Q: When Betsey Bruce started her TV news career in St. Louis, she went by her maiden name, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. Do you recall?
L.G., of Belleville
A: I hope I don’t embarrass one of my favorite TV newspeople too much, but if you want to take a quick trip back in time, go to http://mizzoumag.missouri.edu/2015/08/yearbook-1969. There you’ll find a 1969 University of Missouri at Columbia yearbook picture of Betsey Barnette as editor of the school’s student newspaper, The Maneater. (For the uninitiated, the name has nothing to do with women’s lib or the Hall and Oates song. “Maneater” is a takeoff on the school’s tiger mascot and a free tabloid we students always looked forward to picking up.)
Anyway, the smiling Barnette looks young and sweet enough to be getting ready for her high school prom, but the college junior already was well on her way to becoming a hard-boiled professional journalist. For starters, she was the only female Maneater editor in the 1960s and just the second in the paper’s history. She wasn’t given much time to ease into her new role, either. Just three weeks after taking over, Betsey was faced with covering a groundbreaking story when Barbara Papish, a journalism graduate student, was arrested for handing out an underground protest newspaper that had a certain 12-letter profanity in a headline. Papish sued and won, but not before the case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 1973 that public universities could not punish students for indecent or offensive speech that did not disrupt campus order or interfere with the rights of others.
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“It was a convincing time for me that I really wanted to be a journalist,” Betsey told the Mizzou alumni magazine last summer. “We were right in the middle of everything.”
That’s where she has stayed ever since, joining KMOX-TV (now KMOV) in 1971, where I seem to remember her eventually reporting as Betsey Barnette Bruce. She joined KTVI in 1989, anchoring the station’s weekend newscasts and covering consumer stories for Contact 2. During her 45 years here, she has covered everything from the Flood of ’93 and the pope’s visit to presidential nominating conventions.
Q: What has happened to Farrah Fazal at KSDK-TV? And I noticed that an old KSDK newsman, Alex Fees, has popped up on KTVI-TV, Fox2. What’s going on?
W.P., of Freeburg
A: As she has for much of her life, Fazal is preparing to pick up stakes again — but not without regret, she says.
She hails from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and grew up in England and Canada. After stints in Florida, Montana and Nebraska, she landed near the Mexican border in Texas, where her coverage of the drug cartels, border violence and illegal immigration helped trigger hearings on border security by the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security. She joined KSDK’s I-Team in 2013.
But after three years here, she left last month. She says she can’t say where she is going just yet, but it’s a broadcasting job outside the area that involves investigative reporting and social justice topics along with travel both here and abroad. She says she hopes it will prove as friendly as St. Louis, which, she once said, felt most like home to her of all the places she has lived.
“I’m in love with Lou,” she recently posted on her Facebook page. “Lou is RED HOT! Lou is full of life. Full of character. Full of the Blues. And all that jazz. I am going to miss Lou when I leave in a few weeks. I don’t believe in goodbyes, so I always just say so long, until we meet again.”
On the other hand, Fees has spent most of his career pretty much next door to where he was born in 1964 (Union, Mo.) and where he earned his bachelor’s in communications in 1987 (Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau). He started out as a reporter in Iowa and Nebraska, but finally settled back in St. Louis as a freelancer with KSDK in 1998 while also working as a field producer for a raft of national networks, including NBC, CBS, ABC, Al Jazeera Arabic, the Discovery Channel, Food Network and CNN. In 2007, he was chosen Best TV Reporter in St. Louis Magazine’ A-List.
In 2013, he left KSDK to become a communications specialist for the Mehlville School District. Last September, he returned to what he calls his “first love” — TV news — as a producer-reporter for KTVI/KPLR.
As for KSDK’s turnover, you don’t have to search long on the Internet to find reports of unhappiness at the station the past few years. In 2008, meteorologist John Fuller was asked to take a pay cut and left for KPLR instead. Three years later Cindy Prezsler was asked to do the same; she stayed but reportedly cut her contract extension at the time from three years to two. But there does seem to be a revolving door of new faces, especially at KMOV and KSDK, so some of it may be a desire to gain experience before moving on to even bigger and better markets.
Q: Have they changed when daylight saving time starts again? I could have sworn it was the first week in March last year.
Ken Frerker, of St. Louis
A: You almost have a great memory — but not quite. Thanks to the Energy Policy of Act of 2005, the start of DST was moved up to the second Sunday in March as of 2007. Last year, it just happened to fall on the earliest possible date — March 8 — but that still was the second Sunday. In 2021 it will be on the last possible date — March 14. Similarly, the last day of DST can be anytime between Nov. 1 (as it was last year) and Nov. 7 (also in 2021).
Besides, we don’t want to give more people heart attacks by continually switching dates. You may remember that a 2014 study in the journal Open Heart found myocardial infarctions increased 24 percent on the Monday after we “spring” forward. But if we survive that, there’s a 21 percent decrease in the days after we “fall” back.
During a Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction speech, Bruce Springsteen said early band member David Sancious was the only one who actually lived “there.” Where?
Answer to Sunday’s trivia: In 1927, The Smart Set Magazine awarded 16-year-old Thomas Lanier “Tennessee” Williams third place and $5 for his essay, “Can a Good Wife Be a Good Sport?” Written from the point of view of a woman, it reportedly enraged his ultra-macho father, but it likely helped encourage him into becoming an award-winning writer, famous for such works as “The Glass Menagerie” and “A Streetcar Name Desire.”