Archive for September 2009

Anchors Who Aren’t Selling It & Other Observations from the Road

September 29, 2009

I’m on the road in Rhode Island.  Actually, I’m siting in a conference in Newport and had a couple of minutes in between sessions so I thought I’d hit the keyboard for some observations.

Maybe it’s just me but it seems like there are some prompter related issues with the good folks at The Weather Channel.  I don’t know if it’s because the on-air folks just haven’t had a chance to pre-read their copy, the prompter is too far for them to see it or they just can’t read the words on the prompter.  Whatever the problem is, they aren’t selling it.  Sometimes it seems they get to the end of what appears to be a sentence and then they add a word that suddenly seems to have cropped up.  It’s like they really aren’t sure what is going on.  And it appears to be getting worse since more “news” is involved in the weather.  Perhaps it’s just me.  Has anyone else noticed this?

I caught the local news this morning as I was getting ready for my day and again, maybe it’s just me but the morning news crew on this particular station didn’t strike me as overly professional. My first reaction to the weather girl was that her black fingernail polish was a litle on the goth side.  Again, maybe that is cutting edge here in this particular part of this part of New England.  Actually my wife noticed the black nails before I did.  What caught my attention was the fact that they were recycling old news to fill air-time.  Granted, newspapers have been doing this for years but I had not seen TV stations re-visiting old stories from 20-years ago.  The piece I saw this morning appeared to be an old news package from 20-years back.  An interesting concept.  Is this something that others have seen or are currently doing on the air?  It’s a great way to fill air-time if you are short on reporters.  I would think it might work better if someone re-cut the pieces so there is a short anchor/reporter pkg or a VO covering multiple stories that ran about a minute.  Of course it is so much easier to re-cue an old package and that fills time so much better!

Odds and Ends on an Overcast Thursday Morning

September 24, 2009

“Hey Joe, where you been man.  Are you ever going to post anything on your blog again.  Do you realize that it’s been almost a month since you posted last?” This is what I’ve been hearing lately from folks I’ve run into and I have to be honest.  There just hasn’t been a lot to post on locally.  Oh, I’ve heard some rumors and such and I will share here but not a lot of folks are forthcoming with information these days.  Still, there are some tidbits floating around and I will share what I’ve been hearing which isn’t a lot.

Steve Dawson’s departure from WHBQ Fox 13 over the weekend of September 11/12/13 has prompted about four versions of why he left.  One version indicated he retired, another said he resigned, another said he resigned before…..well, whatever the reason, a familiar face to viewers at Fox 13 is no longer there.  What will that mean to the ratings/viewers?  These days probably not much.  The reality is, some viewers will miss SD and some will vow to never watch again.  The truth is, there are many people who watch a channel only out of habit and they really don’t care who delivers the news.  That’s why from New York City to Missoula, Montana, long-timers are being thrown under the bus and replaced by young pups who will work for peanuts just so they can be on TV.  Hey, it’s merely an observation.  Don’t believe me?  Ask any long-timer currently working at a TV station and if they are honest, they will tell you they sweat bullets on a daily basis on how long they have a job.  That’s why many tend to color/tint their hair and cover the wrinkles the best they can.

I’ve heard rumors (again, only rumors) that more cutbacks/salary reductions could be taking place at the station on Union.  I’ve heard there are some folks making big bucks who will be asked to take a salary reduction and that some worker bees will get the boot altogether.  I’m sure there are folks busy at all stations updating their resumes and trying to learn new skills so they can prove their worth when the budget ax is brought out at the end of the year.  Folks, now is not the time to try to start proving your worth. Ask any turkey.  The farmer has already set his/her eye on the bird well before the Thanksgiving holiday and the ax is being sharpened.

At the station DOTR, I’ve heard they have had so many cutbacks that over the previous years that there really is no other place to cut.  One person tells me things actually seem to be turning around down there.  The one rumor that has cropped up is that one of the big guns in the news department is not seeing eye to eye with a station honcho at this particular moment in time.  What that means or could mean remains to be seen.

Just when I think folks representing Memphis can’t do anything more to embarrass the Bluff City, someone proves me wrong.   If some elected official wants to announce that he was basically chosen by God to lead and that no one else can do the job, then yes, it is a little uncomfortable.  Generally speaking, the story tends to stay local.  And when some of the local politicians do crazy things or talk that crazy talk, you tend to treat them like the whacked out uncle or aunt who took that blow to the head back in 1941.  Again, that kind of stuff tends to stay local and it’s easier to forget about it.  But, when the leader of your local government welcomes an internationally recognized leader with the words “Hello Dalai” to the Dalai Lama and then gives him the old fist bump, then it’s time to stop and re-evaluate IMHO.  I know when I travel out of town in upcoming weeks, I will NOT mention that I’m from Memphis.

I was cutting the grass in between the recent monsoons we’ve been having.   I’ve used hearing protectors for the last 20-years whenever I cut the grass to protect my diminishing hearing and for that entire time I usually listen to …..silence.  That’s not a bad thing since I do a lot of thinking and soul-searching while I’m pushing the mower.  (and you thought all of that smoke was just coming from the mower’s engine).  Recently I started listening to the Ipod part of my Iphone while mowing.  I just slide the ears buds into my ears and pull the hearing protection muffs over my ears.  It really works well.  It was while I was cutting my grass that a song came on that instantly reminded me of WTVF in Nashville.  The music was by Floyd Cramer and called “The Homecoming”.  WTVF used to close out its newscasts with that song every night and now I can’t hear it without thinking of credits rolling at the end of the newscast.  I think it worked quite well since another station in Nashville, now WKRN, used to close its newscast with the song “Musicbox Dancer” which was being played on local pop stations for a while.  I’m not sure if any other stations around the country used popular music during their newscasts or not.  I know that WBBJ in Jackson used the theme music from the movie “Electric Horseman” for its news open but that was because they were too cheap to spend money on a news music package.  Can anyone help me out on popular music or commercially available music used by local TV.  I’m just curious.  Okay, I’m done here.