Archive for October 2006

YouTube, We Hardly Knew U

October 30, 2006

Say goodbye to YouTube, at least the YouTube U knew. That’s because its new owner Google has started cleaning up the content, specifically the copyrighted stuff from places such as the Comedy Channel. You can’t blame Google. They’ve got deep pockets containing a lot of money and that has those wanting to file lawsuits for copyright infringment practically salivating at the thought of how much they could get. So, while we will still be able to see all of the home made stuff on the Tube, we’ll see less of the TV shows we’ve come to expect. I know some networks have an agreement with YouTube to show their stuff but not all.
I think clips appearing on YouTube may have helped encourage people to check out some cable and network shows featured there. But a copyright is a copyright and the law is the law and when big corporations are involved they have to play fair or find themselves facing an army of Perry Masons.

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A Political Ad That some Say Has Backfired, The Elusive Memphis Manatee, and Other Outdoor Ramblings!

October 26, 2006

I generally try to stay away from politics on this blog but the RNC ad against Democratic Senatorial Candidate Harold Ford Junior of Memphis is getting a lot of national attention. The ad has been pulled in many markets across the Volunteer State although I heard Thursday morning it was still playing in Chattanooga. Now HFJr has come out with a counter ad. This tight race in Tennessee has already been getting national attention and now this RNC attack ad is in the spotlight with some national pundits claiming it may have backfired. We’ll have to wait and see on that.

Q:So, just what is a manatee doing in the Wolf River Harbor?
A:It appears to be the backstroke!
Goodnight folks, try the veal, it’s the chef’s favorite.
Seriously, this manatee thing is what we used to call a “No Sh*t” story. We’d tell people about it and they’d respond with “No Sh*t”! I got the same reaction when about ten years ago I reported that an alligator had been found up near Shelby Forest. However, we have gators not too far from here but a manatee is something completely different. When I lived in Florida and worked in Tallahassee at the ABC affiliate, we did a series of stories on manatees. We traveled down to the Crystal River near Tampa. We used scuba gear and an underwater camera and put together a nice series. Somewhere around here I still have the video of me with a manatee. Despite the fact they are quite large, they can move very quickly when they want to. I just hope some yahoo here in the MidSouth doesn’t decide he or she wants to see what manatee ribs might taste like and attempt to put this one on the grill.

And I wanted to respond to a question from an anonymous poster on the previous post. I was asked if I missed MidSouth Outdoors (now NewsChannel 3 Outdoors) on WREG. The person said I always looked like I was having a good time.
Yes, I always enjoyed the Outdoor show and if I had been given the opportunity, I would have done the outdoor show full time. I started out as the original host on the show and was joined by Carl Graham and Craig Chapman (depending on whether we were talking fishing or hunting) on a set built to look like the inside of a cabin.
I spent a lot of time trying to put together stories for the outdoor show and had a tremendous amount of fun doing it. I remember thinking at the time, “I can’t believe they are paying me to do this.” That is a sign you really enjoy what you are doing. Remember, this was in addition to anchoring the morning show with MaryBeth Conley and turning a news package most days. A lot of my reporting switched over to feature which would never be allowed these days since consultants don’t want to see it, but it was always interesting to me. One of the big differences I found with feature reporting was that for the most part, people actually welcomed you. This contrasted with the routine of daily news coverage where you almost had to beg people to let you come out to talk to them about the news of the day. I never did get the knack of knocking on the door of the family of a murder victim and asking them if they would talk to us on camera.
Anyway, I credit the arrival of photographer/editor/producer Dan Patton to the outdoor show and Jeff Woods switching to full-time co-host to the outdoor show’s success. After a couple of years my news duties expanded to include anchoring the Noon show and that meant my duties on the outdoor show were slowly phased out. I used to tell people we had a two and a half man team on the show with me being the half-man.
While I did turn an occasional piece for show, most of my participation was limited to introducing pieces during the show. Still I had a great time and have very fond memories of the outdoor show and the many people I met. One of the best known pieces that ever aired on the outdoor show was when we first shared the story of the “flying carp” on the Mississippi. My dad is the one who first told me about it and supplied some home video of the fish jumping into the boat. Later, we traveled to Western Kentucky to fish with my dad. Both stories
ended up on the national news and for a year or so after that, CBS used our video to supplement their stories on the bighead carp. I have a recording of both stories and watch them occasionally. That trip with my dad on the river was one of the last times I went out on the Mighty Mississippi with my father before he died of cancer.
Did I enjoy the outdoor show? You betcha. Would I do another outdoor show? In a heartbeat.

Shame on The Station Down on the River for Not Helping Katie Couric

October 24, 2006

It’s partially your fault that Katie Couric has dropped to third place among the network anchors. At least that’s what the head of CBS News claims. He claims low-rated lead-ins from local affiliates are to blame for KC’s drop to the tail-bone patrol. I bet that sure makes everyone proud to know that the blame is laid where the blame belongs. If you were Numero Uno leading in to her she would be kicking rear. As it is, KC’s ratings are right where Bob Shieffer left them…oh wait his numbers were actually pretty decent if I remember correctly. And besides, your numbers are pretty good leading in to her. Perhaps this was all just a clever ploy to move KC to the CBS Morning show. I wonder if those in power at CBS STILL consider the hiring of KC to be such a great move and worth every penny of that 15-million.

Does Size Really Matter?

October 23, 2006

Apparently size does matter as opposed to what you do with what you’ve got. I’m talking radar here folks. I see where WMC has broken ground on a site in West Memphis for a one million watt weather radar set-up. For those of you who missed it, there was tease after tease during the Noon show on Monday before the big announcement. From a promotional point this a big deal. For several years now WREG has been able to brag that theirs was bigger than anybody elses and they never missed an opportunity to tell you about it. During weathergasms the weather folks would punch the “one million watt super-duper gonad weather radar”. Hey, it’s not bragging if it’s so. It’s kind of like when WMC had the only dedicated news chopper. They had it and nobody else did. When the station DOTR got their chopper, the made sure theirs was bigger and better and bright red.
That’s what the station on Union is doing with this new radar. They’ve already emphasized that their radar site is located in West Memphis, Arkansas and that bad weather headed for Memphis usually comes in from the West. Now you can see what’s coming a little sooner than those other guys who have radar sites in the eastern part of Shelby County.
I’m not sure how long it will take WMC’s new super duper super radar to be up and running but theirs is now as big as any in the market and “state of the art” as they will tell you.
So, the reality is that size does matter. But then you can’t just brag about that. You have to be able to show what you can do with it too. Let the games begin.

I Forgot It Was Illegal to Rob a Bank!

October 22, 2006

I think it was Steve Martin who, during a comedy routine, uttered the phrase or something to the effect “But I forgot it was illegal to rob a bank!”
I was reminded of this after reading about the 20-year old grocery store clerk who, according to investigators, amused himself by posting prank Internet warnings of terrorist attacks against NFL stadiums. You know the warnings: they made national news. And this wasn’t just to some kids website. This Einstein made the post around 40 times to various webistes. Then the attorney for this nimrod said after a court hearing that his client was shocked by the way the threats were received. Wow. I guess he’d probably get a chuckle too if this guy yelled “fire” in a crowded theater. Maybe it’s just me who is out of touch with reality but at what point in time do these wacky youngsters start grasping the concept that the defense “I really didn’t mean any harm” ain’t going to cut it in the wake of 9-11 and Columbine. It amazes me that kids still take handguns or other weapons to school and seem to be shocked when they’re caught and summarily booted from school. When I traveled by commercial airliner in September I saw the notice that reminded people that joking about a bomb or terrorist actions can lead to arrest. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when people have to be reminded NOT to do something really dumb.
As for the 20-year old, I’m reminded of the old Warren Zevon song “Excitable Boy”.
Here are a couple of lines:
He took little Suzie to the Junior Prom
Excitable boy, they all said
And he raped her and killed her, then he took her home
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he’s just an excitable boy .

Maybe the lawyers for this 20-year old will use the “excitable boy” defense. I wouldn’t be suprised.

Local Urban Myths in Television Part 2

October 18, 2006

For the readers of this blog, I am doing something that I’ve never done. I’m using the comments of one of the folks who posted a response to one of my blog postings. As I mentioned in a previous post, for the 17-plus years I’ve been in Memphis I’ve heard various incarnations of the story of WMC’s Dave Brown getting punched out for saying it was not going to rain and it did. This supposedly happened when he worked as weatherman at WHBQ-TV many years ago.
Dave Brown has attempted to clear up the mystery for years and he shared the story on my previous posting about local urban myths. As was suggested by a reader, I’m posting Dave’s comments for those who don’t bother reading all the comments.
Many thanks to DB who is in my opinion, a class act and a good sport for taking time to share what really happened.
Here’s Dave’s account from my previous blogging:

Amused, I am indeed. This story has better legs than anyone could have ever imagined. I have “set the record straight” many times on this, yet the legend lives. I doubt this post will fix it either, but here goes…

FACT – In March 1975, a mentally disturbed man came into WHBQ. He asked for me because I was the only name he knew at the station. He came into the old second floor newsroom. Ed Craig, Charlie B. Watson, the 10pm producer and I were the only ones around. We thought he might be armed and began insisting he leave the building. He struck me on the side of my head with his forearm. I was not hurt at all.

We got him out of the building with no harm. We notified police. Some thiry days later, he returned. After I identified him as the previous intruder, the police were called, he was arrested and at his court date it was immediately apparent to all that he was quite mentally disturbed. He was returned to a mental institution in Waukeegan IL where he had previously been treated for alcohol and drug abuse that was at least partially attributed to his serving in Vietnam.

FACT – It had NOTHING to do with me personally.

FACT – It had NOTHING to do with the weather.

FACT – It had nothing to do with Wrestling. On the three occasions we saw him, he never made any coherent statements that made sense.

FACT – He was NOT a farmer, concrete contractor, roofing contractor or irate husband/boyfriend. He was not an irate housewife or bride-to-be.

FACT – I have heard over 100 variations on the story. NONE of them are true.

FACT – At least 3000 people have told me they saw it happen on the air. It was not on the air. There was not even a camera on the floor where the incident occured. It was about an hour before the 10pm newscast.

In those days, television stations doors were unlocked and a receptionist was on duty until after the late newscast. I claim that this story sold more “buzz-to-enter” door locks to television stations than any other single event in the history of the medium.

As to Ed’s version…I assure you he was telling the story to amuse. In fact, he and Charlie were instrumental in helping to remove the guy from the building.

Hi to the lovely Mrs. Larkins and to Byron Day and all others who commented!

P.S. The microwave tower climber was on Union Avenue. Razor wire now covers the fence surrounding that tower.

Dave Brown

Look at Who has Come A-Courtin

October 18, 2006

Word out there is that some representatives of Hearst-Argyle Television group have paid a visit to the New York Times Broadcast operations center in Norfolk, Virginia and have also stopped by the NYTimes station there. I would imagine this would be some relatively good news for those who work in the NYTimes Broadcast group and are waiting for the other shoe to drop in the anticipated sale of the stations. Chatting with a friend at the Station DOTR, this person even commented when the planned sale of the group was announced that perhaps they would be lucky enough to be purchased by H-A. That group has about two dozen stations scattered around the country from Orlando to Boston to Sacramento and they apparently know the broadcast business. It’s the second largest owner of NBC affiliates and the largest ABC affiliate group in terms of audience reach. (Their words, not mine). H-A already owns stations in Des Moines, Iowa and Ft. Smith, Arkansas so I guess they’d keep the stronger station in the markets and dump the other. This visit also kind of fits the time frame of what was rumored when the sale was first announced: That the NYTimes wants to have a sale in the works by the end of October and have this thing wrapped up around the first of the year.