Based on Twitter’s response, there’s a great deal of interest in a photo of Fox 9 meteorologist Ian Leonard with a beard.

As reported last week, Leonard is recovering from surgery to remove squamous cell skin cancer from his lower lip. He also had reconstructive plastic surgery because a third of his lip was removed.

“I have an awesome beard going, ’cept for the gray patches,” he said via Twitter. I asked to see it, and a couple of days later a pic was tweeted with this message: “Beard pic as promised. For C.J. and all other beard enthusiasts out there :) @MyFOX9 #smilinghurts.”

Leonard’s sports colleague Dawn Mitchell, @DawnAtFOX9, tweeted: “And your lipstick should cover any tiny leftover scar.”

Looks to me as if Leonard is healing so nicely there won’t be a scar. Fine lip reconstruction job.

Great looking beard.

Enjoy the visual here, folks. I can just about guarantee Leonard won’t return to air in a beard. Beards are a rarity in the TV world.

Think hard. Can you recall any Fox 9 TV talents with beards? I can’t. Former news director Bill Dallman, now Paul Magers’ boss in LA, wouldn’t even allow anchors to take part in Movember and I have not noticed a policy shift since Dallman was succeeded by Mim Davey.

Close call for producer LaBelle

My buddy commercial and music producer Shaun LaBelle had a harrowing 5 a.m. encounter with a menacing man on a bicycle at the light-rail platform near the Vikings stadium.

“People need to look out for this guy. U.S. Bank station and none of the lights were on [the airport-bound track],” LaBelle complained. A darker setting probably made this station desirable to the cyclist, who at first tried to lure LaBelle to another area at the stop by telling him not to use the pay station where he was poised to pay.

Go to the one at the end of the platform, I’ll show you, LaBelle said he was told in a casual tone of voice.

“I’m alone. There’s no one out there and I’m scared. I try to get away from him, walk across the tracks to the northbound side, which had proper lighting at the time. I hear the train coming so I walk back to the other side, thinking I dodged a bullet. Apparently I walked over there too soon, because he comes at me, almost running his bike into me. He got really close and he is muttering stuff and he says, You’re not going to be able to get away from me. He jumped off the bike and came at me. I got out of the way and ran like hell out into the middle of the street, trying to wave down a car, screaming, ‘Help!’ at the top of my lungs. He got on his bike and continued to pursue me. Car stopped, and I begged this guy to let me in; he wouldn’t.”

Completely understandable.

“I’m in the middle of 4th Street, almost half way to [HCMC]. The guy sees the car pulling away and he starts coming back at me again. I hear the train, I’m racing back to the train station and thinking, ‘This is my one chance. If I don’t make it on this train, I’m going to be on this platform probably with a knife wound,’ ” said LaBelle. “Never been so scared in my life and that was 12 hours ago; still shaking like a leaf. It was one of the moments where you think you’re dead, you’re going to die.”

He called me and WCCO-TV, where in September 2015 Liz Collin did a story on crimes reported at light-rail stops ( Hundreds of incidents were reported — many of them failure to pay the fare, but also serious crimes.

LaBelle was not happy with the response from MPD until he talked to a commander who said there should be video, and the cyclist is probably somebody known to police. “Since then I have heard nothing,” he said.

LaBelle hasn’t been sleeping since the incident and is hesitant to return to Minnesota. He also works out of a home in California. He plans to carry Mace with him the next time he has an early morning flight, even though he’ll have to ditch it before going through TSA security checks.

“I gather the reason for a lack of police presence is financial resources, and I think that’s a poor excuse with so many past incidents, given the WCCO report,” said LaBelle. “How can Metro Transit’s position be that this is a safe form of transportation with this many incidents? It’s outrageous.”


C.J. can be reached at and seen on Fox 9’s “Jason Show” and “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count. Attachments are not opened.