Observations on a Monday Morning

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.

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8 Comments on “Observations on a Monday Morning”

  1. Doug Johnson Says:

    I, for one, am glad you’re back. My mother subscribes to Brighthouse cable in Ocala, FL. I don’t know whether she’s noticed the same problem you did, but I know it’s the third or fourth cable system down there since she moved down there (Comcast, TimeWarner, etc., etc.).

    Speaking of cable, since most digital systems provide channel listings (as do satellite systems), it would seem that a weekly guide in the newspaper is redundant. Even the folks at TV Guide are having problems keeping readers… and they’ve got that super-easy crossword puzzle in the back of the book! So no, I won’t be subscribing to “ON” either.

    I was never a long-term enough thinker to hold onto my NYT stock. Since we got it at such a discount, I’d sell mine as soon as the certificate came in the mail. I used to wonder if I were hurting myself, but I don’t think that anymore. But hey – hold onto them – the certificates could be valuable as antiques someday… (that’s not helping, is it?)

  2. joelarkins Says:

    I guess I could wallpaper my bathroom with the NYTimes stock certificates but then they might be TOO handy. Or I could hang the stock certificate the same place a good friend of mine placed his diploma from law school signed by then Tennessee Governor Ray Blanton. For years his diploma was hanging over his commode and he had placed a bandaid over the name of hizzoner. The diploma disappeared one day and the owner never asked where it went. He assumed the TP roll was empty and the diploma was handy. I’m just repeating what he told me…

  3. The GM Says:

    I am a big believer in volunteering in the community. Congrats to you for doing so. If more people did the same, we’d all be in a better spot. Perhaps this economic downturn will refocus us on our communities where we can have a positive impact.

    The GM

  4. Doc Pepper Says:

    Back a few years ago when I was in Orlando, one station had local news and then had (I guess from a sister station) Miami news. It worked real well.

    When I was in Miami working, they had that “in your face” news. It appeared that every report put the camera in the face of the person reacting or the actual gristly scene.

    Anybody remember when WHBQ-am about 27 years ago had that crime radio that put you right un the middle of an event as it happened. Lt. True of the police department was one of the reporters and I can’t remeber the program director (Chris Cruise???) I want to say it was called True Crime Radio…..

    The oddest station I ever watched was in San Diego CA. The weather never really changes there and a weatherman loook sort of odd finding new ways to sa the weather is beautiful.

    The hard news is usually the same murder mayhem and finding 10 illegals in a porta-potty being towed. Or showed care stops on the expressway to check licenses and check for illegals.

    As far as your stock, it may be too low to even consider selling. Boy, the NYT has made some stupid decisions in the last 5 years! Actally closing the Globe might help the bottom line by allowing the daily delivery of the Times to the Boston region area and use the Globe’s presses to print it.

    I really feel if a paper closes in Memphis for example, a smaller paper would step up or a adjacent regional paper would fill in. For example, the Tennessean could have the same paper in Memphis with just a local Memphis section printed with the other parts of the paper. btw, The Tennessean actually tried a weekly sunday paper in the 60’s in Memphis called the Sunday Times.

  5. The GM Says:

    Doc Pepper,
    I remember the WHBQ radio crime report (don’t remember the exact name). Chris Cross was the program director, morning host. Chris Karb was the GM. Tony Yoken was the GSM. Station also featured Oliver C. Reed, Mark Davis and John DeClue. OCR and JD are now deceased. Mark Davis is in Dallas. As for Lt. True, he went to do traffic on WPTY for a while. No idea where he is now.

    WHBQ was news/talk before news/talk was cool.

    The GM

    • Mark Gstohl Says:

      OCR was funny because he seemed to just read the Commercial Appeal and comment as he went along. I loved Mark Davis too. John DeClue was hilarious! I loved his election strategy. VETO-Vote Em Totally Out!

  6. joelarkins Says:

    Actually, a state-wide paper with bureaus in various cities isn’t a bad idea. Of course since Memphis tends to have an inferiority complex (and not a very good one at that) people would tend to bitch and moan about a paper based in Nashville or Knoxville. Then there is the whole coverage of the Delta issue which opens up a whole can of worms.
    And on the matter of bonehead decisions at the NYTimes. I remember talking to the former head of the NYTimes Broadcast division Frank Roberts. FR told me about eight years ago that he felt that the NYTimes newspaper honchos really didn’t seem to have any clear cut direction on where they were going and that concerned him. I think even then he may have been trying to unload some of his NYTimes stock. As for having the good folks in Beantown printing the Times, that’s a great idea but then I don’t think there’s ANY love lost between Boston and the Big Apple.

  7. Shaun Says:

    I haven’t bothered with the “TV Week” booklet in years. Digital cable provides an on-screen guide that’s more than sufficient for my needs. If I want to look at the TV lineup when I’m not home, http://tv.yahoo.com/ offers the same information (with even more room for detailed programming descriptions) free of charge.

    Stay well!


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