Archive for October 2009

A Familiar Face Back on Memphis TV & I’m Taken to Task for NOT Watching Local TV News

October 30, 2009

I always enjoy touching base with my former co-workers.  Okay, I enjoy touching base with MOST of my former co-workers.  Reconnecting with a former compadre from Southeast MO has led to other reconnects and so on and so forth.  I most recently heard from Amy Spears/Speropoulos who used to be an anchor/reporter at WREG.  Amy tells me that as of Monday morning, she will be the new morning reporter for WMC.  AS and her husband had left the Memphis area a couple years ago and have since moved back.  I always enjoyed working with AS and always thought she did a great job on the air.  Viewers liked her as well when she was DOTR and I think they’ll like her just as much OOU. (Over on Union).  I know at one time, the thought of someone leaving WREG to go to work at WMC was enough to send some managers into a coniption as that was considered the ultimate slap in the face.  There was a regular effort to demonize WMC as the “evil-doers”. I still chuckle at that. Anyway, congrats to Amy.

I was chided recently because I do not watch local TV news.  The person who chided me about it: my lovely and talented bride.  She told me that I should start watching local TV news again, just so I would know who the on-air folks are.  I guess I should also do that so I can see if anyone has renamed/rebranded their weather coverage  or their consumer reporting  coverage.   So, I will attempt to see what I’ve been missing.  I’ll will keep you posted.

We Will Let You Sleep With Our News Anchors if You Will Just Watch our News During Sweeps, What is Going on With the Make-up On CNN, & Instances of Lip-Lag are Growing here in the MidSouth

October 28, 2009

Having been out of the TV Nooz business for coming up on five years now, I kind of forget when we enter into ratings periods.  Yes, there was a time for me when it was all about “the book” as TV folks call the ratings period.  If you hadn’t taken vacation time or had some family event you wanted to attend, it all had to be worked around “the book”. Oh yah, and postpone any illness that you may have because life as we know it will cease to exist if for some reason you don’t show up for work.  The realities of the ratings books came roaring back recently.

I had stopped by to talk to some folks about a project I’m working on and there was a TV blaring in the waiting area.  I wasn’t really paying attention until I heard someone mention that you needed to make sure and watch during the evening news and the early morning news to register to win/grab/inhale $100-thousand dollars.  Plus if you were the specific caller you would win 300 dollars.  Yes, it was WREG, News Channel 3.  I’m not sure what other stations  are doing and it may be quite similar.  It all reminds me of the great car giveaway that WREG did about 10 or 15 years ago that IMHO seemed to help start the Memphis TV market on doing everything and anything to get people to tune in to watch the local news.  At the time, WREG was giving away three cars and while I can’t remember specifics (I guess I’ve tried to block it from my memory) if you wanted one style of vehicle, you had to watch a specific newscast.  We received tons of postcards.  They occupied one side of the studio.  We had to sort through those cards to make sure each card went into the correct bin.

Now, I don’t want to cause any undue hardship for those who work on the local news but if you want to get viewers to watch and “know the secret phrase” or whatever, Here’s what you promotions folks need to do: Give viewers a chance to have sex with someone from the newsroom in the newsroom.  And to really boost ratings, let them “have a go at it” with whomever they choose (news anchors/reporters/videographers/producers) right there on the weather desk during the newscast.  The shot could be squeezed back into the corner of the screen (kind of like when you have a weathergasm)  so it won’t interfer with your regular newscast.   I’m thinking that ought to really boost ratings.  Now, some might say “Oh we could never do that”.  I say why not. I’m reminded of a anecdote attribute to Mark Twain.  I’ve copied and pasted it here and wanted to share. It is said that, at one point in his life, Mark Twain walked up to a proper woman of class and stature and asks, “Madam, would you consider having intimate relations with me for a million dollars” to which the woman replied, “of course I would!”. Mr. Twain goes on to ask the woman, “Then, madam, would you consider having intimate relations with me for one dollar?” to which the woman replied, “of course not! What kind of woman do you think I am?!?”. His reply, “I believe we have already determined that, now we are negotiating price”.

If you are going to sell yourself, go all the way and for a really big boost in ratings.  Nuff said there. Moving on.

What is going on with the make up on some of the female anchors on CNN and Headline News in the mornings.  There are these attractive women (no I don’t know their names and really don’t care but they are on around 8 to 9am) and they don’t seem to have any features on their respective faces because they are wearing so much make-up.  Maybe they are being made up for the H-D broadcasts (no I still don’t have H-D reception but give me time) but whatever it is,  it is distracting.  I know when I was on the air I had one woman stop me at the grocery store to tell me that I should tell whoever put my make-up on for me that they are using too much.  I said I would share that observation “immediately” with the make-up person and I did.  That was easy since I put on my own make-up as do most folks in this sized market.  Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone else noticed “too much make-up” on the folks delivering the news.  Moving on…

I mentioned this is a previous post about seeing video in news packages during a newscast that had issues with lip-lag.  I saw it happen when I was the in the Raleigh-Durham area and have seen it locally as well.  I’m now seeing it on commercials.  The most recent incidence was on a cable spot airing on The History Channel regarding a furniture store that is giving beds to the less fortunate.  The company is Ashley and the guy (yes, normally it’s a woman pitching the products)  had about a half second of lip-lag.  Yes, it was distracting.  Whatever happened to quality control?  I’m just saying.  Okay, I’m off my soap-box.  Now back to your regularly scheduled internet surfing.

The CALM Effort, E-D Remedies, Motorized LA-Z Boy charges & Corn Nuts

October 23, 2009

I generally don’t watch commercials on TV much anymore.  (To the horror of The GM) yes, I zip through most of them thanks to TIVO.  Hey, I understand that paid advertisements are the lifeblood of television but I don’t know of anyone who really LIKES watching commercials and I really don’t.

For years when I worked at WREG, I fielded calls from people who wanted to know why we turned up the volume on commercials.  I would dutifully check with the folks in the Master Control area who always responded that the volumes of the commercials were always within the proper limits.  I never really gave it much thought until I noticed that the commercials really did blare.  I know I’ve posted on this before and I usually hear from folks about compression levels and such but the bottom line: Commercials generally do sound louder than the programming, at least on my TVs at home.  Turns out, someone in Washington is taking some steps to remedy what some say is just in our imaginations.  Enter the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act.It seems that a congress person from California wants the FCC to stop the loudness.   We’ll see where this goes if it goes anywhere at all.

As I have posted before, TIVO has changed the way I watch any TV program.  I now watch an hour long program in about 45 minutes.  I love it.  Granted, I may not be able to do that forever as advertisers figure out new ways to get me to view their product pitches but that’s the way it is for now.  Having said that, I was actually forced to watch a series of commercials during a show that I was watching live.  Among the products pitched was some drug used to treat Erectile Dysfunction.  What caught my eye was the fact that the advertiser was touting something to help the male partner take care of his partner’s needs.  It showed two people sitting in two separate claw-footed bath tubs out in some field over-looking some beautiful vista.  Look, I’m not a doctor but first, sitting in a tub of water by myself out in some field watching the sunset is not the way to get some action IMHO.  Now, sitting in a tub (preferably whirlpool type tub) with someone else in an enclosed room (except for the exhibitionist types) with some soft music, candlelight and a chilled bottle of bubbly perhaps seems like a much better way to go.  Heck one might even be able to forego the E-D drugs.  I’m just saying, that’s all.

It’s tough beating American ingenuity.  That’s why the blurb I ran across about the man from cited for DUI in a motorized easy chair caught my eye. Apparently this machine will move at speeds around 15 to 20 mph.  It could very well be the most comfortable ride you experience on the road.

Speaking of being on the road, my wife and I recently traveled to New England where she spoke at a conference for bankers.  While there, we also hit the road in our quest to visit all 50 states and all of the provinces of Canada. I’m a firm believer that road trips are defined in part by the snacks you take with you.  On road trips, I love Corn Nuts, that crunchy snack made from toasted corn.  Apparently folks in the New England area have no idea of what Corn Nuts are.  IMHO, they don’t know what they are missing.  But that also meant the drive was less enjoyable for “moi” and on a road trip (since I usually drive) it’s all about the driver.  Maybe a campaign to introduce this tasty snack is in order for that area.

Would You Pay to View “On-Line” Content and What Would TV Stations do Without local Newspapers

October 19, 2009

The boom of the Internet has been a thorn in the side of news gathering organizations from almost the beginning, especially the print media.  How do they make money on something that in many cases is given away free of charge.  The news gathering organizations still have to pay reporters/producers/editors etc. and when they make the information available on-line, it is often there like an apple ready to be picked.  There it is sometimes copied by some and placed on aggregate internet sites where the information is shared by even more folks, sometimes with attribution, sometimes without.  I know I’ve accessed information from various sources and usually cut and paste a section of the article with a link to the full article.  I generally do attribute the source of information.  However, I’ve not paid for the information and therein lies the rub for some organizations.  The Associated Press has indicated that it plans to go after those who use their content.  Think they can’t?  It’s copyrighted material.  Remember the music industry?  They decided to make examples of some folks who were sharing downloaded music.  Yes, it was a public relations nightmare for the music industry but after slapping some folks with lawsuits asking for large sums of cash helped tone down the whole music sharing thing.  Yes, some people still do it but not like it was in the hey-day.

The problem is how to charge without driving folks completely away.  It puts me in the mind of the airlines and the issue of raising the price of airfares.  If one company raised ticket prices and no one else did, potential passengers drifted to the lower priced carriers and that in turn prompted the original air carrier to lower its prices.  (They finally hit on the idea of charging for baggage and now they add surcharges for everything but that’s a topic for another time).   The reality is: No one wants to go it alone although they (the companies) make some noise about it. Right now,  Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is considering charging for access to its on-line content and A-P has been talking about it.  They may have even started an effort to charge already, I don’t know.  I do know that companies/organizations can’t spend money on creating something and keep giving it away. They won’t stay in business very long and for some organizations, there is a real possibility they won’t be in business too long because of declining revenues. Yes, there are ads on websites but is that enough income.  Would you pay for access to a website’s news information?

Speaking of dinosaurs that some predict are marching to their demise: I read the special report on crime in Memphis in the Sunday edition of the Commercial Appeal.  The information was sobering and interesting and I’m sure there were a lot of folks in the area who read it and thought ” Man, I’m glad I’m out of that town”.  What caught my attention as much as anything was NOT the fact that we have crime in the city.  That’s a given.  It’s that the Commercial Appeal dedicated a team of reporters/photographers to the effort for the amount of time it required to get the job done.  That kind of reporting is necessary IMHO and that’s one of the things that makes a newspaper stand out.  Now,  I didn’t see the local TV news but I would imagine there was some kind of report on each of the stations that contained some information from the C-A reports.  How many stations handed that article to a reporter/photographer and told them to “go turn a piece on that ” for the newscast?  If the local stations did indeed go do that, how many attributed the information to the C-A?     I don’t know and was wondering if anybody could answer that question for me.  I know that it annoys the reporters in the local print when TV/radio folks “borrow” the information from their stories without any attribution but for now, that’s usually just the way it is.  One thing is for certain: If the C-A ever goes “belly up”, local TV news operations are going to be in a world of hurt.