Beta Nightclub Under Pressure Amid Rash of LoDo Shootings

If you are a fan of LoDo’s Beta Nightclub, you might want to get a few more visits in before Oct. 18. That is when the club’s owner, Valentes “Don’t Call Me Don” Corleons will have to appear before the Denver Department of Excise and Licensing to explain a rash of high-profile shootings nearby, as well as the results of an undercover police investigation that found drug dealing, large brawls and gang-related fights inside the club.

Elise Schmelzer at The Denver Post reported: “Police data collected by The Denver Post shows that Beta Nightclub this year has the highest number of reported crimes connected to its address of all bars in Denver’s Union Station neighborhood. … Denver police have recorded at least four aggravated assaults and one robbery at the nightclub’s address. In comparison, the two bars on either side of Beta Nightclub — Seven Grand and 1UP Arcade Bar — have no crimes reported at their addresses.”

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Fox31/Channel 2 anchor Keagan Harsha took a news director job in Montana, and he made his own headlines last weekend when his U-Haul full of all of his worldly possessions was stolen from a hotel parking lot on what was to be his last night in Denver.
  • Denver’s Valor Christian high school made national news for firing a coach because he is gay. As I noted earlier this week, the school missed an opportunity to practice the under appreciated art of looking the other way.
  • Researchers found that each hot dog you eat shortens your life by 35 minutes. RIP Gil Rudawsky.
  • Tina Tchen, the CEO of the anti-harassment organization Time’s Up, resigned under pressure following her behind-the-scenes support for former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
  • ESPN gave reporter Rachel Nichols the slow-motion kick to the curb after her racially insensitive comments were recorded and shared several months ago. ESPN first removed her from covering the NBA playoffs in June, and this week it quietly cancelled her afternoon TV show and formally dropped her from its NBA coverage.
  • Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten went full angry-old-man in a column this week that listed all the foods he has no interest in eating (the headline literally was “Gene Weingarten: You can’t make me eat these foods”). Old Bay Seasoning and bleu cheese were on the list, but it was the inclusion of all Indian food that set parts of the internet on fire. The Post hasn’t yet explained what journalistic need was filled by Weingarten’s rant, but … clicks!
  • We marketers spend $2.6 billion globally buying ads on websites that promote misinformation. The U.S. accounts for $1.6 billion – 62% – of that total.
  • Members of the Afghan girls’ robotics team who narrowly escaped the country ahead of Taliban rule had to have a lawyer send a cease and desist letter to Allyson Reneau, an Oklahoma woman who has been claiming outsized credit for their escape. The team says that her self-promotion and use of photos of current and former team members risks the safety of other members who remain in the country.

So, who won the week? Tim Wieland, the CBS4 news director, has been named VP and GM at the station. He replaces Walt DeHaven, who retired last month.

Great Moments in Stunt Marketing

It’s unlikely to rise to the level of Lincoln-Douglas, but PR Week reports that Taco Bell has secured the services of the University of Georgia and Clemson University debate teams to argue whether its new Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco is, in fact, a taco or a sandwich. Chances are you associate Georgia and Clemson more with football than the art of forensics, which is why the debate will air in four parts as commercials during the Georgia vs Clemson college football game on Sept. 2.

The Underappreciated Art of Looking the Other Way

Denver’s Valor Christian is, not surprisingly, a private Christian high school and it is under duress at the moment. Parents are protesting, students are walking out and media are camped out on the school’s sidewalks. Why? Because school administrators forced a popular coach out because he is gay.

I get it – Valor is a Christian school and it has to throw a nod toward Christian values (disclosure: I am a graduate of a Christian university). But that’s why you perhaps include some language in your official handbook and then you practice the art of looking the other way. It’s 2021 – not 1991 – and its not a good look, much less a good practice, for anyone to be firing people over who they are.

Photo of the student protest by Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

Freelance Meteorologist Tries to Convince Coloradans We’re All Living in Cleveland

Kids who parse and argue every point anyone makes usually either have that trait beaten out of them by high school or grow up to be lawyers. But one of those kids beat the odds and grew up to become a freelance meteorologist.

And if you are a freelance meteorologist, you need to be provocative to get people’s attention. Denver’s own Andy Stein did just that for The Denver Post when he wrote that Denver doesn’t get the 300 days of sunshine per year that the chamber of commerce claims, but rather only 103 days.

So, which is right? It depends on your definition of “sunny.” Stein claims “partly cloudy” days don’t count as sunny. If you have lived anywhere that truly has gray winters you recognize the stupidity of that argument. But, hey, Denver Post column!

The Denver Post Spins the ‘Wheel of Beats’

You spend all that time trying to build a relationship with a reporter, and then this happens.

In the latest edition of his must-read newsletter covering Colorado media, Corey Hutchins reports that The Denver Post is in the midst of a “disorienting beat scramble” that will see eight reporters shuffled to new beats. Eight may not seem like a lot, but let’s face it, that is like half of the newsroom in the Age of Alden.

Among the reporters shifting beats, Hutchins reports, are Bruce Finley (from environment to education) and Justin Wingerter (from federal politics to business).

You can subscribe to Hutchins’ weekly-ish newsletter at

Who Had the Worse Week?

First, a reminder that I avoid political gaffes when it comes to my lists of the biggest PR mistakes. If I didn’t, there wouldn’t have been room for anything else over the past 10 years (this week alone would have been Joe Biden, Greg Abbott, Tina Peters, Andrew Cuomo, John Cox, the State of Alabama, Dan Patrick, Gavin Newsom, Lauren Boebert, Gettr, Michelle Fiscus and a dozen others). Not to mention everyone views whether political issues qualify as PR gaffes through their own partisan lens. Now, on to the this week’s list:

  • A 9Wants to Know investigation found that Colorado’s Exposure App that is designed to alert residents when someone in close proximity to them tests positive for COVID-19 only worked 8% of the time. While the app was free from the Association of Public Health Laboratories, the state spent $875,000 to market and maintain the service.
  • Hassan Moustafa, the president of the International Handball Federation, said new rules were “very likely” after the federation was heavily criticized for requiring female players to wear bikinis in official play. Adding attention to the issue, the singer Pink offered to pay a 1,500 euro fine the federation levied against Norway’s women’s beach handball team for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms in a recent tournament.
  • Snopes, the gold standard of separating fact from fiction in our Internetified world, “has retracted 60 articles after a BuzzFeed News investigation found that the site’s co-founder plagiarized from news outlets as part of a strategy intended to scoop up web traffic.”
  • Detroit Tigers TV analyst Jack Morris has been suspended indefinitely after he used a mocking and racist Asian accent on air to talk about L.A. Angels star pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani.
  • An apology for disparaging statements about women, Jewish people and Haiti by newly announced Jeopardy host Mike Richards shows why you shouldn’t let the person in charge of vetting candidates pick himself.
  • Data breaches have become so common that they rarely make big headlines these days, but T-Mobile’s latest one involving customer data for 40 million past and current customers managed to do just that.
  • The US Open tennis tournament begins in a little more than a week, and already some of the biggest draws such as Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and 2020 winner Dominic Thiem have withdrawn due to injuries. Combine that with women’s stars Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka having trouble advancing deep in tournaments recently, and it could be a dud of a tournament this year.

So, who won the week?

  • Denver Broncos QB Drew Lock had the game of his life last weekend, potentially heading off a likely career-ending challenge by Teddy Bridgewater. We’ll see if he can keep it up this weekend.
  • The Paralympic Games begin Tuesday in Tokyo, and Colorado Public Radio profiles 11 competitors who are from Colorado. If you haven’t watched the Paralympics before, do yourself a favor and tune in. NBC is broadcasting 1,200 hours, and it is even more inspiring than the Olympics.
  • Zaidy’s, a legendary Denver Jewish deli that closed during the pandemic, has re-opened thanks to support from the Appel family (the founders of the OxiClean empire).

Karma Wins – Ex-Cuomo Staffers who Helped Trash New York Governor’s Accuser Lose Jobs at PR Firm

Theo Wayt at the New York Post: “Two former staffers of Gov. Andrew Cuomo who helped their ex-boss smear sexual harassment accuser Lindsey Boylan have left their jobs at a politically connected public relations firm with millions of dollars in state contracts, The Post has learned. Josh Vlasto and Richard Bamberger — both former top Cuomo staffers who were named throughout the attorney general’s report into the governor’s “inner circle” — confirmed Monday they had left their jobs as managing directors at PR firm Kivvit.

‘“We agreed to amicably part ways,’ Vlasto and Bamberger said in a joint statement to The Post.

“Kivvit — which has counted Google, Tesla, Citigroup, Lyft, Princeton University and the US Olympic Committee among its clients — had already scrubbed the pair from its website by Monday morning.”

Pandemic Increases the Value of Influencers for Marketing, PR Campaigns

Chris Daniels at PR Week reports: “It’s another sign of the times amid the COVID-19 pandemic: social media influencers are asking for — and getting — significantly more money for sponsored posts and brand partnerships than even a year ago. That’s in part because consumers continue to spend more time online. Nearly half (48%) say they increased the time they spend on social media, giving influencers a larger and more engaged fanbase, according to research from DoubleVerify. 

‘“The pandemic changed the game for influencers,’ confirms Jenny Heinrich, senior partner for global digital and influencer strategy at Finn Partners.”

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • The Colorado Rockies learned the hard way about the importance of guardrails when commenting during a crisis. In a game earlier this week, broadcasters for the Miami Marlins claimed a Coors Field fan screamed a racial slur that was caught by its microphones, and the Rockies validated that before looking into it by posting to social media that it was “disgusted at the racial slur by a fan … .” The next morning, it became clear the fan had actually yelled “Dinger,” the name of the Rockies’ mascot, in an attempt to get a photo. Media quickly backtracked and blamed the Rockies for legitimizing the story with its social media post (as evidenced by this post from 9News’ Nicole Vap).
  • Trust in government isn’t exactly high these days, and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reinforced some of the worst suspicions of the tin-foil-hat crowd when it lied about Independence Pass being closed recently due to a mudslide. Media uncovered emails this week showing back-and-forth among CDOT officials about how to reduce traffic on the congested pass, and claiming a fictitious mudslide was the consensus winner. CDOT officials quickly realized two things: it is bad policy to lie, and that discussing it via email was a mistake. Officials reversed their decision after a day and discoverable email discussions were not part of that process .
  • The Royal Family and Prince Andrew are in the spotlight once again this week because of Andrew’s affiliation with disgraced pedophile/sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein. A New York woman filed a lawsuit against Andrew this week alleging that he raped and sexually abused her when she was a minor. Andrew’s previous denials only made the situation worse and the Royal Family has remained silent on the lawsuit, signaling that they understand what a dumpster fire this entire situation is. Here’s hoping he becomes Prince Andrew, Duke of York Prison before this is all over.
  • Nostalgia purveyor Garrison Keillor hasn’t been heard from much after he was booted from his home on Minnesota Public Radio in 2017 due to allegations of inappropriate behavior with a female assistant. But this week, he came roaring back, making headlines for equating the U.S. Social Security Administration with the Nazi SS after he got caught in a bureaucratic snafu trying to obtain a replacement Medicare card.
  • The chile wars between Colorado (Pueblo chile peppers) and New Mexico (Hatch chile peppers) heated up this week when The Pueblo Chieftain ran syndicated content from its parent company, Gannett, that was pro-Hatch chile. Chieftain News Director Luke Lyons issued a formal apology distancing the newspaper from the story, saying in part, “The article … was not meant to cause harm or to infer that the Hatch chile was superior. … We apologize for the harm and offense the story has caused.” It’s not clear whether journalism purists are more offended that Lyons would apologize for content or that he confused “infer” for “imply” in his apology.

So, who won the week? I’m going with “Tiana,” a somewhat anonymous Tokyo Olympics volunteer. She paid for a taxi out of her own pocket when Jamaican hurdler Hansle Parchment took a wrong bus and mistakenly ended up at the aquatics venue. Thanks to her generous help, Parchment made it to the track stadium in time and subsequently won a gold medal in the men’s 110 meters hurdle event. Parchment was able to track down Tiana afterward to thank her and repay the fare, and Jamaica’s minister of tourism has now invited Tiana for an all-expenses-paid trip to the Caribbean island.

A Plot Twist in the Reported Coors Field Racial Slur

Generally speaking, if the Colorado Rockies are making national headlines, something has gone badly. And, this morning, that would be an understatement. Microphones for the Miami Marlins television feed picked up a fan at Coors Field yesterday screaming something that the Marlins broadcasters and media nationwide quickly reported was the N-word. But audio replays seem to show that it actually a fan screaming, “Dinger,” the name of the Rockies mascot. That would make more sense given that no one in the stands said they heard anyone scream the N-word. You can decide for yourself:

Horse Punch Allows Germany to Catch Belarus for Most Coaches Banned from the Tokyo Olympics

Germany hasn’t exactly been tearing it up at the Summer Olympic Games this year – they have roughly one-third the number of medals as the U.S. – but it is distinguishing itself in one area: the number of coaches sent home from the Olympics.

Last week, German cycling coach Patrick Moster was banned after he was caught on camera yelling racist remarks to his riders, and today German modern pentathlon coach Kim Raisner was sent packing after she punched a horse … let me repeat that, punched a horse … that refused to perform during the competition.

Raisner’s horse punch allowed Germany to catch Belarus, who had two coaches sent home earlier this week for trying to strong-arm an athlete to return home to the authoritarian country after publicly criticizing her delegation. The athlete, Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, instead accepted a humanitarian visa from Poland and is now in Warsaw.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Denver’s air quality this week put it as the worst in the country and among the Top 10 worst in the world. It’s not often that we share space on lists that include Kabul, Jakarta, Kolkata, Dubai and Delhi. Denver would need to cut its pollution roughly in half to match that pristine oasis that is New York City.
  • Actor Matt Damon proved once again that the worst PR crises are self-inflicted when he shared that he stopped using the homophobic term f****t “months ago” after his daughter called him out on it. He later insisted that has never used the term personally, and instead was referring to its use in movie scripts, which only reinforced the old political adage that if you are explaining, you are losing.
  • Speaking of “if you are explaining, you are losing,” Bill Gates is trying really hard to put his association with pedophile/sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein behind him by … explaining. This week, he appeared on CNN to share that he simply was seeking foundation donations from the disgraced financier, but recent reports of Gates’ skeevy behavior with female Microsoft employees has caused many to re-evaluate his standing.
  • CNN anchor Chris Cuomo is feeling the fallout from his secret PR strategy support for his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. New York State Attorney General Letitia James issued a report this week that documented multiple instances of sexual harassment by the governor, and Chris Cuomo’s CNN peers reportedly “expressed dismay” that he has not been held accountable or explained his ethically challenged decision to work behind-the-scenes for his brother while on CNN’s payroll.
  • Rapper DaBaby is reeling after his homophobic comments on HIV/AIDS caused promoters to drop him from the line-up at Lollapalooza, iHeartRadio Music Festival, Austin City Limits and Denver’s KS 107.5 Summer Jam, among others.
  • Mike Richards, the relatively anonymous executive producer of the television show Jeopardy, has orchestrated a string of celebrity try-outs over the past few months to identify a successor to the late Alex Trebek. Among them: Mayim Bialik, Anderson Cooper, LeVar Burton, Savannah Guthrie, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Aaron Rodgers. The news this week is that Richards has pulled a Dick Cheney and is now negotiating for himself to be the host. Fans are not pleased.
  • The City of Englewood caused a bit of a panic this week when it notified a huge portion of the metro Denver area that residents should boil water due to traces of E.coli. Non-Englewood governments and water systems scrambled to reassure residents that the water in their communities was safe.

So, who won the week?

  • Olympic gymnast Suni Lee stepped into the void of Simone Biles’ withdrawal and won the gold in the women’s all-around event.
  • Former CBS4 GM Walt DeHaven and soon-to-be-former Downtown Denver Partnership President & CEO Tami Door. Two of Denver’s most influential leaders are basking in positive profile articles and good wishes related to their retirements.
  • Denver, after Forbes increased its projected value of the Denver Broncos to $3.75 billion, a 17% jump over last year. That valuation increases the odds that the dysfunctional Bowlen kids will sell the team, and that a new owner can put the team on the right track again.

The End of an Era

CBS4 GM Walt DeHaven retired Friday, and I’d be remiss in not acknowledging his tenure and impact on Denver’s news community. Broadcasting & Cable wrote a nice piece that scratches the surface of who he is and what he has accomplished:

“Walt DeHaven, VP and general manager of KCNC Denver, … has spent 20 years atop the CBS-owned station, and 14 more with other stations in the CBS group, including ones in Chicago and Boston. The longest-serving general manager in the CBS Stations group, DeHaven has spent 34 years with the Viacom and CBS groups.

“Wendy McMahon, president and co-head, CBS News and Stations, saluted DeHaven in a note to KCNC staffers. ‘Walt’s importance to our organization has been defined not only by his longevity, but also by his leadership, poise and the passion he has for caring about the communities we serve, our clients and all of you,’ she said. …

“DeHaven will remain active in non-profit organizations in and around Denver. He is president and treasurer of Take Note Colorado, which provides musical instruments and education to schoolchildren, and vice chair at Swallow Hill Music, which provides music education to underserved communities.” 

Who Went Where

Among the recent changes:

MikeWorldWide (MWW) to Open Denver Office

MikeWorldWide (MWW) announced plans to open a Denver office that will be led by new technology practice Executive Vice President Maria Brown. From PR Week:

“Brown will lead and grow the agency’s U.S. tech practice … and will also establish MikeWorldWide’s footprint in Denver. Remote work has enabled the firm in the last year to create talent hubs in markets including Seattle, Portland, Boston and Atlanta. Prior to MikeWorldWide, Brown led Matter Communications’ West market, overseeing offices in Boulder, Colorado, and Portland, as well as a diverse B2B and B2C client portfolio with brands including Databricks, Nimble Storage and Progress Software.”