Back-to-School Special

The media go on a Columbine rampage.

As usual, Marvin declines to go into details about where he's headed until all of the details are worked out, just as KHOW programmer Robin Bertolucci was close-mouthed at press time about Marvin's successor. But Marvin credits the time he's spent in Colorado with helping him moderate the explosive anger that once made his shift such an unpredictable one. "I don't know if it's quite right to say I'm kinder and gentler than I was," he says. "It's just that I realized that I couldn't go on the radio and tell people to be nicer and more understanding and that we could work together to make a less cruel world if I was being an asshole.

"I really got rocked by Columbine," he goes on. "When that whole thing happened, I really hoped that we wouldn't start pointing fingers at young adults and would step back instead and start examining our behavior. And even though a lot of people haven't done that, I certainly have. Maybe people who've heard me before will hear me now and say, 'What the hell happened to him?' But if you don't change and grow and examine things constantly in this business, you become one-dimensional, and then you die. And the same goes for everybody else. I think it's fine to put stickers on your car that say 'We are Columbine,' but you also have to make a commitment to make a change within yourself. How huge is that?"

On Thursday, August 12, Ulu, a polar bear who is the Denver Zoo's number-one procreator (she spawned star cubs Klondike and Snow, as well as current furballs Ulaq and Berit) got an unexpected snack when a woman tossed two pounds of raw meat in her cage. Because the woman seemed unstable, zoo officials feared that the meat, which Ulu promptly scarfed down, had been dipped in anti-freeze; as a precautionary measure, they fed her an antidote -- a quart of vodka mixed with fruit juice. Most news organizations played the story down, noting that there was no proof any poisoning had taken place. But Channel 4, the station that turned Klondike and Snow into a virtual cottage industry, reacted hysterically, leading its 10 p.m. newscast with the report and framing a live update with the graphic "Bears Attacked."

A more accurate banner would have been "Bear Fed." The next morning Ulu was just fine, with the possible exception of a minor hangover. Still, the Channel 4 treatment opens up new possibilities for stories on slow news days. Imagine: "Man attacked! Denver resident has steak and screwdriver at Morton's!"

Talk about hard to swallow.

Have comments, tips or complaints about the media? E-mail "The Message" at Michael_Roberts

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