Thursday, August 24, 2006

Screwball told to stop bugging WNEP

If you've ever dreaded picking up that telephone and speaking to an idiot viewer, just imagine how everyone feels at WNEP. Doreen Bethel has been charged with harassment after police say she kept calling and writing to the station with bizarre claims and other screwball stuff, such as...

  • Claiming she was related to weekend anchorman Jon Meyer, and had information about a family emergency...
  • Claiming she was anchorwoman Marisa Burke's cousin, and asked for her phone number...
  • Leaving messages for sports anchorman Paul Grippi, asking questions about his family...
  • Claiming her husband worked at WNEP...

    Bethel's strange obsession with WNEP started back in September, and continued onward. She's now been told to stay away from the station and to stop calling its employees, though she could still pop up on Talkback 16's message board with the rest of the bored housewives.

    The harassment does bring up a darker point in television news. Some news reporters and anchors have found themselves the subjects of affection and attention from deranged viewers. It's downright scary. As a matter of fact, didn't someone stalk a WBRE anchor a while back?
  • 19 Comments:

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I imagine if anyone chooses to become a public figure they take the risk of being "stalked". The unfortunate thing for local anchors/reporters is that they obviously do not go out with any protection in the form of a bodyguard. I have seen many of the local tv personalities out and to be honest, I could care less. I can sympathize however, since there are ignorant people (although, many mean no harm) who will interrupt a local celeb during dinner, etc. Still, if you want a position that makes you a public figure, you have to take the good with the bad.

    12:10 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I would group this woman, Doreen Bethel, in with everyone else who posts far-bent comments in Mark Sowers' small-world-after-all Talkback.

    12:55 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Why on Earth did they postpone her hearing for a year?

    2:15 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Penny L. had a few different stalkers over the years... back when WYOU was in Scranton, there were many nights where the production staff had to walk her to her car or even over to the mall to get lunch because of some nut job.

    3:24 PM  
    Anonymous Al K. Hol said...

    There was a woman who was sending threatening letters to former WBRE weather guy Don Seastead a few years back. This woman was a nutjob. She would send crazy letters to the station and would sit outside the building and wait for Don to leave for the night. I think the woman had federal charges brought against her, since she used the Postal Service to make the threats.

    3:35 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Do a google search on the sad fate of British (and American, via the travel channel in the mid nineties) reporter Jill Dando. There are several west coast reporters who ahve bee nstalked, harmed, and even murdered by such kooks in the last fifteen years.

    It's this bizarre cult of personality our western media perpetuates. As more and more overseas networks begin to pattern themselves after their western brethren you find similar oddities coming out of the woodwork to stalk, scare and even murder localized public personalities liek news readers, reporters, hosts, etc.

    Disturbing.

    3:59 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Anyone in the public eye still deserves privacy and safety. I'm sure many viewers want to express appreciation for their favorite newscasters, but not to the point of stalking. It's nice when the on-air people take the time to speak to their fans or acknowledge their appreciation; they shouldn't have to fear them or be pestered. They should be able to go out in public undisturbed except for the occasional "hello!" or handshake. It must be a fine line - being friendly yet safe. The actions of this person that are described go far beyond what anyone should put up with.

    7:24 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Even those of us in radio have to deal with that every once in a while. Happened to a jock on our staff - lady called, wrote him letters asking him to marry her, showed up at the station, used other jocks to try to talk to him, got hold of his home phone number several times. Scary stuff.

    8:40 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This is a bit off subject, but why does everyone misuse the expression "could care less." It should be "couldn't care less." If you COULD care less, then that means you do care, but I know that not what is meant. I don't mean to pick on the one poster, it's just so widely misused!! I guess now someone will say they "couldn't care less" about my post.

    9:03 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I was talking to a reporter at my station in Baltimore a few weeks ago, and she said that someone called her cell phone because...wait for it...the assignment desk worker gave it out on the TIPLINE. That's some pretty scary stuff.

    11:26 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    KBoz used to have a guy call every weekend and asked about what hair products she used. He was always breathing heavily too.

    11:28 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I heard some dude showed up at the back door with an axe asking to see Dia a while back.

    1:40 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I agree with 12:10 PM as far as the fact that you have to take the good with the bad, but - privacy is important, especially if you are a lady. As friends of Diane Lee, my wife, daughter and I always worry about the fact that she was perhaps too accessible to the public while she was in this area, and worry about her safety as she is in Albany.

    Companies have rules to follow, but, I agree to some extent, you have to take the good with the bad. As an anchor, however, you still should have the freedom to see whomever you choose, without fear of breaking company rules put in place to protect employees from would-be stalkers.

    12:21 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The person following a WBRE staffer was Andy Mehalshick's diction coach. He calls her "dixon". He's a Haztn boy made good, so they say.

    1:24 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    No fewer than three men who worked for WBRE's Williamsport bureau had stalkers. Three guys, five different women stalkers. Two of the guys were married. It just didn't matter to the women stalkers. Strange stuff. No arrests, but it made for some interesting moments.

    1:46 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I, too, work in radio and I was stalked during my first job (part time traffic reporter) -- and I've heard horror stories from others in radio who've had them as well. Not to sound sexist, but in my experience, women like me have to be a bit more careful than men in some respects -- security at work is a big help (and of course, having an unlisted number), but sickos are sickos -- the station itself has to back you up as well (as they did with PL when she had her stalker)...my stalker apparantly targeted all the female on air personalities, but for some reason, he became more persistent of me to the point where I filed charges against him.

    10:10 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    ...the station itself has to back you up as well (as they did with PL when she had her stalker)

    I could be wrong, but PL's stalker first surfaced pre-Nexstar. How Nexstar would've "backed her up" is anyone's guess.

    There was a woman who was sending threatening letters to former WBRE weather guy Don Seastead a few years back.

    She was a former girlfriend of Don's.
    _____________________________________

    As an aside, some on-air types have been known to encourage these "stalkers" by at times answering their letters, phone calls, and nowadays, e-mail. The best way to handle these things is stop them before they start. If any contact from a viewer/listener sends up a red flag, ignore them, do not answer them. Not saying this is always the case, but do know that it is a contributing cause of at least some of this crap. You can usually spot the needy ones with some ease.

    8:05 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Remember the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie.. "Play Misty for Me"..

    9:19 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Yeah, and the movie cracked my sorry ass up - there he was, working in Carmel, CA, a small market, and living like he was a millionaire, and he was doing an overnight show. What a joke. Okay, that aside, he DID encourage his stalker, and that's what you get.

    11:36 PM  

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