Growing up, I was a news junkie. I was a voracious newspaper reader took three newspapers a day for me to get my “fix” (my hands would be stained from the newsprint ink). When it came to my TV viewing habits, the newscasts and Sunday talk shows were preferable to the usual dramas and sitcoms.
While news and current events became the main part of my daily diet, I particularly was fascinated when newscasts and newspapers “humanized” their stories when by interviewing the actual newsmakers. It brought the story to life and added an important perspective to understanding the story. Not everything was black and white; often, there were various shades of gray.
While “big issues, big guests” has been the longtime mantra of my radio show, the most rewarding aspect of the show has been to talk to the actual newsmakers. They are no longer a name in a news article or a brief soundbite on a TV news show. They become “real” to me and the listeners.
While I love talking about the big issues of the day, I like to get out of the studio and actually experience the news and meet the newsmakers. I that over the years the audience appreciates that I am not talking from some remote, out-of-touch broadcast ivory tower; I want to go where the story is and meet the newsmaker on their turf.
Listeners have also recognized my “boots on the ground” approach to covering the world. The broadcasts from Gitmo and Israel. The events that we’ve put on and the coverage of Occupy Philadelphia, police rallies and assorted protests.
This year, I add the theme of redemption. It has occurred to me how often we discuss when people do something wrong and then try to get on the road to making amends.
We often see the insincere “If I have offended anyone” non- apology. Often we sniff out these frauds and go after them.
But we also see genuine efforts at redemption and people making efforts to make things right. I am an animal lover and like many others I was outraged when the Eagles signed Michael Vick. But during his time in Philadelphia, I saw continuous efforts by Vick to confront his dogfighting past, sharing his story with schools and other organizations. He didn’t make excuses, nor did he run away from it. He took responsibility and, in my opinion, took some important steps to combat the issue of dog fighting.
While those crimes were terrible, I reminded myself that Vick served his time in prison and paid an incredibly price financially. On the air, I said if Vick’s road to redemption was a trip to the Jersey Shore, right now he would be at about the Vineland exit of Route 55. If he gets there, and I hope he does, I will be glad.
He struck me as sincere and the regret he expressed appeared to be real. If his message can resonate with one kid and save one dog, then at least something good can come from that crime.
I think Angelo Lutz is on that road to redemption. Lutz the executive chef and owner of The Kitchen Consigliere restaurant in Collingswood, New Jersey. He has called my show over the past year and corresponded with me on Facebook.
Lutz went to prison for years due to his involvement with the Joey Merlino crew and various criminal enterprises. After he was released from prison, he decided to take a new path in life. He has taken his talent for food and cooking and opened up a really good restaurant in Collingswood, New Jersey. He recently opened up his restaurant to a South Jersey food bank.
His actions and my conversations with him have convinced me that he has turned his life around. It is a reminder to me that not ever story can be told in a strict black-or-white perspective. I’m glad that the Second Act of Angelo’s life that he is writing is a positive one.
I’m looking to find more Angelo Lutzes and explore all the dimensions of redemption. I find it a fascinating and uplifting element to bring to our daily conversations from nine to noon.
I know when I’ve screwed up in the past, you have accepted my apology and allowed me to try to do better.
2015 is here. Who are some of the public figures and newsmakers that you believe are on the road to redemption?