School of Journalism

UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-COLUMBIA	



                           ROMANCE IN THE OFFICE *



                         Good Or Bad For Business?



     KPRR-TV is a very successful network affiliate in a top-

fifteen market. It has consistently been number one in all time

periods, including prime time, and dominant in the early and late

news ratings. KPRR-TV is owned by the largest non-network group

of television stations, and is considered to be one of the best

managed and most community involved stations in America. In fact,

its previous general manager was so highly regarded that he was

promoted to CEO of the parent company 18 months ago.

     KPRR-TV's current general manager, Karen Frasier, has

maintained the tradition of ratings dominance and community

involvement, and receives high marks for her management style

from her associates at the station. She has also improved KPRR-

TV's profit margins, news ratings, and morale during her year-

and-a-half tenure. Conditions at the station were virtually

ideal, except for two slight problems: A couple of well-known

romances going on in the newsroom and sales department.

     Karen Frasier had known about one of the romances for some

time, but had ignored it until the day Helen Cohen came to her

office to complain. Karen, as usual, had an open-door policy and

was upbeat and positive when Helen paid her a visit. Karen and

Helen exchanged greetings informally and joked about the cold

weather, and then Helen told Karen the reason for her visit.

     "I don't know if you're aware of it, Karen," Helen said in a

low voice that reeked of confidentiality, "but Jim Jones is

having an affair with Kathy Rossi, the reporter at Channel 6."

     Karen was somewhat upset with Helen for assuming that she

didn't know what was going on and for bringing up the subject.

She didn't want to have to deal with it.

     "Yes, Helen, I know about it," said Karen

     "Well, what are you going to do? I mean, I'm doing a big

investigative series for the upcoming sweeps, and I'd die if

Channel 6 got wind of it. They'd steal it. It's not right," Helen

said.

     "I'm not sure what you mean, Helen. What would you like me

to do, fire Jim? He's one of the best reporters we have."

     "He's not that good. Everyone knows he's an Affirmative

Action hire. But it's not your fault; he was here when you became

GM," Helen said, fuming slightly, but covering her backside.

     "I don't agree. He's fine reporter. He won a local Emmy last

year. Beside, you don't know he's telling Kathy about your series

idea or about anything we're doing."

     "Oh, come on. Of course he's telling her everything we do,"

Helen said, almost whining, as she got more frustrated with

Karen's apparent lack of concern.

     "I'm not so sure, but even if he is, there is nothing I can

do. Legally I can't stop him from seeing her," Karen said.

     "Then talk to him and tell him not to leak anything to

Kathy," Helen was now whining.

     Karen laughed, and said, "That's pretty funny, Helen. Your

series, which is going to be terrific, by the way, is based on

leaks from the police department. Since when are you so against

leaks."

     "Well, I'm pissed. If Channel 6 finds out, I'll know where

it came from, and it will ruin my series, ruin it," Helen said as

she stormed out of Karen's office. 

     Karen smiled and said to Helen as she went out the door, "I

know how you feel, but don't worry, they won't find out."

     The next night as Karen was watching Channel 6's early news

on the bank of four monitors in her office, she was chagrined to

see a promo for an upcoming news series that had an identical

topic to Helen's.

     The next morning, as Karen was contemplating what to do

about Jim Jones, Kathy Rossi, and Helen Cohen, Janet Worsham,

KPRR-TV's general sales manager, came into Karen's office.

     "Hi, Janet, you look bouncy this morning, what's going on?"

Karen said.

     "Well, I guess I'm nervous. I've got something to tell you,"

Janet said.

     "Shoot," Karen replied confidently.

     "I've been seeing Mark, and now he wants to move in with

me," Janet said, pursing her lips.

     "Are you going to let him?", Karen asked.

     "That's what I came to talk to you about," said Janet.

     Karen let out a muffled, quick laugh and shook her head.

"Just when everything was going so well," she said to herself,

"at least the problems are about love, not war." Mark was a

salesperson who reported to the local sales manager, Tom Jordan,

who, in turn, reported to Janet Worsham, KPRR-TV's general sales

manager. Janet was an excellent sales manager; she had also been

at the station for ten years and in the job for five years. Mark

was the second highest-paid salesperson on the staff. He was very

popular with all of the salespeople and support staff, and was an

excellent overall performer.

                               AUTHOR'S NOTE



     While the incidents in this case are not factual, they do

represent a composite of actual situations at some companies. 

This case was prepared to use as a teaching tool.





                                ASSIGNMENT



1.   If you were Karen Frasier, how would you handle Helen

     Cohen's complaint about Jim Jones's and Kathy Rossi's

     romance? 

2.   What are you going to ask Janet, and how are you going to

     respond to her?
* This case was prepared by Charles Warner



Back to the Case Study Index