Friday, December 30, 2005

Omaha TV Newser of the Year

We're awarding our first annual pick for Newser of the Year to WOWT anchor Tracy Madden, one of the few bright spots in that station's lineup.

Madden earns this prestigious honor for several reasons. First, she improved the quality of Channel 6's evening newscasts just by taking over for human pall Pat Persaud when the latter woman "retired" in May. That was the official handoff date, anyway. In reality, Madden essentially took over almost as soon as Persaud finished blubbering through her retirement announcement at the end of February. (Persaud appeared only infrequently between the announcement and her overblown May 25th swan song.)

Since her ascension, Madden has clearly gone out of her way to avoid being snared by the consultant-driven cliché machine that "6 News" has become. For example, in stark contrast to her doltish co-anchor John Knicely, Madden never follows up a live report with the hackneyed and unnecessary "So-and-so, reporting live" tag. Likewise, she skillfully avoids drinking whatever Kool-Aid that impels Knicely and others to tease the "More News" feature with the "latermorenews" incantation scripted by the Big Six's puppeteer-for-hire.

Her willingness to forego the consultant's canned phrases and be herself has paid off; in fact, the station's ratings are higher now than they were when Queen Pat was climbing up into the chair. So much for consultants.

More than anything else, however, Madden has brought a warmth and smoothness to the anchor desk that is seldom seen these days in Omaha television. Here's hoping her tenure is a long one, that she continues to do things her way, and that they find her a decent co-anchor.

NOTE: The Omaha TV News Crew will be taking the first week of the new year off. Comments will be moderated intermittently by the custodial department.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Botched By More People Than All Other Local Newscasts Combined

Premature Ejacu-Weather meteorologist Jim Flowers really tickled himself during Thursday night's forecast by playing "Auld Lang Syne" under the "extended forecast," which also featured a Baby New Year image hovering over the January 1st column. He just giggled and giggled during the last few sentences of his segment. Tracy Madden, echoing our sentiments exactly, told Jim she'd be glad when the new year came so he'd "get rid of that baby." Even Brian Mastre commented that the little tyke looked like a "creepy Elmer Fudd."

Out of the Way, You Rubber-Necking Yokels

OK, so aside from sending Gary Johnson to cover the plane crash, WOWT did little to enhance its credibility as a newsgathering operation. According to Brian Mastre, anchoring at 5 p.m., weather "played a factor" in the crash. 'Nuf said.

But the even bigger idiots of the day were those brainless morons who, upon hearing the location of the debris, went rushing to the scene with their home video cameras. It was as if Travis Justice had cloned himself a hundred times.

What did these shit-for-brains dickweeds think they were going to accomplish by getting video of this? Here's our guess: each of these Einsteins, seeing what was happening, grabbed his camera in the firm belief that he could get footage and sell it to CNN or FoxNews.

No, it doesn't seem logical, especially given that by the time they arrived, there were three broadcast crews in place (four, if you count KPTM). But none of these people seems to have been weighed down by excess brain capacity or preoccupied about what to wear to the next MENSA Society meeting.

Just once, wouldn't you like to see people like this attacked by a bunch of other people wielding hammers?

Viewer Discretion Advised

Don't say we didn't warn you...

Scarier Than the Plane Crash

WOWT's noon news featured reporter Sheila Brummer live from the scene. Apparently dispatched to the site directly from a deep sleep, Brummer appeared with no makeup and hair that was flat, at best. The hideousness of the picture defies description. We were actually relieved when the wind blew her hair and partially obscured her face. It was scarier than a KETV close-up of Elictia Hammond when she has her hair pulled back, if you can imagine that. Wow. We are trying to obtain a screen cap.

So That's What They Mean By "Late Breaking"

Channel 3 was first on the air with news of Thursday morning's fatal plane crash at 117th and Giles Road.

With studios located a good seven or eight miles southwest of Channels 6 & 7 (and only about two miles from the crash scene), KM3 had a built-in advantage in just getting a reporter on the scene. Corey Rangel delivered a telephone report at approximately 10:15 a.m. Channel 7's Mike Sigmond was on the air with his report about ten minutes later, joined shortly thereafter by Todd Andrews.

Both stations aired their first live images of the scene—shrouded in fog—by around 10:30, although KETV's initial shot showed viewers little more than a close-up of an unidentified white pole that appeared to be part of the station's live truck.

Bringing up the rear was "Live, Local, Late-Breaking" Channel 6 News. Apparently loathe to break into the "Tony Danza Show" (Tony was singing with the Muppets!), the Big Six first provided only in-studio anchor Malorie Maddox describing the scene and meteorologist Scott Akin telling viewers that it was foggy. Eventually, reporter Gary Johnson reported live from the scene, joined sometime thereafter by Sheila Brummer.

It was Brummer who astutely informed viewers that "if you need to drive in this area, the best thing to do is not to drive in this area." Thanks, Sheila. Dumbass.

It was also Brummer who observed that the absence of rescue vehicles suggested there were no survivors. While she turned out to be right, her certainty might have been tempered had she been there a half-hour earlier when Rangel and Sigmond were describing the arrival of ambulances.

As always when it comes to Channel 6, it fell to Johnson to do the real reporting. Of all the TV personnel on the scene, it was he who was first able to confirm that three passengers in the plane had been killed.

It's really too bad that Omaha viewers either aren't smart enough or interested enough to recognize how much of WOWT's operation is window dressing. Being able to create the illusion of news reporting—which is what 6 seems to be best at—isn't the same thing as doing news reporting.

The station has plenty of people who can sit in the studio and read news, and several more who can look at a camera and form sentences, but only two or three who can actually find information and report it with any discernible degree of skill. Perhaps if they spent less time on faux-news like "Burglaries & Break-ins," "Illnesses & Injuries," and "Schemes & Ripoffs," they could cultivate some real reporters.

Then again, as long as Omaha viewers keep rewarding their half-assed approach, there's not much motivation for them to move in that direction, is there?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Rethinking Malorie Maddox

When she first arrived on the scene a little over a year ago, WOWT's "Daybreak" anchor Malorie Maddox was a breath of fresh air. Paired with Trey Jones, Maddox helped make Channel 6's morning program much better than it had been during the tenure of the obnoxious and undeservedly arrogant Thom Knight. Not only did she look great, she also seemed not to take herself too seriously and avoided the inane comments typical of morning anchors.

Not that there weren't flaws. Her predilection for fake fingernails cheapened her otherwise pristine appearance, and she had a somewhat nasal voice and, um, "vowel issues." At first we chalked it up to her southern Kansas upbringing; it seemed like a bad habit she'd outgrow. But after nearly a year of hearing her talk to "Scawt" Akin about the weather "detells" and "timps" across the "Heartlund," it's clear that her pralking toblems aren't going anywhere.

But what has really hurt is her descent into the scrum of the Big Six's Mindless Prattling Club. In her early days at the station, her remarks were generally sensible, relevant, and avoided most of the stupid babbling common to the likes of John Knicely, Andrea McMaster, and the now-"retired" Pat Persaud. But as the months have passed, life at WOWT has apparently worn her down; nowadays, there's no telling what drivel is likely to come out of her gorgeous mouth.

Much of the problem stems from the station's decision to reunite her with her former Joplin, Missouri, co-anchor, Jim Siedlecki. Since Siedlecki's arrival in June, Maddox has become progressively deferential to the big dolt, playing the dizzy blonde to his "Big Smart Man" act. When Gomer is gone and Mal anchors solo, it's a whole different ballgame. She seems confident, knowledgeable, and able to converse with other humans. But as soon as he lumbers back into the picture, it's back to Dummyville. It's like watching the articulate cheerleader become a blithering idiot when the school's quarterback walks into the room. Blech.

We wish we had a solution to this problem. Short of reassigning Siedlecki and letting Maddox solo in the morning, or booting Sheila Brummer from the 4 p.m. chair and pairing Mal with Brian Mastre, we have few suggestions. It's just another case of Channel 6 management's remarkable ability to mediocritize even the most promising talent to match its tired, formulaic operation.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Pointless Holiday Rituals

Things we wish we never had to see again...

• Stories about last-minute shoppers on December 24th.

• Stories about shoppers seeking bargains and using gift cards on December 26th.

• Stories Omaha's first baby of the new year on January 1st.

• Military personnel wishing their families well, endlessly. Seriously, is there a less efficient means of getting these messages to families? What are the odds that some poor airman's holiday greeting from Germany is going to be seen by his family when it airs at 2:45 on Christmas morning? Airing these little blurbs is less about letting families hear from loved ones than it is about station p.r. How about giving all the time and money put into these things to the soldiers themselves?

New WB "News"cast to Debut on January 16th

An alert reader informs us that KXVO's new 10 p.m. program anchored by Calvert "Larry 'Bud'" Collins will begin rehearsals on January 2nd and begin airing to an only slightly larger audience on January 16th. Anyone wanting a bellyfull of Collins' self-congratulatory, delusional description of the new show should get a copy of the Reader and check out Sean Weide's interview with her.

Here's one quote, just to whet your appetite: “The WB is part of that generation that is sophisticated news watchers.”

Yeah, this is gonna be a real trip.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Cognitive Dissonance

• November sweeps numbers are in and word is that WOWT cleaned up at 10 p.m. More to follow.

• Were we the only ones who noticed idiot anchor John Knicely's reference to a "calvary" unit that would no longer be deployed to Iraq? What's sad is that he'll read this and have no idea what he did wrong. What a stooge. We love this picture of him, by the way. He looks like he's doing math in his head and taking a grunt at the same time.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Trolling with the Remote: 10 p.m. Flipping

• How tired has Channel 6 gotten? So tired that sometimes the predictability level is so high that the only fun is guessing which bumbler will be handling which story.

In the case of the fatal shooting of a tobacco store worker on Tuesday, the winning answer was Gary Smollen and Brian New.

Smollen handled the story at 6 p.m. and was on again at 10. They should really be careful about sending this guy out to a crime scene where there's a dead body involved. One of these days he's bound to be mistaken for the corpse, and there's probably no end to the paperwork that Channel 6 producers will need to fill out to get him released from the morgue.

Honestly, how would you prove he's alive? Certainly not from his delivery, which sounds better suited to describe a Sunday afternoon bake sale than a murder investigation. This guy makes comedian Steven Wright sound like Robin Williams by comparison.

As for New, well what can you say about a TV reporter who always sounds like he's about to burst into tears? Neither the quavering voice, nor the deadpan/deer-in-the-headlights expression inspire a lot of confidence that he has even the slightest clue what he's talking about. And he appears to have stolen KETVNewswatch7Investigator Carol Kloss' leather jacket.

• Luckily, Kloss still has her Jiminy Glick-ish spectacles; she was sporting them during her Tuesday story about the Dundee serial rapist who wants a new trial.

• Back at 6, don't even get us started on Sheila Brummer, who was filling in again for Tracy Madden. That creepy, eyes-half-closed grin that she occasionally flashes really makes our skin crawl. Is she possessed? On drugs? Or just scary without even trying? Yamahama, it's fright night when the Des Moines castoff is in the anchor chair.

• And yes, KMTV anchor Deb Ward really did say it. Coming out a a story about a teenager whose muscular dystrophy attacks the heart muscle, has killed two of his brothers, and threatens to claim him if he doesn't get a transplant, Ward really looked into the camera and said, "Our hearts go out to the family." Smooth.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Let the Shameless Cross-Promotion Begin!

You couldn't have found happier people than the staff here when we learned that one of Journal Broadcasting's first moves after getting the keys to KMTV was to yank "For What It's Worth," Travis Justice's attempt to have opinions on whatever happened to occur to him on a given day.

Unfortunately, it's been downhill ever since. First, they kept him on the air, stamping "Sports Director" on his sorry hide. Now, they've gone and added an opinion segment to his 10 p.m. sportscast, called "The Big Take." The one good thing we can say about it is this: at least he's no longer spewing his uninformed views on fiscal policy or the war in Iraq. But that's about it.

During "The Big Take," he spends at least 20 or 30 seconds plugging his radio call-in show on Journal-owned "BigSports 590," about which the only positive comment we can make is, "At least when he's on the radio, you don't have to look at his face."

So we'll ask Journal the same thing we asked former KM3 owners, Emmis: What evidence do you have that ordinary TV and radio consumers are hungry for Trav's opinions? Or for anything containing Trav?

Better yet, just who IS the target audience for The Big Tool, anyway? The fat, middle-aged, male sports fan who drinks too much and drives around town in an oversized pickup bearing his favorite team's emblem and a picture of Calvin pissing on something? The same guy who thinks taxes are too high but can't stoping griping about how bad the roads and schools are? The one wearing the "No Fat Chicks" t-shirt that barely covers his colossal beer gut and wears that Travis-esque mustache-and-goatee-hybrid popularized by 'roid suspect Mark McGuire McGwire and various mullet-wearing country stars? That guy? Is that really who you're hoping to attract?

God help KM3 if that's the prize they're eyeing.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Movin' On the Nightside

KXVO is (sort of) swiping KPTM's Calvert Collins to anchor its new 10 p.m. newscast. No word on when the program will debut, but look for Sean Weide's Reader column on Wednesday to have more details.

Boy, howdy. Only with Pappas Telecasting of the Midlands can a gal land a weeknight anchor gig in a market this size when she's just seven months removed from college.

We can imagine the scene 20 years hence, when Collins is regaling cub reporters about the early days of her career.

"Yeah," she'll say knowingly, "I remember what a grind reporting can be sometimes, but it's part of payin' your dues. My days as a reporter were some tough times, but I saw it through and I was rewarded for my four months of work with an anchor job."

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Case for Anonymity

For those who repeatedly ask why we don't just come out and reveal our identities, this morning's posting of a suspected person's home address and phone number should answer the question. We can only imagine the hell these people would subject us to if given the opportunity. They're a pretty ruthless pack of hyenas.

Justice Draws Praise from New KM3 Boss

In this week's Reader, Sean Weide reports on KMTV's restoration of sports to its 10 p.m. newscast. As we had feared, the station's new owner, Journal Broadcasting, appears to be happy with the work of Travis Justice, who also hosts a call-in show on the company's AM radio station, BigSports 590, and who clings to Z-92's Todd 'n' Tyler like grim death.

Weide quotes new KM3 GM Steve Wexler as saying "We're . . . committed to covering sports in an informative, entertaining way and Travis Justice has the experience and ability to go beyond the obvious headlines in both his nightly sportscasts on KMTV and weekday mornings on [the radio]."

What a shame.

Comments Go Bye-Bye

You've heard it since elementary school: It only takes a few idiots to wreck things for everyone.

Not content to cloak their inaccurate guesses in hints, the morons this morning posted the name of their latest target in the comments section of this blog, along with his home address and phone number. Shame on you nimrods.

So the comments feature has now been turned off. Now all you get is the monologue; no audience participation. If you've got anything to say to us, you'll need to say it via email. Sorry, but we're not going to stand watch over the comments board to make sure personal info isn't being posted, especially when it's personal information of people we've never even heard of.

For those of you just tuning in, in the year or so since we started writing here, we've heard any number of ridiculous guesses about who we are. What follows is a list of those implicated in those guesses, none of whom have anything to do with the production of this blog.

Sean Weide
Mike Sigmond
Jim Fagin
Trey Jones
Carol Schrader
Gene Hinkle

So how 'bout leaving these people alone? Better yet, how 'bout focusing on doing your job better instead of playing Inspector Clouseau?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Full-Court Press Is On...Again

Well, it appears that one or more local media types, having no real work to do, have embarked on another effort to determine the identity of the OMA News crew. With Ted Brockman having stared into the bloated mug of KM3's Travis Justice for several minutes last week, one could surmise that ol' Trav is behind this latest push. Who knows?

First, Sean Weide posted a reward for identification of Ted on a Yahoo group devoted to local newswomen. Then yesterday, some yahoo posting under the name "riddlemethis" commented here that Ted worked for an ad agency and posted a long 2002 press release that Ted supposedly wrote. (We deleted it since it was (a) too long and (b) violated copyright laws.) Then, with that theory apparently falling apart, "diddleme" ranted today about Ted working—we think—for Union Pacific.

For the record: diddleme is grasping at straws, based on god-knows-what for information. If Justice really is behind this, his fact-finding would appear to be about as solid as his mercifully defunct "commentaries." Again, we are not in the TV, advertising, or p.r. biz. We are just viewers revolting against stupid shit we see on TV. Is that so hard to understand?

Most importantly, however, we hope that diddleme's reckless and constantly-shifting accusations don't get some poor innocent bystander in hot water at work. No one on the OMA News staff is anyone that local media types would know. So get back to work and leave your latest suspects alone. You're not even close.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Rethinking Scott Akin

Alert reader tóózy writes,

Hey Ted:

You got to give Scott Akin some props. Last week when he was filling in for the Pornstache, there was a forecast for a few inches of snow. Instead of on air Armageddon as is the usual, he was very relaxed with it, no hyperbole, no doom. He just went about his business, seemingly giving the audience credit for knowing about winter. He stopped just short of calling us "knuckleheads" like a Bill Murray character, and telling us to drive like the crazies we are. It was refreshing.

Okay. We'll grudgingly agree that if, under some godforsaken circumstance, we were forced to choose our favorite Channel 6 Ejacu-Weather meteorologist, we'd choose Akin.

Akin is, as noted above, the least prone to hysterical over-prediction and the least annoying of the bunch. Yes, his bantering is weak, but most of the time, he's having to deflect whatever witticism Jim "The Shouter" Siedlecki has lobbed at him. Siedlecki, who has dragged the entire morning operation down to his level, seems to fancy himself something of a hipster/expert-on-everything instead of recognizing that he'd be "kind of a big deal" only if he were in a market half this size.

Now before all you Friends of Jim email us about what a nice guy he is, save it. A nice guy he may be, but a smoothly confindent, knowledgeable anchor he ain't. He seems to suffer from some kind of voice modulation disorder which causes him to be a bit of a loud-talker. We could go on, but it's the Christmas season, dammit. The bottom line is that the only thing we viewers care about is how he comes across on-air.

But we digress: Akin is miles ahead of his wanky weather co-workers. We've discussed Jim Flowers' apparent psycho-sexual connection to the climate. We've also registered our disdain for high-talker Jeff Jensen, whose voice makes us yearn for the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard. And then there's the toolish-looking Michael Born, whose creepy visage in those opening montages has been known to frighten pets and small children.

Given the quality of his co-workers, picking Akin as the best among them is hardly a ringing endorsement.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Weekend Weirdness

• We shoulda known it was gonna be a strange weekend when we walk into our favorite restaurant on Friday evening and there sits Travis Justice waiting for a table. Having to spend several minutes looking at His Fatness from a distance of only three feet doesn't exactly bode well for any meal, no matter how hungry you might've been. Lucky for the Brockmans that he wasn't seated near us; we think we only heard him braying like a mule once or twice.

• Former KETV weekend sports anchor Sean McMahon made his debut on WOWT this weekend—as a spouse. Now that he's no longer working for the competition, the Big Twits at the Big Six must've decided they could permit him to appear in the "holiday wishes" promo with wife Tracy Madden and their twins. Given the pathetic state of the male talent on that station, they oughta try to get him into promos year-round.

• God help poor Rebecca Kleeman. We would speculate that monkeys were running the control room on Sunday morning, but to do so would insult the professionalism of monkeys. No one seemed to be able to inform Kleeman which camera to look at, and even when they did, they kept giving her inaccurate information.

Later, right in the middle of a taped piece, the Powerball graphic popped onto the screen while interview audio continued to roll underneath. This lasted for at least six or seven seconds—long enough for all five numbers plus the Powerball to be revealed. Combine the techno-debacle with the fact that Kleeman has to share the studio with Ejacu-Weather Super Tool Michael Born, and it'll be a wonder if she even shows up at work again. When it comes to amateurish technical values, KPTM has nothing on the weekend crew at Channel 6.

Friday, December 09, 2005

One Woman's Crusade to Give Back to Her Community

Our vote for "Out-of-Context Quote of the Week" goes to this, from KETV's Thursday night story on an anti-prostitution measure:

"I've always thought we could make a difference with prostitution. Otherwise, I wouldn't be doing this."

—"Neighborhood Leader" Jan Quinley

Thursday, December 08, 2005

KETV Loses Managing Editor

KETV managing editor Joseph Kasmir, whose journalism career included a stint at Omaha radio station KFAB, died unexpectedly on Tuesday. Kasmir was a respected journalist who frequently helped colleagues by tapping into his own sources when a confirmation was needed.

KETV has a post on his passing here.

An Ulterior Motive?

An alert reader points out that part of KM3's haste in naming Travis Justice "Sports Director" and returning sports to the 10 p.m. newscast could be related to the following clause in the Alamo Bowl's credentialing guidelines:

"Television: All stations must have regular nightly sports segments with a full-time sports director/talent. "

Words that must have been spoken at the station in the past few days: "Okay, we have a regular nightly sports segment, and we have a full-time sports director (or what passes for one). But where are we gonna find talent on such short notice?"

The Big Six and Holiday Cheer

Three quick observations about WOWT's PSAs for its canned food drive for the Salvation Army:

• What's the deal with Malorie Maddox's hair? Did she lose a bet? It's not been like that any other time we've seen her on-air. And we'd like to keep it that way. Yikes.

• Are we the only ones who want to bury the Ejacu-Weather "team" under about eight feet of that snow they keep getting a chubby over? In these little features, most of them appear in stupid-looking hats. Boy do we hate guys in stupid-looking hats.

• Does John Knicely not make enough money to buy a sweater that fits? The one he's wearing looks like something he's had since Dale Munson and Frank Bramhall were doing the weather.

Who Drained the Talent Pool at Channel 6?

Wednesday night at Channel 6, the 10 p.m. newscast featured a lineup that should've been billed as "Tracy Madden and the Dorks." Demonstrating just how bereft of male talent the station has become, WOWT subjected viewers to Brian Mastrebator, filling in for regular anchor John Knicely, Merlyn Klaus subbing for Dave Webber at the sports desk, and high-talker Jeff Jensen handling Ejacu-Weather forecasting duties in Jim Flowers' absence.

As if that weren't enough, there was also a report on "box stores" like Wal-Mart and a push by some locals to require such stores to put up more aesthetically pleasing structures. The story, by corpse impersonator Gary Smollen, addressed the appearance of such buildings; inexplicably, his primary interviewee—a woman who lives across the street from a newer Wal-Mart in Millard—complained only about how the store's exterior lights flood her home 24/7, saying nothing about the appearance of the building. It was incongruous, at best.

The departure of similarly weak Doug Walker gives the Big Six a chance to hire a male reporter who has (a) a pulse, (b) a head covered with his own hair, and (c) no discernible speech impediments. Taking advantage of this opportunity would be a nice change of pace for a station whose management continues to coast on its past glories and big budgets.

A Little Piece of Heaven

Not only did Channel 3's Wednesday 10 p.m. newscast not feature "For What It's Worth," which died with the change in station ownership, it also contained neither hide nor thinning hair of "Sports Director" Travis Justice. We're sure Journal Broadcast Group is just teasing us, but it's fun to imagine Justice's role being reduced even more.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Hip-Hip Hooray (Sort of): Justice Exchanges "Bloviator" Job Title for "Sports Director"

In a sign that another long local nightmare may be over, KMTV is now referring to longtime gasbag Travis Justice as its "Sports Director." The shift comes almost simultaneously with the finalization of Journal Broadcast Group's purchase of the station from Emmis Communications, which occurred Monday.

What, precisely, Trav is "directing" isn't clear, since he has yet to deliver a sportscast and there's no one else on the sports staff. He did do play-by-play on Tuesday night's Creighton game in Chattanooga. Not since one of his predecessors, Jim Kelter, was broadcasting have we heard a more nasal voice calling a game.

At least we're no longer being subjected to his nightly musings on whatever headline catches his eye that day. If Journal does nothing else, it has taken a big first step in improving Channel 3's programming. Maybe voice lessons for ol' Trav could be next.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Local Paper Runs Ads on Talking Picture Box

Omaha's daily newspaper may not cover television, but it doesn't mind advertising there.

We noticed one spot over the weekend that features a young couple pushing a stroller through a kid-infested playground, only to be accosted by columnist Mike Kelly, who appears out of nowhere to offer them a paper.

The ad doesn't make us want to read the paper, but it does make us wonder why Kelly is hanging around a playground in the middle of the day. Isn't this where the late Peter Citron's career took a wrong turn?

Monday, December 05, 2005

But Who Gets It?

An alert reader points us to a story at detailing an email sent out last Friday to employees of Emmis Communications by CEO Jeff Smulyan. Emmis is in the process of selling 16 of its TV outlets, including KMTV here in Omaha.

In the email, Smulyan apologizes for a "difficult year" and announces a "minimum bonus for each TV employee equal (to) three months' salary."

It's not clear if the bonus will go to those at stations being sold by Emmis. We hope the answer is yes, with one exception. We'd prefer to see Emmis send Travis Justice's bonus to viewers as a reparations payment for having subjected us to his pontificating for the past three years.

KETV Features Unusual Sunday Lineup

With regular weekend anchor Suzanne Deyo missing (and we're not complaining), Channel 7's Sunday evening newscasts found reporter Todd Andrews filling in.

Reporting were Carol Kloss, who offered options for Husker fans planning to travel to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl, and Laura Liggett, with a piece on the ongoing search for a missing girl in North Omaha. Kloss, sporting some specs that looked like they came from the Jiminy Glick collection, told viewers that tickets for the game were available for "four hunnerd" dollars and that travel packages were going for about "fifteen hunnerd."

Liggett, who sounded like she was 12 when doing morning traffic reports in the days immediately preceding the arrival of Jana Murrell, looks and sounds much more polished and mature, turning in solid reports on both Saturday and Sunday. Given her apparent poise, we can't help but wonder why she didn't get the traffic gig ahead of Murrell, whose wooden mannerisms and monotone delivery make even Suzanne Deyo look loose and spontaneous.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Q: What's more painful than listening to a dietician?
A: Listening to WOWT's Andrea McMaster interview two of them.

Such was our misfortune Saturday afternoon when we stumbled onto Channel 6's "Heartland Focus" public service program. Apparently recorded before she went on maternity leave, McMaster's little show focused on eating disorders and allowed the vacuuous anchor/reporter to ask two dieticians stupid questions like, "Can dieting lead to eating disorders?"

As is frequently the case, this riveting half-hour showed the station's version of Suzanne Deyo sporting her favorite magenta blazer and over-enunciating the first "T" in the word important. As an added bonus, we learned that Andrea's mother requests a doggie bag when dining out, then puts half her meal in the bag before she even starts eating!

We really hope McMoron is enjoying her new role as a mother. In fact, we hope she enjoys it so much that she stays home permanently.

Friday, December 02, 2005

And One More Thing...

Can we please put a moratorium on stories about Internet scams that attempt to get gullible readers to send thousands of dollars to win a non-existent lottery? This week, Channel 6's Mike McKnight did this piece for what must have been his 58th time. We were told that this case had a twist, but the only "twist" was that the scammers waited until the third email to the "victim" to ask for money. That was it. The con artist simply waited longer to set the hook before reeling in the fish.

First of all, if people are stupid enough to fall for these things despite the dozens of news stories "exposing" them, then another one probably isn't going to have much impact. Second, if people are stupid enough to send thousands of dollars to someone they know only through emails, then they deserve to lose whatever they send. Redistributing wealth from the impossibly stupid to these internet "entrepreneurs" is merely an extension of the con being perpetrated by lotteries and casinos, only with lower overhead.

Instead of running this story ten or 15 times a year, stations should just run a constant scroll at the bottom of the screen that reads, "Attention all you dumbasses out there: Don't send money to anyone you know only through email. If you just can't resist giving your money to a stranger, email your home address to and leave the money just outside the front door."

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Busy Week Grab Bag

While we've been otherwise engaged this week, odds and ends have popped up here and there, but nothing remarkable. So, for your amusement, we present various of the brain droppings that we've meant to turn into posts over the past few days...

• In addition to eyeing work at KPTM, former WOWT morning anchor Trey Jones has apparently informed KETV of his interest in filling the anchor chair on that station's soon-to-be-created weekend morning program.

• The shooting of two would-be robbers of a Benson pawn shop sent every Omaha station into overdrive on Wednesday. All three 10 p.m. newscasts devoted several minutes to the press conference held by the two owners of the store and their attorney, James Martin Davis.

At Channel 7, Brandi Petersen turned in a rambling, disjointed piece on the alleged robbers' backgrounds. Several minutes after anchor Julie Cornell had told viewers of one suspect's 28 run-ins with the law, Petersen wrapped up her own story by suggesting that poor school attendance was a factor. Hell, who has time for school when they're trying to keep up a busy schedule of court appearances and criminal activity?

• An alert reader, writing on Wednesday night, pointed out that KMTV's Deb Ward led off the 10 p.m. newscast by telling viewers that the snow that had been falling all evening would end "well before midnight." "It is now 11:35 p.m. and the flakes are still coming down," he continued. "And this from a station that is promoting the heck out of their weather forecasting..."

• Speaking of weathercasting, we will credit KM3 meteorologist Ryan McPike for admitting later in that same broadcast that he hadn't seen the snow coming when he made his forecast the night before. We certainly didn't hear any such mea culpa from Chief Ejacu-Weather Guesser Jim Flowers and his merry band of ninnies on Channel 6 regarding their six days of clucking about a storm that ended up missing the metro area by a couple of hundred miles; ditto when it comes to Channel 7's Bill Randby and the Mumblecasters.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Rumor Mill: Jonesin' for a Gig at 42?

An alert reader and tipster reports that former WOWT morning anchor Trey Jones is in the running for the weekend spot that became available when the station fired Dave Hansen. Putting Jones alongside the impeccable Amanda Mueller could conceivably create Omaha's most watchable weekend anchor team. Jones left Channel 6 in May, citing the toll the early shift hours were taking on his family life.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Always on His Mind

The media column in this week's Reader, written by Sean Weide, devotes some space to local personalities' responses to the question, "What are you thankful for?"

Now, we've long heard that this little blog gets under the skin of KMTV's serial opinionator, Travis Justice, but we had no idea that we were so engrained in his consciousness until we read his response to Weide's question: "I'm thankful for, some of the nicest people in the world! They know how to spread the holiday cheer."

Aw shucks, Trav. We hardly know what to say.

On the topic of Weide's column, the previous week's edition revealed the impending departure of Trav's boss, KM3 General Manager Jim McKernan. As soon as Journal Broadcasting completes its purchase of the station from Emmis Communications, McKernan is history.

Since McKernan is largely responsible for Justice's presence at Channel 3, one could hope that the new management might turn full custody of the "For What It's Worth" blowhard over to the radio side of its Omaha operation. After all, Trav already spends quite a bit of time on Z-92 with Todd 'n' Tyler and on Big Sports 590, where he has his own call-in show. Both stations are owned by Journal.

If We Didn't Know Better, We'd Swear He Attended Morningside

During Sunday's 5:30 p.m. newscast on KMTV, did Devon "Lockjaw" Patton really say that a plane was registered to someone in "Illinoise"? After further review, the call on the field stands; fifteen yard penalty, loss of down, and lots of questions about how someone with an anchor gig can get to this point in his life without being able to properly pronounce the names of all 53 states.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Brace Yourselves—Jim Thinks He Smells Snow in Them Thar Hills

It was only Wednesday, but WOWT's Jim Flowers was already jonesin' for a Sunday-Monday snowstorm. Flowers' 10 p.m. Ejacu-Weather foreplay forecast maps indicated "HEAVY SNOW" would be "possible" toward the close of the holiday weekend, and we all know what that means: Jimmy and the Boys will be milking the living shit out of that possibility for as long as is humanly possible.

We're not saying it won't snow, or even that we won't get heavy snow. But the Ejacu-Weather Wankcasters have shown us time and again that no one can beat them in the over-reacting department, so you'll pardon us if we view this latest prediction with more than a little skepticism.

Kayla Thomas Must Be Stopped

Wednesday night's report by Kayla Thomas on KMTV pulled off a rare feat—it made "For What It's Worth" look good by comparison.

It was bad enough that Thomas was doing the obligatory Thanksgiving turkey story, replete with idiotic puns like "gobbledy-gook." But what made us want to kick in the TV screen was the image of the clumsy Thomas tromping awkwardly across an open field, screeching moronicisms like "here, turkey turkey" and "C'mon you guys, I just wanna ask you a couple of questions."

Christ. Thomas is to Channel 3 what Sheila Brummer is to Channel 6: an ill-suited, sorry excuse for a journalist—especially a TV journalist. Put her on our list of people who need to find other work.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Blunders to the Power of a Hard Three Inches

An alert reader notes the ongoing technical glitches at WOWT:

I am watching the replay of 6 at Six, and in the middle of Gary Johnson's report on airport security, he stops mid- sentence, the camera pans out, then zooms back in, then he starts over again.

This is the second time in as many weeks that I have seen this. Last Tuesday after the "Great Snow Storm of 2005", we saw the second take of Sheila Brummer's interview with a traffic safety official as he was displaying the survival items that should be kept in the trunk. I believe you mentioned that.

So with that said, did they trade in the editing equipment in exchange for Jim Flower's new radar?

Hansen Sacked by KPTM

Fox42/KPTM is said to have canned anchor/reporter Dave Hansen today. A source there says he has been barred from the building. No word yet on why, but at KPTM, logic and reason seem to play a very small role in hiring and firing decisions. Or anything else that goes on there, for that matter.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

It's How You Use It

Apparently dismayed by the meager 1.2" offical snowfall reading from Eppley Airfield, WOWT chief meteorologist Jim Flowers proudly reporter that he had "a hard three inches" in his front yard. There are some things we'd prefer Jim only share with Mrs. Flowers and his urologist. (Feel free to contribute your own punchlines.)

It Really Blows Out There

The arrival of winter weather sent TV stations into its usual frenzy of idiotic stories. After the early morning exhortations to "allow yourself extra time" and "bundle up," all three of Tuesday's 10 p.m. newscasts featured the obligatory "let's have a reporter show us what snow looks like" package.

KETV sent Brandi Petersen out to tell us that it was so windy that a station engineer had to hold a light up so she could do her live shot. WOWT's Sheila Brummer showed us car accidents and near-accidents, while KMTV's Michelle Bandur drew the short straw and had the privilege of interviewing local dolts to get their brilliant observations about the weather. All three essentially did the same story; only the order of information, particular locations, and individual dolts differed from one station to the next.

In typical Brummer fashion, video in her story included the first and second takes of an interviewee demonstrating how to put together a winter survival kit. Not surprising.

Perhaps the most pathetic aspect of local coverage came eve before the snow fell. As early as the 5 p.m. 'cast on Monday, Channel 7 anchors were crowing that meteorologist Bill Randby's "winter forecast" had told us that we'd get snow before Thanksgiving. Let's hope these people aren't as impressed as they sounded, because predicting snow before Thanksgiving is like predicting heat in July—it doesn't take much training to get that one right.

In fact, we'll go out on a limb of our own and predict that it's gonna snow again before Christmas. Imagine the oohs and ahhs from the Newsplex if we're right about that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Channel 6 Breaks 1998 Technology Story

During a report on rumors that ran through Papio-LaVista South High School, OPS-toady-to-be Doug Walker revealed on Tuesday's 10 p.m. that it's possible to have several different Instant Messenger windows open at the same time. Why doesn't this guy have his own technology show?

In a rare episode of stupid banter, Tracy Madden then stunned Omaha by informing Walker that IM is "the way kids communicate these days," instead of using the phone.

Monday, November 14, 2005


It appears that local stations are no longer concerned with ratings, but with seeing who can "investigate" more than all the others. In just a few days time, we've seen the following investigasms:

• KETV has sent Mike Sigmond out to check on carbon monoxide detectors and Carol Kloss to look into the lives of sex offenders. (One associate noted that Kloss removing her shirt for these creeps might scare 'em straight.)

• At WOWT, warbly-voiced Brian New, who always sounds like he's about to cry, was dispatched to do some detective work on Wi-Fi and the awful, terrible, very bad things that await those who connect at public hotspots. (And as hard as it is to believe, a question from anchor John Knicely—a guy who'll never be mistaken for George F. Will—left New unable to speak a coherent sentence; he clearly had no idea what he was talking about or what he was even trying to say.)

• KMTV, on the other hand, appears to be continuing its investigation into how low it can push its ratings; the station continues to let Travis Justice torture viewers with his unsolicited and largely uninformed opinions on everything from illegal immigration to the teaching of evolution in public schools. Monday night's installment featured a caller specualting about scientists finding the so-called "missing link." Watching "For What It's Worth" makes us think we've found it.

And speaking of public schools, why doesn't one of these stations investigate why OPS superintendent John Mackiel seems determined to stir up racial discord as he seeks to expand his empire. Mackiel and the rest of his sychophants, including school board members, have apparently decided to paint anyone who disagrees with their "One City, One School District" plan as would-be Ku Klux Klan members.

First, Bellevue Superintendent John Deegan—a man who never met a federal handout he didn't like, as long as his district is the recipient—suggested that those in suburban districts using the word forever sounded like Alabama Governor George Wallace. Then came a Sunday newspaper story in which Mackiel and others seemed to threaten to bring in federal civil rights agencies if the legislature didn't drink the OPS Kool-Aid.

When it announced its "plan" back in June, OPS claimed it was done to prevent its becoming hemmed in by outlying districts. In the last few weeks, however, the story has changed. Now Mackiel and Company are self-righteous crusaders for civil rights, even though it has little succes integrating its existing schools. Indeed, the Sunday newspaper story points out that OPS schools in West Omaha are some of the whitest in the city.

If local TV stations want to do some investigating, the actions of OPS's little dictator offer plenty of material.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

We'd Prefer Hell, Thank You

One of the few faces on TV that make us wish we were watching Travis Justice:

On Tuesday, residents of Dover, Pennsylvania voted to remove their entire school board after the board had mandated the teaching of "intelligent design" in science classes. On Thursday, televangelist Pat Robertson suggested that they shouldn't expect any more help from God.

"While you're living in My universe, you'll obey My rules," God is reported to have said.

The people of Dover replied that they are so sick of Him and His "hang-ups," man. Nobody else's gods are pulling this crap, they continued. They added that they will be so glad when they can get out on their own but also asked if they could borrow the car on Saturday.

God said he and Pat would discuss it and let them know.

Sorry for the Inconvenience

We're turning the comments feature off for the time being due to a wave of spam that's hitting blogs right now. We have neither the time nor the energy to weed this crap out. We'll turn them back on once blogspot plugs whatever hole is letting these things through. Feel free to email your comments to us at; we'll post what we can.

Perhaps Making Creepy Masks for the Kids Would Be Fun

Unless you were working at one of those secret CIA torture camps, why would anyone feel the need to enlarge this?

KMTV Reaching into the Grab Bag of Tired Stories

It appears KMTV's practice of avoiding stunt stories during sweeps is going by the wayside. Sarah Simmons is doing a piece on meth.

Hasn't this story been done enough? Thanks to the media's constant harping on the topic and law enforcement's incessant lobbying, it's already easier to buy a handgun than it is to purchase a box of Sudafed. Do we really need to hear more about this "crisis"?

We tend to have a pretty libertarian/Darwinian view of this issue. There's no amount of regulation that's gonna keep these people away from this stuff. Let 'em have it and allow natural selection to work its magic. Same goes for the meth addicts.

KETV Preparing to Challenge WOWT on Weekend Mornings

KETV is now advertising for an anchor/reporter, stipulating that the new hire will be anchoring weekend mornings. Informed sources suggest the new program will debut sometime after the first of the year.

Maybe this will force Channel 6 to put a little more effort into its weekend morning McMess.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

KETV Makes Sunday-Monday Night Adjustment

As it has for the past several sweeps periods, KETV is deploying anchors Rob McCartney and Julie Cornell on Sunday nights in an effort to boost ratings on what is one of the most-watched evenings of the week.

What's new this year is that they're givng Rob and Julie the post-Monday Night Football newscast off. MNF ordinarily ends around 11:30, too late for the pair to go head-to-head with the other late news programs.

Instead of plopping weekend anchor Suzanne Deyo in the anchor chair, however, Channel 7 has wisely given the slot to Brandi Peterson, who is superior in both talent and watchability. Putting Peterson in makes perfect sense, given that MNF viewers tend to be overwhelmingly male, especially at that hour. It's yet another hint that station management may feel more comfortable with Peterson anchoring than with Deyo stiffly rumblin' stumblin' and bumblin' her way through 35 minutes of weeknight airtime.

A Different Sort of Shout Out

Tuesday was a little busy at the OMA News headquarters, so we didn't get to one item we can't let pass without comment.

Part of sweeps at WOWT seems to be a tendency to strain to come up with "unique" angles to stories without realizing those angles are either unoriginal or just plain stupid. We're not sure where to file Jim Siedlecki's Monday night story about high school football games.

The intent appeared to be to show a game from a variety of vantage points. It might've been at least a passable story, were it not for the fact that Siedlecki somehow got the idea that it would be a good idea to SHOUT the entire piece at viewers. It didn't help that he chose to do his standups from loud locations, but by the end of the story, when he was planted in the midst of the student section and screaming his lines at the camera, it was downright comical.

Even funnier, if you've followed our "Separated at Birth?" feature, was the fact that when Siedlecki shouts, he even sounds like Gomer Pyle responding in agitated fashion to Sargeant Carter.

Golly, indeed.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Perlman Auditioning for Knicely's Job

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman has now proven himself clueless enough to qualify as a replacement for John Knicely or Andrea McMaster.

According to the local daily newspaper, Perlman offers two astoundingly foolish quotations:

(1) "We'd like to be playing for the national championship. We're not," Perlman said. "Would I be more pleased if we were? Sure. But I think these programs are not built overnight," and

(2) "We have said all along that it would take awhile to turn the program around."

On both points, he is somewhat right. Programs are not built overnight. What he fails to mention is that there was a program in place that won 10 games during the 2003 season. The only reason that one needs to be "built" at all is that he and athletic director Steve Pederson destroyed the one that worked—a feat that can be accomplished overnight.

As far as turning the program around, the precipitous drop from 10-3 to 5-6 (probably twice) suggests that the turnaround has already been accomplished.

Kumar Leaving Channel 7

KETV reporter Reggie Kumar is leaving the station to return to his native California. Word is that he has no job lined up but just hates it at 7, even though it's considered by many to be Omaha's most pleasant newsroom to work in.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Radar, Radar Everywhere and "Winter Forecasts" Stink

Dear god. Where do we start? Jim Flowers' "big announcement on Friday was "Radar to the Power of 6." As if he needs another stupid gimmick to squeeze into the Channel 6 forecasts.

If you didn't see it, the geniuses at 6 will now be able to show us three different radar scans at once, which will, according to Flowers, allow him and his lackeys to give us 3-D images of storms and whatnot.

Um, hasn't Channel 3 had that for at least a year and a half now, without the need to show us three radars at once? All we can think of when we see the three images is that guy who would come onto Ed Sullivan's shows back in the 60s and spin plates. It's not nearly as exciting watching Jim and his boys do it with radar.

The other sweeps monstrosity rolled out by 6 this weekend was John Knicely riding along with the police to bust drug dealers. Whose idea was this? Why send the dumbest man in local TV out on this assignment? We didn't see anything new or interesting, or for that matter, anything that we couldn't see on COPS.

Just let poor John sit at his desk and watch golf until airtime. Or bring back "John at Work," "John Gets Tasered," or give away a chance to knee John in the junk. But spare us the lame attempts to make him look like a journalist.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A November Tradition

Electricity is in the air tonight all over town as neighbors and friends gather around the television to receive "Jim's Precision Winter Forecast"—that magical moment when WOWT meteorologist Jim Flowers works himself into a lather and tells us what to expect for the next five months. For the Brockmans, this is better than Thanksgiving and Christmas combined.

As is the case with other holiday seasons, this one heralds similar observances by Omahans of many faiths. Thursday night, for example, Sevenites lit candles and listened solemnly as KETV Newswatch 7's Super Doppler Meteorologist Bill Randby assured his followers that, among other things, temperatures will be near normal, January will be snowy ("a blizzard," he suggested), and the area will get 23-25 inches of snow this winter.

Seriously, though: As many have suggested, both on our Comments board and via email, do these two guys—who can't accuratelytell us what it's going to do in two days—really expect us to believe that they can predict what it's going to do in February? Flowers nearly pisses himself at the slightest hint of snow and Randby, while an earnest, likeable TV presence, is no better than average in his forecasts.

This sort of pseudo-scientific forecasting is detrimental to the credibility of both the individuals and the stations themselves. And, as one email suggests, if news operations lose their credibility, they have little reason to exist.

FLASH...6:14 p.m.: Jim Flowers is making us wild with his teasing. Now, in addition to billboarding his winter forecast, he is promising "a special announcement" at 10 p.m. We're going to have Mrs. Brockman standing by with the defibrilator, just to be safe; this is waaay too much excitement.

And on Monday, He'll Tell Us All About the Internets

Watching WOWT anchors John Knicely and Tracy Madden deliver their obligatory 30-second teaser in the midst of the Today Show, we were amused (but not surprised) to hear Knicely refer to the Summit of the Americas as the "Summit of the Americans. (He's also probably one of those dolts who calls his internet provider "American Online.) If you ask, he can also tell you about how San Diego was founded thousands of years ago by the Germans.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Meuret Leaving KETV

It's November and turnover is in the air. First, Doug Walker decides to leave WOWT to go help OPS Superintendent John Mackiel play TV. Now comes word that KETV reporter Trisha Meuret plans to leave KETV in a week or so to work for Pete Ricketts' Senate campaign.

Such departures always create a situation that we love here at OMA News: the opportunity for a station to introduce a fresh face into the mix. It also provides us with insight into the thinking of the folks doing the hiring. Specifically, it shows how competent they are at judging talent, how much they're willing to spend, or in some cases, how little they think they can get by with spending.

There Are Some Things a Station Shouldn't Want to Be #1 In

Proving, once again, that KETV thinks that it must beat WOWT at everything, meteorologist Bill Randby will try to beat Jim Flowers to the punch by delivering a winter forecast today (Thursday)— a full day ahead Hysterical Jim's pointless, meaningless, worthless, hopeless, useless "Precision Winter Forecast."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Get a Load of This!

KPTM is advertising for a reporter/anchor and a couple of other positions, as we reported earlier. It turns out, however that the new suckers employees will be slapping together a 10 p.m. newscast for KXVO/WB15.

The new program may not add much to the local broadcast scene, but think of the hundreds of dollars that these three new jobs will pump into the local economy each month.

We now invite you to contribute your own punchlines, via the "Comments" section.

Sarantos-Niver Upgrades Delivery

Having complained about Kathy Sarantos-Niver's longstanding tendency to sound as if she were whispering a secret when doing a voiceover, we would be remiss if we ignored the fact that she has kicked the habit. We caught a story she did on Tuesday and it was clear that she has backed off the mike and decided to speak in a more natural, conversational tone. Way to go, Kathy!

Updating the Scorecard to Know the Players

Activity in the rumor mills and job postings...

• Reporter Doug Walker is leaving WOWT for a job outside the biz. Is Channel 6 considering making someone a one-man band? Its ad for a "reporter/videographer" suggests it's possible, however unlikely. We've learned it's unwise to underestimate the Jonas/Clark braintrust's capacity for boneheaded moves.

• Speaking of The Big Six, an alert reader prompts us to ask why Rebecca Kleeman's Monday story on spooky voices and the oddballs who love them failed to mention that one of her interviewees, Shawn Halpenny, is a WOWT writer/producer. Is the station not acquainted with the concept of full disclosure?

• Turnover Central, KPTM, is advertising for an anchor/reporter, suggesting that either Dave Hansen or the splendid Amanda Mueller is headed elsewhere. The Fox affilliate is also running ads for a producer and a photographer.

• At KMTV, there's still no evidence of a replacement for weekend meteorologist Sarah Walters, whose last day was October 21st.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Channel 6 Comes Charging Back in Battle for Stupid Sweeps Stories Crown

Today viewers are being hit with promos for Mike McKnight's "investigation" of police "stop sticks," in which we're told we'll get to see "actual video of a police chase!" Also, the station is hyping the snot out of Jim Flowers' "Precision Winter Forecast." We defy anyone to show us a more worthless weather "feature" than Jim wandering out to the weather porch to see whether his shadow appears.

Monday, October 31, 2005

But Paul Probably Is the Walrus

Tipped off by an alert reader, we went to the KM3 website to see it for ourselves:

Some might attribute the misspelling to error. We suspect otherwise. "Libby is not the leek"—could easily be read as, "Libby is not the onion," which sounds a lot like a secret coded message being sent by a KMTV staffer. Perhaps it's a signal to begin the long-awaited dismantling of "For What It's Worth."

KETV Fires the First Salvo of Sweeps Idiocy

On Thursday, Channel 7's answer to "Inspector Gadget," Carol Kloss, "investigates" steroids. Apparently, they're bad for athletes. Who knew?

You Can Overcome Not Hiring the Right Person; You May Never Recover from Hiring the Wrong One: The Sheila Brummer Story

Watching Sheila Brummer fill in for Tracy Madden on Friday night’s “Ten at 10” provided us with all the support we need for our contention that the station should have left her on the list of unemployed Des Moines residents.

After John Knicely wrapped up a story on soaring oil company profits by noting that one company made “nearly 10 billion in one quarter alone,” Brummer followed up by exclaiming, “And it’s not bad tonight!” An awkward pause followed. This, it turns out, was Brummer’s attempt to segue into Jim Flowers’ “No-Wait Forecast.”

Moments like these must leave new viewers wondering if this is her first day or two on television.

Other eyebrow-raisers:

• Brummer rarely starts a sentence with a word other than “now” or “and.”

• She has trouble with pronunciation. Example: The word Hurricane, in her mouth, becomes “HEAR-uh-cane.”

• She has trouble with phrasing. After giving out the “Six Online” phone number, she urged viewers to “leave some voicemail messages.”

• Then there are the strange facial expressions (beyond the fact that she appears to be cross-eyed most of the time). There’s the ill-timed grin at the camera while her co-anchor speaks. Another favorite is one where her face appears to go numb at the end of a sentence, with her eyelids dropping to half-staff and eyes appearing to glaze over. Creepy.

It’s bad enough that Channel 6 management passed over Courtny Gerrish for the 4 p.m. anchor position. But giving it to a half-baked camera-unfriendly dipstick like Brummer is ridiculous.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

They're BAAAAAAAAACK: Sweeps Start Next Week

We approach each sweeps period as one might a train derailment: with a mix of dread and excitement: dread at the horrors we expect to witness and excitement from the adrenaline rush that accompanies moments of tremendous stress.

What might we get from consultants' local puppets this time around? More giant vegetables? Carol Kloss interviewing yet another senior citizen who has been conned into giving his life savings away?

Here's hoping that Channel 3 continues to remain above the stunts, as they have in the past. In addition to emphasizing their severe weather coverage, they should hype the hell out of the fact that they avoid the bullshit stories to which other stations seem to be addicted.

Hallelujah! FWIW to Be Flushed

According to those in a position to know, KMTV has decided to restore sports to its newscast and to axe "For What It's Worth" commentary by Travis Justice. We're not sure when the change will take place, but at least there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

Angela Martin Looking for a Change. Why Not Omaha?

Former KM3 Anchor/Reporter Angela Martin, now in Savannah, Georgia, is listed in MediaLine among those seeking new positions. If her demo tape is to be believed, Martin, who was in Omaha from 2002 until 2004, has improved considerably during her time down south.

Any Omaha station would be wise to lure her back here, especially given the scarcity of on-air diversity in the market. Channel 6, which appears to have the whitest roster in town, would seem the most logical bidder for her services; she could easily take over for Sheila Brummer at 4 p.m. on weekdays or bump empty-headed Andrea McMaster from the weekend morning shift. Moreover, 6 appears to have the budget to offer a salary sweet enough deal to land her.

Channel 7, pushing hard to pull ahead of 6, might also be capable of luring her, given its reputation as the market's most talent-friendly newsroom and a simlilarly-sized budget. It's not hard to imagine Martin next to John Oakey on weekday mornings (goodbye, Omarosa) or taking over some of Julie Cornell's anchoring chores.

Separated at Birth? Flintstones Edition

Compare helmet-haired, reading-impaired weekend anchor Suzanne Deyo with Fred Flintstone's invisible-to-everyone-but-Fred space buddy, The Great Gazoo.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Why Won't They Make Him Stop?

We've just voted Travis "The Tool" Justice's "For What It's Worth" commentary the worst concept in Omaha TV news since Channel 3 had radio disc jockey "Hot Scott" reviewing movies for them back in the '80s. It's worse, even, than that embarrassingly bad locally produced game show aired by WOWT on Saturday evenings somewhere during the 1987-89 timeframe.

It's more clear than ever that this guy has nothing to say. Evidence? Consider these highlights from Tuesday night's splattering of oral dirarrhea:





Okay, right there you have enough reason to tell him to clean out his desk. "I think you can learn a lot just by listening"? WTF? He's getting paid for this? Why doesn't management just flush his salary down the toilet and spare us the trauma of looking at and listening to him?

And what does he mean when he says "The focus of the job was on baby sitting"? Is this guy mentally retarded? Doesn't anyone look at this crap before he goes on the air? (An even more disturbing prospect is that someone does and that this represents an improved version of his initial draft.)

The only part that we can even halfway appreciate is his reference to the mute button in his head. Is there any way that button can be wired to mute his Urkelesque voice?

Finally, realizing that something could be a good commentary doesn't mean that it will be. Lord knows he has several years of tape to prove it. But let's return to The Tool's Peabody-worthy script:


"Reporter mode." Right. Good one.


What is this? A knockoff of Dana Carvey's Grumpy Old Man character? ("We worked for a buck an hour...and WE LIKED IT!") Can you say "Tool Time"?


Hence our desire to rename this segment "Travis Justice States the Obvious."




Babysitters are "role models," now? Give us a break.


What should be the final sentence—if Travis knew how to punctuate—could just as easily be applied to the half-assed job he does on this segment every night.

Someone needs to tell Trav that his "commentaries" are, to quote Rip Torn's Dodgeball character, "about as useless as a poopy-flavored lollipop."

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Why Does KETV Tease Us This Way?

We know it's just wishful thinking, but every morning that we tune in to KETV without being greeted by the ghastly specter of Elictia Hammond is one more morning that gets us believing that Channel 7 management has finally come to its senses and (1) fired Omafrickinrosa and (2) replaced her with the much better Brandi Petersen.

And while we're on the topic of that particular morning show, would someone tell traffic robot Jana Murrell that winning a beauty pageant doesn't excuse you from having to do something with your hair? It was downright scary Tuesday morning.

Monday, October 24, 2005

No Wonder They're the Heartland News Leader

Talk about your slow news day. Channel 6's 10 p.m. Saturday newscast led with two hard-hitting features.

The first was a stupid non-story about pumpkins, in which reporter Brian "My Voice Is Still Changing" New seemed be wondering how many times he could work the word pumpkin into one story. We still don't know what the point of the piece was.

The second was a story the station had been beating to death since that day's morning show. The focus was on LaVista's effort to recruit more volunteer firefighters by going door-to-door. Some residents were interested, some weren't. Big fuckin' surprise. What a yawner.

All this came, of course, after the usual Husker football highlights/teaser.

On another Channel 6-related note, Rebecca Kleeman anchored both Saturday and Sunday morning's shows. While she needs a little voice work, she's a noticeable improvement over Andrea McMaster and certainly no worse than afternoon hack Sheila Brummer.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

An Open Letter to Sarah Walters (Whose Last Day is Friday):


(But if you must, good luck in Phoenix.)

Trav Talks About OMA News

Travis "The Tool" Justice was missing from Thursday night's 10 p.m. newscast, sparing us at least one dose of "For What It's Worth." For that we are thankful.

But according to a reader who calls himself Luke, Trav was talking about us with Todd 'n' Tyler on Z-92 Thursday morning. But rather than re-tell what Luke said, we'll let you read the email, which contains some other non-Tool-related remarks:


Don't know if you're a listener to Tard 'n Tyler on Z92, but the blog was mentioned today (specifically about the Jim Rose entry) early in the morning. Evidently, one Mr. Justice does, in fact, read OmaNews and is upset by the fact that you're a "critic in anonymity," and thus, gives you no merit.

What everyone misses is the fact that anonymity gives us the ability to be truthful in the light of possible retribution. That's not to say anyone in the new biz has that kind of political clout, but this *is* such a small town.

I say "rock on." Whether you're connected to the industry or not, jilted or not, anonymous or not, I could care less. It's damn fine stuff you produce.

Besides, I like my blogs like I like my women and morning coffee: Bitter.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Former KETV Anchor Joins Scott in KC

Former KETV anchor/reporter Brad Stephens joined KCTV5 in Kansas City on Monday as the station's 4 p.m. anchor. Stephens was lead anchor at WOFL in Orlando until August.

He joins another KETV alum, Michael Scott, who is the lead anchor at KCTV. Stephens was at Channel 7 from 1995 to 1999, ending up as 5 p.m. anchor and "Nightside" reporter. He spent the five years before that at KMTV, another of Scott's stops.

Viewer Mail

Here's an email we just can't do justice to without publishing it word-for-word. It's from a reader who identifies himself/herself as "Heartland Values." Enjoy.

Dear Ted,

You really are the fictional Ted Brockman brought to life. My goodness. About 3 hours after one of your readers asked you who your Dream Team would be you had it. 3 hours to assemble a dream team. 3 hours? Travis spends more time than that to come up with his gut reaction ramblings.

I expect more thoughtful consideration from the Great Ted Brockman. You need to explain your rationale. You need to post why you overlooked quality reporters while including light weights who would have trouble getting hired in North Platte.

You copped out not looking at past talent. Of course, then you would have had to spend 4 hours on your thesis. Today's talent doesn't come close to Omaha's past talent in the days before the business mentality of news took over, cut salaries and turned Omaha into an entry level market.

Your Dream Team segment also reads more like a syrupy Good News television piece. I don't read Ted Brockman for nicey nice comments. I read you with great anticipation for the vitriolic proclamations and biting sarcasm. Come on, Ted. Take your nasty pill and get on with the Ted Blog we know and love.


H.L. Values

Dream Team

A comment asked what we'd consider a "Dream Team" in local news. It's a question that we hadn't considered much, but if we could assemble a team using only talent currently in the market, here's what we'd come up with. Cast your own votes and reactions via the Comments section.


Male Anchor: John Oakey (KETV)
Female Anchor: Amanda Mueller (KPTM)

5/6 p.m

Male Anchor: Rob McCartney (KETV)
Female Anchor: Sarah Simmons (KMTV)

10 p.m.

Male Anchor: Greg Peterson (KMTV)
Female Anchor: Tracy Madden (WOWT)

Weather: Sarah Walters (KMTV) [sadly, her last day is this week, so we're exercising the "currently in the market" clause while we still can]
Sports: Dave Webber


Live/Field: Brandi Petersen and Mike'l Severe (KETV)
Feature: Mike Sigmond (KETV)
Investigative: Gary Johnson (WOWT)
Political: Joe Jordan (KMTV)
General: Mary Nelson (KMTV) and Rebecca Kleeman (WOWT)

OMA News Unveils New Feature

Instead of "For What It's Worth," KMTV should call Travis "The Tool" Justice's nightly waste of time "Travis Justice Grasps the Obvious." Until the folks at Channel 3 make that move, we will, from time to time, highlight some of the more idiotic pontifications by the guy better suited to serve as poster boy for the Setliff Clinic.

In today's edition, we present Trav's teaser for his Tuesday night segment. Quoth The Tool: "It's not just comedians who get a laugh when elected officials screw up."

Thanks, Trav. And thank you, Channel 3, for providing the community with this valuable service. What splendid use you're making of your license.

If it weren't indelicate to use the word retard to describe this guy, that's the one we'd choose.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Jim Rose: Hideous Freak?

Here's a question we've been pondering for over a year now: Why, during the weekly "Coach Callahan Show," do we never see host Jim Rose up close?

We see plenty of tight shots of Callahan, but whenever Rose is on camera, it's nothing but wideshot, wideshot, wideshot.

Is Rose grotesquely disfigured, or are the producers of the show too cheap or lazy to employ more than two camera angles?

McMaster Delivers

Capping a pregnancy that seemed to last forever, WOWT anchor/reporter Andrea McMaster delivered a baby girl this past Saturday. Mother and baby are said to be home and doing fine.

Monday, October 17, 2005

WOWT Gas Leak?

Is someone pumping nitrous oxide into the WOWT studio every night around 10:30, or is everyone in the room smoking weed during breaks?

We're asking because it would explain the imbecillic giggling that breaks out every night at the end of WOWT's 10 o'clock newscast. The slightest twitch, look, or remark sends the entire anchor team into a fit of hysterical laughter. To a lesser degree the same thing seems to happen on the weekends to Gerrish, Baltes, Chapman, and whatever weatherdork is on duty. (It was worse when The Skeletal Remains of Kara Rovere occupied the weekend anchor chair.)

Typically, following the last commercial break, Dave Webber will utter a word or two as Jim Flowers chirps to the end of his forecast recap. Then John Knicely scaffolds off Webber's remark and adds "Tracy Madden" to the end of the sentence, which causes the entire team to laugh so hard that they lose control of their bladders. It's really rather bizarre to watch, especially over the course of several nights.

Not that any of it is unprecedented. The nightly laugh riot has been a staple at Channel 6 going back to Knicely's early days as anchor with Pat Persaud, but it had seemed to decrease when Tracy Madden first moved to the big chair.

But those days are over. Their madcap sense of humor is back now, and boy is it a sight.

Smollen Breaks Halloween Story

WOWT Flatliner/Reporter Gary Smollen landed the lead story on Friday's 10 p.m. newscast with the revelation that "Halloween is becoming popular," and that it's "costing more."

We couldn't make shit like this up. This is what he really said.

Yeah, Gary. We can remember back in the early '70's when hardly anyone had even heard of Halloween. Back then it ranked behind Arbor Day on the list of holidays when it came to popularity.

People forget that, in those days, it was much more popular to wear your Arbor Day "Leaf Bonnet" or "Foliage Toupée" than it was to go Trick-or-Treating. Kids got a real thrill out of sporting hats made of twigs and pine cones. We're SO amazed at how Halloween has taken off in the last year or two.

But seriously, folks: just when you think the gang at Channel 6 have hit bottom when it comes to stupid stories, they pull one like this out of the fire. And they give it to a stiff like Smollen.

Box that one up and send it to folks who give out the Edward R. Murrow Awards. It's gold, Gary...Gold!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Fund Established to Pay Late Meteorologist's Medical Bills

Friends have established a fund for the family of KHGI weatherman Bob Geiger, who died recently following a long illness. Apparently, he died without health insurance, leaving thousands in medical bills from his multiple heart surgeries and extended hospitalization.

What's unclear is how a beloved personality who was with the station for 22-years ends up without medical benefits. We've heard a couple of stories suggesting that he was dropped from the station's plan in the midst of his illness, but we're hoping that the station's owner—Pappas Telecasting (also the owner of KPTM/Fox 42)—makes the point moot by doing the right thing and relieving Geiger's family of this undeserved burden.

Those wishing to contribute to the fund should send their checks to
Bob Geiger Memorial Fund
Platte Valley State Bank
2216 1st Avenue
Kearney, NE 68847

Razor, Anyone?

Our recent post featuring WOWT meteorologist Jim Flowers spurred talk of what's come to be known as Flowers' "porn mustache." Inspired by that discussion, an alert reader and Photoshop hobbyist sent us this rendering of what Jim would look like, sans 'stache.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Is Hammond On Vacation or Just Giving Viewers One?

Early risers who tune in to Channel 7 are getting a well-deserved respite from the terrors of Elictia "Omarosa" Hammond, at least temporarily. Wednesday marked the beginning of what one KETV insider calls a brief "John and Brandi Era," with Brandi Petersen filling while Hammond is off (shudder) getting married.

For all we care, Hammond can stay off camera forever. As we've noted before, Petersen is much more palatable at that hour (or any other), and god knows Oakey and reporter Mike'l Severe could use the help, given the cast of idiots they're normally surrounded by.

Mumblerologist Andrea Bredow remains herself, while new traffic manequin Jana Murrell barely registers a pulse, let alone signs of improvement when it comes to her stiff mannerisms, flat affect, and monotone delivery. While Petersen is still developing as an anchor, she's a huge improvement over Hammond and these other dim bulbs.

Keeping Oakey and Petersen together in the morning could help propel Channel 7 out of the dead heat it's been in with Channel 6's "Live at Daybreak."

The Daybreak format, virtually unchanged since it was adopted a decade or so ago, has long since worn thin, and instead of improving the program, Jim Siedlecki has pulled co-anchor Malorie Maddox and the whole show down to his level. It's not that he's bad; it's just that he's only a Joplin, Missouri brand of good. In other words, he's not cut out to be an anchor in a market this size.

Then again, not being cut out for a market this size hasn't seemed to stop Doug Walker or Gary Smollen, to say nothing of roly-poly Brian Mastre. So who knows how far he'll go?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

KM3 Soon-to-Be-Former Sibling Bringing Back Sports

An alert reader notes that Wichita TV station KSNW, formerly owned by Emmis Communications and, hence, a sister station of KMTV in Omaha, is bringing back sports under its new ownership. The Wichita Business Journal reports that sports will return to KNSW on October 26, ostensibly with the approval of it soon-to-be-new-owner, SJL Group.

Like Channel 3, KSNW dropped sports from its newscasts several years ago, citing research that only about a third of the audience cares about having it covered. Cynics suggested that the move was more about saving money than about giving the audience what it wanted.

Will KMTV follow suit? And, as several people have already asked, could this be the end of Travis Justice? There's no reason to think so, at least not based on the news out of Wichita. The Omaha station is also in the process of being sold, but to a different buyer: Journal Broadcast Group, which has shown a disturbing fondness for Trav, for what it's worth.

KSN to Revive Sports Oct. 26 [Wichita Business Journal]

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Nature's Viagra

Why is this man smiling?

After a quick check of the WOWT website Thursday evening, we've got a hunch:

Will you be ready?

More Red Flags on KETV's New Traffic Babe

Oh my. Tipped off by an alert reader, we took a look at the bio for new traffic reporter/Miss Nebraska Jana Murrell, and found that somebody can't write and/or doesn't know what she's talking about.

The only question is whether it's Murrell herself or webmaster Shiloh Woolman.

The bio includes a few items worth comment. To wit,

"She graduated from North High School and played volleyball, basketball and track."

She "played" track?

She attends Creighton University where she is working on her doctorate of physical therapy and a bachelors of science.

There are so many things wrong with this sentence that it's hard to know where to start. Let's just say that the imprecise phrasing regarding these supposed degrees raises questions about the veracity of the claims.

Jana likes any kind of outdoor activity.

ANY kind of outdoor activity? Like pooping in the woods? Walking barefoot in the snow? What does that mean?

She enjoys working with children and one day hopes to learn Spanish.

Now there are two unrelated ideas crammed into one sentence. She might want to consider one day learning English.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Oakey Spotted in New Circle of Hell

Question of the Day: What did John Oakey do to piss off KETV management to the point that they're hell-bent on ruining his morning show?

First, they made him morning anchor—a good move, especially following the disatrous tenure of Suzanne Deyo. But they paired him with meteorologist Andrea Bredow, who may be a lovely human being in person, but whose schedule will never be cluttered with meetings of the Mensa Society. [In other words, don't send us any more emails about how nice she is; we're concerned with how she comes across on-air, not whether she plays well with her neighbors.]

The Oakey and Bredow team was good; Oakey carried the load and Bredow didn't ordinarily ruin the program.

Then, last year, someone decided that what the show really needed was a female co-anchor. But instead of getting someone who might make people want to tune in, they hired the dreadful Elictia Hammond, whose appearance is rumored to have frightened several area children.

Now, Channel 7 has apparently chosen to conduct a little experiment to determine what happens when you put someone with no television training on television from 5 to 7 every morning and ask her to report repeatedly on, um, nothing.

Miss Nebraska Jenna Murrell is providing the answer every morning now, having started Monday as the station's in-studio traffic reporter.

Where do we start? It's hard to blame her too much for this, because, according to her bio, she majored in physical therapy in college. But watching as she stands in front of a green screen, reading from an index card gesturing awkwardly at nothing in partcular is truly something to behold.

Her delivery is sing-songy; she begins each report by purring, "Thaaank you, Johhhhn" (or Andrea or Omarosa Elictia). It's hard to convey how odd it sounds; if you've seen the Simpsons episode in which Apu says, "I learned to speak English from porn movies," you'll have a pretty good idea.

And about the only positive things we can say about her are that she looks nice and appears to smell good.

What they'll come up with next to torture Omaha's best morning anchor is anyone's guess. We hope he's getting combat pay for this.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Channel 3 Still Employs Reporters

It's not often you turn on the TV in Omaha and find that a TV reporter has actually done a real investigation. (We're not counting the "Welfare-Abusing, Chain-Smoking Extra-Ginormous Legumes" stories we get during sweeps as "real.")

But that's what Channel 3 viewers saw on Monday at 5 p.m. when Kathy Sarantos-Niver delved into the topic of battered men. If the veteran reporter is to be believed, during her routine checks of police blotters, she recently began noticing a high number of domestic violence cases in which men were victims. Over a relatively brief period, she tallied over 100 such cases, leading to her report, which included an interview with a man who had seen his friends being abused.

We've often complained about Sarantos-Niver's delivery, and we recently lodged a rare gripe about a Joe Jordan piece on Omaha officials' plans for evacuating the city. But these two reporters—both of whom have been with the station since the 1970s—along with WOWT's Gary Johnson are something of a vanishing breed. That is, they're reporters who (a) know something beyond haircare and wardrobe tips, and (b) dig for news, rather than waiting for it to come out in the form of a press release or a house fire.

Let's hope that these grizzled vets inspire some of their younger co-workers to carry on this important form of journalism, and that some of those younger types recognize its value.

Press Photogs Say KMTV Video Clear, Accurate, to the Point.

We've made no secret of the fact that we appreciate KMTV's effort. Operating with less staff and fewer resources than WOWT and KETV, the folks at Channel 3 still put together a newscast as good as any in this market, if not better.

Making the feat all the more amazing is that these folks continue to crank out high-quality work despite the demoralizing and certainly embarrassing presence of Travis Justice's "For What It's Worth" commentaries. Plopping Justice's blabbering into the midst of their work is a bit like placing a bowl of rabbit shit in the midst of a steak dinner.

But we digress.

At this past weekend's Nebraska Press Photographers Association awards, KMTV's crew lapped the competition, collecting 14 of 26 awards, including a second straight Photographer of the Year honor for Harry Flansburg.

What's shameful is that no other Omaha station came close to KM3's numbers, despite the bigger budgets available to two of them. Moral of the story? If the two larger stations in town would spend their money on doing high-quality work instead of on consultants, Omaha viewers would have much more to choose from when it came time to watch the news.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Monkeys at the Helm Again Saturday

The technical flubs were so numerous on Channel 6's Saturday morning news program that we even felt sorry for anchor Andrea McMaster. Yeah, it was that bad.

From an over-the-shoulder graphic that mentioned "warrents" being issued to audio that cut in and out at random, the program was the sort of thing professors should show as an example of how not to do things. We'd expect this level of quality if we were in a market the size of, say, Scottsbluff, but this is Omaha, for cryin' out loud, not to mention supposedly the highest-rated station therein.

Our sympathy for McMaster, now in her 13th month of pregnancy, evaporated on Sunday morning, however, when she announced that Cornhusker fans were "sighing a breath of relief."

All you kids out there, don't let anyone tell you that eating paint chips doesn't cause long-term brain damage. McMoron seems to have consumed handfuls during her formative years, and look at the results.

Friday Night Frights

Gee whillikers. There was no safe haven on Friday at 10 p.m. if you wanted to watch local news.

Of course at 3, everything was fine until they decided to soil the screen with the sound and image of Mr. Travis Justice, but the station's regular viewers have likely become numb to this nightly assault on the senses.

On Channel 7, Todd Andrews, looking way too much like Phil Hartman's "Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer," was anchoring in place of Rob McCartney. The guy sounds great, but the 70s part-down-the-middle hairstyle combined with an overly prominent brow make him a hard anchor to watch.

And over at Channel 6, it was sub night, with Paul "The Human Yawn" Baltes and Sheila "Scary Eyes" Brummer sitting in the seats normally occupied by John Knicely and Tracy Madden. Brummer had trouble figuring out what she was reading, which camera to look at, and then she stepped all over Baltes by reading her weather intro too early. She reminds us a lot more of Pat Persaud than we'd like. That means she'll probably be here forever. Heaven help us.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Q: What's the Difference Between the Keystone Cops and OPS Administrators? A: There's a Difference?

We are forced to offer grudging congratulations to WOWT's Brian Mastre for his "where is she now?" piece on the girl suspended by the Omaha Public Schools in 2000 for bringing a pair of safety scissors to North High School, where she was a student at the time.

Mastre's story mirrored our own reaction to news earlier this week that OPS had again overreacted and threatened to severely discipline a 5-year-old for accidentally bringing a butter knife to kindergarten via his bookbag. "Didn't they learn this lesson five years ago?" we kept asking. That seemed to be the jist of Channel 6's story, as well.

Eventually, in the current case, the district backed off, but only after the poor kid's parents brought in high-powered attorney James Martin Davis. It's yet another in a series of ham-handed moves by the state's largest school system.

What makes this incident more amusing—and frightening—is that a district capable of botching a simple case like this wants to foist its bumbling ways on 27 more schools that currently belong to the Millard, Ralston, and Elkhorn school districts.

We have seriously considered starting a spinoff blog called OMA Schools to chronicle the follies of OPS. It seems to us that superintendent John Mackiel's ego is driving much of what goes on at OPS these days, and a balloon that big is just asking to be popped.

Say It's Ain't So, Sarah

We had wanted to believe it wasn't true. But now, having heard it from several reliable sources, we are sad to report the impending departure of KMTV weekend meteorologist Sarah Walters. One source claims she's headed for Phoenix for a TV job there (insert your own Phoenix and hot joke here), while another suggests that she is following her husband to an unknown location due to job transfer.

Walters has been at Channel 3 since 2003, coming to Omaha from Palm Springs, California. As we've noted several times before, she is not only the best thing KM3's weather department has going for it, but she's also the most competent on-air meteorologist in the whole town.

Yes, she's incredibly attractive, but being "easy on the eyes," as they used to say, doesn't get you very far in our book (just ask Andrea McMaster).

No, it was Walters' intelligence and easy manner that won us over. Where others tend to go into hysterics and/or uncontrolled fits of weatherspeak, Walters calmly presents the necessary information and gives us a level-headed sense of how it might (or might not) affect us. Those qualities are rarely seen in TV weather forecasting these days, when most stations are nursing their latest-overhyped-gizmo fetish. Walters has been a breath of fresh air and she will be missed.

Traffic Face

According to the latest info, this will be the new face of KETV's morning traffic reports. If she looks familiar, it's because she is Miss Nebraska USA Jena Murrell.

Murrell will apparently staff an in-studio traffic monitoring station, from which she'll deliver her reports.

Pageant winners have had mixed results in Omaha. Channel 7's Brandi Petersen has emerged as something of a star at the station since being hired right out of college as an on-air reporter, and she has acquitted herself quite well, for the most part.

On the other hand, there is Kara Rovere, a former Miss South Dakota who was an anchor/reporter for WOWT for several years before going to work in public relations. Dubbed (by us, anyway) "The Skeletal Remains of Kara Rovere" for her progressively emaciated appearance, Rovere left us with the impression that South Dakota must not have many thin or attractive girls if hers is the look that wins beauty pageants.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Traffic to Go Getting a Face

A KETV source tells us that adolescent traffic reporter Laura Liggett is a transitional figure. Sometime in the near future, we're told, Channel 7 will add an on-screen personality to tell us how little is happening on local streets and highways.

Morning traffic reports are an interesting topic. For example, we just love it when the Channel 6 morning crew gives us a "live view" of some spot or another on I-80 at 5:35 and there are maybe two cars in sight. Scott Akin or Malorie Maddox, having had all ability to speak spontaneously beaten out of them by a consultant's monotonously repetitive format, will typically assure us that "things are running smoothly," even though it's comically apparent to viewers that there's barely anyone on the road at that hour.

Such moments point out how superfluous 99% of these "reports" are in a market this size. Honestly, even when there's a problem, how much do these updates do to alleviate congestion? Not much, we're guessing.

Then again, in some demented way, we loved the early days of radio station KKAR, when they'd have retired deputy sheriff Chris Saklar driving around in a 1987 Dodge K-Car (get it?) and phoning in traffic updates. What always amazed us was the obscure locations he chose to report on.

"No problems to report here at 39th and Dorcas," he'd say, as if he'd expected it to be a major trouble spot. Somehow, though, he never seemed to notice places like 90th and Dodge or I-80 at 42nd Street. "I'm at 73rd and Izard," he'd beller cheerfully, "and it's smooth sailing this morning." Ahh...those were the days.

So it's with similar anticipation that we await KETV's new on-screen traffic ace. With the exception of about six days a year, there's not gonna be much to report on, so whoever gets the job will have to spend a lot of time making it look like there is. And that, friends, is a recipe for some really idiotic television.

This could be fun.

KETV Lowers the Bar Some More

In an attempt to lure more stupid people to their morning newsblock, Channel 7 has replaced traffic reporter James Lawrence with what sounds like a 14-year-old girl named (we think) Laura Liggett. Whereas Lawrence's reports sounded smooth and professional, Liggett's are punctuated with lots of ums and giggly yammering.

The upshot of bringing her on board, however, is that weatherbimbo Andrea Bredow will now have someone to go to the mall with.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Premature Evacuation

As reported in Sean Weide's Reader column last week, KPTM reporter Cliff Judy has bailed out of the station after less than three months on the job. What would lure him away? Apparently the bright lights of Wichita.

He's not much of a reporter yet (he's only been out of college since May), but give the guy credit for having the sense to get out of 42 before he even had all his boxes unpacked.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Excuse Us, But We Had to Step Out for a Moment

• An unexpected trip to Chicago kept us away from local TV for a few days. The pinheads running Channel 6 should really get to a major market sometime and see how to do things right. For example, how is it that WLS, which has ruled Chicago for years, can put together newscasts that don't rely on repetitive gimmickry and meaningless, overhyped phrases? How is it that their morning show can get by without reading the same stories eight times an hour in the same mind-numbing format?

• Speaking of the Big Six, it occurred to us that it would be really cool to combine meteorolgist Jim Flowers' nearly orgasmic approach to any sort of weather "event" with Husker radio announcer Jim Rose's clearly orgasmic response to just about any on-the-field development. The result would be euphoric screaming to the point of incomprehensibility each time "Hybrid Jim" spotted a hook-echo on the radar screen.

• KETV anchor Rob McCartney was absent from Monday's 5 p.m. newscast. Who the hell thought that Tom Elser would be a suitable substitute? Or did Elser win a bet?

• Also on the Channel 7 front, who saw bumbling anchor Suzanne Deyo this weekend? Are we the only ones who think her helmet of hair makes her look like Fred Flintstone's semi-invisible friend, Gazoo?

• We've decided that Amanda Mueller must've lost a bet at some point. That's the only way we can imagine her ending up at KPTM. Fox42's fetching weekend anchor is far too talented and attractive to be working at that rattle-trap station. Look for her to be moving to another station or another market as soon as her contract is up.

• Our latest strategy for coping with the malodorous appearances of Travis Justice on KMTV newscasts is to hit the mute button and pretend that it's just a commercial, albeit a painfully long one. The problem is that when you take away the Milhous-grows-up voice and the idiotic musings, you're left with just a pudgy, ugly guy in a suit. Memo to Jim McKernan: SAVE YOUR STATION; FIRE THIS TOOL!

• Can WOWT's Gary Smollen sound any less enthused than he did on Monday's 5 p.m. newscast? Would somebody please hold a mirror up to his face and see if he's still breathing? Sweet Mother of Pearl! Listenig to this guy deliver a story is only slightly more exciting than listening to a middle school librarian's lecture on the virtues of the Dewey Decimal System.

• This post is starting to bear an eerie resemblance to the weekly column that Larry King formerly did for USA Today. So we'll stop for now.
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