VOX’s DUMPING OF TOM CONKLIN ANOTHER BLOW FOR WHAT PASSES AS ‘LOCAL MEDIA’ … VOX RADIO CONTINUES WRITING OFF PITTSFIELD CITIZENS …WHERE IS THE JUSTICE FOR THE ACCUSED TRIPLE MURDERERS? TRY THEM OR FREE THEM … ‘DOWNTOWN RENAISSANCE?’ YEAH, RIGHT. LET US SEE MICHAELANGELO OR DA VINCI
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, JAN. 2, 2013) — It’s never a good thing for a community when a local journalist gets fired. Nonetheless, Vox Radio had no problem reducing its already skeletal human staff in giving 16-year newsroom veteran Tom Conklin his walking papers. The move became effective immediately, a month ago. Thus, the Rape of the Mainsteam Media by out-of-town chain ownership continues.
When this happens, the community suffers.
Conklin wasn’t Walter Cronkite, but he was someone much more valuable to Pittsfield and Berkshire County: a local, experienced journalist who had community ties and, therefore, community interest. He had a reason for being in his work, given his vested interest in the locale. Also, when you dismiss 16 years of knowledge and substitute it with a part-time rookie’s ignorance, the ability to recognize, let alone cover, the news gets seriously depleted.
THE PLANET had the pleasure of working with Tom Conklin on a few occasions, back in our Radio Day, after we ceased being radio rivals and we began guesting on various stations. We found Conklin to be solid, a dependable guy, steady in a pinch — and anyone who has ever done local radio knows that every moment in the air is a pinch, made so by the typical tame and lame ignorance that makes up the most of what locally is nominally radio management. He ran the board for a couple of elections that THE PLANET anchored.
An ‘Incredible Statement’
Vox GM Peter Barry made the incredible statement, “Despite the reduction in the position from full- to part-time, we remain committed to live[,] local programming.” Right. You’ve just canned an experienced hand. You’re going to replace him with a “half-time” person and put the rest of the work load on an already overworked staff. But you’re still “committed” to live, local coverage. This type of “pretend” statement has become the norm for Pittsfield. The GOB addresses s many issues, area, and topics — for example, progress at PEDA, alleged downtown revitalization, progress in schools — in this type of contradictory terms, which ignore the reality and baldly declare a flat-out lie to be the truth.
Mr. Barry, with all due respect, you cannot can a man like Tom Conklin and still say, ”Despite the reduction in the position from full- to part-time, we remain committed to live[,] local programming.” The First Amendment allows you to lie, of course, but that doesn’t mean we won’t call you on it.
It doesn’t add up, and you can’t have it both ways — unless, of course, you’re the mouthpiece for Vox Radio, a phantom radio chain based nowhere, with a shadowy ownership group boasting a bunch of different addresses, without a corporate website.
And where in all this is Vox’s Profile in Courage, WUPE news director Larry Kratka? You remember Larry. He’s the man who sold talkmeister Bill Sturgeon down the Housatonic. Our good friend Clarence Fanto, in breaking the story in the Boring Broadsheet, said he tried several times to reach Kratka, who did not return the calls. When the phone didn’t ring, we knew it was Larry the K not trying to reach Fanto. We understand the tenuousness of Kratka’s position, wondering as he must be when he is next, but we issue him this direct challenge: Have us on the Vox airwaves to debate this question, of how getting rid of an experienced, full-time news guy is a good thing for the community. You up for it, LK? Think of the ratings! When our e-mail doesn’t have Larry’s reply, we’ll know he didn’t accept.
THE PLANET also tips our hardhat to the BB‘s headline writer, who capped the story with this gem: “Radio news anchor Conklin silenced.” The editorial “silenced” fit perfectly, since Vox essentially took the journalist “out back” and gave him two in the hat.
WHERE’S JUSTICE FOR HALL, CHALUE, and VEIVOIS? TRY THEM OR FREE THEM
The presumption of innocence being upon accused triple murderers Adam Lee Hall, David Chalue, and Caius Veivois, why are these men left to languish in lockup as yet-another interminable delay clogs up juris prudence? They deserve a fair and speedy trial, especially because THE PLANET assumes they are innocent.
They did not kill anyone. That is what we must declare by law, and since we are a nation of laws, that shall be our position. These men should be tried or freed.
Under the muddled handling of Berkshire County District Attorney David Capeless, this case has been delayed more times than an airline schedule during a winter storm. Capeless has had to re-indict the accused trio after the expiration date passed. Meantime, we ask how has justice been served? Again, these men are innocent. They have not been proven guilty. How much longer will they have to endure what is amounting to false imprisonment?
A murder trial, more than most any other, must be expedited. Under our presumption of innocence, if society wants to claim that anyone committed this heinous crime, it must act to prove that grave assertion with minimum delay. Capeless has been in charge of the prosecution from the get-go. The inexcusable delays, though not entirely his fault, find their seeds with his office’s foot dragging. Something tells us that there’s more to these delays than Capeless or anyone else is letting on.
We invite the DA to spill.
ARTS & CULTURE: HOW MANY MORE TIMES???
How many more times, treat me the way you wanna do?
So sang Robert Plant in Led Zep‘s great song. Planet, Paige, Jones, and Bonham we, of course, singing a tune about a man’s puzzlement over his mistreatment at the hands of his woman, but they might have been banging our the anthem of downtown Pittsfield.
“How Many More Times” will be hear how arts and culture (A & C) is downtown’s Pittsfield’s [PICK ONE]:
( ) Savior
( ) Energizer
( ) Bar raiser
( ) Renaissance
( ) All of the above
If you listened to the Usual Suspects gathered at a recent symposium, the answer is “( X ) all of the above.” The breathless coverage in the Boring Broadsheet assured us that A & C “have clearly enhanced the the city both artistically and economically.”
We love our good friend Derek Gentile more than he or you knows, and we marvel at his work. It takes a damned good writer to write up puffy drivel to its highest possible level. As an alphabet connoisseur, THE PLANET gives a wink and a nod to our dear brother and colleague for having to stomach through these sad days at the BB, which, like Vox Radio, also “boasts” out of town ownership and therefore doesn’t give two spits about Pittsfield or Berkshire County.
Has A&C “enhanced” the city? Clearly, yes, and we have to laugh in admiration at how Gentile phrases it: Who could disagree? At least he didn’t mention — or quote anyone mentioning — “the renaissance.” But the truth is this: A & C is meant to serve an otherwise functioning, healthy economy as augmentation. A recreation-and-resort economy cannot do what it has been asked to do in Pittsfield, which is to serve as the area’s primary economic impetus.
An Ill-Fitting Force Fit
Try to force-fit A&C into this role, as Pittsfield has done, and you end up with a spruced-up ghost town with A & C venues that, for the most part, remain out of the reach of the average city dweller. Remember, Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski don’t have $100 to spend on two tickets to the theater, plus post-show dinner for at least another $150.
Gentile quotes former BB business editor Lew Cuyler: “There’s a sense of scale [in downtown Pittsfield]. If you don’t like something, you can call the planning commission or the mayor’s office. You can get things done here.”
Try telling that to frustrated downtown merchants who have been left hung out to dry while City Hall plays favorites. Try telling that to the many calls on the mayor to order a greater police presence downtown through foot patrols. Try telling that to eateries and shops that have to deal with the downward pull of the various social service agencies. Yeah, you can call the planning commission. You can call the mayor.
Then you can begin holding your breath.
HARK! THE LARK AT HEAVEN’S GATE SINGS, / AND PHOEBUS AGAIN RISES. / HE STEEEDS TO WATER AT THOSE SPRINGS, / AND SHOWS US NO SURPRISES.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.