The Dec. 31 deadline is approaching for Cable One viewers in Joplin, including me. If an agreement is not reached between Nexstar Broadcasting, the company which owns KSNF and manages KODE, then those stations will no longer be carried by Cable One.
The Joplin stations are not the only ones Nexstar is threatening to pull from Cable One. According to PR Newswire, the company is also saying it will take KTAL, the NBC affiliate in Texarkana, Texas off Cable One.
In the ads Nexstar is running on KODE and KSNF, it sounds as if the company is doing its best to serve its viewers. Who knows, maybe they were sending the same kind of message to viewers at their station in Billings, Montana. Earlier this year, Nexstar canceled the local news programs on its CBS and UPN stations in Billings and laid off 26 reporters and anchors, citing bad ratings as the reason, according to the Billings newspaper.
Nexstar vice president Brian Jones reportedly said eliminating the news operation was the difference between the station being in the red and in the black. This statement was made just two weeks after Nexstar bought the station from Boston-based Quorum Broadcast.
In line with their public service mission, one station replaced its news program with reruns of "Everyone Loves Raymond." The other aired "Blind Date."
Nexstar stations across the country have also become known for their increasing use of odious infomercials. The same practice is becoming commonplace at the two local stations. Anything for a buck.
Again, I will say it, while I have no illusions about Cable One and its owners, The Washington Post Company, I would rather do without Channels 12 and 16 rather than see them profit through this brazen extortion.
Oldtimers in this area remember the days when a young Mickey Mantle would climb out the windows of the Drake Hotel in Carthage and carouse at night. This was before the Mick became one of the most feared sluggers in the history of the major leagues.
Mantle, a native of Commerce, Okla., is the subject of a new book written by Carthage native John Hall, author of "Majoring in the Minors' a fine work about the KOM League, (Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri) which operated in this area in the 1940s and 1950s.
"Mickey Mantle: Before the Glory", featuring a forward by Mantle's widow, Merlyn Mantle, will be on sale in late February or early March. Any reader who would like to order an autographed copy from the author, can contact Mr. Hall at: 1709 Rainwood Place, Columbia, MO 65203. The book costs $29.95.
John Hall has done more than anyone to keep the tradition of minor league baseball in small-town America alive.
The year 2004 is about to come to an end. This is the time of year when news organizations begin to review the past 12 months and come up with a list of top stories. I don't intend to do that, but I have been reviewing my past entries and found that since I began my blend of investigative journalism and commentary in July, The Turner Report has featured more than 50 scoops, some of which were later picked up by the traditional media and many of which have never been touched. Just a sampling:
-Congressman Roy Blunt attempted to sneak legislation favorable to his wife's company, Phillip Morris, into the Homeland Security Act.
-Blunt's son, Secretary of State Matt Blunt, had a lawsuit filed against him by area gadfly Martin Lindstedt of Granby. The national media had barely addressed the story about Congressman Blunt, primarily in the investigative reporting magazine "Mother Jones" while the Joplin Globe and Neosho Daily picked up on the Lindstedt-Blunt lawsuit.
The Turner Report really took off in August.
-The families of James Dodson, Neosho, and his granddaughter Jessica Mann, 7, of Joplin, filed wrongful death lawsuits against Edward Meerwald of Noel, the drunk driver who killed the pair on July 31. This story has not been picked up by any other media.
-Sexual assault charges were refiled against former Carthage R-9 Board of Education member and Carthage Police officer Michael Wells. The Carthage Press later picked up on this story.
-The Missouri Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from convicted killer Bobby Lingle of Joplin. Lingle was convicted in connection with the 1999 deaths of Erin Vanderhoef, Springfield, and her four children. The story was not picked up by any other media.
-The move of Lamar-based O'Sullivan Industries' corporate headquarters from Lamar to Atlanta, GA, came as a result of tax breaks offered by the state of Georgia. The story ran first in The Turner Report, then later in the Globe. It has yet to run in The Lamar Democrat.
-O'Sullivan Industries' new CEO Robert Parker is being paid $1 million a year, far more than any CEO the company has ever had. The Globe picked up on the story later. It has yet to run in The Lamar Democrat.
-The Turner Report revealed the Newell-Rubbermaid connection and how Parker, the former head of a Newell-Rubbermaid division had brought in two of his confederates from that company for high-paying positions at O'Sullivan. The Globe carried the story later. It has yet to appear in The Lamar Democrat.
-Area middle school communication arts MAP test results appeared here before they ran in the Globe.
-Gary Black, who is on Death Row for killing a Missouri Southern athlete, appealed his sentence to the Missouri Supreme Court. No one picked up on that story until a few months later when the Globe carried an Associated Press story on the Court's decision to have Black resentenced.
-Former Creedence Clearwater Revival leader John Fogarty, Kid Rock, and Sheryl Crow were among those suing Club Miami in Joplin for unauthorized use of their music. No one has picked up on that story.
-Liberty Group Publishing, the company that owns The Neosho Daily News, the Carthage Press, the Neosho Post, and The Big Nickel, was put on the auction block. So far, no one else has run with that one, including The Neosho Daily News, The Carthage Press, the Neosho Post, and The Big Nickel.
-Five malpractice suits had been filed in Jasper County Circuit Court against two of the people involved in a criminal drug case at Freeman Neosho Hospital, Dr. Jeffrey Wool and Neidra DePuy. No one ever picked up on that story.
-The Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals rejected Jasper County sex offender Michael Goddard's attempt to keep from being committed. No one else ever covered the story.
-The Diamond R-4 School District sued Edison Schools. No one has picked up on that story.
- At one time, six of the seven members of the Diamond R-4 Board of Education, had close relatives working for the school district. No one ever picked up on this story.
-Controversial Diamond R-4 Superintendent Mark Mayo's contract was extended an extra year through 2006. The Turner Report was the only outlet to feature that information.
-The Turner Report revealed that State Representative Steve Hunter had accepted numerous gifts from Ameristar Casinos and also reviewed gifts received from lobbyists by other area legislators. No one else has covered the story.
-O'Sullivan's million-dollar CEO Bob Parker had it written in his contract when he took the job that he could resign and receive a $1 million payout if the corporate headquarters was moved from the Atlanta area. This deal was signed long before O'Sullivan moved its quarters to Georgia. No one else has picked up on this story.
-The River of Life Ministries of Joplin declared bankruptcy. River of Life is not a church group, but an operation that has several managed care homes in the area. Apparently, this has not only eluded other media outlets, but also the Missouri Division of Aging since managed care home operators have to show financial viability according to state law.
-A number of drivers who had their driver's licenses revoked by the state for drinking-related offenses had them restored on technicalities by Jasper County Judge Richard Copeland. No one has picked up on this story.
-Former Midwest Conference teachers told The Turner Report that the new Spring River Valley Conference, formed primarily for football purposes, was giving short shrift to academics. No one has touched this story.
-State officials investigated a case of fraud committed by two Diamond R-4 teachers against the Missouri State Teachers Retirement Fund. The story has not appeared anywhere else.
-Former Southwest City Police Chief Ron Beaudry sued the city. The story first appeared in The Turner Report, then later in the Globe and the Daily.
-The Turner Report was the first media source to reveal what awards were won by The Joplin Globe and the Neosho Daily News at the annual Missouri Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.
-Parallels between what Bob Parker and company were doing at O'Sullivan Industries and what had happened at their former company, Newell Rubbermaid, were printed here. No one else picked up on these.
-An appeals court upheld the sentence of convicted Joplin killer Eldon Tinsley. No one else had the story.
-The appeal of Brent Londagin, who was convicted of sexually assaulting a mentally-handicapped young man, was upheld by the Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals. No one else had the story.
-A wrongful death malpractice lawsuit was filed against Joplin doctor Blake Little. No one else had the story.
-Newspaper companies dropped out of the bidding in the auction of Liberty Group Publishing, the owner of The Neosho Daily News, The Carthage Press, The Neosho Post, and The Big Nickel. No one else had the story.
-The Turner Report was second behind www.neoshoforums.com in carrying the news that a complaint had been filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission against Newton County Sheriff Ron Doerge. The traditional media carried the story later.
-The Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of Leroy Norman, who killed Angel Wells of Carthage. No one else had the story.
-The Turner Report was the only media outlet to run the severance agreements between O'Sullivan Industries and former top officials Tom Riegel, Richard Davidson, and Tom O'Sullivan Jr. No one else had the story.
-O'Sullivan Chairman of the Board Daniel O'Sullivan's resignation and the contents of his resignation letter were featured in The Turner Report a full two days before they were carried in The Joplin Globe. Two months have passed and the story has yet to appear in The Lamar Democrat.
-A state audit of the McDonald County Sheriff's Department showed that an employee had embezzled a considerable amount of money. The story was later covered in the Daily and in the Globe.
-Wasteful construction practices at U. S. embassies were increasing the chances that someone else could be murdered the way Lamar soldier Kenneth Hobson was in Kenya in 1998. This information from the General Accounting Office (GAO) of Congress was not covered nationally or in the local newspapers.
-La-Z-Boy turned down an employee offer to buy a Pennsylvania furniture plant so it could outsource jobs to China. No other local news source carried the story.
-A comparison was offered of salaries of area school administrators and teachers.
-A major lawsuit was filed against Newton County Sheriff Ron Doerge.
-Background on a lawsuit that may have inspired the lawsuit filed by Webb City student Brad Mathewson against the R-7 School District was featured.
-The Turner Report was the only source to reveal that the two sides in the Mathewson case had been asked to accept arbitration.
-The Diamond R-4 Board of Education held a planning session at a private residence.
-SEC forms show La-Z-Boy, Neosho's biggest employer, is planning to increase the outsourcing of jobs to China.
-The Neosho R-5 Board of Education may have opened its search for a new superintendent with an illegal closed session.
-Brad Mathewson dropped out of Webb City High School. The Globe carried the story the next day.
-Michael O'Sullivan's severance agreement with O'Sullivan Industries.
-Robert Joos, pastor of the Sacerdotal Order of God in McDonald County, filed a writ of habeas corpus with the Missouri Supreme Court.
-The Eighth District Court of Appeals ruled that La-Z-Boy officials used unfair labor practices against a worker trying to organize a union at the Neosho plant. No one else has carried the story.
-State Senator Gary Nodler has filed a bill which would increase the punishment for anyone committing a crime similar to the one Edward Meerwald is accused of committing when he allegedly killed James Dodson and Jessica Mann while driving drunk on July 31.
In addition to these stories, The Turner Report has also featured a combination of media criticism, commentary on various news developments, and other information that has not been available from any other source.
Now it's time to stop looking back and start digging in and finding some more of these stories.