Music and Words. Chuck Collins, a local radio veteran and midday host on WAKR (1590-AM), wants you to not only hear his words but also see them.
He has a novel, The Radio Murders: The Collectors (Black Rose Writing, $18.95 paperback, about $8 as an e-book), which he hopes will launch a series of Radio Murders books. In fact, he has written a lot of them already. “There’s something inside me that, even though I did a lot of writing as part of my radio career, it was never fully satisfied because [the radio writing] was so short-form and so focused,” he said recently. “I just always loved the process of writing. I blogged early on.”
In 2001, he found himself at loose ends after an ownership change cost him his then-radio job. After talking about it with his wife, Monika, he decided to give longer-form writing a try and “I knew I wanted to write mystery.”
He drew partly on his own radio experience, especially stories about the strange things listeners (and on-air talent) would do, although he is quick to say the characters are fictional. Another inspiration was news about incidents such as “a talent and a producer actually were faced with an option of putting real-time murder on their talk show.” Indeed, one of the events launching The Collectors is a fictional Chicago radio star, “Crash” Kradich, airing a murder that is part of a larger saga.
But in 2002, Collins also saw “the rise and odd warping of political talk radio … [and] a number of characters I met along the way in gun shops and AA meetings — if you can believe that.” Then there’s Collins’ love of the old Twilight Zone series, which means “I always like to throw a highly improbable thing into my books,” which has prompted at least one reader to call The Collectors part science-fiction.
“I was very serious about it,” he said. “I thought I could break into a commercial enterprise here.” He did get an agent for the first book he wrote, even though Collins says now it was fragmented and “probably had no chance in hell of getting published.” He talked to editors, read books about writing fiction and would rewrite the books as he went along. He even self-published the first two.
From all that, and especially from talking to editors, Collins decided to take his second and third novels and combine them into a single volume, The Collectors. The first book, which Collins said mainly set the stage for the crime at the beginning of The Collectors, has been put aside — but Collins is now rewriting his fourth book for possible publication.
And he is keenly aware of the need to grab readers. The first pages of The Collectors include both sex and violence. “I think the sex is about four pages, the violence is about five,” he said with a laugh. “You can count on it moving like that. … To get the reader as quickly as I can is the goal of a novelist, especially a pop-fiction novelist.”
The book is available through online retailers, including Amazon.com, and at the Learned Owl in Hudson. Collins will also autograph copies; you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, with a 25 percent discount on the sale price as well.
Knight Regrets. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has regretted paying known plagiarist and fabricator Jonah Lehrer $20,000 for a conference speech.
As Lehrer said in the text of his speech Tuesday, “I am the author of a book on creativity that contained several fabricated Bob Dylan quotes. I committed plagiarism on my blog, taking, without credit or citation, an entire paragraph from the blog of Christian Jarrett. I also plagiarized from myself. I lied to a journalist named Michael Moynihan to cover up the Dylan fabrications.”
“We started considering Lehrer as a speaker before his plagiarism scandal broke last year,” the foundation said in a post on its blog. “We knew of his work on the neuroscience and art of decision-making. After he was exposed for making up Bob Dylan quotes, recycling his own material and plagiarizing others, we accepted the risk and invited him. We asked him to talk about decision-making to a conference of people for whom that is a necessary skill.”
But the foundation raised eyebrows when it said Lehrer was paid the five-figure fee, even though the foundation said that was not an unusual price tag for a well-known author at a large conference. Still, it now admits, “In retrospect, as a foundation that has long stood for quality journalism, paying a speaker’s fee was inappropriate. Controversial speakers should have platforms, but Knight Foundation should not have put itself into a position tantamount to rewarding people who have violated the basic tenets of journalism. We regret our mistake.”
The foundation “supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts.” The community efforts include areas where the Knight brothers at one time owned newspapers, including Akron.
New Team at WDOK. You may recall that last December, Trapper Jack Elliot and Jim McIntyre were let go by WDOK (102.1-FM) as part of a morning overhaul. Now the new team is in place. Jen Toohey, Elliot’s former co-host, has been paired with Tim Richards from sister station WQAL (104.1-FM), where he had been midday host.
Also, according to the station announcement: “Jen and Tim dated 7 years ago and are now back together as co-hosts. ‘Tim and I have a past — and now we have a future,’ states Toohey. ‘We’ve worked together for many years and have a mutual respect for each other’s broadcasting skills. I’m excited — this is going to be fun.’ ”
Speaking of radio romance, Tim Daugherty, program director for WONE (97.5-FM) popped the question on-air to Sue Wilson of sister station WQMX (94,9-FM) on Valentine’s Day. They had been dating for some time — and she said yes.
Bus Stop. USA Network’s Characters Unite campaign for tolerance, respect and acceptance will bring its bus tour to Cleveland’s Public Square from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.
According to USA, “Participants will be able to create a free ‘I won’t stand for’ T-shirt, personalizing it by stamping a word to fill in the blank, such as bullying, racism, religious intolerance, sexism, homophobia … and more. In addition, consumers can take a photo to be part of the Characters Unite gallery and immediately share the image with their friends and family via social media. Guests can also film an ‘I won’t stand for’ video to join hundreds of people – including stars of USA’s hit shows, athletes and political leaders — in lending their voices to the Characters Unite movement.”
Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including in the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or email@example.com.