Archive for October 2007

What Is She Wearing? & Porn Star or News Anchor: You Decide

October 29, 2007

Admit it, if you take time to watch the TV for news, weather or sports, you want generally want the person you’re watching to look somewhat professional.  On-Air folks in the TV business generally tend to be nice looking.  Okay, let me rephrase that. They don’t tend to be butt-ugly.  They’re easy on the eyes.  It’s the lack of professional attire from the on-air folks that drives my wife crazy.  I need to establish something here.  My wife is not a prude by any stretch of the imagination.  She is very much a live-and-let-live type of person with an open, liberal point of view.  She just doesn’t like to see what she considers unprofessional dress for people in the spotlight whether it’s local or national TV.  I will admit there are times when I’m watching some news or weather channel and it looks like the person (usually female) is either going on a date or in some cases, hoping to turn a trick before the night is out.

And speaking of which, Scoop Dougie Doug shared this tidbit from FTVLive.  Its title line: Fox News Anchor or Porn Star? We Report/You Decide.

You check out photos of hot chicks and you have to decide if they are a Fox News Anchor or a Porn Star.

My score was not very good. I only got four of ten correct.

The Competition Spoofs “The On-Your-Side Guy named Andy” ,Some Veterans at a Former NYTimes Station are Let Go to Make Way for “Fresh Faces” and Watch Out for Fire Ants!

October 22, 2007

Imagine this: A TV station decides to spoof the local in-your-face high-profile reporter at the competition who is known for being On-Your-Side. Oh yah, the reporter’s name is Andy. Right now, some of your are thinking, is somebody in Memphis cracking on WREG’s Andy Wise. No, but the former NYTimes station in Norfolk, VA is cracking on Andy Fox, the consumer reporter at WAVY, the top station in the market. The tongue in cheek promo, which got a mention in TVSpy, is according to the newspaper an attempt by the also-ran WTKR to bring some attention to itself. The article also takes issue with the whole “On Your Side” slogan which has been a mainstay for WAVY-TV for some time. According to the newspaper article:
But, he added, let’s call a spade a spade: WAVY’s gotten away with a say-nothing slogan for too long.

And on that point he’s absolutely right. The motto is notoriously bad. “On Your Side” implies a bias toward its viewers when much of the news business is supposed to be based on impartiality.

Well, alrighty then. I doubt seriously if either WAVY or WREG in Memphis which also uses the “On Your Side” slogan are going to change to another brand any time soon since it has served both well.

And that former NYTimes station in Norfolk has also made a move that is sure to send chills down the spines of folks at its sister stations in particular and get the attention of those at other stations in general. It has let two veteran news people go and is bringing on some “fresh faces” . The veterans had 10 and 11 years respectively at the station. That may not seem like much but in the TV business that is a long time at one station. Did it have anything to do with age? No way. That would open the station to a lawsuit. Did it have anything to do with money? It’s speculation on my part but I would bet that it did, especially since this station is an also-ran in the market and it’s cheaper to bring in fresh faces. Did it have anything to do with ability? Perhaps to some degree. But if it did, you would have thought the managers would have figured that out eight or nine years ago. So for those of you out there in TV land who think you’re bullet-proof, let this be a lesson. It’s all about the bottom line and “what you’ve done for me” lately. As The GM has reminded us time and time again on this blog, TV News is a business and anytime you have a business, you got people watching the bottom line.

And finally, a lesson learned the hard way here in the MidSouth. I’ve spent enough time in the outdoors to know what a fire ant mound looks like and I manage to avoid them like the plague. That is until Sunday when I was on a video shoot near I-55 in downtown Memphis. I WAS watching where I was going as I was walking along the Interstate scouting some locations for the camera. The next thing I know I have close to one hundred of the biting and stinging little critters on both of my legs. I never saw the mound. A couple minutes later, as I’m walking, I stop and discover more of the ants crawling on my legs. Again, I never saw the mounds but the ants sure discovered me. So, a word of caution. Be careful if you get off the beaten path.

“Blinded By the Light, Wrapped Up Like a whatttttttt??????”

October 19, 2007

Admit it.  If you listen to music, any music and sing along, chances are you have been confused over the lyrics of a song.  As long as you sing them to yourself in the privacy of your vehicle as you drive to work or where ever or you are alone in your home, it doesn’t matter.  But when someone else is around and you mistakenly sing the lyrics you THOUGHT were correct, you are busted.  I’m guilty.  For years I will admit that I never really knew what Bruce Springsteen was saying when he wrote the lyrics to “Blinded By the Light” which was made popular by the group Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.  For those not familiar with the song, the words are “Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce another runner in the night.”  That’s not what I’ve been singing all these years even though I’ve managed to find out in the last few years what the lyrics really are.

I was reminded of all of this recently when I saw an old Saturday Night Live clip on Youtube featuring Gilda Radner and Jane Curtain.  Gilda played the character Ms. Emily Latilla who was always mispronouncing things or getting her information screwed up.  She starts singing the song “I will follow him” but instead sings “I will swallow him”.  It’s a funny clip.

Apparently misunderstanding lyrics is such a common thing that at least one website is devoted to this topic and allows you to search for many of the songs and/or artists you grew up with to see if, yes, someone was as confused as you were over certain lyrics.

Check out the site at www.kissthisguy.com  .  I find it’s right up there with the website on jumping the shark.  If you don’t laugh, then you’ve never sung along on the radio.

That’s Your Opinion and You’re Wrong & I’m Ready for My Close-up Mr./Ms. Director

October 17, 2007

Is it just my imagination or has the world gotten to be a meaner, less tolerant place?  It just seems some folks are waiting to be offended and it’s not a matter of race or sex.  I watch for what passes as news and the reporters and videographers are aggressive and in your face.  Some of the people they target (or their bodyguards if they have them) don’t mind striking out or striking back verbally or physically.  I listen to comments made on talk shows focusing on children, their parents and groups.  The rule of thumb seems to be if you’re not with me then you are against me and I will crush you or slander you or libel you all in the name of my side.  Maybe I’m looking at the past through rose-colored glasses but it seemed to me there was a time when you could have a discussion about something and agree to disagree and walk away on good terms.  Now, it’s all about shouting someone down or making some outrageous comments that have little or no basis  in truth.  And it’s not just on TV, it’s that way in society as well.  It seems there are a whole lot of things going on and nobody can step up to take responsibility anymore.  Simply put:  “It’s not my fault. Put the blame on someone else”.

Some on-air TV news folks are finding they have to relearn a few things when it comes to High Definition broadcasts.  This from a story in TVSpy.  The clarity of HD tends to show every pore, scar and other flaws of the people who try to look flawless on the tube.  Gone are the days when more pancake make-up is better. One station in Florida dealt with the issue by hiring a professional make-up artist to show the on-air folks how to apply make-up with an air-brush.  Now anyone who has ever attempted to use a spray-can to paint a home project can appreciate what kind of fun an air-brush make-up session can promise.  Oh, it may be just fine for those in big markets where they have a make-up person on staff.  But most stations don’t have that luxury.  Each person puts on his or her own make-up and the results are always quite varied.  (more on that in just a moment)  No word on when Memphis TV folks will go HD from the studio.  This may not be an issue just yet but you can bet it will be sooner than later.

When it came to putting on make-up, I will admit I slapped it on with a sponge and hoped I got the right mix on in the 2 to 3 minutes I allotted for “hiding my face”.  No one ever said anything one way or another and I wasn’t too concerned until one day when I was out and about.  A woman stopped me to chat and to tell me that she enjoyed watching in the mornings.  Then she said “tell the person who puts on your make-up that they’re putting on too much”.  I told her I would speak to the person immediately, thanked her and walked on.  The make-up was a little less heavy after that.

The bottom line:  viewers notice.

What Outsiders See When They Look at Memphis TV, Sensationalism in Local News Can Actually be Bad For Ratings And What Really Was Behind the Departure of the Head of the Former NYTimes station in Huntsville.

October 15, 2007

It’s easy to be too close to something and that closeness can cloud one’s perspective. That’s one reason to appreciate an outside observation. (No, this is not an endorsement of news consultants. ) But where would one find such a perspective you might ask. One such place is a recent article that appeared in Broadcasting and Cable. The article is an interesting read that reveals a snapshot of Memphis TV with three of the four GM’s at Memphis TV stations making comments for the article. (The fourth may have commented but his quotes weren’t used if he did) . It touches on the fact that WMC really wants to be back on top when it celebrates its upcoming 60th anniversary. (Those in the market may remember the NYTimes was convinced to pull out all stops and the company dumped huge sums of money into WREG to help make it Numero Uno during its recent 50th anniversary celebration) The article looks at how the recent ownership changes at WREG and WPTY and the fact that WHBQ is for sale is helping shake things up and that each station is doing some interesting things to attract viewers both on-air and the internet. Check out the article.

An item in Shoptalk aka TVSpy tells us what many of us have long suspected: That sensationalism in local news can boost ratings but a quality product is even better. The story looks at the Boston market and basically what they found is this: Quality sells.  The sensationalism of late-1990s (of one particular station), the study suggests, does bring good ratings. But well-done, substantive TV news proves just as popular – and often earns even better ratings.

Wow, what a concept. Give people quality and they will come to view your station. Naw, it’s easier and faster to peddle crap than spend the bucks and effort on quality. Never mind.

And finally, some information has come to me from the Huntsville area about the recent departure of the General Manager from WHNT, the former NYTimes station in Huntsville, AL. Some say he resigned just before he was to be let go. I’ve got too many unanswered questions to go with any more than the fact that alcohol and a public gathering outside the station apparently played a role. It was either a serious offense or it was just the excuse the broadcast honchos wanted and they apparently were ready to pull the trigger. Again, details are sketchy on this but it’s still enough (by broadcast standards anyway) to go with the full story as it is. I’m just not going any farther than this.

With Two Points You Get a Direction, With Three You’re Working On a Trend and Yet Another Reason Why Old Farts (Like Me) Should Avoid Using Current Slang.

October 12, 2007

Another manager type with the former NYTimes Broadcast group is shown the door. According to some information shared with me by Doug “Scoop-Dog” J. , the chief engineer at WTKR in Norfolk, VA was shown the door by the new owners. That, according to the article, completes the house cleaning of senior managers from the NYTimes group at that station. This news follows the recent departure in Huntsville of the GM at WHNT. I’m not sure of how many of the “Old Guard” remain at the nine broadcast stations but if there are some left (many departed over the past year) I think I’d be getting a little nervous. Some may recall how many times they told employees “your job is safe and we are not making cutbacks” and then a day or week later announced cutbacks. Right now you are probably feeling some odd sensation in the pit of your stomach. On the other hand, if you’ve made it this far, your job probably is safe although it might be a good idea to update the old resume just in case.

Everybody wants to be cool or rather NOT be considered an uncool old fart. Unfortunately we all age (which beats the hell out of the alternative IMHO) and by the simple process of aging, we lose track of the trends and/or the slang. I’ve never dyed my hair and I’ve noticed a growing number of TV guys are using the Hair Color for Men both locally and nationally. Sometimes it’s pretty obvious among the men. I guess it’s expected more from the women in the business and less of a big deal. While I don’t dye may hair, I do try to stay aware of trends in attire and in language. I’ve generally found by the time the slang is filtered to me, it’s way out of date. The only thing worse than using outdated slang is using slang incorrectly which is what I did this past week as I was working with some 20 and 30 somethings in Boston. We were talking and joking about something while waiting for a training session to wrap up in the next room. I can’t remember the topic but I made a quip about needing to get the “4-1-1” (information for those readers who are slang challenged) on whatever. The only problem was I said I needed to get the “9-1-1” on whatever. Maybe I’ve lived in Memphis too long and that was the first number that came to mind. Anyway the folks just stared at me, and then suddenly burst out laughing and as one might imagine, my “street-cred” was shot. It reminds me of something that was shared many years ago with me and unlike slang , this never goes out of style. I should remember this. “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt!”

A GM with the Former NYTimes Broadcasting Group Departs, The Anti-Imus Protesters Gear Up and Just Who Do the Reverends Sharpton and Jackson Speak For?

October 10, 2007

I’ve been out of pocket on business the past coupe of days and somewhat out of the loop. My good friend Doug J. knows this and as always, he has my back. He shared this item from News Blues that the GM from the former NYTimes station in Huntsville, had resigned. I’ve never met Craig Marrs and don’t know much about his tenure at the station. I know the Raycom station in that market has been doing quite well in recent books which may have been one of the reasons Raycom sent both the GM and News Director from that station to resurrect the fortunes of WMC, the Raycom station in Memphis. They appear to be making some inroads. Doug raised the question if the move in Huntsville at WHNT was perhaps the proverbial dropping of the other shoe by the new owners of the former NYTimes broadcasting group and perhaps other changes could be occurring at other stations in the group. We’ll see.

I see at least one group has come out opposing the reported move by Citadel and Fox to hire Don Imus. The NABJ or National Association of Black Journalists says to hire Imus is to downplay what he said about the Rutgers womens basketball team. Perhaps. But on the other hand, they are providing the kind of publicity that his potential employeers might appreciate. Granted, Fox denied they are talking or considering bringing Imus on board. The question I pose is this: How much punishment is enough? Imus apologized and lost his job. Yes, he’s getting a multimillion dollar settlement. Should he never be allowed to work in broadcasting again? What kind of atonement on his part would be satisfactory? If he gives larges sums of money to specific causes, would that help grease the skids. Going back on the air, his employers might find that he is damaged goods and nobody wants to advertise on his shows. Wouldn’t that be a better punishment if that happens. I’m not defending what Imus did, I am merely posing a question. I’m not sure there is an easy or clear cut answer.

And speaking of no easy or clearcut answers: I was walking out of the kitchen earlier this week where my lovely and talented bride was listening to Morning Joe Scarborough on MSNBC and heard part of a question raised about politics and the black community. It concerned the lack of attention paid to the African American people by the Republican party. One comment was made (I cannot remember who said it) that politicians on the national stage are missing an opportunity to connect with the black voters. They said ” so many African Americans are upset that when an issue is raised concerning people of color that the media goes trotting over to interview Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson and that those two men do not represent the views of all black people anymore than one or two people represent the views of any other group. ” My question is this: If that’s the case, why are they almost always interviewed. Are the PR shops for these two guys just that good. Is there somebody else out there who speaks up and is just ignored. Is it laziness on the part of the media that they don’t bother to look elsewhere. I don’t know. I’m just asking. I’m also trying to figure out who speaks for me.