Puff It Up

Being as the owners are now actually trying to get you to pay for it, chances are you didn't read the latest issue of Inside Houston magazine.

We're here to tell you what you missed.

The December 2000 cover story was "Houston's Herald Angels: Up Close and Personal with Some of the Most Influential TV Women."

There were six of them on the cover (thus alleviating any confusion that their picture was meant for the other cover tagline, "10 High-Tech Boy Toys").

The cover gals included Debra Duncan and anchors Dominique Sachse and Melanie Lawson, both of whom tend to stay away from the nitty-gritty of dirty reporting. But also on the cover, dressed to the nines in evening gowns, with styling by Sheryl Schmid and "makeup/ hair" by Gigi Vega, were Fox anchor Fran Fawcett, who has never tried to be glamorous, Channel 11's consumer reporter Nydia Han and Channel 2's street reporter Cindy Garza.

(Nuit did the gowns for Fran and Nydia; Garza's came from her "personal collection.")

Another sterling step for the credibility of shoe-leather TV correspondents, who always claim to be just as legitimate as the pen pushers.

The feature itself consisted of full-page fashion shots of the gals and incisive Q&A interviews, like this exchange with KHOU anchor Lisa Foronda:

Q. What do you like about your job?

A. My job is great because I get to meet so many different and dynamic people. My "celebrity" also allows me the resources and connections to get things done for charities I work with, as well as community projects.

Q. What do you dislike about your job?

A. I dislike the loss of privacy and what seems like a mountain of really bad news. I get emotionally affected by bad news, just as many other people do. I just can't show it when I'm working.

That last point, Inside Houston informed readers, is not just limited to our Lisa. All the "herald angels" feel purty bad at times, we were told.

"[V]irtually all of them mentioned … the moments of sadness in their professions. As they keep us informed with disturbing or heartbreaking information, their hearts are often breaking too," the article noted, heartbreakingly. "On the outside, they maintain a stoic professionalism, while on the inside, Houston's Herald Angels are as human as the rest of us."

Well, except maybe Fawcett, who got unceremoniously bumped from Fox's prime-time telecast three years ago.

What does she dislike about her job? Reporting the sad stories?

Not exactly. "It's pretty cutthroat … a lot of insecure egos running around. The stabs in the back take a long time to heal!" she told the magazine.

On second thought, maybe she is as human as the rest of us.

Her Lips Are Sealed

The national media has been pretty unanimous in singing a hosanna chorus for HISD Superintendent Rod Paige, President-elect Bush's pick to run the Department of Education bureaucracy.

We won't rehash the angles that were missed or lightly touched upon; a quick search of the Houston Press archives would do.

But we did enjoy the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune's coverage of the matter, which brought back fond memories of November 1990. That was the time when HISD superintendent Joan Raymond was under heavy fire from some school board members, four of whom -- including Paige -- went to the Houston Chronicle's editorial board. The paper published an extraordinary, very lengthy transcript of the meeting in the Sunday Outlook section November 25, 1990.

Under the headline "Worked Against Us at Every Opportunity," the four blasted Raymond for ignoring their plans to improve schools. (Raymond supporters accused the board of interfering and micromanaging.)

The transcript included one of the Chronicle questioners noting, "Dr. Paige, you seem to be angry about this."

"I have some intense feelings about it, because I'm in the public schools almost daily," he answered. "I'm on the grounds where school actually takes place. That is in the classroom where the teacher and the students are, not on Richmond Street," referring to HISD headquarters, where Raymond was presumably holed up and, unlike Paige, utterly out of touch with the children who so needed help.

He also answered a question about public reaction to the group's criticism of Raymond. "In my district, I had three different phone lines jammed for two days. And I would say 99.9 percent of them called to say, 'You're a hell of a hero,' " Paige said.

Raymond resigned two days after the transcript was printed. Another superintendent was found, but by 1994 Paige was elevated by his colleagues to the top job.

Raymond is now superintendent of schools in South Bend. The Tribune ran a story December 30 headlined "Paige Was on Houston Board That Fired Raymond."

It noted that in an interview earlier this year, just as Raymond was coming on board in South Bend, Paige told the Tribune that his opinion of Raymond had changed. "I can tell you emphatically that the longer I've been superintendent here, the more my respect for Joan has grown," he said in the earlier interview.

And Raymond's view on Paige's new job in Washington?

"Contacted at her office, Raymond declined to comment on Paige's nomination," the paper reported.

We bet she did. Maybe she should call up Fran Fawcett and commiserate about knives in the back.

Please Touch That Dial

Listeners to newsradio KTRH-AM were very lucky folks January 8, if what one of them told us is true. After all, it's not often you get to hear an actual news anchor proudly introduce "in-depth team coverage" of… the new stamp prices.

It was not only team coverage of the new stamp prices that went into effect that day. It was in-depth team coverage. Of the new stamp prices that went into effect that day.

"Yes, Lana, it's a penny higher over here on the west side, too," we guess they said. "And now over to Steve, who's at a post office in Clear Lake."

We're sure a wide sampling of public opinion was taken, none of which included quotes from postal customers saying, "Don't you have better things to do In-Depth Team Coverage on?"


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