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February 2010

The AFTRA Holiday Open House was a Hit!

The food table attracted attention.

DJ Chuck in action.

Scheryll Anderson.

Helen Chong

Caterer extraordinaire Bill Mables hung with folks in the hall.

On December 22, 2009 the Local office held the annual Holiday Open House, an opportunity for Local members to visit the center of our union’s operations in Philadelphia and mingle with other members and Local staff. Refreshments were provided by caterer Bill Mables and entertainment came from DJ Chuck’s laptop computer. Over forty members partied till 7:30 and Local Executive Director Stephen Leshinski declared the party a definite hit. For a slideshow of all the photos taken at the event visit http://www.

“Santa” Christie Springfield and Laurel Bryce.

Cyndy Drue and Jeanette Hartunian.

Lynn Koenigsburg & Maria Siegert

See an online slideshow of the party photos at

SESSIONS 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

Dick Sheeran—2nd Vice President Cyndy Drue —Secretary Ed Fischer—Treasurer

Rob Charry, John Di Domenico, Paul Kurtz, Sylvia Kauders, Tom McNutt,

Susan Moses, M.J. Myers, Bill Shusta, Christy Springfield, Chuck Varesko

National Board Members: Susan Moses, Bill Shusta •••••••••••

AFTRA PHILADELPHIA 230 South Broad St., Suite 500 Philadelphia, PA 19102-4121 215.732.0507 Read SESSIONS online at: sessions The Online Talent Guide is at: National AFTRA is at:




appy New Year! Your AFTRA Philadelphia Local is jumpstarting a new decade with a lot of exciting projects ahead. Last year I told you about the national push within AFTRA to fine tune our mission and our methods. Now the message is going local. We’re all set to welcome AFTRA National Staff to Philadelphia in February for our local Leadership Training. It’s our chance to learn best practices for internal and external organizing. It’s all about strengthening our union, empowering our current members and recruiting new members. In the weeks ahead we’re also looking forward to a National Broadcasting Steering Committee Meeting at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, MD. and the National Board Videoconference Meeting in New York and Los Angeles. Your participation will be welcome as we continue the work of  our Local’s Freelance Committee, Station Shop Steward Training and New Member Orientation. You have a standing invitation to get in on the action! When you receive the notice about Local Board elections in a few weeks, please give it some serious attention and consideration. “You are the Union” is not just a slogan. AFTRA’s success depends on our dedicated members and member leaders. So think about contributing your ideas and expertise as a member of the Philadelphia Local Board. And don’t forget — You are the Union! Catherine Brown AFTRA Philadelphia Local President

Pleading the case for Pled By Chuck Varesko


ave you noticed how sometimes words just disappear? In news reports of days gone by you would hear the word “pled” used in reports on court proceedings. “The defendant pled guilty to all six counts, and a charge of practicing grammar without a license.” “Pled,” is a perfectly good verb derived from the Middle English word “pleden.” It’s simple and to the point. You can even spell it “plead” and pronounce it “pled.” It’s very adaptable. What has come into common use as a replacement for the perfectly adequate pled? In the 21st century it has gotten tossed out and reporters are using “pleaded” instead. While it does follow our tradition of adding “ed” to a word to indicate past tense it’s just not elegant. Try saying “pleaded.” Now say “pled.” If you’re paying attention to your Hole Words Come Out Of you’ll notice that it takes more work to say “pleaded.” “Pled,” on the other hand, falls lightly from the tongue. I believe I have a pleadable case for the return of pled. I leave it to you, the jury, to return good old “pled” to use in reporting. I’m pleading with you.

How’s YOUR Web Visibility?

Are you a “Digital Person” or are you trapped in the 20th century? No matter how hip you are to the Internet you can have your face and your contact information on a casting website for free. The Philadelphia AFTRA Online Talent Guide is open to Local members (and Local SAG) for free. If you’re computer illiterate call the AFTRA office at 215.732.0507 and ask them to send you an enrollment form. Send it back with your headshot and resume and we’’ll add you to the Talent Guide. If you’re a computer user visit to sign up online. Promote yourself!

Photo by Cyndy Drue

November Brought Career Day Back to Nova

On-air television and radio professionals discuss their careers. (l-r) Jamison Uhler, NBC-10, Aditi Roy, NBC-10, Spike, WYSP.

The Behind The Business panel front and center.


n Saturday November 14, the Philadelphia Local of AFTRA in association with Villanova University presented the second Broadcast & Entertainment Industry Career Day on the campus of Villanova University. Communication, theater and film students from all Philadelphia-area colleges and members of AFTRA, SAG and Equity were invited to participate in an event focusing on the industry. Panel discussions included on-air television and radio professionals Spike Eskin (WYSP), Andie Summers (WXTU), Jamison Uhler and Aditi Roy (NBC10) discussing their careers and answering questions. Other panelists included local AFTRA President Catherine Brown (Content Producer NBC10), Jennifer Coleman (Writer, CBS3), Laura Duzen (Director), Bruce Graham (playwright, screenwriter) , Gregg Reid (Director, NBC10), Clinton Perry (Producer, WPHT) who  shared their knowledge from inside the business.  Local attorney Jacqueline Borock, local agent Gail Williams and casting director Diane Heery shared information from a talent representation perspective. Former Local VP Dan Hunt presented an innovative workshop that explored how talent in the broadcast and entertainment industry can promote and protect themselves.

Hunt Exits AFTRA Board


fter thirteen years on the Philadelphia Board of Directors, serving first in a freelance seat and later as VP of Freelance, Dan Hunt has stepped down to develop and pursue his interests in commercial ventures. Dan's legacy includes his coordination of the successful Metro Traffic organizing campaign, participation in numerous freelance organizing efforts, his role as a key contributor in planning two memorable AFTRA Conventions, and the presentation of two broadcast/ entertainment seminars for Philadelphia

area college students. In addition Dan was also instrumental in organizing Philadelphia AFTRA’s participation in the national reading initiative, Read Across America. Dan's straightforward and practical style earned him the highest respect from members, staff and industry representatives. His enthusiasm and support for union principles was awarded in 2009 when he was presented with the Local's prestigious Bill Evans Award for service at the Local Annual Dan Hunt at the podium during our 2009 Meeting in May. Annual Meeting.

Broadcast Beat — News from our shop stewards WIP

By Rob Charry our more years of Angelo Cataldi, who has reupped to do the WIP morning show for four more. Angelo has been with WIP for over 20 years and at press time, the entire morning crew is getting ready for Wing Bowl 18, which somehow finds a way to top itself year after year. Though it has grown so large over the years that not a lot of work gets done around town on the Friday before the Super Bowl, the morning show’s Al Morganti’s attempt to get Mayor Nutter to make Wing Bowl a city-wide holiday in Philadelphia was rejected outright by the Mayor himself during a December 2009 in-studio appearance. Perhaps he should’ve lobbied the Governor. Leave it to WIP morning show contributor Joe Conklin to incorporate WIP offspring/newborns into his bits for the morning show. A recent Conklin classic featured midday host Anthony Gargano’s new son Anthony the 3rd -- November 11th, talking sports with the morning show’s Rhea Hughes’ son Clarke (August 4th), using Conklin’s dead on impression of Bobby Clarke and Anthony “The Cuz” Gargano. You can sample Joe’s bits and find out when and where he’s appearing next at: On a personal note, when I first became shop steward at WIP, I used to receive quarterly calls from Nat Wright for Sessions & Shifts, the previous AFTRA/SAG newsletter, in which he did a column on broadcast shops as a Contributing Editor. In between giving Nat background info about the comings and goings at WIP, I’d engage him in conversation about the old days at WIP. When our longtime production engineer Harry Bickhardt was feted a few years ago at the station, Nat was among the former WIP personnel that came by to wish him well. Nat regaled a number of WIP air personalities with stories of the history of WIP. As shop


steward at the oldest radio station in the city, 1922, I just wanted to acknowledge Nat and those who came before me, and hope I can carry on in that same tradition. The Nat Wrights of this world are what this union is about.


By Andie Summers


appy New Year! 2009 was a tough one for everyone in radio, so we at WXTU are hoping that 2010 will bring our shop more opportunities — and more money! By the time you read this, we should be in the middle of CBA negotiations. Since I’ve been at XTU, we’ve left it up to the hard working staff in the AFTRA office to do our fighting for us, but this year our shop has a real solidarity. We’re all taking an active part in meetings and certainly input in what we will accept. It is an exciting and nervewracking time for all of us, but I’m confident we’ll be stronger on the other side. Wish us luck!

NBC10/WCAU By Catherine Brown

AFTRAns at NBC10 are anticipating a new round of contract negotiations to start off 2010. The work to finalize a new contract continues. It’s been about a year since negotiations began in February 2009. Our contract expired last April. There are substantial issues still to be resolved. In the meantime, AFTRA members are closely watching the progress of the sale of NBC to Comcast. There’s not enough information so far to assess the potential impact on the workplace.

National Organizer Comes to Philadelphia What’s AFTRA’s future in a fast changing broadcast/freelance world? Phil Denniston, AFTRA National Organizing Director, will be facilitating a one day session exclusively for AFTRA members to address the changing nature of the Broadcast and Freelance industry and what AFTRA members are doing to address this fast changing environment. The Workshop will last for one day and will give AFTRA members the tools they need to mobilize and organize others in the broadcast and freelance community to build more power for all AFTRA members. Topics to include: How has our industry changed due to technology, consolidations, and the struggling economy? How have unions in general and AFTRA in particular kept up with the changes and what are the on-going challenges that need to be addressed? How do we talk to non-union colleagues in our industry about the importance of AFTRA? And how do we talk to our own members about the importance of staying AFTRA?

Date: Saturday, February 20th Time: 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Seats are still available so please call the AFTRA office: 215-732-0507. This event is open to AFTRA members only. 

One of Our Own By Cyndy Drue


Conchords;  and most recently she attained a recurring principal performer role on The Good Wife. It airs on CBS Tuesday nights at 10, or you can watch it on the Internet: primetime/the_good_wife Chong plays the receptionist, “Jeanette,” for the law firm in that show, and got the part after showing up to do background one day. She thought she was being sent to the director’s office to have her wardrobe approved but ended up auditioning for the role. The episode is called “Threesome.” In her scene, she greets one of the owners of the firm as he enters the office, and he picks her up and spins her around. It is pure Helen Chong: upbeat, friendly, and fun-loving. One of the reasons she thinks she got the part is she let her comedic, funny side come out, and they said the show was very serious, and they needed something to lighten it up. Now she will work from January 5th until April as they complete 22 episodes. Because she has a place in the law firm, even if there is no speaking role for her that day, she will be working in the background at her desk.  “You have to hope – I feel positive for 2010 because the show got picked up. It’s very spontaneous – so anything can happen.”

e’ve all heard stories about starlets being discovered in a drug store on Hollywood Boulevard in LA but it’s not something that happens around here, right? Not until about two years ago when Helen Chong was “discovered” standing in line at the local CVS. A talent scout from a New York casting agency told Helen she had “an interesting quality” and a career was launched. Her degree in Fashion Design from Philadelphia University has come in handy, since “in acting, you deal with a lot of fashion,” says the actor, who keeps a separate wardrobe just for auditions and jobs she gets on television and in films. Chong took some TV commercial classes for technique and to get acclimated, and she joined AFTRA to broaden her chances for work. You’ll see her at the AFTRA Christmas parties and AFTRA annual meetings because it’s there that she networks with others, finds out about other projects, and learns what’s happening in the industry.  Being in the right place at the right time has Helen Chong worked for Chong all along, it seems, although AFTRA’s national website now has a list of every her ability to seize each opportunity is to her credit. So far, the highlights of her career include: Being handpicked AFTRA show that shoots in New York (and LA), and the Casting Director by Director M. Night Shyamalan to be a featured player in The to contact for Principal and Background work.  You just sign in to the Happening; starring in a commercial that aired on Flight of the Members Only section of the site, and the lists are there.

From Reporter to Background Performer


hat’s our AFTRA local’s Mike Forrest with the facial hair,  sitting front and center in the NBC show, Mercy.

Mike, who joined AFTRA in 1961, is semi-retired

after years working full time as a news reporter (New York & San Fransisco) and a sports anchor at KYWTV. These days Mike has a second career as a background actor in both movies and television shows. (Many under AFTRA contracts.) In his first year working as a union actor, he’s appeared in no fewer than twelve television shows and eight movies. Mike’s only complaint is, “I find myself taking the train to New York a lot. I hope this year brings an increase in AFTRA production locally.”

Local member Mike Forrest doing background (in the foreground on the right) in a scene with Taylor Schilling (middle) on the AFTRA drama Mercy which airs on NBC.

In Memorium — Nat Wright Nat Wright — “Broadcaster, Labor Union activist, Christ Church history tour guide and reflective old man” passed away Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 26, 2009. Nat wrote this first-person obituary in 2004. Sentences in parenthesis are additions by his wife, Sue.


was born in a bungalow in Baltimore, Maryland December 10, 1926, delivered by a medical intern substituting for both grandfathers, doctors busy making emergency house calls. Said intern forgot to administer the time-honored slap to my posterior, leaving me temporarily and uncharacteristically quiet and blue. I was bequeathed the family heirloom full name Nathaniel Van Wert Wright IV. Parents: Nathaniel VW. Wright III and Catherine Hoyt Wright. Sisters: Patricia Hoyt Wright (1928) and Bonnie Lynn Wright (1940). My family moved regionally, following employment opportunities, during the Great Depression and pre-WWII from Baltimore to Sparrows Point, Maryland to the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay and finally to the Washington, DC area, where I did my senior semester at Anacostia High School in DC in 1944. I served a tour of duty with the US Marine Corps in the latter part of WWII, no distinctions, no demerits, island-hopping in the Pacific and, later, with the Second Marine Division, landing in Japan as part of the occupation force. I walked, an awe-struck teenager, through A-bomb rubble in Nagasaki and then patrolled the rural countryside. The local villagers were terrified of Marines, but trusted me because, at five foot five, I did not appear to be a threat. My daughter Beth obtained for me, in 1996, the Navy Occupation Service Medal with Asia clasp for this part of my military service. Taking advantage of the GI Bill, I attended Washington College, Chestertown, Maryland (1946-48) and American University Washington, DC (1946-50). My political science major gained me employment as an editorial researcher (polite term for library or morgue clerk) at the old Washington Evening Star where, in the Cold War era, I was thrilled to assist renowned journalists such as Elmer Davis and Mary McGrory to dig through the archives (1946-51). I was bitten by the broadcast bug in early 1951, when radio was still the dominant broadcast medium, although TV was swiftly rising. I launched a span of over 41 years on the air starting BRR (Before Rock & Roll), ending surrounded by RRR (Realm of Raucous Rock) in late 1992. Along the way I worked in all major music formats plus news. I labored and learned though the hungry years at small radio stations from Hagerstown, Maryland to Dover, Delaware to Reading, Pa. to Alexandria, Virginia, finally landing more nourishing on-air fare at WWDC-AM and WTIG-TV, both in DC. I made a major career and life change in 1961, joining both personality and news lineups at WIP Radio in Philadelphia, where I gained the great experience of working with the legendary Joe McCauley, morning icon Ken Garland, longtime close buddy Wee Willie Webber, fellow shortie Tom Moran, tall Tom Lamaine and quintessential news pro John Paul Weber. In 1967 I was tapped to be host of the second-oldest all-night radio show in the nation, WIP’s Dawn Patrol, once famously hosted by Joe McCauley and named after the hit 1930s movie. Because the time slot fit well

By Nat Wright

with outside activities and also gave me much leeway for program innovation, I remained on-air pilot for seventeen years, making me the longest-lasting host of the Dawn Patrol. I was grounded, along with the show, in 1984, when WIP began its switch to an all-talk, eventually all-sports, format. I then briefly dabbled in argumentative talk at WWDB-FM, wrapping up my eclectic itinerary in balloon-stuffing with a morning radio show in Trenton, New Jersey. Other concurrent local gigs included doing voiceovers and fill-ins at Philadelphia channels 48 and 29 in the ‘70s, along with teaching broadcasting at a Center City vocational school (now defunct, although I didn’t kill it off). Professional organizations: Fifty six year (as of 2009) member of AFTRA, Philadelphia Local recording Secretary for twenty eight years (for which service Nat received AFTRA’s prestigious Silver Card in 1996), long-time contributing writer for local and national AFTRA publications; member, Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia. Personal: Fifty five years ago, in Reading, Pa., I took leave as host of live WEEU broadcasts of Shorty Long and the Santa Fe Rangers long enough to marry home-towner Sue Young a radiology technician who has always been able to see through me without Roentgen rays. Headline developments of the merger are three daughters — Beth, Ruth and Amy, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren. After my retirement, while wife Sue was senior tour director at Christ Church in Philadelphia, she recruited me as a volunteer history tour guide for the Second and Market Streets church, a National Historic Landmark, where George and Martha Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Morris and Betsy Ross, along with their families, were among the famous parishioners of our nation’s Colonial and Federal years. The eighteen year experience, part of nearly a lifetime of oral presentation and people involvement, was unsurpassed in personal fulfillment. Community involvement: Forty eight years (as of 2009) a member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Glenside, where wife Sue and I have long been lay ministers; 1970-72 co-president with wife Sue of Glenside-Weldon PTA (Nat was a most popular PTA president who recruited many guys to the PTA Board by promising Monday night board meetings would conclude within an hour to accommodate TV’s then-Monday Night Football fans). Since the mid-1960s, as parents of a mentally challenged daughter, Ruth, later diagnosed as autistic, my wife and I have been involved with appropriate issues as members of state and local units of the Association for Retarded Citizens and family groups at residential and workshop facilities, Over the years, I hosted entertainment functions for the Eastern Montco Jaycees, the nation’s first such chapter for mentally challenged members. Survivors: Wife of fifty five years, Sue Young Wright, two sisters, Pat Carrico (John) of Gaithersburg, MD and Bonnie Wright-Clearfield (Martin) of Richland Center, WI, three daughters, Beth Williams (Mark) of Reidsville, GA, Ruth Wright

Notes From The Director

By Stephen Leshinski

Green Shoots


conomists use the term “green shoots” to describe signs of recovery during or at the end of an economic downturn. The last 18 months have been a bumpy ride for our industry, no doubt about it, but there are some “green shoots” that deserve mentioning as we look ahead to 2010. When it comes to broadcast industry jobs the technical changes certainly present challenges but time and again AFTRA has been able to extend its jurisdiction to keep new technology jobs where they belong: inside AFTRA! This includes the Internet organizing drive at CBS3 last Spring as well as the Digital Content Center negotiations at NBC10 over the summer, in addition to our repeated successes at the bargaining table to beat back various employer proposals that would take AFTRA out of the new media mix. We’re also very excited about a brand new relationship with AMS, Inc., the successor company to Audiomax. AMS is updating a 25-year-old operation with 21st century technology and we’re pleased to partner with them as a new National Non-Broadcast Industrial Code Signatory. But AFTRA is and will always be the people who are its members, and our newest crop of Station Shop Stewards deserve all the credit in the world for their first full year of Shop Steward service. This includes Andie Summers at XTU; Ed Bishop at YSP; Paul Kurtz at KYW; Sam Clover and Randy Chepigan at Metro Traffic; and Jim Donovan at CBS3. These are the members who in addition to busy work and personal life commitments also put in many (often thankless) hours interacting with management, handling grievances, and otherwise communicating directly with AFTRA members on a daily basis. They are true green shoots that we know will keep on growing. Of course, they certainly benefit

Nat Wright... From page 6

of Phoenixville, PA and Amy Botone (Frederic) ofAlbuquerque, NM, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, surrogate son Mark Young (Tami) of Shillington, PA and many loving nieces and nephews. DONATIONS: To St. Peter’s Church, 654 North Easton Rd. Glenside, PA 19038, or Christ Church, 20 North American St., Philadelphia, PA 19106.

SESSIONS IS GREEN! To lessen our impact on the ecosystem (and save some cash) we have moved Sessions to an all electronic format. We realize not everyone is wired to the Net and some of you will need to get printed copies. If you want to continue getting Sessions in the U. S. mail call the office, 215.732.0507 and let us know.

from the wisdom and experience of long-time Shop Stewards Catherine Brown (NBC), Neil Rattigan (CBS), Rob Charry (WIP), and Pierre Robert (WMMR). We should also mention our newest Board Member, Sylvia Kauders, and all of the new ideas she’s only begun to bring to the table. It’s been said that in this business “if you’re not growing you’re dying.” That’s why issues of jurisdiction, new media, and constantly encouraging new leadership is so very important to what we do at AFTRA. That is why we’re so excited that AFTRA National Organizing Director Phil Denniston is coming to town on Saturday, February 20th to facilitate a day-long Leadership Training for Freelance and Broadcast members alike. At last year’s Convention the talk was all about organizing and growing, and the 2/20 event will be our chance to put all the talk into action and kick off our 2010 organizing campaigns. (This event is still taking reservations; please contact the AFTRA office for more information.) I always love seeing grass or different plants breaking through concrete because it makes me think of a time when someone came along and paved and covered over the ground and yet these small but tenacious “shoots” still manage to break through. It’s not just our industry that’s been “paved over” during this terrible recession but if you look around it’s not hard to see all of the green shoots popping up to help lead the way up and out of the hard times into a bigger and better AFTRA.

In Memorium — Ken Matz


ong time Philadelphia broadcaster Ken Matz passed away January 22, 2010 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania of cancer. He was 64. Mr. Matz started his broadcasting career in 1964 working at stations from Reading to Harrisburg to Philadelphia. He graduated from Lebanon Valley College in 1969 and started his Philadelphia career at top-40 radio station WIBG-AM. His career took him to KYW AM and over the next 20 years, he worked in television in several major markets including Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Baltimore. Ken returned to Philadelphia in 1993 to work at Channel 10 where he anchored the news with Jane Robelot until 1998 before taking over as sole anchor of the 6 p.m. news. Later that year, he retired to Sarasota. Mr. Matz is survived by his wife, Deborah; a son, Justin; a grandson; and his former wives, Jennifer Walton Matz and Nona Safra McGaa, who is Justin’s mother. (Photo courtesy of Broadcast Pioneers.)

In This Issue The AFTRA Holiday Open House was a Hit!.......1 Pleading the case for Pled..................................2 November Brought Career Day Back to Nova....3 Hunt Exits AFTRA Board.....................................3 Broadcast Beat ...................................................4 National Organizer in Philly.................................4 One of Our Own..................................................5 From Reporter to Background Performer............5 In Memorium — Nat Wright................................6 Notes From The Director.....................................7 In Memorium — Ken Matz...................................7 SESSIONS is also online at Read Nat Wright’s History of The Philadelphia Local at

AFTRA Philadelphia Sessions February 2010  
AFTRA Philadelphia Sessions February 2010