Allegations of Sexism and Racism At CBS

One of the most interesting aspects of Mort Meisner’s new memoir Enough to Be Dangerous is looking back at how sexism and racism thrived in the news industry in the 1980s.

It’s also one of the saddest.

First, because treating women and people of color as second class citizens was acceptable behavior. This always bothered Mort and he would not tolerate it in his newsroom.

But second, the latest news of allegations of sexism and racism at CBS shows that things hadn’t changed everywhere as much as we’d hoped they had. However, the quick response to it has.

The Dawn of a New Day?

For many of us, we felt a collective weight lifted from our shoulders in the last seven days. This past week instilled new hope and put at least a little of that proverbial skip back into our steps.

And in the midst of the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements back in 2018, it looked like CBS was ready to start cleaning up its act when they invited employees to report “sexual harassment, retaliation or the unfair treatment of women.”

But looks can be deceiving.

A year earlier, Margaret Cronan had walked away from a prestigious and high-paying position she loved at a CBS station in Philadelphia because she could no longer stomach the rampant sexism and racism. Especially coming from the President Peter Dunn and a top lieutenant who went to great lengths to bully female managers and block efforts to hire and retain Black journalists.

She stepped up to the plate to offer what she’d experienced. And when others offered allegations of serious misconduct, she was relieved that they would finally be exposed.

But it took until January 24th, 2021, to see justice served.

Some Positive Changes at CBS

CBS can’t be accused of being completely in the dark ages.

Sure, Charlie Rose was fired three years ago amid allegations of sexual misconduct. CBS also gave other bigwigs the boot for abusive behavior. Furthermore, they now offer programs that prominently feature Black characters and have brought Black men and women into the folds as managers, news directors, and even executives.

Yet, despite the allegations, Dunn continued to run a chain of 28 CBS-owned TV stations that employ 2,800 workers. He ran a tight ship; with final say over which local anchors and reporters appeared on CBS. And you can bet that women and people of color were the vast minority.

One station of particular interest in these allegations has been KYW in Philadelphia. The station made a major move when they brought on Ukee Washington as lead evening anchor. He’d been with KYW for over 30 years and was Black. And his expertise and professionalism are what inspired Cronan to return to TV news.

Yet in a 2016 meeting, when Dunn asked about Washington’s transition to lead anchor, he said, “He’s not doing that ‘jive talking’ anymore? Sometimes, he’s just not speaking my language.”

Cronan was shocked.

As they set out to retool their morning lineup, Cronan remembers Dunn asking of a potential host if he was “too gay for Philadelphia.”

How could this possibly be happening in 2016? Why were these two men permitted to keep their job?

Allegations of Sexism and Racism At CBS Put Nail in the Coffin

Finally, after a revealing article from the Los Angeles Times exposed both Dunn and senior vice president David Friend and the long line of allegations against them, they were required to take administrative leave.

It was much too long a time coming though.

During her time as news director, Cronan witnessed racism and experience verbal assaults – even being called a fucking idiot.

Cronan finally left her job as news director at KYW in 2017. “I no longer could tolerate a culture in which I was expected to defend corporate decisions that I found offensive,” Cronan told The Times.

And she wasn’t the only one.

Unfortunately for them, KYW has lost several prominent Black journalists. In 2015, Steve Patterson hit the bricks and headed over to the more receptive NBC News. In 2016, the stations’ only Black male reporter Justin Finch, also left to head over to NBC.

And Rahel Solomon is now at CNBC after leaving as KYW’s morning co-anchor. Dunn wouldn’t extend her contract. During a two-hour-plus phone call to discuss the matter, one of the objections he raised was that, “I hate her face.”

It’s vile, disgusting, appalling, and so incredibly shameful that this was allowed to happen for as long as it did. And despite the fact that these two key figures were finally relieved of their duties, Mort Meisner was heartbroken by it all.

Still, he can’t help but to feel that his continued fight against sexism and racism is making a difference. So he’ll continue to fight the good fight into 2021… and beyond.

Insisting on Higher Standards

That these allegations of sexism and racism at these specific stations is definitely disappointing. But we HAVE made progress since Mort’s days in the 1980s newsrooms.

To get a glimpse the ways Mort fought sexism and racism and refused to accept them as “business as usual,” grab a copy of Enough to Be Dangerous.

It’s an inspirational read during a time when things are finally looking up.

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Writing a Memoir; Growing a Friendship

When Mort Meisner set out to write his memoir, Enough to Be Dangerous, he had no idea he’d gain a friend along the path.

Mort had some reservations about the first writer he commissioned to help him with the project. When the writer decided to depart to a foreign country with no explanation, those reservations were confirmed.

Feeling slighted, and justifiably so, he wasn’t in any rush to find someone new.

And as is so often the case, he would find what he was looking for when he wasn’t actually searching.

A Chance Encounter

One morning, Mort went to his usual café to grab a coffee before work. A small group of friends was sitting on the patio; a group he nodded to and smiled at every morning. Being the quintessential “people person” that Mort is, he finally introduced himself.

They were warm and receptive and welcomed him to join them.

Among them was a former drug counselor, a musician, and… a writer. He felt he’d stumbled upon something really good. And he had. Not only would he cull some amazing bonds and friendships within the group, but he’d unwittingly stumbled upon the writer who would help him pen his memoir.

Making the Connection

Mort was quick to form a connection with the writer, Stephanie Ruopp. He needed someone to write posts for both his agent business and cannabis marketing business blogs. She was happy to oblige.

Meanwhile, he joined the group each morning before work for coffee. And as his professional relationship and personal friendship with Steph continued to grow, it dawned on him that she could be the one to help him with his story.

He asked if that would be something of interest and she was open to the opportunity. They decided upon a trial run to see if they “clicked” well during the writing process.

They did.

Writing a Memoir Takes Courage

Steph soon discovered that Mort had a wealth of amazing stories about his life in the news industry and as a rock and roll promoter. They were stories that would wow people at parties. And they would certainly be a great part of the book.

But there had to be more than just those.

Steph noticed that Mort also talked frequently about the “funny” things his father said to him as a child about being lazy or generally worthless. Except they weren’t funny at all. They were cruel.

From the memoir:

My dad was clearly depressed. I see it now. But as a child and teenager, he just seemed crazy and out of control. Even in later years after we left Detroit to live in the suburbs, he sometimes got very dark and headed to the attic. First he pulled down the creaky stairs, then he began to heft his heavy body up them.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“I’m going up to the attic to hang myself,” he responded. “Do you want to come?”

I always laughed. But it wasn’t funny.

There was also physical abuse. And though the relationship with his mother was marginally better, there was verbal abuse on her part as well. All of this, while growing up in poor Detroit neighborhoods in the racially tense 1960s.

These were the stories that also needed to be in the book. But it was tough.

As Mort began to convey more of these stories to Steph, those old feelings from childhood crept back in and surfaced. It was as if he were experiencing the trauma all over again. And to some extent, he was.

Deciding What to Disclose

Obviously, Mort found it difficult to share the stories about his parents and the abuse he suffered during childhood. Yet Steph kept gently encouraging him to explore those stories and include them in the memoir. After all, they were an inherent part of Mort’s life story and pivotal in making him the person he became.

He had to agree.

There was another aspect of his life he wasn’t sure he was ready to share, however. In fact, he didn’t know that he ever wanted to share it. And that was his cocaine use.

It was something he hadn’t yet disclosed to his adult children.

Meanwhile, as the months wore on, Steph and Mort continued to grow their friendship – meeting with the group every morning for coffee. He continued to support her and connect her with others who needed her writing services, and she, in turn, used her training as a life coach and yoga instructor to offer ways for Mort to cope with his dark past so they could keep forging ahead.

They trusted each other implicitly. And this made their collaboration all the easier.

Eventually, Mort told his children about his cocaine use and included it in the book. It was agonizing at times and he struggled with the usual feelings of shame and regret. But as is often the case with such admissions, it was also incredibly liberating.

A Bond That Can’t Be Broken

Mort and Steph had no idea what to expect as they embarked on the journey to write Mort’s memoir nearly two years ago. And there have certainly been plenty of other valuable players along the way that were essential in making the book a reality.

But at the end of the day, working together to tell Mort’s story enabled them to forge a solid and enduring friendship. Even now, in the freezing cold of winter in the middle of this pandemic, it’s not unusual to find that same small group, bundled up, seated six feet apart, and drinking coffee in a tent.

And central among them are Mort and Steph – forever grateful for their bond that can never be broken.

Mort Meisner Has Lived a Rich Life

If you’re interested in reading the fruits of Mort’s and Steph’s labor of love, pick up a copy of Enough to Be Dangerous today.

You can purchase it from independent sellers such as Paper Trail Books in Royal Oak or Book Beat in Oak Park. You can also purchase it on Amazon.

It’s the perfect read for over the holidays!

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Mort Meisner to Appear on Extra This Month

When Mort Meisner set out to write his memoir, Enough to Be Dangerous, he never dreamed he’d one day be interviewed on television’s Extra about it.

It makes sense though.

His memoir tackles the timely issues of racism and sexism that thrived for the decades he worked in the news industry. In his interview, Mort discusses how disgusted he was by these and what he did to change antiquated policies and ways of thinking.

But this is just part of what he highlights in his new memoir.

Enough to Be Dangerous Draws Attention

It was Mort’s memoir, Enough to Be Dangerous, that caught the attention of producers in Hollywood at Extra. They were impressed by the depth of his life and its many facets.  

For example, the second chapter is entitled “Plenty of Crazy to Go Around.” And it sets the stage for the harsh childhood Mort would face:

Although white residents would say that Detroit experienced its glory days during the 1950s and early 1960s, the neighborhoods where I grew up were far from glorious. Even though they were predominantly white, they were not reaping the rewards of post-war prosperity.

And it was becoming ever more clear that racial intolerance bred by ignorance in these neighborhoods lent itself seamlessly to religious intolerances as well. Hatred toward Black people was incomprehensible to me; they’d done nothing wrong to me or my family. Instead, I began to see the enemy as white “greasers,” like the four teenagers who attacked my mother.

Sadly, the dangerous neighborhood had nothing on what I’d come to call the House of Horrors – our home, the place where a child should feel safe.

It’s hard to reconcile that the confident and successful man that is Mort Meisner today could have come from such a dismal background. It was one that would drive him to drug use later in his life.

Yet in some ways, the insecurity, abuse, and unpredictability he experienced as a child would also help prepare him for the often ruthless and unforgiving news industry.

And one that was more than peppered with racism and sexism.

A Timely Book

Over the course of the two years Mort spent working on his memoir, the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements picked up tremendous speed.

So it seemed all too appropriate that he highlight what he did to battle racism and sexism in the book. Chapter 10 is entitled, “A Racist Label: The Garbage Men,” and it goes into detail the practice of rooting out Black men in TV news and giving them only the bottom-of-the-barrel stories.

While the sexism was usually a bit more covert than that, it was alive and well in many aspects of the industry as well. Throughout the memoir, Mort recalls all of these situations with disgust and a drive to enact change.

Upon reading his stories, you’ll see that in many cases, he was tremendously successful.

Not a High Profile Celebrity

The exciting thing about Mort’s appearance on Extra – besides having the opportunity to share his amazing story with a wider audience – is that he’s not a celebrity, per se.

While he was well known in the world of news broadcasting, his story basically profiles how a “regular” guy can experience the same ups and downs as a celebrity.

From his wild music days and struggle with a cocaine addiction, to raising a family at home while raising hell at work, his is a story that entertains the entire way through.

And it was all of these factors that landed him on Extra.

Don’t Miss the Interview!

As of now, Mort is scheduled to appear on Extra on December 10th, 12th, and 13th. This could change, however, if something happens in the celebrity world and his interview gets bumped.

So be sure to check with their website to get the full details on times, dates, and which affiliate stations in your area will be broadcasting it.

If you want to grab a copy of the book before the interview, you can do so by clicking here.

And to keep up to date on all of the events surrounding Enough to Be Dangerous, be sure to subscribe to our blog.

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The Power of Local News

Last week on 60 Minutes, former President Barack Obama spoke with wisdom and insight so many of us have come to miss.

He spoke of the disturbing fact that 71 million people voted for a man with whom he feels he has absolutely nothing in common. But he made an important point:

“The voters are divided. It has now become a contest where issues, facts, policies per se don’t matter as much as identity and wanting to beat the other guy. You know, that’s taken priority. I do think the current media environment adds to that greatly. This democracy doesn’t work if we don’t have an informed citizenry.”

In his new memoir, Enough to Be Dangerous, Mort Meisner talks extensively about the responsibility media has in educating the public – at both the national and local level.

And doing so with FACTS.

The Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan Debacle

In Mort’s book, he recalls one of the biggest stories he would cover.

In terms of notoriety, the biggest story of my career was the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan attack. The story made international and national headlines.

It’s what came later that made this story so unbelievable, so crazy, so bizarre that Tanya Harding’s gang of cretins had actually plotted to whack Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan in the knees with a baton during a competition at Detroit’s Cobo Hall in January of 1994.

At the time, Detroit Police Chief Ike McKinnon remained Mort’s source on every aspect of the story. With McKinnon’s intelligence and the mad skills of investigative reporter Scott Lewis, Mort’s CBS affiliate station in Detroit was uncovering the whole twisted plot while national and international media circles couldn’t figure out how they were getting the story before everyone else.

In fact, they were breaking news on the case before every station and network in the country. It got to the point that when the CBS network questioned the veracity of the crazy story and asked Mort for his sources, he refused.

They threatened to not broadcast the story, to which Mort simply responded, “Fine. Don’t use the story.” When CBS turned it down, Mort gave it to NBC instead. Even though they were the competition, he knew it was crucial the information got out there.

So being able to get right into the thick of it at the local level gave them a distinct advantage. And they were able to uncover the true story.

Air Canada Flight – 1983

Ike McKinnon, a social warrior himself, was only one among Mort’s many connections that helped him get to the bottom of a story.

While working at ABC in Chicago, a fire started in the lavatory of an Air Canada flight that spread between the outer skin and inner panels of the plane. It was required to make an emergency landing.

From the book:

Ninety seconds after the plane landed, the doors were opened. The heat of the fire in combination with the fresh oxygen from the open exit doors created dangerous flashover conditions. The plane’s interior was immediately engulfed in flames – killing 23 passengers who had not yet been evacuated.

Mort had a source at the Federal Aviation Administration who provided him with these horrifying facts. Yet, the national newscasts were reporting there were few or no injuries.

But our local news was reporting otherwise with the data we had. In other words, we were reporting the facts and not fake news. This underscores the importance of having impeccable sources. Especially now, when a lot of bad information is getting rolled out as factual.

All of it gives one pause to wonder how much of what we’re hearing is actually true.

Media and Democracy

Mort’s objective was to always uncover the facts and present them with integrity and truth. Unfortunately, not every person in the media sees it this way.

In the hopeful words of President Obama from 60 Minutes:

“I think we’re gonna have to work with the media… to find ways to inform the public better about the issues and to– bolster the standards that ensure we can separate truth from fiction. I think that we have to work at a local level.

When you start getting to the local level, mayors– county commissioners, et cetera, they’ve actually gotta make real decisions. It’s not abstractions. It’s like, “We need to fix this road. We need to get this snow plowed. We need to make sure our kids have a safe playground to– to– to play in.”

And at that level, I don’t think people have that kind of– visceral hatred. And that’s where we have to start in terms of rebuilding the social trust we need for democracy to work.”

Mort couldn’t agree more.

Find out More in Enough to Be Dangerous

Has Mort’s story piqued your interest? Then be sure to pick up a copy of his memoir. You’ll be entertained, inspired, and even a little bit aghast at times.

It’s an interesting ride, to be sure.

You can purchase the book and support a small and local establishment by clicking here. Or if you’d rather, order on Amazon.

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Despite Restrictions, “Enough to Be Dangerous” Launch Party a Success

When Mort Meisner scheduled his Enough to Be Dangerous book launch party for the end of October, he had no idea what to expect.

After a long spring in lock-down, then a summer with some lifted restrictions, it was tough to know what to expect for October.

Nevertheless, the launch party at Andiamo’s in downtown Detroit last week was a success! And Mort was moved to see the many faces that showed up despite the virus and while observing social distancing.

No Social Distancing in Rock and Roll

When Mort was a young rock promoter, he never could have imagined we’d be in the midst of a pandemic in 2020 that would cancel concerts and shows indefinitely. (Then again, who could have?)

His life back then was one wild night after another. Mort recalls the first show on the first night at The Eastown in Detroit in his memoir:

The backstage scene of the first show on that first night was like an old-school carnival freak show featuring fat ladies, geeks, and midgets. What made it so strange is that this was rock ’n’ roll. While anything goes, this was beyond the pale. Cocker, Leon Russell, Rita Coolidge, and Claudia Lennear (who had a long-time thing with Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger) were performing with a cascade of world-class musicians while these “weirdos” danced, drank, and got high.

Last week at the launch party, he thought about how very different his life is now almost fifty years later. And while there weren’t any big-named rockstars at the event, plenty of media folks were there to celebrate the other huge aspect of his career.

Memories of the Wild Newsrooms

Having worked in newsrooms in Detroit, St. Louis, and Chicago in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, Mort often witnessed more action in the newsrooms than what they were covering out on the streets.

He recalls in his memoir:

It’s no big secret now that back then, Chicago newsrooms were incestuous and drug-infested. People were carrying on in a sexually and drug-charged atmosphere both within newsrooms and between newsrooms at other stations. Sometimes, people were having sex in one office while others were doing drugs in other offices. It was pervasive. I was there. I saw it first hand, at least on the drug side.

During those years of Mort’s life, cocaine was taking its toll and there were times when he wondered if he’d get back to the other side. It would have been inconceivable that he’d some day be at a launch party for a memoir that he wrote.

Yet, as he safely mingled with many from the news industry last week, he was reminded of his many successes and what an adventure it has truly been.

Success All Around

The journey from thinking about writing a memoir to the final hard copy in his hand was a long one. And it wasn’t always easy.

But as Mort felt the tremendous support from the community and the big turnout last week (despite the coronavirus) he was overcome with gratitude for all of those who showed up to enjoy themselves, share some stories, and buy the book.

It was certainly an uplifting night in the midst of these darker times.

If you’d like to order a copy of Enough to Be Dangerous, it’s available  through Amazon, or online through several independent booksellers including The Book Beat in Oak Park, MI.

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Building a Family – Part Two

As chronicled in his new memoir Enough to Be Dangerous, Mort Meisner recalls his life in TV News and Rock & Roll. But a person cannot be defined by his or her job alone. Each of us is more complex than that.

In last week’s blog post, we highlighted the deaths of Mort’s parents, the birth of his son Mark, and the contentious court battle that enabled him to finally adopt his beautiful daughter, Nicole.

Mort’s experience as a father didn’t start with Nicole and Mark, though. It began with his son Jason.

The Harrowing Days of Cocaine Use

While writing his memoir, Mort struggled with whether he should include his “cocaine years.” Eventually, he succumbed to the idea. After all, it certainly played a pivotal role in his life.

Three years into working at WXYZ in Detroit, Mort wanted to see a Bruce Springsteen show in Chicago. Through a series of events related to this show, he would end up meeting the woman who would become his second wife.

She was a working for a rock promoter and they were regulars at concerts.

Then Mort discovered cocaine. It was like candy. It made him feel happy, upbeat, and omnipotent. It wasn’t long before any time and any place was a good time or place to do it. Plus, it never impacted Mort’s ability to get to work.

Sometime after that, Mort’s girlfriend became pregnant.

Building a Family… Sorta

Pregnancy did not inspire Mort to stop using cocaine.

Of course, he didn’t realize that the cocaine was helping him mask the pain of his childhood. Even so, he moved to Chicago in 1982 to marry his girlfriend and his son Jason was born in 1983.

After Jason was born, Mort was still using heavily. When his wife threatened to leave him, he didn’t believe her:

Things got worse from there. And when I missed Jasons first birthday party because of a breaking news story – which now is inconceivable to me – we had a huge fight. When I came home from work the next day, she had cleared out everything from the house. EVERYTHING. I thought wed been robbed. But she had taken Jason and moved in with her parents. She filed for divorce in 1983. It was clear though that our happy little home was never going to be of the white picket fence variety.

After that, Mort was only allowed to see Jason one day at a time and he couldn’t keep him overnight. It was one of the biggest heartbreaks of Mort’s life.

He didn’t get to spend enough time with him during his formative years. Even as Jason got older, Mort still only saw him every other month. It was never enough.

Eventually, Mort would establish a relationship with Jason. By the time he moved to St. Louis, he made sure that at least once per month, he’d fly to Chicago to see Jason, or have Jason flown to St. Louis to see him.

Jason would also later be a long-distant half-brother to Mort’s daughter, Nicole, and other son, Mark.

Being the Father He’d Always Wanted

The cycle of abusive parenting stopped with Mort. When he and Leslie decided to build a family, he was determined to be a good father.

After Nicole’s birth in 1992 and Mark’s in 1993, he found himself suddenly trying to reconcile the inordinant amount of time he spent at work with his desire to be with his kids. So when he was let go from WJBK in 1997, it was actually a mixed blessing:

I loved being a father. I now had time to coach Marks baseball team which only further strengthened the bond I already had with my son. I would throw him batting practice 46 weeks per year. I watched him blossom into a great player and he eventually was able to realize his dream of playing Division One Baseball. Hes now a Major League agent.

Meanwhile, Nicole was proving to be a gifted runner. Although I was not able to coach her in her sport, I was able to travel to see her run at meets throughout the country and even the world. She was one of the best sprinters ever at University of Detroit Mercy and broke records on both the national and international levels when she competed.

And Jason? For Mort’s part, he says if he could do it again, he’d have found a way to be there for him more often.

Whatever the case, Jason is now an incredibly successful business man managing restaurants in Maryland. And Mort is finally able to see him with the regularity he longed for those many years ago.

Better late than never.

Get a Glimpse into the Complex Life of Mort Meisner

Whether you’re a friend of Mort’s, an acquaintance, or just hearing his name for the first time, Enough to Be Dangerous will pull you in, befriend you, and keep you interested.

So order your copy today by clicking here.

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Building a Family, Part One

In his recently published memoir Enough to Be Dangerous, Mort Meisner recalls the violence he experienced in his family of origin.

Given the rage and anger that filled every corner of his childhood home, it wouldn’t have been surprising if Mort had opted to not have a family of his own.

But as with every aspect of his life, Mort wasn’t going to let his dark history stop him from building a family. And despite the obstacles along the way, he’d successfully rise to the occasion.

Saying Goodbye to His Own Parents

After a bout in the hospital in 1985 and a subsequent surgery, Mort’s father’s life came to an end. From his memoir:

After the surgery, the doctor came to us, his face long and drawn. After telling us about tremendous blood loss, as well as brain damage, the doctor said with absolute certainty, You dont want this.”

He said that my father wouldnt have any sort of quality of life in that state. My brother and I had to make the tough decision to take him off life support. Then they pronounced my father dead. It was 3:17 p.m. on Thursday, March 14, 1985.  We all went in and it was surreal. There was my dad, 70-year-old Morris Meisner, this once huge, powerful, and blustery man—now lying there dead. Gone.

Shortly after his death, Mort’s mother was attacked in her home and subsequently had a stroke. His mother had always trusted people, even letting strangers into her home to give them cookies and brownies. The police suspected it was someone who’d been to the house before. She was moved into a nursing home where Mort would regularly visit.

In 1988, Mort and his wife Leslie decided it was time to build a family. They tried for four years and had no luck conceiving. Meanwhile, his mother’s condition slowly worsened until she died in 1992. Mort was with her the night before she passed.

He and Leslie still hadn’t conceived.

Along Came Nicole

Two months after his mother’s death, Mort received a call from his friend and WJBK employee, Murray Feldman. He recalls:

I know its none of my business that you and Leslie have been trying to have kids and havent had any success,” he said, then paused. Have you considered adoption?”

We hadnt.

He said to me that his sister-in-law, Judy, had adopted a child out of Kansas and they knew of someone else whose 15-year-old daughter was pregnant and would be putting the baby up for adoption.

Though we hadnt considered adoption before, it made sense. After all, we wanted a baby. And the opportunity was presenting itself. We pondered it for a couple of days, then called Murray to get more information.

Five days later, he and Leslie were heading to Philadelphia to meet the birth mother, Nicole, her mother, Sue, and the birth father. In October, they received the call. Nicole was in labor.

By this time, Nicole and her mother had relocated to Kansas to have the child because she’d been harassed by the birth father, who had threatened her with bodily harm. They figured she’d be safe there.

When the baby was born, Mort and Leslie named her Nicole because they loved the name and wanted to honor her birth mother. They flew home the next day with their beautiful, two-day-old daughter, knowing they’d have to fly to Missouri 30 days later to finalize the adoption in court.

They thought it would be simple.

The Challenge of Building a Family

When they returned to Missouri, they were informed that the birth father had changed his mind. This started a three-state, two-year, $150,000 legal battle. The case would end up going all the way to the Supreme Court in Kansas and subsequently change child’s rights laws in Michigan. Mort and Leslie had even set up contingencies to hide their daughter in Canada, if need be.

Fortunately, none of that happened and they eventually prevailed. To this day, both Mort and Leslie can say with certainty that it was the best money they’ve ever spent – having the honor of raising their wonderful daughter, Nicole.

Then, as is often the case with adoptions, just two weeks after they brought Nicole home, Leslie found out she was finally pregnant. Nine months later, Nicole’s brother Mark was born…

The Joy of Fatherhood

Interestingly enough, Mort was already a father to his son Jason by the time Nicole and Mark came along.

Our next blog post will look at how Mort handled the challenges of both long distance fatherhood and being an everyday dad while saving dying news stations across the country.

In the meantime, get your copy of Enough to Be Dangerous by clicking here. And if you’re interested in the book launch party and other events, be sure to subscribe to our blog!

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Hard Knocks Management

Mort Meisner has been electrifying the airwaves on TV and radio—as well as telling it like it is in print and online media—during interviews about his best-selling memoir, Enough to Be Dangerous, released on October 1st.

As a guest on Fox 2 Detroit’s Let It Rip! he did just that with his hard-hitting spin on the first presidential debate. During live interviews in St. Louis, and on The Mitch Albom Show, Mort has divulged some of the difficulties he experienced, and the tough realities he faced as a news director in big-city newsrooms.

Currently one of the nation’s top news talent agents, Mort shares stories in his book about his life as an agent, rock and roll promoter, and highly successful news director. He also describes how he resuscitated several stations around the country in the 1970s and 80s, including WJBK in Detroit, which was dangerously close to gasping its final breath.

For as rewarding as his work was, though, he still questions whether he could have been a little softer around the edges during certain occasions.

Raising the Bar

To know Mort now, it’s tough to imagine his being anything but the kind, charitable, and enormously personable guy he is.

Yet while he’s always possessed those qualities, there were simply times that they didn’t serve him. You didn’t bring a station back from the dead by tip-toeing around talent and cutting everyone a lot of slack.

Craig Nigrelli 2And if you were going to work at a station that Mort Meisner was managing, then you were expected to meet up to (and beyond, ideally) his high expectations. Craig Negrelli was one of those people who rose to the occasion.

In a previous blog post, we talked about Craig and how Mort saw something in Craig that others hadn’t. The ability to see true potential in talent is one of Mort’s superpowers.

Even Craig’s former agent said he’d never be an anchor. Mort disagreed. Craig wasn’t anchor material when Mort met him. But with a tremendous amount of guidance and coaching from Mort, he’s now a successful anchor in Wichita.

These days, Mort is Craig’s agent.

Even so, Mort had no intention of making Craig’s journey an easy one. He drove him hard and wasn’t willing to give him any breaks he didn’t deserve.

Driving Talent Hard to Be Their Best

As Mort worked his way up the news director/management ladder, he continued to battle sexism and racism in the industry. And there was no shortage of either. But because racism was so insidious, he often came across Black talent that was very promising, but hadn’t been given any chances.

Black male talent in the industry was grossly referred to as The Garbagemen. They were given bottom-of-the-barrel, lackluster stories that nobody else would covered. So there wasn’t much motivation for these reporters to improve.

Furthermore, management didn’t believe in them and did nothing to foster their growth. Until Mort came along.

Al AllenSuch was the case with Al Allen, who also has a memoir released by Two Sisters Writing & Publishing. When Mort came to WJBK, Al was one of the lower men on the totem pole. Mort could see he was an unquestionably good reporter, but suspected management had only hired him for the sake of appearance and had no interest in seeing what he could really do.

Mort changed that. He came in, took over, and made it crystal clear to Al what he expected of him. He also assured him that he knew that Al was more than capable of meeting those expectations. At times, it wasn’t pretty. There was some pretty hardcore “tough love” going on and Mort wasn’t feeling particularly popular.

Yet, in an interview this past week, Al had this to say about Mort:

Ive known Mort for a long time. He was a visionary news director. He saw things in reporters they didnt see in themselves. He had the key to lift restrictions we were under to make reporters award-winning broadcast journalists — including myself. Thats the kind of person he is. He changed the way we were doing stories at Fox 2, which allowed us to breathe, so to speak. By breathing, we could do a better job. We didnt realize how good we were until we had these restrictions lifted by Mort.”

Those words brought tears to Mort’s eyes.

Questioning the Hard Knocks

While Enough to Be Dangerous certainly covers Mort Meisner’s career life, it also documents a painful childhood wrought with verbal and physical abuse. Mort’s father, in particular, felt that abuse was the best and perhaps only way to motivate someone.

As such, Mort’s been left to question whether some of that “training” seeped into his handling of employees. Is it possible that he could have garnered the same results without being quite so rigid and demanding?

Hindsight being 20/20, he has mentioned that if he were to do it now, he’d probably soften a bit. But at the end of the day, he knows that his hard knocks approach those many years ago made a world of difference for the Craig Negrellis and Al Allens he helped along the way.

And he wouldn’t trade that for anything.

See Mort in Action in Enough to Be Dangerous

To get the bigger picture of the larger-than-life Mort Meisner and how both his accomplishments and failures formed who he is, order a copy of his memoir today by clicking here.

And stay tuned. The official launch party is in its final planning stages, so subscribe to our blog to stay in the know!

Interview With John Pertzborn

 

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Taking a Walk Down Memory Lane

When Mort Meisner sat down to start writing his memoir Enough to Be Dangerous, he was flooded with mental snapshots of his life. After all, if you know Mort, you know he has a steel trap of a memory for days of yore.

In some cases, reliving the past was a pleasant walk down memory lane. At other times, digging up and remembering darker days was no walk in the park.

Mort knew that drudging up the past was bound to bring some different emotional highs and lows. What he didn’t expect was all of the people who’ve reached out to him in response to his new book.

Edgar Guest School

In the prologue of Enough to Be Dangerous, Mort recalls a horrible day in second grade when Black students were going to be bused to his school in Detroit and how the white parents and neighbors were responding with such vitriol:

My seven-year-old mind could not comprehend their fury over plans to bus Black students whose school had burned down. To me, it was great that they could come here and attend Edgar Guest Elementary School, named for a poet who celebrated optimism about everyday life.

My naïveté was more like Mr. Guests philosophy, because I was excited for new kids to join our school and become my friends. In fact, my imagination had spun idyllic visions of smiling children descending the steps of big yellow busses.

Somehow, though, I feared something bad was about to happen.

He was right. And he would soon witness his first truly negative experience with racism.

Yet, it wasn’t all bad there at Edgar Guest Elementary. Recently, upon hearing about the publication of Mort’s memoir, a woman named Nancy called Mort. She remembered him from kindergarten and recounted to him how he napped on his rug just beneath where she napped in 1958.

And another man named Eric called, remembering Mort from those elementary school days. He was shocked when Mort was able to immediately recall that Eric sat in the last row near the windows and second seat from the back of their second-grade classroom. (Yep. Steel trap.)

Other Interesting Encounters on Memory Lane

While having two elementary classmates remember him was pretty extraordinary, Mort continues to be surprised by others who are reaching out to him and are excited to read his memoir – having been a part of his life as well.

For example, he’s been in touch with several of his teammates from both the TV2 and Motown teams on which he played baseball. They remember fondly those days of zipping around the bases and hitting the balls out of the park.

Another woman named Donna recalled joining Mort at the Ho Ho Inn in the Cass Corridor for Chinese food after seeing a Sly and the Family Stone concert at Cobo Arena in the 1970s.

And then there’s Jeff.

According to Jeff, Mort owes him $25. Here’s where Mort’s steel trap of a memory fails him, because he’s just not sure. While he vaguely recalls meeting Jeff at a bar one night, he has no memory of Jeff loaning him any money. But then again, it was a bar. So who knows?

There are countless others who continue to make contact with Mort each day. And it’s made his courageous choice to put himself out there and make himself so vulnerable all the more rewarding.

Were You a Part of Mort’s Past?

If so, he encourages you to contact him. There’s plenty of room on memory lane to walk together.

But even if you’re just hearing about Mort for the first time, believe us when we say he’s got a great story to tell in Enough to Be Dangerous.

The book will be available from Two Sisters Writing and Publishing on October 1st. So if you want to buy a copy, simply click here.

And be sure to subscribe to our blog to keep up with all of the excitement around its release!

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“Giving Birth” to a Memoir

People often compare writing and publishing a book to childbirth.

And they’re right.

“This is like giving birth!” Mort Meisner exclaimed recently while tending to the final details of his memoir, Enough to be Dangerous, to be released on October 1, 2020.

After years of thinking about sharing his story in print, Mort is still reeling at the idea that the long gestation period is nearing its end and the finished book will soon be in his hands.

A Chance Encounter

Stephanie Ruopp

Stephanie Ruopp

Any act of creation involves a process. Sometimes the process is a struggle, while other times it just seems to flow. Enough to Be Dangerous was just a thought only two years ago when Mort happened upon writer Stephanie Ruopp one day at a coffeeshop.

They got to talking and when she revealed she was a writer, he took a chance and asked if she’d be willing to write his memoir. Up for the challenge, she didn’t see any reason not to do it. Just like with birthing a baby, the idea was conceived.

Soon they were scheduling regular meetings to start talking about the key events that formed Mort’s fascinating and action-packed life. Over the course of about 20 months, the book continued to grow and get nourished until it became a fully developed draft.

Mort and Steph knew the time had come to start building the birthing team.

Call the Midwife

Two Sisters Phot

Photo by Clarence Tabb, Jr.

“Yes I have been called a ‘literary midwife,’” laughed Elizabeth Ann Atkins, co-creator of Two Sisters Writing & Publishing, during a recent chat with Mort.

Elizabeth and Catherine M. Greenspan are the two-woman force behind Two Sisters Writing & Publishing. They were excited to join the birthing team and wielded their amazing writing, editing, and publishing prowess to keep the ball rolling and move the “delivery” along.

They have been crucial in the final phases of truly bringing the book to life.

A Family Affair

Throughout the book, Mort talks about the importance of family. Upon trying to start a family of their own, he and his wife Leslie were not immediately blessed. They had the good fortune to adopt. From the memoir:

When the baby was born, we chose to name her Nicole because we loved the name and wished to honor her birth mother. We went immediately to court and they granted us temporary custody. We flew home the next day with our beautiful 2-day-old daughter. We thought everything was done at that point. We had only to return 30 days later to finalize the adoption in court.

Leslie, Mark, and Nicole

Leslie, Mark, and Nicole

Of course, Nicole’s adoption wouldn’t go as smoothly as they planned. Not even remotely. (But you can read more about that in the book.) In the end, they were overjoyed to be blessed with their wonderful daughter.

What’s more, just two weeks after they brought Nicole home, Leslie found out she was finally pregnant. Nine months later, Nicole’s brother Mark was born.

So it’s no surprise that Leslie, Mark, and Nicole have also been important members of the team. Leslie was the graphic designer, Mark was responsible for title and subtitle creation, and Nicole took the helm as the social media master.

The Big Day Is Fast Approaching

The whole team worked together to bring Enough to Be Dangerous into the world. And now, the delivery date of October 1st is looming. Just like when one is expecting a baby, there’s a lot of excitement!

If you’d like to get to know the book yourself and share in the intimate experience of connecting with Mort’s innermost thoughts and ideas, pre-order your autographed copy today by clicking here.

And it’s not too late to subscribe to our blog to get all the news about the launch party on October 28th, as well as other events surrounding “the birth”!

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