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Station Break

Testy Jesse

Jesse Ventura last week asked that Minnesotans boycott the local media which, he says, are out to destroy people. He offered his call to inaction during a 2 1/2-hour guest spot on a local radio station.

"The governor has been less than precise in his definitions," said Scott Libin, news director for KSTP-TV—co-owned with KSTP-AM, where Ventura launched his tirade. "He says local media, but he clearly has a preference for talk radio." Ventura "was in talk radio long before he was in politics," Libin noted, and still has his own weekly show on WCCO-AM, co-owned with CBS's WCCO-TV.

Ventura was angry over the reporting—if not the reporters—and criticism that accompanied his trip to New York earlier in the month. Local reporters were, in fact, excluded from Ventura's visit to Ground Zero, which was filmed by Good Morning America, which paid for the governor's trip.

The loquacious former wrestler has had a rocky but usually mutually beneficial relationship with local media. A year ago, he was well-received in Minneapolis by an aggregation of broadcast journalists at the Radio-Television News Directors Association, for which he autographed a sweatshirt for auction "To the Jackals," echoing an earlier skirmish with media. "He plays very effectively to the public's responsiveness and willingness to bash the media. It's easy, and we've earned some of it," Libin added.

Commercial controversy

Two Springfield, Ill., TV stations were drawn into a controversy over a commercial for Republican gubernatorial candidate and current Lieutenant Governor Corinne Wood, which showed the fireball at the World Trade Center—an image from which networks and many local stations have pulled back. A second version of the ad was produced with the superimposed words "Sept. 11" instead of the explosive image, which Wood and her campaign staff later decided was potentially exploitative.

The campaign said that the first version was not approved by the candidate. But both versions were sent out, and the original ad ran on WRSP-TV and WICS(TV). Both stations acknowledged that there was a fax directing them not to use the first version. Newcomb noted that it was unusual to receive an ad that did not have approval from the campaign.

Offering both a mea culpa and make-goods for the candidate, WRSP-TV General Manager John Newcomb said there never would have been a controversy over a mistaken ad for a product, only for politics. Politics in Indiana, from where he recently arrived, was relatively boring, he said. "Over here," he said, "it's fun."

Getting down to business

Fox-owned KDVR(TV) Denver will be airing stories from the Denver Business Journal
regarding local business and economics as part of a new partnership. The station will air a segment called Business Weblines
weeknights during the Nine O'Clock News.

WCBS-TV keeps newscast

WCBS-TV New York will keep the Sunday-morning newscast it began following the Sept. 11 attacks for the foreseeable future. Although the program has rotated time slots as well as anchors, it will be scheduled at 8-9 a.m. The show has consistently outperformed other local news in that slot, as well as the Bob Vila and Martha Stewart lifestyle programming it replaces, said News Director Joel Cheatwood. "It's been so strong, we have to look at making it permanent," he said.

Movie host dies

Former Columbus, Ohio, late-night-movie host Jerry Beck died of a heart attack in Millersport, Ohio, last week at 58. He was one of the early hosts of the camp-style movie shows in which the hosts make fun of the films. He was a magician and stuntman before going into local television and later ran a commercial-production company. He is survived by his wife, Bethany, and son, J.R. Beck.