KZYX is advertising for a news director. Paul Hanson has resigned.
I hope Hanson's departure wasn't inspired by an odd few hours two weeks ago that began with Hanson's visit to our office. Here's what happened: A tv guy passing through Boonville had heard Hanson on the radio. The tv guy asked me if it was the same Paul Hanson who'd tried to pull off a lottery scam up in Oregon some years ago.
I promptly e-mailed Hanson, a man I know only from his radio voice, to ask him if he was the Oregon guy. Ten minutes after the e-mail had whooshed up and away this guy comes running through the door ranting about how “the bull dykes” were trying to ruin his life, that everything I'd heard was a pack of lies, that he loved his daughter and was a Vietnam veteran, and how these unnamed people pursuing him had somehow followed him down here from Oregon. Hanson said he was pretty sure he knew who was “trying to get” him, but they were people from a long time ago, and anyway it was all untrue.
Hanson wanted to know if I was going to write about it. I said I didn't know what he was talking about, although I was already mentally composing an item called, “How I met the KZYX News Department.”
When Hanson had burst through the door, I'd asked him to sit down, to tell us what was bothering him. We get a lot of troubled people passing through and, while not fully qualified as mental health professionals, we do try to be consoling. “I prefer to stand,” Hanson had said. I thought I might have to clip him one. He was that unhinged. As Hanson yodeled about the conspirators bedeviling him, I saw The Major taking a firm grip on The Nut Repeller, a four-foot broomstick The Major has kept under his desk ever since a deranged Frenchman went off on him and Dave Severn last year.
Then, as abruptly as he'd arrived, Hanson stormed out.
Thereupon commenced from him a series of abusive e-mails that accused me of various high crimes and misdemeanors, including an accusation that I'd said his boss, Mr. Coate, had tried to “extort” money for KZYX from a dying woman.
That time, I'd written privately to Mary Aigner, KZYX's hatchet person, asking Mares if anyone from the station had lately appeared at a diminished donor's deathbed to pry her last few coins out of her. Aigner replied at length, and it was Aigner's response that we printed. I'd merely done what any news hound would do — I'd asked for comment then reported the response. Mares and Co. probably resented the inquiry but they got off a plausible denial which soon appeared in print and that was the end of it. Hanson somehow had all this as some kind of attack on the station, which it wasn't.
I have indeed attacked KZYX every which way since its inception twenty years ago, but it's been a while since we've paid much attention to them although I am pleased to help sponsor Jeff Blankfort's invaluable program, Takes On The World.
There was some more post flip-out electronic back and forth between Hanson and me. On my end I adopted my calmest, most therapeutic prose, while from him came back a deluge of insults and false accusations that were so unhinged I feared him coming back to the office with a gun, against which The Major's pathetic length of broomstick would be useless.
So, I wrote to Hanson to say I had no intention of writing about him, although after all his insults I certainly was under no obligation to do him any favors. And Hanson, in a totally schizo about face, apologized to me.
That was the end of it, I thought.
And now he's resigned, and it's all out anyway. Frankly, though, I felt sorry for the guy, and I still feel sorry for the guy.
So, what is Hanson's big secret?
Ten years ago, he'd tried to scam the Oregon Lottery for $25,000. He eventually pled out to a misdemeanor. Ho hum, but it got into the papers up north because those papers aren't as nice as I am. And Hanson, a public person and career radio news guy, seems to have lost his job over it. Which wouldn't have been fair, but when has fair ever applied to media?
Anyway, and as I often say, why hold it against the man, especially here in Amnesia County where you are whatever you say you are and history starts all over again every day? No one will remember tomorrow, and today is already half gone. Fresh starts are the cosmic reason Mendocino County exists. Don't go, Paul. You belong here.