LEO Gets Its Docs, Drops AG Complaint

LEO is reporting in tomorrow’s edition that it has dropped its complaint with the Attorney General’s office over the withholding of documents by Metro Government. Editor Stephen George said he and reporter Phillip Bailey met with city spokesman Chad Carlton on Friday and that Carlton handed over the documents.

“I’m glad the Mayor’s office did what was right and that this shows that our story was accurate,” George said.

The controversy developed over a LEO story which detailed attempts to the Metro Auditor Mike Norman to establish an anonymous tips line for ethics complaints against city officials. He claimed in one LEO story that the Administration blocked his proposals for establishing the line.

In denying the LEO open records request for the materials, the Administration claimed the documents were exempt because they were “preliminary.” In George’s AG complaint, he charged that Carlton told him he didn’t trust him with the documents.

See the whole story in tomorrow’s LEO.

End Date Unknown for DDC’s Leadership Void

It’s been nearly a month since that awful stairway collapse at the Fort Nelson Building downtown. The top two executives for the Downtown Development Corp., Alan DeLisle and Patti Clare, sustained significant injuries. They were released from the hospital two weeks after the accident, but both face a lengthy period of recuperation.

DeLisle is recovering with family in North Carolina, while Clare is rehabbing in Louisville. While the prognosis for both is good (and we join in wishing them well) it is not known how long it will take before either is ready to get back to work. We do know it won’t be in the immediate future.

The non-profit, which receives much of its funding from Slugger Field lease payments, has a staff of six. But the prospect of a long-term period without its leadership team has forced the remainder of the staff to step up and the DDC board to play a larger role.

Rebecca Matheny, downtown project manager, said the board’s executive team met the week of the accident. It decided it wouldn’t hire any temporary employees or consultants, but would attempt to continue to fulfill its obligations. DeLisle, who had been on the job just a month when the accident occurred, had put together a road map for the agency’s future that Matheny and others are following, though she did say some new DeLisle initiatives are on hold.

The agency is involved in a wide range of projects, the biggest of which is the preparations for the downtown arena. Matheny said the streetscape around the arena, along with facilitating grant money from the federal government, are among the main projects getting attention. The DDC plays a role in projects ranging from Center City and Museum Plaza to development of the Waterfront.

Matheny, who has increased her hours at the agency, said board chair Jim Welch (of Brown-Forman) and member Jerry Miles have increased their involvement in day-t0-day operations.

Everyone involved is pulling for DeLisle and Clare to recover enough to get back to work, but until they do, the DDC will be short on leadership.

Re-Branding the Oaks in Pink

First of all, we’re just not buying the logic that it’s a good thing for Churchill Downs that ESPN decided to pass on coverage of the Wednesday post position draw and the Kentucky Oaks during Derby Week.

We will give the track credit, though, for incorporating the TV snub into a re-branding campaign for the Oaks that includes a marketing push directed toward women. And it’s possible that local coverage of the two events will be better for local fans.

Moving the Oaks coverage over to the Bravo Network seems a bit laughable, but Darren Rogers, the track’s communications VP, says it fits right in with the new “Ladies First” branding campaign. He said Bravo will focus its first half-hour of coverage on pageantry and celebrities — sort of a TMZ meets the Oaks. The second 30 minutes will be devoted to racing.

“It’s a good partnership and we’re reaching out to a different audience, and true racing fans will find us on Bravo,” Rogers said.

Plus, he said Bravo reaches 90 million TV households nationally, just shy of ESPN’s 98 million.  The re-branding includes the idea of bringing in famed chef Bobby Flay, promoting a Derby-themed Barbie and incorporating a fund-raiser for the Komen for the Cure organization. There’s even a Pink-Out, encouraging everyone to wear pink on Friday.

The post-position draw, as we mentioned yesterday, was dropped by ESPN, most likely because it wasn’t an attractive enough show for advertisers. Rogers says that local stations who want to carry the draw, which will be held at Noon Wednesday at the track, are welcome to do so. It’s hard to imagine local stations not being there, given the opportunity to report something that’s actually newsworthy from the track.

The Oaks, by the way, is just 31 days away.

Eavesdropping in Memphis

This is what the reporting on the John Calipari situation has come to, as we await a decision at any moment from the man himself regarding the UK coaching job.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal‘s Geoff Calkins reported a story on Calipari’s eight-minute stop at a Memphis donut shop, with his information verified by a source who didn’t ask any questions, but eavesdropped on the coach’s comments from a nearby booth. We’re wondering if the use of confidential sources has gone too far.

Based on Calkins’ story, the C-J picked it up, reporting the exchange under the headline: Calipari to Make Decision This Afternoon. If you didn’t know better, you’d think Calipari had actually told someone in the media he was going to make a decision at a certain time.

Remember, it wasn’t a reporter who overheard the conversation, but some unnamed source who apparently happened to be there when the coach walked in.

Oh, Calipari was also heard to say that he was going to be driving around Memphis today to make up his mind on accepting the job.

WFPK Asks For and Receives Criticism

Fresh off a record fund-raising campaign, WFPK-FM asked its listeners to provide some feedback on the station. Of the current 26 comments, most were big fans of the station raving about its virtues.

The station made a dangerously open-ended request: “Describe WFPK.”

Maybe the plan was to come up with some new slogans. However, a couple of listeners took the opportunity to complain about the direction of the station. One said it used to be good, but has gone downhill over the years. This because there’s too much event promotion and not enough music. Another said certain songs are too often repeated, that the station should not repeat songs.

Maybe the station is evolving. Is it getting better, or worse. That’s totally subjective, and in the category that counts most of its executives, fund-raising and underwriting, the station’s seems to be doing just fine.

PETA’s P.R. Stunt Won’t Hurt KFC

From the department of manufactured news, you may have noticed last week that KFC got a whole lot of mileage from its pledge to spend $3,000 to fix 350 potholes in the city. The catch was that the chicken company got to stencil an ad atop every fixed pothole.

The P.R. stunt was well worth the money. The story got picked up everywhere, and Mayor Jerry Abramson was chosen to do a three-minute interview on NPR about it. Newspapers in Chicago and Boston (how’s that for your local branding campaign) were filled with stories about the KFC program to fix Louisville potholes.

Seeing that a good thing can be duplicated, KFC’s P.R. crew launched a plan to award the same service to four other cities, and will announce those winners later this week. That’ll surely generate more cheap publicity in the cities KFC chooses. I’m guessing David Novak is busy awarding rubber chickens to his crew’s P.R. staff.

Just when you thought the story couldn’t get any more legs, along comes KFC arch-nemesis PETA with a plan to jump on the publicity bandwagon.  PETA sent a letter to the Mayor today, saying it wants to pay the city $6,000 for the right to stencil the words “KFC Tortures Animals.” Here’s how the letter, from PETA exec Tracy Reiman, starts:

I am writing on behalf of PETA and our more than 2 million members and supporters–including thousands in the Louisville area–to offer the city twice the amount of money that KFC has paid to place ads for its cruelly produced products on repaired potholes if you will use our funds to stencil “Kentucky Fried Cruelty” artwork (see attached) on the potholes instead. Motorists and pedestrians should know that there is a mile-long record of cruelty to animals behind KFC’s business interests.

The Mayor’s Office, not surprisingly, would love to have another $6K for pothole repair, but spokesman Chris Poynter said it wasn’t going for PETA’s deal as is.

“If they want to put the word PETA on top of the potholes, we’d love to talk to them, but not for what they’re saying they want to do,” he said.

The images on the potholes, at least for KFC, aren’t the point. In fact, Poynter said the chalk might last less than a day and the corporation did not, in fact, put the chalk message on every pothole. It was simply a very successful public relations stunt.

PETA’s attempt to capitalize on it, however, won’t get the same treatment.

Public Radio Phenomenon Continues

It’s hard to figure how any business based on donations and good will is thriving right now, but local public radio execs are busy celebrating surpassing their financial goals in the just-completed pledge drive.

Louisville Public Media set a goal of $390,000, and finished up the campaign at $402,389. The organization operates WFPK-FM, WFPL-FM and WUOL-FM.

LPM started the year by setting records for its underwriting income (what the rest of us call advertising), posting its most revenue ever for January. LPM president Donovan Reynolds credited listeners.

“We are simply overwhelmed by this show of support. In these tough economic times, we know that our listeners are making very careful choices about their giving.  They have made it clear that they believe public radio is an essential service, and for this we are deeply grateful.”

Let’s just add that public radio also benefits from the decline in listenable commercial radio and the moves made by corporations (Clear Channel, Cumulus, Main Line) that own local stations. Those moves, during the last year, have been primarily to cut costs through layoffs and get rid of local programming for syndicated fare.

Derby Draw Dropped by ESPN

Another story that got by us Friday involving local media is this one — ESPN is dropping its coverage of the Wednesday night post position selection broadcast during Derby Week.

It looks like the four-letter network is lessening its horse racing coverage. Two weeks ago it announced it would not carry the Kentucky Oaks.

No one around here ever really got into that made-for-TV show down at Fourth Street Live anyway. It required owners of Derby contenders to use some strategy in picking their own post position in order, based on an earlier lottery, in front of live TV cameras.  ESPN tried to make it a big show, but never really pulled it off, even with dramatic signage and a decent crowd.

Now the post position draw will take place at the track, using the same format ESPN used, but without all the interviews and commercial breaks. Maybe some local stations will carry it live, which is as it should be, because few outside Louisville really care. That way it’s not likely to last more than 30 minutes.

As for the Oaks, ESPN’s decision to drop the race is baffling, but indicative that the viewers are losing interest in the sport.

“ESPN still has a great commitment to horse racing,” said ESPN spokesman Mark Mandel, after the network announced it wouldn’t carry the Oaks. Instead, the race will be carried nationally on the Bravo network. Huh?

Bravo apparently caters to ladies, and it’s fillies in the race. But no, that doesn’t make any sense.  Bravo carries shows like Top Chef and Project Runway, not sports.

Slugger Field to Get Back in Brew Biz

Metro Government is providing a $100,000 low-interest (5 percent) loan to Anoosh Shariat and Paula Barmore to re-open Browning’s restaurant and brew/pub at Slugger Field.

Earlier this month, another operator announced plans to open at the location, but the deal fell apart soon after the C-J wrote about it.

Shariat was the key player behind the previous Park Place/Browning’s business, which closed unexpectedly last October. Shariat announced plans last June to open a business in Holiday Manor, but that hasn’t happened yet.

The Metro’s Business Development Corp. announced two other loans today: $60,000 for the Louisville Chemical Building at 601 E. Jefferson St., and $57,300 to improve buildings at 1507-1511 Bardstown Road, right across from Qdoba at Eastern Parkway.

The new Browning’s could reopen as early as Derby week.