Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why I cover tough stories

It has been a tough few weeks when it comes to news stories I’ve covered.

It started with the Sheriff Sullivan story. No matter how I look at it, I feel badly for all involved. Think of the Sullivan’s family. They must be embarrassed.

The young men who are meth addicts and interacted with Sullivan can’t have easy lives. I’ve been able to get know several of the men. They are much like the rest of us. They worry about the same things as all of us. They wanted a place to spend Christmas. They worried about buying gifts for the people they love. They want to make New Year’s resolutions.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I could only pray my voice didn’t quit while going live

If you can’t tell, I’m sick. And by sick, I mean really sick. But it’s also the holiday season. That means calling in sick to work is impossible. There’s just no one else to do the work.

I wasn’t planning to be on TV Tuesday. After all, I sounded terrible. But my news director thought we should give it a try. Here’s the result. All I hoped for with every word was that my voice didn’t quit. It had been doing that for most of the day after every few words.

I saved up all day to be able to say this much clearly.

Everyone seems to be getting this junk.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Denver grandfather out $24,000 in “grandson scam.” These scams make me mad. I can imagine it happening to my grandfather.

John is an 88-year-old Denver man who lives by himself. He received a call Nov. 18 from his authorities in Spain who told him his grandson was in jail. His grandson has committed an indiscretion and needed money.

The authorities allowed John’s grandson say a few words over the phone.

“Hi Grandpa,” said a voice on the other line.

Then the authorities demanded John wire them $24,000. John went to his bank account and did just that. No one at his bank questioned the odd transfer.

As it turns out, John’s grandson is safe in Boulder with his family. He hasn’t traveled to Spain. It was a scam.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The mother who worries #SheriffArrested Sullivan lied about helping her son with addiction, wrote a letter to viewers

When I interviewed the Wiley family about meeting Pat Sullivan, I extended an opportunity for them to write directly to our viewers. I offered to post it on my blog. Here is what Katherine Wiley wrote:

If there are families out there who for a moment may think that Mr. Sullivan might have had an untoward relationship with their child, I implore them to please, please sit down and talk to their children about this in a loving and supportive way.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I knew doing today’s #SheriffArrested interview would be tough, but the weather made it almost impossible

And it’s not because roads were bad, they weren’t.

We make the 40-minute commute from 9NEWS to Highlands Ranch. When we tried to unlock the back of the SUV to get out our camera, tripod, TV lights, etc., the door wouldn’t open.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

After roofers took off wrong roof, business kept its word

You might remember a while back when I did a story on a roofing company who (accidently) started replacing a roof on the wrong house.
In our report, the business owner promised he would take care of the homeowner who came home to find his shingles coming off his house. (The homeowner is an employee of 9NEWS who works in our production and engineering departments.)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Well I am glad to know I am not the only person who left my family today. #Thanksgiving

It's not the best place to spend Thanksgiving, but the airport will do. Everyone is in a pretty good mood. And if you want to go far, far away... it's really your only option. The only turkey I've had so far today is the single slice of lunch meat that came on my snack plate.

I'm just relaxing and passing the time.

Apparently other people had the same idea.

Happy Thanksgiving. Despite what some tweeters say, I enjoy seeing everyone's Thanksgiving dinners.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

We make it look like we got it right on the first taping, but rarely we do.

You’ll see an interesting clip of me on camera in tonight’s story. We call a taped clip of a reporter standing and taking a “standup.”

I’m in the basement of 9NEWS talking about the team of police officers who bust car thieves. What better place to do that than in our parking garage on the lower level?

I wanted the standup to look different so we moved a big HD monitor downstairs. We attached a computer to it so we could play clips of police busting bad guys as I talk.

It helped give the standup a stronger feel. Here’s a behind the scene picture.

What you won’t see on TV are the lights, cords and camera we used to make this look as good as possible.

You also won’t see that we shoot about 20 versions of this standup so we can choose the very best one.

Sometimes I stumbled over my words. Other times our photographer backed into a light jarring the shot.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Let us keep summer "time" all year!

I am not a fan if it getting dark so early. Why can’t we just have summer “time” all year?

Wouldn’t you rather have it light in the evenings? I guess that would make it tough for school bus riders.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Can not wait for it to get dark so I can check out my Xmas lights

I went simple this year and only did two trees and then up around my porch. But I'm still excited to see what it looks like what's the sun goes down.

Electronic geeks like me will understand: This year is going to be great. I'm putting all of my Christmas lights on automatic timers so I don't even have to touch them.

I also decided that I was going to put up my Christmas tree in the house. It seemed like a good time to do it. Now I won't be rushed in December.

Here a couple of pictures inside. Oh and there's a picture of my dog. As you can tell he was useless.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Possible scam alert

Luckily the viewer who called to alert us about this knows not to fall for it.

The viewer said she received a call around 7 a.m. from someone named “Mr. Benjamin" at Publisher’s Clearing House and that she won a car and some money.

They told her, she says, that she needed to get a money order for $285 and they would call her back at 9 a.m. Her caller ID picked up the number: 303-654-8791.

Monday, November 14, 2011

When taking a chance works

Hello from 70 MPH as we race back to the television station after a long day. We don't have a breaking story, we're just ready to be home.

I left this morning hoping to interview a prisoner in Trinidad. He'd said yes, but we didn't have permission from the prison. We decided to head south in hopes that we would get a yes or no answer within an hour.

No word when we reached Colorado Springs. No word when we reached Pueblo.

I hoped we weren't driving all the way there only to get no interview. We reached Walsenburg and then Trinidad. ...still nothing.

I hate wasting time and it appeared that's just what we had done. I'd tweeted and Facebooked about the dilemma all morning. Social media users told me to stay positive, but I thought they were wrong. After all, how do you get inside a prison with a camera on the spur of the moment?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

One of the best days of the year: #9Cares Colorado Shares

What a day of giving, hard work and fun.

Each year we look forward to the day we make an immediateimpact on those who aren’t as fortunate as us.

What you don’t see in these pictures is how at 11:30 we discovered we had no on air people to be live during our noon to 1 p.m. broadcast.

That left Jeremy, Corey, Marty and myself with a little over time. It turned out to be a blessing because we had so much fun. It gave us time to interview the many, many volunteers who give their time unloading and sorting boxes.

They deserve so much credit too.

Friday, November 11, 2011

#Kutcher now giving us TV dinner quality tweets

Why would someone give up control of their Twitter account? Of course I know people do it, but it seems like a bad idea. Ashton Kutcher has eight million followers because it’s him behind the keyboard. I don’t particularly love him, yet I follow his tweets because I’m interested in what someone as high profile as him really thinks. 

Now it feels like I’ll be getting Tweets the quality of a TV dinner when I wanted a steak.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Online schools. We made a difference and we’re proud of it.

The state Legislative Audit Committee didn’t vote to do an audit of online schools, but I’m still proud that our 9Wants to Know investigation got people talking.

We teamed with I-NEWS, a group of independent investigative journalists in Colorado. We showed some concerning stats about learning at online schools verses traditional schools.

We showed your elected officials what we found and they hoped an audit would dig deeper. That won't be happening after votes today that were as partisan as they get.

Journalists don’t take sides, but we do search for information.

It seems to me that doing the audit of online schools would have provided more information. If the audit turned up nothing, then no action would have needed to be taken to fix anything.

Taxpayer dollars are precious, though.

If the audit turned up problems, wouldn’t you want to know about them? Wouldn’t you want to have an opportunity to debate solutions?

You deserve it. It’s your money.

Here’s more information:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Colo. Ski Area Opening Dates

The dates everyone has been waiting for... Colorado ski area opening dates:
(This list is according to Ashton Altieri, 9NEWS meteorologist. Check later today for our complete ski information.)

Saturday, October 8
Wolf Creek

Thursday, October 13
Arapahoe Basin

Friday, October 14

Friday, November 4
Copper Mountain

Friday, November 11

Wednesday, November 16
Winter Park

Friday, November 18

Wednesday, November 23
Beaver Creek
Crested Butte

Thursday, November 24 (Thanksgiving)
Aspen Mountain
Ski Copper

Friday, November 25

Friday, December 2
Saturday, December 3
Silverton Mountain

Thursday, December 8

Saturday, December 10
Aspen Highlands

Wednesday, December 14
SolVista Basin

Can't wait to get out there this year!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Scam Alert: Worth a reminder to parents and grandparents

Most of us aren’t likely to fall for something such as this, but sometimes our loved ones in different age groups do. It breaks my heart each time a senior cries on the phone to me because he or she has lost a few thousand dollars.

Here’s the latest warning from the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Monday, October 10, 2011

It’s not often that I get to tell you something isn’t a scam: “ACT” letters #9NEWS

A local Realtor asked me to look into a letter he says several of his clients received from ACT claiming homeowners have a “scheduled interest reduction option on your mortgage.”

The letter asks homeowners to call an 800-number. I called it myself to see what the pitch is.

Steve told me I could pay off my mortgage much faster using their personal finance software which he said costs about $100 to set up and about $30 each month, no contract. He told me his company Accelerated Cash Flow Technology, and Accelerate Equity and Development have a good rating with the Better Business Bureau in Salt Lake City.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The @AkronNewsReport picked up our story on the Washington County Sheriff. #police #law #9NEWS

We got published. In this new age of media, we don't just do television stories. We have often written for The Denver Post, but now we got printed in another paper.

We are excited. This type of coverage let's 9NEWS help even more people.

(In case you are wondering... Many people sided with the Sheriff after this story.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New victims of gold coin dealer Jim Burg keep popping up

Not every story generates leads months after I run it, but the investigation into Jim Burg and Superior Discount Coins is different.

Months after our story detailing victims’ claims that Jim Burg took their retirement money to invest in gold, victims say they never received the gold coins they were promised.

Every couple of weeks, I get an email from a new person claiming to be a victim.

Police ensure me they are working on this case. I understand why victims are frustrated with the slow pace of justice.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Grandad

**I wrote this blog ahead of tonight's investigation. STORY AIRS TUESDAY ON 9NEWS AT 10.
WASHINGTON COUNTY – The family of an elderly man, who died in his house after originally refusing medical help for weeks prior, blames the county sheriff for not following a judge’s order to take the man to the hospital, 9Wants to Know reports.

Clarence Vogl resting peacefully at his house.
We took this picture 90 minutes before he died.
I sat in Clarence Vogl’s living room watching his daughters softly holding his hands. They were so proud of their father. It reminded me of my grandfather, Orrin Stransky. He died recently too.

While there was no controversy surrounding his death, he and Clarence Vogl had so much in common even if they never met.

Both men were strong and stubborn, and caring.

Clarence Vogl was still driving a tractor when he turned 90.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A $3,868 cell phone bill? Yikes!

We’ve all thought once or twice about losing our cell phone.

Cindy Jacop, of Lakewood, lost her phone… in Costa Rica. Losing names and numbers isn’t even the worst part.

When she returned to the States, she discovered $3,868 worth of roaming charges. Most of the usages came from someone using her phone’s Internet.

She says she wasn’t able to cancel the service on her phone immediately.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Are clerks honest with your lotto tickets?

We wondered whether the clerk in our Lottery story was going to be honest when we asked her to check our scratch lottery ticket.

As we watched, an undercover lottery employee presented her with a mock ticket printed by the Colorado

Lottery. The ticket is printed to look and act like a real ticket when scanned by a lottery machine.

One of the clerks we feature in our story (that airs Saturday on 9NEWS after the Broncos game) was friendly and greeted us with a smile.

She also took our “winning” lottery ticket and tried to claim it the next day as her own. It would have been worth hundreds of dollars had it been real.

She ended up charged with a crime.

Here’s the video. Does she look suspicious?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Six months after I started helping homeowners having trouble paying their home loans, the calls and emails still pour in.

Just a reminder that we put together tons of information to help those in need.

Check out this link:

Here's what I tell many people who e-mail me:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Businesses step up after our story

After we shared how two new homeowners in Stapleton were left holding a furniture bill for $8,000+ and had yet to receive any furniture, it’s nice to see other local companies offering to step up and help. (See our story by clicking here:

BellaLu Home & Design suffered financial problems. Many customers paid up front for furniture that didn’t arrive. Store owner Jodi Zippo, to her credit, asked to sit down and face our cameras. She explained the economy was mostly to blame.

Since my story aired, the owners of Elements For Design on West Evans Avenue in Denver offered to help Jessica and Mike Goodman by giving them wholesale pricing on new furniture.

“We would love the opportunity to help make this unfortunate situation right,” Kevin Dunn & Kevin Wood told me in an email.

Breanne Mashek who owns InHabit Interior Design also offered her design services for 10% off.

What’s also nice is that neither business owner asked to have their name put on TV.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

This is the kind of stuff you only get to do once... and boy was it fun.

"Training day" with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. ...our training day. Here's the pit maneuver. Check out the last video where there was plenty of loud voices.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What foreclosure means for your NEXT home

When you go through a foreclosure, how long does it take before you’ll be able to buy your next house? A mortgage expert sent me this document and I thought it was worth passing along.

*Of course, these are guidelines and each situation could be different. Buying a Home Post Foreclosure

Thursday, May 12, 2011

This frustrates me. Your thoughts?

I just got off the phone with a senior citizen who has a $4,800/mo house payment. He’s on a loan modification with a 4.75 percent interest rate.

He can't afford his payment.

He wanted me to call his mortgage lender and ask them to give him a second modification. (I told him I just couldn't make the call.) There are many people so desperate for help. I hope others realize how lucky they are.

Plenty of people can’t get ONE modification.

By the way… if you are having trouble making your payments… check out this story I put together. It has lots of inside tips and even has a downloadable packet that explains your options.

At the top of your list should be: filling out a budget and calling the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline to get set up with a free HUD-approved counselor.

Monday, May 2, 2011

What a day, now time to relax

I was scooping ice cream to go along with my fresh chocolate chip cookies Sunday night (yes I cook) when I got a call from my producer telling me Osama bin Laden was dead and his body was in U.S. custody.

For the next few hours I worked the phones from my home office hoping to find people I knew who had hunted bin Laden. Luckily, one of the most accomplished people I know returned my text message immediately.

Jim Davis is a 20+ year veteran of the FBI, he was present shortly after Saddam Hussain’s capture and had spent several months in Afghanistan commanding the FBI’s Special Agents as they looked for bin Laden.

Jim checked with his boss (the Governor of Colorado) and agreed to talk to us on the phone during our live 10 p.m. newscast.

He was just as I knew he would be: well spoken and insightful.

After the news ended, I stayed up talking to other sources about how bin Laden’s capture might affect the security of Americans. We all hoped it wouldn’t.

With a few hours sleep, I was up in the morning.

Jim and I had a nine a.m. interview set where he agreed to talk more about his experience. I wanted our viewers to understand what it’s like to hunt the most wanted man on Earth.

We met at his office. He brought dozens of pictures that I used tonight at five p.m. to help tell the story.

Because the rest of the news doesn’t stop for breaking news, I still had my usual day of investigative reporting.

I’m preparing for the next installment in my Home Loan Lifeline series. We’re helping homeowners who are having trouble dealing with their banks.

My other producer and I had two shoots set up for mid-morning and early afternoon.

Both went smoothly and we rushed back to the station so I could put together my interview with Jim. We had a short time to log the interview, write it, track it with my voice and edit it.

When I have busy days, I’m reminded how much I love my job.

It seems the busier the day, the more fun I have.

Now at 6:30 p.m., it’s time to relax… until something happens and we do it all over again.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Where’s the money, Jim?

Several clients of Superior Discount Coins owner and gold coin investor Jim Burg say he took tens of thousands of dollars of their retirement money and never delivered the gold coins he promised.

Some sued Jim Burg. Court records I dug up show he didn’t respond to lawsuits.

Then I discovered evidence showing Burg’s beautiful ranch in Fairplay and his home in Breckenridge have already been to the foreclosure auction. His condo San Diego condo overlooking the Padres ball park is in trouble because his HOA says he hasn’t paid dues.

Jim Burg had his chance to respond to lawsuits. He had more than two years to pay his clients.

I decided it was time to confront him and ask “Where’s the money, Jim?”

My producer and I drove to his ranch in Fairplay expecting to knock on his door. As we headed down the road leading to his property, a Porsche passed us going the opposite direction. Burg’s former clients previously told us that what he drove. We made a quick U-turn and followed it.

The Porsche wasn’t going into Fairplay, it headed to Breckenridge and traveled fast… just fast enough to lose us.

Driving through Breckenridge we spotted the Porsche and Burg in a grocery store parking lot.

He was out of his car and in the store so fast we were forced to wait for him to come out. It seemed like we waited for nearly a half hour in the snow and freezing temperatures. Neither of us had heavy jackets.

Plenty of people gathered to watch what was about to unfold.

As Burg walked out of the grocery store I started asking him questions.

He didn’t answer my questions with specifics. He pledged people would get their money, the same thing he has told his former clients for years.

He then drove away in a Porsche with temporary plates.

Since our meeting in the parking lot, I’ve left Jim Burg several phone calls, written him a letter and emailed him. He has not communicated with me at all.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A viewer saying thank you… not to me

Julie just called to say thank you to the good samaritan who helped out a four-legged friend last week. Julie was driving near 13th Avenue between Monroe Street and Garfield Street when she saw a car hit a Chihuahua .

Right away, she says, a good samaritan came to the dog’s rescue and took him/her to his vet to get treatment.

When Julie called me, the dog’s owner hadn’t been found.

Julie just wanted to say thank you to the man she watch stop and quickly get the dog help.

This isn’t something that would typically make the 10:00 news, but with all the struggles facing people today… it seems worth noting here.

I’d love to talk to the guy who helped out the dog.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tanker truck spill

Since we were in the area, we stopped to see how clean-up efforts were going at the scene of a fuel tanker that lost its load Thursday.

Despite a stream a few feet away, no fuel got into it.

Everytime the loader hauled away more contaminated dirt to the pile, the smell of fuel grew stronger.

The dirt will likely go to a landfill, the EPA says. Clean-up on county road 77 near 285 in Park County will be done in a few days.

Two pics are from still pictures the EPA had. The fuel tanker was towed away.

I get paid for this?

Every so often in my job I have the realization "I get paid to do this." Today is one of those days. I am back in the mountains and loving it.

These are taken in South Park as we work on an investigation that you'll see in May.

Unlike earlier this week when it was cold and snowy, it is sunny and just windy.

We just stopped in this little bar in old Fairplay. I live it. Just like you'd expect, friendly people having fun.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.8

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Classroom chat

I was impressed with the UCDenver students who I talked with this week about communication.

They were interested. They wanted to know about journalism. They asked smart questions.

If these guys and girls are our future journalists, I am not worried.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.7

Classroom chat

I was impressed with the UCDenver students who I talked with this week about communication.

They were interested, they wanted to know about journalism. They asked smart questions.

If these guys and girls are our future journalists, I am not worried.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.7

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Some of you think I’m crazy…

It’s come to my attention that many thought this when you saw me Monday night offering to help viewers with their home loan modification problems.

I’ll admit, I didn’t anticipate three days into it I would be sorting through 600 e-mails and phone calls. However, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to help even a fraction of that.

No, I can’t help everyone. We are doing our best though and I’m impressed by banks’ responses. Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America have all pledged to be a part of our Home Loan Lifeline series.

It’s impressive to watch the 9Wants to Know unit working frantically to put viewers in touch with the right people at banks.  We got into this business to tell people’s stories and offer them a helping hand. I can’t think of a better way to do both than through this series.

Please, spread the word… we want to help. If you need a home loan lifeline or if you know someone who does, e-mail us at

Please e-mail us:
Your full name,
your telephone number,
your address, 
your city, 
your bank's name,
the circumstances of your situation,
a list of documentation you have to detail/prove the claims and 
a picture of the outside of your home.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My first time a foreclosure auction...

I checked out the Jefferson County foreclosure auction this morning. It was my first time and there is something mesmerizing about watching property change hands so quickly and officially.

I watched a property start at $900,000+ and go up past $1.3 million. In the end, the bank bought this property.

What property was it? I am still trying to find out. All I know is that the legal address is Lot 4, The Meadows at Westwoods Ranch.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

We put YOUR questions to District Attorney Carol Chambers

We’re all about trying something new at 9NEWS. I was on my way to interview Carol Chambers, District Attorney for the 18th Judicial District, when I decided to open some time up for your questions in addition to mine. Tweeters and Facebookers submitted the following:

@RobGsrh said: “Ask where she stands on 2012 marijuana legalization/legislation efforts.”
Anonymous said: “Ask why she wants to charge a 10 year old for arson.” (That’s the topic I was already planning to discuss.)
Our own Kevin Torres took the lighter approach: “What’s your favorite movie?”

We asked each of your questions:

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I don't blame these people for being frustrated... I would be too.

You may do EVERYTHING right and still be a victim of this frustrating and scary scam. Just listen to these people tell their stories. And keep in mind, these aren't the people who sent a dime -- yet they still pay the price.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How we investigated & told our DuPont winning news story

It's kind of a video blog that also appears on the duPont Awards website.