Archive for April 2009

Someone Who Knows How to Promote, My Phone is Now Officially Smarter Than I Am and a Blatant Plug for Someone Who Asked for One

April 30, 2009

I had to get my wife’s car over to the dealership this morning bright and early (or in the case it was overcast and early) to get the 50-thousand mile check-up.  So as I was driving over I was listening to Drake and Zeke on 98.1.  They had been promoting that morning (and probably during the week as well), that Andy Wise, WMC’s consumer reporter was going to be there and would be taking calls and emails.  Let me tell you, that is smart promotion on both sides and especially AW’s.  I don’t know how long this has been going on but the other TV stations that hope to even begin to compete should be all over doing something like this with their consumer person.  During his appearance, AW gets to provide personal attention to particular issues, joking and cutting up with D & Z and if there was anyone who didn’t know where he was or how to contact him, they have a much better chance now.  Plus, it adds to the already large audience listening to D & Z in the mornings.  If WMC were really smart they’d have an “Ask Andy” column working in one of the local newspapers.

I’ve been on the road recently on business and find that I’ve really have a difficult time checking for emails while I’m on the road and in the field.  My wife, who has had an IPhone since October has been telling me that I needed to get one as well.  I was content to do without since we usually traveled together and I always had access to hers.  Well, she and I aren’t traveling together these days so I finally bit the bullet and purchased an IPhone.  Yes, I know there are plenty of smart phones out there and each one has its positives and negatives but this is the one that I bought.  Now, I need to look it over and get to know it.   If you hear a blood curdling scream, it’s probably me having issues with something that is probably way smarter than I am.

I received this request which I’m posting in its entirety, so if anyone wants to follow up, they have a working phone number.

Hey Joe,

Last year you agreed to help publicize a “green initiative” for MATA on Ozone Action Days, and we sincerely appreciated your support. This year MATA will offer 25 cent rides on the MATAplus buses and trolleys on Code Orange Days in the month of May. The air quality is a big concern in Shelby County, especially as we gear up for hotter months. A code orange alert means the amount of ground-level ozone in our air has reached unhealthy levels. This is especially important for any active adults or children exposed to prolonged outdoor activity.

The Shelby County Clean Air Authorities forecast the next day’s clean air level around 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. If a Code Orange Day is forecasted in May, I will send you an email alert. I would really appreciate it if you could then blog about it and let your readers know about 25 cent rides on the MATA buses and trolleys for the next day. Hopefully everyone will be able to save a little money while also helping out the environment!

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like more information. Thank you so much for your help!

Sincerely,

Anna Michael

Account Coordinator

Thompson & Berry Public Relations

50 Peabody Place, 4th Fl.

Memphis, TN 38103

Phone: (901) 251-5161

I love helping out folks in need.

Finally,  some have  asked if our wounded bird (Piper Warrior) was back in the sky yet.   Yes it is.  It only took about three months but we are back to comitting aviation.  Thanks for asking.

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Did Mike Fleming Get the Ax and Covering the Swine/Bird Flu Outbreak

April 28, 2009

I was chatting with a friend of mine who asked me if I had heard the news about Mike Fleming of WREC radio.  I, of course said I had not and the person said MF had gotten the ax and that fellow conservative Ben Ferguson would be taking his place.  I was told it was a cost cutting move.  Now I’ve met Mike (I’m sure he doesn’t know me from Adam) and our paths have crossed over the years and I know he is really popular with the talk radio crowd in the Memphis area.  So for those who’ve come to rely on MF for their dose of conservative commentary, I think you’ll have to start looking elsewhere.  I’m not sure if he is even going to be on the air on this Tuesday.  Letting a fired on-air person have air time after the ax has fallen is always a dangerous thing.  Of course, there is always the chance that what was shared with me is not true but the person who told me has the hook-up so unless I hear otherwise, I’m going with what my friend shared with me.  I will say this about MF.  He is well known.  I remember back in the early 90s when a huge riot broke out at the Shelby County jail in downtown Memphis.  Some of the prisoners wanted Mike Fleming to come in and meet with them.  They trusted him and no one else.  He did go in and eventually the inmates calmed down and order was restored.  I just hope that the conservatives don’t go on the warpath…. Moving on

This whole flu pandemic/not pandemic thing sure has people talking.  And not knowing really what to believe has me feeling a little uneasy as I’m doing a bit more traveling for business.  I’m trying to decide if I need to wear a surgical mask during my next ride on a commercial airliner.  Which brings me to my point about news coverage.  I’m sure that this is NOT going to be high on the list of things that some reporters will want to cover.  Afterall, covering this story has the potential (and I stress the word potential) to leave the news crew rather dead.  Unlike covering AIDS stories where one has to be exposed to bodily fluids  to become infected, this is potentially more dangerous.  Imagine this:  somebody hacking and coughing on their hand before you arrived and then shaking your hand.  After wards you clear your throat and put your hand to your mouth to cover it and you may have just exposed yourself to the virus.  Wow.  Does that sound alarmist?  Probably, but then it all depends on who you listen to for your source of news.  Again, at this point, I’m not sure who to believe or what to believe.  So if you see me around the airport, just wave and ask, “Kimosabee, who is THAT masked man”

Observations on a Monday Morning

April 27, 2009

I’ve been out of town on business for the past week in the Orlando area and just now getting caught up.  In the mornings I tried to catch up on what is going on in the world and catch the local weather as well for Central Florida.  I found plenty of weather information but not so much information on what is/was going on in the world.  I had really hoped that watching Orlando TV might somehow be different, that it might get me re-energized about watching local TV news when I returned to Memphis.  It didn’t.  I guess it’s just as easy to cover crime and fire in Central Florida as it is in Memphis and I found that after a couple of mornings, I caught  the weather a few times and I did what I do now, flip to something else.  Oh, their traffic graphics look slicker and some have a chopper in the air (guess they can still afford one).  All in all it was disappointing.  Something I did notice was that on a couple of channels I watched while I was in the Deland area, there seemed to be a loss of lip sync on the tube.  It was ever so slight and I’m not sure what was going on there.  Is this somehow a by-product of the digital signal perhaps? If anyone has any thoughts, please share. Maybe it was the cable system screwing things up.  I think the cable was “Brighthouse”.  I had not heard of them before and maybe it’s just a small operation.  Moving on….

I guess those who get their TV viewing information from the Commercial Appeal will have about a month to find a new, free source.  I noticed the old C-A which is getting thinner and thinner these days (unlike me)  announced that the “TV Week” insert is being replaced.  The paper announced that its “TV Guide” as I call it is cost prohibitive to produce for those who don’t want it.  So the CA is partnering with “ON” magazine.  The catch is this, you have to subscribe to it for 67-cents a week or do without.  I will do without.  There will be a grace period for about a month I guess to prime the pump and after that you have to cough up the extra coin.  I’m sure there will be a great cry from the readership but things are tough out there for news papers and they are doing everything they can to stay afloat.  Speaking of newspapers…

Remember a while back when I was lamenting the current price of the NYTimes stock.  I kept waiting throughout the 2008 presidential campaign season for the price to climb the least bit so I could dump it.  I really thought the stock would get a boost from political ads.  It never did and I never got a chance to get rid of it.  So I have this millstone around my neck.  The whole Boston Globe debacle is not helping matters either.  (I remember how excited I was back when the NYTimes decided to buy the Globe).  I read last week where the Globe employees were calling on the readers to help (somehow) by signing a petition so do something, I can’t remember what.  So far they had 500 folks sign up.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what that means.  So,  having stated all of that, does this mean when the NYTimes goes down the tubes that my meager pension will disappear as well?  I sure hope not.  I’m counting on that (when it kicks in) to help me buy the weekly TV guide from the Commercial Appeal. And finally….

I make it a point to volunteer for things that I think help make the community I live in a better place.  Sometimes my wife drags me kicking and screaming to some of these things but for the most part I do it on my own.  I like to jump in an clean up around the neighborhood (both organized and spontaneous events), I sit on a marketing committee for a Memphis area school and unlike some, I do it not to pad my resume, I do it because it’s the right thing to do.  When someone asks me to work with an organization, I’m generally an easy sell if my schedule permits.  I will admit that there are times on the day of the event that I wish I was doing something else but after the event I always I feel a sense of satisfaction.  My most recent volunteer duties put me back in front of the camera at WKNO’s Action Auction.  I’ve been doing this for about four or five years now and I run into old friends and former co-workers each time.  I also make new friends along the way.  I always get the same butterflies in my stomach just before I go on the air for the first time that I did the entire time I worked in TV news.  Once I’ve got the first couple of minutes out of the way, everything is/was fine but the first couple of minutes always get/got to me.  When I made my appearance Sunday afternoon for the Action Auction I remember standing there prior to the red light coming on and thinking “Can I still do this?”  Then suddenly you hear the word “Standby” and then the red light kicks in on the camera and it’s showtime.  Turns out it is just like riding a bicycle.  Just watch out for the potholes.

Now A Word for TV News Webmasters

April 14, 2009

The Web folks for TV news can have a tough job.  They’re trying to cope with getting stories posted to their websites and trying to make sure ad content is where it is supposed to be.  Sometimes the mojo just doesn’t work.  This was brought to my attention by my former co-worker and still very good friend Jack Church who was checking in on the WSMV-TV website which has ALL kinds of information about long-time local anchor Dan Miller’s passing and his memorial service.  He asked me if I had checked out the website to read any of the stuff about DM.  I’ve been out of town and haven’t had much time so with his urging, I went to the website.  Then I saw what he was talking about.  Immediately under the story with the headline of “Hundreds Attend Service for Dan Miller” was an ad featuring Hugh Downs.  So, what was Hugh hawking in this rotating ad?  A book titled Artery Clearing Secret.   Keep in mind that Mr. Miller died of a heart attack.  Now, maybe some don’t think of this as a big deal but an informal survey I conducted (three people) found that the ad’s positioning is in poor taste to say the least. Plus the fact that the WSMV website is plastered with all kinds of stories about Mr. Miller’s passing, I would think it would behoove someone to look over the content for such things.  On the other hand, maybe the sales department could use this as an opportunity to sell some ads for the local “heart healthy” clinic.  After all, times are tough these days and money IS money.

Shame on Some Local TV Coverage?

April 13, 2009

Since I started this blog a few years back I get the occasional email from someone wanting me to help solve a problem here in the Memphis area.  Sometimes they are looking for Andy Wise specifically, sometimes they’re just looking to contact the local “on-your-side/problem-solving/get-in-your face team or whatever the marketing people at a particular station choses to call their consumer watchdog/bulldog/chihuahua reporter team this week.

So the latest rant I received is this one that I’m re-posting as I received it here:

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!!!!!!!!!!

One of the reasons I’m posting this is because of some research I recently  ran across.  For the record, I’m not saying it’s new, I’m just saying I recently ran across it.  The research says that a survey shows that 87-percent of people stopped doing business with a company because of bad service. This is quite significant when you conside that back in 2006, that number was at 68-percent. And that research shows that a dissatisfied customer will tell 20 people about that bad experience.   Now, I’m not saying that bad service is the reason that people are not watching as much local TV news as they used to but I would think that if the customer is NOT getting what he or she wants, then that can relate, IMHO, to bad service.  And I think the number “20” is extremely low in this age of blogging, twittering, emails and text messaging.   The GM has said it’s about branding and weather is Numero Uno as to why locals turn to a local TV station.  So I would say it is incumbent on a local TV station to not only deliver what they promise but NOT be peddling crap with it.  While they already play to the lowest common denominator, maybe they should NOT be too condescending in whatever they do.  Afterall, nobody likes to feel they are being talked down to and when someone gets to the point that they will write and complain to anyone who will listen as the person did who wrote to me, then perhaps it is time to step back and take a long hard look at what you are selling.

So Long to a Great Local Anchor

April 9, 2009

I was wrapping up some work on the old computer this Thursday night and was looking over some emails when I noticed one from a former colleague now living in Nashville asking about a Facebook connection.  I clicked on that and that’s when I noticed that she was offering condolences about a death at WSMV in Nashville.  When I checked on who had passed, I will have to admit that I was stunned to find that Dan Miller, the long-time anchor at WSMV had died of a heart attack.  For those not familiar with Dan Miller, I always thought of him as someone who set the standard for a great local anchor.  I first watched DM as a student at Western Kentucky University in the mid-70s.  He worked with Lonnie Lardner ( I always thought she was hot and loved the way she wore her hair) and I thought they made a great team.  I wanted to be like Dan Miller.  I’m not sure but I think I had read where DM was a former weather guy who became a news anchor (and IMHO he was a very good anchor).  He generally didn’t go out and cover stories but he was a great interviewer and when I wasn’t watching him anchor, I’d watch MIller and Company which aired on Sunday nights where he would sit down and do extensive interviews with various people.  He was very good at that type format.  So it was no surprise when he went to Los Angeles and later ended up as the Ed McMahon on the short-loved Pat Sajak show which aired against Johnny Carson.  For those of you who don’t know this, Pat Sajak did weather at WSMV for many years before heading to L-A.  Dan eventually returned to Nashville where he resumed his role as anchor.   Living in Memphis, I couldn’t watch DM so I don’t know how he looked or how his anchoring gig was going.

When I told my lovely and talented bride Bethany that DM had died of a heart attack, she was stunned.  She told me that when she lived in Huntsville and worked at WHNT back in the late 70s, she would go home and not watch her station but tune in to watch DM at WSMV.   Neither of us ever met Dan Miller in person but he still managed to touch our lives in a way that we both are feeling a profound sadness tonight.  Back in the days before cable, we only had a few options for local news and that was when the local anchors were almost like family.  These days, with cable and satellite and so much crap on the air, I couldn’t even tell you who most of the anchors are and most of the time I DON’T invite them into my house.  So tonight, I hoist an adult beverage in the memory of Dan Miller, a person who is linked to a time when local anchors were special.

Odds and Ends on Monday Morning

April 6, 2009

I have to admit I’m not finding much these days in the local newspaper that really catches my attention.  Sunday morning’s Commercial Appeal Viewpoint section had an article that did.  It was called “My Thoughts” and was written by Todd Richardson.  It focused on the role the media plays in shaping the view of the Bluff City.  One part of the article dealt with the media’s coverage of crime in Memphis.  I’ve found (as have others) if you watch TV, one gets the feeling that it’s not safe to walk out your door without being mugged, raped or whatever.  One news director said it’s what people want to see, according to surveys.   What that person probably didn’t say was that it’s really easy to cover some crime or fire or chase since all you have to do is point a camera and talk to a victim or fire or police chief.  It takes a whole lot more effort to do something with substance and with increasing smaller staffs and more news holes or slots to fill, time is a luxury that most TV stations just don’t have.  Not any more.  I will say I’ve long had issues for what passes as news anymore.  That’s one of the reasons I’ve pretty much quit watching local news and turn in when the weather turns bad just for updates on storms (as long as they don’t kick into “weathergasm mode”. )

Which kind of takes me back to the point of  “the surveys show this is what viewers want”.  At TV stations, they area already working on writing for the lowest common denominator.  So when people indicate that “they want to see more crime”, it puts me in the mind of children who would rather eat nothing but dessert or sweets instead of having something like a well balanced meal.  No responsible parent who really cared for their child would do such a thing.  Balance is the key.  Sure, give them some of what they want, but be responsible at the same time.  Give them substance, not something that is going to rot their teeth and their brains because if you do that, in the end, you will pay dearly.  Perhaps that is what is happening now with the viewing audience.  For years the audience was fed a steady diet of crap and now that is what is oozing out of their ears.  The smarts left a long time again and they aren’t coming back until the menu has been improved.  Moving on

I think it was Harry S Truman who once said something to the effect “Recession is when your neighbor loses his job, depression is when you lose yours”.   You know the economy is hurting when some big businesses such as FedEx actually start swinging the axe at its workforce.  It’s especially troubling for some of us former news types to see some of those who managed to escape from the trenches of local news and get into the private sector get hit by that axe.  My good friend and former colleague Doug Johnson got tagged Friday at FeEx cut 500 folks in the Memphis area.  Now Doug is not one to let grass grow under his feet and I’m told that he has already started a blog (On the Beach) as he casts his net looking around for gainful employment. Yes, I will vouch for him.   Anyway, check out Doug’s musings and when you check in, tell him Joe Sent ya.