SOME (ALMOST) FINAL THOUGHTS ON THINGS IN KANSAS CITY

JohnLandsberg
June 5th, 2013

As I announced a few weeks ago, my days as a media chronicler in Kansas City are numbered.

It has been a great run, but my wife and I have decided to relocate to the Hilton Head, SC area.  It is just a few hours from my mother’s nursing home in Tampa and my sisters, and I plan to still do media work and continue teaching in college.

It was also supposed to be closer to my father-in-law’s nursing home in Ohio, but he recently died at age 93. The sudden death of my dear friend, Paul Welsh, has made this a very challenging time.

I couldn’t go away without some reflections on a PR career of nearly 25 years in KC.  The list will be expanded as new things pop into my head, but here goes:

*  In TV circles I honestly believe that KSHB under Brian Bracco will improve dramatically and become a force in the ratings.  People in KC are very loyal to certain stations and it is a real challenge to get them to change their habits, but it will happen in time because the staff there is too good.

*  I have really loved being a member of the KC Media Legends group founded by PR icon Pat Paton.  I will miss our meetings and the media conversations.  You can learn an awful lot about the KC media after 10 minutes with radio legend Ted Cramer.

*   Sorry to see KSHB’s Lance Veeser signing off on June 28 after seven years at the NBC affiliate before he heads to WKOW  in Madison, WI.  “I’m proud of a lot of what we’ve done here in the sports department,” he told Bottom Line. “I’ve had a blast and learned a lot from veterans like Jack (Harry) and Frank (Boal). The people of Kansas City have been extremely welcoming to my family. We truly enjoyed our time here. I’m looking forward to the next adventure but will never forget my KC experience.”

*  An apology is in order to E.J. Becker, morning co-host at KMBZ.  He had agreed to be profiled on my site and then flip-flopped.  I was irritated with him and wrote a few pissy stories about the show until I realized that Entercom will not allow employees to speak to the media or sites like mine. He was simply following corporate policy.

*  I never thought there was any rivalry between PR firms in KC.  I think you can’t lose calling Pat O’Neil, Will Gregory, Becky Wilson, Phil Hermanson, et al for help. The larger firms always kind of seemed like billing organizations that also did PR for clients.

*   I had a falling out with Entercom’s Program Director Jack Landreth (often referred to as “new Boss”), who told me how he would cooperate on stories when, in reality, he was not allowed to comment on anything.  The silly “no comment” policy has hurt Entercom from getting lots of positive publicity.

*  As a former print reporter, I often thought TV people really were pretty much like Will Ferrell in “Anchorman.”  After watching KSHB anchors Mark Clegg and Christa Dubill do a newscast recently where they did one news report seated, the next standing and almost non-stop moving around, you realize they simply make a difficult job look easy.  The whole time they are running around some producer is telling them in their earpiece where to look, where to move, what to say, etc. I would probably just walk into a wall…

*  Some anchors are exactly the same on the air as off.  I would put John Holt at Fox 4 in that category along with Larry Moore and Kris Ketz at KMBC.  There are others, but those three come to mind first.

*   At some point the crew on the Sunday morning KCMO radio show “Religion on the Line” will realize that caller “Mike” talks to simply hear him self talk.  They give this guy way too much time to espouse his views on whatever he wants and listeners simply change stations.  On the other hand, “Bebo” calls in each week and talks about his Catholic faith.  Unfortunately, what he believes and what the church teaches are often not the same.

*  Kris Ketz at KMBC is the hardest-working guy in TV.  He is one of those people you see on TV and think it is effortless and “I could do that…”   No, you couldn’t.  I consider him a real friend and will miss him.

*   I have often been criticized for my support of Tony Botello at tonyskansascity.com.  Yes, I know he has cheesy photos on his blog and some of the comments he allows are not pleasant, but I do feel he provides a great service to readers and works very hard at breaking news stories.  We have only met a few times, but he is a friend and always will be. (He even designed my “That’s All Folks!” art for this story.)

*   I am confident only Tony Botello or Ryan Kath will be the ones to determine where the missing Floyd Mayweather $15K money went.  And I don’t have much faith even they will ever figure it out.

*   I think News Director Blaise Labbe has done a terrific job of turning KCTV from “Scare the hell out of ’em” news to  a station that does an excellent job delivering the news.  It now seems as if KMBC is the station in the market that is doing so many “Breaking News” stories it is getting a bit silly.

*   Although we have never actually met, I think Scott Parks at KMBZ of the “Dana & Parks” afternoon show and I would have been friends.  I have met  Dana Wright and she is nuts (in a good way).  I am a loyal listener and will particularly miss “Festivus Fridays.” Did you know their afternoon show attracts more male listeners in the key demographic than any other station in town, including sports?

*   If I had been in TV news I would have liked to have worked for KMBC’s former GM Wayne Godsey.  He’s a class act and the fact he had a news background really helped the ABC affiliate deliver a quality news product that seems to have lost lately.

* Why do I screen comments on stories? Because some people are idiots. The vast majority of the people who visit this site are top-notch, but there are always a few who cross the line with their comments and they are deleted. Really, no one cares if you would like to have sex with an anchor or reporter.

* Some of my favorite reporters/editors at the Star: Les Weatherford, Rick Babson, Christine Vendel, Julius Karash, Karen Dillon, Bob Cronkleton, Paul Wenske, Greg Hack, Lee Kavanaugh, Jeff Flanagan, Mike DeArmond, Jim Fitzpatrick…

*   When he was the telecom reporter at the Star and I was the PR guy at Sprint Marty Rosenberg was a major pain in the butt.  On the other hand, he was a helluva journalist, and there aren’t too many of those around anymore.

*   For some reason, former KC Star TV/Radio writer Aaron Barnhart never liked me.  He actually insulted me while I was buying his stupid book, and it really irritated me.  I do think he fashioned himself as some kind of a national media reporter and the fact he did not cover KC media goings-on very well was not a positive.

*    I’ve always admired the way the Star’s Steve Kraske did such a professional job with his weekday radio show on KCUR. During virtually every interview his guest will remark, “That’s a great question…”

*   The Kansas City Star should be ashamed for not doing a story on the death of KC advertising legend Paul Welsh.  The KC Business Journal recognized him in a nice story by Laura Davison.  However, the Star was more than willing to charge a huge fee to run his obituary, and they were not a delight to deal with at all.

*  I guess I have gushed too much about KSHB’s investigative reporter Ryan Kath, but I think he does a terrific job.  A competitor joked he also wants to be called “stalwart” on my site “like I do with Kath all the time.”

*  I always appreciated that Elizabeth Alex (KSHB) and Martin Augustine (KMBC) did such nice stories about my son’s kidney transplant.  Bob Roberts with the defunct Johnson County Sun is a friend for life.  Tough to believe that was back in 2001…

* That reminds me of “stalwart” reporter Matt Stewart. I always felt he got a raw deal at KCTV and was glad he was able to stay in KC. Are you happy now, Matt that I called you stalwart?

* It has been great to see how KMBZ’s Darla Jaye has thrived despite being banished to the tough evening talk show period. She can sometimes come across as tough as nails on the air, but she is a very nice person. I will miss her.

* KCSP will never beat WHB in sports talk in Kansas City unless it overhauls its lineup. You can tune into 810 AM any time of the day and instantly know the talk show hosts. On KCSP the only recognizable host is Bob Fescoe and the rest sound like recent Syracuse radio graduates (which they are).

*  Johnny Dare has been on the radio more than 20 years in KC and delivers strong ratings.  If your kids have listened to them their minds have been polluted. He swears all the time on the air, is anti-religion, encourages kids to buy porn, sex items and flame-throwers, refers to women as “snatches,” and believes marriage is a joke.  He is a major reason why society has become so coarse.  If you are a parent and allow your young kids to listen to his show you are a lousy parent.

*   I miss KSHB’s pitbull Russ Ptacek, who has gone on to bigger and better things in Washington and now calls himself  “R. Russ Ptacek.”  The GSA once paid a PR firm $250,000 to “manage” him.  He asked me what I would have done if they gave me the $250,000 contract and I told him I would have given him a $50,000 car and then kept the remaining $200,000.   It would have been a win-win situation, but he probably would have not gone along with the plan.

*   My mother always told me that if you can’t say something nice about someone then don’t say anything.  I will apply that to Hearne ChristopherJason Whitlock and Nick Wright.  Enuf said.

*  Ever meet someone and feel  you would have been friends for years?  That’s how I feel about radio and TV legend Mike Shanin.  Being on his KCPT “Ruckus” show recently was a real kick. I am still amazed that the Star’s Yael Abouhalkah was so nice to me despite some critical things I had written about him the past few years.

* I honestly think KC is blessed with some terrific weather people. Bryan Busby and I are old Clevelanders and we both grew up following that city’s legendary weather guy Dick Goddard. Have you ever seen anyone as passionate about the weather as KSHB’s Gary Lezak? We drive identical cars, but his back seat has been shredded by his dogs.

*   KCTV’s Chris Suchan has come into a new market for him and done a super job. People tell me I would be friends with Fox’s Mike Thompson, but we have never met, darn it.

* One of the strangest media relationships I have ever had was with the Star’s Joyce Smith.  To this day I do not know if she cares for me or not despite us being close friends at one time.  Kind of the same situation with Dave Helling at the Star and DeAnn Smith at KCTV although I don’t really know them that well.

* It always surprised me that I never met KMBC’s Joel Nichols, who just celebrated 25 years at the station. I always enjoyed him and admired his quick wit, but he never returned any emails I sent him over the years for information. Just one of those odd things.

*   I really like the Star’s Mike Hendricks, but feel it is a one-sided thing.  He doesn’t like me for a number of reasons, but I honestly think we could have been good friends under different circumstances.  He’s an excellent writer and has survived more crap than any journalist should have to face.

*  KCPT’s Nick Haines does a terrific job.  I never understood KMBC’s recent policy of not allowing its reporters to go on his “Week in Review” show as they had for years.  Just not a good PR move for KMBC.

*   The decision makers at the University of Missouri should give KMBC’s Larry Moore its prestigious “Bronze Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism” award now.  His longevity as a TV anchor is legendary in the nation and the college has never had such a loyal alum.  Just do it, dammit.

*   One of the most interesting media folks I have ever met is Tom Lawrence, former anchorman at KSHB and Fox 4.  He’s a very talented guy and some station should hire him.

*   One of the most underrated media folks I have ever dealt with is Johnny Rowlands.  Over the years he has delivered such super helicopter coverage that I sometimes think he is taken for granted.

*   I simply enjoy the heck out of KSHB’s Jack Harry.  He’s a no BS guy and realizes sports is not the end-all, be-all in the world.   When the station paired him with Frank Boal it was a match made in heaven for me.  I can pretty much guarantee that there will be no sports anchors with such seniority in one market anywhere in the future.

*   I really like Randy Thurman at KSHB.  He’s a class act and always helpful to me on stories.

*   Years ago Laurie Everett left KMBC as a its prime-time co-anchor and Lara Moritz slipped into the position almost seamlessly. It also seems like Len Jennings has done likewise following in the footsteps of legend Larry Moore. Quite an achievement.

*   If I did something wrong I think the last person I would want on my case is TV guy Sam Zeff.  From the print side former journo Rebecca Tombaugh was relentless. When she left journalism the profession suffered.

*    Guess who sent me a nice going away note?  None other than sports talker Rhonda Moss, formerly of KCSP.  She’s a class act.  I helped carry the torch for her and Bob Fescoe when the Royals yanked their press credentials in 2006 for asking tough questions.

*    Steve Rose is an interesting guy and very talented.  I do think he needs media exposure the way others need oxygen to survive. Okay by me.

*    I love it when print publications continue to thrive because they are an important part of the community and have faced major challenges.  I salute Publisher Kathy Boos at “435 South” magazine and Publisher Ivan Foley at “The Landmark” in Platte City for fighting the good fight.  Likewise for my former Publisher Steve Fisch with “KC Sports & Fitness.” Keep battling.

*    I still miss Bill GrigsbyMike MurphyWalt Bodine and Wendall Anschutz. All class acts.  I even miss Tom Leathers and his “Squire” publication.

*    One of the most talented radio talkers I ever met was Van Patrick, who took a stand against management at KCMO when his producer was fired.  That was in 2006 and I am not sure if he ever made it back to radio.

*   I have never actually met the Star’s Public Editor Derek Donovan in person, but have always appreciated the tough job he has done very well trying to be the “face” of the newspaper. Talk about being a punching bag…

*   I have a lot of respect for Greg Hall, sportswriter and blogger who does a great job chronicling KC sports.  We once met when he ran by me at the Chicago Marathon.  That was it.

*   I have a ton of respect for radio news folks like KMBZ’s Bill Grady and former radio guy Scott Simon.  Can’t overlook Lisa Carter.  That is a tough job.

*    The Star has lost a lot of excellent journalistic talent the past few years, but still has some of the finest journalists in the country.  The talent pool on Grand Ave. is very underrated.

*   It would be impossible to meet former Fox 4 weather guy Dan Henry and not leave smiling. The same is true for Royals PR guru Toby Cook.

*   Just try to cancel your subscription to the Kansas City Star.  It is not permitted on-line and you are forced to deal with an off-site huckster who will offer to “send it to your new address,” will “allow you to give your remaining subscription to someone,” you “can still keep your digital subscription,” or “you can donate your remaining subscription to a school.”  Just cancel the damn thing.  Why do newspapers feel they have no need for customer service?

38 Responses

  1. Jess says:

    GOOD LUCK
    John,

    Good luck and Farewell.

  2. Dennis Rooney says:

    A RADIO MOMENT
    John, never will forget the look on your face when you called me an @$$0** on the air. Have a great time back east.

    • JohnLandsberg says:

      Hey, Dennis, we all have to learn the famous “the microphone is always on” lesson. Good thing no one was listening…

  3. Don Knotts, Jr. says:

    DON KNOTTS FAN
    Thank you for always standing up for my late Father.

  4. KEEP WRITING
    Facebook is just a keystroke away John, so please keep writing. Like a good book, I don’t want it to end. You brought heart to communications. All the best my friend.

  5. Will Gregory says:

    CLASS…
    Class. I’m a better person for knowing you, John. Congrats on standout career and a blog not to be missed. Cheers!

  6. Steve Rose says:

    STEVE ROSE FAREWELL…
    John,
    I am writing this farewell, because I need more media exposure. Best of luck in Hilton Head. You will be missed.

  7. John says:

    CONGRATS
    Once again congrats John. I wish you nothing but the best of luck.

  8. Tom says:

    NICE NOTE
    you don;t know me just a guy who enjoyed your stories. thanks and happy retirement

  9. Mike Hendricks says:

    MAYBE FRIENDS?
    Ah, hell, John, who said I didn’t like you?

  10. Becky Wilson says:

    PR SITUATION TODAY
    John- Thank you for including me in the list of “go to” PR people, I am honored.It has been my experience that the PR pros in KC are respectful of each other’s talents, you included. I also will miss your comments and insights, but I am certain you will find a new following in NC. Just like the TV/Radio news industry, the print industry has changed so much in the last decade. Too many magazines now require an ad contract to get a story. Freelancers are writing the stories for newspapers for next to nothing. Bloggers are now “experts” on topics. “Advertorials” pass for news and feature stories. And,the Tuesday Business section of the KC Star is down to 4 pages! Oh well, onward and upward! Becky S. Wilson

  11. Scott Simon says:

    SCOTT
    John, thank you for the nice inclusion in your farewell. I will miss your reporting on all things media in KC and so will many others.

  12. Tom Lawrence says:

    HIRE TOM LAWRENCE
    Thanks John,
    I agree with everything you said about me. I am one of the most interesting media folks I’ve ever met, very talented, and someone should hire me. Brian? Cheryl? Blaise? 9?
    I’d like to pair up with Elizabeth Alex again, and show the market how to do the job right.
    I’m coming with you to Hilton Head.

    Tom Lawrence

  13. Buck says:

    ALL THE BEST
    John,

    I wish you all the best in your new chapter. I will miss your updates even though I’m not currently working for any local media (I did work in radio here “back in the day”). Thanks for keeping us in the loop. You will be missed, but it sounds like a great move to be with your family.

    Buck

  14. Peggy Phillip says:

    FORMER KSHB NEWS DIRECTOR
    Good luck John. You were always fair and always sought my input before publishing, even when I couldn’t comment or provide insight. Take care and if you get this far south, I’ll buy you a mojito.

  15. Jeff Vaughn says:

    NOTE FROM JEFF VAUGHN
    Best of luck, John.

    I will miss your insights as it has kept me in touch with the happenings and people of KC news after leaving the area in 2010.

    You are spot on about Randy Thurman, Russ Ptacek and Ryan Kath. Great people making this business better.

  16. George Woods says:

    GEORGE WOODS
    John,

    Best of luck on the big move. Sounds like a well-planned decision. You’re a sharp guy and I have a feeling that you’ll still be involved in local media, although Hilton Head will certainly be a far cry different than Kansas City.

    I have some radio friends from the 3 years I worked in Charleston, so when I can make time to visit them, I’m going to try to visit you and bring whatever you miss most about KC.

    As long as it’s not alive and requires feeding.

    George Woods

  17. Dennis St. John says:

    MORNING READ
    John…

    This page has been my first morning read for awhile now, and I’ll miss it. I’m sure Hilton head will be a great experience for you.

    We’ll miss seeing you at the KC Media Legends luncheons. It’s been a great time to catch up on upcoming scoops you’ve been working on.

    Best of luck, always.

    Dennis St. John

  18. Doredad says:

    BEST OF LUCK
    John,

    Best of luck to you and Donnamarie in SC. We love Hilton Head and I’m sure you will too. I will look for you both the next time I’m at the Salty Dog.

    You will be missed here in KC. We didn’t always agree with your politics, but you have a good sense for the community and your PR views were almost always spot-on.

    Best of luck to you both, and I hope our paths cross again.

  19. Peg Nichols says:

    FORGIVEN
    Best of luck in your move, Hilton Head is a lovely place to be. You go with my blessing, and since our online disagreement will never morph into a face-to-face confrontation, I forgive you for equating me with the Phelps of Topeka.

  20. jenniferm says:

    SUCKS
    Sports personalities/media coverage/journalism etc etc etc in Kansas City sucks. Across the board. Period.

  21. Duke Frye says:

    DUKE FRYE
    John,

    I’m sorry to hear you’re leaving, but if you’re going, Hilton Head’s a pretty good place to head. I’ll miss our conversations about media and always enjoyed reading your blog. It was fair and insightful, even if I didn’t agree with it all the time. That’s what good journalism is all about. Writing or broadcasting interesting stories or commentaries that get the discussion going or send it in a new direction. All the best and stay in touch.

    Duke

  22. Megan says:

    LOYAL READER
    Thanks, Mr. Landsberg. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for several years now. You’ll be missed. Thanks and good luck!

  23. HOLDING DOWN FORT
    Good luck, John. I’ll be among the small PR shops holding down the fort after you go. Best wishes.

  24. Rick Babson says:

    OLD BAY HIGH ROCKET
    Retiring? Oh, that’s right, you are so much older than most of us. Best wishes and good luck to you, you “old” Rocket.

    • JohnLandsberg says:

      Rick is a former sterling editor/writer at the KC Star. We both grew up in Bay Village, Ohio, and often-double dated throughout high school…Okay, we never actually double-dated in school, but I used to tell his Star co-workers we did. Actually, I was a bit older than Rick and never knew him until KC.

  25. Christine Hamele says:

    MAINTAINED PROFESSIONALISM
    Farewell John. I’m sad to see you go, as I have always appreciated the risk you took when you launched the site. As a “recovering PR entrepreneur”, I found that our business can be a slippery slope. Clearly it’s even more challenging when you start reporting on reporters and the stations/blogs. You maintained your professionalism and provided the PR and media community fair and balanced content. It can be tough to be relevant these days and you found a way to do that throughout a long career – and have fun while doing it (well most days!). Closing the site leave a void in the community, but maybe one of these young crackerjacks you mentioned will get some fire in the belly for something similar! Best of luck.

  26. Jodi Dore says:

    KC MEDIA LEGEND
    Sorry to see ya go since I won’t have your column to read – it will give me lots more time in the AM. Sorry abt picking on you but u seem like the kinda guy that gets that alot…and u r so good natured abt it. It was fun to visit with you and thanks for buying everybody’s lunch 🙂
    Jodi Dore’

    • JohnLandsberg says:

      Jody, you were delightful to speak with at today’s Media Legends lunch. Give Pat Paton a kiss for me…

  27. FRIENDSHIP AND SUPPORT
    Thanks again for your friendship and all your support over the years, John. Let’s stay in touch. I hope you will come back and take in our beloved “Paris on the Plains” from time to time. Heck, maybe we can even talk Rick Babson into visiting the Country Club Plaza!

  28. PRSA MENTOR
    From the days of your serving as my PRSA mentor almost 20 years ago when I was starting out, I have respected your opinions.

    Wishing you and your family the best on your transition to the East Coast!

  29. Jennifer Mann says:

    JENNIFER MANN
    Hey John,

    Sorry to hear you’re leaving the market. You were very supportive of me and many others during the bloodbath days at The Star. Thanks for that. And I love Hilton Head, particularly taking a bike ride around Harbor Town at sunset. Ahhhh

  30. Bill Grady says:

    BILL GRADY
    John,

    Many thanks for your kind words. I wish you
    all the best in your future endeavors. You will be missed- Kind Regards, BG

  31. bill mann says:

    JOHNNY FAN
    I love johnny dare.

Leave a Reply

  • MR. PRESIDENT: UNFILTERED TWEETS MUST END!!

    Since the presidency of Donald Trump began in January the public has had a unique view in seeing how many, many executives act when their true remarks/feelings/views go public. Unfiltered.

    It is often not a pretty scene.  It’s like the old joke where you really don’t want to know how sausage is actually made.

    Trump, in his effort to show “transparency” to the public, has been sending unfiltered, unedited Tweets out on a random basis since he began running for President.  They can come at any time of the day or night, and often seem to follow the “Ready, Fire, Aim!!” theory of communications.

    His latest missives aimed at C-list TV personalities MSNBC hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough have totally derailed a series of recent legislative successes (LINK).  Not only that, but his Tweets have actually enhanced the couple’s standing.

    Communications professionals around the globe have been left scratching their collective heads and wondering, “In his wildest dreams how did he ever think talking about Brzezinski’s facelift would be a good idea?”

    I have been in top-level corporate meetings literally hundreds of times.  If the public was privy to many of the actual discussions they would be stunned.  After one meeting where the company president repeatedly stressed the need for diversity I heard him casually remark to the HR director as we were leaving, “Okay, does that cover my ass legally now if we don’t hire minorities?”

    It is impossible for President Trump to have an overall coherent communications message when he is shooting out Tweets from the hip.  His staffers end up spending all their time and effort trying to clean up the most recent mess he created rather than focusing on any type of overall communications strategy.

    Someone needs to stress to the President that his personal, off-the-cuff,  tweeting must stop.  If he won’t heed that advice he should at least agree that someone must read his Tweets before they go out.

    The days of unfiltered Tweets from the President must end.

     

     

     

    Published July 1, 2017 at 7:59 am - One Comment Since the presidency of Donald Trump began in January the public has had a unique view in seeing how many, many executives act when their true remarks/feelings/views go public. Unfiltered. It is often not a pretty scene.  It̵ ...

  • EX-KCTV ANCHOR KAREN FULLER FILES LAWSUIT

    Regular viewers of KCTV were stunned in February 2015 when long-time anchor Karen Fuller was suddenly yanked off the air at the Meredith-owned station.

    After all, Fuller, 47 at the time, had been a staple at the CBS station for 12 years. Viewers were accustomed to her entering their living rooms on a regular basis and were shocked at her departure.

    In April, Fuller revealed to Bottom Line (link) that her departure was not her decision. Sources say she had requested 15 seconds of airtime to thank her loyal viewers, but instead was yanked mid-shift and escorted out of the station.

    In August 2015 we reported she had landed a new position as an anchor at the Sinclair Group’s KGAN in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.   It should be noted Kansas City is the 31st largest TV market in the country; Cedar Rapids 88.

    The Kansas City Star has now broken the story that Fuller is now suing her former parent company over age and gender discrimination.  She filed suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., against the Meredith Corporation.

    “Fuller alleges in the suit that the company has created an ‘age ceiling’ for its female anchors but not for male anchors,” the Star reported.  “Women age out in their mid- to late 40s. The company does not enforce the same age-related job requirement for male prime-time anchors.

    “The company’s strong-arm behavior assaulted her dignity, cast aspersion on Ms. Fuller’s many years of hard work, professionalism, and loyalty to her job, and took away Ms. Fuller’s ability to say goodbye to co-workers, friends and viewers,” the suit alleges.

    Fuller’s case is being handled by R. Pete Smith, chairman of the Kansas City-based law firm of McDowell, Rice, Smith, and Buchanan.

    Bottom Line has learned Fuller was given the green light to sue Meredith in March following an EEOC investigation of possible systemic issues with age/gender at other Meredith-owned stations.

     

     

     

    Published June 8, 2017 at 8:06 am - 2 Comments Regular viewers of KCTV were stunned in February 2015 when long-time anchor Karen Fuller was suddenly yanked off the air at the Meredith-owned station. After all, Fuller, 47 at the time, had been a staple at the CBS station for 1 ...

  • UNITED AIRLINES BLEW INITIAL CRISIS MESSAGE

    You’ve probably heard the slogan, “You never have a second chance to make a good impression.”

    The same is true in crisis communications.  When a crisis hits, as it did with United Airlines removing a passenger from a flight, the company had to come out with a strong message.  Unfortunately, it didn’t and today has to figure out how to pick up the pieces from a PR disaster.

    Unfortunately, it didn’t and today has to figure out how to pick up the pieces from a PR disaster.

    We have all seen the videos of a man being forcibly taken off a plane that was overbooked.  The man was bloodied and dragged off the aircraft.

    The company’s CEO Oscar Munoz initially blabbered about re-accommodating a passenger.  He also fired off an internal note to employees commending them for their actions.

    United Airlines

    Both were bad moves.

    The media, and particularly social media and talk shows,  jumped all over the airline for its insensitivity to a Chinese passenger and highlighted how offended the Chinese public was.  The next day it was revealed the passenger was actually Vietnamese and new stories about how offended the Vietnamese were flourished.

    What did United Airlines do wrong with its initial response? It is very likely the company conferred with its legal team and were told everything it did was legal.  While true, the biggest mistake was not addressing the emotional part of the issue.

    The average passenger was thinking “They could have done that to me!!” The guy had paid for a ticket and was waiting for his flight to depart when all hell broke loose.

    Years ago a phone company in Lima, Ohio, issued new phone books.  That’s not exactly “stop the presses kind of news,” but in this case it was.  The phone books contained coupons for various discounts:  pizza, dry cleaning, home goods, etc.

    It also contained a coupon offering $25 off on an abortion!!

    The phone book coupon issue exploded locally and then nationally.  The local Catholic hospital in Lima was beyond upset.  People on both sides of the abortion issue agreed that offering a discount coupon for it was tacky.

    The phone company’s legal team initially was quick to point out it was perfectly legal for the abortion clinic to offer a coupon since abortions were legal.  But the average person did not care if the coupon was legal.  They thought it was tacky and insensitive.

    The company spokesman ignored the legalities of the message and instead profusely apologized to everyone for the offensive coupon. He promised controversial coupons would never find their way into the phone book again.   The message resonated and the furor died down in a few days.

    CEO Munoz blew his initial message, but a day later had developed a new, stronger one. It should have been his initial message.

    “The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened,” noted Munoz.

    After all the facts have come out about the incident some cooler heads have risen over the incident.  However, it will be tough to overcome the initial horrible publicity and a reported $255 million loss in stock value.

     

     

    Published April 12, 2017 at 3:25 pm - 2 Comments You’ve probably heard the slogan, “You never have a second chance to make a good impression.” The same is true in crisis communications.  When a crisis hits, as it did with United Airlines removing a passenger ...

  • COURIC TRICK SHOWS VALUE OF RECORDING INTERVIEWS

    It has been called “appalling journalism.”

    That might be considered a positive comment regarding an editing trick inserted into a documentary on gun ownership that has come to light.

    Long-time NBC Today Show star and anchor at all three major networks, Katie Couric, now with Yahoo! News, is being severely criticized for highly questionable editing in her documentary titled “Under the Gun” after it was revealed an eight-second pause was inserted to make it look as if the people interviewed could not answer her question (LINK).

    Luckily for the individuals being interviewed, one person was wise enough to record the Q&A (LINK TO AUDIO). Otherwise, questioning the bubbly media icon would have been virtually impossible and fruitless.

    Couric was executive producer, host and narrator of the piece.  Anti-gun activist Stephanie Soechtig produced and directed it.

    In the documentary, a group of Virginia gun owners was asked by Couric: “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?”

    Not only did Couric/Soechtig insert a pause (8-10 seconds), but they also inserted “B” roll of the gun owners taken before the interview even began.  There is little doubt the editing was clearly designed to make it look as if Couric’s tough question made them speechless and uncomfortable.

    Couric is now calling the edit an “unnecessary mistake,” according to an individual with knowledge of her thinking (LINK).

    In an official statement, Soechtig countered, “my intention was to provide a pause for the viewer to have a moment to consider this important question before presenting the facts on Americans’ opinions on background checks. I never intended to make anyone look bad and I apologize if anyone felt that way.”

    Couric now says she supports Soechtig’s statement “and am very proud of the film.” However, a few days later she admitted she regretted how she portrayed gun activists (LINK).

    However, the National Review and Washington Post now say Couric should be fired over the deliberate misrepresentation (LINK).

    This is a classic reason why at Bottom Line Communications we strongly advise clients to always record media interviews.  Without actual audio evidence (below) the Yahoo! crew would have denied inserting the pause.

    However, with the evidence journalism takes another huge credibility hit.

     

    Published May 29, 2016 at 8:30 am - 2 Comments It has been called “appalling journalism.” That might be considered a positive comment regarding an editing trick inserted into a documentary on gun ownership that has come to light. Long-time NBC Today Show star and ...

  • MIZZOU NEEDS CRISIS PLAN TO RESTORE IMAGE

    In Journalism circles, having a degree from the University of Missouri was often a ticket for success. It is not only the nation’s oldest Journalism school, it is also one of the most prestigious.

    When rankings for the best “J” schools in the nation are posted the University of Missouri is almost guaranteed to be in the Top 10 or Top 5.  However, that may have all changed due to the actions of a single media professor during the recent student uprising at the school.

    A Mass Media Professor, Melissa Click, is shown in a video asking for “muscle” to remove a student photojournalist, Tim Tai,  who was working for ESPN and in a public place.   It is a horrible act by a college professor and shows a total disregard for the Journalist’s First Amendment rights, which is against what the school has taught for decades.

    “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here,” says Click.

    A video of Click’s actions against Tai has gone viral and has well over 500,000 views (LINK) on a single site.  The New York Times has written an extensive story about her actions.

    What was once a sympathetic media for the protesters has now changed with the actions of students and faculty against them.

    Technically some have pointed out Click works in the Mass Media Division of the Department of Communications in College of Arts & Sciences, which is separate from the J-school.  However, she is listed on the School of Journalism’s site (LINK), which tars the entire Journalism program whether it deserves it or not.

    Click had earlier Tweeted out that she she was looking for coverage of the event by Journalists.  Later on she is clearly leading the charge against other Journalists with total disregard for their rights to cover the event.

    With the resignation of the school’s President and Chancellor the University of Missouri is clearly being painted as a college where the inmates are running the asylum.   Rather than act like a Professor, Click and other faculty members have clearly shown they were behind the student protests against the administration.

    If the University of Missouri doesn’t hire a crisis communications team immediately its entire image for producing quality Journalism graduates could likely be tarnished forever. If the school was wise it already had a crisis communications plan in place for such an incident, but that is unlikely.

    The first move would be to remove Click. But that would be a stop-gap measure since a faculty member helping foment the disturbance was an indictment on all the faculty.  The school hired her, and whether tacitly or not, approved of her actions.

    A statement issued today by the Dean of the Journalism School denied she was part of the faculty and sounded as if her days as a professor at Missouri were numbered. Click has also been forced to apologize in an attempt to save her job and resigned her “courtesy” appointment to the J-School.

    However, a Kansas City reporter told BLC that the protesters are refusing to speak with local reporters and will only do interviews with national media outlets.  That is the kind of move that will turn sympathetic local media against them now and in the future.

    It’s a bad move.

     

     

    Published November 10, 2015 at 10:23 am - 5 Comments In Journalism circles, having a degree from the University of Missouri was often a ticket for success. It is not only the nation’s oldest Journalism school, it is also one of the most prestigious. When rankings for the best ...