Idol Chit-Chat
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My Goodbye to "American Idol"...

Last year, I had the privilege of interviewing the dean of “American Idol” writers, Richard Rushfield, about his book, “American Idol: The Untold Story.” We talked about how the Tri-State area had never had a contestant make the Top 24.

“Maybe that will happen for you next year,” Rushfield told me. “I hope so,” I said.

Be careful what you wish for…

I did get that local contestant I had been waiting for—Point Pleasant’s Chase Likens. And thanks to him, I garnered four front page stories, completely scooped other news outlets more than once and reached an adrenaline high like no other I had ever had in my journalistic career. It was quite the journey.

But what I didn’t expect was that my journey would lead me to a crisis of conscience that would end my career as an “Idol” reporter.

Yes, you read that right. This is my final post on this blog…

Two weeks ago, I found myself fighting back tears as I talked to Chase on the phone about his “Idol” journey. It was just three days after his “Idol” dream ended and the wounds were still very fresh.

Chase wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t already know. I knew he had no chance of making the Top 13, I just didn’t want to come out and say it. But there was something about hearing what the show is capable of from someone who experienced it—someone from my own area—that just hit me upside the head.

I hung up the phone and said out loud, “I can’t do this anymore.”

For seven seasons, I have covered “Idol” and all of its tricks. I’ve even prided myself in recognizing and predicting the show’s manipulative tactics over the years. It’s not that I didn’t care at all about how the manipulated contestants felt, I guess I just didn’t care as much as I did about my reputation as an “Idol” writer. But hearing the voice of someone who was messed over by the show changed all that. I could no longer defend a show that could treat people that way. I told my husband that this was going to be my last season covering “Idol.”

But then a great new career opportunity presented itself and I was able to end my coverage a little earlier. And if you’ve been reading how hard I’ve been on the show lately, I think you’ll agree, it was time…

I’ve had some great times covering “Idol” over the past seven seasons and I’ve been able to talk to some incredible people—David Cook, Kris Allen, Mandisa, Blake Lewis, Phil Stacey and Bucky Covington just to name a few. Unfortunately, I never got to talk to my two faves—Constantine Maroulis and Clay Aiken—but I’m hoping that maybe someday the opportunity will present itself.

There have been so many great people that have helped me along the way, it’s impossible to name them all, but I especially wanted to single out Chloe and Michael from the “Idol” PR team, Todd from FOX and Roger from 19. And, of course, I have to thank Robyn, Andrea, Maureen and the entire team at “The Herald-Dispatch.”

Also, thanks to Chase Likens and his family—Jodi, Samantha, Kim and Elizabeth. And thanks to Vickie, Brandy and all the wonderful people of Point Pleasant, who made my last “Idol” story such a pleasant one.

And last but not least, I want to thank all of you, my loyal readers, for taking this roller coaster ride with me over the past seven seasons. It has been my pleasure to share the “Idol” experience with all of you.

Until we meet again…

Henderson-Bentley, out!