Dell drops TV show Commissioner finds format uncongenial on talk program

December 11, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Donald I. Dell, the Carroll commissioner and board president is shunning the TV camera. He said this week he no longer will appear on a local cable talk show called "Commissioners' Focus."

"It's not my thing to do," he said. "I really don't feel comfortable with it."

Matthew Brock, the producer and host of the half-hour, twice-monthly show on Prestige Cable TV Channel 3, said Mr. Dell said he was quitting because he was not given adequate time to respond to a question on a school board-related issue.

Mr. Brock, who is also a Prestige general assignment reporter, said the show about which Mr. Dell complained was taped Dec. 1 and will air next week.

Mr. Dell said yesterday, "The issue that upset me has been before the public too much."

Mr. Brock said the commissioner said he was not given adequate time to respond to a question about whether the Board of Education concealed plans in May to provide $1.26 million for pay increases for employees.

In April, the commissioners had agreed to give the Board of Education $2 million to compensate for state budget cuts in student bus transportation.

At the time, Commissioners Julia W. Gouge and Elmer C. Lippy complained that education officials had deceived them. Mr. Dell disagreed, saying that everything had been done in the open.

Mr. Brock said Mr. Dell also said he was uncomfortable with the show's format. Mr. Brock said he encourages the commissioners to talk among themselves.

Mr. Dell said he does not feel comfortable interrupting his colleagues during a conversation.

"I'm not a person who likes to give talks," said Mr. Dell, 67, a dairy and grain farmer who was elected commissioner in 1990. "One-on-one I'm OK."

Mr. Brock said the show is designed to be informative and to let viewers know on what issues the commissioners disagree. But the commissioners generally are polite during tapings and don't interact much, Mr. Brock said.

On Wednesday, Prestige Cable TV General Manager Marty Sonenshine asked Mr. Dell to reconsider his decision to quit the show. Mr. Dell said he would talk with Mr. Sonenshine again in January, but wasn't making any promises.

"We intend to continue the show without him," Mr. Brock said. "We'll have one missing opinion."

"Commissioners' Focus" has been on the air for about six months. Commissioners are not paid to appear on the show.

Mr. Dell said he will continue to do a radio station WTTR talk show on Sunday mornings called "The Commissioner Report."

The three commissioners rotate Sundays on the radio show and read a prepared report about recent activities.

Mr. Dell will also continue a show on community-access cablChannel 19 that airs one Friday a month. The three commissioners discuss issues that have surfaced during the month, said producer Micki Smith, Carroll's deputy director of administrative services.

Mrs. Gouge and Mr. Lippy are also alternate hosts of a 15-minute show on Channel 19 in which they interview a guest on a particular topic. Mr. Dell said he tried this show once but wasn't comfortable.

"I have enough to do without those things," he said.

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