Archive for January 2008

WHBQ Fox 13 Earns Some Serious Bragging Rights And Comcast Cable Is “On My Side”!

January 28, 2008

There’s an old saying that I’m quite fond of that states “It Ain’t Bragging If You Can Do It“. WHBQ Fox 13 has proven that they can do it and they have the Emmy hardware to prove it. Fox 13 walked away over the weekend with 10, count’em 10 Emmys including the one for News Excellence. Here’s what Fox 13 had on their website about the win.  WREG snagged 3 and WMC earned 1.   I’m not sure but 10 Emmys may be a record for the Memphis market and even if it isn’t, it is still fodder for some serious promotions. Of course some will say winning an Emmy is no big deal and that’s usually by people who have never won one. Hey, I tried and never got one of those little gold statues. Would I have liked to? You betcha. In the grand scheme of things, the viewing public may not really understand what the Emmy is all about but they know it’s a prize of some sort and winning is always better than not winning. So congratulations to the folks at Fox 13. You earned it.

I was out of the office for most of Monday on a quick day trip to Tupelo, MS and I had an interesting email I’d like to share but I’m not including the name. Here it is: I read that you are suppose to be replacing Andy Wise!!! Tell me if there is a way to locate the information that he accumulated while with WREG!!! I am elderly and disabled and need to find out about 0SmokeFree & (Shark steam mops or other brands on steam mops. Have you just decided to get rid of all of the information that he spent a LONG time accumulating? If so I think it is absurd, and I guess I will go to WMC when he has time to acclimate to his new environment.

I’m not sure how she came to email me but I did email her back and gave herthe names of some folks to contact at WREG and that if she didn’t get the information she needed to email me back. Hey, I guess you could say “I’m on her side”! But that wasn’t the only unusual thing to happen. My wife said I got a call from someone who said they were with Comcast and that they understood that I was having issues with my cable service. The person on the phone asked for me by name. Now I was born in the morning, I just wasn’t born yesterday morning and I just figured that some of my friends were playing a practical joke on me. So imagine my surprise when late in the afternoon the phone rang and a person who identified herself as Gloria L. with Comcast (I checked caller I-D) and she understood that I had contacted Comcast to report a problem. I told her I had NOT contacted Comcast to report a problem and she then started reading me my blog post from Monday where I indeed at raised issues about cable problems. I asked her where she got that and she said it had been emailed to her and she wanted to schedule a service call this week to see about correcting the problem. She apologized for the problem and said she could send out a service technician to check on the problem mid-day Wednesday. I don’t know which flatters me more: that Comcast is sending out somebody to check on my cable service after I bitched about it or that someone perhaps connected to Comcast reads this blog. Either way, I hope my cable service looks better by the end of Wednesday.

I Love Me Some Women in Red and Why Is My Comcast Cable Starting to Look Like My Satellite Reception

January 28, 2008

I was driving down Union Avenue just west of East Parkway when I saw two lovely ladies wearing red and showing more teeth than is humanly possible. It was a good thing I was wearing my sunglasses because I would have been blinded by the dazzling smiles of WHBQ Fox 13 Valerie Calhoun and Mearl Purvis wearing red (and looking good IMHO) from a huge billboard. When I got home they were in my house in the same pose on the floor of my office! Yikes! And my wife was right there in the same room! Okay, they were on the front of the Memphis Business Journal’s “Heart Healthy Guide” but they were still in my house on the floor. Anyway for what it’s worth, they caught my attention from the billboard and at my home.

I have question about my Comcast cable service and perhaps someone out there has an answer.  Stately Larksmith Manor is one of those places where we have both cable AND satellite.  Let me explain.  I had Direct TV installed a few years back with the intention of pulling the plug on what was then Time Warner cable.  It seemed they jacked up my bill on such a regular basis to the  point I felt it was a diminishing return.  The fly in the ointment was that my wife likes the “Local on the 8’s” on The Weather Channel provided by cable but NOT by satellite.  On satellite you get the generic regional forecast and no local radar.  The downside of satellite is that during really stormy weather, cloud cover disrupts the signal and that means I can’t watch the  local TV stations to see if the threat is real or imagined.  If you’ve never seen what the disruption looks like, the picture starts pixilating, getting blocky and then freezes.  It’s annoying.  Some say “just go to the internet”.  Well, after having had lightning zap a computer (even though it was on a surge protector) I now shut down all computers when any kind of thunderstorm rolls in.  But my point here is that I’ve noticed in the past year that my cable signal is starting to look like my satellite signal with one exception.  My cable will start pixilating on a clear day and I will see the words “poor reception or weak signal” pop up in the upper corner of the screen.  The picture will freeze too.  I’m not sure why that happens.  Now I know that cable gets its signal from satellites but are these guys running on some little dish like I am.  Maybe they’ve started using all of those old dishes from former satellite customers.  Either way, they’re helping me make the case to finally pull the plug on cable once and for all.

So Long to a Person Who Made a Difference in Local TV News, & How Is It Again You Judge If a Person Was Our First Black President

January 23, 2008

So long and good luck to Doug Viar. I received a note from Tommy Stafford who worked with several Memphis television stations that Doug Viar finally said “enough”. Some of you newbies to the market don’t know Doug but DV was the go-to guy when it came to covering the outlying areas for WREG back in the late 70s and the 80s. I’ve mentioned previously on this blog about my first encounter with Doug in NE Arkansas on a big story where a man who had gunned down two U-S Marshals in the Dakotas was involved in a shootout near Walnut Ridge (I think) in the early 80s. . I was working for the CBS affiliate in Cape Girardeau, MO at the time. Long story short, my videographer and I were short on cash (no credit cards either) and were going to have to spend the night in our newscruiser while waiting to speak to the officials at a news conference the next morning. Doug took pity on the two of us “rubes” and let us crash in his motel room. I’ve never forgotten that and quite frankly Doug doesn’t remember it. But then that’s the way Doug always was. It was no big deal to him. He would help you on a story if things were going south for you. He also had a great bullsh*t detector and you could see in his eyes when he knew someone was jerking his chain. Doug got out of the news reporting business and Tommy Stafford took over the news gig for him. (More on that farther down in this post). But Doug was still involved in news, having purchased a satellite truck. I ran into Doug last year when Mary Winkler (the preacher’s wife) shot and killed her husband in Selmer. Doug was on the scene uplinking for NBC. It was the same old Doug. Here’s what Tommy Stafford shared with me about DV:

Long Time Television News Legend Finally Says So Long …or the headline would go something like that!
Yep, Doug Viar, a face seldom seen on air (think he did a total of 8 stand ups in 10-15!) but his voice was familiar to everyone from roughly 1979 to the late 80’s on WREG. The days of John Powell, Ray Polhman, and more. Doug is the reason I got into television news. He knew it best, knew how to do it, and hated all of the show business side of it. Just the facts!
A few days ago Doug’s last connection to the television news business were severed. After leaving the news business around 1989-1990 (enter Tommy Stafford WREG) Doug began commercial production and eventually bought his own satellite uplink truck. After the first 2-3 years he bought a brand new upscale truck that he sold recently to former WPTY engineer Jesse Vangunda who has now taken over the reins. Ironically, Doug ended up being my sat truck whenever I would do sat shots for Weather Channel in my final years of the business.�
I asked Doug a few days ago if he thought he’d miss the business. His reply, “Hell no!” I get it.�
Any of us that worked with Doug know what a great real news guy he was. I remember one of the first stories I went with Doug on back in South Fulton, TN. Some crazy guy locked himself in his house and started shooting at deputies and state troopers. We were hunkered down in a ditch with bullets whizzing by. All the while local squirrel hunters dropped by with their rifles to take a shot! I knew I was about to enter a very crazy business!
Long before we had sat trucks in the Memphis market, Doug and I flew tapes by private plane back and forth to the stations in the night to make slot. I learned to fly that way, thank you WREG for the 110 plus hours!
Most folks in the Memphis market won’t remember Doug, but a few of us will. He’s was the best on breaking news!
Happy Retirement Doug!
Thankfully he taught me the most important lesson in news of all. WHEN TO GET OUT!
Thank you Tommy and best of luck Doug Viar.
And finally, I now know how to determine if a person is our first black president. I was listening to some snippet from yet another debate and someone mentioned that Bill Clinton was our first “black” president. I’ve heard that for years. When that was brought up to Barack Obama, BO said he would have to see how the former president danced, among other things, before he could determine if Bill Clinton was indeed a “brother”.
I will defer to Mr. Obama and this blog’s AAC (African American correspondent)/P-O-C (pundit of color) Doug “That’s Mr. Buckeye to You ” Johnson for clarification. I can attest that you don’t even have to see me dance, I ain’t it. (Billy Crystal and I both dance with white man’s underbite) I can’t jump either.

You Say Po-TAY-to, I Say Po-TAT-o, You say Nu-VAH-duh, I Say Nu-VAD-uh

January 21, 2008

Nothing like someone mispronouncing a name on the air to get the phones ringing off the wall in a newsroom.   According to an article in Shoptalk, the pronunciation of the name of the state where one would find the cities of Las Vegas, Carson City and Reno has been a bone of contention for those who live in “The Silver State”.  It seems those in the know pronounce it “Nu-VAD-uh” with the “a” sounding like the “a” in cat.  However it seems too many national news types are calling the state Nu-VAH-duh, and that’s seriously chapping some rear ends out west.  As you might imagine, it doesn’t take much to chap the skin in that dry heat. Remember to moisturize folks!   I actually got my come-uppence more than 30-years ago as I visited with some folks from Nevada while I was in San Francisco fresh out of high school.  When I mispronounced the name of the state, I was corrected quickly.  I hadn’t really given it much thought at the time since I was born in Missouri.  There people who live in the “Show-Me State” call it both Mah-zur-EE and Mah-zur-UH.  People in Nevada don’t see their state having but one pronunciation.  It’s the same way with small towns in Midsouth and across the country.  One can always tell a newcomer to the area when he or she refers to the earthquake fault line in this area as the “New Muh-DRID” zone (pronounced like the city in Spain) as opposed to the “New MAD-rid” zone.  Then there is little town in West Tennessee that looks like the city in South America (Bogota) which is pronounced there as Bo-guh-TAH but here in the MidSouth is pronounced Buh-GOH-tuh.   Trust me, if you mispronounce the name once, you’re considered a newbie to the area.  If  you keep mispronouncing the name, you’re considered an idiot.  Which brings me to this old joke from Kentucky: How do you pronounce the name of Kentucky’s capital-“Lewy-VILLE or LOO-uh-vul”? 

Answer:Actually you pronounce the capital of Kentucky as “Frank-furht”.

Good night folks and make sure you tip your waitress.  We’re here all week.

Congrats to a Former WMCer and Thanks for the Link on Fox 13’s Weather Siren

January 18, 2008

We can all start talking about how we knew Jovita Moore back in her days at WMC.  Thanks to DG for the tip from the NewsBlues posting,  Jovita Moore will replace Monica (Kaufman) Pearson on the 5 p.m. news at WSB-2-ABC in Atlanta , beginning Jan. 31.  Pearson will continue to anchor the 6 and 11 p.m.  Moore is just the latest prson from WMC who has traveled to the Hotlanta market  and done well with Brenda Wood one of the most often mentioned names.  I really didn’t know Ms. Moore as I only ran into her a couple of times on the streets but I know she always did a good job on the air and was easy on the eyes.  Don’t know what she was like to work with but I’m sure there will be some who weigh in on that.  Congrats to her.  You can check out her bio here. 

Also, thanks to Richard who stepped up to the plate with the Youtube link on the Weather Siren (as I call her) for WHBQ Fox 13.  I had not seen the video in its entirety.  Folks, that is downright clever and we need more creativity like this in the local market, not just in promotions but in the news side as well.  In fact, this kind of creativity could help in sales as well IMHO.  It’s truly “thinking outside the box”.

Wacky Videos about People on TV and Sometimes the Technology Just Doesn’t Work

January 17, 2008
With apologies to the film Forrest Gump “television news is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get”. Don’t believe me? Check out this live interview on Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer chatting with Diane Keaton. I will have to say it was a nice recovery by Sawyer after Keaton dropped the “F” bomb. No, this did not air nationwide. I read where it was bleeped in the Central, Mountain and Pacific time zones. Is there going to be fallout from this. Probably. Will it be over-hyped to the extent of showing someone’s breast on national TV? Who knows. These days there are so many people waiting to be offended that I’m sure someone will get a hand slapped (or worse) on this. But first it will have to go through countless appeals and perhaps by that time, it will have just faded away or maybe I will have faded away. Then there is the video of Katie Couric who was at the desk but “off the air” one recent election night. The video featured on “My Damn Channel” shows what really goes on behind the scenes at every anchor desk in the country. If you want to chuckle, give this video a view. Then there is a local video here in the Memphis market that I was actually told about last year but was never able to watch in its entirety. I ran across the video when I TIVOed a couple of shows on WHBQ Fox 13. What is that video you ask? That video is the one featuring the girl who sings about the No-Hype Weather. I had tried to view this on the WHBQ website it could never get it to play. A couple of friends of mine said they couldn’t watch it either. Maybe I can get somebody to post it on YouTube and give me a link so we can view it from this blog. As for the video, I liked it and watched it several times. My wife thought it was a scream and quite clever in the way of marketing. Is this a local production or a syndicated piece? Anyway, someone help me get that video to a place where we can watch it.
And speaking of TIVO, technology left me holding the bag. I’m a big fan of the mini-series Lonesome Dove. I read the book and have seen the original series several times and read the most recent installment “Comanche Moon” a couple of years ago and was looking forward to watching this miniseries on CBS. It turns out my TIVO only recorded the first and third installment. I tried to watch it on the CBS website but had no luck there. I guess I will now have to wait until it comes out on DVD. It has really ruined my week. I guess that will teach me a lesson huh.

Guess Who Is Apparently Eyeballing Landmark’s Stations in Nashville and Las Vegas

January 15, 2008

I’ve said for some time now that Landmark’s stations in Nashville and Las Vegas are some pretty sweet properties.  They are powerhouse stations with strong news operations.  I’m sure that has some folks salivating at the prospects of having these properties in their stable.  According to a source, one interested party said to have  made contact with Landmark is a person described as  “a former executive with a radio corporation” who used to live in Nashville and is now a high ranking VP with the Tribune Broadcast Division.” Hmmmmm. Any ideas who that might be?  Actually no surprises there.  The big surprise would be if the Tribune WASN’T interested in WTVF and KLAS unless of course Landmark wants way more than an arm and a leg for both.  I would imagine the price will be high since both stations are top notch.  But this sale won’t happen overnight. According to an internal  newsletter, a group of Landmark VIPs will be at WTVF to make sure their house is in order and then a group of bean counters from Price Waterhouse will  set up shop for the next month to make sure the books are in order.  So, the hurry up and wait begins.