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Soon-to-be-ex-Fox4 reporter enlists four former D-FW TV vets to launch envisioned new breed of PR firm

TV news vets Clif Caldwell, Dan Ronan, Susan Risdon, Robert Riggs

A quartet of veteran D-FW television reporters, three of them dropped in the past year by their stations, will form the nucleus of a new public relations firm being helmed by Fox4 reporter Jeff Crilley.

"I think there's something really cool about these former competitors coming together," Crilley said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "In some cases we used to bump heads almost nightly."

Crilley's new company, dubbed Real News PR, is scheduled to launch in early June after he leaves Fox4. He initially plans to work hand-in-hand with:

***Former CBS11 and previously NBC5 reporter Clif Caldwell, who was let go by CBS11 in January after his contract expired.

***Former WFAA8 reporter Dan Ronan, abruptly terminated by the station last November for reasons that neither party will discuss.

***Former CBS11 and previously WFAA8 investigator Robert Riggs, axed in March by CBS11 as part of mandated budget cuts by the network's owned-and-operated stations.

***Former NBC5 reporter Susan Risdon, who opted to leave the station last June to start her own Austin-based marketing/media firm, Red Media Group. She'll continue to run that company while also throwing in with Crilley's new venture.

As previously reported on unclebarky.com, Crilley, 44, is positioning his journalist-driven PR firm as an alternative to companies that "are trying to sell snake oil most of the time."

"We won't pitch B.S.," he said Tuesday. "We hold our names in such importance that we can't do what other PR agencies do. We're not spin doctors. I've always bristled at that."

Crilley cited a recent initiative by Risdon's company as an example of what Real News PR hopes to do repeatedly.

During the polygamist compound crisis in West Texas, one of her clients, who runs a Dallas-based family violence hotline, was told to "pack some bags" and head to San Angelo, Crilley said. Risdon then went door-to-door through a nearby "media compound" and said, "News conference in half an hour with a domestic violence expert."

"The client was a great 'sound bite' and by that evening was on Larry King Live," Crilley said. "That's the kind of thing that only a former reporter could see," he said of Risdon. "I think it's a great example of some real street smarts. And in the end you serve the client, serve the media and serve the public."

Real News PR at first will be run out of the respective homes of its staffers, Crilley said. "We'll all be independent public relations people basically. And initially I think we need to do this on a budget."

Crilley, a staple of Fox4's late night newscasts, joined the Dallas-based station in fall 1992 and informed management in March that he wouldn't be signing a new contract.