Can I get a drumroll?
After two weeks of watching from the sidelines, the Kansas City Star is poised to enter the finger-pointing, media circus and soap opera surrounding embattled Plaza area jazz club Jardine’s.
Unlike Fox 4‘s fox hunt, count on the Star story being balanced. In other words, rather than just loading up on pissed off servers and a single musician who’s check got caught in a bank account freeze, the Star will weigh in with both sides of the story.
That being said, this is going to be a delicate tightrope walk for Star music man Tim Finn.
Let me assure you, Finn’s a music writer who doesn’t like wading into prickly situations like this one. It’s a news story he probably should have excused himself from owing to his – until now – rather friendly relationship with club owner Beena Raja. But instead the Finn Man strapped on his badge of courage and walked into Jardine’s Tuesday night to get Raja’s side of the story.
We’ll be reading Finn’s story later today probably, meanwhile here’s Raja’s take on it.
"Tim came in and I offered to buy him a Pale Ale like I usually do and he said, ‘No,’ " Raja says. "He had a different game face on. He had a ‘holy shit, serious’ game face on. Usually when he comes in he’s friendly, gives me a hug and always lets me buy him a drink or two.
"So I put the same (serious) game face on and said, ‘Hi, Tim.’ And he said, ‘I’m here to interview you for a story that’s going to come out (Friday).’ And then he said, ‘I’m going to have to tape you.’ And then I looked in his eyes and answered everything he asked and we talked for about 20 minutes."
"He said, ‘Are you open?’ And I said, ‘As of yesterday, yes.’ And he said, ‘Who do you have booked?’ And I told him, it’s one day at a time for me. And he asked me if I was going to turn the place into something else (besides jazz) and I said, ‘No, nothing is changing.’ And he was just floored – he was pale.
"And he said, ‘I hear horrible things from musicians and that they’re not going to work with you.’ And I said, ‘They are not.’ And I said, ‘For 18 years I have worked here’ and I told him everything is going to be the same. Except everything is going to be bigger and better and I’m moving forward."
Raja says she also told Finn she hoped things would blow over with the musicians who were upset.
"My number’s still the same, they can come talk to me," Raja says. "And Tim said, ‘You’ve got a big battle to fight.’ He said he’d talked to a number of musicians."
The between the lines on all of this is that the Star has very strict standards when it comes to reporters.
For example, when FYI editor and Jardine’s regular "Steve Paul comes in, he’s friendly but very reserved," Raja says. "He does not accept a free drink at all. But Tim Finn – I’ve never seen him this way – all of a sudden he’s like a police reporter, coming in and trying to intimidate me. His story will be out Friday, he said. He was the politically correct Star reporter, but guess what? I’ve seen the unpolitical side of him. I’ve never seen him like that."