Late last year, Jason Martinez, a veteran of KTLA in Los Angeles, was hired as the new business reporter at Channel 9. But after briefly appearing on December 16, he vanished -- and executives at the station decline to explain why. Channel 9 news director Patti Dennis's comment? "I can't talk about that."
Fortunately, she's more loquacious when it comes to the person the station has picked to handle the beat now -- so-called "business boy" Gregg Moss, who returned to the outlet's airwaves this morning. Dennis confirms that "we're very excited to have Gregg back," she says.
No wonder, considering the Martinez mystery.
Here's what Westword was able to glean in the immediate aftermath of Martinez's departure, as reported in our December 22 Off-Limits column:
The day of Martinez's first Denver broadcast, Cornetta and other 9News employees received an e-mail accusing Martinez of being a "sick individual" with a "sex addiction." The e-mail, which was from an address that no longer exists, included lurid messages that Martinez had supposedly sent to KTLA colleagues.
Turns out that in September, Martinez had also disappeared from his weekend anchor gig at KTLA after just nine months, and without explanation. "Befuddled by his sudden disappearance from the air," the Los Angeles Daily News wrote, "Martinez's fans and friends have written to his Facebook page to ask about his whereabouts." On October 2, Martinez responded, posting the following Facebook message: "Jason Martinez is thankful for his family, true friends and fans for their support. Yes, I have resigned from KTLA. Don't believe any of the rumors out there. None are true. I will be back soon doing the job that I love."
But will it be at Channel 9? Martinez couldn't be reached for comment, and that Facebook page is now down.
What to do next? Among the people Dennis contacted was former 9News staffer Kevin Corke, who'd gone on to work for ESPN and NBC. But he wound up taking an anchor position in Florida rather than returning to Colorado.
Luckily, Dennis was also in touch with Moss, who left the station last May to serve as the chief marketing officer for Alem International Management Inc., a Louisville firm. This wasn't the first time he'd gone out the door: As we noted in a May 19, 2009 blog, "Moss, who's spent much of his life grappling with debilitating arthritis that's currently in remission, has left or cut back on his duties twice before, in 2003 and 2006." But he was amenable to a return once a few kinks were worked out.
According to Dennis, Moss wanted to "pursue his outside business interests and do television at the same time" -- although, she admits, "coming to that conclusion took him and me a little bit of time" due to the prospect that conflicts of interest might arise. However, she says, "most of the work he'll be doing when he's not at Channel 9 will be in the nonprofit sector, as well as some work for the company he left -- and most of that is not in state and won't be a conflict."
Moss's schedule isn't officially fulltime, but close. Dennis says "he'll be writing and anchoring the business segment for the morning news Monday through Friday for six hours."
In these days of declining revenue at TV stations, few affiliates can afford to devote a position to a morning business reporter. Is Channel 9 able to pull this off because its ratings are so strong in the a.m.?
"I can't break out what the morning shows do in terms of revenue," Dennis says. "I don't even have access to that information. But I can tell you our approach has always been to have a very robust, content-driven morning show.
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"The mornings may be the one time of day people have available to watch broadcast news. Hopefully, they'll also follow what we're doing on our website during the day and rejoin us in the evening. But when I became news director, I thought the morning show would continue to grow and be very stable and we ought to put a lot of our resources into it. And that's what we've done ever since."
Hence, Moss's return, which Dennis sees as "a sort of cooperative between his interests and our needs that I think is going to work out very well. It's great."
Especially given whatever the hell happened with Martinez.