Radio Free Montone: Just When You Think You Know Your Audience
By John Montone, 1010 WINS
Just when you think you know your audience. Well, think again.
I covered two stories this week as far apart on the news spectrum as could be. On Monday morning, 1010 WINS reported that after a five month absence because of a fire at the Gabila Knish factory in Copiague, the “fried, square Coney Island knishes,” were once again being served at Katz’s Deli.
In a mock serious tone I interviewed Katz’s chef Kenny Kohn about the end of our long “nightmare,” and I talked to Mark who drove the Gabila’s truck over massive potholes on the L.I.E. without damaging the precious cargo. In one of my reports I did a little Walter Cronkite announcing the death of J.F.K. “At 33-minutes after 5 A.M., 5:33 Eastern Standard Time,”…the knishes arrived.”
Okay, we had some fun and knishes are as New York City as bagels or Ray’s Pizza.
On Wednesday, Editor Jim Maloney sent me copy on a story that had broken over night. During a two-day drug sweep in Hackensack, police had picked up a paroled child molester and convicted killer named Charles T. Williams. Published accounts of the arrest said they believed Williams might be connected to cold case murders of more children.
Even though there was snow in the forecast and the weather story ran on top of our news cycles, Jim and I agreed that we had to give equal billing to the Williams arrest. I began my first report saying, “There was a monster in our midst,” and went on to call Williams a “violent degenerate,” recounting how he had served 13 years in a Virginia prison for sodomizing and murdering two boys, after which he moved to New Jersey and molested more boys. ”Locked up and let out,” I reported that Williams was now known by the “sweet-sounding nickname, Old School.”
“Old School” was arrested for allegedly dealing dope and stabbing a man in the chest.
My knish story generated a bit of a buzz on social media and I received e-mails and in-person compliments on a job well done. But the story of the “monster in our midst,” barely registered. One of my news managers admitted to me that after hearing it once, he didn’t want to listen to the terrible details all over again.
And I agreed that it was a tough story to digest at the breakfast table. But still, I was so sure it would resonate. How could it be that a man who has been a “low life for most of his life,” and exhibited a “vile disregard for young life,” to the point of raping and killing children had been as free as “you and me?”
Knishes are delicious –if a tad on the heavy side. And as Chef Kenny said, “They make you feel warm on a winter morning.” But shouldn’t a twice-paroled fiend mingling with law-abiding people, perhaps children, spark outrage?
Just when you think you know your audience…Well, think again.