So, Just Who is Filling the Shoes Vacated by Andy Wise at WREG?

Okay, by now the holiday break/vacation glow has pretty much worn off and it’s back to business at the TV stations in Memphis.   No doubt people are feverously working on compelling special reports for the upcoming ratings period.  Some still refer to these as “series” pieces which doesn’t make much sense anymore since the word “series” refers to multiple pieces on a similar topic and it seems a number of so-called series pieces are in fact  single, stand-alone reports.   But I digress.  I’m sure the good folks are scrambling to create outstanding pieces of video journalism that have promotions departments salivating with desire to hype these over the coming days and weeks prior to and during the book.  Perhaps we will see such gems as “How Giant Rats Are Trying to Break into your Home!”, or “How You Can Lose More Than 100 Pounds in Less Than a week” or “How Your Computer Can Bankrupt You”.   Those stories plus, “We’ll Give You Something Like Cash or Gas If You Watch!”  Yes, the numbers racked up in February are important but it’s also the day in and day out work that means a lot as well.  That’s why I’m wondering who will step up to the plate to replace Andy Wise who as you know left for what he and WMC are hoping are greener pastures.  Perhaps WREG has already named a replacement and I just haven’t heard about it but they know (as does everyone else in the local TV news business) that replacing AW is a tall order.

AW actually got a big boost when he first introduced (I believe he was the first) in this market the “Does it Work ” concept.  People couldn’t get enough  and soon every station seemed to have some kind of product test going.  After a while, the managers at WREG declared they were through with the DIW and pulled the plug but it was so popular and not that difficult to do so they eventually resurrected it.  Plus, AW just appeared to do it better and WREG promoted the heck out of it.  That coupled with AW’s “Take No Prisoners” and “In Your Face” style prompted WREG to adopt his “We’re on your side” slogan for the entire station.  Unfortunately for WREG, AW is so closely associated with the slogan, when he left, it created a huge hole.  Oh, there have been other consumer reporters through the years at WREG.  Marybeth Conley was doing consumer reports when I first showed up in January 1989 and she continued cranking out the reports until she started cranking out kids and eventually went to a reduced schedule.  There have been reporters (and still are) who do the “in your face” reporting but AW is the only one who really combined everything into one package.  As I said, big shoes to fill.  I have no doubt that the DIW segments will continue and so will the “in your face” reporting.  The big question is “who” gets to do it and will it be as successful or will WREG find that “Does It Work” DOESN’T work well for them without Andy Wise.

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24 Comments on “So, Just Who is Filling the Shoes Vacated by Andy Wise at WREG?”

  1. ned Says:

    Joe, Andy was one man. You are just one man. WREG survived wtihout you. Heck, we’ve prospered with our morning show. Funny, all of the people who post regularly who used to work at WREG continually predict doom and gloom. And the numbers continue. NewsChannel 3 as a lot of very good reporters, several of them are better than Andy. (Stephanie, Matthews, Kuebler, Powell…shall I go on). So keep wishing for bad things Joe. They aren’t going to happen. By this time next year, nobody will know who Andy Wise was. Just like what happened to you.

  2. joelarkins Says:

    Ned, I think you misunderstand my post. I’m not saying Andy Wise can’t be replaced. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, the cemetery is full of people who supposedly “couldn’t be replaced”. The world has continued to turn. Lives and businesses go on. I have also said if you want to measure how much you will be missed, stick your hand in a bucket of water and pull it out. The hole that is left in the water is a measure of how much you will be missed. I’m not predicting doom and gloom with Andy gone. I’ve just said he would be missed. Also, in this latest post I was asking who would replace him. So far no body has stepped up to the plate at least to my knowledge. If you know someone from the ranks at WREG who is about to assume the mantle, then please share. And whether you liked AW or not, you have to agree that he is still among the best known names in the market. Despite what you say, a year from now people will still know who Andy Wise is and was. How do I know this? I’ve been off the air since December 2004 and I still have people telling me how much they enjoy watching me on TV in the mornings. What does that tell you about viewing habits of people? I think the biggest confusion is going to come from when A-W finally DOES go back on the air and people won’t be able to keep it straight just which TV station he works for.

  3. Just an Observer Says:

    Hey ned,
    What’s Joe done to you? I think if you read the series of posts he has stated many times that NO ONE is irreplaceable. I think a lot of TV people find that out after they leave a station, just as many people in the corporate world find out when they leave a company. I enjoy reading this blog because it offers some interesting almost “inside” information and I think he is relatively fair to all stations.
    Why don’t you lighten up a little?

  4. jamey Says:

    ned, Andy won’t be missed by everybody. More than half of the people in every market don’t watch local television news anymore. People still stop Joe, 2 years after leaving 3, and say how much they still like seeing him on tv. Not 2 months ago I had a layover at the Memphis airport and somebody asked me if I worked at channel 3 and I’ve been gone nearly 3 years. The majority of people out there don’t watch or care as much as you may think they do.

    here’s my prediction: Andy flies under the radar for the next year. The folks who tuned in just to see him will find some way to wake up every morning. Somebody will be hired at 3 to take his place and he/she will be another firecracker who’s not afraid to chase somebody down the street. Promos ensue.
    Andy returns to the air at 5 on 1/1/8 with a dumptruck full of promos. he’ll make a big splash and many of those Andy’s Army Men and Women will follow him one click up the remote.

    3 and 5 will continue fighting over the shrinking HUD. And sometime around the fall of 09 or the spring of 2010, somebody at a Mapco will walk up to Andy Wise and say “Man, I watch you all the time. Eyewitness 3 News!!!! “

  5. Doug J. Says:

    I read Joe’s initial entry and ned’s response some hours ago, but couldn’t respond right away. Now that I have the time, I find that Jamey Tucker has somehow read my mind and sent in my post for me. Jamey, you’re a brick — I appreciate you handling that.

    ned, I think you’ll find that most of us former 3er’s hold some fondness for the place, regardless of why we left. And Joe never trashes anyone — no matter how much I encourage him.

  6. The GM Says:

    The comments about Andy Wise and one being irreplaceable or not reinforces my belief that a station’s brand is far more important than an individual personality. “On Your Side” does not now default to Ch 5 just because Andy Wise is hanging his hat there.

    The GM

  7. Richard.... Says:

    I am a “viewer” only and in no way a part of the television media. BUT, I do watch the morning news and find myself switching from 3 to Fox News channel, to 5 then to Fox 13 only to wind up back on 5.
    I like the morning anchors on 3 mind you! It’s the format or the way news is delivered that gets to me. By that I mean they show a small clip from some story before they go to a commercial break and then it may be 20 to 30 minutes before they show the clip or deliver any news about that story! Then it seems that every 5 minutes Todd comes on and talks about the weather.
    Old habits are hard to break but I find that my habit of watching 3 in the morning is waning fast.
    I miss Joe on the television myself.

    This is my opinion only and in no way do I speak for everyone!

  8. joelarkins Says:

    Interesting observations Richard and thanks for checking in. By the way, I’ll try to get that check for ten bucks in the mail to you today. lol
    Regards

  9. JD Says:

    Hi Joe,
    Just to weigh in and let the words and names speak for themselves I humbly submit:
    Paul Dorman
    Russ Hodge
    Kitty Kelly
    Fred Cook
    John Powell
    Larry Enis
    Pam Crittendon
    Ed Craig
    Don (Nicely) Stevens
    Al Kengott
    Gene Roper
    Paula Haddock
    Fran Fawcett
    “Jack” Jackson
    Dick Hawley
    Dick Williams
    Jack Eaton
    Doug Johnson
    Tom Stoddard
    Rick Dees
    Trent Wood
    Pam McKelvy
    I submit these in paralell to what the GM said.
    We readily remember “On your side” , “Eyewitness News”, “Action News…” “News Channel…” but in the majority of cases we very soon forget those who brought these “Brands” (or corporate images in laymen terms) to us.

    Remember: “Just because your voice reaches half way around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.”

    Let us all wish a fellow tradesman the best of luck in his new endeavor. Let us also wish his replacement at the local CBS affiliate the best in his/her endeavor. (Something silly makes me feel it will be a female.)

  10. Ready Camera One, Take Two Says:

    I remember a night driving home after directing a 5:00 newscast. It was rush hour. It suddenly dawned on me that the bazillion people along side me in traffic had not been watching our latest “hair on fire” broadcast of local news excellence. It was at that moment that the business of news changed for me. Rating are fractions of fractions. Not everyone’s watching. “Go ahead and change it to channel 5, Wheel of Fortune’s coming on.” When I left broadcasting I didn’t think I could be replaced, but somehow they got by. Jerry got replaced. Claudia got replaced. Kim got replaced. Mason got replaced. (Even Bill Applegate got replaced.) Fortunately life’s bigger than TV or TV news.

  11. Richard.... Says:

    Everyone can be replaced be it a news anchor or floor sweeper. But some names seem to stick with us viewers out here.
    Not television related but I must ask if anyone knows of what happened to Jack Parnell. I used to listen to him on the radio and I heard him on a broadcast not too long ago.

    Keep the 10 bucks Joe. It can buy you a couple gallons of fossil fuel! Thanks anyway!

  12. Alamo FunRo Says:

    THE ONLY ONE I MISS (other than you JOE) IS SAVID.

  13. joelarkins Says:

    I believe you can find Mr. Parnell out Germantown way where he does voice-over work. I see his name occasionally in the “letters to the editor” section of the C-A. I guess that is the same Jack Parnell.
    Regards

  14. Alamo FunRo Says:

    CORRECTION
    MAKE THAT SIVAD.

  15. joelarkins Says:

    I guess I’ve finally arrived if I’m up there on your list with Sivad. I’m sure my wife will find me even more insufferable than I already am.

  16. The GM Says:

    Jack’s son is Chris Parnell of Saturday Night Live fame.

    The GM

  17. JD Says:

    Joe….one other thing. I think if they had Pam McKelvy, Jill Monier, or April Norris running down and beating up a drunk like Andy did on Channel 3, all of us would not soon forget it!

    “The Fox-zilla thrilla on News Channel 3!”

  18. jason Says:

    and with the comment from ned about “By this time next year, nobody will know who Andy Wise was. Just like what happened to you.” it seems that ned still hasn’t forgotten you. way to contradict yourself ned. keep up the good work.

  19. ned Says:

    Jason, you’re trying to be witty. Give it up. I recommend single syllable words for you.

  20. Bar-B-Que Says:

    Joe,
    Are you going to let your blog become mean spirited? Your honest “as you see it” approach, not clouded by the likes of ned, is the reason I come here.

    ned, you’re a poop!

  21. joelarkins Says:

    BBQ, No, I don’t plan to let this blog get mean-spirited and yes, I can see that it is headed in that direction. As I’ve said before I’ve tried to keep things on an even keel and allow folks to post their comments. In fact, I’ve only had to delete a few all during 2007. So, folks, a reminder. Let’s all be adults and say what’s on your mind but not resort to name-calling or get mean-spirited. Other wise I will have to be a poop and delete your comment. Thanks in advance.

  22. Tschieff Says:

    Joe. I found your blog while looking up Andy Wise’s story. It’s good to know you are doing well. I will never forget all of your kind words of encouragement when we started the Aviation Program at Wooddale High School. Hope to hear more from you. Keep up the good work and good luck.

  23. everett nichols Says:

    Ned, Except for Andy Wise, WREG asks no SERIOUS questions of government. I have to assume that AW was let go because of his confrontations with Dr. Willy. I personally have many questions to ask our local and state governments and Andy was the only one with the guts to do that.

    When WREG resumes SERIOUS investigative reporting on behalf of the people of Memphis and Shelby County, I will tune in to your station again. Until then, I will have to consider WREG to be just another PAWN in their game!!!!!!!

    Everett T. Nichols

  24. Everett Nichols Says:

    I cannot help but wonder why WREG chose to report a simple accident on Elliston which occured today (4-12-09) in their ‘CRIME IN MEMPHIS’ segment in this evening’s news.

    A police cruiser had collided with another vehicle which had reportedly, run a stop sign at Elliston and Green Dolphin and the police cruiser wound up in the front yard of a home where “chitren” were participating in an easter egg hunt.

    In my opinion, WREG tried their best to portray the police officer as having commited some ‘crime’ and shed a bad light on the Memphis Police Department when in fact, nothing at all had happened except a simple traffic accident!!!

    SHAME ON YOU WREG!!!!!!!!!!


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