TV types get nasty, and a former U-News artist takes the students to court.

Boob Tube Brouhaha 

TV types get nasty, and a former U-News artist takes the students to court.

For those in radio or TV, the Gateway City Radio chat room is a place for the gossip that usually shouldn't leave the snack room. There's speculation on whether weatherwoman Katie Horner is eating for two again and a flurry of accusations about the allegedly sordid love life of ex-KCTV Channel 5 traffic reporter Ally Francis.

The steamiest post yet is an August 23 entry, allegedly from KSHB Channel 41 director Tom Brown, threatening anyone brave enough to meet him. "I understand that people get frustrated and have some pretty funny things to say about it," Brown, or somebody pretending to be him, wrote that day. "But do you really have to bash someone behind their back? Does it really make you feel better about yourself? If you don't have the stones to say it to their face then don't say it. No one is perfect and everyone has problems." He even posted the station's address: 4720 Oak St.

A batch of venomous anonymous responses followed:

A message board member named "Pussy" wrote: "Oh, Tom Brown. Tom Brown, you know, that guy at rough, tough Channel 41. Take it in the Hershey highway, Tom."

Another poster calling himself "God" added: "We can always count on Tom Brown, the God of TV, to set everyone straight. Too bad the 10 p.m. numbers are half of any other station in Kansas City. Maybe Tom Brown should spend more time working on having a good 10 p.m. newscast instead of taking up company time to write on a message board."

It heated up when one poster claimed that an ex-KSHBer named Tammy Luke was talking trash about Brown. Then "The real Tammy Luke" posted a long diatribe, basically calling everyone on the site losers and saying they needed to find a "higher power."

Of KSHB, the supposedly real Luke wrote: "While I don't miss the crappy hours, working holidays or the direction news has taken since I quit, I would never say 41 sucks. Every workplace has its ups and downs and while some days sucked more than others — it was no different than any other job. I enjoyed the people I worked with and most of the time the work I did. I still miss it from time to time. It was a fun work environment."

On Brown, the poster wrote: "While Tom and I had our differences, and, of course, I thought he had a God complex, we got along fine and worked together well also. I'm sure there are things I did and said that he rolled his eyes at too."

Brown didn't return the Pitch's calls.

Small-Claims News
It's fitting that David Kerr went back to school to study acting, because his dealings with the University of Missouri-Kansas City have turned into a legal drama.

The story starts in 1993, when Kerr began working as a cartoonist for UMKC's student-run newspaper, the University News. Kerr says the U-News published more than 100 of his cartoons during his first three years at UMKC. The U-News, he says, paid him $25 apiece for the cartoons.

Nearly 10 years later, Kerr returned to UMKC in fall 2005 to take a journalism class. He approached the paper again. This time, he says, editor Emily Iorg told him that the U-News rate had dropped to $15 per cartoon. He says that last December, the U-News refused to pay him for his first three cartoons. No contributor gets paid for his or her first three submissions, he was told.

So Kerr filed a small claims suit against the paper in March. In July, the U-News didn't show up to a court hearing. (U-News representatives also didn't respond to the Pitch.) A district judge awarded Kerr $114 for his work and court costs.

But Kerr isn't done yet. "I would describe myself as a litigious person," he says. Convinced that the three-submission "training period" violates the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, he has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division. The feds have assured Kerr that they will review his allegations and respond this month, he says.

"I know it sounds kind of hokey, but I've seen them systematically taking advantage of UMKC students who go to work for this paper," Kerr says. "You don't tell someone, 'You must do this training period,' and not pay them. So this process isn't just for the benefit of myself."

Kerr admits his motivations aren't entirely pure, though.

"There is some emotional satisfaction that somebody stiffed me and now I'm onto something," he adds.

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