Assault charge thrusts Ch. 7 chief into the news
Allegedly unruly, fought arrest
As the hard-charging general manager of an aggressive Boston news station, Randi Goldklank oversaw an operation that has pursued countless stories about arrests and arraignments, unruly behavior, and people accused of abusing their power.
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A self-described "tiny lady" who goes at "1,000 miles an hour," she confidently managed a sprawling station from a glass-encased conference room overlooking WHDH's buzzing red-and-blue newsroom.
Then yesterday, Goldklank herself became the story when news crews, including one from her own station, descended on East Boston Municipal Court to cover her arraignment on charges of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and assault and battery on a police officer.
According to a State Police report, Goldklank got off a flight Sunday night at Logan International Airport, flailing her arms and smelling of alcohol. The report said she struck one state trooper, breaking the prescription eyeglasses in his shirt pocket, and threatened to call a news crew and put another trooper on television and "ruin [his] life."
"I'm a big shot in Boston, and I'll have your [expletive] jobs," Goldklank told the troopers, according to the report. "You think you're a [expletive] tough guy, you just watch and see what the [expletive] happens to you when I get the [expletive] out of here."
Yesterday, WHDH Channel 7 placed Goldklank on administrative leave and said the move was subject to further review by management. Station officials did not return calls seeking further comment.
The allegations marked an ignoble setback for a woman who gained prominence as the youngest and only female general manager in Boston's highly competitive news market.
Among colleagues, she was well regarded for her toughness and dedication to the job. She routinely rose at 5 a.m. to hit the gym and would report to work early and stay late. The long hours, she freely acknowledged, left her little time for socializing. She told the Globe last fall that "everything I always talk about relates back to WHDH."
"My reaction is one of complete and utter disbelief," said Janet Kolodzy, acting chairwoman of Emerson College's journalism department, who invited Goldklank to speak to students last month. "She had a reputation of really working hard and pushing things ahead."
Goldklank's lawyer, David G. Eisenstadt, appeared on her behalf yesterday and argued successfully to postpone her arraignment until May 19. No plea was entered. Eisenstadt declined to discuss the allegations, saying he did not believe in trying a case in the media.
"I'm very confident that my client will be well served by the judicial system," he said.
Goldklank did not return calls yesterday. An assistant said she was unavailable.
A Long Island native with the accent to prove it, Goldklank, 40, rose quickly in the ranks of television management. At 22, she got her first industry job as a research analyst for Katz Media Group in New York. In 2001, she was hired as national sales manager at WSVN in Miami. Last July, she was promoted to general manager and vice president of WSVN's sister stations in Boston, WLVI Channel 56 and WHDH, which leads local news stations in the 11 p.m. slot. She has no criminal record in Florida and no driving violations in Massachusetts.
"She was a consummate professional," Kolodzy said, adding that Goldklank used her lecture at Emerson to stress the importance of "pursuing dreams and working really hard to get ahead."
But her alleged outburst after a Delta flight from Philadelphia Sunday night has clearly jeopardized Goldklank's upward trajectory. According to the report, she had to be helped off the flight by two crew members. She was overheard by police telling medical personnel that she had had "about three dozen drinks," according to the report. Goldklank was so unruly and unsteady on her feet that police had difficulty booking her, the report stated. But Goldklank's tone later shifted.
"The defendant's demeanor changed and she became quiet," the report says. "After a few minutes she leaned toward Sergeant Luce and stated, 'You think I'm cute and I think you're cute, just drive me home.' "
Goldklank defended her behavior to the Boston Herald Monday night, telling the paper she was inappropriately touched by a male passenger seated beside her. There was no mention of a male passenger in the State Police report. Trooper Eric Benson, a spokesman, said that "there has been no complaint made to the State Police alleging any such improper contact."
Kate Marx, a spokeswoman for Comair, a Delta subsidiary, said the airline was cooperating with police and investigating the incident. She had no further comment.
Another State Police form, called an alcohol influence report, said that troopers overheard Goldklank tell paramedics that she was depressed because her mother had recently died, and that she had been taking Lexapro, an antidepressant.
The arrest put local television stations in the awkward position of reporting on one of their own. But by midday yesterday, Channels 4, 5, and 7 were reporting the story and featuring it on their websites. Jeff Kiernan, news director at WBZ-TV Channel 4, said it was "a story we would cover regardless of who was involved," because it involved an arrest at Logan.