Take Note: A star is born?

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Today's topic on "Geraldo": A straight-shooting schools chief shares his secrets of success.

Perhaps Seattle Superintendent John H. Stanford wouldn't be one of talk-show host Geraldo Rivera's most outrageous guests, but he'd be sure to rake in the viewers.

The schools chief and former U.S. Army major general has become something of a celebrity since he accepted the district's top post last fall. Reporters have come calling on Mr. Stanford, whose no-nonsense management style and unusual background for a school official seem to have endless public appeal. (See Education Week, Oct. 11, 1995.)

He's been featured on ABC's "Good Morning America." He's had a heart-to-heart with radio host Rush Limbaugh. And he's been trailed by camera crews from CNN.

Now, Mr. Rivera--and the rival "Donahue" and "Rolonda" shows--are knocking on the district's door.

But don't count on seeing the superintendent on the chat-show circuit anytime soon: Those shows are in line with the likes of NBC's "Today" show, CBS' "60 Minutes," and the British Broadcasting Corp. Who's at the head of the pack now? ABC newsman Sam Donaldson, who just snagged an interview with Mr. Stanford for "PrimeTime Live."

Dorothy Dubia, the head of the school system's press office, has her work cut out for her. She has to find time in Mr. Stanford's action-packed schedule to squeeze in the interviews.

"We are getting a zillion requests that we're trying to juggle," Ms. Dubia said last week.

"It's every public-information officer's dream to get the positive coverage," she said. "But it's also an enormous responsibility to treat the media fairly."

At least she's gotten some of the print-media requests out of the way. Mr. Stanford, the district's first black superintendent and a former county executive in Atlanta, has made the front page of The New York Times and will be featured soon in USA Today. He has appeared in numerous other national and local papers since the 45,000-student district took the unprecedented step of hiring a military man to run its schools.

What do his press people make of all the attention?

"He's a good interview," Ms. Dubia said of her boss. "He's saying things people have been wanting to hear.

"It's all added to my workload," she added. "But one of my favorite expressions is 'Ride the pony.' It will be an adventure."

--Joanna Richardson

Vol. 15, Issue 17

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