The Big Chill Here in the Midsouth, Possible Cuts Elsewhere in Memphis TV, & the Number 2 Man in News DOTR Prepares to Pull the Plug on Himself

It’s almost Noon on this Monday and I would rather go shopping on Christmas Eve than face the folks who have no doubt raced to the grocery stores to stock up on bread and milk in anticipation of the winter weather headed our way.  I was in contact with one of the local weather guys on a non-weather related matter and he was preparing for the weathergasm that was unfolding.  Perhaps Memphis will dodge the proverbial bullet on this round.  Truth be told, I’d rather deal with a foot of snow than a quarter inch of ice.  Snow generally doesn’t cause power outages unless somebody clips a utility pole.  Ice is just not nice.   Keep your fingers crossed and think warm thoughts so whatever freezes will thaw quickly.

I saw a blurb Friday on Newsblues that hinted of possible layoffs in Memphis.   That blurb : Major staff cuts coming to Fox O&Os? Notice that it ends with a question mark.  Anybody heard anything on whether cuts could be coming over at WHBQ Fox 13?  If they do make cuts it would come as no big surprise but I haven’t even heard any rumblings about that and I know a couple of the folks over there.  I saw over the weekend that former WMC anchor Donna Davis was featured in a column by Wendi Thomas.  According to Thomas: She’d planned to retire here, she told me Friday, and would have gladly taken a pay cut if it would have saved someone’s job.  Some have speculated that if she wasn’t given that option of a paycut that means she was destined to get the boot at the end of her contract and they were just waiting for the book to be wrapped up.  Still others have pointed out that younger faces can be found for a fraction of the salary and if placed next to long-time anchors Joe Birch and Dave Brown,  the viewing public will accept them.  It’s all a matter of viewing habits.    I also saw where former WMC anchor Bill Lunn got to say his farewell in the Commercial Appeal.  BL wrote a nice letter to the editor in Saturday’s paper.  If you haven’t read it, click on this link.

Speaking of cutbacks DOTR, I’m told that WREG has shared the news that NO Raises will be forthcoming in the new year.  I’m told that those folks under contract are being asked to forego any scheduled boosts in pay.  I’m not sure if there have been requests for voluntary cuts in those contracted salaries.  Those voluntary cuts would supposedly be made up when the ecnomy improves.  I would imagine those who “play along with this” will be smiled upon by the managers and those that don’t can expect to see the door at some point in the future.

Speaking of cutbacks, I see in NewsBlues that a Detroit newspaper is ending home delivery.  That has already taken place in the outlying areas for the Memphis Commercial Appeal.  If they ever cut home delivery in the city that would really mark the beginning of the end for that newspaper IMHO.  But what do I know.

And finally, the second in command in the WREG newsroom is enjoying his last week DOTR.  I would imagine Tom Moo is busy on this Monday compiling school closings and other closing announcements for the latest broadcasts.  TM came to WREG during the Craig Jahelka reign from a station in Texas if my memory serves me correctly.  He has managed to stay in that position as two other folks stepped into the ND’s role which IMHO is quite a feat since managers really like to bring in their own “Second”.   There has been much speculation as to who will fill that post when TM leaves on Friday.  I know if a couple of folks both inside the station and outside the station who would like step into the Moo-man’s shoes.  Of course with the tight budget, that position could go unfilled until the economy improves.  It’s apparently been advertised off and on for some time.  We’ll see.

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7 Comments on “The Big Chill Here in the Midsouth, Possible Cuts Elsewhere in Memphis TV, & the Number 2 Man in News DOTR Prepares to Pull the Plug on Himself”

  1. Richard Says:

    My father, may he rest in peace, worked for the Commercial Appeal and retired from there way back. He was a linotype machinist and stayed through the transition from linotype to computer. He will roll over in his grave if the CA ever stops home delivery in Memphis proper!
    IMHO, things will get worse before they get better! Hopefully, the weather won’t!


  2. Happy Trails Tom Moo!

    Joe just wanted to wish Tom a farewell via your site. I was there back when Tom arrived and frankly he maintained sanity around the place when Jahelka became ND. Most of us there at that time knew the place was on crack as cars were being given away, nutty promotions, etc.

    Tom, at least back then, tempered the craziness as best he could. He said I was the only person to ever flush a toilet in my pkg on the evening news at the dinner hour and get away with it…(Ask Tom)

    Anyway good luck Tom!

    Changing gears and just to show you how small this TV News Biz is…

    The father and daughter killed in the Mumbai terrorist attacks were from our county here in Central Virginia. though we don’t cover hard news these days in our magazine, we do follow events like that on our web side. We broke the story of the the two being killed in the attacks.

    Anyway, I was doing a folo at a memorial service this past weekend here in Virginia. I am walking into the building where the service was being held and I hear this voice I knew. Sure enough, it was Richard Gardner, former WMC-TV photographer, he now works out of Richmond for the CBS affiliate there.The last time I saw Richard was New Year’s Day 2000 (I was at Channel 5 by then) at a triple murder in Dyer County. After I was solo photog and on air with the sat shots all morning, the station sent Richard up to be my photographer for the rest of the day.

    Just strange 8 years later and 750 miles from there to run into a familiar face from the old biz!

    Merry Christmas back there and hope you guys dodged most of the icy weather. And hope you can find milk within the next month!
    -T-

  3. Pam Crittendon Roberson Says:

    Joe,
    Just a quick word of congrats to Tom Moo. He’s a great guy with whom I enjoyed working when I was DOTR. Best of luck to him and Marilyn.

    Pam

  4. Doug Johnson Says:

    Here’s to Tom not having to wear a white shirt & tie every day! And where the heck was my ice storm!

  5. Brian Says:

    Joe,

    I enjoy reading the blog and keeping up with the Memphis market. I’m a newspaper guy in North Mississippi and here is some additional information on what’s going on in Detroit.
    http://www.freep.com/article/20081216/FREEPRESS/81216032
    Hope you don’t mind a link like this.

  6. Brian Says:

    I’m also a Mac guy, so I double click a lot, hence the post two times.

  7. Joan Carr Says:

    I, too, wish Tom Moo a great retirement on the Gulf Coast. Tom was always a sane and calming presence in the WREG newsroom. He had a unique ability to do his job, stay in with whoever was the news director at the time and still seem like a genuinely nice guy. He’s one of the few people I’ve ever known who worked in TV news management who had not apparently sold his soul to the devil.

    My best wishes to Tom. May he and Marilyn enjoy many frosty adult beverages on the beach for many years to come!


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