stormy weather indeed

My mom called me first thing this morning and told me she wanted me to use this space to mount a letter-writing campaign to save former WSLS meterologist Jamey Singleton’s job.

When I got home from work yesterday, I had not one, not two, but THREE voice mails from people wanting to know if I’d heard the news yet. According to WSLS in an official statement on its website:

“The decision to terminate Jamey was made after he violated the morals clause of his contract, which stipulates that contracted employees not become involved in any situation that can be found to be offensive or out of line with community standards. The most recent incident involved an inappropriate photograph made public by way of e-mail.”

I immediately thought a couple of not-so-charitable things about what the inappropriate photograph might be, and I even emailed a couple of people to share my theories. But then my mom called me this morning and told me she’d been Googling Jamey to try to get more information, and she’d read a bunch of nasty rumors, and she felt it was my job to write something different here.

I’ve been writing about WSLS meteorologists here practically since I started the site almost four years ago. Most notably, I decided to jump into the fray about Marc Lamarre’s heroin overdose back in February, and Jamey was a part of that conversation since there were rumors flying that he also had a drug problem, nearly starting a flame war about whether or not my suspicions were well-founded. For what it’s worth, I was right, and several months ago Jamey admitted on the air that he had been in treatment for addiction. I didn’t write about it at the time because I didn’t have much to say about it other than, “I told you so, bitches.”

So here we are now. From all accounts I’ve read or heard in the last few months, Jamey’s made a concerted effort to turn his life around. I certainly think there’s something to be said for that. When I first heard yesterday that he’d been fired, I didn’t know why, and I immediately guessed that he’d slipped back into addiction. As it turns out, I was wrong. It was that whole inappropriate photograph thing.

Now, where it gets interesting is in this Roanoke Times interview with Jamey Singleton, where he gives his side of the story. According to him, what happened was that a former friend (ostensibly from the crowd he hung around with while involved with drugs) snapped a digital photo of him as he was getting out of the shower one day several months ago. On Tuesday, the former friend posted it to MySpace. The rest is history.

WSLS management saw it, determined that it constituted a violation of his contract, and released him from the station.

I can kind of see both sides of the issue here. I can’t imagine how intensely embarrassing all of this attention must be for Jamey and for his family. And if he’s telling the truth about how this happened, it really sucks. If true, it looks like someone he cut ties with in an attempt to get his shit together decided to repay him by doing something pretty cruel – something that this former friend surely must have known would endanger Singleton’s job. It would be a shame if after all the hard work he’s done and all the support the station had given him, he ended up losing his job over something that appears to be completely and totally not his fault.

There’s no way for me to know if Jamey’s version of the story is true, and I haven’t seen the picture and am not exactly killing myself trying to find the thing. But I will say that I can totally buy that it happened exactly the way he says it did. That stuff happens all the time. Singleton is 28, and I have personal knowledge of many dickish former frat boys in their 20s who live their entire lives trying to pull a prank like this.

On the other hand, I can understand the difficult position WSLS is in as a result of this. They took a lot of flak for supporting Jamey through rehab and recovery, and many of the viewers in this very conservative area criticized them for giving him a second chance at all. I understand how it may seem like crap just keeps sticking to this guy over and over, even if it isn’t his fault, and that it gets to a point where it seriously affects the station’s image. What if the picture had been of him in a compromising position with another person? It seems like the decision would be easier then, though it still might not be his fault.

I used to be acquainted with a news anchor who told me that her station had to check with their consultant to see if it would be okay for her to start wearing her hair curly instead of spending hours to straighten it each day. When she started wearing it curly on the air, people emailed her to complain about it. She was an occasional smoker who felt it necessary to go and hide somewhere when she wanted to smoke in public, like at a bar, because someone had once seen her smoking in public and called the station to complain. I cannot imagine living my life, even in a small place like this, with every single decision I make subjected to public scrutiny. A lot of people say that if you get to a certain point of fame, you’re no longer allowed to complain that your privacy is gone, or that people are bugging you. They say it’s a risk you knowingly take when you take the job. And that may be true, but I seriously would never have guessed that if I’d chosen a career in TV news (as I’d once planned), that I might have to ask a damn consultant if it was okay to change my hairstyle.

It’s well known around here that Jamey Singleton is a local guy who grew up wanting to be a meteorologist. During his years at WSLS he was really living that dream, and it’s a shame that it had to end this way. I’ve poked at him a bit over the years here, but I really have liked him on the air. I haven’t warmed up to the new weather crew so far and I hate to see Singleton go.

The last time I decided to write about this, there was a strong discussion about whether or not those people in the grips of addiction were victims who needed help. It certainly seems like in this case, if things happened exactly as Singleton claims, then he may be more of a victim than when he was making poor choices for himself. Of course, we can only go on what we know here, and there may be further issues that never made it to the air that impacted the station’s decision.

What do you think? Did the station have another choice in this matter? Did he bring it all on himself? How much did his past problems affect the decision in this case? If you lived here, would you ask the station to reinstate him?

Comments 26

  • 1. I don’t care.
    …that said:
    2. If Jamey wants to try and really do something about this, he needs to take the person who snapped and posted the pic of him to court – like Yesterday.
    3. So what, so he goes to another town and becomes weatherman for them. He’s probably a fine person who probably has turned his life around but, unfortunately, turning around has just meant he’s going, in this town, to have to keep facing it. It’s just a sign to good ol’ (and very young) Jamey to begin his life again somewhere else. He’s so young he may even forget all about VA.
    4. People on teevee – all people on teevee have clauses that specify what they’re to wear and how they’re to look in public and private. Yeah, they can’t part their hair different without giving word – and why not; someone could suggest the station is demonstrating political bias when Joe Talkinghead suddenly parts his hair to the left.
    That news reporter who was smoking could easily be claimed to be influencing children who may look up to her – or, she could end up in the tabloids about how she’s so stressed and going nuts – or that she’s smoking pot.
    All of this is crap a station doesn’t want to put up with – and why should then? She wants a job on teevee? Give up smoking. Jamey wants a job on teevee? Don’t allow anyone to take shower shots of you; beat them up when they do; delete the photo after you do that and, finally, if they publish the photo – don’t “explain” to the papers, drag the dude in court and sue for defamation of character, loss of wages, emotional distress, etc., etc., etc.,

    This young guy doesn’t need a cause to come up around him; he needs some better sense and to move on. You wanna support someone who was outed unfairly, cry out for Dan Rather.

  • Also, in case it wasn’t clear in the post, I just want to state explicitly that I haven’t taken a side and that I’m not posting this to get grassroots support for a letter-writing campaign. I can certainly see both sides of the issue and I want to know what others think.

    (~A, I’m sure you know this but I just wanted to go ahead and put it out there again in the hopes that it’ll avoid later confusion about my motives in posting about it.)

  • (Sorry, I should have been clear as well: I meant, “Should anyone want to support someone, they should…” and not, “you, Lorie.”)

    …I think I’ve been hit with a headcold and it’s spreading all of my face very, very quickly. dammit!

    (Also, I can’t make out the (supporters of the) other side of this issue, they must be obscured by all the pink ribbons in their hair and mascara-run faces.)

    (that’s totally a joke.)

  • I’m sure Jamey would be much better off starting over in a different market, but I think we all feel a little bit of a personal loss because he was such a great meteorologist. He really went out of his way to explain the weather and why things happened the way they did, and was really passionate about it. He didn’t just get up there and point to a map and read numbers. And pretty much every other guy they’ve got doing the weather is boring and creepy.

    Also, it’s not like he went all Pete Wentz and took pictures of himself and they got leaked… so I vote that WSLS has a huge stick up its butt and Jamey is better off without them. He could come up here and take over for Norm Sprouse on Channel 29… cause he’s pretty creepy too.

  • Hey Ginny, Mom said that all the new weather guys on Channel 10 look like the cast of Michael Jackson’s video for “Thriller.” Hee.

  • Okay, so in the grand scheme of things the loss of a weatherman’s job isn’t the most pressing cause in the world right now. It’s just that it seemed so personal, unjust and unfair. They have had some of the best newscasters, sportscasters, etc. and get rid of them. I have my suspicions as to who the mastermind is, but refuse to name names as I have no desire to be sued for libel. If it was in my power I know who I would vote off of WSLS island and it wouldn’t have been Jamey Singleton. Lorie, being the good daughter that she is, did what her mom asked and put it out there. I guess it wasn’t really needed as the posts on WSLS is full of comments with exactly all the things I would have said, but they only gave me 50 words. Thanks Lorie….

  • I think WSLS is really wrong to fire Jamie over a nude photo…it’s only skin. I’d understand if he had actually done something WRONG, but while allowing someone to photograph you nude is dumb, it’s not IMHO immoral. It’s a shame that a good guy, and GREAT Meatorologist (and I can’t spell so forgive me) has to suffer for basically being young and goofing around with friends.

  • I’m stunned to know this sort of conflict occurs with meteorologists! Or anchors. I don’t know. We’re pretty clean here in the Twin Cities, I guess. Sometimes an anchor flees for another local network but has to sit out a year do to non-compete clauses. It was very emotional for people here when Paul Magers left to anchor an LA broadcast. And here and there networks fire their morning people under the belief that a new arrangement will improve their ratings, but all in all, no real drama.

    No on-air confessions. No drug addiction. No scadalous photos. We’re all pretty goddamn sweet.

    The only notable thing about our network meteorologists is they tend to be under six-feet tall. Most seem to be about 5’6″ and have slightly larger than normal skulls. And the blonde ones usually have to dye their hair an ill-fitting shade to keep their hair from looking green or blending in with the green screen maps….

    By in large, they’re all lovable nerds.
    -cK

  • I have no comment, too hot here.

  • What’s the expression, “young, dumb and full of ****” ? If it was just a picture of him stepping out of a shower is one thing. Jamie said it was a picture of him shaving his lower section, and I don’t think he meant his legs. So for me that conjures up a whole new perspective. Perhaps some men out there would like to explain why a man would shave down there. I don’t think it’s for fear of it collecting cookie crumbs.

    So in my book, you get what you ask for. Jamie was just asking for it with the lifestyle that he chose.

    Unfortunately, WSLS has hired some new people and they are not easy on the eye. One guy is just missing the bolts in the neck like Frankenstein’s little brother, the new guy reminds me of Sponge Bob. But I would guess they are both past the young and dumb years.

    I’ll take imagining the bolts sticking out from this guys neck over a needle sticking out of Jamie’s arm while slicking himself up for some sexual encounter any day.

    But that is just my opinion!

  • I used to work with Jamey when he first started at Channel 10. Actually I worked with him and Lamarre and loved them both. Lamarre was so dry and Jamey was so sarcastic and witty.

    I have a feeling I know who is behind this upheaval of talent at the station, and it is not someone you see on air. The excuse “low ratings” have been given to get rid of Barbara Gibbs (one of the nicest people you could ever know), LeeAnn Necessary, and Sean Sublette. All great, talented people. Hard workers.

    As for the morality clause thing, I think Jamey lucked out with staying after admitting heroin use. I am assuming that he offered to get help and therefore got to keep his job. As for Marc, who knows? I don’t understand why he did what he did. He was a health freak when I knew him. Anyway, if they are going to use the morality clause, then they should have used it in the past when certain on-air “talent” would get smashing drunk in public. Not that many of them are there anymore, but still. Sleeping with interns… whatever. But I guess it is the illegal stuff that matters.

    They are now on their THIRD general manager since I left. I know the one in charge when I left had no clue how bad things were there. It sounds like they have gotten worse. I personally believe they need to clean up management there to work on the problem more than the symptom.

    Dang, I did not mean to use your blog as my soapbox, but so be it. Please forgive me.

  • “I know who I would vote off of WSLS island and it wouldn’t have been Jamey Singleton” – that’s really cute.

    I think all the attractive weatherpeople should get naked in a national solidarity – I can think of a few that I’d support with letters and billboards.

    That is all.

  • […] Now, I don’t give a crap about who delivers the evening forcast in Roanoke, Virginia.  I do have a personal interest in ethics, however, and I am baffled by an employer throwing down the ethics flag on an incident that someone other than Mr. Singleton engineered, probably out of malice toward him.  Singleton’s story is a little dicey, but last I checked, grooming is not unethical, and neither is having questionable friends who barge into bathrooms and snap candid shots of said grooming rituals.  Of course, I guess I have to take into account community standards.  Roanoke is a community that voted to keep Lame Duck Allen in office, and rumor has it, signs supporting both Jim Webb and the gay marriage ban appeared in the same front yards.  Again, nice. […]

  • Interesting!!!

    Please world, by all means save the cute people. Give them all the good paying jobs, bend the law( her smile and her large … got her off with a warning) and give them all second chances. He’s too cute to hold him responsible for his actions.

    Please, give me a break!!!

    I think the not so cute people should stand in a national solidarity; we want what comes so easy to the cuties.

    Please take this with a heavy tongue in the cheek.

  • When an entity lets an employee go, they have to be pretty careful these days. Before going public with a press release I am sure they did a lot of consulting with their station’s attorneys. The press release may not have included all relevant facts, due to privacy concerns.

    For example, an employee is caught red handed. The employer sits down with him or her and says look, we’ve got the goods on you. Agree to resign or we will go public with all we have on you. They agree on a statement and it is released. After all, in Jamey’s situation as a local public figure he is known by thousands as he appears on the news several times a day. They can’t just have him disappear without any explanation. But they do not generally disclose everything!

    IMHO, the nude photo is likely just the tip of a huge iceberg. I have read a number of comments on blogs, readers’ comments on news stories and more. There is no way to verify these statements, but some point to ongoing irregularities in Jamey’s personal life…where and with whom he tends to hang out. Those concerns, possibly brought by ordinary people to station management may in turn have been brought to Jamey’s attention. He may or may not have addressed them satisfactorily. We don’t know. What we do know is that the station and the network have what they deem to be acceptable standards to which their employees are held. They call that the morals clause in a contract. On or off duty, they represent their employers. That’s the reality whether they like it or not. Accept that kind of position and one accepts the expectations that accompany it. That may not be fair. Movie stars and sports figures get followed by papparazzi. Not fair but it goes with the territory. They can’t eat a meal out in peace. Not fair, but it is an unfortunate reality. Local weather guy is hounded about questions concerning his private life. A private photo is not only made opublic but meanies out there forward it to his bosses! Not fair at all. But there is no way to escape the reality once the damage is done. It’s not fair bit it happens.

    I feel for Jamey and especially for his folks. They do not need or deserve this. As for Jamey, yes, it was his lifelong dream to be a meteorologist for a TV station. He realized his dream. He allowed hinmself to be influenced by others and got involved in some poor choices. Those choices have repercussions. He will now have to live with the fallout. Personally I hope that people will leave him alone and allow him to heal. I also hope he gets the support and challenges one usually needs to get in touch with what is really behind the choices that have made such bad storms happen in his own life. Given the choices he was making each day, he should have been able to forecast with great accuracy the downpour that happened to him last week. I wish him the best.

  • Those of you asking for the photo are as lame as the person who sent it out in the first place. Are you all crazy? What’s this world coming to? Leave the man alone and allow him to move on. The more you keep this thing alive the less chances he has of getting on with his life. Let it go.

  • Hmmmmm…..I have to admit I was curious at first when the story first broke. I thought about it some more and then figured it might be like seeing your parents making love or accidentally opening the bathroom door and seeng your granny naked. Waaaaaaaaaaay too much info. I believe I’ll pass on the pic.

  • I saw it, its was a bit awkard, but the bottom half looks as good at the top half. So when he get another job, I will continue to watch him.

  • I want Santa to leave me him under my tree. WSLS should hire him back.

  • I think that they were crazy for firing Jamey. I have waited on him many times at the restaurant I work at and he is the nicest most well mannered person I know. Who cares what he does in his personal life, we all do stupid things. He was damn good at his job and thats all that should matter.

  • Sarah,

    I live in Roanoke and have always wanted to meet Jamey. Can you tell me where you’ve seen him and does he still go there? Any other known places where Jamey dines or hangs out? I really would like to see him in person. I think he’s a hottie. Thanks.

  • sorry, i haven’t caught up with you in so long that i’m all late jane on all of this. well, as someone in recovery, i can say this — i’m glad they gave him another chance.

    but i it seems unlikely that it was random chance that this picture was taken of him. it seems like he maybe was still hanging out with some people who had the potential to get him in trouble. and i hope he’s still sober, but i’ve found that even not drinking/drugging, i can still make poor choices that i have to pay the consequences for.

    and as someone said above, if this really was someone popping in and taking a picture of him doing a private act, then he can and should take legal action.

  • Personally, my feeling is that Jamey is a man of many secrets. Some of the secrets are open ones, like where he spent a lot of his free time, and the people he hung out with.

    Other secrets like his use and abuse of substances were private matters till they became public after Marc Lamarre had his brush with death. It was then that Jamey admitted in the media that he too had a problem and was seeking help.

    My sense is that Jamey who was raised in a conservatibe area by a traditional family may not deal very well with other aspects of his life. The late nights, the blocks of free time, his admiration of erstwhile friend and fellow meteorologist Lamarre and other things may have added up to major problems for him. Word is that he put Lamarre on a pedastal. Lamarre, who worked out to excess, was built like a brick treehouse. He introduced Jamey into the whole Gold’s Gym scene and may have been his downfall in the end.

    Jamey was a reguar at certain Roanoke establishments. Somehow it must not have registered in his mind that people, even devoted fans, play a little game called connect-the-dots. In a small community word gets around just as quickly as that email that sent his nude photo to his boss and countless others.

    Jamey can come across like a big, clueless kid. There is an innocence, playfulness, gentleness and lovableness to him. But he clearly does not realize that he is a local celebrity. As such, he cannot assume that his behavior, his friends, and his favorite hangouts go unnoticed. He may not know the folks in a restaurant or bar or gym. But believe me, they sure know who he is!

    Like those who follow the lives if actors and sports celebrities, Jamey has his fans too. Many of us if for nothing more than curiosity or fascination have tried to dig up a copy of that photo of him shaving his crotch. Maybe there is a need to know that he is real and makes mistakes. Maybe it’s a desire to check out what he looks like. Maybe people just want to know what the big deal was. Well, now many of us have seen the photo and think, “big deal.” I just hope that Jamey will be willing to deal with issues far more significant than what he does with a razor in private.

    Something led him to use and eventually abuse drugs, and to engage in other risky behaviors. Jamey will only be on the road to wholeness and integration when he decides to confront the REAL issues in his life and try to deal with them. I for one, wish him the very best.

  • Nice feature article in the Roanoke Times about Jamey. It’s very positve, as is he. He is trying to take the negative stuff in stride and stay focused and positive.

    http://www.roanoke.com/extra/wb/94865

  • WSLS Meteorologist Jamey Singleton is being treated just like my son who has Asperger (a form of Autism). “The big issue for parents is isolation and loneliness
    “When I first found outmy son had Autism, I was lost. It’s been tough. For several years, I worked days and I had to work a midnight shift so that someone could be with my son all the time. Their is no help out here. Noone wants to be around you! He needs a real friend too!!!

    Personally I hope that people will leave him alone and allow him to heal. I also hope he gets the support and challenges one usually needs to get in touch with what is really behind the choices that have made such bad storms happen in his own life. Given the choices he was making each day, he should have been able to forecast with great accuracy the downpour that happened to him last week. I wish him the best.

    My son wrote this:

    Nahtanoj

    I am Nahtanoj, a young slave boy who just arrived in Virginia.
    I wander what my new life will be like
    On the plantation.
    I have hard the stories about this place from other slaves.
    I see many slaves who are sad and don’t
    Have a future.
    I want to find happiness and freedom.
    I am Nahtanoj, a young slave boy who just arrived in Virginia.

    I pretend that I am free.
    I feel sad like the others.
    I touch a tree and I know that I’m not
    Free.
    I worry be able to be free.
    I cry for freedom.
    I am Nahtanoj, a young slave boy who just arrived in Virginia.
    I understand that slaves have no rights.
    I say that there will never be freedom.
    I dream of going to school.
    I try not to bee sad.
    I hope I can go to school.
    I am Nahtanoj, a young slave boy who just arrived in Virginia.

    My Son (With Autism)

    Read this one it how our kid see life:

    THE MISUNDERSTOOD CHILD

    I am the child that looks healthy and fine.
    I was born with ten fingers and toes.
    But something is different, somewhere in my mind.
    And what it is, nobody knows.
    I am the child that struggles in school,
    Though they say that I’m perfectly smart.
    They tell me I’m lazy – can learn if I try
    – But I don’t seem to know where to start.
    I am the child that won’t wear the clothes
    Which hurt me or bother my feet.
    I dread sudden noises, can’t handle most smells,
    And tastes – there are few foods I’ll eat.
    I am the child that can’t catch the ball
    And runs with an awkward gait.
    I am the one chosen last on the team
    And I cringe as I stand there and wait.
    I am the child with whom no one will play
    – The one that gets bullied and teased.
    I try to fit in and I want to be liked,
    But nothing I do seems to please.
    I am the child that tantrums and freaks
    Over things that seem petty and trite.
    You’ll never know how I panic inside,
    When I’m lost in my anger and fright.
    I am the child that fidgets and squirms
    Though I’m told to sit still and be good
    Do you think that I choose to be out of control?
    Don’t you know that I would if I could?
    I am the child with the broken heart
    Though I act like I don’t really care.
    Perhaps there’s a reason God made me this way –
    Some message He sent me to share.
    For I am the child that needs to be loved
    And accepted and valued too.
    I am the child that is misunderstood,
    I am different – but look just like you.

    Kathy Winters/2003

    This world need to look wake up!!! God help this world Please!!!!!!!!!!!

    Laura

  • What in teh flipping world did the last posting have to do with Jamey Singleton? It began using his name. But that seemed to be the only thing that had to do with him. Did I miss something?