Mus­ing over me­dia moves

Nor'wester (Springdale) - - EDITORIAL - Bob Wake­ham

I’ve wor­ried my­self into an un­well state this week, an ab­so­lute tizzy, a dis­con­cert­ing con­di­tion that has given my nor­mally fine-look­ing nog­gin the look of a twisted knot.

There’s just so much to be con­cerned about, and I’m not just re­fer­ring to the rat­tling of nu­clear armed sabres by that ver­ti­cally and in­tel­lec­tu­ally chal­lenged fat kid in North Korea and that eth­i­cally and sta­bil­ity-chal­lenged buf­foon to the south of us.

In­deed, I find my­self split­ting and stack­ing wood at an in­creased rate these early Fall days to calm my nerves when I con­tem­plate those two dis­turbed lead­ers pos­si­bly pro­vok­ing a real life ver­sion of “Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned To Stop Wor­ry­ing and Love the Bomb.”

If that turns out to be the case, here’s hop­ing Don­ald the Dunce adopts the Slim Pick­ens role from “Dr. Strangelove,” sad­dles him­self onto the bomb and rides all that TNT into Kim Jung-un’s bed­room, wav­ing his “Let’s Make Amer­ica Great” base­ball cap, wear­ing a white robe and pointed hat, and singing “I Wish I Was in the Land of Dixie.”

Puff! Just like that.

Two neu­rotic, shal­low and fright­en­ing men evap­o­rated in a sec­ond. It’s a start. (Un­for­tu­nately, mil­lions of in­no­cents would also dis­ap­pear into the at­mos­phere along with the two nut bars).

But, as I in­di­cated at the top of this Satur­day homily, the avalanche of worry tum­bling through­out my age­ing skull has been pre­cip­i­tated by much more than Trump and the Lit­tle Clap­per; it has to do with lo­cal me­dia stuff.

For starters, I can’t make hide nor hair of the shuf­fling tak­ing place within the news gath­er­ing busi­ness in New­found­land these days, as much role switch­ing as we’ve seen in a don­key’s age, and it’s cost­ing me a good night’s sleep.

Now per­haps you don’t care a hoot, but my jour­nal­is­tic neu­rons started twitch­ing when it was an­nounced, some­what qui­etly, with­out the bells and whis­tles you’d nor­mally ex­pect, that An­thony Ger­main, the main­land me­dia star brought to St. John’s a num­ber of years ago to host CBC Ra­dio’s Morn­ing Show, will be the new co-host of Here and Now with Deb­bie Cooper.

(Cooper has been a pop­u­lar and wel­come fix­ture in New­found­land homes since, it some­times seems, Frank Moores was in power — OK, in re­al­ity, since Clyde Wells be­came pre­mier — and should be given a medal for, at the very least, ad­just­ing to end­less rein­ven­tions of the sup­per hour man­date and for­mat).

So who’s tak­ing over for Ger­main? Well, in a rel­a­tive shocker, it’s Fred Hut­ton, who’s

de­sert­ing a gig as VOCM’S news di­rec­tor right about the time the ra­dio sta­tion is air­ing some cryp­tic ads about “los­ing our way,” or words to that ef­fect.

Un­der Hut­ton, a meat-and­pota­toes re­porter, a tire­less worker, there were news and in­ter­view seg­ments all over the place on VOCM (iron­i­cally, it had some of the sounds of a CBC sta­tion, at a time the public broad­caster it­self was con­tin­u­ing to pay an in­or­di­nate amount of at­ten­tion to tur­keys, Valen­tine’s Day, free cof­fee, and other com­mu­nity events, the sort of fool­ish­ness you’d usu­ally ex­pect from the pri­vate sta­tions).

Do those ads and the de­par­ture of an old-fash­ioned news­man like Hut­ton mean VOCM is hav­ing sec­ond thoughts about that newly dis­cov­ered fo­cus on jour­nal­ism?

A shame, since it was just start­ing to lose its rep­u­ta­tion as a soft-land­ing spot for politi­cians: VOCM, the Voice Of The Cab­i­net Min­is­ter.

Easy to for­get, by the way, that Hut­ton was co-host­ing the NTV Evening News when a few editorial and pro­duc­tion brain cramps by CBC man­age­ment al­lowed the Stir­ling boys to take over the num­ber one slot in the rat­ings, a po­si­tion they’ve never re­lin­quished.

You can see what I have to worry about.

And then there’s the per­pet­u­a­tion of the jour­nal­ist/ politi­cian shuf­fle.

Now stick with me on this one: Pete Soucy, owner/op­er­a­tor of the “Snook” fran­chise, who was axed from his af­ter­noon host­ing job on VOCM’S “Back­talk” sev­eral months back, is think­ing of tak­ing another crack at pol­i­tics (he once ran, un­suc­cess­fully, for the Lib­er­als in a pro­vin­cial elec­tion, a move re­called only by po­lit­i­cal junkies like me).

Soucey wants Judy Foote’s seat, and who wouldn’t? It’s as safe a Lib­eral seat as there is in the coun­try. Foote, a scat­tered soul might re­call, was her­self a jour­nal­is­tic foot sol­dier decades ago be­fore head­ing for the dark side (as I’ve al­ways sanc­ti­mo­niously per­ceived such trai­tor­ous acts) to take a job as a Clyde Wells flak. Even­tu­ally, she won her own pro­vin­cial seat, and con­tin­ued her po­lit­i­cal suc­cess in Ot­tawa.

And Foote’s po­si­tion as New­found­land’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the fed­eral cab­i­net has been filled by Sea­mus O’re­gan, another for­mer jour­nal­ist, or, more to the point, a morn­ing tele­vi­sion star on CTV, ton­sils with feet.

O’re­gan has big boots to fill, given his raw rookie sta­tus in pol­i­tics, and the fact that Foote was a real throw­back to the days when New­found­land ac­tu­ally had a strong voice in the fed­eral cab­i­net (think Jamieson and Cros­bie, not Pe­nashue).

So you can un­der­stand why the Kim and Don­ald show­down is not nearly on a par with the type of wor­ries I have.

Will Deb­bie and An­thony have any chem­istry? How about Krissy Holmes and Fred? Who’ll re­place Fred? When will Ryan Cleary leave the wharf for another ex­pe­di­ent shot at pol­i­tics or jour­nal­ism?

If he wins the nom­i­na­tion and then gets elected, will Snook be­gin his maiden speech in the House of Com­mons with: “Mr. Speaker, how ya get­tin’ on?”

Stay tuned, so to speak. As I know many of you will.

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