Farewell to an Old News Hound and Friend & The Latest Standing in the Horse Race of Memphis TV News

Before I get to the local ratings numbers, a note about a guy you could really describe as a news hound in Memphis.   The name: Ron Michaels Hughes although most of us only knew him as Ron Michaels.  I met him not long after I came to Memphis back in 1989 when I attended what seemed back then as frequent parties where TV, Radio and other misfits from normal society would gather to talk and drink beer.  Ron, who has been described as one of the pioneers of hard rock music on FM radio in Memphis later switched to TV news where he served as assignment editor for WMC-TV.  He was a little guy who loved a big story and if it happened in Memphis, Ron knew about it.  He hated to get beat on a story but he liked the competition.  He told me he didn’t like the direction he saw local TV news going and often told me he longed for the good old days when consultants played less of a role in the newsroom and reporters actually went out and covered what he considered real news.

Two weeks ago today, I received an email from Ron.  I’m sharing this with you now.  The only thing I did was try to enlarge the typeface and that may add some funky characters to his post.  Please overlook them:

Feel free to use my post any way you see fit. Caution: There is a 

typo in there which I  caught when I re-read it. Use your talented 

producer abilities and see if you can find it. I think I said "and" 

and meant to say "an", or vice versa. When I went to correct it 

myself, I couldn't find the email again.

Always good to hear from you and miss our going away party 

discussions at Jeff Wood's house. I pretty much home bound now 

because of my lung problems but they can't kill me but I'm getting 

some good drugs. If I felt like it, I would love to do a daily news 

review blog where I would be highly critical of the daily newspaper 

and TV news. What have I got to lose? i.e. If the media would spend 

as much time on MLGW coverage as they do on crime coverage wouldn't 

things be a lot better for all these poor and elderly people who are 

forced to freeze in the winter  and burn  to death in the summer? 

That's just one that burns my ass every day.

Your pal,


Ron suffered from poor health when I first met him and never really recovered.  Still he hung on for almost 18 years from the time I first had the chance to talk with him.  I would run into him on occasion at Alex’s Tavern on Jackson.  Ron Michaels  died this past Sunday at his home.  I feel my life is much richer for having known him. Goodbye Ron, you will be missed.

Ron always liked a good scramble for news and I’ve always loved a good horse race. It has nothing to do with the fact that I’m from Kentucky.   A horse race is what we have in the Bluff City.  According to some numbers shared with me on the previous post and now being shared with you here, this is what the initial figures look like.  Yes, yes, I know the demographics still have to come out and that will take about two weeks and that’s what advertisers want to see.  But what I have is what I have and it’s listed below.  It’s extremely close in the mornings with WREG winning and Fox 13 posting better numbers at 5am than Action News 5.  WMC and Fox 13 swap positions at 6am.  WREG will probably always win at noon as long as they have the Young and Restless as a lead-in.  WMC wins by better than a point at 5 & 6 and it appears that WMC has retaken the lead at 10.  We’ll have to see how all this shakes out but it appears that a new round of promos should be hitting the airwaves soon.

5am:   WREG 4.1  WMC 3.3  WHBQ 3.8
6am:   WREG 6.7  WMC 6.0  WHBQ 5.5
Noon:  WREG 7.9  WMC 5.0
5pm:   WREG 8.4   WMC 9.7
6pm:   WREG 9.0   WMC 10.4
10pm  WREG 10.8*   WMC  11.8

There's an asterik next to the WREG 10pm number because the station
retitled the second 15 minutes of at least 5 newscasts.   It was a very
tight book.


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19 Comments on “Farewell to an Old News Hound and Friend & The Latest Standing in the Horse Race of Memphis TV News”

  1. James Says:

    Looking at the ratings, I think one of the stations should get Ophelia Ford to come in and do the weather. I am sure she would work all week for a bowl of soup. I know I’d watch.

    And another thought, if Memphis could figure out how to get BBQ sauce on a bullit, you could have Memphis in May year round.

  2. Joe Gannon Says:

    Let me be the first to say I’m really sorry to hear that Ron Michaels died. I too started at the station DOTR in 1989 and ran into Ron at a lot of after-work parties (many at Jeff Woods’ lovely home). Ron and I would talk a lot about TV, his years on the desk at 5, gossip, etc. Everybody I knew from my short internship at 5 talked about Ron with great respect and admiration. I loved his stories about the desk, and how he experienced stories like the St. Jude hostage situation in the early 1980s. He was a great guy and I always enjoyed seeing him. He will be missed.

  3. Richard Says:

    I’m sure sorry to hear that Ron Michaels passed away Joe. I remember him well from his radio days.

    Rest in peace Ron!

  4. JD Says:

    Hi Joe!
    Showing my age here but……..Ron Michaels, Greg Hamilton, David Day, Keith Hembick, Mike Powell, Phil Connor and John Scott were the greats as far as Memphis FM Radio was concerned in the late 60’s. They had a long play format over at FM100 and introduced all of us Memphis “Country” people to some hellacious new talent we never would have heard otherwise. AM would not fool with it. True pioneers.

    I remember Ron from “Trader Dicks” in Overton Square. Wonderful and great guy. I am truly sorry he is gone…..

  5. chris tenstall Says:

    What about 24/30?

  6. Les Nessman Says:

    24/30 were sold recently.

    But on a much more important note, they didn’t call Ron – – “Scoop” for nothing. He was the best damn assignment editor there ever was and will ever be in this Memphis. RIP Ron, you kicked everybody’s ass. Many attribute WMC’s success in the 70’s and 80’s to the talent, such as Mason, Brenda, Dave, Jack, Joe, etc. but the real success was the result of Ron with his contacts and a great ear for the scanning in decipering what was real news and b.s. (unlike today’s desk flunkies).

  7. Bishop333 Says:

    Thanks for the numbers. I enjoy 3 over 5 any day. I think the morning team is great and Claudia Barr was a needed value. In regards to Ophelia Ford, I think we really need to be careful in making fun of her. It’s obvious that she needs help and the media harassing her is not making it any better. Respect people enough to want to see them helped. But for the grace of God, it could be us or a family member of our.

  8. Trish Simpson Says:

    Thank you so much for the kind words said about my brother Ron Michaels. Through this we’re learning how many lives his touched. What a treasure.

  9. Flawless1 Says:

    What about FOX13 at 9P? I’m sure Idol helped those numbers and Mearl’s interview with Bishop Patterson’s widow was excellent.

  10. curious Says:

    what’s the real story behind darrell phillips jumping from 5 to 13.

  11. Les Nessman Says:

    Does it really matter what Fox13’s 9P numbers are, considering who they competed against that time slot? Of course Idol helped the numbers. Going head to head against WLMT and not WMC and WREG also helped tremendously. One story does not make or break a station in the ratings unless it’s the last night and the stations are neck and neck in the ratings. You may consider Mearl’s interview excellent, but as far as its impact on the ratings, it was a non-factor.

  12. Flawless1 Says:

    I’d still be interested to see how LMT and HBQ stacked up against the big two at 5 and how the 9P numbers look. MC is usually my station of choice but some of the stories on HBQ and LMT are so darned entertaining.

  13. FREDD Says:

    I’m glad the “suits” came to DOTR with an easy rider style. I was afraid there would be cuts. The fear I had was merging morning and Lie at 9 hosts.

    For native Memphomanics, Ron Michaels and John Scott created LP Rock in Memphis. Prior to FM 100, Memphis was a country music town. Those guys opened the world to the other music. I’d love to see those demographics of listeners in those days, but then again there was Rick Dees in themid 70’s on both MPS and HBO and when he was at both both simocasts on their sister FM station (Now RVR-104
    and KIX 106 ting back). I remeber the LP album cut ending and hitting the label with the needle. You just had a feeling the guys were sitting back as the listeners were, relaxing.

    I also caution on jabbing Ophelia, but when life is more a parody than fiction…it happens.

    The numbers show a very tight race. Now if 24 can ramp it up and do some damage, then it will ne interesting. The Clear Channel strategy of changing Jackson TV-16 in West Tennessee to a FOX station didn’t seem to affect WHBQ as bad as what I would’ve thought.

    The FOX-13 numbers are very impressive at 6:00am. Could 13 decide to return to the 10:00pm wars? WHo would be hurt the most if FOX-13 siphoned off the 10pm news watchers? My answer would be CW-30 with alternative programming.

  14. Les Nessman Says:

    If Fox13 returned to 10pm news, who will hurt the most? Highly rated syndicated show “Mama’s Family” or “M*A*S*H” since that is what it would replace. Some nights “Mama’s Family” have outdrew WREG and WMC’s 10pmers,

  15. Walter Eickhoff Says:

    Ron”your little bitty buddy”Michaels, Jon Scott, and Mike Powell were there at the birth of rock radio as we know it…FM100 in Memphis. Those of us who can still remember, and we do, know that it changed everything in radio, music and the culture. No more Gkers and Qballs, just the music and more of it. The memory lives forever…sound the soul horn Jon Scott.

  16. Tails Says:

    Dang Joe! I tried to post a pic from my graduation of you and I and it looks like its not working… Well hopefully I’ll figure it out soon.

    p.s. love the new blog site!


  17. Greg Hamilton Says:

    Thanks . I am humbled.

    Thanks to all for the kind words and rememberances of Ron Michaels. Most folks don’t know that Jon, Ron, Mike, David and I have stayed in contact over the years. Ron was a very close friend. He never once complaned about his illness.

    I miss him.

    greg hamilton

  18. Gaylon Reasons Says:

    Still miss my little buddy, Ron Michaels. Ron and I worked at Action News 5 together from ’74 until his retirement due to health reasons–mentioned by others. He was, what everyone has said, “Scoop.” We at WMC-TV owed much of our success to the tenacity of Ron in the quest to know all and tell all that was news worthy. Memories of Ron Michael Hughes aka Ron Michaels will remain with us forever.

  19. Susan Billingslsey Baze Says:

    I listened to FM 100 24/7 I enjoyed, Mike Powell.Greg Hamilton, David Day,Jon Scott…but my heart was with my friend Ron, So much that my first born child is named Michael. Ron was so special and while I admit to being a bit stalkish at times,,,he was always friendly. He taught me many life lessons in the confines of that of white impala (?) I think it was an Impala. He was the last person I saw before leaving Tennessee…he came to say good by..(OR maybe to make sure I was leaving…ha ha )
    He was smart, creative and in the perfect wprk genre. I talked to him last time about 15 years ago…then somehow I lost contacttability…so I tried to find his by lines or some contact,,,,U think he was workin in electronics or something when we last spoke and he siad he had a health scare previous to that. I should have tried hardr ro find hin dangit.
    Condolences to his family and great friends, He was a super guy and a true friend…

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