Egos Aplenty in Enough to Be Dangerous

It seems in the past few years (let’s say a little over three and a half), many of us have had the experience of trying to stomach the antics of a raging ego-maniac.

In some respects, at least, navigating the trails of the ego-maniacal has been familiar territory for Mort Meisner.

Working in the world of broadcasting certainly afforded him a family-sized sampling of blustery and bigger-than-life personalities. And dealing with them first-hand became something of an art form for him.

In his new memoir, Enough to Be Dangerous, he takes the reader into the newsrooms and other venues that were populated by these characters.

The Legendary Bill Bonds

Bill BondsIf you lived in Detroit in the 1970s and 1980s, you’ve heard of Bill Bonds. He was a brilliant and tough-as-nails anchorman whom Mort regards as one of the five greatest anchormen of all time.

Mort worked with him in his early days of broadcasting when he was at WXYZ. He remembers Bill as a passionate man. This passion wasn’t always pretty.

After each newscast, Bill would hold up the scripts in the newsroom and ask, Who wrote this? Who wrote this piece of shit?”

Someone would meekly raise their hand and Bill would stare them down and say, We are better than this. This is terrible.” Then for dramatic effect, hed sometimes fling the scripts into the air and walk out on his way to dinner or, more likely, the bar.

It was no secret that Bill had done more than a dozen stints in rehab for drinking and had lost a daughter to a drunk driver. Yet, no matter how hard a day he was having, he’d end every newscast with, “Have a peaceful evening.” His outbursts were just par for the course. As Mort says, “That was just Bill. I loved him. We all loved him.”

The Not-So-Nice Al Ackerman

Mort did not share the same affection for sportscaster Al Ackerman and considered him one of the most negative guys he’d ever met.

During Ackerman’s tenure, Mort was running the evening assignment desk where one of his jobs was to be traffic cop for the crews getting moved around. If a big news story was breaking, he’d have to pull a crew for it. One night, he pulled Ackerman’s crew.

Let’s just say, it didn’t go well.

You dirty mother fucker, you took my crew last night,” [Al] seethed. Youre a piece of shit!” he yelled and stormed off.

I wasnt going to take that. So I went into the sports office.

You need to apologize to me!” I said.

Fuck off!” he answered.

The guy was so determined to not apologize that he tried to leave, but I blocked the door. So he turned around and tried to crawl out the first-floor window. It came down on his hand and severed a tendon in his middle finger.

As Mort says, “Al was a curmudgeon who, given the chance, would have kicked Mother Theresa in the ass rather than walk around her.” Yet despite his boorish behavior, he was very popular, knowledgeable, talented, and even feared by many in management of our professional sports teams.

The Blowhard Walter Jacobsen

While working in Chicago, Mort had the distinct (dis)pleasure of working with Walter Jacobsen. Walter had a Napoleon complex and was quick to fly off the handle.

Jimmy Carter often came to Chicago during this time to visit his grandchildren. Stations sent crews, just in case there was something newsworthy. There never was. So Mort made the decision to not send a crew. When Walter discovered there would be no story on his visit, he blew his top. He stuck a finger in Mort’s face and began yelling at him.

Do you like working here?” he finally asked with a threatening tone. 

Not in particular,” I said, feeling heated, because I dont like you.”

Oh yeah!? Well, Ill call Gene Jankowski and make sure you get fired then!” he yelled. Jankowski ran CBS News and was one of the people who could easily get me fired. I didnt care.

Get the fuck out of my face,” I yelled back, waving him away.

He stared into my eyes and tweaked me across the nose!

You just alienated the most important man in journalism,” he said. Then he turned on his heels and walked back to his desk, where his assistants sat behind him like a pack of rats. 

I was approaching a rage. And even though I had a broken leg from a tackle football game, I hobbled over to him. To do what? Honestly, I was ready to beat the shit out of him for everything hed ever done to anyone at all. I got right in his face.

If you ever touch me again,” I growled, Ill put my foot so far up your ass, it will come out of your mouth.”

It’s certainly a provocative image.

Of course, Mort never got the chance to actually do that, since the general manager had been warned that a brawl was about to break out and came to settle it. And in spite of Walter’s massive ego, Mort always regarded him as an outstanding journalist and for that, he respected him.

The Dismissive Mike Royko

Mike RoykoDuring Mort’s time in Chicago, one of his goals was to meet Mike Royko, the late Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the city’s papers. When he was  out at a local watering hole with his friend Jim, the opportunity presented itself.

Theres Royko!”

Jim warned me not to approach him, but nothing was going to stop me. I went up to Royko.

Hi Mike, Im Mort Meisner,” I said. Assignment Manager at WBBM. I think youre the greatest columnist ever, anywhere.”

With a drink in his right hand, he looked directly at me. He made a circular motion with his left hand and said clearly and succinctly, Who gives a fuck what you think.”

So much for first impressions. Even so, Mort still considers Royko the greatest columnist that ever lived.

The Mayhem Doesn’t Stop There

Of course, not every behind-the-scenes story from these major newsrooms is quite so chaotic or mean-spirited.

But there are still plenty more to explore in Enough to Be Dangerous – due out on October 1st from Two Sisters Writing and Publishing. Pre-order your autographed copy today.

And don’t forget to subscribe to our blog to stay in the know about the launch party and other book-related events.

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Choosing What Goes into a Memoir

WJBK, FOX in Detroit sponsored local legendary team. That’s Mort top row, 6th from the left with oldest and dear friend Larry Foote to his left. Daughter, Nicole also in top row and son, Mark in bottom row.

Mort Meisner has had a full life.

So when it came time to write his memoir, determining what would make the cut was a feat. To say the least.

Right now, the baseball season is in full swing. (Whatever “full swing” means in this era of the coronavirus.) And it has recently left Mort nostalgic for this beloved sport.

Yet, in his memoir, Enough to Be Dangerous, there isn’t much about his favorite American pastime. How come?

Did Baseball Strike out?

Not exactly.

Baseball was actually a huge part of Mort’s life. He played the game himself and was, in his words, “pretty darn good at it.” He still recalls his first Tigers game in 1960 when the Tigers played the Yankees. It was a bright sunny day with an impossibly blue sky that contrasted the emerald green of the field. The smell of hot dogs and sound of the ball cracking against the bat was intoxicating.

Over ten years later in 1971, 1972, and 1973, he was a vendor at Tiger Stadium. He had to wear a wig to cover up his long hair, but it was worth it for the money he earned and, more importantly, the women he met.

He kept lucky peach pits he’d hold during Tigers games and rallies. That might sound a little odd, but true sports fans are susceptible to unusual superstitions. And as fans go, Mort was the real deal.

Being so passionate about broadcasting, he obviously remembers the first time he heard Ernie Harwell and how from the first day he met him, Ernie always remembered Mort’s name.

And it is Mort’s passion for broadcasting that took precedence to baseball in his memoir.

It Was a Difficult Decision

As we mentioned above, Mort has had a rather large and illustrious life. So it would have been impossible to include every story in his vast menagerie of tales without overwhelming readers.

Thus, when pulling together information for Enough to Be Dangerous, it was necessary to stick with the essentials – which broke down to his life in broadcasting, as a rock and roll promoter, as a talent agent, and his family.

Baseball is not completely MIA, though. In fact, it is in the chapters that speak of his family – both of origin and the family he created – that baseball and softball make cameo appearances.

Bonding with His Son

For example, he discusses a period of time after he was let go from a job and suddenly had time on his hands.

As the kids continued to grow, 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 Baseball agent.

So while exiting stage left from broadcasting was difficult, it was certainly a mixed blessing in that it enabled him to foster the same love of the sport in his son.

Saying Goodbye

On a more melancholy occasion, there was a night when Mort went to visit his mother in the nursing home where she spent her final days. By then she had disconnected from the world and when Mort went in to say hello, she merely turned over in her bed and turned her back to him.

The next morning, I was playing softball when I received the call that she was gone. Oddly, I felt the need to I return to the field to finish the game.

It was a dark and overcast day. But when I ran out to left field, the sun briefly came out. It still sends goosebumps down my spine when I think about it.

So even though baseball is largely absent from the memoir, it was certainly woven into the fabric of his life. And right now, while he’s missing those hot afternoons and balmy evenings at Comerica Park, he’s happy coaching his grandson Tony’s Little League team.

And he’s looking forward to the days when he can take his grandsons “out to the ballgame.”

They’ll be here soon enough.

So What’s in the Memoir?

You’ll just have to read it to find out.

Fortunately, you can pre-order your autographed copy of Enough to Be Dangerous by clicking here – due out on October 1st from Two Sisters Writing and Publishing.

We promise you it’s a home run of a read.

And subscribe to our blog to stay up to date on all the events around the launch of the book.

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David Winter

 

Fast Facts

Name: David Winter
Market: 37
Current Station: WKRC
Current Title: Reporter/Fill-In Anchor
Preferred Title: Anchor/Reporter
Experience: 30+ Years

Agent Name: Mort Meisner
Agent Phone: (248) 545-2222
Agency: Mort Meisner Associates

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Enough to Be Dangerous – Thank You, Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen and MortMany of us remember the first time we saw a musical act that transformed us. For Mort Meisner, it was Bruce Springsteen.

In fact, Mort would hold the record in Michigan for attending the most Springsteen concerts, were it not for 97.1 The Ticket radio personality Mike Stone. Stone is such a diehard fan that it’s written in his contract that he gets time off to see Bruce when he’s in town, as well as when he’s on tour to go see him out of town.

Of course, it’s not a competition. They both share a fierce passion for both Bruce’s music, and for the musician. And this is no more apparent than in Mort’s new memoir, Enough to Be Dangerous, where he committed not just one, but two chapters to Bruce Springsteen.

He even goes so far as to call him his hero.

You Never Forget Your First Time

Mort had never heard of Bruce Springsteen that fateful night he went to see him in September of 1975:

I was 22, but felt like a young teenager—sitting there, front and center, waiting for this Bruce Springsteen guy to come out on stage. I had no idea what to expect. And before I knew it, there he was, playing Incident on 57th Street. He went through his array of songs—none of which Id heard—including Born to Run.

Hearing them that night changed my life.

It was a transcendental experience for him.

Working as a rock and roll promoter at the time, he knew immediately it was essential that he book Bruce at the Michigan Palace. So he went to talk to Bruce’s manager and booked him two weeks later.

And so began Mort’s journey toward becoming a Bruce Springsteen groupie.

Following the Boss

Mort’s friend Nelson was equally as swept up by Bruce Springsteen as Mort was, and they were soon traveling to see him perform.

On one occasion, they went to Asbury Park, New Jersey, in hopes of catching Bruce slumming at the famous Stone Pony. After a visit to sax man extraordinaire Clarence Clemons’ home, and several more attempts at the Stone Pony, they finally scored.

Bruce treated them like royalty. He was genuinely interested in them and curious about why they’d come all that way. Then he proceeded to play there for an hour and a half in what was almost a private concert.

Listening to him perform, I felt profoundly different. I cant really explain it. I thought, this guy is like Bob Dylan. But different. More upbeat. More spiritual, maybe?

The way I interpreted his songs resonated with something deep inside me. He ran sentences and words together which I didnt understand, but I had no need to understand. He got me.

It became another life-changing night for Mort.

Still Loving Bruce Springsteen

Throughout Enough to Be Dangerous, Mort recounts a childhood riddled with violence and abuse. He lived his young adult years hard and fast, eventually succumbing to drug use in an attempt to outrun the demons that haunted him. But there was always one thing he knew could bring him back to center.

Over the years, from then until now, Ive seen Bruce Springsteen 131 times. It seems that in my tormented life—as its often been—hes always been there as a salve or balm to bring me relief.

Even when I had tragedies and losses in my family, I always took solace in listening to Bruce.

His abiding faith in Bruce Springsteen remains to this day.

What Makes Bruce Springsteen Mort’s Hero?

You’ll have to read Enough to Be Dangerous to get the answer to that question. Don’t worry.

Just click here to pre-order your autographed copy of this action-packed yet emotional memoir – due out on October 1st from Two Sisters Writing and Publishing.

And be sure to subscribe to our blog to stay up to date on all the latest around the release, launch party, and other exciting events.

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Enough to Be Dangerous – When a Guidance Counselor Truly Guides

Harry Weberman, Mort’s Oak Park High School Guidance Counselor, 1970-1971.

Most of us know the adage, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” And chances are, a great many of us have experienced this.

Sometimes the teacher is an actual teacher – the English teacher who introduced you to an amazing author or the science teacher who shared your passion for chemistry.

Maybe it’s a coach who encouraged you to dig deep and give it your all. It could be a friend, a family member, a child, a pet. Perhaps a stranger on the street. The teacher can take on many forms.

For Mort Meisner, it was his guidance counselor, Mr. Weberman.

The Misguidance Counselor

By the time Mort landed in high school, he wasn’t entirely sure what he wanted to do once he graduated.

He’d had more than a handful of experiences by then that had sparked a passion for broadcasting. But he’d had an even bigger handful of experiences that left him feeling deflated and stupid –  one of which was delivered by a man who was supposed to be his guidance counselor.

In his memoir, Enough to Be Dangerous, he recalls the day he was called down to the alleged counselor’s office:

 Youre a nice boy, but I just dont see you amounting to much,” [the counselor] said, glancing down at a pile of papers. I could only assume that at the top of that pile was a sheet that displayed my grades.

He lifted up that sheet to partially conceal his face. I recommend you go into the military or into a good trade like plumbing, or you could become an electrician,” he said, looking at me from over the edge of the paper. This suggestion was beyond laughable—if it werent so sad—because of my inability to work with my hands.   Hell, I had struggled to pass shop class and art.

I didnt know what to say. Yeah, I knew my grades werent stellar. But did that really mean I had no future? All I could do was nod, then get up and leave. Utterly humiliated.

Of course, Mort was no stranger to being told he wasn’t worth much. His father regularly dealt him verbal blows such as, “If you had two brains you wouldn’t be a halfwit,” or, “I do more accidentally than you do on purpose.” And his mother had told him countless times when he was younger that he was not her little boy and she wished she’d never had him.

Yet, in a surprising turn of events, his parents did not take to the counselor’s words kindly. In fact, they had quite the opposite reaction. In a rare demonstration of protective parenting, they charged into the school and demanded that Mort be given a new guidance counselor.

And when Mort’s 350 lb. father made demands, people didn’t take them lightly. Not if they knew what was good for them.

Enter Mr. Weberman

Mort’s parents had finally made a significantly positive impact on his life because the next day, he was assigned a new counselor.

His name was Harry Weberman, and he would be one of the few highlights of my high school tenure. He acknowledged that I didnt have the best grades. But he nevertheless encouraged me to apply to Wayne State or the University of Detroit, then pursue whatever interested me.

That interaction with Mr. Weberman made me realize that I really had believed I was stupid. But I also realized that my grades didnt truly reflect my intelligence. Truth was, the only subjects that really interested me were English and speech. I simply wasnt interested in other topics, and therefore didnt try very hard. But language and speaking made me tick.

This fact, along with Mr. Webermans words, gave me hope.

Mr. Weberman was truly an amazing man. He challenged me to follow my dream of becoming a journalist—which I did.

Whatever it was that enabled Mort to hear Mr. Weberman’s words with clarity and, even more importantly, without the echoing reverberation of the rage-filled sleights and slurs from his parents over the years, no one knows.

Least of all Mort.

He just knows that to this day, he is eternally grateful for that day in Mr. Weberman’s office and how it would change every day that followed.

For years after that, every time he saw Mr. Weberman, Mort reminded him what he meant to him. The year before he died was the last time he’d see him. He thanked him one final time and his last words to him were, “Mr. Weberman, you are everything that is right with education.”

The teacher came. And the student was indeed ready.

Read More About Mort’s Fascinating Life

For anyone who knows Mort as the confident and successful person that he’s become, it’s tough to imagine he had such a rough start.

But his fight, his spirit, and his resilience are undeniable – in every aspect of his life from his abusive childhood, to his days in the rock and roll scene, right up to his years in TV news broadcasting and now as an agent.

Read about them in Enough to Be Dangerous – due out on October 1st from Two Sisters Writing and Publishing – by pre-ordering your autographed copy today.

And in the mean time, subscribe to our blog to stay up to date on all the buzz around the book, the launch party, and other exciting events.

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Enough to Be Dangerous – Mort Continues to Address Racism in Broadcasting

In his new memoir, Enough to Be Dangerous, Mort Meisner chronicles the blatant racism that permeated the television broadcasting industry.

As we discussed in previous blog posts, racist behavior during those years was widely accepted as business as usual. Mort never saw it that way. He was troubled by such gross improprieties and fought tirelessly to be an agent of change – going up against racism in broadcasting.

These days, he continues to rally for that cause as an agent who represents stellar talent – regardless of their race.

Good News in the Sports Radio Sector

Given that the sports industry celebrates many talented black athletes, it makes sense that sports radio would include a robust roster of black broadcasters. That hasn’t been the case in Detroit though.

So when producer and on-air contributor Mike Sullivan at 97.1 The Ticket (WXYT-FM) announced he would be leaving the station, it was the perfect opportunity to bring on Rico Beard. Represented by Mort, Rico is an immensely talented and highly experienced broadcaster and the epitome of professionalism. And it just so happens that he’s also black.

Because of his vast experience, it was obvious to Entercom, a leading media and entertainment company and the top leader in sports radio, that Rico Beard would be the perfect fit. He was clearly the most qualified candidate and the station would benefit from his experience.

Thus, Entercom has announced that Rico will join Mike Valenti on 97.1 for the number-one sports radio afternoon drive talk show in the country.  “The Mike Valenti Show with Rico” will air weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., beginning August 3, and he is certain to add some new flavor with his highly opinionated views.

Mike is thrilled to have him on board. “I’ve wanted to work with Rico for several years now and it is simply fantastic the occasion has arrived,” he says. “Adding Rico to our show represents a massive opportunity to not only stay at number one, but to evolve and become even stronger.”

Who Is Rico Beard?

Rico is a native Detroiter with more than two decades of experience covering local professional and collegiate sports. He was co-host of “The Ryan and Rico Show” for Detroit Sports 105.1, and held on-air roles for local television stations, including FOX affiliates WXYM-TV in Lansing and WJBK-TV in Detroit, where Mort worked with him.

Rico has covered an impressive array of events, including nine Final Fours, three Stanley Cups, two NBA Finals, five college football bowl games, and two World Series.

In addition, he is a Michigan State University alumnus, Heisman Trophy voter, and has also served as a college professor and instructor.

“I am extremely blessed and honored in becoming a host on ‘The Mike Valenti Show’ on 97.1 The Ticket,” said Beard. “I was flattered when Mike Valenti himself asked me to join his show. My job will be to bring in a new voice and opinions to a show that is already one of the best shows, not only in Detroit, but in the sports talk radio industry throughout the U.S.”

Chipping Away at Racism in Broadcasting

It’s a step in the right direction to see that the industry has made some headway when addressing racism in broadcasting. At one time, a highly qualified black man like Rico Beard wouldn’t have even been considered.

It’s clear, though, that the industry still has a ways to go.

Fortunately, people like Mort are making a difference. Both now, and as evidenced by the many stories in his memoir, Enough to Be Dangerous – which will be released in hardcover, paperback, and ebook on October 1, 2020 from Two Sisters Writing & Publishing.

Click here to pre-order your autographed copy today. And be sure to subscribe to our blog to get more stories and stay up do date with the latest information regarding the launch party and other exciting events.

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Enough to Be Dangerous – Broadcast Industry Leaders Need to Do Better

Detroit sports radio lacks diversity.

One particular station in Detroit has no African American voices whatsoever. What’s more—white men host almost every show. And this in a city that’s nearly 82% black. How does this make sense?

It doesn’t. And broadcast industry leaders need to do better.

Sports radio claims that they just don’t have the money. But that’s a dubious response, at best.

And even if voices on the teams can that back up the talent, it’s just not enough. Especially given the fact that there’s no lack of amazing talent they could hire—both black and female.

The Darker Side of News Broadcasting

In his memoir, Enough to Be Dangerous, former news executive and now news talent agent, Mort Meisner, reveals that this lack of diversity has been afflicting the media business for a long time.

As we discussed in a recent post, some white male executives would call black male reporters “garbage men.” This demeaning label helped them feel justified in assigning the reporters the fluff stories that didn’t matter or make any impact.

This wasn’t just in Detroit, either. As Mort recalls:

I worked in five different newsrooms. And whether I was in Detroit, Chicago or St. Louis, it was virtually always the same. Black women were making inroads at the anchor desk – usually to sit next to an established white male. Beverly Payne and Doris Biscoe in Detroit were good examples. Similar talent placements were occurring in cities and newsrooms throughout the country. But black male anchors continued to be strangely absent. In fact, black males in TV news were lacking altogether.

Of course, black men have made some headway in the television news industry since that time. As have women. So there’s certainly something to be said about the awareness raised by movements such as #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo.

But Broadcast Industry Leaders Need to Do Better

“We need to do better,” are the words Mort has uttered for decades. He was always disgusted by the racist and sexist behavior that played out in every level of the industry.

And being at the executive level, he did everything in his power to affect change.

There [were] times where Id suggested [a specific black reporter] be assigned a specific story, but I always got shot down. The boss would say, “Theres a good story there, but he aint gonna get it.”

So I decided to work with [this specific reporter] to coach him. I told him that while he may never become the go-to guy, he could at least grow his game, get better and be more of a factor in our coverage plan. And he did get better. He rose to the position, and the pride and the smile he wore most days moving forward were rewarding.

Still, he was never going to get the respect he deserved.

The situation wasn’t much better for women—black or white—in an industry where a woman’s appearance could make or break her chance to be a TV reporter—regardless of her talent. The same standards for appearance clearly didn’t apply to the vast cavalcade of older white men who populated the screen.

So while some improvement has occurred, it’s disheartening to hear that racism and sexism are still “business as usual” in other areas of broadcasting.

The Silver Lining

Recent times have challenged many to look at their long-held beliefs. Especially those beliefs that are more covert in nature. And there does seem to be a trend toward acknowledging poor behavior. At least in SOME circles.

Right now, Mort is in talks with the aforementioned sports radio station to bring on a particular and highly professional talent that will contribute a much-needed voice to the station. And to their credit, they acknowledge that they dropped the ball and got complacent.

“We shouldn’t hesitate when the talent is there to have two black men, or a black man and black woman,” Mort recently said on a Fox2News Let It Rip segment. “Look, there’s plenty of talent out there. Plenty.”

It’s high time that every broadcast industry leader recognizes that and takes action.

Hungry for More?

Overall, the situation has improved in the industry since the days that Mort describes in his memoir, Enough to Be Dangerous. Still, there’s no doubt that broadcast industry leaders need to do better.

And as long as Mort is at the helm of his news talent agency, he’s going to do his part to make sure that happens. Just as he always has.

Enough to Be Dangerous will officially be released in hardcover, paperback, and ebook on October 1, 2020 from Two Sisters Writing & Publishing.

Pre-order your autographed copy today. And subscribe to our blog to get more great stories about the book, as well as the latest information regarding the launch party and other exciting events – right in your inbox!

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Enough to Be Dangerous – Mort Meisner’s Adventures in Rock and Roll

In 1969, Mort Meisner started living the rock and roll life.

KISS Alive platinum record as reward for Mort’s relationship with the group.

No, he wasn’t in a band. But his meteoric rise in the industry as a top music promoter would expose him to unparalleled superstar talent.

He would come to work with huge names such as Elton John, Sly and the Family Stone, David Bowie, Chuck Berry, KISS, and, of course, Bruce Springsteen. And that’s the short list.

Of course, the genesis of his adventures in rock and roll was not quite so glamorous.

In the Beginning…

In fact, he started out selling pop and chips at the age of 16 at a well-known and now defunct and non-existent venue in Detroit. The venue was owned by the father of a high school classmate who had aspirations of promoting music himself.

In his memoir Enough to Be Dangerous, Mort recalls how he experienced this once magical place:

The Grande Ballroom [had] three or four sets of metal doors. When you pried them open – and you had to pry them open – you were greeted with an extraordinarily wide set of stairs. At the top of the stairs, there was a once gorgeous ballroom that was a place where people came to dance in the 1930s and 1940s. Opposite the stage was a man who sold incense. At stage right, there was the pop and chips bar. It was cavernous. And every time I was there, it was special. Even at age 16, I knew who had come through those doors and had been on that stage.

Yep. Even though the Grande was already falling into disrepair by that time, Mort was in deep. And it didn’t take him long to graduate from selling soda to selling tickets there – all the time getting seriously schooled on how eccentric musicians could be:

I remember Iggy Pop getting naked, covering himself in peanut butter, then rolling around in the audience…

It was definitely a very different world from the one he’d come to know in his abusive childhood home.

Eventually, the Grande would close shop and Mort and his classmate would move onto promoting music at the Eastown, where they’d partner with another promoter and start their own production company.

And that’s where things got really bizarre.

Adventures in Rock and Roll at the Eastown

The Eastown got equally as big names as the Grande. But at The Eastown, drugs of all kinds were everywhere. Overtly so. There was nothing clandestine about it.

Mort was now in college at the University of Detroit – a student by day, and music promoter by night. And the musicians continued to provide great stories:

I remember virtually every show at the Eastown. But one that sticks with me in particular was Leslie West. What made West so memorable was that he was an obese 350-pound Jewish rock star with flowing curly hair and a black leather jacket. And he embraced the rock star persona. After the show, around 2 or 3 a.m., we went to the Clock restaurant on Harper. The locals, whod presumably never seen an obese Jewish rock star, began mocking him and making fun of him – asking him what the hell he was doing there. His response was straightforward, and far from eloquent.

He stood up on the table, pulled down his pants, and mooned the entire restaurant. I wasnt sure wed get out of there alive. But suffice it to say we did.

Just as the Grande met its demise, so too did the Eastown. But that didn’t stop Mort. The next stop? The Michigan Palace.

Rock Royalty at the Michigan Palace

When Mort speaks of the Michigan Palace during the week of October 15th – 20th in 1973, he does so with vigorous enthusiasm. For that was the week he met David Bowie, as well as the members of KISS.

Coming face to face with Bowie brought so many thoughts to mind. He was unapproachable – both figuratively and literally. On top of being told by his manager not to make direct eye contact with the rock star, I was instructed to definitely not strike up a conversation with him unless he initiated it. Hell, I didnt need to be told that! If I were ever intimidated and smitten with true rock royalty, this was the occasion.

While Bowie was at The Michigan Palace, a little-known (at the time) group called KISS was playing over in Windsor. Mort went to check them out. He was taken by their regalia.

When they found out that he was with the Michigan Palace, they asked if he could get them into the theater to see Bowie. Bowie’s management contract stated explicitly that there would be no comps and no guest list, but Mort wanted to cut these guys a break. So he snuck them up the fire escape to see Bowie.

That was their first time at The Michigan Palace. They would make their debut there six months later, and eventually perform KISS Alive! at the Cobo – where Mort would be the emcee who brought them on stage.

Want More on Mort’s Adventures in Rock and Roll?

We don’t want to give everything away here.

Fortunately, Enough to Be Dangerous is packed to the hilt with Mort’s wild adventures in rock and roll – not to mention the sometimes even stranger than fiction stories of the news industry that would follow.

So if this taste left you hungry for more, then click here to pre-order your autographed copy of Enough to Be Dangerous  – due out on October 1st from Two Sisters Writing and Publishing.

And don’t forget to keep checking back with our blog to stay up to date on all of the happenings and events around the book’s launch.

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Enough to Be Dangerous – The Challenges for Women in the News Industry

In our last couple blog posts for Mort Meisner’s new memoir – Enough to Be Dangerous – we looked at the prevalence of racism in the news industry and its detrimental impact.

While the situation was slightly better for women in the news industry, it would be naïve to assume they were ever taken as seriously as any of the high-level white men who populated the executive meeting rooms.

With the #MeToo movement picking up much needed steam these past few years, light has been shed on how women continue to be treated in the industry.

Some of it is good news.

Things Have Improved for Women in the News Industry

While it’s not all sunshine and roses for women in the industry (or really in ANY industry), there are behaviors that were once considered “the norm” that would no longer be tolerated.

For example, throughout his memoir, Mort recalls many incidents where women were harassed, objectified, or spoken down to as a matter of principle. It was a sign of the times.

In one such incident, Mort remembers finally taking issue with a one time WJBK general manager whose sexist comments had become too much:

One day, we had a meeting in an office adjacent to his huge office. It was me, my assistant Tom, the program director, and the director of operations. [The latter two] were “yes” people and towed the company line. That afternoon, the general manager was in an alternate state of mind (i.e. drunk) and we were talking ratings – which continued to be a great challenge.

By now we had an excellent product with incredible talent and I had a great management team. But we still had a lot going against us. Channel 7 was very strong – even after the Bill Bonds years before the station took a major dive. And WDIV had remained – and does so to this day – consistent.

So the general manager said to me, “What do you think we need to do to be number one?”

I talked about breaking habits, doing news pallet promotions, and being competitive on all fronts.

“Fuck that,” he said, rolling his eyes. “What we need to do is have [a young and talented black female anchor at the time] take her blouse off and put her big breasts on the anchor desk.”

Much to my dismay, the two department heads laughed.

“That’s not funny,” I said, then turned to my assistant, Tom. “We’re leaving.”

I got back to my office and immediately called corporate. They began an investigation shortly thereafter. I can’t say I’m solely responsible, but that particular general manager was fired a short time later.

This was not an isolated incident though. Throughout Enough to Be Dangerous, there are countless stories that belittle women in one way or another – some more heinous than others.

What Is the Current Landscape?

Given politics in the United States is headed by a “leader” who sees no issue with treating women like property (or less than that), it’s safe to say that sexism still exists in the newsroom. As Mort says:

What made (and continues to make) broadcasting a difficult industry for women is the sexual component. In other words, the whole idea that getting ahead will require certain “favors” be rendered. I’ve always found this deplorable. But it’s deeply entrenched in the culture.

Where sexism and racism were concerned, Mort created a legacy of enacting change in the newsrooms. We can only hope that more men like him move into high positions in the news industry where they can settle in next to powerful female executives.

It’s certainly time for change… in every industry.

Glance into the Past with Enough to Be Dangerous

You’ll be impressed by Mort’s unwillingness to accept blatant sexism as just part of the newsroom culture at the time, and inspired by the steps he took to help every woman in the news industry.

Enough to Be Dangerous will be released in hardcover, paperback, and ebook on October 1, 2020 from Two Sisters Writing & Publishing.

But you can pre-order an autographed copy today by clicking here. And keep coming back to find out more about the upcoming book launch party and other exciting events.

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Enough to Be Dangerous – Racism Allegations Rock High Levels of the Television News Industry

This week, an article in the Huffington Post claimed that a senior ABC News executive made insensitive and sometimes racially tinged comments about several journalists of color at the Walt Disney-owned unit.

Mort Meisner was beyond saddened by this allegation. He knows the executive in question and it seems out of character for her. Even so, as much as these allegations surprise him, he’s witnessed so much racism in the television news industry, it wouldn’t shock him at all if they are completely true.

And that’s particularly discouraging – given the many times he went to battle to right the wrongs of racism in the industry.

Enough to Be Dangerous Exposes Blatant Racism

When Mort decided to write his memoir, Enough to Be Dangerous, he was at no loss for stories and vignettes that highlighted how rampant racism was in the industry. And because it was a different time, how accepted it was. He never accepted it though.

“Wrong is wrong,” he says.

Growing up in Detroit, he embraced diversity from a very young age. Even his abusive father was a strong proponent for Civil Rights and regardless of the other horror he put Mort through, he did teach him those values. Then when Mort began working as a music promoter right out of high school and through college, he was immersed in an industry that embraced racial differences in a way many other industries had not at that time.

All of that changed when he moved into the world of television news – a domain ruled largely by white men. The blatant racism was jarring and sickening. And he wasn’t going to take it.

Blazing a New Trail

In our previous blog post, we discussed the “garbage men” in the industry. “Garbage men” was the term that high-level (typically white male) executives used when referring to black male reporters. These reporters, who were few and far between, were typically given the easy “throw-away” stories, because the executives deemed these were all they could handle.

Disgusted by this behavior and widely accepted protocol, Mort decided he needed to change the industry from within. As relayed in many places throughout his memoir, he championed for the rights of black journalists and newscasters in every newsroom where he worked for the next several decades.

When he recognized talent in a black reporter, he would go the distance to foster and encourage that talent. It didn’t matter that he was in an industry where it was okay to refer to an African American weatherman as a “black Q-Tip.” Or to make casual statements about the likelihood of skilled black athletes becoming heroin or crack addicts when it was something that would NEVER be said of white athletes.

Mort knew that wrong was wrong—no matter how you cut it. And in the end, his efforts paid off to some extent. Today, more than a handful of black male anchors thank Mort for seeing something in them and not being afraid to go to bat for them to help them rise in the industry.

Today, working as a news talent agent, he continues to promote and place African American talent on a regular basis.

How Much Has Changed?

Of course, Mort is still incredibly disheartened by the recent allegations.

As Whoopi Goldberg says about the situation – “Everything I know about her doesn’t say she has this in her. But I will say that one of the things that everyone should always make sure we say, and I say it all the time — lets find out. If it’s true, she’s gone. If it’s not, let’s find out what’s going on.”

Even just twenty years ago, nobody would have dared to make those sorts of allegations in the news industry – in spite of the fact that racial slurs were commonplace. And even if they had, you can be sure no action would have been taken.

So while progress has been slow, things have moved in a better direction at least. And Mort’s efforts have not been in vain.

Find out More in Just Dangerous Enough

Sink into the story behind Mort’s powerful climb to the top of the TV news industry and get inspired by his advocating for justice, equality, and integrity every step of the way.

Enough to Be Dangerous will officially be released in hardcover, paperback, and ebook on October 1, 2020 from Two Sisters Writing & Publishing.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for updates on how you can pre-order your autographed copy, as well as all the info about a book launch party and other exciting events. We look forward to seeing you!

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