Would the Last Person to Leave Peabody Place in Downtown Memphis Please Turn Off the Lights and (new) We have Reports of Several Layoffs at WPTY!

I’m adding this to the top after my initial posting. I’ve had a report of layoffs at WPTY. The information was shared in one of the comments. Check it out. I have no further information at this time. Now on with our regularly scheduled comment…………..

It seemed like a great idea and plans had been in the works for years to get tax breaks, grants, government money and whatever to create Peabody Place as part of the on-going effort to revitalize the downtown Memphis area. When construction began the GM at WREG at the time couldn’t wait to create a presence there as well. Part of this was due to the historical connection of WREG to The Peabody Hotel. WREC Radio and later WREC TV operated out of the basement of the Peabody Hotel for years and eventually the TV operation was sold and a new facility was created on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River just south of the Holiday Inn Rivermont (now the Rivermark condos). The call letters were also changed to WREG. The GM at WREG always looked back on those early days of WREC as the golden age/days of the station and wanted to once again tie WREG to the Peabody name. What better way to do it than to create a WREG presence in the new Peabody Place. Not only would the new “Live at 9” show air live from within PP, they would also create a small, glassed-in studio for the 4-o’clock and 4:30 news shows. People shopping would be able to stop by and stare or watch or act-the-fool, or whatever people do when a live broadcast is taking place, ratings would climb through the roof, it would help promote the station, it would help promote Peabody Place, it would cure the ills of the world and it would give us “peace with honor” for Mom, apple pie and the girl I left behind. (Okay, I made up the last two things). Seriously, it seemed like it would be a win-win situation. Initially the people flocked to PP. My lovely and talented bride and I would swing through there on our way back from a Redbirds game or when family was in town, we’d stop by there. We found it was a great place to catch a movie.

Then it turned into a typical mall/daycare where parents dropped off their kids and let them run wild. We discovered we couldn’t watch movies there as these kids considered the theaters their personal living room, talking to each other, to the screen, on their cell phones and the ushers/theater people declined to do anything about it. So we stopped watching movies there. We found when we wanted to just walk around in Peabody Place, we were faced with loud children with poor manners who bumped and pushed their way by and so we decided it wasn’t worth our time to walk around. Apparently others thought the same thing and they stopped coming by too. Shops and eateries began to close giving others less reason to stop by. It was what we call in the aviation community a “graveyard spiral”. Now I see that one of the hold-outs, Dan McGuiness Pub is pulling up its shamrocks and heading for greener pastures. I haven’t been in Peabody Place for a while but I would imagine that Live @ 9 is still one of the most visible activities in the mall which as I understand is being converted into suites and other living quarters for the Peabody Hotel. I wonder how much longer WREG will have a presence there especially as construction gets underway to convert shop space into living space. I’m not sure if WREG is paying for space in PP or if PP is paying WREG to be there. I would imagine that with the new owners (Local TV) watching every penny that if money is coming out of their pocket, then they too will leave. That would leave a possible problem as to what to do with Live @ 9 which has some decent numbers. They could always shoot in the second studio at WREG but that would involve taking down the Knowledge Bowl set and creating a permanent set for Live @ 9. Peabody Place provides a lot of room for the variety of guests and musical groups who appear on Live at 9 and they wouldn’t have that in the much, much smaller second studio at WREG. On the other hand, if WREG keeps a presence at PP, they can always work around the construction work and kind of make it a reality type show. Heck, once the project is finished, they can take their live cameras and crash in on guests to crank out some sort of reality show that way. Hey, if life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

And finally, another installment of “People Who Look Alike on TV”. Ever noticed you never see Andy Wise and Rod Starns in the same room, at least according to some viewers. I post, you decide.

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7 Comments on “Would the Last Person to Leave Peabody Place in Downtown Memphis Please Turn Off the Lights and (new) We have Reports of Several Layoffs at WPTY!”

  1. not 24 Says:

    Several layoffs at 24 today, only kept 3 reporters…Jeni DiPrizo, Bryan Heep, and Tennika Smith

  2. The GM Says:

    It is only going to get tougher. Memphis is a tale of two cities. On wealthy, one desolute. Now that the economy is sputtering at best and credit is being reigned-in, those “wealthy” folks are understanding they weren’t wealthy, they were highly leveraged.

    FedEx just announced a loss this quarter and because of high fuel prices they expect the next year to be tough sledding too. Don’t you think they’re looking for areas to cut, like personell?

    All of this leaves Peabody Place as unviable. No one has the discretionary dollars to drop at a movie, arcade, bar, etc. Additonally, those with the money have to drive from East Memphis — not as easy when gas is $4 a gallon and you drive an SUV that gets 14 MPG.

    I take no solace in any of this. We will all do well to put our heads down, work hard and not make any outlandish financial decisions until all of this works through the system.

    The GM

  3. The GM Says:

    Please note my spelling mistake. It should be personnel.

  4. JD Says:

    Hi Joe!
    I have to agree with the GM on leverage living. One of my friends at FEDEX says that they are giving a few the fish eye, in the upper echelons. The “6 digits” and high “5 Digits” may do all the thinking and planning but it is the lower hub style people, that get the job done. Mr. Fred appreciates and recognizes this.

    Out of curiosity, where do reporters go when they are given the pink slip and who really makes the determination of who goes and who stays? Or should I say “what” makes the determination?

    On the second half of the topic: Do you remember when WHRK had a live DJ and program in a remote location on Beale Street? Absolutely fascinating to watch the talent work the consoles, buttons and players.
    ALSO>>> Do you also mean to tell me that you behaved exceptionally well when you went to the malls or large department stores? I won’t put the Bible to the screen so you can tell us you didn’t misbehave just a little.

  5. joelarkins Says:

    Wow, so many questions JD.
    Yes, times are tight and a lot of folks are looking over their shoulders and keeping a watchful eye to their immediate future as well.
    Where do reporters go when they are given the pink slip? Some to the unemployment line, some to new adventures outside of TeeVee News and some to other jobs in the industry either across town if they don’t have a non-compete or to another market. Many news people keep a “reel” of their best work updated on a regular basis since one never knows when he or she might get the boot. Even a contract may not count for much since some companies have the contracts written in a somewhat one-side fashion. If managers want you to leave, they can in some cases move you to where you are the most unhappy in an effort to get you to want to leave. Reaching into my Star Trek trivia I think there are a number of folks who live by the Ferengi 33rd Rule of Acquisition: It never hurts to suck up to the boss”. Sometimes, but not always, doing that can be better than hard work. It may help you keep your job in a newsroom. I’ve seen it happen. Also, if you work hard and don’t make a lot of money you may be more likely to keep your job than someone who works hard and makes a LOT of money. And if you have unique talents in the newsroom that make you harder to replace, that can spare your neck when it comes time to make cuts. As to who makes the cuts, it kind of depends on who is actually running the newsroom. If you have a GM who micromanages, then the GM actually makes the decisions and he or she tells the ND who to fire. If you have a GM who allows the managers to actually manage, then the GM will tell the department head how much they need to cut and the ND has to figure it out from there.
    On the second half of the topic, no, I do not remember WHRK and the live DJ thing on Beale street but I do remember seeing DJs in Louisville, KY through a glass wall from the street. If I am not mistaken that radio station was WAKY. I don’t know when they created that particular venue allowing those walking down the street to watch but I thought it was fascinating. I remember seeing the WAKY studios in April of 1973. Little did I realize that one day I would be working side by side with one of the WAKY DJ legends who had been held in such high regard before he left for greener pastures in Toronto. The DJ’s on-air name: Dude Walker. He was better known in Memphis as Johnny Dark and he served as weatherman for WREG. For a tribute clip of Dude on WAKY, check out this link:

    And for the final question: Sorry to burst your bubble. Go ahead and hold up the Good Book and I will firmly plant my hand on it to say I did NOT act up in department stores. (We didn’t have any malls in Western Kentucky). I’m not saying I didn’t raise my share of hell but it was not in such a public place as I knew I would really catch it if word got back to my parents. And if you started talking or acting up in a movie theater the ushers would ask you to be quiet a couple of times and after that you would be asked to leave. Now, when I was hanging around the guys on Front Street in downtown Bardwell, KY. That was a different matter but again, there were no adults around and I knew the penalty if things got too far out of hand. My parents would know before I got home. But that’s a different story.

  6. JD Says:

    Hi Joe,
    Please accept my thanks for the answers and the link to watch and hear Johnny Dark again. Loved those glasses and can you beat that hair! He was even great doing the weather gig at Channel 3. Best sincere smile!

    What used to amaze me about him, George Klein, Jack Parnell, and a couple of others in AM radio was that fast delivery where they never stuttered or stumbled over a word. Perfect intonation and no accent.

    I did notice his choke while saying good-bye. Who wouldn’t?
    Thanks again!

    “and tell ’em Phillips sent ya!”

  7. JW Says:

    24/30 let 21 people go yesterday !!! From all departments-not just reporters.
    Is the answer to help them ???

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