Say Goodbye to the Outdoor Show in Memphis, and I hope You Aren’t TOO Attached to that News Chopper Either.
Occasionally something crosses my desk that really gets my attention. This morning was one of those times. I was asked if I knew that WREG had canceled its long-running News Channel 3 Outdoors Show. I had not heard that. Word has it that the axe was dropped Monday afternoon. The two man crew who made the show happen each week, Jeff Woods and Dan Patton, will go back into the videographer pool for news. The show, first known as MidSouth Outdoors and also known by some insiders as “The Redneck Roundup” and the “Huntin’ and Killin’ Show” first went on the air back in 1995. It was based on an extremely popular show at sister-station WNEP called Pennsylvania Outdoors and was the only locally produced outdoor show in the Memphis area. Unlike many outdoor shows, this one involved creating a new 30-minute show about 48 weeks of the year. Those shows were only canceled because of sporting events such as basketball during March Madness. When the show started, I was actively involved, more so than in the last years where I mainly co-hosted it. When it first started, Jeff Woods was the videographer, Mark Wright (now an attorney in Memphis) was the producer, I was the host and we had guests hosts of the show rotate in. Also the show was shot in the extra studio at WREG. When Mark Wright left, Jeff Woods took over the role of producer/co-host and Dan Patton was hired as videographer/editor. We started shooting all the segments including the “Ins” and “Outs” in the field as well. The show developed a following and had about as many viewers on the replay at 5:30 Saturday morning as it did in the original time slot of 6:30 Saturday night. They must still air reruns with me because I still have people telling me that they really enjoy me on “that outdoor show”.
No reason was shared for me as to why the plug was pulled but I’m sure that one will be forthcoming. I’m also told that two videographers were let go Monday at WREG including Ron Guidry (who had been there since the late 90s and shot sports when I was there). Not sure if they did that to make room for Dan and Jeff or not. Anyway, I have a lot of fond memories from the Outdoor Show including two segments I shot with my dad. One includes the “jumping fish” which I still have people asking about. Fortunately for Jeff Woods and Dan Patton, they have skills the station can use. Jeff knows the area inside and out and could still sling a camera on his shoulder when needed. Dan is a great shooter (perhaps one of the top ones at WREG) but he is an even better editor. News used to press him in service when they needed special “opens” for their newscasts. They will do well. They may not enjoy life as much in news rotation as they did covering the outdoors but “hey”, at least they have jobs. I think the Outdoor Show will be missed. Moving on.
Times are definitely tough at the Station Down On The River. I hear rumors that the Big Red News Chopper 3 could find itself on the chopping block. Yes, choppers are high profile newsgathering tools and they can really make a difference in a big story. But they are also expensive to fly and maintain. Apparently we shouldn’t be surprised to see NC3 fly off in the sunset anytime soon. This comes as WREG’s sister station WNEP announced it is selling its news helicopter. WNEP, located in the mountains of Pennsylvania and serves the market of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, has had a news helicopter since I first started at WREG. It actually owns its chopper unlike WREG which leases theirs. I think having that chopper at WNEP helped make it the dominant news station in that part of the country. It will be interesting to see how it fares after that whirlybird has flown the coop.
Yes sir, these are tough times…tough times indeed.