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AFTRA Philadelphia Sessions Newsletter Jan 2009

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AFTRA Philadelphia Sessions Newsletter Jan 2009

Text of AFTRA Philadelphia Sessions Newsletter Jan 2009

  • A publication of the Philadelphia Local of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

    January 2009

    The AFTRA Holiday Party-Open House By Chuck Varesko

    Twas a week before Christmas and the office was setMichele, Lynn and Shelley had all made a bet.

    The members will love this like a new second home.With a new couch from Ikea why would they roam?

    The decorations were hung on the cubicles with careand the office staff knew that DJ Chuck would be there.He arrived with a cart filled with speakers and amps,a Mac full of music and some cool lightshow lamps.

    Hed selected the tunes and hed made a playlist,with some chestnuts for Christmas and a ton of the hits.

    As his sounds filled the office the party spirit arrivedalong with the members whence the event came alive.

    On-air people and freelance, some singers and guests.They had food, conversation, a few made requests.Refreshments were savored, old friends said hello.The new office dcor was first rate, Way ta go!

    As the party wound down, as the refreshments ran outfrom outside the window there came a great shout.In a sleigh oer Broad street, yelled a right merry elf, Thats quite a party! Wish Id been there myself.

    Local SAG Pres. Tom McCarthy had a Coke and a smile.The large conference room was filled with food and happy AFTRA members.

    Local E. D. Stephen Leshinski talks down members. He cant help it. Hes that tall!

    DJ Chuck mixing it up.

    First VP Dan Hunt displays Secretary Cyndy Drues corkscrew, borrowed from Ms. Drue after the party started and no one had remembered a corkscrew.

    Cyndy, Stephen and Sal relax near a tub of beverages. Leroy (L) and Blair (R).

    Members mingling in the office.

  • SESSIONSof the Philadelphia

    American Federation of Television & Radio Artists215.732.0507

    [email protected]

    Cast & CrewShelley FiguresEditor

    Contributing EditorsNat Wright, Stephen Leshinski

    LayoutChuck Varesko

    StaffStephen LeshinskiExecutive Director

    Shelley FiguresAssociate Executive Director

    Lynn KoenigsbergFreelance Contracts/Signatory Administrator

    Michele DooleyBenefits &

    Membership Administrator

    AFTRA LocalBoard of Directors

    Catherine BrownPresident Dan Huntst Vice PresidentDick Sheerannd Vice PresidentCyndy Drue SecretaryEd FischerTreasurerRob Charry, Ed Fischer, Paul Kurtz, Helen McNutt, Tom McNutt, Susan Moses, Dick Sheeran, Bill Shusta, Christy Springfield, Chuck Varesko

    National Board Members:Susan Moses, Bill Shusta

    For the latest info dial:

    215-C-A-S-T-I-N-Gor surf to

    www.aftra.comVisit the Philadelphia

    AFTRA Online Talent Guide @

    AFTRA PHILADELPHIA230 South Broad St., Suite 500Philadelphia, PA 19102-4121215.732.0507

    Official Publication Presidents Report

    The AFTRA Philadelphia local begins a New Year moving full speed ahead on a full agenda for the local Board and Staff. We just marked the 6 month anniversary of new Local Executive Director Stephen Leshinski. Its hard to believe that Steve has helped us accomplish so much in such a short time, including new broadcast station contracts, organizing our newest members at Shadow/Metro and launching new member and employer outreach efforts. If you havent met Steve yet, Im sure you will, very soon. This local is also fortunate to have the exemplary services of Shelly Figures, Lynn Koenigsberg and Michele Dooley assisting members, coordinating events and keeping the office afloat. By the way, if you missed the December Open House, make sure you stop by the new and improved office and take a look. It has been redesigned to be a space for AFTRAns to use and enjoy!

    Keep reading your AFTRA publications and FLASH emails for the latest news and events. The Philadelphia local is calling all Shop Stewards to come together in January to share tips and information and AFTRA members and Staff are working hard to get support on beneficial legislation in the areas


    of health care reform, pension protection, performance rights and employee free choice. Ill be telling you more, soon, about my work on the AFTRA Finance Restructuring Committee.

    Im sure you join me in congratulating AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon for being named to the Hollywood Reporters Women in Entertainment Power 100 list. Roberta is ranked number 81 on that list, but shes tops with AFTRA.

    Remember, YOU are the UNION!

    Phila. Local President Catherine Brown

    Recession. Now thats a scary word. In these tough economic times all of us are dealing with it as best we can, and the same is true for the AFTRA Health and Retirement plans. In an interview for the Philadelphia locals Sessions newsletter, the co-chair of the funds Board of Trustees, Shelby Scott, indicated every pension plan worldwide probably has been hit by the economic downturn, stating Weve obviously lost some money in the current down market but were still meeting all our payments. She went on to say that if the market continues to decline over the next five years well be in trouble but right now well be alright. At the end of last year the retirement fund was 97% funded. The plans current fiscal year ended November 30th and when an analysis of those figures is

    available in late January or early February, it wont be that high.

    Concerning fund management, Scott said the plan has money managers,

    investment consultants and an investment committee which keep our funds pretty widely diversified which is why money continues to come from dividends and employer contributions, etc. So, were not panicking, not happy, but not panicked. Shes hoping for a turnaround when the new administration takes office in Washington. Also, she said increasing the

    contribution caps in our various contracts is very important to the plans.

    At the moment, the retirement plan covers more than 7 thousand AFTRA retirees at a monthly expenditure of a little

    AFTRA H&R Report By Bill Shusta

    Continued on page 6

    Board of Trustees Co-chair Shelby Scott.

  • Broadcast Beat News from our shop stewards

    After 33 years as a reporter news anchor and sports update anchor Jan Gorham accepted a buyout from WIP this fall. Jan survived numerous program directors and several format changes, along with moves from 19th and Walnut to 5th and Callowhill, to our current location at 2 Bala Plaza, and was the longest standing employee at WIP. Jans legendary work ethic was unsurpassed at WIP and she has been sorely missed from the moment she stopped working on November 26th. She was also a staunch AFTRA supporter who could always be counted on for sound advice. Jan did not wish to have a send off, so permit me to take this opportunity on behalf of all AFTRANs at WIP to tell her how much we appreciated her.

    WIP NEWSBy Rob Charry

    Joe Conklin won an AIR award for a piece he did for the WIP morning show called: Whos on Steroids, featuring Joes dead on impressions of Harry Kalas and Gary Sarge Matthews. Joe claims not to know how many AIR awards he has picked up over the years, but says its in double digits. Producer credits for his latest go to WIPs Marc Farzetta, who in addition to helping Joe out, does on-air work on the weekends as a sports anchor and talk show host his

    real job is WIP promotions coordinator. Check out Joes website for a taste of all his great impressions at: You can also order his latest DVD with WIPs overnight host Big Daddy Graham through the website (I swear Joe didnt put me up to this Big Daddy didnt either, though it would come as no surprise if I said he did).

    Also, at this years AIR Awards, Howard Eskin received the March of Dimes Lifetime Achievement Award.

    The WIP morning show is gearing up for Wing Bowl 17, which will be at the Wachovia Center on Friday January 30th. Its local competitors only this year.

    Joe Conklin

    KYW 3 NEWSBy Neil Rattigan

    Layoffs and buyouts have dramatically thinned the ranks of AFTRAns at CBS 3/KYW-TV. Longtime Shop Steward Mike Quinn has retired. So has Meteorologist Tom Lamaine. And so have Reporters Robin Mackintosh and Dick Standish. In unrelated departures, Reporter Brandy Bell has left the station for, the Internet arm of the Inquirer and Daily News. 4 p. m. Co-Anchor Angela Russell is also leaving.

    Tough times in the economy, and the broadcasting industry, have prompted CBS 3 AFTRAns to approve a one-year extension of their contract. It calls for a 2% raise and monthly meetings with management to sort out problems in the news operation. The extension expires next September.

    Lots of on-air changes. Chris May and Susan Barnett have been promoted to co-anchor Eyewitness News at 6 & 11 p. m.. CBS 3 also welcomes former WTXF/Fox 29 anchor Dave Huddleston, who co-anchors weekend evenings with Mary Stoker Smith and reports three nights a

    week. New Reporters at CBS 3 this year are Ben Simmoneau, formerly of WGAL Lancaster and a Spring City native; Dray Clark, a Chester native who previously worked at Clevelands WJW and Elizabeth Hur, an Ambler native who freelanced

    at WCBS New York. Also joining the station is Evan Hirsch, who produces weekend evenings. He previously produced at WBNS Columbus, Ohio.

    Theres been a baby boom at Channel 3. New moms include Meteorologist Maria

    LaRosa (her second), Reporter Stephanie Abrams, Special Projects Producers Stephanie Carson and Ellen Czajkowski, and Writers Rye-Jin Baek and Tracy Schmid (her second). New dads include Traffic Reporter Sean Murphy and Morning Producer Jason Rothman.

    Congratulations to Morning Anchor Ukee Washington, who was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hal

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