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"Journey into the Whirlwind"
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"The Soloist"
by Mark Salzman

Monday, January 1, 2007

Where In The World Is Stephanie Edwards?

For over 25 years we have watched the coverage of the Rose Parade on KTLA, a local station. We enjoyed the banter between Bob Eubanks and Stephanie Edwards, especially the comments of Stephanie. She is a red-haired television personality from Minnesota. We appreciated that she never forgot her roots and would give insight into what went into playing in a marching band, drawing on her experience of playing in a band. She never seemed to take herself too seriously and was upbeat and perky. She seemed to always have her homework done and knew what she was talking about.

Imagine our surprise last year when Stephanie’s seat had been taken over by a new woman! Michaela Pereira is on staff at the TV station and she is from Canada. That may explain why she called Sandra Day O’Connor the first woman judge of the Superior Court, and referred to the great jazz festival of Newport Beach, (It is actually in Newport, Rhode Island), as well as saying that Route 66 begins in St. Louis instead of Chicago.

It was one of the few years when there was rain for the parade, and it really rained. It not only rained, it poured. Suddenly the TV shifted to a picture of Stephanie, sitting along the parade route, trying to juggle her notes, an inadequate umbrella and a microphone. She didn’t complain but carried on and we just watched in horror. How could they do that to our cheerful, perky Stephanie?

There was an outpouring of unhappiness and anger. The local columnist, Frank Mickadeit, said, that he received more angry, outraged feedback from his column about the demotion of Stephanie than for any other of the 500 columns he has written. Today he wrote:

Edwards was in a pretty good mood, actually, when I talked to her last week. Although she had been under contract to participate in KTLA’s pre-parade coverage today, it was quietly decided months ago she would have no role whatsoever. She had wanted to do the pre-parade and the field reporting again this year, she said, and when management couldn’t guarantee the latter, she asked to be let out of any obligation. So, late last week, she flew to Minnesota, where she grew up.

“I’ll be watching the parade in my jammies with my family, crying softly into my hot cocoa,” she says, sounding something less than half serious. “But we’re doing fine. It will feel odd, but nothing is permanent in television and I have gotten over the shock.”

Which among the perennial entries will she miss the most? “The Budweiser draft horses and the Salvation Army Band. They are such an icon,” she says of the band. “They touch my heart."

I am sure that the surveys and polls and demographics and the studies of the viewing audience, suggested that they should have a younger commentator (Bob Eubanks is 5 years older!) and perhaps they are reaching out to the Canadian audience. More likely, they don’t have to pay Michaela Pereira as much since she is on staff.

So this year, just to show them, we watched another station. Take that KTLA. I am sure that really hurt them.

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