The Mystique of Sharon Reed

The Channel 19 anchorwoman hasn't just reported the news. She's made it. She's been on "Letterman," been seen with De Niro, gotten nude to report on Tunick. Now Cleveland Magazine goes behind the glass in search of Sharon Reed. (She even undre

"I look hideous."

It's the first thing Sharon Reed says after greeting me without makeup in the WOIO Channel 19 "Action News" lobby.

Hideous? Hardly. Even without eye shadow and lipstick, she's almost too much to look at, from the sleek, upswept hair to the tiniest waist you've ever seen on a woman this side of the Victorian era. She wears a fitted brown skirt and a skin-hugging, please-talk-about-me top by Sandra Angelozzi.

Like the station she works for, Reed's style is more adventurous than most. She favors sexy suits and necklines low enough to be cut off by the ticker running across the bottom of the screen. Reed doesn't just relay the news of the day, she wears it.

In the lobby, she sits beneath a beaming portrait of herself, a promotional photo that does as little justice to her personality as the nude pictures of her floating around the Internet. Reed is not just a pretty face on the news; she's not just a naked celebrity. To be honest, I'm not sure who she is. That's what I'm trying to find out. And no matter what she says, it's not easy.

"I'm the same person on camera as off," she insists. "They [the viewers] know who this chick is."

She's public but private. Opinionated but unrevealing. Confident but uncomfortable. Reed fidgets. She scoots around in her seat. And this is barely an interview. It's just a prelude, a chance to step out from behind the screen and the page and just look at each other, journalist to journalist, and decide how far we want to go.

It's taken three weeks to get this far with Reed. She seems reluctant to do an interview, though she works for a station best known for its verbal floggings of public figures who won't speak on camera. Its reporters call people names, chase them down stairwells and otherwise provoke them to the point of outburst. Channel 19/WUAB UPN 43 reminds viewers of its tenacity during May sweeps, re-airing some of its most aggressive confrontations. On its Web site, I catch one in which Reed is interviewing documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, asking him if people on the street call him "a blowhard" and a "liberal idiot." An unflustered Moore says yes before the scene switches to more baiting and hooking.

Maybe if I were a Channel 19 reporter, "Honest. Fair. Everywhere," I would have chased Reed too or tried to browbeat her into talking to me. Instead, I negotiate access through several emails to Reed and a call to her Hollywood "representative" David Brokaw, who counts Bill Cosby among his clients.

And it works. Sort of. Reed isn't really opening up, but she's here in the lobby, confirming that she, a Cleveland anchorwoman, is represented by the same person as singer Toni Braxton. This isn't a common thing in the business. But Reed has appeared nude on the news -- and some think that's positioned her to become a national star, maybe even get her own talk show.

In case you missed it, Reed got naked for "Body of Art," a feature story covering photographer Spencer Tunick's June 2004 Cleveland installation, which attracted around 2,700 other naked people for a photo shoot downtown near the lakefront.

Several print and radio reporters got naked for the cause too and ran their stories while they were still news. Channel 19 held Reed's piece for five months, finally airing it during November sweeps, when ratings determine advertising prices.

The stunt set off a barrage of head-scratching and hand-wringing across the TV news industry. It also brought impressive ratings and unprecedented attention on both station and anchor. Of course, someone somewhere in TV news was going to do it. But someone with Reed's credentials? She's a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She's reported and anchored in large markets, including Philadelphia, Baltimore and Miami.

But there's more to Reed than her education, her experience and the physical body of art she's lucky enough to possess. Things have happened in her past that she'd probably like to forget. ("Action News"-inspired tease: Sharon's controversial past -- keep reading!) Before she came to Cleveland in May 2002, more had been reported about Reed, 34, than about some who have spent a lifetime in TV. Back in her hometown of Philadelphia, for instance, people know Reed has been linked romantically to famous men, including actor Robert De Niro and 76ers basketball player Aaron McKie. They know she left after taking responsibility for Internet postings that threatened a co-worker, including one that read "you ever had a real street fight bitch."

People know a lot of things about Sharon Reed, but they may not know Sharon Reed.

Who are you, Sharon Reed? I want to know.

So I don't mention Philly just yet. I don't bring up her private life, of which she is exceedingly protective. I tell her she couldn't look hideous if she tried.

It's obvious Reed doesn't trust me. Other journalists have skewered her for trading her credibility for a chance to be TV T&A. She knows I want more than soundbites. She knows I wonder what's underneath it all.

The most important story Sharon Reed says she's ever done begins in her bedroom, in her bed, actually. The alarm clock flashes to 3:16 a.m. She complains that it's too early for getting naked but pulls herself up out of bed anyway. She says she worked late the night before. She's tired. She's cold. The camera follows her to her bathroom and captures her in a towel. The whole scene of her getting dressed is shot in black and white. The background music is soft, the mood somber. The clock in the lower-left-hand side of the screen ticks away, 3:21 a.m., 3:32 a.m., 3:53 a.m., like a countdown to regret.

Reed puts on jeans, a sweatshirt, sunglasses and a hat pulled down over her face. But before you get any real nudity, you get some background on Tunick and a shot of Reed in her bra. Then comes the Important Journalistic Stuff -- an interview with Tunick, in which he assures her she's doing a great thing by joining the installation, as well as an interview with one participant identified as "George."

Then it's back to the sexy stuff: She strips once and walks toward some naked people. She chickens out and gets dressed. She strips again. If I were explaining this Howard Stern-style, I'd tick off the nude and near-nude shots like items on a menu: two naked butt shots, one naked side shot, one shot of her taking off her lacy bra.

Throughout most of the story, you can hear nervous reluctance in Reed's voice. In her expressions, you see more pensive worry than exuberant self-expression. "It was cold," she concludes. "The ground was wet, but I did feel free."

After Reed's story aired, her station bosses must have felt pretty good too. Ratings soared at Channel 19, as well as at KYW-TV 3 in Philadelphia, also a CBS station, which passed on the opportunity to run Reed's story in its entirety to report on it instead, says anchor Larry Mendte.

Reed received thousands of emails after the segment ran, she says, and not just from men who wanted to see her undressed, but from "soccer moms" who believed in Tunick's work.

The story made national headlines, and even David Letterman weighed in. He incorporated Reed's story into his routine, then had her on "Late Show." When she spoke about the report publicly, Reed was bold and self-assured. She reinforced the point that this was "a very legitimate news story," and told Letterman that viewers overwhelmingly supported the piece because finally they "get a journalist who gives them something real, shares a part of herself."

But that day in the Channel 19 lobby, Reed gives me something real -- a moment of vulnerability.

"I thought it was boring," she says of "Body of Art." "I thought I looked ugly." She says she thought the piece was "groundbreaking," but "I didn't think it was great."

Moment of vulnerability over. She sends me an email later, as if trying to put her jeans back on. But, as she well knows, once you get naked in front of someone, you can't take it back.

"[Some critics] still don't realize the piece that ran that night last November could have run on PBS or could have been worthy of a high-end film documentary," she writes.

"Body of Art" did answer some burning questions, among them "What kind of bra does Sharon Reed wear?" (supportive but cleavage-enhancing lacy one) and "Does she have a belly piercing?" (yep). But the why-do-people-do-this question, which Reed said drove her to do the piece, is eclipsed by the why-did-she-do-it question. You don't even need to see the story to figure that one out.

Tunick has said his photographs are not about sex; they're about art. Reed's piece is not about art; it's about sex, specifically using sex to get viewers during sweeps.

Philadelphia TV and radio sportscaster Howard Eskin sums it up this way: "If she wasn't a pretty lady, it would be journalism."

In a long email, Reed gives me the story behind how the Tunick story came to be: On the day Tunick was in the Channel 19 Action News studio promoting his Cleveland installation, Reed told news director Steve Doerr, "If we really want to keep it real instead of phony ... keep with the Ã"Action News' brand, we will cover this Tunick shoot the way he intended it -- nude." As it turned out, general manager Bill Applegate had suggested the very same thing to Doerr earlier that day. Then Doerr asked Reed to do it.

Reed says she thought it over for a while before making up her mind. She says that she and Doerr have "a true bond. ... It was about trusting him as much as it was anything else."

Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz, who interviewed Reed after her story aired, came to the conclusion that Doerr did her a disservice. Here you have a young African-American journalist who has everything going for her -- she's beautiful, smart and highly educated -- and she becomes the first anchorwoman to appear nude on the news, Schultz wrote.

"She did this because her two bosses, both middle-aged white men, convinced her it would be great for the ratings," she added. "Too bad they didn't care about her career." Schultz's column helped her win the Pulitzer Prize for commentary this year, which really steams Doerr.

"Nobody tells Sharon Reed what to do," Doerr says. "She can't be intimidated. She can't be pressured. She can't be cajoled. ... Connie Schultz's column left the unmistakable impression that Sharon was pressured into doing it, and poor little Sharon these two middle-aged white guys forced her to do it. The truth is Sharon does what Sharon wants to do." Doerr didn't contact Schultz to complain about the piece. Reed called her, Schultz says, not to take issue with the column but to ask if she'd participate in a panel discussion about race. Schultz didn't return the call. ("I don't trust anything they do," she says of Channel 19.)

In this business, trust is key. And Reed doesn't trust me. But our first talk goes well enough that it ends with her agreeing to do an in-depth interview and letting me spend time with her at work. With that kind of time, I could turn out a piece that breaks through the glass separating her from her viewers.

So it is a huge disappointment when, not long after our chat, she sends me an email canceling our other meetings because "I just have too much on my plate right now to give you the attention needed to complete your article."

Brokaw later tells me Reed doesn't want me to write a profile because she doesn't need it to help her career. Oh, and "she feels the magazine doesn't do a good job covering African-Americans," he says.

It sounds like the sort of generic complaint easily levied against media outlets, but OK. I make copies of several stories from the past six months about issues important to African-Americans and other minorities and have a courier deliver them to Reed, hoping to change her mind.

I make some calls, trying to find out if there is a different reason Sharon Reed, part of the "Action News" team that "always asks the tough questions," suddenly isn't interested in answering any.

Reed showed Cleveland her naked butt, but she wants to keep a lot of other things to herself. "She does have that mystique because she's so private," says her friend Eskin. "Somebody always wants to write something about Sharon. It's tough for you because you always want more. But it's good for her. Less is more."

I call some of Reed's co-workers and former co-workers for anecdotes that might lend some insight. Many of the people I contact agree to talk only if I promise not to attribute quotes to them.

Those who agreed to let me use their names say Reed is kind: After he tore up his knee, Doerr says Reed was among the first to show up at his house and watch his kids. Reed is a natural: Eskin, a sportscaster, says Reed was so comfortable anchoring that she didn't need to discuss the questions she was going to ask him before they went on the air. Reed is idiosyncratic: Philadelphia's WCAU-NBC 10 reporter Edie Huggins says she wore an apron in the newsroom while putting on her makeup so not a speck got on her clothes.

In Cleveland, Reed has anchored and covered stories high on the buzz meter. "American Idol." An exclusive with Kellen Winslow Jr. about last season's broken leg (before his motorcycle hijinks fouled up his chances for this season). Doerr says he sent her to Washington, D.C., for an exclusive with Gerald Levert about his run-in with Cleveland police. She's also done stories that reinforced her nudie-anchor status, such as an interview with Catherine Bosley, the former Youngstown anchor who resigned after shots of her stripping in a nightclub ended up on the Internet. (The Business Journal in Youngstown ran a story with the priceless headline, "Bosom Buddies." Bosley now works as a reporter at Channel 19.)

Reed is gorgeous. She's on TV. Even people who don't like her personally say she's talented. It's no wonder people talk about her.

And I'm talking about her too with anyone I think might have something interesting to say. Hunting and gathering is my job. But Reed doesn't see it that way. She feels I've been asking questions as though I was "digging for dirt," says Brokaw, who, in the same conversation dials up his law firm on the three-way to threaten a lawsuit if I get anything wrong. Reed won't do an interview, he informs me -- until I tell him we'll put her on the cover. Soon after that, he's negotiating a reduced price from celebrity portrait photographer Harry Langdon, a friend of his family and the only one he'll allow to photograph Reed for the article. ("Action News"-inspired tease No. 2: More on those Beverly Hills photos later!)

Brokaw leaves me with the impression that Reed will do another interview too. But she doesn't, at least nothing face-to-face. She sends me the long email instead. It answers basic questions I sent her, such as what she wants her viewers to know about her.

"The person you see on the tube is as close as possible to the person you meet on the street or at the game," she writes. "I like not having to Ã"shine it on' or pretend with the audience. I am who I am."

The Reed you get on the news is an on-air personality. She's really fun to watch, all splash and attitude. Doerr says she's an "extraordinary performer," and I agree. I watch her 10 p.m. newscasts most nights for two months, and I never hear her trip over a word. Reed's good, but she doesn't come off like your best girlfriend. Though emphatic and insistent, Reed relays news about a deadly house fire with the same exuberance as the Michael Jackson trial. She moves around a lot, pitching forward at times over the desk and twiddling her pen in the direction of her male co-anchors. While giving "The Buzz" Hollywood report during one 4 p.m. newscast, she comes close to pulling an Ellen DeGeneres and breaking into dance.

When Reed reports something, she does it with the same irreverent, in-your-face tone that all the Channel 19 "Action News" reporters use but with even more zing.

"I like flash," she says during our one meeting. "That's what I like. A lot of viewers like eye candy. It's good when you have substance with eye candy."

Before the "American Idol" finale in May, on the last day of sweeps, she stands on a Los Angeles street in front of the Kodak Theatre, sunglasses on, looking more Jawbreaker than jelly bean, assuring viewers, "I am through with the publicists." She is going to ask valid questions -- like "How much money Hollywood is making off the backs of Carrie and Bo."

If I want a quote from her, though, I'll have to call her publicist. I mean "representative."

Who are you, Sharon Reed? I still don't know.

I go back to my notes, to her long email. I go back to the phones.

Sharon Reed is the daughter of a schoolteacher and a principal. She grew up in the upper middle-class Philadelphia suburb of West Chester. Every night while setting the table, the news was tuned to Lisa Thomas-Laury, "a strong, Black woman. So intelligent. So beautiful. A top-notch presentation, including her style and voice," Reed writes. "No matter what was cooking or what conversations were going on inside our home, I paid attention when she was on."

Reed's "incredible thirst Ã"to know' " led her to journalism. Reed earned two college degrees and worked as an on-air correspondent for "American Journal." Then Reed worked part time for WMAR-TV Channel 2, filing general-assignment reports from Ocean City, Md. Drew Berry, general manager at WMAR-TV Channel 2, says Reed was "very smart and very savvy."

Her work was good enough to get her hired by Miami's WSVN-TV -- then hard-charging WCAU-TV Channel 10 in Philadelphia hired her as an anchor in 1999. Competing Channel 3 anchor Larry Mendte, her former Channel 10 co-worker who interviewed Reed after "Body of Art" aired, remembers she became a big star, fast. In November 2000, Reed was featured on the cover of Main Line Today, as one of the suburban lifestyle magazine's "Most Wanted."

Finally, I think, a source that will divulge some good personal scoop. When the magazine emails the story though, I'm disappointed. She said she was looking for "an intelligent man who offers good conversation." Her fantasy vacation? "A romantic getaway to Greece." Her favorite movie? "Breakfast at Tiffany's." So maybe she's another Holly Golightly wannabe.

Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky says Reed had several things going for her. She returned phone calls from the print media, which earned her respect from the scribes. She was glamorous. She was seen in the company of pro athletes. (Reed is a sports junkie. According to Eskin and The Plain Dealer's Roger Brown, plenty of professional athletes -- not just the ones linked to her in print -- have had a thing for her too.)

"She was a rising star," Bykofsky recalls. "And she left as a meteorite heading west."

In one of Bykofsky's columns, a flattering image of Reed collided with a troubled one. On Feb. 25, 2002, Bykofsky reported that Reed had been seen dining with Robert De Niro at New York's Nobu, a Japanese restaurant. He also reported "an unrelated development" -- she had met recently with investigators in the Lower Merion, Pa., police station.

About a week earlier, on Feb. 19, Alicia Taylor, a reporter at WCAU NBC-10, where Reed was an anchor, reported to police that she was being harassed and threatened on a Web site visited by media personalities, according to a police report. The postings had begun about a year earlier, after Taylor had a "falling out" with Reed, Taylor told police.

But they had become more threatening recently, she said, and Taylor suspected the messages were coming from Reed.

"I can't wait to come to philly and put my foot up your skank ass," read one. "[Y]ou ever had a real street fight bitch," read another. And "If i see you I am kicking your fat ass no questions asked," according to the report.

Taylor wanted police to investigate, but said she wouldn't pursue the matter further if Reed admitted to the alleged involvement in the postings.

The next day, police contacted Reed, who had her attorney follow up. They set a meeting for Friday, Feb. 22, at 10 a.m. Before they got together, Taylor informed police that the postings also included "slurs against Taylor's mother and father," which were "very upsetting to her," according to police.

Taylor again told police that she'd be satisfied if Reed admitted to the postings.

Police met with Reed and her attorney the next day, and her attorney again on Saturday. On Monday, Reed verbally admitted to police that "she was responsible for the harassment and the threats over the internet," the report says. Police notified the station's news director, no charges were filed and the case was closed.

But it wasn't over.

Taylor's attorney, Carl Singley, sent Christopher Blackman, vice president of news at Channel 10, a letter soon after Reed's admission asking the station to "take appropriate actions to protect Ms. Taylor from any further harassing and threatening conduct by Ms. Reed." Eventually, staffers learned Reed no longer worked there, says Larry Mendte, now an anchor at Channel 3. Blackman didn't want to comment on Reed for this story.

The whole ordeal was chronicled by the Philadelphia media as a "catfight" within their ranks.

That characterization bothers Taylor more than anything.

"I hold some of the managers at NBC culpable," says Taylor, who parted ways with the station earlier this year. "They know they had a time bomb on their hands and they did nothing about it."

And for Reed, the controversy has popped up again because of "Body of Art."

"The situation was silly. Yes, silly. It's still silly and has proved as insignificant to my career as the person still driving it," Reed writes in an email. "At the time, after putting up with more than two years of internally well-documented, obsessive, jealous behavior from at least one dim corner of the room, I let my guard down. I allowed someone else's low self-esteem to engage my world and circle of friends. In essence, I ignored and ignored and ignored before growing tired of bearing the brunt of that kind of nonsense. I became less agile at staying above it. So, when you Ã"allow' yourself to get that worn down by someone else's shortcomings, you have to step up and acknowledge that."

Reed adds that Philadelphia viewers still call and write her daily and they miss her.

In May 2002, Reed came to Cleveland's WOIO Channel 19, where she joined general manager Bill Applegate, whose reputation for sensational newscasts was already well established. Doerr, a former senior vice president of news, programming and creative development for the NBC television stations division, followed in 2003. Together, Applegate and Doerr turned the bottom-tier station into a contender, riding its wave of opinion-laced, crime- and sex-ridden newscasts to higher ratings and priceless buzz. While cutting-edge now, Channel 19's style may not keep viewers in the long run.

"You can do a lot of things to pop ratings," says Mediaweek's Katy Bachman, senior editor for local media. "But to be seen as a serious station, it takes a couple of years."

Looked at in context, "Body of Art," while bemoaned as a career-compromising stunt, might just save Reed from a future at an unestablished station in a Midwestern market.

It's what got Reed on "Late Show with David Letterman," which prompted David Brokaw to call her.

Reed later admitted to her viewers that she was a bit unsettled by Letterman's other guest, supermodel Tyra Banks. But if there was any upstaging by Banks, it didn't distract Reed that night. She traded banter with Letterman and defended her decision to go nude for Tunick's art, scolding him for waving around an article written by a "boob" at The New York Times.

Brokaw thought she was on. On big time. "She was so poised on Letterman," he recalls. And he'd seen major stars unravel on that show. "She worked that segment. She really made it work. I see her becoming a big star."

Now Brokaw is helping her make the jump to the national market.

"I brought her out here [to Hollywood] -- she absolutely spun this town on its end," he says. "She met with the biggest media companies in the world. ... Everybody loved her. ... I'd be very surprised if she doesn't have a big important national career before long."

Brokaw says Reed may get her own national talk show.

Others think that's unlikely.

"If someone who has the credentials of Jane Pauley can't make her own talk show go, what makes anybody think that somebody who takes off their clothes for a news story in Cleveland, Ohio, has a long-term future in some kind of talk programming or entertainment programming?" asks Bob Priddy, past-chairman of the Radio-Television News Directors Association. "In terms of being the next Oprah, I'm not sure that has much of a possibility."

Well, it has been eight months since the piece aired, and she's still here.

Reed writes in her email that she's in no rush to leave. Although she gets opportunities stemming from "Body of Art" all the time, "...why should I just jump at this or that? I like my role in Cleveland. I like the people here. ... I have one of the best gigs in my business. ... I get to do good, creative work and just be me!"

Maybe Reed really does want to stay. Or maybe she's just teasing us.

The day after the photo shoot in Los Angeles -- two days before I have to file this story -- we get a warning from Reed's lawyer, Lynda B. Goldman of Lavely & Singer, which bills itself as "one of the world's premiere talent-side entertainment litigation firms" on its Web site. According to a Los Angeles Magazine story linked to it, the firm has represented Arnold Schwarzenegger, Celine Dion and Bruce Willis. (The story calls its lawyers the "attack dogs of L.A. law.") In addition to the boilerplate threat to sue if we "publish any false defamatory statements about Ms. Reed, or if you depict her in a false and outrageous light," Goldman claims her four-page letter is confidential and any publication of it will violate the Copyright Act.

Goldman writes, "Based on information supplied to us by various individuals who have been contacted for the Story, and based upon Ms. Marino's misrepresentations regarding the intended subject matter of the Story and her veiled threats to misrepresent Ms. Reed's cooperation unless she submits to an additional face-to-face interview, it appears that Ms. Marino is intentionally seeking to elicit negative (and inaccurate) information about my client, and is bent on mischaracterizing the facts, in order to create a more sensational Story."

Getting an interview with Reed now seems less likely than ever, so I send my final questions to her via email instead.

Brokaw calls and gives me almost nothing on the record. (Sorry, no "Action News"-inspired tease available on that one.) But just as I'm beginning to drive away from my office he calls me back on my cell. He says Reed will talk to me.

Finally, I get my interview. It goes on for about an hour and a half, with Brokaw munching soybeans in the background. (Californians!) Actually, it's more of a talk than an interview. More off the record than on, despite my best attempts. Reed's cool and charming and easygoing on the phone. Even when she's criticizing me, she's doing it like a chummy college professor might.

"You guys wanted an expose on [S]haron [R]eed," she writes in a follow-up email. "I knew that. It's like, stop conning me. ...Your follow up questions in our next written interview seemed even more wide-eyed. You still were on your tippy toes, still were going behind my back, when you hadn't yet asked me what you really wanted. That annoyed me. So, I'm busy. I have constant changing deadlines and plans and [M]ay sweeps and you were wasting my time and again, conning me."

Finally, I'm starting to see what she means by keeping it real. To her, it seems the perfect Sharon Reed story -- like "Body of Art" -- would be one where she's subject and writer. Oh, and art director too.

Some photos from the Hollywood photographer arrive via email after the shoot. They are just a preview; a disc with shots that would reproduce well on our cover were supposed to come to Cleveland Magazine in the mail. But Langdon sends them to Reed. And Reed's attorney sends Cleveland Magazine another letter. This one says we are not authorized to publish either the photos from the magazine session or a personal session that followed (and were "inadvertently" emailed to us) without Reed's consent. In fact, the lawyer's letter warns against even describing them.

"If the Photographs are published or described in the Story, that would unfortunately supply evidence of malice," Goldman writes.

The next day, a Friday, Reed drops off a disc with about 15 images, but she does not sign the magazine's release that would allow us to publish them. The following Monday, our attorney receives a letter from Goldman informing us that we can use the photos only with Reed's "approval of the specific shots and their intended uses, and her agreement to grant a license for their publication in the July issue of Cleveland Magazine in exchange for an agreed-upon reasonable license fee paid in advance."

All the photos, including those personal shots, are pretty standard fare, but Reed looks great -- sitting in a white director's chair wearing jeans and a black blazer over a black halter; her spunky attitude showing through while standing next to a white cube, dressed in a black business suit; and, in those personal shots, wearing a tight, white belly shirt that shows off her navel piercing.

All the legal intervention for a simple request to publish her posed publicity shots seems like strangely protective behavior from a woman whose nude pictures can be obtained easily from anyone with Internet access. And by now, we're just tired of all the roadblocks. So we have our attorney send all her pictures back. We decide to use the ones graciously provided by her employer, Channel 19, instead.

In our phone interview several days earlier, after Reed vents about the way I handled things, we seem to reach a common ground. I want to do my job, and she doesn't want to add me to the list of writers she's disagreed with. For instance, Connie Schultz "undermined my intelligence," she says. And when The Plain Dealer's Brown reported in January that Reed "furiously ripped" Carmella DeCesare, former Playboy Playmate of the Year, at a station event over the possibility of DeCesare doing some Channel 19 sportscasts, Reed called Brown at home to correct the record. She says she tried to help DeCesare, not sabotage her chances at the station.

"Roger pissed me off because [if I did what he said], I'd be doing to Carmella what so many people have done to me," she says. (Brown published Reed's response but says he stands by his source.)

I finally learn something -- a few things -- about Reed from Reed: She won't be a victim. She won't let anyone put words in her mouth. And she doesn't want "the point to get across that I don't want to talk."

In her follow-up email to our phone conversation, Reed does get the final say.

"In the end, we would have had a far easier time of it if you would have just told me that the story was my personal journey," she writes. "At least that has a sense of intrigue to it. It's clear that you were along for the ride, but you took the long way and the wrong routes. At least you managed to get back on 77 and made it home. Finally, you did get what you wanted. I respect that. Sharon."

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