When the ship starts to flounder, one of the first things they want to do is toss the anchor overboard!

Some news operations are like that. If they see they really aren’t going anywhere like the consultants convinced them they should be, then they (the ND and GM) start tossing the anchors and other on-air folks overboard. They’ll usually give folks a couple of years to “make a difference” and then it’s time to pull the plug if they aren’t producing.
I don’t think we’ll see any of that in Memphis just yet, but I can bet you there are some folks out there sweating just a wee bit. I’m not just talking talent either. Yah, news can be a cyclical thing and you never really know in a ratings month what viewers will do although you do have a pretty good idea. You know November and February are times when the weather isn’t great, at least here in the MidSouth and folks will tend to be indoors watching TV. During May, the weather is nicer. It’s still a big month since what you do in May will dictate the sales rates to November. Technically July is a ratings month but unless it’s absolutely hot as hell, folks will be out and about and not watching much TV. Some news folks even blow it off, especially if they’re losing the book. Others like to tout the numbers, especially if they’re making gains or are winning.
All of this leads up to a point which I make now. The station down on the river appears to be holding on to its claim as the News Channel in Memphis That’s according to the numbers I’ve seen so far and I will admit, I’ve only seen a sampling of the numbers. Yah, demographics determine the sales but bragging rights are also based on the ratings, at least in the newsroom.
So, it might not just be the heat that has some folks here in the Bluff City sweating. And while it may be cooler in the drink, nobody wants to get tossed overboard.

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15 Comments on “When the ship starts to flounder, one of the first things they want to do is toss the anchor overboard!”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    There is so much the people on Union, the people on Union Extended, and the people on Highland can do instead of firing or shuffling anchors.

    The Guys on Union could improve the set. One of their weakest links is that they lost and let go of so many reporters nad the replacements are not on the same quality level. SO The guys on Union could better prepare, polish, and script both anchors and reporters.

    Memphis loves weather When nothing else works, Cover weather with gizmos and gimmics.

    Move Oprah down 30 minutes and develop a early lead in news.

    The union station has to do things better in writing, directing, reporting and anchoring…IF thye want the lead back.

  2. Joe Larkins Says:

    You don’t sound like you’re an average viewer but rather someone in the business.
    I’m sure they are scrambling on Union. I’ve heard they’ve given their consultant the boot. Don’t know if they have a replacement or perhaps will try to figure this out on their own from within the organization.

  3. Average Guy Says:

    The beauty of posts like this is that it gives everyone an opportunity to be a GM, ND or PD. If only it were so simple. What I have found is that the station’s brand is far more important than anything else. Much like any retail brand, a product must deliver consistently on the expectations set by that brand.

    I have not been able to view the Memphis televsion competition with any critical eye for a number of years but I would bet if Ch 5 is losing viewers it is for two reasons. One is that they are not delivering their brand expectation of news on a consistent basis to the viewers the way they have in the past. They have a lot of salary that goes to the top talent. The rotating pool of reporters caused by limited funds to pay them (because they pay the top so much) hurts their brand. These kids come in for two and three year stints and don’t really understand the position Ch 5 holds in the market. They do nothing to delivery the brand as viewers expect it to be delivered.

    The second reason relates to the first. The loyal Ch 5 viewer is dying and not being replaced by younger viewers. Those who move into Memphis have no life-long loyalty. They’re not obligated to watch Ch 5 because their parents and their grandparents did. They’re choosing other stations.

    No particular anchor will solve the problem. It has to be solved by delivering a consistent product that the viewer not only can rely on but one the viewer wants.

    That’s my two cents.

    The GM

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I don’t think any of us can understate what really is going on in the Memphis market. There was a day, regardless of network or other factors, that WMC dominated no matter what.
    WPTY is doing cutting-edge stuff.. not always for the approval of purists, but enough to catch people’s attention.
    The FOX network is on the move with great demos and local stations are benefitting. (I personally think the Fox 13 reporters are below the market level, but viewers like the 9pm news.)
    WREG is coming on strong and acting more like the number one.. they look every bit as polished and professional as WMC. The numbers reflect it. “GM” has it right.. if WMC truly is spending more than 900K on its top 4 talent.. that’s a top-heavy expense that makes it hard to compete.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Joe, the GM has a very strong and valid point. 5 for years, maintained a cut above the rest and very polished “product” whether it was in entertainment features, news, or even in-house documentaries. 5 was always professional and high velocity. I think it came from Mr. Slavick and Mr. Greaney, and their ghosts have kept it in place up to now. The viewer make up is changing and I think somebody is firing a “random shotgun pattern” to see what works and what doesn’t. As a result the ratings are changing.
    Just a thought………JD

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Wow!!!! Maybe the money TV 5 is spending on station talent is why WMC TV is letting their production and quality go out the window?

    Everybody in the market knows that Channel 5 is the oldest station and that in the past history, the station has been the dominant source for local news and entertainment station, sign-on to sign-off. The past is over with now and everyone is living in the 21st Century, except WMC TV 5. I viewed the station’s new news promo featuring chopper 5 last Saturday night. If those are the new graphics they are unvailing then somebody there must have been embezzling money from the station all this time (or Ch.5 needs to retire somebody or let somebody go). I didn’t see anything new about the promo.

    TV 5 has made very slight changes to their news desk by adding a solid line where the lights on the thing used to be. I thought “is this what they think of their viewers or do they not care about how it looks when the report the news, which one?” WMC has dropped the ball as an entertainment and news leader; it would take a major overhaul in production and a lot of on-air strategy to get the station back on top.

    Come up with something new…like a live local television show in the afternoons with Mike Flemming and Janis Fullilove hosting with a live audience. An idea along those lines would help the supposely heritage station. How about moving Dr. Phil to compete with Y & R at 11am as lead in for Action News 5 at Noon.

    Divide the hour long news castat noon into two thirty minute slots — first 30 minutes devoted to news, second 30 minutes devoted to Community Affairs, maybe?

    Also, I think moving Oprah back to 3pm for an hour long newscast at 4pm as a lead in to the five pm newscast would help Ch. 5 strengthen ratings against WREG. But first they need to do something about their graphic and set (new look, modern Memphis style — nothing trashy or tacky).

    I am glad for the station on the river and the stations on Union Ext. because those channels have concern about what viewers want… as supposed to certain people at a tv station running things how they want regardless of how it looks, how it connects with the viewers, and as long as certain big wigs get paid. What is Raycom thinking?

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks for the complement on being “someone in the business”, but I am just a west tennessee news junkie that has watched Memphis stations and WBBJ for years. Sadly the mighty has fallen, even the WBBJ set is better than the WMC set!!!!!

    I am taken aback with the 900,000 figure reported for the top 4 talent. Ok, its Dave and Joe…Who’s number 3 & 4? I like Jarvis, Donna, and Kim (Clark), but neither of those could be a 6 figure performer. If that is true, then why did Merle Purvis leave? I am taken aback by the heavy overhead. Joe and Dave are really the core anchors, and anybody else is movable or interchangeable.

    I have often wondered if it was Dave, Rasslin (hey, I can’t get the West TN out of me), or both that moved the number one from HBQ to MC years ago!

    Dave’s days are measured, and I hope they work to transfer the rub, like WSMV did with Bill Hall.

    I like how WSMV has changed and reinvented itself (clearing out the whole morning show for example) to meet WTVF in battle. The fight in ratings in Nashville mirrors Memphis. WSMV, like WMC is the old standby bumped down. I admit, that WSMV probably has more anchor overhead than WMC (Alan Frio and wife Terri Messerman can’t be cheap.

    I think what WMC will need to do is something that worked for them over the years. Humanize their anchors. Have great features strategically placed through the week. Remember Nancy Hart Segment? Remember how effective the earlier version of food for thought segment was? How abotu Joe Burch’s big interviews? Those are example of must watch segments.

    Another thing WMC can do is put the “A” team (Joe, Donna, Dave, Jarvis) on sundays to pull the viewers -this fall- from sunday-football over to monday and the week. This is a great opportunity to carry the “rub” over to the week.

    Another thing, build a window set using the Union Ave Backdrop to show that they are at the heartbeat of memphis action on Union. The river folks used the newsroom as the backdrop, why not use Union as the backdrop for action news.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Anonymous 8:15am…

    Those where so great ideas for WMC. I also wonder why channel 5 seperates Jarvis Greer from the rest of the news teams during the sports segment transition? Since they started that, I thought that technique is awful. He needs interaction with the rest of the team.

    Now those nasty dull river-washed graphics (that look like a cheap cartoon) need to be replaced with graphics with a modern appeal and that tell viewers that Memphis isn’t always gonna be a rundown city in the woods. The modern look could still be accomplished using the riverboat.

    I would think that the $900,000 figure would include the salaries of the veterans: Joe, Kym, Dave, and Jarvis.

    I remember Nancy Hart…but there isn’t a calibre reporter on staff at TV 5 to bring that quality (with the exception of Janice Broach or Anna Marie Hartman). If those two could do feature news segments…then, well.

    A back drop of Union Avenue for the news desk…mmmmaybe. It would only show Pizza Hut, Memphis Police Department, and Walgreens… puts me in the mood for news!!!?

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Really Joe and Dave are the core players on the news. Everyone else can be replaced ,

    My guess on the seperating Jarvis is that they are taping (taped) some or all the segment for use.

    I was thinking of more of a view of union with moving traffic. with a 7 lane street, I doubt you could get a clear view of Pizza Hut.

    As far as features, Have a breakdast club once a week Thursday or friday) at a local with a live remote and get public input/reaction. Have a man on the street segment/soap-box, like in the old days.

    If nothing is done, then bring in your “A” team on sundays. Expand the 5:00pm hour with news weather and Fooball. The promo can be “News in Memphis”, a play on the “Football night in america” pregame show.

    Now that the network has Football, even the morning block can be made into a expanded News & weather plus football preview.

    A live remote rotating from one the region’s teams, Tennessee, New Orleans, Atlanta, St Louis, Dallas. If there is a night game at Indianapolis or Carolina, due to player interest..have a feed from there.

    The whole task is to energise and transfer the energy to Memphis News 5.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Y’all are overthinking this way too much. Does a set really make that much difference? WMC just needs to have another contest or “free gas giveaway” at the start of the Nov. book and buy its viewers. Much easier.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Don’t knock the “buy your viewers” contest concept. It worked for WREG several years back when they gave away 3 cars during one sweeps and won the ratings period.

    I think the backdrop of Pizza Hut, police station and Walgreen’s is a great idea for WMC. It definitely screams “News!” and is current with the news in Memphis.

    Police station – crimes and homocides

    Walgreen’s – drug and meth lab busts

    Pizza Hut – Memphis is considered one of the top obese cities in the U.S.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Anonymous 12:10…


    That is classic TV 5!

  13. Anonymous Says:

    As Ch. 3 learned from that car giveaway, once you start buying the viewers, you have to keep doing it. The ratings gains Ch. 3 made in that one book went away as soon as the car giveaway did.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    WMC might could benefit from more of a Wake up Call type of show in the mornings. Maybe one or two days per week send Ron Childers or another reoprter out somewhere to cover an event or activity and like on a Friday send the whole team out to an event or activity. It seems like a few years back Dave Brown every Friday went and covered a community for the 5 and 6 o’clock news and that may not be a bad idea to get that going again. A more personal approach from WMC may also help such as events like WREG did like the Kids Count Expo but after a while it got old.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Anonymous 7:07 pm…

    I think that you have some good ideas for channel 5. I think Kym Clark could bring that feeling back with her experience and personality. Nick, Kym, and Ron have what it takes…just not the right format. And Ch. 5 needs to be more active and intouch with the community.

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