Wednesday, December 22, 2010

22 DEC 10: Valles of Decision

"I am NOT Oprah Winfrey," the man told me during lunch Tuesday. "Oprah is a legend!" That's true. She's also female, and seems to have a few more pounds compared to this man....

Yet James Valles and Oprah Winfrey have a few things in common. Both are on television. Valles is from Chicago, where Winfrey lives. And Valles is about to head in a direction Winfrey might do - as he puts it, to help "people discover their best lives every day." If you want to take weekends off in doing that, you'll have to take that up with him.

Reporter James Valles will leave WTVM/WXTX at the end of next week - but he may not be away from local television long. He's joining a new video production company based in Auburn, which plans to offer "lifestyle" reports to TV stations and websites. So Valles may change from the "Wild Wild Web" to making mild mild cheese dip.

We were invited to a farewell luncheon for James Valles Tuesday, where he explained what Primo Multimedia has in mind. One aspect is a daily report for TV stations called "BeSpoke." With a name like that, I'll assume the topics will NOT include grammar lessons.

But Primo Multimedia also could make James Valles a national star. He has a self-named website, which will use his face and voice in everything from television reports to an online newsletter called "Everyday James." Valles may not be Oprah Winfrey, but that title makes him sound like Rachael Ray.

(Oh yes - Valles recommended I use the official Primo Multimedia photo of him, instead of the one I took at a downtown restaurant and showed him. I'll have to work on getting some airbrush software.)

James Valles and Primo Multimedia have all sorts of ideas in mind for coming months. They include a search for undiscovered talent online. Wow -- all I need is a webcam, and I could be the next Justin Bieber.

James Valles may put in some late hours, to get those ideas off the ground. He wanted to be sure I mention he doesn't usually get to bed until 4:00 a.m. So watch for a Valles report on how all-night partying in downtown Auburn can affect your mental health.

Primo Multimedia hopes to build a client base among TV stations in the South. James Valles told me he's come to appreciate "Southern hospitality." Especially compared to his home area of Chicago - where as I recall, the south side tended to be rather bad.

"I could have gone to a TV station in another city...." James Valles said, then jokingly crossed his fingers. Television news jobs aren't easy to find these days. You may have noticed WLTZ still hasn't found the right man to sit alongside Cacky Catlett.

But James Valles continued his thought: "You'll never know how successful you can be until you're willing to take a risk." That's what he's doing by joining a former WTVM co-worker at Primo Multimedia. If it works, he could have a niche in the world of "lifestyle information" alongside Oprah. If not, he'll be in the Valles of despair.

James Valles may not be the only former WTVM reporter planning this sort of venture. Online postings indicate Chauncy Glover plans to launch his own website on 1 January. Glover is a reporter in Jacksonville now - and based on his background, he might start offering gospel choir CD's.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. Visit "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: The count climbs to five messages in eight days -- but this one from Hurtsboro looks like the last one for a while:

Sir Richard:

"Touche!" You not only have a "nose" for news - you also have the eyes of an eagle; or at least, so it seems, as far as my gaffes are concerned.

I went to bed Sunday night thoroughly chastened and sore of heart. The Blogger I rely on to set things straight - had sighed in disgust - when I reached out to him in an hour of need.

But, thanks to "Tim" I think; that the fellow of whom I speak, may take a step back and take another glance at the situation. HOORAY!!

I do admit that I did send my list of questions about the Mayor and Court Clerk to the L/E before it went to you. I had talked one on one with Mr. Joe Kieta (Executive Editor) when he first came on the job. He assigned a reporter to the case, but it has seemed to stall since that time. I was just trying to refresh his memory when I sent the E-mail. SURPRISE - SURPRISE there's been no response.

I think you will be fairly safe, at least on this end, from any repercussions, if you decide to seek answers to the questions I posed'

I can probably save you some time and effort if you will take my advice. Charley Torbert isn't going to give you any information. He is Tapley's Toadie.

As an octogenarian, I'm probably old enough to give you some Grandfatherly advice. Don't even contemplate a "Hurt'sboro Monday. The dozen stalwart readers who reply to your BIG BLOG QUESTION would probably "nix" it. I will keep you posted of anything that's going on in "Hurt'sboro; and when the "Big Bang" occurs - you will be the first to know.

Many Thanks,

R.J. Schweiger

First of all: the Hurtsboro Councilor's name actually is Charlie Tolbert. He still hasn't returned my calls -- nor has the city attorney, who works in Montgomery. It's all a bit like a toy robot Jay Leno showed Tuesday night: it moves "at the speed of silence."

We're still taking your suggestions for our 2010 "Joke of the Year." Our next e-mail offers that, and more:

The joke you made about the Republican symbol changing from the elephant to the dolphin,"FLipper" is the #1 joke of the year..

Those workers at Callaway Gardens should be thankful they have jobs..We are all suffering in this economy .. I love Callaway Gardens and grew up loving to go there.However,it is entertainment and that segment of our lifestyle has certainly taken a hit..So,take the days without pay and the volunteer hours and be thankful when that pay check arrives..THere are many people in Columbus that would swap places with you in a minute.

I'm sure the employees are thankful -- but this week's "slave labor" complaint raises a question. How far do the furloughs have to go, before workers decide they've had enough? And related to that, why hasn't Callaway Gardens offered employees discount coupons to those pricey restaurants?

Thanks to everyone who writes us - and now let's check other topics from "Turkey Tuesday," as a church food giveaway called it....

+ Phenix City officials announced plans for the city's first Kia supply plant. Iljin will begin production in March in the Phenix Industrial Park, hiring more than 100 workers. You wondered why the City Council was on its best behavior recently, didn't you?

+ The first report from the 2010 Census indicated Georgia will gain another Congressional seat, making the total 14. It's now up to the state legislature to redraw district lines - and then it will be up to Sanford Bishop to determine where he has to move to stay in office.

(The Census Bureau claims Chattahoochee County is the fastest-growing county in Georgia. But county officials say that's misleading, because 80 percent of the land and most of the residents are taken by Fort Benning. It's sad when your title of "number one" in something is due in part to terrorist groups overseas.)

+ Pastor Jamie Sanks of The House of God on Flat Rock Road finally climbed down, after nearly a month atop a three-story-high metal building. It's not clear if Sanks met his goal of filling two tractor-trailers with donations for needy people. If he didn't, Sanks may have lost his chance to be the most religious preacher since Oral Roberts.

+ St. Louis lashed the Atlanta Thrashers 4-2. I listened to the Blues broadcast on St. Louis powerhouse station KMOX, and heard the announcers scold Atlanta hockey fans for not supporting their team. The fact that I listened to the game from St. Louis means the announcers should scold Columbus radio stations as well.

+ Auburn University ended a three-game losing streak in men's basketball by downing South Carolina-Upstate 68-54. Imagine if the visitors had traveled down the interstate to face Alabama State. Announcers might have to say, "Upstate's up on State."

(It's a good thing the Tigers won Tuesday night - because otherwise, they might have been put on next season's schedule for the Connecticut women's team.)

+ A federal judge ruled Victoryland owner and accused racketeer Milton McGregor can leave Alabama for three days in January - to watch Auburn play in the Bowl Championship Series title game. I assume McGregor will fly to Arizona via Las Vegas....

+ Instant Message to "Mr. Penny," the man who does pushups at Auburn football games: I'm glad you're going to "the Natty" next month. But I've been meaning to ask - how can you get away with wearing a "God is good" hat while on custodian duty at a grade school? Are you daring Trooper Taylor to file a second lawsuit?

2010 IN REVIEW CON'D: As usual, March brought changing weather in Columbus. In one month, South Commons had a "Spring Fling" - while the heart of town had its own "Fall Line Trace."

March was the month health care reform became the law of the land. Rep. Sanford Bishop dared to vote for it - then proved he's in better political health than a lot of people expected.

The health care law inspired a "funeral procession for liberty" downtown by the Columbus Tea Party - but only about a dozen people showed up. The local Tea Party chapter was so quiet during the November elections that I'm wondering if the members went ahead and buried themselves.

March was the month when the Muscogee County Election Board voted to consolidate precincts. This obviously was a bad idea. I mean, look at how many people Zeph Baker had to drive to the polls on mayoral runoff day.

Columbus Council approved its first Office of Crime Prevention Director in March. Seth Brown still is working on his first big project -- how to keep the state from stealing all the keys to the Crime Lab along U.S. 80.

Columbus radio offered several surprises in late March. Ed Bostic quit WGSY-FM "Sunny 100." Then WRCG dropped all its talk shows, to play "true oldies" music. Since Bostic is now at "Boomer 95.3," does that make HIM a true oldie?

March was a big month for Columbus State University sports. Jonathan Hall won a national championship for shooting the air rifle. The baseball team had a 21-game winning streak. And a "teach-in" to protest cuts in higher education spending attracted nearly as many fans.

Beard-Eaves Coliseum at Auburn University had its final big event in March -- a religious revival called the "Will Graham Celebration." Nine months later, there's an obvious question to be asked. Did Cam Newton come forward during the weekend, and receive a special blessing?

The Blog of Columbus had more than 38,000 unique visitors in the first nine months of this year! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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