Off Beat

How Not to Succeed in Media Relations

As college-hockey fans know, the University of Minnesota and the University of Denver have one of the fiercer rivalries in the game. Denver fans have even been known to chuck dead gophers onto the ice when their team scores. So naturally tempers were running hot after last Saturday's 5-2 Denver win over the Gophers in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association championship game at the Xcel Energy Center. Apparently the partisan passion infected those covering the teams, as well.

At 4:00 a.m. Sunday, police arrived at the Radisson Hotel in St. Paul to find John Romo, the U of M's assistant director of media relations, bleeding from the nose. According to St. Paul police spokesman Michael Jordan, Romo and a sportswriter who was in town covering the WCHA tournament had gotten into a confrontation at the hotel. "They were arguing about an article [the sportswriter] wrote about a year earlier," Jordan says; the sportswriter followed Romo into the hotel's elevator and proceeded to pummel him.

No one from the U's media relations department returned calls requesting comment for this story. But Denver Post editor Glenn Guzzo confirms that Post sportswriter Mike Chambers was involved in an altercation with Romo. The paper, Guzzo says, is investigating the incident.

Jordan says he doesn't know whether Romo intends to press charges, nor do police know whether alcohol was involved in the dispute. But Romo's injuries were serious enough to merit a trip to the hospital. --By Peter Ritter


What Did the Pot Call the Kettle?

In the annals of disingenuous promotional spots, Drive 105 deserves some kind of special commendation. The Twin Cities' "new alternative" radio station has been running promos sneering at its chief competition, Cities 97 (97.1 FM), as "Corporate 97." Leaving aside the fact that all commercial radio stations are, by definition, "corporate" these days, the derisory snort is particularly absurd coming from Drive 105 (105.1, 105.3, and 105.7 FM). After all, the station is owned by ABC Radio, which is part of one of the largest corporations on the planet, comprising Disney, ESPN, and numerous other entities.

Cities 97 program director Lauren MacLeash finds the ads amusing. "I don't get any kind of dictate from anyone," MacLeash says of her overseers at Clear Channel Radio. "The irony is that it's the total opposite of that with Drive 105. That [station] will flip the format whenever the company decides to flip it."

Indeed, since ABC Radio took over ownership in 1997, the company has cycled through formats in search of an audience--any audience.

Jeff Collins, Drive 105's program director, denies that the promotional spot is hypocritical. "We feel that they have kind of a conservative playlist, and we feel it's our duty to point it out," he says. Collins further argues that in the medium of radio, ABC really is small fry compared to Clear Channel. "We're just little dogs," he claims.

To which we can only respond that his reasoning is, um, Goofy. -- By Paul Demko

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