Archive for March 2007

Odds & Ends on a Friday

March 30, 2007

I was trying to find something on a lighter note to end this work-week with.  I found something, courtesy of my good friend and former co-worker Jack.  I will share with you in just a moment.

First, if you see a couple of TV traffic guys on the side of the road with a thumb out, give em a lift.  I heard through the grapevine that former co-worker Joey Hadley pulled the plug on himself as the morning traffic guy on ABC 24.  Joey worked the traffic detail for years on various radio stations and at WREG.  Back then he was widely known as “Deputy Joe with the traffic info.”  He was replaced by Deputy Ron at WREG who as I understand has hit the road as well.  No official word on what prompted that departure or who will step up to the plate to take over the morning duties.  No doubt about it, traffic is important.  That’s why those who have choppers will put them up during some ratings months to help raise visibility for their traffic coverage.

And as promised, something on a lighter note to wrap up this work week.  My friend Jack sent me this item about the state of television news as viewed by the folks at Jib Jab.  Click on the upper part of the screen to view “What We Call the News”.  Click on the lower section of the video screen to view “The Year in Review”.  That’s not what they call it but I’d didn’t want to post the real title here.  The title is worth a visit itself.     I love the work these folks do.  At their web site they will let you see how they made particular videos but you do have to sign up.  It might just be worth it.   I’m pretty sure you will laugh or at least chuckle.

If You Can’t Make Money Off the Corruption in Memphis, You’re NOT Trying.

March 29, 2007

My morning routine is just that: routine.  I let the pups out in the backyard, turn the coffee maker on, walk out front to grab the morning newspaper and then brace myself to see what those whacky characters elected to office or who are supposed to be serving the public have done lately.  I’m rarely disappointed.  This week the Commercial Appeal has been running an excellent series on corruption in the Memphis/Shelby County public service arena.  It provided me with a better perspective especially with some of the players who got nabbed back in the 60s and 70s.  The series also shared the fact that Corruption pays in the Bluff City.   The downside is that  there is a better than fair chance you will get caught and payback can be a bitch.  Except for one group which has found a way for corruption to pay off and I’m almost ready to throw money in their general direction. The group can be found at www.snappygreetings.com .  Not only can you purchase coffee mugs with notable quotes from our local leaders such as “Don’t make me your punk”, “I must have drunk the Mississippi River”, “My life serves as a model for a lot of people”, “I got a gun.  I’ll just shoot you dead”,  and my favorite, “Hey, John is doing it.  Why can’t I”.  The tag line on the ad in the CA says ”  The mugs are new, the corruption is not!  The mugs are pricey and no, I don’t get a kick-back for promoting them.  Still, I may have to snag a couple for Christmas gifts.  Check out the website and also make sure you click on the video there as well which features Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton.  It will make you smile.  After all, you’ll need to laugh to keep from crying about corruption.

Katie’s Annoying Hair Flips, The TV News Space/Time Continuum and Like Navin Johnson, I’m Now Somebody.

March 26, 2007

My wife and I both looked forward to seeing the John & Elizabeth Edwards interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes Sunday night.  It was for a variety of reasons including what makes this couple “tick”.  I TIVOed the interview and it was quite interesting to hear what they had to say.  I also thought it would give me yet another chance to see what the big deal is with Katie Couric.  So there the interview was motoring along and during one question, Katie gives a hair flip with the toss of her head.  Her hair really didn’t move.  Then a couple of questions later she does the same thing.  Maybe it’s just a quirk .  Maybe  long-time Katie fans  can tell me this is her trademark.  I found it  distracting.    Why would an editor leave it in?

I received an email last week from a former co-worker who left the TV business just recently sharing some information on the TV news Space/Time Continuum.  His email was about a former News Director at WREG who is now in Milwaukee.  It seems the police were pretty P-Oed at one of the TV stations after one of the anchors called the wife of a shooting victim before police had a chance to inform the woman of her husband’s death.  According to the email I received, this was posted on NewsBlues, the TV gossip website:

WTMJ News Director Bill Berra said it was never the station’s intention to break the news to the family and says he was surprised by how long it took police to make the notification..

“We didn’t think we’d be telling the family 4½ hours after the event,” he explained. “I’m just terribly upset that we were put in the position of having to tell the family. And I apologize to them in every way possible.”

“In our world, four hours is not a long time,” said police spokeswoman Anne Schwartz. “We want to be absolutely sure that we have the identity of the person, that we know where to find the next of kin. If the media call and ask, we let them know that family notification has been made.” 

At WREG Berra and his second in command Shawn Briggs were known as the “Killer Bees” and really pushed hard for getting things on the air as fast as possible.  The comment from my friend who sent this email : Looks like Bill & Shawn are still pushing their reporters to report first and think later: 

And like Navin Johnson, Steve Martin’s character in the movie “The Jerk” who exclaimed that he was ‘somebody’ after his name appeared in the telephone book,  I guess I’m somebody now.  No, it’s not the telephone book but the Commercial Appeal.  It seems my post on how guessing the time and date of the U-S Attorney General’s departure from office could win you a year’s worth of ice cream got somebody’s attention over on Union.  My blog post was featured in Sunday’s CA in the Blogroll section.   This is just part of my quest for world domination.  First the Memphis Flyer, now the Commercial Appeal, next Memphis Magazine and then it’s on to the rest of the world!

So Long, farewell, Auf wiedersehen, goodbye

March 22, 2007

This is officially my last post on this blogsite. As I stated before I tried to get issues resolved about signing on and never got a satisfactory answer so I began posting on my new blogsite where I’ve been trouble free and it even features the new beardless picture of me for anyone who might care. I will attempt to migrate my blog over by the end of next week and pull the plug here. As I mentioned before I hope those of you who check in on a regular basis will visit on occasion. It’s joelarkins.wordpress.com .

Regards,

Joe Larkins

Let the U-S Attorney General Treat You to Ice Cream

March 21, 2007

A headline like that will really get your attention.  It did mine.  Here’s the deal and this is NOT an urban myth or legend.  If you go to TrueMajority.org   which was founded by the folks who came up with Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream,  you will find where you can enter a pool on just when U-S Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will resign.  The person guessing closest to the time as determined by when the Associated Press hits the air with the story, that person will win a year’s supply of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream.   In case of a tie, a computer will pick the winner.  I’m sure those who enter will eat only from the left side of the container.  I personally would dig in right down the middle.

Female Anchor Attire & Memphis Makes a Headline in the NYTimes

March 21, 2007

TV is all about the pictures. That’s why in many newscasts if it bleeds, it leads. We get bombarded with pictures of scantily clad celebrities and high speed chases. If it’s caught on tape, we end up seeing it on the boob-tube. Which brings me to my question of just how female anchors should dress while on the air. I’m not picking on the females. It’s just that male anchors wear the standard coat and tie although some could use help in picking out the combinations. No, I’m talking about the plunging necklines showing ample cleavage. This was a question posed on TVSpy’s Watercooler section recently. Just as “it’s not bragging if it’s so” I guess if you’ve got it flaunt it, especially if it helps bring in viewers. Stations hire talent these days not because of their reporting abilities but because they are easy on the eyes and generally cheap. Paraphrasing one ND, I can teach a good looking gal to report, I can’t teach an ugly reporter to be good looking. So, in these days where it’s all about the ratings shouldn’t a female anchor with the assets be encouraged periodically to go on the air with a plunging neckline or stand in front of the Chroma-wall for the full body shot if she has the goods to back it up. Some will decry this as a sexist and perhaps voyeuristic observation but don’t think it’s not done or at least considered by managers from time to time. Granted, there are limits since nobody wants to be hit with harassment lawsuits. But I remember the case of a buxom young thing from the Duluth market a few years back whose news director encouraged her to wear only sweaters while doing the weather. She eventually sued and won. If she had come up with the idea, I guess it would have been okay.
And I got a note from a former broadcaster/co-worker who left the business to do TV for a private company. He alerted me to the fact that Memphis’ MLG&W utility scandal made the bigtime with an article appearing in the NYTimes. I guess it’s times like these that I’m more than a little embarrassed about what goes on in Memphis. For years I’ve read about stuff out of another Mississippi River town about corruption, scandals and other problems. That town or rather city is New Orleans. I remember thinking “how can the locals put up with this. How do they keep electing these boneheads. How do the locals tolerate this crap.” Now that I see some strange things going on in Memphis, I’m still wondering.

Gay and in TV News. Who Cares. Apparently Some Do.

March 18, 2007

There’s been some buzz recently about whether CNN’s Anderson Cooper is gay. So what if he is. If you start getting rid of people who are on-air and gay, even locally, the ranks of on-air people will get a bit thin. I’m not sure what the big deal is. If the individual is a good reporter or good anchor, let that person do his job. Will you find that person less credible if he or she has an alternative lifestyle? As long as someone doesn’t let his or her personal life interfere, it really shouldn’t matter. I’ve worked with gays pretty much since I’ve been in broadcasting. I didn’t find out half of those were gay until either they left for another job or I left for another job. I suspected some folks were but others hid it well. I’ve read that statistically one out of ten people in the U-S is gay or lesbian. That means in a 50-person newsroom, the chances are that five people in that newsroom have an alternative lifestyle. In my personal observations, the number of people who are gay in a TV newsroom runs higher. I’m not sure why, but so what. I figure they have a tough enough life in society without me judging them. I consider some of these folks my good friends and like to get together on occasion to chat about TV in particular and the world in general. I’ve worked with one person who was a manager and a real pain in the newsroom. I was glad when that person left for another newsroom. I’m told that person chilled out quite a bit after coming out of the closet. These days it seems like it’s less of an issue. Kind of like interracial dating or marriage, which in Memphis can still be an issue. Yes, it might still turn a few heads here in the Bible Belt but more and more it’s being accepted. Some on-air people locally keep up the facade and there are plenty of whispers. I know I’ve been asked about some people locally since I left TV news. Other people will tell you if you ask and others are really open about it. In my opinion in the long run, it’s all about the job they do. If Anderson Cooper is gay, so be it. He’s on CNN and CBS 60 Minutes and getting a lot of exposure. Kick him out if he doesn’t do his job or pull in the ratings. In the meantime, leave him alone.