Once Upon a Mattress
On Monday morning, Keith Weinman's voice oozed out of the radio, delivering a pitch about how much "we" enjoy a certain brand of mattress. It was slightly nauseating.
And not just because the alleged "business editor" of KOA-AM's "Business for Breakfast" show has no business shilling for clients. That's a given in journalism, but radio personalities--even those with the title of "editor"--have long displayed a stomach-churning disregard for the niceties of media ethics. "When the business news ends, and someone has paid a rate--a premium rate--for an endorsement, we do it," Weinman told a Westword reporter last fall. "It's a reality of radio."
"Frankly," he added, "I turn a lot of people away simply because we don't have the room."
That mattress may be a little overcrowded these days, too. Is the "we" so enjoying it Weinman and a twenty-year-old woman, with whom he is allegedly having an affair?
Or is it Weinman and his wife, whom he allegedly beat up?
KOA, the Jacor powerhouse, offers no clues.
Those are contained in Boulder County Court files.
According to an affidavit for Weinman's arrest filed August 13 by Detective Catherine Reiss of the Boulder County Sheriff's department, two weeks earlier the Longmont Police Department had passed along a case involving allegations of domestic violence--allegations made by neither of the domestic partners but rather by employees of Longmont's Frontier Honda. Keith Weinman and his wife, Martha Gail Fallen, appeared to have been spending an unusual amount of time at the dealership lately.
On July 22, Frontier's Clifford Rice told a Longmont officer, Fallen "came inside the dealership, distraught and saying that Weinman was stalking her. While Fallen was in the dealership, Weinman came inside and yelled something like 'you can keep the car' and then 'cunt.' He left."
On July 26, Fallen returned to the dealership and said her husband was chasing her. Rice told another employee to call the police. While he was talking to Fallen, Rice later told the cops, Weinman drove his Jeep through the parking lot.
Another Frontier employee, Vincent Ferrara, added more details. On July 26, he told the police, Fallen drove into the parking lot, walked into the dealership and asked to make a call. While she was on the phone, another salesman told Ferrara that Weinman was heading their way, looking "like he had an attitude." When Ferrara told Fallen her husband was coming, she told him she'd better take off. "She appeared to be upset but appeared to be more concerned about Weinman's getting into trouble or losing his career than anything which might happen to her," according to Reiss's affidavit.
Sure enough, Weinman showed up soon after, walked "forcefully" through the dealership and then left when he did not find Fallen.
Ferrara had also been present during the July 22 incident, when, he told police, he heard Weinman yell at Fallen, "I just want the car, you can keep the fucking cunt." Ferrara said Fallen had been wearing sunglasses that hid a black eye; she told him that Weinman had "smacked me around." According to Ferrara, Fallen gave him a fanny pack that she said contained photos of injuries she had suffered during assaults by Weinman, as well as recordings of threats he'd made against her. But after Ferrara told Rice, his supervisor, about the pack, Fallen asked for it back.
According to Detective Reiss's affidavit, "Fallen told Ferrara that Weinman has a twenty-year-old girlfriend, about whom Fallen had recently learned and confronted him. Weinman told her that he felt they (he and Fallen) should start seeing other people, including sleeping with other people. Fallen disagreed, Weinman became angry and assaulted her."
Rice, who'd met Weinman and Fallen when he sold them a Ford Bronco five years earlier, told the cops that Fallen was not the same woman she'd once been. In fact, Weinman had changed, too: for starters, both of them had begun lifting weights. Rice was concerned that "something may have happened to Weinman since he began bodybuilding. Fallen denied the use of any controlled substance and left the building."
When the Longmont cops tried to talk with Fallen, she denied that Weinman was stalking her and refused to answer questions. The cops passed the file along to the Boulder County Sheriff's Department.
This wasn't the Boulder sheriff's first close encounter with the couple. A sheriff's deputy had gone to the Weinman/Fallen home in the Gaynor Lakes subdivision of Boulder County in December 1994, after dispatchers received a 911 call from that address. That time, Fallen told the deputy that Weinman had assaulted her before. "She also stated she just completed a book about Nicole Simpson and O.J. Simpson," the deputy's report noted. "She commented on the parallels to her and her husband, specifically the public life and the private life."
On December 13, 1994, Weinman was charged with misdemeanor assault and menacing. But those charges were dropped after Fallen refused to cooperate--apparently she'd skipped the last chapter of the Nicole Simpson story.
So far, Fallen is still refusing to cooperate with authorities. This time, though, there are other witnesses--those busybody Frontier employees, who won't be selling any more cars to Weinman any time soon.
On August 12, Reiss spoke with Weinman. "I explained to him that I was putting together a case involving domestic problems between him and his wife," she said in her affidavit, "and offered him the opportunity to come in and speak with me about the situation. He told me that he was surprised, because 'there is no problem here.'" His wife wasn't home, he told her, but he'd call back and let Reiss know when he and Fallen could come see her.
That evening, though, Weinman left Reiss a message. He was too busy to meet, he said, and "in reality, there's nothing to talk to you about, so thank you very much."
Reiss disagreed and filed her arrest-warrant affidavit. Weinman turned himself in that afternoon and on August 15 was officially charged with stalking--a felony--and third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. Fallen was by his side in court, just as she'd been by his side at Jacor's offices earlier that day--despite a court order that Weinman have no contact with her.
Pete Webb, a PR flack hired by the couple, says the incident is "a misunderstanding."
And a big one, if several employees of a car dealership were so convinced a crime had occurred that they stepped forward and told police a woman was in danger, risking the wrath of a public figure.
For now, Jacor is standing by Weinman, who's been with KOA for twenty years. "I have to start by taking their word for it," says Jacor chief Lee Larson. "I'm waiting and watching."
It's a good thing that Safehouse for Battered Women isn't a KOA sponsor, or the station might face a real decision. As it is, Weinman is still on the air, making his pitches and giving listeners the business.
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