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January 2009

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

The AFTRA Holiday Party-Open House

The large conference room was filled with food and happy AFTRA members.

By Chuck Varesko

Local SAG Pres. Tom McCarthy had a Coke and a smile.

Twas a week before Christmas and the office was set Michele, 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 care and 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.

Local E. D. Stephen Leshinski “talks down” members. He can’t help it. He’s that tall!

He’d selected the tunes and he’d made a playlist, with some chestnuts for Christmas and a ton of the hits. As his sounds filled the office the party spirit arrived along 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 décor was first rate, “Way ta go!

Members mingling in the office.

As the party wound down, as the refreshments ran out from outside the window there came a great shout. In a sleigh o’er Broad street, yelled a right merry elf, “That’s quite a party! Wish I’d been there myself.”

Cyndy, Stephen and Sal relax near a tub of beverages.

DJ Chuck mixing it up.

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

Leroy (L) and Blair (R).


Official Publication

of the Philadelphia American Federation of Television & Radio Artists 215.732.0507

Cast & Crew

Shelley Figures—Editor Contributing Editors Nat Wright, Stephen Leshinski Layout—Chuck Varesko


Stephen Leshinski Executive Director Shelley Figures Associate Executive Director Lynn Koenigsberg—Freelance Contracts/Signatory Administrator Michele Dooley—Benefits & Membership Administrator

AFTRA Local Board of Directors Catherine Brown—President Dan Hunt—1st Vice President Dick Sheeran—2nd Vice President Cyndy Drue —Secretary Ed Fischer—Treasurer Rob 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-G or surf to Visit the Philadelphia AFTRA Online Talent Guide @

AFTRA PHILADELPHIA 230 South Broad St., Suite 500 Philadelphia, PA 19102-4121 215.732.0507


President’s Report HAPPY NEW YEAR!


he 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. It’s 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 haven’t met Steve yet, I’m 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

Phila. Local President Catherine Brown of health care reform, pension protection, performance rights and employee free choice. I’ll be telling you more, soon, about my work on the AFTRA Finance Restructuring Committee. I’m sure you join me in congratulating AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon for being named to the Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment Power 100 list. Roberta is ranked number 81 on that list, but she’s “tops” with AFTRA. Remember, YOU are the UNION!

AFTRA H&R Report


By Bill Shusta

ecession. Now that’s a scary word. available in late January or early February, In these tough economic times all of it won’t be that high. us are dealing with it as best we can, Concerning fund management, Scott and the same is true for the AFTRA Health said the plan has money managers, and Retirement plans. In an investment consultants and interview for the Philadelphia an investment committee “ local’s Sessions newsletter, the which keep our funds pretty co-chair of the funds Board widely diversified which of Trustees, Shelby Scott, is why money continues to indicated every pension plan come from dividends and worldwide probably has been employer contributions, etc. hit by the economic downturn, So, we’re not panicking, not stating “We’ve obviously lost happy, but not panicked.” some money in the current She’s hoping for a turnaround down market but we’re still Board of Trustees Cowhen the new administration meeting all our payments.” chair Shelby Scott. takes office in Washington. She went on to say that if the Also, she said increasing the market continues to decline over the next contribution caps in our various contracts five years we’ll be in trouble but right now is very important to the plans. we’ll be alright. At the end of last year At the moment, the retirement plan the retirement fund was 97% funded. The covers more than 7 thousand AFTRA plan’s current fiscal year ended November retirees at a monthly expenditure of a little Continued on page 6 30th and when an analysis of those figures is

Broadcast Beat — News from our shop stewards WIP NEWS By Rob Charry


fter 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. Jan’s 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.

Joe Conklin won an AIR award for a piece he did for the WIP morning show called: “Who’s on Steroids,” featuring Joe’s 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 it’s in double Joe Conklin digits. Producer credits for his latest go to WIP’s 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

KYW 3 NEWS By Neil Rattigan


ayoffs and buyouts have dramatically week. New Reporters at CBS 3 this year thinned the ranks of AFTRAns at are Ben Simmoneau, formerly of WGAL CBS 3/KYW-TV. Longtime Shop Lancaster and a Spring City native; Dray Steward Mike Quinn has retired. So has Clark, a Chester native who previously Meteorologist Tom Lamaine. And so have worked at Cleveland’s WJW and Elizabeth Reporters Robin Mackintosh and Dick Hur, an Ambler native who freelanced Standish. In unrelated at WCBS New York. departures, Reporter Also joining the station Brandy Bell has left is Evan Hirsch, who the station for philly. produces weekend com, the Internet arm evenings. He previously of the Inquirer and produced at WBNS Daily News. 4 p. m. CoColumbus, Ohio. Anchor Angela Russell There’s been a baby is also leaving. boom at Channel 3. Tough times in the New moms include economy, and the Meteorologist Maria Eukee Washington broadcasting industry, LaRosa (her second), have prompted CBS 3 AFTRAns to approve Reporter Stephanie Abrams, Special a one-year extension of their contract. Projects Producers Stephanie Carson and It calls for a 2% raise and monthly meetings Ellen Czajkowski, and Writers Rye-Jin with management to sort out problems in Baek and Tracy Schmid (her second). the news operation. The extension expires New dads include Traffic Reporter Sean next September. Murphy and Morning Producer Jason Lots of on-air changes. Chris May and Rothman. Susan Barnett have been promoted to Congratulations to Morning Anchor co-anchor Eyewitness News at 6 & 11 p. Ukee Washington, who was inducted into m.. CBS 3 also welcomes former WTXF/ the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Fox 29 anchor Dave Huddleston, who Hall of Fame. co-anchors weekend evenings with Mary Stoker Smith and reports three nights a

real job is WIP promotions coordinator. Check out Joe’s website for a taste of all his great impressions at: You can also order his latest DVD with WIP’s overnight host Big Daddy Graham through the website (I swear Joe didn’t put me up to this — Big Daddy didn’t either, though it would come as no surprise if I said he did).  Also, at this year’s 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. It’s local competitors only this year.

NBC 10

By Catherine Brown


FTRA members at NBC 10 have been training for the last few months as the station put a new APC control room online, then switched to HD and unveiled a redesigned studio. And, I can’t forget the new website designed to be not just a website for NBC 10, but also a cyber destination to stay in touch with all things local to the Philadelphia area.

Mike Strug (R) receiving award.

Kudos to veteran NBC 10 news reporter Mike Strug for his induction into the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame. Mike has done duty at WPVI, KYW and WCAU during a distinguished 45-year television career.  AFTRA/NBC 10 members are now doing the groundwork for the 2009 contract negotiations. More from our shop stewards on page 4.

AFTRA and MusicFIRST Fight for Performers’ Rights


here’s a fight brewing. It’s a fight for something very familiar to AFTRAns; performers’ rights. On December 18th, 2007, the Performance Rights Act was introduced in Congress to ensure that recording artists, singers and musicians are fairly compensated when their sound recordings are played on terrestrial (AM and FM) radio. Radio stations are required by law to pay royalties through BMI and ASCAP for the recorded music they use on the air. Presently, however, these royalties are paid only to songwriters and music publishers. The performers who bring these songs to life are excluded from this compensation and the United States is the only country in the developed world where this is the case. AFTRA, musicians’ unions and other interested parties have formed a nationwide coalition called MusicFIRST to fight for congressional passage of this act. AFTRA’s participation is being headed by Terrie Bjorklund, AFTRA’s Associate General Counsel/

Broadcast Beat... From page 3

KYW Newsradio By Paul Kurtz


he economic catastrophe may reach into every radio station in America before it’s over. Even the venerable KYW Newsradio is not immune. There have been two rounds of budget cuts directly impacting Aftrans over the last year, the most recent having just been announced. Beginning in January the station will eliminate weekend sports anchor shifts. The updates will be covered by Sportsradio 610 WIP. Management is attempting to accommodate the 4 AFTRANs impacted  by having them do other tasks. Our contract expired at the end of September and rather than slug it out at the bargaining table in the current environment, management proposed to extend the contract by one year. We accepted.


By Andie Summers


ere’s what’s been going on at XTU ... Steve Leshinski and I had a good meeting with XTU’s GM Natalie Conner and PD Bob McKay a few weeks ago to discuss what we agree will quickly become standard practice in this business — video blogs. We’re trying to stay one step ahead of our sales staff by setting boundaries for what we will do as part of our job description, and what will require talent fees. A short (60 second) video blog, for instance, is something the air staff is willing to do weekly ... however, video endorsements will require a talent fee equal to our recorded radio endorsement fees.  The station’s web designer is currently shooting and editing the videos, but the staff has total editorial rights concerning content and how they’re used on our website.


By Jerry Wells

Copyright & Intellectual Property out of the Washington, DC office. Time is of the essence. During the latest Congressional Session, broadcasters convinced about half of the House to sign onto a non-binding resolution opposing the Performance Rights Act. MusicFIRST chapters around the country have been formed to lobby Jerry Wells congress members to vote for the passage of the Performance Rights Act. Each targeted state will have various chapters: MusicFIRST Chapter (Open to everyone.) Union Members for Just Compensation (Union members only.) Creators for Property Rights (Singers, songwriters, producers, etc) Here’s where we need your help. Since the National Association of Broadcasters is vigorously opposing passage, we need to show our congresspeople that there is widespread support for this bill. While many key legislators are sympathetic to the cause of the musicFIRST Coalition, they want to hear from more constituents in the music community that this issue matters to them. AFTRA and MusicFIRST are seeking to recruit members from the Philadelphia local who are Pennasylvania Constituents to volunteer for one of the state chapters. Each chapter will have a steering committee whose members will lend their names to letters to congress and attend a meeting or two with their state’s congresspeople in their districts. That’s it. All activities will be directed by MusicFIRST grassroots organizers and members will be able to review letters before they are sent. To volunteer, please submit your name, email address, fullContinued next page.

Are you in The Guide? Search AFTRA Talent

The AFTRA Philadelphia online talent guide—The 21st century casting solution. A listing in the Online Talent Guide is free to Paid up aftra members—and it’s free to producers and directors looking for talent. To learn more visit:

AUDIOMAX 25th Anniversary Pictures Last issue we ran an article on the Audiomax 25th Anniversary Party held October 10, 2008 in King of Prussia. When we went to press photos from the party were not yet available. Well, we promised photos from the Audiomax party and here they are. Sessions thanks Audiomax VP Mark Engleman and CEO Anthony Stagliano for sending us a CD of the Comic Craig Shoemaker roasts Audiomax CEO Anthony Stagliano.

AFTRA newsman Paul Kurtz displays his Underdog lunch box while his table mate looks on in admiration and envy.


Audiomax CEO Anthony Stagliano. The ballroom was set before the guests arrived.

AFTRA VO woman Molly Daly smiles for the camera after dinner.

The Audiomax employees and guests give CEO Anthony Stagliano a standing ovation.

MusicFirst... From page 4

time occupation, location (city or town) in Pennsylvania, and Zipcode to me, Jerry Wells, (Subject: MusicFIRST) at my email address; or to Executive Director, Stephen Leshinski. There will be no disclosure of your information, marketing or spamming. You will only be contacted in connection with MusicFIRST activities. Please join now and thank you for your help on this vital issue.

Applause and laughter during the Stagliano roast. VP Mark Engleman (Standing R.), VP Karen Kesler, (R).

A new column featuring our freelance members and the projects they’ve been working on.

One of our own By Cyndy Drue

winning Public Relations dynamo for the City of Philadelphia. She is often asked to counsel young people.  She tells them you was excited to see one of our members in the TV show Lipstick have to be ready for honesty.  And: “You should continue to pursue Jungle recently. The show airs on NBC, stars Brooke Shields, and this work until the time comes when you’re banging your head is based on a book by Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell. against the wall. You cannot teach talent — you’re born with it. You Philadelphia AFTRA member Sylvia Kauders can teach technique. As a performer, forever, was in a feisty scene where she was wearing a you will continue training, marketing yourself. hat that one of the stars of the show designed Never let anyone step on your dreams. Go for years earlier. The star, Lindsay Price, was trying it but give yourself time. If that time passes, to wrestle it off of her verbally. Sylvia gave an find your fulfillment elsewhere. To hope in outstanding performance as a Jewish woman your heart that one day you’ll get a principal only interested in getting to synagogue on time. role - if you’ve been doing this for 20 years and Sylvia auditioned for the pilot of that show haven’t gotten anything, then you might not, after being called by her New York agent. The and I can’t tell you why. Any experience is a casting people liked what she did in the pilot good experience because you take that to your and cast her later in this episode called Nothing next. It’s never a waste to go to an audition.” Sacred.  You can watch it anytime online at What does Sylvia do when she feels Unfortunately, Lipstick Jungle has discouraged by this work? been cancelled, so we have lost an AFTRA show. She diverts her attention to something Sylvia Kauders Throughout her career, Sylvia has always been that gives her pleasure. She’s always giving a performer. AFTRA is her parent union, having been a member back to the community. She refuses to let it get her down because for over thirty years. She is also a member of SAG and Actor’s the phone will ring, and sooner or later she’ll book something. Equity. In addition to being in plays with the drama guild and others, Sylvia hosted a television show in 1967-77 called Under If you’ve recently had work you’d like to have highlighted, contact Billy Penn’s Hat that aired on WHYY. She was also an award Cyndy at:


AFTRA H&R... From page 2

more than 8 million dollars. There’s more than a billion dollars in the plan and contributions continue to arrive. As for the health plan, it’s in good shape with about a year’s reserve in place with 7 to 8 months of reserve said to be good. Scott said, “ I like a cushion. Let’s face it, I think we’re pretty conservative in that respect, which I think is good.” According to Scott, health care costs are going crazy and she hopes President-elect Barack Obama can do something there as well. She said insuring everyone would save money. “Part of the cost of medical care is because so many people are not insured. They go to the emergency room where they must be treated, and they don’t pay anything and all those costs are passed on to the rest of us.” Scott feels there will be changes in our plan because the costs keep rising. “Unless we can get all this stuff under control, God knows what’s going to happen. It’s just a terrible time in our economy.” The next trustee meeting is in February. There will be pharmacy changes but she couldn’t provide details saying correspondence will be forthcoming. She said the plan’s trying to focus on generic drugs because is saves money for both the plan and the participant. Currently, there are about 17 thousand member and dependant participants in the health plan. She said senior coverage remains safe at the moment but there may be some minor changes. “ I wish I could tell you exactly what’s going to happen. I don’t know. Everything’s in flux right now.” She doesn’t believe employer contributions will increase much because they’re also in financial

trouble. And, the health plan doesn’t depend on investment as does the retirement plan. Scott said it’s almost money in, money out. As for our health plan, Scott is realistic, “We don’t have as good a plan as we used to. We gotta pay premiums now. We had to cut some benefits. But, I don’t think you can buy it on the open market.” The 22 member Board of Trustees oversees the operation of the Health and Retirement funds, 11 representing AFTRA and 11 from management. The union representatives serve at the pleasure of the AFTRA National Board. Their service is evaluated periodically by the Board’s Health and Retirement Issues Committee and its findings are forwarded to the National Board. Other than these actions, AFTRA the union has NOTHING to do with the day to day operation of AFTRA H&R. This is extremely important for AFTRA members to know and understand. Also, the H&R funds are governed by federal law whose acronym is ERISA which covers plans receiving contributions from multiple employers. Scott told us, “It sets out all these requirements of what you must and must not do, very complicated and that’s why we have attorneys.” While complicated, it also can serve to protect our plans against some of the things impacting plans in the private sector. Scott emphasized that all the trustees are concerned about the economy’s impact on our plans but are not panicking. She said, if things turn around, we’ll be fine. Scott also pointed to what she termed the terrific job being done by the new C.E.O. of the plans, Christine DuBois, who has been on the job for about 18 months. According to Scott, there has been a marked increase in staff morale, participant services has improved, by the 4th quarter of next year on-line credit card payment should be available, and work continues on a new participant friendly website.

Notes From The Director


By Stephen Leshinski

ar, recession, lay-offs, cutbacks, ice storms, flying shoes…only one word fits what’s happening right now and that word is Gratitude. Really!? Absolutely. It’s easy when things are going well to be appreciative and content. The challenge happens when things don’t look so good — to be able to have some perspective and show some gratitude for the good things in our lives. At AFTRA for 2008 there is much to be grateful for. A smooth transition from the retirement of John Kailin after 28 years at AFTRA in addition to celebrating everything he contributed here in Philly and elsewhere in his AFTRA career. Negotiating four contracts at various radio and TV stations that, while didn’t they deliver all of the economics we would have liked, did provide wage increases and enhanced job security for our members in those shops. We also added two new groups to AFTRA: the producers at WMMR and the Announcer/Producers at Metro Shadow. Might there be more on the way in 2009? We’re grateful to have two new board members, Paul Kurtz and Skip Fischer, join our board this year and lend their talents to our already motivated and experienced leadership. Two new Shop Stewards, Ed Bishop at YSP and Andie Summers at XTU, joining the ranks of Catherine Brown at NBC, Neil Rattigan at CBS, Pierre Robert at WMMR, Rob Charry at WIP, Lisa Paige at Q102, and Cheryl Elias and Paul Kurtz at KYW radio. We’re also grateful for freelance member Jerry Wells and the work he has already done to restart our MusicFirst campaign, and for board members Chuck Varesko and Cyndy Drue’s (plus staff member Shelley Figures) work to restart our Freelance Organizing Committee in 2009. All are invited to Meet the FOCers as soon as you are able. And while we’re not grateful to have to recover money for our members either through contractual or legal relief, it’s important to note that so far year to date we’ve “won” close to $500,000

in compensation and health care costs through negotiations, grievances, and arbitration. So while no one ever wants to have to file a grievance or go to arbitration, being AFTRA means you can if you need to. Finally we’re grateful for the work that Lynn Koenigsberg and Michele Dooley in our office do every day, helping our members navigate their health insurance, retirement funds, and freelance payments. While many in our industry have to rely solely on agents or even themselves, the AFTRA staff are ready, willing, and able to be advocates and sometimes detectives when necessary to make sure all members get a fair shake. These are not easy times and each of us could think of a 101 ways things could be better. But having said that, ignoring what we have that is good would be a mistake, especially when we have so much. Things will hit bottom and improve, they always do. AFTRA will continue to grow and continue to fight for its members and its constituency, in new and different ways that reflect these new and different times. And all along the way the dedication, commitment, and devotion to our cause will continue to be that which we have in common and what brings us together as AFTRA. And that’s something for which we can all be grateful.

AFTRA Members Support the Employee Free Choice Act


FTRA members are taking action now to join the MillionMember Mobilization for the Employee Free Choice Act. America’s working people are struggling to make ends meet these days and our middle class is disappearing. The best opportunity working people have to get ahead economically is by uniting to bargain with their employers for better wages and benefits. Recent research has shown that some 60 million U.S. workers would join a union if they could. But the current system for forming unions and bargaining is broken. Every day, corporations deny workers the freedom to decide for themselves whether to form unions to bargain for a better life. They routinely intimidate, harass, coerce, and even fire workers who try to form unions and bargain for economic well-being. And there’s nothing stopping them. Except you. With your help all workers can have the freedom to decide for themselves whether to form unions and bargain for a better life. Join us today! Watch Roberta Reardon’s video message on : http://www.

Visit the AFL-CIO website for more info on the Employee Free Choice Act:

In This Issue

In This Issue Holiday Party/Open House..................................1 President’s Report...............................................2 AFTRA H&R Report...........................................2 Broadcast Beat....................................................3 MusicFIRST.........................................................4 Audiomax Party Photos.......................................5 One of our own....................................................6 Notes From The Director.....................................7 Members Support Employee Free Choice..........7 SESSIONS is also online at Read Nat Wright’s History of The Philadelphia Local at

Sessions January 2009  

The newsletter of AFTRA Philadelphia.