Friday, February 25, 2005

I love my brother...

...well, all three of them, actually.

But this is about Pete -- good ol', dependable, sometimes cranky but rock-solid Pietro. He and I have shared a special bond for, um, 15 years or so, since we both got into computers and tech, with his specialties in a) collecting as many gadgets, esp. PDAs of various generations as possible and b) always coming up with the BEST deals (saved my wife Deb's church group a tidy sum on their laptop with a deep-discount one-day-only deal). He knows eBay like the back of his hand - me, I couldn't figure out how to get a good deal there if ya bought me three Dummies books;-)

This is the guy who did the Jewish Guilt Trip better than anyone in our family when the Big Tragedy hit in 1965 (this item is a downer enough without details - the joke I've often told to head off the details is that my Family Tree turned to Mulch at a young age;-/

He developed an ulcer before he even became a teen. I externalized - wanting to fix things in a troubled family, earning the nickname Babblin' Barn - he internalized. The Big Tragedy also took its toll on our two older brothers, in differing ways, as well.

Anyway, Pete called the other night, and I can't ever remember hearing that frightened edge in his voice. I knew something was terribly amiss.

Malignant tumor. Esophogeal cancer.

Not the words you want any loved one to hear, but alas, sigh, argh, etc., it happens.

He'll do what needs to be done. It's operable, thank God. I'm sure Melissa, his wife, and their kids are damn scared. Of course.

But I refuse to believe God has it in for him. We've been through enough, and he has a family that loves him and wants him around for a good many years.

I'm sure my wonderful wife, Deb - home tonight from a record two-week business trip (with a wonderful perk of meeting her darlin' 5-year-old great-niece Sarah Elizabeth) will put Petey on a prayer chain, and our older brother Rick, who has done a phenomenal job of Life Turnaround in the past 10 years or so (so proud of him) will use his spiritual foundation to do the same.

Me, I'll call Dial-A-Prayer and make it collect. (I can hear Rick correcting me now;-)

But as usual, even for a news-numbed journalist, it surely puts things in perspective, as scary things usually do. I'm still wrapping my mind and heart and soul around my new TV gig, and hoping I can make that work well. But this is much more important, of course.

And this lil entry is just a chance for me to do what us Mumblin' Stumblin' Guys (especially us Lertens) do far too little, until times get tough - tell him I love him, am proud of what he's done with his life, and will do anything he needs or wants to help him get better.

Pete and I have had our spats over the years. Never big ones, though. We see things alike, but not always. He can nag in that Big Brother way, to make sure I do the right thing. But it's never a harangue, never a drill sergeant or bossy mentality. Love is the foundation, and a shared love of things like Steely Dan, the latest cool gizmo, a good cheesesteak (or pizza - ugh, there's the rub) and Tastykake.

If only we could upgrade the bod the way we can our PCs and gadgets. Pete, ya damn well better stick around for the nifty new stuff coming down the pike. It's time for a fight, and to use any and every excuse to laugh, hug and take your mind off It. Don't let It overwhelm you, or send you packing. We all need you, and love you.

Now go create that great blog to share your great deals and more. I'll be happy to typo-catch;-)

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Reporting is easy, TV is hard!

Two weeks in, and I feel like a cub reporter. A clueless newbie, as it were.

Oh, I've had lots of stories on the air, beating the paper on lots of things. But I've yet to touch a camera, much less shoot or edit any video. That's coming, I know.

But I was so spoiled, even in my newspaper/wire service days, much less on the Web, with its infinite "news hole." TV (like radio) is where The Clock Rules, a minute is an eternity to just watch someone sit and talk. Fresh, live action! Snappy pace!

I'd forgotten how difficult it is to write so tightly. It's not about leaving things out, it's about getting the very most important, key elements in, and letting your video fill in the blanks in ways that a static image or printed words can never do.

And as we get more copy on their Website, it's also clear that you can't just slap broadcast copy on the Web and figure it'll work. It won't. Broadcast copy is meant to be read aloud, and to be heard. That's a whole different thing. It's not just cut and paste.

Wish me luck!;-)

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Finally, I can talk...

It's been almost a month since the call I'd dreaded for close to five years, ever since I went to work for my boss at, Spencer Dahl: He'd run out of funds to pay me.

Yuck. It was a wonderful ride, one that many people were kind enough to tell us they appreciated. But I knew things had gotten tight.

I didn't want to move. I've come to love Central Oregon, and loved that job right up until the end. But I had to act, fast. My wife has a real good job as well, but no way was it going to cover things.

So I frantically networked - and this week, I landed on my feet. I'm the new ... well, here's the press release that went out today:

Barney Lerten, a prolific 14-year veteran of Central Oregon print, Internet and broadcast journalism, has joined the staff of KTVZ NewsChannel 21 as Assistant News Director, the station announced Wednesday.

Lerten has spent the past five busy years as senior reporter and managing editor of, generating hundreds of stories a month on every facet of High Desert news, events, issues and people. Now, he takes up a new challenge, assisting “Central Oregon’s News Leader” in its daily efforts to inform, explain, illuminate and engage its audience on that same wide variety of High Desert news coverage.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to welcome Barney aboard, and we know that his insight, professionalism and wealth of experience will prove invaluable to our coverage of the region,” said Lee Anderson, KTVZ News Director.

“It’s definitely a new and exciting challenge for me, and one I’m grateful to undertake,” said Lerten, 49, who spent 14 years with United Press International in San Francisco and Portland before moving to Bend and joining The Bulletin in early 1991. In recent months, he also provided daily news reports on Redmond radio station KRDM, New Talk 1240.

“I’m excited about this new opportunity,” Lerten said, “and I’m looking forward to staying as busy as ever, both in the newsroom and out and about – not to mention helping to develop a truly first-class Website that Central Oregonians can turn to.”

KTVZ, now also broadcasting on digital TV channel 18, has become an integral member of the Central Oregon community over the past 28 years, offering a variety of entertainment, public affairs and news programming as a member of the NBC network. NewsChannel 21 is owned by NPG of Oregon, a subsidiary of News-Press and Gazette Broadcasting Co. of St. Joseph, Mo.

So ... there it is. I'm three days in, and already getting stories on-air, though I've yet to shoot video, appear on-camera, etc. (I'll spare you the on-set still they sent out with the release - lordy lordy, someone get a mask;-)

I've got a lot to learn, believe me. But I also have a lot to offer, in terms of knowledge of the region, journalism stuff (like fairness, accuracy, etc.) and the plain ol' daily hustle to beat, as Lars Larson would put it, "The Daily Dead Fish-Wrapper."

The people you see on TV here in Central Oregon, and those behind the scenes have been very kind and welcoming, even forgiving of my bad jokes and puns (Lee Anderson and I, alas, have somewhat similar senses of humor - but also, thankfully, similar approaches to news judgment, etc.)

With all the acronyms, the coding of rundowns (what TV folk use to assemble a newscast), not to mention video shooting and editing with their fancy new digital system, it'll take a bit of time before I feel at ease. That also means it could be some time before I can have a big impact on their Website - and I'm asking folks for patience in the meantime. But I have a hunch I'll live up to their expectations, and my own (the biggest pressure I ever feel is what I put on myself;-)