Archive for November 2007

IMUS on RFD? Those Network Honchos May be Crazy Like a Fox

November 29, 2007

He’s baaaaaacccckkkkkkk!.  Yes, the I-Man will be back in the saddle come Monday morning.  For those of you needing a fix of cantankerous, shoot-from-the-hip opinion, then Don Imus’ eight month hiatus coming to an end is good news.  But where can you find the cowboy hat wearing, denim clad Mr. Imus?  On the RFD network, that’s where.  There’s a great article in the New York Daily News that details Imus’s return and touches on his new TV home.  If you are looking for all things rural, the RFD channel is the place to be.  Granted, there are some shows on there that look like they were produced with some VHS equipment, but there are some decent offerings as well.  One show I TIVO on a semi-regular basis is “Alaska Magazine”, a TV magazine show that features stories from around the Last Frontier.  I’m checking them out in case I get a hankering to move for some elbow room.  Some might think that Imus will be lost in some backwater, 2nd tier cable network.  Perhaps.  But I think even with the longer tape delays and Imus supposedly minding his “Ps & Qs” he will still be a draw.  It may not be at the level he once was but I think there are those who will tune in to see what he has to say if they can find the channel. I get it because I have satellite TV.  (I can only guess that he is on the cable system somewhere.  )  And it wasn’t that RFD was the only place that would have him.  Apparently there was enough of a bidding war to come up with some big bucks.  What does RFD get from this?  Some great exposure, perhaps enough to compare it to Howard Stern moving to satellite radio.  People will now be tuning in to the RFD to check out Imus and perhaps explore some other options there as well.  Yes, it’s a gamble for RFD and some say the honchos there may be crazy to make such a move.  I think they truly may end up laughing all the way to the proverbial bank.

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I’m Now Convinced the Term “Breaking News” is Broken and Is Austen “On It” or “Off It”?

November 28, 2007

I hated the so-called “breaking news” alerts back when they rolled them out whenever somebody broke wind.  It hasn’t gotten any better.  Sadly, it’s not local news that raised my ire this time but rather one of the cable news outlets.  This time  they rolled the breaking news open and  revealed they had breaking news on a story that I saw in the  local daily newspaper.  The only difference  in the information  appeared to amount that the  person in question had  perhaps  brushed his teeth this morning.  Okay, perhaps that’s an oversimplification of the situation but I’m not far off the mark.  Maybe it’s just me but if it appears in my morning paper the news ain’t breaking, I don’t care how you spin it.  I’m really getting discouraged, especially since they’ve managed to drag the Natalie Holloway story back out of mothballs.  Would this be a story if the victim were not a white blonde girl?  I also have to admit I’m having trouble keeping up with the latest incarnation of Peterson possible murder story.  Is it Stacey, Laci, or perhaps Gracey Peterson this time and why is that story even being given airtime in this market.  I could see why someone in another market might care about the death of those three boys in West Memphis 15 years ago because of the recent brouhaha over the innocence or guilt of those convicted.  But please, giv eme a break.  Okay, enough of this.  I’ve got to get back to the cable news channel.  They might have more breaking news I’m sure I can’t afford to miss.

And a question was raised on this blog by a reader who now hails from Brazil.  Yes, someone from another country actually reads this drivel. Trust me, no one is more flattered than I am.  But back to his question.  Having once lived in the Bluff City and the fact that considered going into the TV news business before he apparently sobered up and “got wise” he likes to keep up with the goings-on in this fair city.  His question was this: Is Austen Onek leaving WREG?  The reader said he had checked out WREG’s website and noticed that AO’s bio was NOT on the website anymore.  Now, things can happen on a website.  Maybe they ran out of space  on the internet and had to remove Austen.  Maybe someone updating the website spilled a beverage in the keyboard and in the process of cleaning it up deleted Austen’s blog.  Maybe Austen asked that it be taken down because his photo didn’t show his good side.  Whatever the reason, several people are looking for answers.  Austen is a good guy, a solid weather person and has some great parents even if they do come from a state where it has been known to rain “mud”.  (Ask Austen about that).  If anyone has any skinny, please share.

Yep, We Must STILL be in Sweeps, Some Insight Into the Mind of Dan Rather and Apparently Saying “MotherSucker” on the Air Will Get You Fired

November 26, 2007

So I’m returning home from an early morning meeting Monday and I hear that one of the TV stations in Memphis is giving away tickets to a very popular concert featuring a young woman from Kentucky whose last name is Montana.  I guess sweeps aren’t over afterall.  I usually associate sweeps ending around Thanksgiving but Turkey Day did come a week early this year.  I guess this meant that news people had to work through the holiday at most stations.  Usually there is the scramble of taking time off with the long-time employees getting dibs on taking the holiday off.  I would imagine that there were some unhappy campers forced to stick around the newsroom this year trying to come up with a new way of doing that traditional stories on those forced to work on the holiday and how some are helping to feed the less fortunate.  Been there, done that.  Some managers try to arrange things so not everyone has to work on Thanksgiving but others are sticklers.  (How many times do you think this phrase was used “If you want a 9 to 5 job, go work for a bank”.   I will say this about the giveaway for the Montana concert.  It’s brilliant.  What better way to draw attention and viewership than to hand out a pass for 20-people to one of the hardest-to-get-tickets-to events in the country.  What parent wouldn’t try to surprise his or her little darling with the opportunity to have 19 BFF.  ‘Nuff said.

I think it’s safe to say the managers of many CBS affiliates were glad to see Dan Rather leave the anchor chair.  I used to really like Dan back in the 70s and early 80s.  My dad hated him, saying he thought he was disrespectful of President Nixon during the Watergate investigation.  But I thought DR was a bulldog of a reporter.  I grew to like him less as he took over the anchor chair from Uncle Walter.  I also thought he grew more wooden in his delivery.  Maybe he was that way all along.  If you’d like to gain a little more insight into Mr. Rather, there is a great article about his lawsuit against CBS in New York Magazine.   The article is quite in depth and gives the reader some insight into DR’s mindset.  He also comes off as something of a Captain Ahab and the facts surrounding the story that led to his downfall “The Great White Whale”.   Check it out if you have some time on your hands.

And finally,  a lesson for those of you “on-air” and a word of caution in case you forgot this from “On-Air 101”.  Don’t say anything around a microphone that has a hint of being taken the wrong way.  ESPECIALLY IF THE MANAGEMENT IS HINTING THAT THEY MAY NOT WANT TO KEEP YOU AROUND!!!!!  I know, I know, this is not a new story but an anchor at WGCL in Atlanta says she used the word “mothersucker” not that other word that sounds very similar.  I prefer to say “Got dandruff and some of it itches”.  It also  seems there are allegations that someone tried to erase the show tape that contained the utterance.  Some will say the woman was just a scapegoat for a bad book.  Hey,  if one is looking for ways to get the axe, this appears to be a very good way.  Remember, consider all microphones hot at all time and that will help keep your foot out of your mouth and someone else’s foot off your behind.

Odds and Ends to Start a Holiday Week

November 19, 2007

I finally managed to take a day off to fly up to Knoxville to see my wife’s alma mater take on the Vols.  That’s all I will say about that.  But my point is, it seems a lot happens when I’m away for a couple of days.

I see that the final bids were accepted for the group of nine stations Fox News put on the auction block.  As I understand it, Oak Hill which bought the NYTimes Broadcast Group earlier this year was the winner.  Whether or not a duopoly will exist in Memphis remains to be seen.  I still think WHBQ will end up back on the block.  I have nothing to base that on except my gut (and those of you who’ve seen my gut know there is a lot there to base something on!)  I was also somewhat surprised to hear that there are rumors of possible cuts at WREG that are leaving some folks feeling a little uneasy.  Granted rumored cuts around the holidays would make anyone uneasy but I’ve not heard anything about WHY these cuts would be made unless it’s just about trimming a little more fat to improve the bottom line after a few more months of seeing how things operate Down On The River.

By now most folks in the TV world know where the former reporter/anchor from WMC  ended up.  Syan Rhodes has moved to the Sunshine State, specifically WESH-TV.   According to an article shared with me,  Rhodes is working mornings at WESH in Orlando.

And finally, something that will help the J-schools in area colleges to crank out even MORE students seeking careers in TV news.  It seems Fox News is paying Shep Smith 7 to 8 million dollars a year for the next three years.  As the article states, Smith, who hails from Holly Springs, MS is not quite in the Katie Couric league but he’s still making more scratch than about 99-percent of the people in TV news.  I’m still basing my potential million dollar windfall on winning the lottery.

So, What Will Santa Say Here in the Memphis Area When He Greets Children?

November 15, 2007

When I first saw the news item below, my first thought was that this had to be an urban myth or someone’s idea of a joke.  Then I started thinking about it and figured it’s just political correctness run amok.  According to an article out of Australia, Santas in Sydney will not be using the term “ho, ho, ho” around children this season and will instead use the  phrase “ha, ha, ha”.  Why?  Because  they  don’t want to use a slang term for prostitutes around children.

Okay folks, if this is indeed true (and I’m still holding out hope that it is not)  then we are gripping things just a little too tight.   This isn’t Imus.  It’s Santa.  Tradition has it he says “ho, ho, ho”.  I like “ho, ho, ho”.  If that offends you,  get over it.  I know there are folks out there standing around waiting to be offended by something, someway, somehow.  If you are one of these people, it’s time to get a life and move on.  Okay, my morning coffee has kicked in and I’m now stepping off my soap-box.  Have a good day.

The Company That Bought WREG Eyes Another Property In Memphis Along with Eight Other Stations.

November 14, 2007

I will admit I’ve been a little lax these days about keeping up with this blog. That darned work thing is dragging me away. But some folks have my back and I thank them. I got this tidbit from Reuters about Oak Hill which bought the former NYTimes broadcast group apparently bidding on WHBQ and the other Fox stations on the block.

By Megan Davies and Kenneth Li

NEW YORK, Nov 13 (Reuters) – Private equity firm Oak Hill bid for the nine television stations media conglomerate News Corp (NWSa.N: Quote, Profile, Research) put up for sale in June, two sources familiar with the situation said on Tuesday.

Final bids were due on Friday for the nine Fox-affiliated television stations which include TV stations in Cleveland, Ohio and Denver, Colorado. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp said in June it retained Allen & Co as adviser to sell the stations.

The Oak Hill bid was around $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion, the sources estimated.

Now, some people will get excited about this in Memphis but I would think that because of existing laws, if Oak Hill is successful, WHBQ is just going back on the block after Oak Hill cherry picks the properties it wants and can keep. So this means more turmoil for the folks at WHBQ until the dust really settles for good.

Okay, Enough With the Sound Effects Already!

November 12, 2007

Is it just me or does anyone else find the sound effects used with increasing frequency on TV news and weather to be increasingly annoying?  The first time I remember hearing sound effects used in a newscast was back when I was doing mornings Down On the River.   When it came time for the traffic report, the audio person started using the honking horn of an 18 wheeler as part of the traffic open.  I don’t know if that was by orders of the news director or just something clever to get the attention of viewers at home who were running around the house trying to get ready to depart for work.  It was cute even if the frequency of traffic reports made the sound rather annoying. Unfortunately there are those who feel that if a little is good then a lot must be great.  The Weather Channel is apparently of that mind-set.  I noticed this morning as I tuned in for the “Local on the 8s” forecast that if there is a breezy forecast, then you hear the wind.  If rain is in the forecast, you hear rain drops.  I guess if a hurricane is coming, you hear some howling wind followed by some doofus saying “hell, I ain’t leaving my home.  I’ll ride it out here”.  I will admit I was somewhat confused when during the story on a lack of rain in the drought stricken areas I heard was sounded like a phone set on vibrate and left on a counter-top to buzz with a somewhat muffled sound.  I wasn’t sure what I was hearing and to be honest, I’m not sure if that sound effect was intentional or perhaps what I was hearing was accidental and merely somebody’s way to pass the time.

The problem with the sound effects is that if someone sees it on a national level, you can expect to see if filter down to the local level real soon is it hasn’t already.  Please, somebody just put me out of my misery.