Posting has been a little light (okay, I haven’t posted at all) in the past week because of a big live production event I needed to prepare for and execute. In times like that I usually resort to simply posting snippets on this blog’s Facebook page or Twitter feed.
Let me preface this post by saying I have no animosity toward AJ Clemente. He was nervous, goofed up…sure, we all do that. However, I do think KFYR-TV, my former employer, did the right thing by terminating him.
First, some random thoughts on the whole debacle:
– If you screw up at any job you’re likely to be reprimanded. If you screw up really big at any job you can expect dismissal. Dropping the F-bomb in your first sentence on the air is a big screw-up. Period.
– People who I know who know AJ Clemente say he’s a nice guy, a good kid and taking it all humbly. Good deal, I wish him the best. I hope he learns this valuable lesson and cleans up his language off camera, like I had to do back when I was in broadcasting. Thankfully I was in the control room instead of on the set, or I may have had a similar incident before I straightened out.
– It looked like there were a few audio and communication problems. For instance, the music cut out during the headlines. There may have been something amiss. Even so, when you’re in a TV studio at 5:59pm, you ought to assume that your microphone will be open without warning.
– It looked like AJ said “gay” at first. If you keep watching though, it appears that he’s trying to pronounce the name of the London Marathon winner, Tsegaye Kebede. If you had to figure out the pronunciation of that name for your broadcast debut, you’d be flustered too. Of course, that stuff should be figured out before the newscast starts. The sad thing is, people of a certain ideological persuasion won’t have any problem with the F-word or S-word, but will be “offended” by the perceived use of “gay” in a bad context. Sad.
– Before I became a Christian, which would be during my long stretch at KFYR-TV, I was well versed in the use of the F-word and other profanity…so I’m not acting high & mighty. I’m speaking from experience: if you don’t talk like that in your daily conversation, you won’t blurt it out on the air. In fact, I bet AJ would not have said it if Monica Hannan or other KFYR-TV management was sitting in the studio to observe. But when your guard is let down, and your mouth is trained to spout profanity, bad things can happen.
– It’s totally ironic that the TODAY Show led off with the story Monday morning, and KFYR had to carry it. I am told that AJ will be making some TV appearances this week, including on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, another show carried on KFYR. Awkward.
– Letterman’s Top Ten List was pretty funny, though. Thankfully it’s available online so I don’t have to suffer through what his show has become to catch the list.
– By the way, there are plenty of broadcasters from my time who I never heard utter a profanity – even off camera. You’d recognize them because they have had long, respectable careers in North Dakota broadcasting and in many cases are still on the air. As you can imagine, it’s easy to have additional respect for those people because of their behavior.
– By the way, when I worked at KFYR-TV it was expected that all employees, not just on-air personalities, conduct themselves in a way that reflects the station in a professional manner. That included off the job. When you deal in a product and brand so publicly seen, that’s the nature of the business. Every move you make is viewed by thousands of eyes, everybody deals with your business on a frequent basis, and you represent that. My view on it is that if you don’t like the scrutiny, perhaps broadcasting isn’t the job for you.
– There have been well-known broadcasters terminated because of what they did in their private lives, because it reflects on their employer. Again, that’s the nature of the business.
– I’m dismayed at all the people who think AJ was treated unfairly. This is going to be day four of KFYR-TV being dragged through national news because of this incident. If you did something to put your employer in this kind of national spotlight, do you think you’d still have a job?
– This brings up the larger issue: profanity should not be an accepted part of public discourse. It’s called profanity because it is profane. The fact that so many people think it isn’t is a sure sign that things are heading in the wrong direction in our culture, even here in good ol’ North Dakota.
– This event was preceded by baseball player David Ortiz yelling, “This is our f***ing city!” at a baseball game when talking about the Boston Marathon Islamic terrorist attack. People cheered this deplorable outburst, and the FCC said it wouldn’t fine anybody. Why? Has this language suddenly become acceptable?
– One interesting tidbit is all the Generation-Y types who say, “Come on, KFYR – your page has had more Facebook likes than ever because of this!” as if that’s a meaningful metric of anything. Only in the self-absorbed world of the modern social media junkie, perhaps.
So, once again, I hope AJ can recover from this and hopefully make some vocabulary adjustments. It’s too bad to have a simple rookie mistake take on such magnitude. Maybe this notoriety will help him get back on his feet and get a second chance. I sure hope so, and wish him the best. I still think KFYR-TV did the right thing, and will be seen as an establishment which does not condone profanity – a position which I think reflects the majority of North Dakotans.