On the Beat

The Story on Kate: The reason why KEYT’s long-limbed “weather babe” (as Craig Smith’s blog calls her) Kate Went­zel left the station comes down to the familiar expression: creative differences, Smith said. Newscast ratings were down and the weather was seen as a weak spot, Smith reported on his blog. According to Smith, management wanted her to be on camera in the studio, while Kate wanted more shots on location. Also, according to Smith, the suits wanted her to dumb down the broadcasts, saying “fog” rather than “marine layer.” Her contract was up, so she didn’t re-up and I hear she’s getting nibbles from L.A. All this squares with what I’ve been hearing. Smith also reports that KEYT alum Daryn Kagan is leaving CNN. She and Rush Limbaugh (yes, Rush) broke up a few months ago, Smith’s sources said. Meanwhile, news director and homeboy Paul Vercammen, fired in May, hasn’t been replaced. Rumors are flying about more shakeups coming on TV Hill.

Two More Quit the NP: The News-Press meltdown continues, with two more top newsroom staffers resigning. Chuck Schultz, a 25-year man, was the paper’s ace court reporter. Josh Molina covered City Hall in an incisive manner while maintaining his contacts and sources. On Tuesday he signed on as a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, one of California’s top papers.

One of the most challenging aspects of journalism is to cover tough stories, then face the people you write about the next day. Not only has the paper now lost 13 solid editors and writers, but valuable institutional memory, key to covering stories that have spanned months and years. Other staffers are alarmed at the paper’s apparent anti-union strategy of calling reporters down to the office of human resources director Yolanda Apodaca to be quizzed about news coverage. How she became involved in the news has staffers scratching their collective heads. At least one reporter quit recently after such a session. Each staffer who leaves thins out the ranks of the pro-union workers. Actually, one former employee points out, the count should be 14, because when publisher Joe Cole “retired” his finger plugging the dike was gone and the hemorrhage of talent began.

Meanwhile, ace designer Colin Powers has been hired to be the Page One designer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The managing editor there is former News-Press editor David McCumber (1987-91). Jeramy Gordon, editor and publisher of the up-and-coming Daily Sound, says blog rumors that Wendy McCaw and the NP want to buy the new daily paper are untrue.

Smelly Theater: After I mentioned the smells at the Riviera Theatre, I heard from Metropolitan Theatres boss Bruce Corwin. “It’s an old building with wooden floors and walls,” he said. “We clean the floors and walls twice a year, but now we’ll do it four times a year and we’ll be watching closely, and stay on top of it.” Reader Elena Yee complained via and heard from Bruce’s son David, who also promised action to “freshen up the auditorium right away.”

Fiesta Thrills and Chills: Former mayor Sheila Lodge reports that contrary to the recollections of the Fiesta good old boys I interviewed last week, she and husband Judge Joe Lodge were not on that Wells Fargo stagecoach that nearly tipped over back in the 1980s. But Sheila recalls that prior mayor David Shiffman and his wife Martha were about to climb into their carriage when the horse hitched to it “got spooked, ran amok, crashed into some object, and the carriage shattered. If I recall correctly the horse didn’t fare so well and had to be put down.

“The ride in 1982 was exciting in a different way. An hour before the Fiesta parade I got a phone call from a man who said he’d gotten a phone call from his admittedly weird brother-in-law. The brother-in-law said ‘they were going to waste L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley’ in the Fiesta parade.” Bradley, she said, was running for governor and his campaign people had asked if he could ride in the parade. “I called the police chief. The man’s name and number turned out to be phony but we were still very concerned. Two security people of Bradley’s walked alongside throughout the parade, sweating in their heavy sport coats, which covered their guns. Bradley, Joe, and I and the driver were in one carriage. Two extra motorcycle officers rode alongside.” If they started taking fire, “I was told to get on one of the motorcycles and be driven off; Bradley was to do the same on the other. Joe had planned to dive into a little hollow space in the carriage until the security person closest to him said that was where he was going to go.

“We all made marvelous targets, especially Mayor Bradley, who was a very big man and who was sitting up high next to the driver. I must say it made for an exciting parade ride, though as usual the horses gave us more trouble than anything else.”

(You can reach Barney Brantingham at The Independent at or 965-5205, ext. 230).

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