"WHAT WILL happen to Larry Mendte?"
I've been asked that a few times, because people know that I covered TV for five years, I know the players and I know the process. I know how the squirrels who run TV stations arrange their nuts.
After stitching together what has been reported, what is believed to have happened and what is likely to happen, an Etch-a-Sketch picture emerges. To that grainy image I add what else might happen.
Larry Mendte is kaput at CBS 3.
Why? Odds are he will cop to electronic snooping. In exchange for saving the government the cost of prosecuting him, he won't get jail time. His punishment may include having to wear an ankle bracelet when he walks his wolf in Chestnut Hill, or some community service such as being the designated blood donor for the Philadelphia Zoo's vampire-bat habitat.
Without a totally clean bill of health, CBS 3 will have to let him go or face vengeance from ready-to-pounce Alycia Lane, who was tossed when her shenanigans became an embarrassment to the station. Whether she deserved to be fired is another matter. If Larry came back, she'd have the makings of a sweet sex-discrimination lawsuit.
So, Larry needs a job.
If you think he's "unhirable," remember Marv Albert? He pleaded guilty to making like a pit bull on the back of a woman in a hotel room while he was dressed like a French maid. No jail time: apology, rehab, return. Like Marv, Larry has a record of attracting ratings.
Where might he land?
Not out of town. He loves working in his hometown, and his wife is under contract here. Besides, to move the 100 Emmys I estimate he's won around the country would cost a fortune. He's got more gold-plated statuettes than Spike's Trophies.
NBC 10? Been there, done that. The same G.M. who let him switch teams still runs the shop and seems happy with Tim Lake and Renee Chenault-Fattah.
6ABC? They'd rather broadcast in lo-def than hire from local stations they think of as dung beetles.
WHYY? Naah. PBS is not suited for Larry's emotional style.
Channels 17 and 57? Are they still on?
We're running out of options.
He could join the other Larry on CN8, where Kane became the Invisible Man, but that's unlikely. He could teach broadcasting at a local college, but the pay sucks and he'd look weird in the pancake makeup he removes annually on St. Swithin's Day.
I mentioned his wife, remember? That's Dawn Stensland, who anchors at Fox 29. By a wild coincidence, her co-anchor, Dave Huddleston, leaves this Friday.
Translation: Fox is hiring.
Larry and Dawn knocking knees at the anchor desk? A married anchor team?
It's rare - but not unique - in broadcast TV.
In Minneapolis, WCCO hired Frank Vascellaro in 2006 to co-anchor the 6 p.m. newscast with his wife, anchor Amelia Santaniello. They're still at it.
In Boston, long-married WCVB anchors Chet Curtis and Natalie Jacobson made front-page news when they separated in 1999, then divorced.
In Seattle, KOMO anchor John Seigenthaler Jr. married KOMO anchor Kerry Brock in 1992.
It's been done elsewhere, it can be done here. The Dawn and Larry News Show (she'd have seniority). Think of the novelty! Think of the publicity!
Best of all, if Larry peeks at Dawn's e-mail, she won't make a federal case of it. *
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