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
. 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
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
. 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

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 metrotheaters.com 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 barney@independent.com or
965-5205, ext. 230).


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