Monday, June 29, 2009

Celebrities' Three

There’s an old belief that celebrity deaths come in threes. So the other day when I heard Farrah Fawcett had died, following Ed McMahon’s death earlier in the week, I asked someone at the radio station who they thought might be next? The answer came later in the day, Michael Jackson.

Each of them brought entertainment to us and had a special place in the hearts of millions. I always thought that Ed McMahon was more than a second banana to Johnny Carson. He impressed me as being more intelligent than most of the late night talk show co-hosts.

It’s hard to believe now that Farrah Fawcett was only on “Charlie’s Angels” for one season. But it was enough to launch her as a celebrity icon. I never had her famous poster, but certainly had enough friends that did. I actually liked more of her serious roles like “Burning Bed.” With her battle with cancer and struggle to keep some of her life private, she seemed a tragic figure like Marilyn Monroe.

I have to confess that I was one of the few who didn’t buy Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album back in the day. I did enjoy the music, but apparently didn’t feel the need to own the record like so many others. Actually my favorite “Thriller” moment wasn’t from the video of the same name, but the dance the cast staged to the song in the movie “13 Going on 30.” Given the context it was used in that Jennifer Garner film it was fun.

Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson all had their better celebrity days behind them, although Michael Jackson had a comeback tour scheduled. We will never know if it would have succeeded.

I can imagine when Ed, Farrah, and Michael got to the pearly gates this past week. Johnny Carson introduced Ed McMahon this time. Farrah simply flashed her famous smile, and Michael moon-walked in. There are now three new additions to heaven’s own walk-of-fame.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Social Networking

As one of the ways we communicate at KFIZ radio we are getting involved in more social networking efforts. By that I mean Twitter and Facebook. KFIZ has a Facebook account and I signed up for Twitter because I thought its immediacy would work out well for some news efforts.

One thing I’ve found out is there are so many different social networking sites and services. The one’s I signed up for are free, but that’s not the only reason I have accounts with them. I’ve been invited to join Plaxo and a few others, but haven’t because I don’t want to spend all my free time posting entries just to post entries.

I’m still getting the hang of Facebook and have spent a little more time posting entries on Twitter. Facebook allows you to share with friends. Sounds like a worthwhile effort, but you have to make sure the friend you’re sharing with is the friend you think it is. For instance I got a name familiar to me and checked it out. Information on my friend said he graduated from the UWO in a certain year. Looked right until I checked it out with the friend of the same name and found out he graduated from Ripon College.

I also recently typed in Jane Doe on my Facebook account to see if I could find an entry for the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Jane Doe case, something they were going to try and do. Found out there are literally hundreds of Jane Does listed on Facebook and some of them are adult only if you know what I mean. After talking with the Sheriff’s Department I found out they had trouble trying to enter their Jane Doe on Facebook, maybe for the same reasons.

Twitter is kind of different. Like Facebook it allows you to update friends on what you are doing, but you are limited to 140 characters. For me it works out because I can put in short news bursts. For example there was a two-car accident on Fond du Lac County Highway WH at 7 Hills Road this morning that detoured traffic.

The thing about Twitter is I first thought it was a kind of instant messaging, but its more like posting your own thoughts and letting everyone in your circle know about it. This is one way of thinking out loud where you have to think about what you’re saying before you say it. Maybe that’s a good thing.

The funny thing about Facebook and Twitter is I haven’t added any family members yet. I’ve been trying to keep work and family separate and to be honest most of my family lives too far away to want to known instantly about what I’m covering through work. On the other hand those following me on Facebook and Twitter probably don’t care that my Mom got a brand new dog today, a 3-month old Yorkie named “Louie.” But now you do.
P.S. my Twitter name is BobNKFIZ

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Meet Jane Doe

Sometimes the ideals and convenience of small town living can clash with big city values. Such is the case in the Fond du Lac County Sheriff Department’s effort to learn the identity of a young woman whose body was discovered by deer hunters last November.

The body was badly decomposed and with the help of several experts and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children a digital facial reconstruction was put together. You can see the photo at left. At a press conference this week Sheriff Mick Fink stressed to the media the need to get the photo out as far as possible in the hopes that someone might recognize the woman.

He says the case is cold and gets colder every day. However if they are able to identify her they can take the next step in investigating how and why she died. It’s estimated her body was left in a creek in the woods for 30 to 90 days before hunters found it last November 23rd.

After the press conference the Sheriff told me they are worried that the woman comes from a larger city where it’s not unusual for someone to go missing. Here in Fond du Lac County the discovery of a Jane Doe is unusual and treated as such. After all we care about things like that.

I have to wonder if the age of Jane Doe also works against efforts to identify her. It’s estimated she was 15 to 21 years of age. People are so much more compassionate when it’s a young child you are talking about. If she was a teen or older there may be a tendency to write her off as a runaway. Given the circumstances of her death, that does not seem to be the case for Jane Doe.

Hoping to use any tool available to them to discover Jane Doe’s identity, the Sheriff’s Department also will have a Jane Doe page on Facebook or MySpace. You can get more information about her at the Sheriff's website.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Gorilla Goes Global

When you’re reporting news you never know what kind of an impact a story is going to have. Four or five days a week I make it down to the Fond du Lac Police Department to go through reports and find out what’s going on. One such day I found a few nuggets and as an aside Captain Steve Klein said, “By the way we had someone who dressed up in a gorilla suit and tried to steal a banana from a display at a couple of Kwik-Trips in town.”

Okay I had to ask, “Are you kidding?” Nope! Well I broke out my digital recorder and asked him more. When I was done I said, “You know Steve this is the kind of story that will make it all over.” I wrote up a couple versions and sent out copies to a half dozen radio stations, the Wisconsin Radio Network and the Associated Press.

The next day the Fond du Lac Reporter picked it up and their story garnered more interest. Following up on our original story I found out a person donning a gorilla suit wasn’t successful the first day, but returned to get about a 3-foot Styrofoam banana from a Kwik Trip a second day. I originally planned to use the story as a “kicker.” That’s a story with some feature appeal that you use towards the end of a newscast.

Today I asked Captain Klein how much interest he got after we initially ran the story. He says there were a number of media outlets from around the state and country that called. He also heard from the BBC in London, which wanted an interview for a global broadcast and truTV formerly Court TV. It ended up on YouTube and a number of Internet blog sites.

By the way the pseudo-primate is still at large. I’m actually waiting for the furry felon to get caught because although it’s a joke right now, I want to know the punch line. Was it a college prank? A cry for attention? A dare or something done after too many beers and too little thought? By the way the banana was only worth about $50 so if the fast and furry person is caught they more than likely are facing a misdemeanor charge.

P.S. I’ve joined the Twitter craze. You can find me at