John Rowland, Alan Freed and CBS

Once at Brass Mills Center he was mistaken for me. He gave her the autograph anyway.

john rowland 2014   Google Search

Oh, John Rowland. You never cease to amaze me.

Governor John Rowland was a moderate Republican from Connecticut. He went to prison for his thievery in office.

I met him a few times. He was charming. Worked crowds well. Likable.

Once at Brass Mills Center he was mistaken for me. He gave her the autograph anyway.

I’m not in Connecticut to really hear about this, but from what I’ve read (especially the excellent piece by Ed Mahony and Jon Lender in the Courant) he was selling his opinion and access to his radio show.

There’s nothing wrong with espousing your opinion. There’s nothing wrong with selling access and support. What’s wrong is doing it secretly.

We allow commercials. We allow infomercials. They must be disclosed as such.

Here’s why Alan Freed’s in the title. Back in the 50’s Freed was hugely influential as one of the first rock and roll disk jockeys.

Freed’s career ended when it was shown that he had accepted payola (payments from record companies to play specific records), a practice that was highly controversial at the time. There was also a conflict of interest, that he had taken songwriting co-credits (most notably on Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene”), which entitled him to receive part of a song’s royalties, which he could help increase by heavily promoting the record on his own program. However, Harvey Fuqua of The Moonglows insisted Freed co-wrote “Sincerely”.

Freed lost his own show on the radio station WABC; then he was fired from the station altogether on November 21, 1959. He also was fired from his television show (which for a time continued with a different host). In 1960, payola was made illegal. In 1962, Freed pleaded guilty to two charges of commercial bribery, for which he received a fine and a suspended sentence.- Wikipedia

Freed was the whipping boy in the payola scandal. He was destroyed. New laws and rules were implemented.

From the FCC:

Federal law and FCC rules require that employees of broadcast stations, program producers, program suppliers and others who, in exchange for airing material, have accepted or agreed to receive payments, services or other valuable consideration must disclose this fact. Disclosure of compensation provides broadcasters the information they need to let their audiences know if material was paid for, and by whom.

Rowland is responsible, but so is CBS. Guarding the public airways is part of the licensee’s responsibility. It was they who entrusted WTIC to him every day.

CBS actually signed a consent decree in a payola case in 2007. They should know the rules. They are on the hook.

This will be very complex. I hope it’s well reported. I want to follow along.

The Ex-Con Ex-Governor In The News

I’m not a reporter. I’m not a political reporter. I have no idea if Rowland did what he’s not quite accused of doing… and if he did was it illegal.

As John Edwards and Roger Clemens will tell you, accusation doesn’t mean conviction.

So what sage wisdom can I offer? I have met John Rowland a bunch of times. He is charming.

There’s a report from John Lender on‘s home page this afternoon. It concerns ex-governor and ex-con John Rowland.

A federal criminal grand jury is investigating ex-governor John G. Rowland’s consulting work and campaign activities, Courant columnist Kevin Rennie reported Monday in his Daily Ructions blog.

The existence of the probe was verified later Monday, as one person confirmed that he had been contacted by federal authorities and had provided information about consulting work that Rowland did for him.

I’m not a reporter. I’m not a political reporter. I have no idea if Rowland did what he’s not quite accused of doing… and if he did it, was it illegal?

John Edwards and Roger Clemens stand as proof accusation doesn’t mean conviction!

What sage wisdom can I offer? I have met John Rowland a bunch of times. He is charming.

It’s really a bigger deal than that last sentence implies. He is CHARMING!

It is difficult to meet him and not leave thinking what a great guy he is and how much fun he’d be to hang with. Unfortunately, charming doesn’t mean innocent.

Too Many Drops Of Rain

When you forecast flooding, there’s really a great deal of faith that all the elements have to fall into line – and they never do exactly. It’s a forecast based on an assumption, based on a supposition.

Rain on the table on our deck“Honey, it’s grey and disgusting out. That’s enough.”

That was Helaine’s response to my asking if a photo truly captured the essence of today? I don’t think it does. I don’t know if I can do any better. Rain is not photogenic.

It is truly awful outside… and yet, I’m tormented by the fear it’s not as bad as I forecast.

Former Governor (and convicted felon) John Rowland once told me, after hearing my forecasts preceding Hurricane Gloria, he was surprised no houses were blowing down the street in Waterbury, his hometown.

IMG_2912.JPGOver the past few days it became more and more likely we were going to have heavy rain. It was a two pronged storm, with heavy elements last night, an overnight break, then more heavy rain today. Flooding was likely.

When you forecast flooding, there’s really a great deal of faith that all the elements have to fall into line – and they never do exactly. It’s a forecast based on an assumption, based on a supposition.

Is the ground as saturated as I think it is? Will the rain be as heavy? Are the historical flooding benchmarks still applicable today?

Here’s an example, from the Yantic River in Eastern Connecticut. The river is forecast to crest at 9.5 feet.

A week ago, 250 cubic feet of water passed by the gauge each second. Right now, it’s 1,770 cu/ft/sec. By the time the river crests, it will be 4,160 cu/ft/sec. Obviously, as rivers rise, they also spread out.





Nearly half the state is under Flash Flood Warnings right now.

I understand the implications of all this rain. It will cost people money. It will, briefly, interrupt lives. It’s a royal pain in the ass.

How strange to want my forecast to be right, and to want my forecast to be wrong, at the same time!

Hurricane Gloria – 20 Years Ago Today

I came to Connecticut in May 1984. I thought I did a good job on the air, but being a little over-the-top was the only way I stood out from my competitors.

All that changed September 27, 1985 when Hurricane Gloria made landfall in Connecticut.

For me, it was a career changing event. It was a chance to let people know, though I might screw around when the weather was nice, I was trustworthy when weather was critical. At least that’s how I saw it.

1984 doesn’t seem so long ago, but it was eons ago in technology and forecasting technique. The possibility of this hurricane came up in a conversation five days before landfall. A friend noted an interesting system and some rudimentary computer guidance brought it vaguely up the coast.

As I remember it today, each successive day continued with the storm on a fairly consistent track.

Looking back, I realize I was a sucker. These forecasts were well beyond the capability of the available models. That they were right was dumb luck!

A few days before Gloria struck, I started sharing my concerns with my boss and he put together a plan. Again, in hindsight we were so innocent. Today, wall-to-wall coverage would begin days before the storm struck. In 1985, with the storm due midday, we planned on running Good Morning America in its entirety!

I stayed after the late news, doing cut-ins through the night. No one was watching, but I was there.

We had little morning news presence back then. I don’t even remember who it was, but a single person produced and reported in the morning.

At 7:00 AM we switched to GMA. Every half hour their meteorologist reported the national weather, including the upcoming hurricane. The graphics on GMA were wrong&#185. Every half hour I’d follow Dave Murray, asking the viewers to believe me and not him.

Before long, we were on-the-air non-stop. The station really did an amazing job. I still remember some live shots, especially David Henry’s from Bridgeport, as if they happened yesterday.

Gloria had been a Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph winds, but was a shadow of her former self when she hit Long Island and then Connecticut. Officially, Gloria hit Connecticut with 90 mph sustained winds. Today, I doubt even that number. Whatever it was, it was frightening. Half the state lost power.

My friend Diane Smith lost a beautiful sailboat. Other friends and co-workers would lose trees and power – in some cases for a week or more.

I watched the storm on the Weather Service’s ancient radar. As it approached Connecticut, the eye opened up. We had one eyewall pass overhead and that was it. The southern half of this north moving storm no longer existed.

By nightfall Gloria was gone and Connecticut was picking up the pieces.

A day or two later in the New Haven Register, Carolyn Wyman didn’t talk about my coverage, she wrote about my disheveled hair, wondering if it was an affectation. I was crushed. I wonder if Carolyn (who seems like a nice person) knows I still remember? I wonder if she still feels that way?

On second thought, maybe I don’t want to know.

Hurricane Gloria was where I first realized, no matter how important it made my job, I didn’t want really bad weather to come here. Some forecasters do. Some meteorologists salivate over tornadoes and hurricanes. I, on the other hand, had my fill on that one day.

Years later, Governor (now prisoner) John Rowland told me he was waiting for houses to start blowing through the streets of Waterbury. To some, the storm was a disappointment. To others, especially along the Connecticut shoreline, it was a few hours of terror.

I am looking forward to seeing some of the old video and trying to remember what it was like watching it the first time. I am petrified that among the old clips will be a little cut of me, 20 years younger, looking like I was 15.

&#185 – As far as I could tell, a graphic artist preparing the maps traced the correct forecast track. Unfortunately, the line she/he drew wasn’t centered on the pen, but was actually to the right of it. That was common back then.