For the past few weeks, the phones at Casa Diablo have been ringing off the hook with word of what was about to transpire at Channel 10/WJAR-TV, which has been the Biggest Little's #1 station since TV was invented. The calls were from people who work there and saw the Night of the Long Knives coming — people who P+J highly respect. Their intent was to express their sorrow at seeing the station bled dry by a bunch of bottom-line, AIG-type empty suits at Media General, the firm in the cesspool of Richmond, Virginia, that owns the station.
Now for full disclosure, which will not help a certain individual: Phillipe has a blog on the WJAR Turnto10 website, and aids Channel 10's Watershed Report. That said, it will never prohibit him from saying that something sucks — and this situation does in spades — so kiss P+J's ass on behalf of those who have just gotten the chop.
This absentee ownership — and do not think for a moment this was a strategy designed on Kenney Drive by the highly respected Lisa Churchville, for whom no one at the station has a bad word because they know her predicament — is as sorry as the Belo Corp.'s lack of consideration for the ProJo. Lisa had to lay off her friend and news director Betty Jo Cugini, absolutely the best in the business for more than two decades and who is only admired more than P+J by the people who have worked with her, which is the highest praise possible. B.J. — we love you.
Gary Ley and Kelly Magee got all the attention about being let go, but P+J know guys such as photog Bill Byrnes who were also canned and do superb TV journalism. We salute you all. And one new element that Media General is introducing, which conveniently eliminated five jobs, is a new program called "IGNITE," which must be programmed one hour ahead of air time, meaning updates on breaking news will be eliminated. And if it screws up — which is, of course, inevitable — it defaults immediately to MSNBC. Hey, kids, here's your local news! How's that fire in Oregon going?
As many of our informants have noted, Channel 6, which is one step ahead of the World Weekly News, now has more employees than Channel 10. Then again, when you total IQs . . . .
Sleep tight, Bunny North.
THE CASTAWAYS OF K-Y ISLAND
In a story on A-5 of Tuesday's Other Paper, the Associated Press reported that leaders of the Roman Catholic Church had been warned as early as the 1950s about the dangers presented by priests who had been found to have molested children, challenging statements made by a number of US bishops about the scandals that busted wide open in the 1980s and again in 2002. The key evidence was found in letters from the '50s from the founder of "the Servants of the Paraclete," the treatment center for abusive priests set up by the church in New Mexico in the late '40s.
What set your superior corres-pondents heads spinning was the second sentence in the news story: "The Rev. Gerald Fitzgerald, founder of the Servants of the Paraclete, was so sure of the priests' inability to control themselves that he tried to buy an island to isolate them."