Tuesday, August 26, 2008

101 welcomes Jean Ash. Most remember Jean as a long time news anchor at WIVK, but before the frog, Jean spent time at WKGN!

Here are a couple of on air snippets, WKGN first! 101 searched our archive library and found this tidbit~

Next, here are Jean and Claude Tomlinson at their funniest on WIVK's Great Day~

And now here's Jean's story about WKGN~

Boy, do I ever remember the shooting incident at ‘KGN. It had reverberating consequences for me, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. Talk about looking back and identifying major forks in the road….

I was doing news, in my first-ever radio job while at UT, and ‘KGN had recently been sold by George Mooney, a tremendous boss, to another outfit that installed a first class jerk as GM – those who were there at the time will remember who I’m talking about and probably agree with the characterization. It was early March of 1975 when a shotgun blast hit the studios on Alcoa Highway, which were on the second floor of the First Tennessee Bank. I remember the ladies’ room window had been shot out, too, and there was still glass all over the floor a day or two later. Never knew exactly who the shooter or the target were but there were lots of rumors at the time. (No pun intended relating to the name of the GM.)

A couple of days later I was leaving the office late, it was dark, and I saw a suspicious white pickup truck circling around the parking lot and back. I retreated into the doorway for a few minutes until it left, then walked out to my car and went home. I recall it was a Friday night. By Monday morning, I had forgotten all about the pickup until about 3 in the afternoon when something jogged my memory. I went in to the GM’s office to mention it, as I didn’t know what the status of any investigation into the shooting was and thought maybe this truck could have been involved, or at least would be a concern to a responsible manager.

I must say the GM and I hadn’t gotten along ever since he took over. For one thing, he wanted me to do commercials, which a credible news person never does. He noted that I “wasn’t Walter Cronkite and this isn’t New York,” but I stood my ground. Then he decreed that we would no longer do “lost pet” announcements on the air, as that was too bush-league. One day a woman called in about a lost dog and I asked him what to tell her. He said to just take the information and then throw it away. I was not good at hiding my negative feelings in those days (hah!) so he knew what I thought of his hypocrisy. Probably other incidents, too, that I have forgotten about.

Anyway, we get to Monday afternoon when I go into his office (the door is open) and start telling him about the suspicious truck. He loses patience with me and yells that it’s not HIS problem, that the bank owns the building and if I’m all so hot about a [expletive deleted] truck I should take it up with the bank manager downstairs. To me, this is so preposterous that I impulsively shout, “***, you just don’t give a [expletive deleted]!!

I storm out, go to the newsroom, deliver the 4:00 ‘cast and when I reemerge, there’s ***. He tells me to get my two weeks’ severance pay check, which has already been cut, clear out my desk and get out.

Off I go, crushed and certain that I’ll never get another radio job (not realizing at the time that EVERYBODY in radio has been fired at least once). But wait! Before I was even eligible for my first unemployment check, Mike Hammond hired me as part time reporter at WIVK, and the rest is history. *** actually did me the greatest favor ever by forcing me to look elsewhere and I landed what I still think is the best news post in East Tennessee.

I’m less impetuous now but hope I still have the same idealism I did back then. Enjoy the Web site! Thanks for letting me add to the conversation, Jean Ash (jeanash@comcast.net)