Had he been forced to choose between his television job and serving on the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority's board of directors, Carty Finkbeiner was prepared to do so.
“It wasn't even a close call,” he said.
WTVG-TV, Channel 13, would have prevailed. He enjoys his roles -- hosting Sunday's 30-minute public affairs program and sounding off each Monday in a two-minute commentary -- too much to give them up.
After holding multiple “internal discussions” and consulting with two out-of-state colleagues, WTVG news director Brian Trauring concluded that it wasn't a conflict of interest for Finkbeiner, a former two-term mayor of Toledo, to serve on the port board. Trauring, chairman of the Radio-Television News Directors Association's ethics committee, said Finkbeiner will not comment on port authority-related business on WTVG.
That touchy subject aside, Finkbeiner's detractors probably would be surprised to hear that only the “good Carty” has shown up for work during his first 11 months at the ABC-owned station. The “bad Carty” -- known for his, um, authoritarian management style and temper -- is nowhere to be found.
Assistant news director Ellen McGregor, who started working at WTVG a month before Finkbeiner, heard all about the “bad Carty” before taking on a mentoring role. She worked closely with him for the first six months. (Heather Grubola has since assumed McGregor's role.)
Finkbeiner described McGregor as “a tough, demanding producer” and credited her for his development as a journalist. He made his on-air debut on April 28.
“I never saw the Carty that so many people told me about,” McGregor said. “He's actually quite pleasant to work with.”
General manager David L. Zamichow said: “He takes criticism well and very much wants to be successful at what he's doing.”
Finkbeiner's one-year agreement with WTVG, where he works between 20 and 25 hours a week, expires next month, and Zamichow wants to extend the relationship. He described Finkbeiner's pay as “modest.”
Trauring said he is pleased with the commentaries because they “enlighten and are sometimes feisty.”
“People expected him to have an on-air tantrum every week,” Trauring said. “He has struck a nice balance between saying things that are meaningful and keeping a certain edge to the content. If all you do is come on and say, `I support Mother's Day,' that doesn't do anything for anybody.”
Should Finkbeiner, 63, announce that he's going to run for political office again, he will have to sever ties with the station. He said he has not decided whether he will run for mayor in 2005, as has been speculated.
“I haven't ruled anything out, or in,” he said. “I've found a wonderful life after being mayor -- with my family, the work at TV 13 and the port authority. ... A man could not have a more enriched life than I do right now.”