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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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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The Changing Face of the News Industry

Obviously, the talent is the face of the business.

But true talent possesses far more than stage presence. While that’s an absolutely necessary component, there has to be far more than that.

That’s why talent agent Mort Meisner finds it depressing that the industry is moving away from hiring singular talent and replacing it with teams.

And when it comes to recognizing true talent, he’s one of the best in the country. He’s found more than his fair share.

Success Stories

Craig Nigrelli

Craig Nigrelli

When Mort first started his agent business, one person who stood out among others was Craig Nigrelli. When Mort met Craig, he had aspirations to become an anchor. He also had an agent who didn’t believe in him. As Mort recalls in his book, Enough to Be Dangerous:

I recognized he was rough around the edges, but believed he could do it. So he fired his agent and I got him a morning anchor job quickly. Of the large pool of talent I now represent, Craig continues to be with me. Today he is an anchor in Wichita.

As he became more established as an agent, he was frequently approached by those not in the broadcasting industry looking to change jobs. Irika Sargent was one of those people.

Irika Sargent

Irika Sargent

She called me a number of years ago and said she was an attorney and was interested in becoming an anchor woman. I recognized that she had all the necessary elements in place to make it as an anchor, but it would take some time. I told her she would have to be okay with taking a major pay cut. She was. Irika started in a small market in the south, moved up to Houston, then eventually Miami. She is now in Chicago where shes the top female anchor both in background and credibility. 

Not everyone has been as great as Irika, though.

And the Not-So-Success Stories

Mort once repped a reporter in Cleveland whom he got an anchor job in Las Vegas that paid $100,000 per year. At one point, she owed him $7,000 and as months went by, she kept giving him excuses as to why she wasn’t paying. He finally got her on the phone and asked when she was going to make her first payment.

Im sorry, Mort,” she said. My grandma has been sick and Ive just been overwhelmed with everything. I will pay you next month.”

Well, I wasn’t about to come down on her and demand payment, given her situation.

But the next month, she gave me the same excuse. This went on for several months until she told me her granny died and she would have to pay for the funeral. I didnt want to challenge it because, what if she really had died? 

But six months passed and she still hadnt paid. So I contacted her again. She said she still couldnt pay me. Granny had her other leg amputated,” she said. That clinched it.

They must have dug up her body to do it,” I said to her.

It was amazing. She wasn’t even able to keep her lies straight. So he sued her and eventually prevailed.

Straight-Shooting “Shatterer of Dreams”

As an agent, Mort always shoots straight and tells it like it is. One day, he received a call from a man who was inquiring about becoming an anchorman. He was a bank manager in Detroit and had been watching Mort Crim and Bill Bonds for years, and didn’t think it would be “all that tough.”

Mort agreed to meet with him because he likes people and is always hoping to find the next Bill Bonds or Diana Lewis. The man, probably in his late 30s or early 40s, confidently handed him his demo reel. Mort popped it in and started listening.

Now, I generally have an 18-second rule, whereby I can tell if someone has the right stuff, so to speak. So after that 18 seconds, I popped it out and asked my visitor if he had a thick skin or thin skin.

Id say its thick,” he said with confidence.

Good,” I said, looking him straight in the eyes. That was one of the worst, if not the very worst demo, I have ever seen.” I then held the reel in two hands, snapped it, and dropped it in my garbage can. I suggest you keep your job as a bank manager and I truly wish you well.”

It sounds cold, I know. Yet, he took my words surprisingly well. He stood up and thanked me. Then as he walked to the door, he turned and said, Thanks so much for your time.”

Two hours later, Mort received a call from the man’s sister, who had some choice words for him that amounted to what a son of a bitch Mort was and how he’d shattered her brother’s dreams. The next morning when Mort came into his office, his assistant at the time posted a sign on his door that said, MORT MEISNER – SHATTERER OF DREAMS.

It’s still displayed to this day.

Mort Meisner – Agent of Change

Today, Mort continues to be a champion for news talent all over the country. In spite of the changes in the industry, he fights every day to ensure they get the benefits and the pay they deserve.

Read Enough to Be Dangerous to find out more about Mort’s life experiences that brought him to become a true agent of change.

Due out on October 1st from Two Sisters Writing and Publishing, you can pre-order your autographed copy by clicking here. And subscribe to our blog to keep up with all the latest and scheduled events around the release.

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Some of the Big Stories – Part One

At the publication of this post, the Democratic National Convention is in full swing. Without going into detail, it’s making all of us aware of just how much things need to change.

Yet, as the old adage says, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Mort Meisner is no stranger to this concept.

Back in 1980, he happened to be working in Detroit where he covered the Republican National Convention. Things needed to change then too.

And while the current Democratic National Convention is certainly a different scene, it does make one wonder what folks are up to on this green and blue sphere?

After decades in the news industry, Mort can tell you it’s a lot.

Just a Few of the Darker Stories

Mort is the first to admit that broadcasting is largely focused on stories that will generate ratings. And in his career, as in many others’, a lot of those stories involved rapes, murders, breaking and entering, and armed robberies.

Still, Mort always felt he was doing more than just boosting ratings. As someone who is quick to make friends out of random strangers, he quickly  recognized you can’t put a price on having friends in the right places. And that gave him a specific edge.

Operation Greylord

Mort Meisner Field Producing

Mort field producing for CBS in Chicago, President Ronald Reagan’s visit, September 2nd, 1981. That’s CBS reporter Frank Currier with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth over Mort’s left shoulder.

For example, one of the biggest stories out of the courts in the history of Chicago in the early 1980s was Operation Greylord that involved a full-blown investigation of corruption in the judiciary of Cook County in the Chicago jurisdiction. Mort had a friend who was a source in the U.S. Attorney’s office who gave him inside information. From his memoir, Enough to Be Dangerous:

I went to my boss Bill Applegate at WLS in Chicago and shared what my friend had given me.

He gave me a dead serious look. In terms of accuracy, are you willing to place your career on the line?”

I had the utmost confidence in my friend, so without missing a beat I said, Absolutely.”

Once he was satisfied that my source was good, we broke the story. It was huge in Chicago, and had both local and national repercussions.

In the end, over 92 federal officials were investigated, indicted, thrown off the bench and even went to prison – along with some attorneys.

Air Canada Flight 1983

Another amazing story happened when Mort was at ABC in Chicago and the Air Canada flight had to make an emergency landing in Cincinnati. During the flight, a fire started behind the lavatory and spread between the outer skin and the inner panels.

The plane began filling with toxic smoke. The fire also burned through electrical cables that disabled most of the instrumentation in the cockpit:

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 planes interior was immediately engulfed in flames – killing 23 passengers who had not yet evacuated.

I had a source with the FAA based in Atlanta named Jack Barker. He was able to provide me these grim but crucial facts. But the network newscasts were reporting there were few or no injuries. Even in my own building, ABC nationally was reporting that.

In other words, because of Mort’s connection, they 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 fact.

Prostitution Ring

You hear the term prostitution ring and you likely think of young women in the wrong place at the wrong time. And in Enough to Be Dangerous, Mort talks about the way the industry would ignore stories about prostitution. We’ll tackle that in another blog.

This particular story is about a gay male prostitution ring in St. Louis upon which Mort was partially responsible for putting the kibosh.

At the time, I was good friends with two cops who told me they were having big problems in one of the parks. So we put wires on them and sent them into the park. I dont recall if we cleared this with the police department or if we were working with our own unique brand of vigilantism. Either way, we did it.

One of the cops – a heavyset guy named Jim – went into the bathroom and got someone to solicit sex from him. A man approached him and said he was looking to get sucked and fucked.”

Jim pulled out his handcuffs and said, Well, you got one of them. You just got fucked.”

Powerful stuff. And once again, it came down to Mort having friends in the right places.

Stay Tuned for More…

While reading Enough to Be Dangerous, you’ll be taken with all of the different layers and complexities of the broadcast industry as well as with Mort’s life.

The book will be available October 1st from Two Sisters Writing and Publishing, but you can preorder your autographed copy today.

And in our next blog post, we’ll look at some of the stories that mattered to Mort on a very different level. So be sure to subscribe!

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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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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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Enough to Be Dangerous – Fighting Racial Injustice in the News Industry

Mort Meisner has spent a lifetime deeply troubled by racial injustice.

Recent events have left him heart-broken and devastated – yet moved and encouraged by the massive surge of protesters FINALLY standing up for black lives.

Mort is no stranger to this. He spent decades fighting racial injustice in the news industry. And while he made some headway, the Goliath that was blatant racism in some newsrooms, boardrooms, and out on the streets was impossible to slay.

He now shares those unsettling stories in his memoir, Enough to Be Dangerous, scheduled for release on October 1st of this year.

The Rise of Black Women

If you’ve been living on this blue and green rock for any formidable amount of time (at least 40 years), you can clearly remember a time when the news anchor desks were populated predominantly by white men.

You may also recall the first time you started seeing more women in those positions.

Then there was the strange phenomenon that existed for decades where the desks showcased an older white man with a young black female co-anchor. As Mort recalls in his memoir:

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 virtually lacking altogether.

What exactly was going on?

The Garbage Men

Away from the anchor desk and in private meetings held by predominately white male management who were seemingly less threatened by female black reporters, it wasn’t uncommon to hear the words “garbage men” being tossed around casually. Even jokingly. And these “garbage men” were in virtually every large city TV newsroom.

You can bet they weren’t talking about sanitation workers though. From Enough to Be Dangerous:

Who were they? The young to middle-aged black males who were talented reporters, but were there merely to fill a quota during changing times in the industry and the country. The whole scene disgusted me. I thought to myself, if someone is good enough to be here, then they should be able to be assigned to cover any story. Thats not how it worked though.

They would ponder which stories they felt black reporters could handle.” It was insulting and degrading. As a white male young pup in the industry at that time, I could listen, watch, and then try to impact change when I had the opportunity.

And impact change, he did.

Mort the Mentor

Having grown up in Detroit and working in the music industry before settling into and breathing life back into dying stations, he couldn’t tolerate the racial inequity.

He was always willing to give any black male reporter who showed talent and promise the chance he deserved. Then he went above and beyond the call of duty to mentor these talented and hopeful reporters.

Not surprisingly, under Mort’s tutelage, many of them went on to hold anchor positions at highly esteemed stations throughout the nation.

The Need for a More Just World

Though he’s proud of his accomplishments, Mort saw fighting racial injustice in the news industry as an absolute necessity.

And he relays those stories in Enough to Be Dangerous with passion, hope, and some sadness, noting how far we’ve come since that time… as well as how far we haven’t.

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

In the meantime, stay tuned for updates on how you can pre-order your autographed copy. We promise you’ll be inspired by Mort’s tireless advocating for justice and equality.

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