Janet For Congress?

Viewers loved Janet because she seemed vulnerable. Politics commands a thick skin. Can vulnerable and thick skin coexist? We’ll see.

The emails have trickled in over the last few days. Janet Peckinpaugh is thinking about running for the 2nd District congressional seat held by Joe Courtney. She’d be running for the Republican nomination against Daria Novak (who has appeared on this blog… and was a good sport about it).

I’d better throw in some back story, because as big as Janet was you might not know who she is!

Back in the 1980s the Connecticut television news race was divided this way: Channel 3, everyone else. In this case everyone else was mainly Channel 8. Channel 30 with much less reach as a difficult to tune in UHF station was specklike. Channel 61 wasn’t yet on-the-air.

The company that owned Channel 8 made a decision to get competitive. That was gutsy because WTNH was more profitable than WFSB! It had a smaller audience but also spent a lot less. The owner, Capital Cities Communications, moved their hotshot news director, Mike Sechrist, to New Haven from Fresno. Then they opened their wallet.

Not every move Mike made worked, but one was so successful it trumped everything else (next to hiring me, of course). He hired a young, sweet looking, Janet Peckinpaugh. I seem to remember her coming from Richmond, VA–but don’t hold me to that.

I can’t explain Janet’s success except to say she had that magical “it” that make some people on TV stand out. Actually, Janet didn’t have “it” as much as she had “IT!!!.” She was vulnerable and approachable. She was very pretty but not where women didn’t wanted their husband’s watching her.

With Janet (and a rejuvenated Al Terzi) our audience grew until we caught Channel 3 at 6:00 PM–an amazing achievement.

Helaine and I were friendly with Janet. She was always very nice to me on-the-air and off. We went to her spectacular wedding atop Hartford Steam Boiler Company. It was probably the most glamorous affair I’ve ever attended.

Then, for reasons still not clear to me, Janet left and the station wallowed. Think balloon and pin!

As is often the case in TV her earlier success did not follow her up I-91.

She was later involved in an ugly lawsuit and finally anchored at Channel 30. When last I saw her on-air she was the anchor on infomercials for a mortgage company.

Am I surprised she’s considering congress? Yeah. Not that I think about Janet often, but even if I did I’d never make this leap. OK, I haven’t known her for over twenty years. Everyone changes. Maybe a smoldering political fire has finally come to life?

Maybe there’s something in the DNA of people who do what we do? I have often thought about running for Congress. I have too much respect for my incumbent congresswoman to ever seriously consider that, but the thought’s there in the abstract&185.

We all have dirty laundry. Helaine reminds me of mine all the time. Imagine if your life was poked and prodded at by an opponent who wanted you gone! I’m not sure Janet’s so special in that regard, but maybe.

When Kevin Rennie blogged about this yesterday the mean comments weren’t far behind! Her unquestioned sweetness of the 80s is now questioned.

Viewers loved Janet because she seemed vulnerable. Politics commands a thick skin. Can vulnerable and thick skin coexist? We’ll see.

&#185 – After writing this entry a co-worker called me out for this paragraph. She said I made it sound like I could beat Rosa but won’t. I can see how that might be the impression. Let me clarify.

Rosa DeLauro is unbeatable in this district. Right now you would have to be a fool or extreme doctrinaire to run against her. There’s a reason few who want to serve in Congress do. There are people like Rosa already there.

To me that’s OK because I like Rosa.

God, I hope that’s more clear now.

A Storm Unlike Any Other

I called and told him I was confused because I’d never seen this particular setup before. Neither had he!

dot greenwich camera.jpgEarlier tonight I took a quick look at one of the CT DOT traffic cameras on I-95 and gasped. The camera was in Greenwich-adjacent to the New York State line. While the rest of Connecticut was seeing moderate to heavy rain with temperatures mostly in the 40&#176s Greenwich had limited visibility with heavy snow. The snow had begun to accumulate!

dot westport camera.jpgA few miles up the road in Stamford there was nothing but rain! Even now, hours later, only the communities in Lower Fairfield are seeing the snow stick.

In retrospect the Greenwich blitz doesn’t change my forecast. It was scary to see–sure. The weather had done a rapid about face. It was all part of the forecast, but it happened so quickly and with such fury I was originally taken aback.

Let me qualify this because it’s easy to lose sight of what I’m talking about.

Something’s been falling from the sky since early Tuesday. One storm came and went. This is Part B of Storm 2. However, this unnamed¹ winter storm is so unusual scholarly papers will be written about it!

Thursday while Atlantic City was seeing snow Albany, NY was getting rain. Friday morning New Haven, CT will see snow while Bangor, ME gets the rain! Crazy.

90fbw.gifThe barometer is so low it’s approaching the range usually seen in hurricanes and tropical storms. We get pressure readings this low every decade or so.
Tonight, as the wind in New London shifted from east to southwest the temperature dropped 9&#176 in one hour! Cold air advection from the southwest! Isn’t that where warm air comes from?

Seriously–that’s nuts.

I called my weather colleague Dr. Mel Goldstein this afternoon. I’d developed my forecast but was unsure about one aspect. He’s a great weather historian so I called and told him I was confused because I’d never seen this particular setup before. Neither had he!

My concern was how much warm air would remain and how much water would stay on roads as the snow fell? How would this affect Friday? My guess is a great deal of the storm will just melt as it hits the pavement–not all of it. What does accumulate will be wet and sloppy and very heavy to move.

After Friday I’ll know better how my speculation comports with the real world. I am working totally in a theoretical world right now.
I am exhausted. This week has been a killer. There’s been no forecast where I could let up because they all were jammed with critical information.

Bring on the weekend.

¹ – As long as I’ve been in Connecticut WFSB has been naming storms. It’s probably a good promotional tool for them, but on those occasions when people refer to a storm by the WFSB given name I gag. These are people who also call the Fiesta Bowl the FedEx Fiesta Bowl.

I Stalk Myself

We’re talking 1970-71. Is there really someone out who knows my career details from 35 plus years ago? Wow!

It’s true, I stalk myself. Google searches for me across the Internet and when it finds a new listing it sends me an email with the link. Thanks Sergey and Larry.

I don’t get that many hits, but every once in a while it’s something juicy. People forget they’re speaking in public. They don’t realize Google reads sparsely traveled boards.

This was posted around a month ago. It was part of a conversation about West Palm Beach radio.

Before that it was WGMW a rock station, co-owned by Tom Kegel (sp) ex of WIRK. He brought over Geoff Fox ex WIRK, WQXT, WMUM and now a TV weatherman in CT. The odd thing was that they had a night time talk show with an older ex-NY radio guy known as Half beard. Apparently in his early days his stunt had been to shave 1/2 his face

We’re talking 1970-71. This guy has just correctly named four stations I worked at. Is there really someone out who knows my career details from 35 plus years ago? Wow!

The guy with the, then, clean shaven face was Mitch Sandler. He had been Professor Half Beard in an earlier incarnation. I don’t remember his air style, except he was older, smart and very liberal. There were a lot of very liberal people back then. Mitch passed away a long time ago.

This was an interesting station. Physically, we had glassed in studios at a failed mall with little traffic in Riviera Beach, Florida. We were automated, meaning tapes and cartridges fired in sequence or by timer. I designed the format and it was impossible to tell we weren’t live. It was a mostly (not totally) dependable system from Shaffer, who served mostly beautiful music stations back then.

To save money, the owners had me do the morning show, but work all-night. Then, they’d forget to saunter in until 9:30 or 10:00 O’clock. Maybe some day I’ll forget that treatment.

Tonight’s other Google tip was for a more recent post by someone who calls himself “TheNews”

“WTNH’s Geoff Fox Out?,” “His bio is off the WTNH site. It would be sad he’s been there since 1984!”

It would, wouldn’t it? This was a screw-up at the station. They redesigned a webpage and left me off. It happens.

“His pic is still on the storm team 8 banner on top. And other graphics. I never really cared for Geoff Fox. At least at Channel 3 when Hilton left they gave him a be party at the end of the newscast and everything,” – Ken.

For those skimming, Ken didn’t care for me. Hilton is Hilton Kaderli, formerly of WFSB in Hartford and an icon in this market. I’m glad to have him as a friend.

I would be lying if I said Ken’s opinion of me doesn’t make me cringe a little. It’s part of my job and I accept it–but grudgingly.

On the other hand, there’s stuff like this from “oldschooltv”

“I think he was on vacation last week (see his blog: geofffox.com). Personally, I like Geoff. Forecasting in Connecticut is not easy with all the various micro-climates we have due to the hills, valleys, inland, shoreline, etc. He knows our area well and has been around for a long time. They’d be crazy to ever get rid of him.”

This is eavesdropping, right?

At the moment, I’m wondering how many of my co-workers and contemporaries do the same thing with Google? I have no clue. I wonder if Hilton will see this?

An Evening In Enemy Territory

Because our professional interests are the same, we end up together from time-to-time. Such was the case last night when WFSB hosted a National Weather Service Skywarn seminar.

All businesses are different in this regard, but I am friendly with my competitors. There are a few I’ve known for over twenty years… even one who sat on my lap when he was a little boy and I was Santa&#185!

Because our professional interests are the same, we end up together from time-to-time. Such was the case last night when WFSB hosted a National Weather Service Skywarn seminar.

Skywarn is the NWS program to train laymen to spot severe weather. No matter how sophisticated our equipment gets, eyes on the ground are nearly always better. Skywarn is sometimes affiliated with ham radio, though not always.

At least a hundred folks, mostly men, assembled in a conference room at WFSB-TV’s new facility in Rocky Hill. Two meteorologists from the Weather Service’s Taunton, MA office

worked their way through a PowerPoint presentation, telling why and showing what severe weather is all about.

In the back of the room, a gaggle of meteorologists from Channels 3, 8, 30 and 61, stood and kibitzed. This was material we’d each seen many times and knew well. We were glad to be there… glad to see the public’s interest… but probably already well beyond the program’s level.

From time-to-time there is interstation criticism on forecast or warning decisions NWS makes. On a night this, it’s difficult to see anything but the dedication and passion these ‘government boys’ have. They do want to save lives.

As long as I was at the station, I asked for a quick tour. Mark Dixon, one of the meteorologists took me around. The facility is impressive.

The construction is new, so WFSB’s studios are designed to operate with a lot of computer assisted equipment.

Instead of three or four cameras rolling around the studio, there are eight, each at a fixed position. The control rooms are meant for smaller crews, without discrete audio or font operators. The working newsroom is large with clusters of desks and lots of monitors.

Though my station has dozens of monitors in the control room, the trend now is to digitally split immense flat panel screens, allowing them to show all the video. It saves space and eliminates heat. WFSB uses this concept in its control rooms.

Doesn’t that create a single point for catastrophic failure?

Our weather areas are similarly equipped and similarly in the studio. I couldn’t resist having my picture taken in theirs.

Kudos to WFSB for offering up their facility.

&#185 – Ryan, if you’ve been scarred for life by that experience, my apologies.

Jerry’s Seniors

It’s after 3:00 AM here in the East, but it’s late everywhere across America. I just turned on the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. Jerry’s nowhere to be found.

Please don’t get me wrong. MDA is a great charity. Helaine makes sure we give every year. But right now, this looks like “Parents Night” at my folks’ condo!

Currently hosting: Norm Crosby. Norm will be 80 in a few weeks.

Ed McMahon is there too. Ed is 84.

They both look great for their ages, but if I see either lick their lips one more time, I’ll scream. They both just act and sound old.

There’s music, but I don’t see any musicians nor Lou Brown, the perennial band leader. Maybe he’ll be on later. He’s 86.

Unfortunately, from a production standpoint, the telethon has a very dated look. It’s as if they haven’t caught on to the fact they’re competing in a 100+ channel environment, reaching viewers with remote controls at the ready. Having this geriatric crew as the face of the telethon only goes to reinforce that feeling.

B.B. King just appeared on a promo. He seemed sharper and younger than Ed and Norm, but even B.B. will 82 in a few weeks.

Year-by-year it’s harder for MDA to do what they do. Stations are reticent to pay to staff, then give away nearly a full day of airtime (and I suspect MDA might be paying to get on in some markets).

Here in Connecticut, the telethon moved from its long time home at WFSB to WTIC. A decade ago, that switch would have been unthinkable. It was a high profile event on Channel 3 with their front line anchors hosting. I suppose telethons aren’t as special any more.

At some point MDA will have to make a decision to go younger. As long as the hosts are getting older, so will their audience. Over time, that becomes unsustainable on both ends.

Know Your Source

I feel awful for Mark Dixon and my other meteorologist friends at Channel 3. Here’s a taste of a story about a weather faux pas from today’s Hartford Courant:

False Alarm, Toto

Photograph Of Tornado Was Actually From Kansas, Not Thomaston, WFSB Says


Courant Staff Writers

July 21, 2007

A photo of a Kansas-size twister that accompanied a TV news report Thursday about an outbreak of severe thunderstorms in Connecticut actually was taken in Kansas.

WFSB, Channel 3, received the photo by e-mail Thursday afternoon from a man who said he shot it on his father’s farm in Thomaston, station news director Dana Neves said Friday. The timing of the e-mail corresponded with radar showing severe weather over southern Litchfield County and ground reports of funnel clouds and a tornado in that same area, WFSB meteorologist Mark Dixon said Friday. The totality of the situation, he and Neves said, convinced the station that the photo was legitimate.

The photo was shown on the broadcast and displayed prominently on WFSB’s website, wfsb.com.

After verifying through the National Weather Service that the photo was shot in Kansas about two years ago, the station announced the mistake to viewers Thursday evening, Neves said. They also alerted federal officials.

I’m not saying it couldn’t have happened to me – because it could have. I tend to treat any kind of unsolicited video or eyewitness account with a grain of salt, but I’m not perfect.

Just to give you a taste of what goes on, here’s an email I received Thursday:

Hi Geoff–We had a tornado touch down in Thomaston and then again in Terryville–I don’t know about damage because I don’t live there. But local police saw it and reported it. Just thought you would like to know.


I was so busy, I didn’t see this until long after the cell had passed through Thomaston. By that time, based on an NWS report, we had sent a reporter there. He found nothing.

I wrote asking Sharon where she got her info.

Hi Geoff–

I was watching the Weather Channel when I first got home and it came across in the National Weather Service Tornado warning on the bottom of the screen. It said the tornado was spotted by local law enforcement.


Sharon didn’t mean to be bad or misleading. She was doing what she felt was right. But, she originally passed along second hand information as if she had obtained it herself.

I try my best to make personal contact with anyone who sends unsolicited material I use, but I know there are times I haven’t stridently followed my own rule. Speaking to someone usually provides to best clues to their trustworthiness.

This stuff happens all the time. Most of the time it’s a photo that someone claims comes from a friend or relative – but it doesn’t. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the same bogus Katrina pictures!

There’s a larger point to be made here and that gets to the crux of citizen journalism. Are we ready to trust random members of the public to provide our news coverage?

Opinionated reporters (Bill O’Reilly, Keith Olbermann, Lou Dobbs, Brit Hume) may choose to report only certain aspects of a story, but you know where they’re coming from and can adjust accordingly. With random citizens, who knows what they’re trying to accomplish or maybe they’re too naive, like Sharon, to even know.

A good TV station, like WFSB, steps up to the plate and admits when they are wrong. That’s what good meteorologists and good journalists do.

On the other hand, when caught sending dubious material, I’ve found unsolicited citizen ‘journalists’ often stop responding.

This is the new world. There are aspects I don’t approve of.

Bad Luck In The Studio

Often, as our newscast begins, I’ll quickly tune the TV at my desk to see what the other stations are leading with. I can’t be the only one in TV to do that?

It’s idle curiosity. Most of the time we all have similar ledes&#185. When we don’t, there’s usually a technical or structural reason that trumps the actual content.

Friday, while tuning, I came to WFSB – Channel 3 in Hartford. They were ‘in black.’

As I sat and wondered what was going on, a tape began to rewind on-the-air. I could pick out the specific digital format by the distinct square pixelated areas. Even the non-initiated could see it was Oprah, running backwards at breakneck speed.

WFSB’s news never did air Friday afternoon. A burst sewer pipe in the basement of their soon-to-be-abandoned building was threatening the electrical system. Everyone was ordered out as the smell of sewage and electricity began to permeate the building (Hey, I’ve got sources).

Last night it was WABC’s turn in New York. A bulb above their news set exploded, causing a curtain to catch fire!

Again, the building was evacuated as fire crews moved in to quickly douse the flames.

In neither case was anyone hurt. That’s a good thing. In neither case did the news get on-the-air. That’s troubling.

I remember reading, 15-20 years ago, about stations that had suffered misfortunes and mounted their newscast from the parking lot or other makeshift locations. I’m afraid those days are over.

As television equipment has become more sophisticated, it has also become less versatile. We can’t just pick up our videotapes and use a live truck, because we’re no longer using tapes. All our video is held in a few racks of computer servers.

Each and every part of what we show on-the-air is controlled by computers. When they communicate nicely, things are smooth as can be. When one system decides it won’t play well with others, it can stop the whole show.

All things considered, I’d rather have to tell the audience fire kept us from bringing them the news than blaming it on poop!

&#185 – This alternate spelling “lede” has become more and more popular recently. I’m sure someone will cite longstanding tradition, but I never remember anyone using that spelling prior to the last four or five years.

Another Reason To Hate Winter

I got this a little while ago:


I’ve been watching your forecasts for many years… and over these past few winter’s…. I have yet to see you give a satisfactory/accurate forecast! As of tonight. you just said snow is going to change to rain on the coastline.. More specifically: Stratford, CT….. What I do not understand… is CH 3 (WFSB) CH 6 (NBC) Ch 7 (WABC-7 NY) didn’t mention anything about changing to ALL rain… they mentioned a mix… also.. I’ve been monitoring the forecast(s) from noaa.gov/nyc… and they also do not mention rain… I think too much “faith” is put into your “Skymax” computer models.. rather than actual facts… correct me if I’m right/wrong.. but I do not understand the conflicting forecasts. Please explain?!

When he says I haven’t given an accurate forecast in years, I suppose that reveals his mindset.

Of course he could be right. I’m hoping he’s not. It’s so complex. Surely there are things I’ve missed or underplayed. Hopefully, I’ve seen the whole picture.

The funniest part is, I didn’t know the details of the other forecasts until I read this (I had some idea of NWS because I read their forecast discussions – not their finished forecasts).

So, now I sit and wait… and watch… and wait some more. The is what Tums are for, right?

Another Nice Mention in the Day

I spoke to Rick Koster at the New London Day yesterday. He was writing a story about weathermen and comments their viewers make, and asked me to participate. I’m always scared I might say something I’ll later regret. This one came out very nicely.

I’ve attached the story to the link below

Snow Rage?

Just Blame It On The Weathermen, They’re Used To It

�There will be no school tomorrow. At least I’ll be a hero to kids.� – Geoff Fox, WTNH Channel 8 weatherman

Day Staff Columnist, Arts & Entertainment
Published on 3/1/2005

Something irritating this way comes.

It was Monday afternoon and the clouds were the opaque gray of a killer’s eyes. The Nor’easter was roaring up the Atlantic Coast and forecasters were describing a weather system that would utilize the Connecticut shore as a sort of tightrope between heavy rain and snow, or both.

Among area meteorologists, the mood was a cross between the excitement wrought of any storm and the anxiety that comes with predicting tough and complex systems. After all, at this point in the season, the citizenry can be a bit testy � and need someone to blame the weather on.

�It’s the nature of the game,� said Matt Scott, a meteorologist at WTNH in New Haven who called the impending Nor’easter �a complicated one.�

�This is a troublesome storm,� he said. �This is the first storm of the winter where I think we could see some power outages.�

That would certainly increase the potential for public dissatisfaction.

�Well, we’ve had a lot of snow � more than average � and when we’re a little off the mark some folks get agitated,� Scott said.

Geoff Fox, one of Scott’s meteorological colleagues at WTNH, who has worked in the area for 20 years, is more than familiar with irate weather-followers blaming the messenger. He remembered several years ago when a tourist board in Cape Cod was upset with him because members thought Fox’s long-range forecasts, which in this part of the country usually included a day of rain, were affecting business. They theorized Connecticut residents would not make the trip to the Cape if Fox suggested inclement weather.

Another time: �I was collared by a guy who owned a car wash where I used to take my car,� Fox remembered. �He didn’t like weather forecasts that could hurt his business. I tried to kid around, but he had no sense of humor and I came to believe, in his case, that he had some connections and could actually hurt me. So I get my car washed somewhere else now.�

Fox will presumably not worry about the aesthetics of his car over the next few days. He said Monday afternoon that the Nor’easter was pushing farther and farther to the east. Since snow systems have a relative warm and cold side � the cold is to the west � each turn to the east increases the likelihood that southeastern Connecticut will get more snow.

�There will be no school tomorrow,� Fox said. �At least I’ll be a hero to kids.�

Today’s technology makes it easier for viewers to convey their irritation with meteorologists.

�E-mails are easy to fire off; there are no faces or identities attached,� said Bruce DePrest, chief meteorologist at WFSB in Hartford. �The sender might even be mad at a forecast from another station, but any weatherman will do. Anything can trigger it, too � the timing of a storm, calling for snow and getting rain. … A lot of things make people mad, and sometimes they just want to be annoying because it’s easy to do.�

Michael Thomas, a meteorologist for the Connecticut Weather Center in Danbury, can perhaps understand the concept of what might be called �snow rage� even if he’d never heard the phrase. He said, �I think southeastern Connecticut is looking at five to eight inches of snow with this storm. I was already tired of (snow) last month. Now I hate it.�

Meteorologists say they take their forecasts seriously.

�People should understand that a storm like the one headed our way is my Super Bowl or my Oscars,� Fox said. �It’s really important to us to get it right. There is no upside to making an inaccurate forecast. This is where we make friends or enemies.�

Perhaps it’s possible to do both.

Last week, after several more inches of snow, Fox and his boss received �incredibly irate� e-mails from a viewer in Gales Ferry. The guy was mad because, after the station’s forecast called for snow, his caf� lost business and his son’s wrestling practice was canceled.

�I wrote back and said I didn’t cause the snow,� Fox said. �In the meantime, my boss, who never throws an e-mail away, remembered the guy’s name from an earlier communication and sent a return e-mail: �I’m really surprised to hear from you since you wrote in 2002 and said you’d never watch us again. So it’s good to have you back.’ �

Seven Thousand Three Hundred Five Days

Seven thousand three hundred five days ago, Connecticut still had toll booths on I-95 and the Merritt Parkway. There was no state income tax. Our governor, William O’Neill, was a tavern owner.

Back then, WTNH was a middle aged television station, owned by Capitol Cities Communications – before it bought ABC. It was second place in what was, for all intents and purposes, a 2 station market. A station with an identity crisis, not knowing whether to be Connecticut’s station or just concentrate on New Haven. It was making money hand-over-fist, which tended to minimize their concern.

On May 21, 1984, One thousand forty three weeks and four days ago, I walked into Channel 8 as an employee. If you would have told me twenty years ago that I’d still be there today, I’d have called you a fool. In my 11 years in radio, I had worked all over the country. No job had ever run more than 3 or 4 years – and most were much shorter.

Al Terzi (WFSB), Gerri Harris (who knows) and Diane Smith (WTIC radio, CPTV), were our main anchors. Bob Picozzi (ESPN radio, UConn Women’s basketball play-byplay) was our sports director. Our news director, the guy who hired me, was Mike Sechrist (General Manager WKRN – Nashville). His assistant, Wendie Feinberg (Executive Producer Nightly Business Report – PBS). In the control room, Tom O’Brien (General Manager KXAS – Dallas) and Jeff Winn (Fox Sports “Best Damned Sports…”).

Of all the on-air and management personnel at the station that day, only I am left. I have survived 4 different owners, 4 general managers, 10 news directors and countless dozens of assistants, producers, reporters and anchors.

Still, I often ask myself, where have I gone wrong?

That’s not to say my professional life hasn’t been good. In fact, it’s been great. This is a very rewarding job and the people who watch have been generous in their support, while my bosses have been… well, they’ve been generous too. I just wonder, what if?

Have I missed the bright lights of the big city? Would I have been able to compete at that level?

Today, if I were looking for work elsewhere, would I be taken seriously? A few years longevity is a good thing, but twenty years in New Haven makes it seem like I’ve been unable to escape.

Since I have been at WTNH, only four of the on-air people hired were older than I was at the time – and three of those came within my first year. This is a business of the young… and I say that even though this station isn’t anywhere near as youth obsessed as some others.

I remember early in my radio career, seeing people who’d been in one place too long, who were now just going through the motions. I promised myself that would never be me. I’ve kept my word.

It is still important to me, after all this time, to know whether I’ve entertained or not. There are no gimmes. A bad Friday night 11:00 weathercast can ruin my weekend… ask my wife.

Even tonight, I brought home a snippet of tape because a few seconds of well timed on-air chatter with the floor director seemed memorable. Every show counts. I am never unhappy to go to work. I have never taken, or needed, a ‘mental health’ day.

I still have my fantasy jobs – things I’d like to do and sometimes even dream about. I’d like to do a game show. I’d like to do a sit down fun chat show. I’d like to fill-in again on Good Morning America. Who knows?

I worry about losing a little off the fastball – about someone up-and-coming who might want my job. I worry about a new owner or manager who might not care that I’ve put twenty years in. After all, in the 21st century, company loyalty is something employees have toward companies… not the other way around.

About 15 years ago, my agent said there would come a time when I’d want to shave ten years off my age. I think I could actually pass with that lie. Until recently, I’d regularly get viewer mail telling me to stop coloring my hair… even though it’s never been colored. But, I won’t lie about my age because I’m proud to have the experience and knowledge that only comes with being 53.

I am not sorry that I’ve made it to 20 years. I am not disappointed in what I’ve accomplished. I have a wonderful life. I only wonder where the other paths led.

Men (and Women) In Black III

I was surprised to see a half page ad in today’s Hartford Courant from the air staff (members of AFTRA) at WFSB in Hartford. Their union negotiations have been contentious, to say the least, over the past few years.

Some long time employees have worked for Travelers Insurance, Post-Newsweek and now Meredith as station owners.

Travelers was local, which always makes a difference. And, at that time, the money was flowing in like water, to a station that had cost them a pittance to put on-the-air.

Post-Newsweek was a print oriented company and, though many people felt they weren’t as employee friendly as Travelers, the station continued to be a good place to work.

Meredith is also print oriented but it’s a different situation from Post-Newsweek. I am not involved in their labor negotiations, but I have heard that Meredith declared an impasse and implemented their last/best offer. There’s not much the union members can do short of walking out.

Today’s ad said the anchors and reporters would all wear black as a sign of solidarity – and they did. The ad also listed some of their grievances. A friend called me from their newsroom to say the tension was high and management had spoken to some on-the-air people.

Meredith is going to have to make a decision on how they value the folks on-the-air. Considering the preponderance of research that says, to a large extent, people watch TV stations because of whose on the air, I will be interested to see how far this goes.

This isn’t a grade school fight. Would Meredith really cut off their nose to spite their face? Will the union cripple the station by walking out and risking their own jobs at the same time? Are there more job actions to come or will cooler heads prevail? How can it benefit any company to be at war with their own staff?

I work for the competition and I want to win, but not by default against a crippled opponent. This time, the news will be from the newsroom.

(The Hartford Courant featured an article about the situation, which is attached below)

Continue reading “Men (and Women) In Black III”

No Mas – No Mas

No mas – No mas

I’m sure you’ve heard about the SoBig virus. This isn’t the one the big boned kid from Minnesota got arrested over (he’s with one of the variants of Blaster). SoBig is one of those virii that penetrates your email and then tries to propagate itself by emailing itself to everyone in your address book.

What makes SoBig particularly nefarious is that it spoofs where it’s coming from. So, if you were infected, you might send out hundreds… maybe thousands of emails, but they wouldn’t have your return address, they’d have someone elses… like mine!

As far as I can tell, that’s just what’s happening. If it weren’t such a huge pain in the ass, the funny part would be that the messages bouncing back to me (which I didn’t send) are coming from my direct business competitor, WFSB.

Here’s a short sample of what I’ve gotten hundreds of times already:

This message was created automatically by mail delivery software.

Message violates a policy rule set up by the domain administrator

Delivery failed for the following recipients(s):


—– Original Message Header —–

Received: by mail1-haw (MessageSwitch) id 1062729730176807_24713; Fri, 5 Sep 2003 02:42:10 +0000 (UCT)

Received: from L-39C (mail.jcj.com [])

by mail1-haw.bigfish.com (Postfix) with ESMTP id E51C011659E

for ; Fri, 5 Sep 2003 02:42:07 +0000 (UCT)



Subject: Re: That movie

Date: Thu, 4 Sep 2003 22:42:07 –0400

X-MailScanner: Found to be clean

Importance: Normal

X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2600.0000

X-MSMail-Priority: Normal

X-Priority: 3 (Normal)

MIME-Version: 1.0

Content-Type: multipart/mixed;


Message-Id: <20030905024207.E51C011659E@mail1-haw.bigfish.com>

So, what can we learn from this?

First, the network administrators for WFSB (who are listed in Internet directories as actually being from their parent company Meredith) ought to know that SoBig spoofs return addresses and stop sending these bounces. Most other companies have followed that policy of benign neglect.

Yes, bounces are important in normal times, because people would like to know when mail they sent didn’t arrive. But, with this virus, it is obvious from the contents that this isn’t a ‘real’ message.

Second, the headers show that the mail is coming through the mail server at jcj.com, a Hartford, CT architectural firm. It would be nearly impossible to spoof jcj.com because there is a ‘handshake’ with information traded back and forth when the WFSB server gets the mail. If the address were spoofed, there’d be no response and the transaction would end before the mail was sent. Jcj.com shouldn’t be letting this message pass their server… which seems to be happening dozens and dozens and dozens of times.

I sent a letter to the WFSB mail admiinistrator a few days ago. Nothing. Maybe I should let them know I’ll start charging for my services should they send any more of these my way, I wrote jcj.com tonight. It’s too early to expect a response, but they should have nipped this a long time ago..

Meanwhile, it’s another waste of time. Thanks.

SoBig gets (so) BigGER

I woke up this morning to find a few dozen more SoBig bouncebacks in my mailbox. From the looks of the email’s I’ve received, the actually infected computer might belong to someone at WFSB… someone I invited to the Emmy judging!

Along with random, weird addresses (see the extended entry below), emails went to Rob Jordan (agent) and a few Meredeth and WFSB addresses. Oops.

Continue reading “SoBig gets (so) BigGER”