SYRACUSE -- Former local radio and television talk show host Jim Reith has a new job. He won't be working for any local media outlets, but chances are good you'll see or hear from him in the news. He's been hired for public relations for Onondaga County's Save the Rain program.
As reported by Tim Knauss on syracuse.com, Reith begins the new job on Monday. Since it's a government post, Reith's compensation is public record: he'll earn a salary of $52,250 per year, plus health insurance benefits. Officials told Knauss that Reith's position is considered temporary. After six months, it'll be up for review by the County Legislature, who will decide whether to approve funding to make the appointment permanent.
Reith is perhaps best known for his 27 years on news/talker 570 WSYR. For the last 12 of his years at WSYR, Reith was the station's afternoon host. That run ended in October 2011 when Reith and at least three other Syracuse staffers were among hundreds to be cut in a nationwide round of layoffs enacted by Clear Channel Media + Entertainment. After a brief period of transition, most of Reith's old timeslot is now hosted by Bob Lonsberry, based at Clear Channel sister station WHAM 1180 in Rochester.
The following April, Reith joined public broadcast outlet WCNY to host daily podcasts and a a 30-minute weeknight TV talk show. But the new arrangement only lasted about six months. When Reith was dismissed in December, WCNY management explained, "we found it to be a greater challenge than we anticipated to move Jim's brand from radio to television."
On WSYR on Friday afternoon, Lonsberry used the announcement of Reith's new employment to launch into a tirade about the "Save the Rain" program, criticizing Syracuse and Onondaga County's plans for reducing the amount of storm water that makes its way into the sewer system.
They hired him to be a spokesperson for what? I've never heard of that. $1000 a week plus benefits off the taxpayer's wallets to talk about collecting rainwater. Man, why can't I find a job two steps above stealing the money like that?