As the Web Turns

Denver radio's favorite Internet site is sold to a talk-show host who's regularly attacked on it.

Among the most persistent fears voiced by DenverRadio.net addicts is the prospect that Lakey will infuse this well-balanced site with religious rantings and right-wing propaganda. Such concerns can't be dismissed as paranoia: Lakey is a former youth minister who speaks frequently about his non-denominational Christian views ("I'm full gospel, charismatic -- one of the crazy people," he says, laughing); he works for a station owned by Salem Communications, based in Camarillo, California, that specializes in Christian programming; and he's made veiled allusions of late about a run for Congress. But Lakey promises that he'll limit religious and political posts to his personal Web site, JimmyLakey.com (it currently spotlights a book by self-proclaimed black conservative Jesse Lee Peterson under the banner "Boycott the NAACP!"), and he pledges to protect the freewheeling quality of the "Comments and Rumors" page to as great a degree as he can. After pointing out that his Web master, Kathy Chavez, will be handling the day-to-day operation of the site, he says, "Even Rob pulled some things down from that page -- anything that sounded threatening or was way too grotesque. But otherwise, we don't have any intention to censor that board. I think it's a lot of fun, and I hope people take it with a grain of salt. Because I really am a nice guy."

Hatch, who plans to take some time off before deciding what to do next, seconds that emotion. "I'm pretty impressed with the guy," he says. "And from what he's told me, I think I'm leaving the site in really good hands."

This opinion isn't universally held, as Lakey acknowledges -- and those who dislike change won't be thrilled to hear that the new owner is keeping his options open regarding future alterations. Even so, Lakey insists that his goal isn't to undermine DenverRadio.net, but to make it better. "I've had people say that I bought the site to get even with people, or silence them," he allows. "But when I hear that, I just laugh. I say, criticize me all you want. Just spell my name right when you put it in an Arbitron [ratings] diary."

Getting your fill: Among the most frequently asked questions when Colorado journalists get together is: Why does Denver Post columnist Chuck Green still have a job? After all, even when his columns are free of glaring errors (an affliction from which he's not exactly immune), they're often completely incomprehensible. Witness his August 3 effort, a crazy bit of babble supposedly written by his clone.

So why's he so bulletproof? Does he have videotape of Post owner Dean Singleton killing somebody, or what? As it turns out, Singleton professes to legitimately like Green's work, and says his column is among the most-read parts of the paper. But at a certain point, you'd think even Singleton wouldn't be able to shrug off Green's epic laziness, which garnered national attention with August 1's "Flowers Made Me Forget," in which Chuck took the entire piece to admit that his column hadn't appeared the previous Monday, because he forgot to write one.

This jaw-dropper got the attention of Jim Romenesko, the man behind the country's premier journalism-about-journalism Web site, Poynter.org/MediaNews, who used it as the jumping-off point for a discussion about what Green's peers do to fill space during "the slow season." Top columnists from around the country responded, some making jokes about the query: Dave Barry wrote, "During the slow season, I make things up. Of course, that's also what I do during the fast season." But most saw the sort of blatant filler in which Green trafficked throughout "Flowers" as an indication that the writer in question wasn't doing his job. Typical were the thoughts of Kevin Riordan, metro columnist for the Courier-Post in Cherry Hills, New Jersey: "I'd advise any columnist suffering from slow season-itis to get out of the newsroom and have a look around."

And your back yard doesn't count.

Blame it on the name: Predictably, Green recently defended, sort of, the Post's unfathomably stupid decision to refer to Invesco Field at Mile High, which opened its doors to the public last week, as "Mile High stadium" no matter the context -- straight news stories, sports updates, whatever. But credit him with being more honest than his bosses, who initially insisted in every available media venue that the move is primarily stylistic and doesn't have an editorial component -- claims of innocence that are about as believable as O.J. Simpson's. Sure, Green's August 10 submission, "Name Game Gets New Player," was childish in the extreme, with repeated references to "Infested Field." But despite the denials, childishness is what the policy is all about.

The facts are these: The Post was out front in supporting the Mile High name, as demonstrated by a February 3 editorial headlined "Mile High Forever." But in that same offering, the unnamed author stated, "We and many, many members of the community put up a good fight" to block the Invesco name, "but it's over. It's time to concede." In the months after that, Post scribes seemed to take their own advice, using the phrase "Invesco Field at Mile High" over a hundred times, including twice on August 7, the day the paper sent out a memo detailing its out-with-Invesco policy. This suggests strongly that the real reason behind the Post's stance was the recent spat with Invesco over a Woody Paige column in which he quoted an Invesco official referring to the stadium as "The Diaphragm." It helps, too, that Invesco isn't a big Post advertiser. If the facility had been named Foley's Red Apple Field at Mile High, would things have gone down the same way? Doubt it.

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