Jeanne Charters, author
FINLEY SMITH is the smart, principled News Director at the highest-rated television station in Pennsylvania. WABN, owned by JOHN PRESCOTT, President of Prescott Broadcasting, is a Philadelphia powerhouse with a reputation for the cleanest News in town. Though Finley loves her work, her divorce from husband, DAVID SMITH, still saddens her. And she knows she caused it by choosing her career over David once too often. When John Prescott retires, he appoints AUSTIN MONTGOMERY, husband of his daughter PRISCILLA, to take over the reins of running his stations. Unknown to John or to Priscilla, Austin has many secrets. One of them is a gambling addiction. This has put him in a position of financial desperation. The need for cash makes him easy prey to corrupt politicians and corporations. Austin hires SYLVIA REYNOLDS, aka The Barracuda, to run WABN, replacing a General Manager who was much beloved by all employees. Sylvia has secrets, too, and they involve alcohol and fake-name assignations in strange cities and airports. When Finley and her potty-mouthed best friend, MEADOW MARX, Sales Director at WABN, meet Sylvia, they see the writing on the wall. Sylvia’s orders are clear—cut staff—increase the bottom line—and do it with no regard for anyone or anything. Oh, and hire a right-wing pretty boy to politicize news broadcasts. Finley screams Yellow Journalism, and this sets up a battle between Finley and Sylvia that will turn deadly. That conflict reaches its pinnacle when Finley learns from her top reporter that the Pennsylvania Governor has hired a shady, mob-owned construction company to repair a bridge in Pittsburgh. Although ordered by Austin to “leave it alone,” Finley assigns the reporter to do an investigation. When the reporter’s probe reveals some dangerous truths about the construction company, Finley must make a major decision. Run the series or squelch it and keep her job. She opts to run the series, a fact that enrages Austin and Sylvia. But they can’t fire her because of her impeccable reputation. Therefore, they decide to eliminate her. But through a fluke of fate and mistaken identity, Sylvia becomes the victim of the grisly crime intended for Finley. With help from Austin’s estranged wife, PRISCILLA PRESCOTT, Finley plots a hostile corporate takeover for the next meeting of Prescott Broadcasting’s shareholders. It is successful and, when Austin realizes his ruse is up, he pulls a revolver from his briefcase and blows his brains out. At Meadow’s wedding to BEN FREEDMAN, Finley is surprised to see David. Without her friend’s knowledge, Meadow has invited him. The novel ends with David and Finley giving marriage a second chance and Finley leaving the television industry behind her.