News

‘Radio Free’ Montone: Sex, Animals And An Ever-Critical Audience

John Montone

By John Montone, 1010 WINS

If you’re one of the millions of listeners who wakes up each morning to 1010 WINS, you’re likely familiar with the voice, and tone, of the station’s intrepid reporter John Montone.

Best known for his no holds barred, man on the street reporting, Montone has been getting in the faces — and ears — of New Yorkers for what seems like an eternity.

Montone is ready to add to his repertoire and bring his unique reporting style to print.

So please take a look and listen to John’s new venture: Radio Free Montone — a weekly blog where Montone takes you behind the scenes of news radio in New York City, and gives his observations on reporting in the greatest city in the world.

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) – Sorry, Ringo…but I say…you’ve got to pay your dues if you want to…write the news.

An angry e-mail from a woman who claims that she is now a former listener…foaming-at-the mouth correspondence usually begins with…”I’ve listened to your station for years, but I will never tune in again because…”

…because Montone was on a subway platform where a news stand man from Bangladesh claimed it was 150 degrees and Montone, while interviewing a young lady, happened to mention that she was wearing…short, short…really short pants. My defense is that I was painting the word picture. Our listeners had the right to know that the young lady was appropriately dressed for the suffocating climate of a subway station. The e-mailer who no longer listens to our radio station…or so she says….called me “sexist.”

Several years ago, during a long cold snap, morning editor Jim Maloney got tired of me asking people on the street at 4 a.m. if they were freezing. So he told me to go out in the middle of the day and get some tape for the following morning. “New angles,” is how he put it. Driving on Rt. 17 in Paramus, I came upon a store that sold fur coats. Having never worn such material, I wondered if they could keep a person any warmer that the super, duper three-layered, anti-frostbite, good to 70-below Gor-Tex jacket I was wearing.

Well, no contest.

No wonder polar bears never complain about the temperature while paddling past an iceberg. My story the next morning was about how toasty I felt all wrapped up in fur….and my reward was to spend the next day in a nice warm office answering seething electronic missives….most notably one that read: “Do you know how many minks died today because of your reporting?”

Oh, boy.

Thus, I have concluded that two topics that will in some way or another bother a certain segment of our audience are sex and animals.

So imagine the flack my good friend, 1010 WINS newsman Lee Harris took when he combined them. The story, as I recall, involved a depraved individual who was arrested for engaging in carnal relations with a race horse.

As Harris put it, “A horse is a horse of course, of course and no one should have sex with a horse, of course…..”

A father driving with 1010 WINS on the radio and a child in the back seat was apparently not a fan of Mr. Ed and he let Lee know about it.

Sometimes, though the criticism hurts…hurts in a way that makes you think, “Maybe, I shouldn’t have.”

There was a fire in the wee hours at an overcrowded house in the Bronx. The smoke and flames quickly killed several people, some of them children. When I arrived, a neighbor described to me what he had seen and heard. Then he suggested I go to an apartment house down the block and walk up to the fifth floor where he said I would find two young men who were heroes.

He was right. They told me how a couple of mothers were screaming out third floor windows and how the mothers held their babies out the windows as flames chased them. The young men convinced the women to toss their babies down to them…and the mothers did. The young men caught one baby and then another, but when one of the mothers tossed a third baby, the young men weren’t prepared. The baby fell about 30-feet untouched…until it hit an old bathtub that was sitting in the backyard. The young men spoke of the thump they heard…a thump that told them the baby was gone. Their voices were choked with pain…

I thanked them for saving two lives and for telling me their story…a story I then told on the air. For the next three days I answered e-mails full of words that characterized me as callous, insensitive and lacking compassion. They claimed I sensationalized a tragedy without regard for the victims. I answered them all as well as I could…trying to explain that my stark description of the baby’s death might make such an impression that it would prompt some city official to make sure other houses weren’t dangerously overcrowded.

But who knows if that would have really happened.

I think I just heard a compelling story and decided to tell it because that’s what I do.

Got a problem? Mouth Off To Montone!