment."
Instead, he will focus on old-school sources such as The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal and various political blogs. And he plans to read more historical and political science books about society at large. He hopes his own education will enrich and enliven his talk show.
"I don't want to be another voice who just takes a side on whatever the issue of the day is and argue that side," Von Haessler said. He still wants his listeners to laugh and to get his take on the news. But most importantly, "I want people to think for themselves, not to be part of group think left or right."
And while he said old-school print has its fair share of bias, "there's a certain heat that television brings to culture and politics that I'm trying to pull away from. They have charismatic people with bad arguments who are just better at speaking. I want more context."
His show "The Von Haessler Doctrine" is now on from noon to 3 p.m. Sundays and can be heard on demand here .
Von Haessler has been with WSB for nearly two years. He was originally part of the Regular Guys with Larry Wachs but was let go in 2013.
If there is an opening in the weekday schedule anytime soon, Von Haessler is certainly in the mix to get a spot.
97.1/The River veteran afternoon host Kaedy Kiely is having hip replacement surgery next week.
Her post on Facebook yesterday:
I'm in the doctors office for a pre-op appt to get my HIP REPLACED a week from today - ACK!! My day is brightened by reading all the sweet, fun birthday messages. Thank you so much! Love you!!
Her post received 449 likes and 269 comments, mostly well wishes and belated happy birthday notes.
The River, WSB and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution are all part of Cox Media Group.
Nostalgia buffs: former 96rock man Willard is selling 96rock replica license plates, a few autographed by the rock jock himself.
When he posted a note last week seeking requests, he received more than 200. So he asked a printer he knows in Gainesville to design and create 250.
"It's very humbling after all this time has passed that this is still desirable commodity and touched that many people's lives," Willard said.
What amazes him is he still sees vintage 96rock plates from the 1980s and 1990s even where he lives in Suches in the North Georgia mountains on a 10-acre plot of land with chickens. (He said he travels 45 minutes to get to his favorite grocery store.)
Willard, who worked at 96rock for 21 years, said fans have moved the plates from older cars to newer ones, a loyalty that amazes him because the station itself died a decade ago.
The last time Willard was on air at 96rock was 1997. He later worked at Z93 and Dave FM behind the scenes in sales. After getting prostate cancer, he retired around 2008.