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Dinges: Popular traffic reporter returning to Austin radio

Our city’s best-known traffic reporter returns to Austin’s airwaves Monday.

Joe Taylor, who most recently worked at Time Warner Cable News and, before that, at 590 KLBJ-AM, has been hired to provide traffic updates several times a day for four local radio stations owned by Entercom Communications.

Those stations are Mix 94.7, Majic 95.5, 96.3 RnB and Talk Radio 1370. Previously, they’d only sporadically aired traffic reports.

“This shows their commitment to traffic,” Taylor said. “They really believe in me. They believe in my brand and the product I can deliver.”

That “Skywatch Traffic” brand Taylor established has been around more than a decade, and Entercom executives say it brings instant credibility to the reports they’ll be offering weekday mornings and afternoons during rush hour.

They also point out that most radio traffic reporters in Austin are piped in from other cities. Austin’s Clear Channel-owned stations, for instance, laid off their local traffic reporters in 2011 and now get their updates from a hub in Dallas.

“The addition of Skywatch Traffic gives our listeners the best local traffic updates on Austin radio, presented by Austin’s foremost traffic authority, Joe Taylor,” said Cat Thomas, Entercom’s local vice president of programming.

Since he left Time Warner Cable News a few months back, Taylor said his full-time focus has been on inking a new deal that would get him back doing what he loves best. Central Texans who recognize him from his TV and radio work have been eager to see Taylor return, as well.

“I couldn’t be more thankful,” he said. “I have people who stop me every day and ask, ‘How’s the traffic?’ ”

The wait, he says, was totally worth it.

“Austin’s my hometown,” Taylor said. “I’ve seen the city from the sky thousands of times. I know Austin and its roads.”

KGSR makes new hire

There’s a new addition over at 93.3 KGSR-FM.

Haley Jones has been named program director for the 23-year-old station, where she’ll handle a variety of not-so-sexy but crucially important responsibilities such as helping select which songs to play and obsessing over Nielsen ratings.

“We scoured the country and spoke with some of the most talented program directors across America,” said Chase Rupe, vice president of programming and operations for Emmis, KGSR’s owner. “When we found Haley, we knew she had exactly what we needed to continue building on the success of our beloved KGSR brand.”

Jones, who is currently program director at a station in San Diego, Calif., is set to start work May 5. She’s previously worked in both Seattle and San Francisco.

“As a Texas girl, I feel like I’m coming home to work with the inspiring team at KGSR,” Jones said.

Longtime KEYE employee departs

You may not recognize her name, but if you’ve ever watched one of KEYE’s newscasts or visited, you’ve most definitely come across some of Sousa Williams’ work.

Williams, who has been an employee at the city’s CBS affiliate since it first started broadcasting local news 19 years ago, departed the station on Friday. Over the years she’s held a variety of roles, including 10 p.m. producer, executive producer, news operations manager and, most recently, new media manager overseeing the station’s website and social media accounts, among other things.

“When we first started, we were the little engine that could,” she said. “There’s been a huge amount of change since then. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the best TV journalists in the city.”

Some of those heavy hitters, she said, include former father-and-daughter anchor team Neal Spelce and Cile Spelce, Ron Oliveira and current 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. anchors Judy Maggio and Walt Maciborski.

Williams hasn’t lined up a new job yet but felt the timing was right to head to Connecticut to be with her girlfriend. Leaving Austin is hard, she said, but it’s the right thing to do.

“When I first came to Austin, I never thought I’d be here this long … but, like so many people, I fell in love with the city and decided to stay,” she said. “It’s really bittersweet, but I’ve got to take the leap.”

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