Archive for May 2006

Ch-ch-ch-changes in Memphis?

May 31, 2006

Wow. I hear changes are being made or considered in the local TV news business in Memphis. First, I had heard there’s a change in the ND post at WPTY but haven’t been able to get anything more on that. Don’t know what the reason for that would be since it seems they have become more agressive over there.
I read a posting by Jamey Tucker that WMC may be considering going partial VJ. I don’t have anything more than what I read on his blog but what I read there was interesting. You can just about bet that if the folks on Union go partial VJ that the rest of the shops in town will not be far behind. I know Jamey has been at WKRN in Nashville since the first of the year and has seen the advantages and disadvantages of VJs. He says he believes in the system and says he’s having the time of his life as the Religion VJ in Nashville. Perhaps someone on Union could shed some light on what’s going on in their shop.
At this point, I wouldn’t expect to see major changes with the folks down on the river. This, in light of the fact that they won the morning and late evening newscasts. Other than a few people leaving or considering leaving down there, I’m sure the thinking is that whatever they are doing is working and they don’t want to screw things up.

The Future of Television has Arrived and You Get to Help!

May 29, 2006

My lovely and talented bride and I were watching a movie on the FX Network on satellite when the future of TV presented itself. I thought it was a joke at first, then realized the second time we saw the spot that it was not.
A man who identified as John Landgraf, president and general manager of FX network came on the screen and in a humorous pitch said “I bet you have the next big idea for a comedy series. ” He was partially plugging an upcoming series with Danny Divito called “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” He says the idea for that came together from a project that three guys put together for $200.00. The promo goes on to say you could win $50,000.00 dollars if your idea is chosen.
It’s not a bad idea. It has to be better than the current crop of crap that passes for entertainment.
It also reminds me efforts by some news operations that let the viewers decide what stories they will cover. I’m assuming those efforts did not do well because if they had, every consultant who knows how to charge a fee would be hawking this idea as THE way to drive viewers to watch.
It also reminds me of efforts by the Ford Motor company to let the people design a car back in the 50’s. That collaboration ended in “The Edsel”. We all know what that name is synonymous with.

The Numbers are IN from the May Book in the Bluff City

May 26, 2006

This blog thing is great, kind of like being at a bar. You ask for something and suddenly, there it is, right in front of you. Earlier this week, I asked for numbers from the May book here in the Bluff City and suddenly, there they are. I thank the person who provided them to me.
From the numbers I received, the station down on the river won again at 10 o’clock and in the morning when the operations went head to head. WMC stayed ahead in the early evening and WHBQ had a strong showing at 9pm. (The numbers for WHBQ and WPTY at 5:30am were not made available to me.)
It looks like the folks down on the river found a combination that works. They now have two wins under their belt at 10pm. A third win will show a trend. It will be interesting to see what changes take place across town in an effort to challenge it.

Here’s the breakdown as presented to me: I tried to lay this out in columns but it wouldn’t work for me on this page when I published. So I’ve attempted to spell it out.

At M-F 5-5:30am WREG had a 4.2/15 while WMC pulled a 3.1/11 WHBQ had 2.8/9 and WPTY came in with 1/4
WREG won M-F 5:30-6am with a 6/19 while WMC followed with 4.7/15. Again, no numbers were made available for WHBQ in that half hour.
WREG also won the M-F 6:00-7:00 with a 7.2/18 while WMC was close behind with 6.8/17. WHBQ has a 4.9/12 and WPTY came in with 1.5/4

AT Noon, WREG won again with 6.2/15 compared to WMC’s 4.7/11

WMC won the early news with 9.9/17 at 5pm whille WREG was next at 8.6/15 . WHBQ was next 5.1/9 and WPTY pulled a 5.5/10
WMC grabbed 10.6/17 at 6pm followed by WREG with 8.9/15 . WHBQ had 5.5/9 and WPTY had 3.4/6

Fox 13 had a strong showing M-F 9:00pm with 10.1/14

WREG won the 10-10:35pm 11.6/18 compared to WMC’s 10.9/17 and WPTY’s 4.1/6.

So, Any Word on the TV News Ratings Game in Memphis?

May 25, 2006

It’s time again to play Spin the Ratings. The folks down on the river won bragging rights back in February and some said it was a fluke because of the Winter Olympics carried by the station on Union. While some said it was no big deal, it reportedly had some folks sweating bullets to make sure it didn’t happen again. I’m told both stations kicked things up a notch with one giving away free gas while the other devoted a lot of commercial time on weekends to promo their evening news. One insider on the river said almost all resources have been poured into the weekday evening news in an effort to keep some momentum going.
Now comes time for the press releases by the news, promotions and marketing departments to put the best spin on whatever happened. A whole lot is at stake here. It will be interesting to see how things shake out.

Kudos to Fed Ex Marketing and Yet Another Sign of the Apocalypse

May 24, 2006

Somebody at Memphis based Fed Ex’s marketing department should be getting a huge bonus. Once again the shipping giant manages to put itself right smack dab in the middle of the news in a positive light and I found myself applauding the effort. It seems that some penguins that had been evacuated from the gulf coast either right before or right after Hurricane Katrina hit were taken back there. They arrived by Fed Ex cargo jet. Not only was this made into a media event, but someone (I guess Fed Ex) provided the purple carpet (one of Fed Ex’s colors). You got to hand it to those folks. They know how to get their company out in front of the cameras and the publicity and goodwill more than paid for the transport of the penguins.
And here is yet another Sign of the Apocalypse.
I’ve never bought into the Reality Show genre. I saw about ten minutes of Survivor when it first aired and thought it was a waste of my time. I still do. The Great Race, American Idol and whatever show Paris Hilton was in that made her famous along with the others. I know they are quite popular and if that is your cup of tea, more power to you. IMHO these reality shows are contrived. They are cheap to make and the viewing audience loves them. I used to hear my co-workers talking about who won what. I can’t believe how much news time has been, is and will be spent on covering some controversy stemming from these shows. I always cringed when I had to read some story on the morning news about CBS’ Survivor.
But the Sign of the Apocalypse is that almost 50 million people voted in the latest round of American Idol. That’s almost as many people who voted for each of the presidential candidates. Let me think about this: folks are as concerned about who wins a modern version of the “Ted Mack Amatuer Hour” as who will head the most powerful country in the world, set policy in motion that affects our daily lives and will help decide our future. I guess I just don’t get it.
I’m told the shows are addictive and that if I would just watch a couple of them all the way through, I too would be hooked. No, I think I’ll pass.
Let’s see: Cheap to make, extremely addictive, and makes someone a lot of money. Sounds to me like the networks finally figured out a way to make video versions of crystal meth.

Good Night and Good Luck Mike Wallace

May 22, 2006

As cliched as it might sound, an era ended Sunday night with the swan song of Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes. I missed about the first four or five minutes of the retrospective of the guy who created what some say was the most feared phrase in America ” Hello, I’m Mike Wallace”. As arguably the most feared reporter in America he was the last person you wanted to show up on your door step with camera in tow. I will never understand how he never got shot. He did get pushed around at the 1968 Democratic National Convention but I don’t think he actually got punched. His willingness to barge in with a camera inspired countless imitators who now get into your face with a camera locally because the flag flying from your car or house is tattered, to chasing you down to chastise you for daring to speed through a school zone or make a turn where you weren’t supposed to. They do this because someone saw Mike Wallace go in with cameras rolling. I think part of the attraction and the high number of viewers tuning in to 60 Minutes each week was to see if this was the week that someone would clean Mike Wallace’s clock. Oh, I think he was put in cuffs at least once but that was just a couple of years ago but some police types in NYC when Wallace needed a fix of meatloaf. The person who was driving Wallace had double parked and someone with a badge and a handy-talkie got a little carried away.
It found it interesting that Mike admitted his attempt at suicide. But you would expect someone like him to be honest at this point in his life. He always expected straight talk from those he interviewed. He apologized to Babs Streisand saying he was hard on her during an interview.
I really respect Mike Wallace for the career he created. He re-invented himself on a regular basis. He worked in radio as an announcer in a serial. He was an entertainer, (we got to hear him sing a bit) he worked general news and he then came 60 Minutes. But as much as I respect him, I feel kind of sorry for him as well. He mentioned to Morley Safer that he (Morley) had hobbies such as painting and writing and golf. Wallace said he had nothing but his work. But perhaps that’s why he was recognized for his career. How many other 88 year olds can get that recognition. Heck, how many men live to be 88. I do fear that Mike Wallace, who found so much energy to focus on his work, will be lost without 60-Minutes. I fear that he will encounter what I call the “Bear Bryant” Syndrome. The Bear didn’t last too long after he left the ‘Bama football program. I hope Mike Wallace will find time to stop and smell the roses and reflect on the admiration that many have for him and the standards that he helped set. And I hope he has many many more years ahead of him and I hope they are happy ones.
And to use the phrase that he used Sunday night to sign off, a phrase used by another giant before him.
“Good Night and Good Luck Mike Wallace. “

I can find more than I would ever want to know about the Da Vinci Code on TV but I sure can’t find anything about weather!

May 21, 2006

First, let me say I liked the Da Vinci Code book. It was entertaining and I personally thought a better read than Angels and Demons, also by Dan Brown. I think both are thought provoking fiction. It hasn’t swayed me to go find a secret society or expect any more foul play from the church, any church, than already exists. I’m proud the author, Mr. Brown, is making a boatload of money. I’d be even more proud if he shoveled a couple of bags in my general direction, but I know that’s not going to happen.
Having said that, I’m really kind of tired of what seems like every other show on the tube offering some kind of spin-off investigation of DVC to get viewers and hence commercial sponsors in their corner. You name it and somebody has done it. You can’t swing a dead cat in the air without its poor lifeless body being bombarded with TV and satellite signals carrying something about the Da Vinci code. It’s everywhere.
So, Saturday morning, I was wading through the channels so I could get a weather report from The Weather Channel. It sounds simple enough, plus I knew I wouldn’t see anything about DVC there. If you want to see sports, you go to Fox Sports South or one of the ESPN channels or if you want to see golf, you go to the Golf Channel. But on Saturday and Sunday mornings, don’t you dare go to The Weather Channel expecting to see weather. You will see what IMHO looks like Network Morning Show Hell. You got the Oriental babe acting cute and chatting with some Caucasian girl on the sofa set and occasionally they toss it out to the white guy reporter who is doing something really wacky and hoping you will say, “Wow, I wish I could be him.” The only thing it has me wanting to do is throw my coffee mug at the TV set as I scream, “Where’s the damn weather map! I just want to see what is out there so I can make my own judgment about my plans for the day or for the weekend. I end up going to the computer and calling up NOAA weather and checking things out for myself. I guess it’s too much to ask anymore that some organization like the Weather Channel actually give you weather. I will keep my fingers crossed and perhaps, “It Could Happen Tomorrow.” I won’t hold my breath.