A local ad campaign is betting Spokane is sold on Shelly
Ex-Spokane weather woman busier than ever as she tackles new challenges in Sacramento
By Tom Sowa
Shelly Monahan can’t slow down. Six months after taking a job with a television station in Sacramento, Calif., Monahan works an even busier schedule than she kept while working in Spokane, where her tireless energy often led to as many as 30 speaking engagements per month.
The Spokane-born Monahan, after six years of broadcast experience here, has discovered that going to a bigger station has its rewards, as well as its disadvantages.
The plus side, she said during a weekend visit to Spokane, is the station’s attitude of support and encouragement. KCRA, the station she joined last June, lets her pursue both a TV career and a growing side career selling products and calling in weather reports to radio stations.
Her boss in Sacramento, she added, has given his blessing to recent television advertisements that feature Monahan selling cars for a Spokane Valley Mazda dealer.
“The attitude is to urge you to grow to your fullest potential,” Monahan said.
She’s not allowed to do TV or radio spots in Sacramento, but Monahan is free to make commercials anywhere else. In addition to taping commercials for four hours last weekend, Monahan spent several hours hosting a remote broadcast for KKPL-FM.
The negative side of moving from the 78th-largest to the 19th-largest TV market is the strain and stress her job exacts.
At her new job, Monahan does early morning and noon weather reports. Management also expects her to do occasional straight news reports for an hour-long evening broadcast.
She doesn’t make 30 appearances per month, but Monahan has already become an active community member.
“It’s gotten so busy that I can’t keep track of the schedule myself,” she said. Her time management and scheduling have become the duties of Michael Oddino, Monahan’s fiancé, who works for an independent TV station in Sacramento.
Her public appearances in Sacramento have prompted a Los Angeles station to contact her about taking part in its annual Easter Seals telethon.
“I’m busier. This job is great. Sacramento is great. But at the same time, the pressure here is greater. I look around and realize the competition here is tough.”
The market size and the station’s reputation add to the pressure on Monahan, she said.
“You always have to look over your shoulder. You have to constantly keep getting better. The station hires a lot of interns, young people with a lot of talent just out of college. You see them and realize a lot of people are ready to do anything to get their foot in the door.”
The fast pace doesn’t leave Monahan much time for personal diversions. She gets by on 2 ½ to 4 hours of sleep a day, she said.
“It takes a toll, too. I sleep in shifts. There are times that I wake up for work at 3 a.m. and say, ‘God, I look like garbage.’”
So far, her performance has been solid and well-received, she said. The station’s owner, Jon Kelly, president of Kelly Broadcasting, said he intends to rewrite Monahan’s two-year contract.
The company will offer her a five-year contract, which isn’t unusual for popular broadcasters in that market. What is unusual, she noted, was the decision to offer it after only six months in the market.
KCRA management allows Monahan to pursue outside commercial work because it feels that satisfied employees tend to remain at the station longer, she said. Management has even allowed her to contact a number of radio stations, including some here, about the possibility of providing phoned-in weather reports.
“I’ve got the computer equipment right here that lets me bring up the weather anywhere in the country,” she said. “It’d be a piece of cake.”
The advantage she would offer is her style and sense of fun, she said. “Most radio meteorologists spend too much time on technical stuff. They’re boring. What I’d do is remind people it’s radio. You have to be colorful.”
While in Sacramento, Monahan has continued making appearances for women’s groups to talk about the experience of being raped.
In 1979, while working at a radio station, Monahan was raped by an unidentified assailant. The attacker’s methods and manner have led Monahan and others to believe it was Kevin Coe, who was later convicted and imprisoned for a number of Spokane rapes.
The aftermath of the 1979 attack included a broken marriage and a suicide attempt.
“I’ve talked about that rape experience here and people have been very supportive,” she added. Those talks led to an invitation in September to speak on rape and recovery at a national meeting of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
“They liked it enough to ask me to come down to Dallas to present the same talk to a conference of Texas physicians this year,” said Monahan.
The ads that have been shown on local TV are the only ones Monahan has made so far. She’s not ruling out the possibility of doing others.
Neither of the first two commercials for West Valley Mazda required her to come to Spokane. She was mailed a script by the Mazda dealer’s ad agency, Pierce-Stuart and Associates. She found a photographer in Sacramento who filmed her in front of a blank wall. The tape was sent here and edited to create the background images of autos on display.
On Saturday Monahan taped four hours at the dealership, putting together a number of 30-second spots that should run through the next several months.
The first of those new spots will probably air next week, according to Jason Stuart.
Stuart, vice-president of the ad firm, said he developed the commercials after looking for a creative twist for his West Valley Mazda account.
“I got the idea after remembering that we had some fair success using Mark St. John (another former Spokane broadcaster) for some Millwood Furniture spots.
The first Monahan ads would have run in August, except that KREM, her previous employer, said her contract forbade her making commercials in Spokane for six months after her departure.
“They had let me break my contract to take the job in Sacramento, so I didn’t think they were going to worry about that small clause (in the contract),” Monahan said.
But KREM told Stuart the ads couldn’t run until Jan. 1. Their position was that Monahan legally couldn’t do commercials in Spokane for the full six months, despite KREM’s having waived Monahan’s work contract. “We decided it was something we didn’t want to go and fight over,” Stuart said.
Public response to the ads, which began airing Jan. 1, has been impressive, he added. “A number of people have been calling up KREM, asking if Shelly’s back in town. And there’s definitely been more traffic at the dealership since they started.
“I don’t know if the growth in sales they’ve seen at the dealership is due to this,” said Stuart. “Frankly, the last couple of months have been pretty slow.
“We can’t say that the increase in traffic or sales has anything to do with the spots. But the ads seem to show that a celebrity’s face does at least one thing – it makes people look at the ad,” Stuart said.
“The nightmare,” he said, “is that people will look at Shelly and watch but at the end won’t know what it is she was selling.”
Monahan, 27, said the return to Spokane was emotionally beneficial, even though it meant shuttling out of airports and returning to work on two hours’ sleep Monday morning.
“It was great to come back and see my friends and family. This is my home – I really love it.”
Wednesday, January 28, 1987