Monday, February 28, 2005

Persaud Leaving WOWT

WOWT will announce Pat Persaud's exit tonight during its 10 p.m. newscast. According to sources, Tracy Madden will move up when Persaud leaves the station on May 25th.

In a memo sent to WOWT staff this afternoon, News Director John Clark says that it is "with mixed emotions" that he announces Persaud's "retirement." The memo goes on to say that Persaud is leaving to devote her full-time energies to being a wife and mother.

Wethinks Clark doth protest too much, however, when, near the end of the memo, he adds, "I want everyone to know this is totally Pat's decision. We had discussions about her continuing to work here in a variety of different roles. But suffice to say Pat is totally dedicated to her new role."

Yeah, that sounds much more diplomatic than, "Look, I'm totally not bullshitting you. It has nothing to do with her half-assed work on the air."

As you can imagine, we'll have more to say on this in the days and weeks to come.

Sunday Night Fight

It was a rare Sunday night face-off for local TV news, but a bizarre one. And really, it wasn't much of a face-off, since the two stations thumping their chests aired their newscasts nearly two hours apart.

Pouncing on one of the local media's favorite angles--the "Omaha connection"--KETV dispatched the annoyingly earnest Tom Elser to Hollywood to cover the Oscars, due to Omaha native Alexander Payne's nominations for his film, "Sideways." Now we hate the "Omaha connection" story as much as anyone, but this one strikes us as legitimate, particularly since Payne has shot several previous films (most recently, "About Schmidt") in his hometown, and it IS the Ocars, after all.

Promos that aired during local commercial breaks in ABC's Oscars programming featured Elser outside the Kodak Theater with tags by Channel 7 anchors Rob McCartney and Julie Cornell. In a remarkable contrast to KPTM's recent coverage of the Maynard Triplets' embarrassing appearance as rejects on "American Idol," KETV's promos were understated and professional in their tone. In other words, they didn't give us the "Green Acres" feel that we get from most Omaha connection stories.

Meanwhile, over on Channel 6, the twitchings and flailings of the clueless continued, unabated. In the weirdest counter-programming we can remember (and we can remember quite a bit), WOWT spent three days relentlessly hyping an Andrea McMaster story on (and we still can't believe we're even typing this) DANCE STUDIOS!

Watching the build-up for this piece, and then the story itself, makes us wonder if there's not someone inside the station trying to sabotage the whole operation. A competing station could not invent a more effective scenario for making the Big Six look ridiculous.

What did this story teach us? Well, if you're sending your kid to a dance studio, it should be a GOOD one. The dance teacher should be QUALIFIED. With dancers practicing in the background, Andrea did a stand-up warning us that some studios teach ballet (Andrea holds up ballet shoe), jazz (holds up another shoe), and tap (holds up tap shoe) in ONE 45-MINUTE SESSION! That means they'll spend A LOT OF TIME CHANGING SHOES!

So while some reporters might dream of exposing the dark side of the packing industry, and others might aspire to uncovering political corruption, reporters at Channel 6 are keeping OUR HEARTLAND CHILDREN safe from the horrors of a poorly executed Fan Kick or Jazz Square.

The station has a significant problem in McMaster, whose work as anchor of the Saturday and Sunday morning newscasts is a weekly train wreck. Her pronunciation is odd, at best ("grown" comes out as "GROW-un," Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, sounds different every time she says it, and many vowels and consonants are over-enunciated). Add to the pronunciation issues the fact that her writing skills would embarrass a high school journalism student, and it's obvious that McMaster is out of her element as an anchor.

Those shortcomings were on display Sunday morning, when she reported that Oscar producers were planning to adjust the tone of their ceremony if the Pope's health took "a turn for the worse." "Speaking of a turn for the worse," she continued, creating a particularly inapproprate segue, the "Rozzies" were handed out last night in Los Angeles. (Don't most of us pronounce it "Razzies"?)

WOWT suffers from an even bigger problem, however. Success has made the station lazy, arrogant, or some combination of the two. Too many people, both in front of and behind the camera, seem to believe that viewers will watch anything they put on the air. Story ideas are stale, the writing is sloppy, and most afternoon/evening anchors appear to be totally uninterested in their work.

While the "Ten at Ten" format may have been adopted to give viewers a consistent, research-driven product, it has a consultant's stink all over it and, more imporantly, it has gotten old, sapping the station of its creativity. (The nightly giggle-fest that occurs each weeknight at 10:35 makes that painfully clear.) It's little wonder that both KETV and KMTV have nibbled away at WOWT's lead in recent ratings battles. Here's hoping that someone can help snap that outfit out of its rut, and soon.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Identity Crisis

Many of you have written to ask, among other things, who the hell we are (or words to that effect). Recognizing that we are relying on our second SNL reference in as many days, let us just say that we do not hold broadcasting degrees from any accredited institution of higher learning; we're just enthusiastic youngsters with sixth grade educations and an abiding love for all of God's creatures.

Seriously, though: Omaha is too small a town to write this sort of stuff under anything other than a pseudonym, especially if we want to keep our day jobs. We're still working on the pseudonym part. Here's what we can tell you: we are longtime Omaha residents who do not work in television, radio, or advertising. One of us possesses a master's degree in English. One of us may have worked in radio on a couple of occasions, but not recently. We are not writers or entertainers by trade. We have never been employed by a carnival, circus, or casino. We are not attorneys, and our advice should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care.

Why are we writing this blog? Apparently because we have nothing better to do. We began because no one else has and we grew tired of waiting; in short we are writing the kind of blog that we'd like to read. We hope you like it, but if you don't, feel free to cast it aside at your leisure.

New Face at Channel 3

KM3's website indicates a new reporter is on board. Devon Patton joined the staff in January. A Syracuse U grad (and track captain), Patton has reported previously for stations in Charlotte and Philadelphia.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

People Who Deserve More Airtime

Lest our little effort here be perceived as devoid of kindness, we now offer a partial list of folks we'd like to see more of...

John Oakey. His switch from weekend sports guy to anchor was just what the doctor ordered for Channel 7's morning show. Unfortunately, he's now been saddled with the virtually unwatchable Elictia Hammond as his co-anchor, meaning less airtime for him and less watching for us. Oakey brings a friendly, hip presence to the screen. If the higher-ups at KETV can't get him a decent co-anchor, they should move him to afternoons/evenings where more people can see him.

Malorie Maddox. Since swooping into town late in 2004, Maddox has awakened the Bix Six morning program, captured a seat next to Mike McKnight in the "Six on Your Side" ambush bus, and made even the insipid "Six Online" segment more palatable. Yes, she needs to lose the fake fingernails, but we've got a fever, and the only prescription is more Malorie!

Sarah Walters. One of only three female weathercasters in Omaha, Walters comes across as pleasant and knowledgeable. And she doesn't act as if the fate of the free world hinges on her forecasts. It's surprising that we don't see more of her during the week. Lord knows she'd be an improvement over Charles Thongklin, whose smarmy presence makes us reach reflexively for the remote.

Pamela Jones. Jones left KETV in August after a decade there. Sporting a master's degree from Northwestern, she was among the best fill-in anchors in town, holding down a solid weekend newscast for several years. From what we understand, she hasn't taken another TV position, so somebody could score a real coup by luring her back on the air.

Trey Jones. Like his "Live at Daybreak" partner Maddox, Jones is ultra-smooth. We've liked this guy's style ever since his days on KFAB radio. He makes his job seems effortless without appearing unengaged. Increasing his profile during the afternoons and evenings could only help WOWT's sluggish efforts in those dayparts, where just about everybody seems to be phoning it in these days.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

If This Were "The Price Is Right," He'd Lose for Over-Bidding

In Tuesday's episode of "TRAV'S TELEPROMPTER SCRIPT," Travis Justice refers to himself as "an average citizen of Omaha." No wonder people in Elkhorn don't want to be Omahans.

Sweeps Alert: BURGLARIES!

Wife: "Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod! Burglars are everywhere! What are we going to do?"
Husband: "Okay. Hang on. Let's try to stay calm. Let me think."
Wife: "I think we should build a moat around our neighborhood."
Husband: "That's not a bad idea. But what can we do NOW?"
Wife: "Let's pull the kids out of school and we'll all hide in the basement. We'll need to stock up on—"
Husband: "Wait a second. Let's do what we always do when we encounter problems: get advice from people on TV!"

Mmm...advice from people on TV. That's what we're in for on Thursday night's Ten at Ten, when someone with a broadcasting degree shows us how to protect ourselves from the swarming packs of BURGLARS that are TERRORIZING the "HEARTLAND"! We've decided that this story makes a perfect centerpiece for a drinking game. Here are the rules:
1 drink each for:
• initial appearance of someone whose home was burglarized or who worries about it happening
• initial appearance of a law enforcement officer
• video of the reporter and/or one of the above walking around pointing at things
• any use of the following words: "worries" "concerned" "frightened"
2 drinks each for:
• initial appearance of a "security expert"
• any really stupid sound bite
• video of a homeowner (or renter) going about his/her normal routine (cooking, playing w/kids, etc.)
• any use of the following: "protection," "home invasion," "peace of mind"
3 drinks each for:
• use of first-person plural in suggestions ("we," "our," etc.)
• embarrassingly obvious "tips" on burglary prevention ("Officer Jones suggests that we lock our doors.")
• any time the reporter walks toward the camera while talking
Chug the rest of your drink if Pat:
• doesn't appear to understand the follow-up tag she's reading
• has on her "concerned face"

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A Knicely Tasered Rip-Off?

We haven't yet watched John Knicely's televised tasering (that's why God made News on One), but an alert reader confirms our suspicion that we'd seen this story before. Channel 3's Michelle Bandur did it over a year ago, getting zapped so you wouldn't have to. Maybe this is going to become one of those first-baby-of-the-New-Year stories that everybody does periodically. We hope not, but nothing can maximize the badness of a bad idea like local TV news.

Since we're on the topic of sweeps-related matters, the aforementioned alert reader also points out that KMTV has politely sidestepped the sweeps-inspired sensationalism that we've seen on Channels 6 & 7. So mad props, as the kids say, to the KM3ers. It's hard not to jump on the "Carpet Fibers Are Killing Our Children" bandwagon, but we appreciate that at least one station has resisted the temptation, even though it gives us less to make fun of here. Let's just say that "For What It's Worth" more than makes up for it.

New (But Perhaps Homeless) Female Achor at Fox 42

In a move that may eventually be noticed by up to 15 viewers, KPTM has named Tracy Jacim as the new weeknight co-anchor of its 9 p.m. newscast. According to the station's website, Jacim comes to Omaha from Buffalo, NY. Additionally, it notes that she "enjoys spending her free time outdoors." Given the paltry sum that KPTM seems to spend on its talent, this may be the station's way of saying, "We've found an anchor who doesn't mind living on the Gene Leahy mall."

Meanwhile, in a Bathroom Stall at KM3, Travis Keeps, Um, Writing...

During our daily check of "TRAV'S TELEPROMPTER SCRIPT" (yes, it's embarrassing, but it's like a car accident--you want to look away but you just CAN'T), we found this sentence: TODAY,  I THINK THE MEDIA FOR THE RIGHT REASONS AND AND THE WRONG REASONS HAS MORE TO DO WITH A PRESIDENTS PLACE IN HISTORY THAN HIS ACTIONS IN OFFICE.

Our questions:
(2) Did they REALLY give up sports coverage for THIS?

Monday, February 21, 2005

The News Starts NOW: Sweeps Edition, Week 3

Let's admit it: there aren't that many things we'd rather see on TV than John Kniceley getting tasered. And, God love 'em, the kids at the Big Six are promising us just that on Tuesday night's 10 o'clock cast. But think how much better it could be if they'd only take the idea a step or two further. What if, for instance, they allowed viewers to choose which reporter, anchor, or weatherdude got jolted? It'd be gold, Jerry--Gold!

Can't you just see it? Pat Persaud saying, "Who'll get zapped tonight? Log on to our Reminders Board now to cast your vote. We've built a link...blah...blah...blah." And so you'd get on, choose from a list of those appearing on that night's program, and then tune in to see if they throw a few volts at Rebecca Kleeman or Ross Jernstrom. Imagine the audience they'd have! KETV and that other station would be lucky to have three dozen people watching between them.

And the possibilities for counter-programming are even more tantalizing. Instead of subjecting us to more "For What It's Worth" commentaries, Channel 3 could hold a drawing each evening during Entertainment Tonight to determine which lucky viewer gets to hit Travis Justice in the junk with a fastball. Or Channel 7 might allow a deserving audience member to douse Julie Cornell with a bucket of ice-cold breast milk if she so much as looks like she's going to read from that f-ing diary of hers.

If this isn't a recipe for really reinvigorating local news, we don't know what is.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Actually, This Looks a Little Better Anyway

Since KMTV doesn't want us using its photo of the seemingly thin-skinned Travis Justice, we will be substituting alternate images and graphics where we might have otherwise inserted KM3's stuff. See what you think.

Oh Great, Now We've Gone and Made Travis Cry

So a suit at Channel 3 sends us a "cease and desist" email, apparently because we were using one of KM3's graphics featuring Travis Justice, although it didn't specify any one item. Travis was cc'd on the email, so we're guessing we hurt the little guy's feelings and he complained to the teacher that some meanies were picking on him.

But we're taking it down. We don't think we're legally obligated to (there are dozens of high-profile blogs that link to images in exactly the same way); we just don't post images against the objections of the person pictured or the owner of the image. We're just trying to have a little good clean fun, for what it's worth. (As far as we know, they haven't yet copyrighted that.)

If, however, you're one of the five or six people (including Travis) who need a little TJ fix between his on-air appearances, you can still stare at the aforementioned graphic here, which is posted on 3's server for all the world to, um, enjoy.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Elictia and Omarosa: Separated at Birth?

The toothy smiles, the misplaced self-satisfaction, the vowel-heavy first's all starting to make sense.

We Do and Do and Do for You Kids, and This Is the Thanks We Get

Okay, call us temperamental, but would it kill you to post a comment once in a while? We've had over 700 hits but we've only netted something like five comments. Holy crap! As the great Carl Spackler once claimed to have said to the Dalai Lama, "how 'bout a little somepin' for the effort?"

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

OWH News Flash: Johnny Carson Was Funny

Deftly mixing his paper's trademark tepid television coverage with its fondness for local "brush with greatness" stories, OWH columnist Michael Kelly delivers anecdotes from frequent Tonight Show guest Jim Fowler and an Omaha man who once lent Johnny Carson clothing that he wore on the air. Does it get more exciting? Check it out here.

Monday, February 14, 2005

The News Starts Now: Sweeps Edition, Week 2

We know it's not news, but we're not sure it's even a story.

Speaking of Embarrassing Yokelism

Here's something else we’ve been meaning to complain about, even though it’s been running for a couple of months now: that embarrassing Channel 6 promo where John Kniceley and Pat Persaud pretend to be best friends with NBC's Brian Williams. It’s unclear how much time the pair got to spend with Williams, but we hope it wasn’t much, given the lameness of the footage that made it to air.

If you haven’t seen it, the spot features Pat attempting unscripted conversation with Williams. (Anyone unfamiliar with PP’s ad-lib impairment got a nice glimpse last week near the end of one newscast: When the conversation turned to chili, and all she could manage was “I like spicy chili!" It was eerily similar to the scene in "Ancorman" when weatherman Brick Tamland babbles "I love desk" and "I love lamp.")

In the promo, all she can think to ask Williams is a generic question alluding to Husker football, which she follows with lots of giggling like a lovestruck schoolgirl. Luckily for her, Kniceley tries to out-do her by offering up that old saw about Memorial Stadium being the “third-largest city in the state” on a football Saturday. And people wonder why Omaha is perceived as being small-time.

How to Cover TV w/o Really Trying

From what we can tell, the OWH has three types of television stories:

• Rainbow Rowell grieving over Simon Cowell (accurately, if not politely) calling Omaha’s Maynard triplets “overweight” on “American Idol”;
• Harold W. Andersen taking a break from his usual kvetching about form letters that misspell his name to complain about some writer’s reference to reality TV; and
• Sunday’s “TV Q&A,” column, which answers burning questions like “What happened to Lamont from ‘Sanford and Son’?”

God forbid that they’d actually assign someone to the TV and/or radio beat. If nothing else, you think they’d find a way to dredge up an obscure “Omaha connection” to network shows once or twice a week (“Wendell Ginderstone, who is now in his third season as Assistant to the Key Grip on ‘Regis and Kelly,’ is married to the former Julie Flandlehadgett, whose cousin Larry Minxster works in the northwest Omaha circulation office of the World-Herald! Larry and his wife Velda got to meet Regis’s personal assistant on a recent trip to New York!”).

Click here for Sunday's TV Q&A.

Friday, February 11, 2005

And You Thought Your Job Was Depressing

Imagine being in charge of programming at a television station and thinking that Travis Justice is the answer to your problems. Or knowing that he is you best hope. Then again, when you've been recruiting your talent from KPTM, it all probably just seems like one really long bad dream. Honestly, can you imagine how weird this meeting must've been?

"Umm, yeah, I've decided that what people really want is to hear what Travis Justice thinks about the issues of the day."

"What a great idea! That's just the sort of 'outside the box' thinking that's going to propel us to the top!"

May we assume that the person who came up with this stroke of programming genius also decided that televising karaoke from Harrah's would be an audience-grabber?

It might be more fitting for the KM3 gang to exchange "Clear, Accurate, and to the Point" for "Clearly Out of Ideas."

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Kloss' Poop Scoop

Just as promised, Carol Kloss waded bravely into the seedy underworld of the restaurant and found the poop, literally. Some of our favorite lines from her "Restaurant Inspections" report:
• Kloss: "Are these still mouse dropping back here?"
• "Pest Expert" Dennis Ferraro (describing the aforementioned turds): "You have the white ones, which means they're very old, and the black here, shiny, that's fairly fresh." (Mmmmm....fresh.)
• Ferraro (describing a pile of gray matter on the floor): "That's much bigger than a mouse, and it's not the color of a mouse." (We've heard this on dates, too, and more than once.)
• Ferraro (speaking for all of humanity): "There should be very little tolerance for rodents, especially the house mouse." (Meanwhile, Travis Justice roams the earth with impunity.)

Editor's note: The term "pest expert" apparently means "exterminator" in reporterspeak, although it could refer to anyone visited by Kloss and her camera operator. Do not confuse this term with "expert pest," which also might serve as a fitting descriptor for Old Leather Jacket.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

BREAKING NEWS: Speeding is Bad

Things we learned from Doug Walker's "Speed Zapper" report on Channel 6:
• Some cars zipped by a school at a breathtaking 42 miles per hour!
• Speeding is more likely to be a problem for schools located on busy streets!
• An elementary school principal worries that a student might be hit!
• While Walker was at one school demonstrating his prowess with the radar gun (and, no doubt, picking up tons of chicks in the process), a kid was hit near another school! (but speed wasn't a factor, he admitted, sounding disappointed)
• A faster-moving car is more likely to kill a pedestrian than is a slower-moving car. Statistics prove it!

Pat Persaud, recovering from a cold that makes her sound like the ghost of Lucille Ball, finds Doug's report "amazing." (We think it'd be more amazing to hear her say things like, "Oh Mr. Mooney, I really want to meet Robert Goulet!")

Walker's report really puts the pressure on Channel 7 to locate some excrement-laden food for tomorrow night's investigation of restaurant inspections. Is it any wonder we love February?

Monday, February 07, 2005

The News Starts NOW: Sweeps Edition

When we wade into what passes for TV "news" this month, we're always excited by the hype that accompanies a sweeps period. Tune in on virtually any night of the week and you'll see people who make slick streets sound like the crash of the Hindenburg take their schtick to the next level. Our two favorites at the moment: Sporting his trusty radar gun, Doug Walker proves that speeders are poised to kill any child who walks near a school (Tuesday, WOWT), and the intrepid Carol Kloss serves up a plate of Restaurant Inspections! (Wednesday, KETV). We think it would be much catchier to call this segment, "Is there poop in your lunch?"

If that's not enough, there's always Pat Persaud's hard-hitting "What's Going Around" at 5 p.m. on Channel 6. We've always thought that, just for sweeps periods, instead of checking pediatricians' offices, Pat should go out and see what's being passed around at homeless shelters, bus stations, and methadone clinics. Or, for counterprogramming, Channel 7 could send the leather-jacketed Kloss to run a few tests on the bacteria in gas station restrooms. Shots of Pat actually touching a homeless person or brushing her teeth in the sink at the Kum 'n' Go? Now that's infotainment!

KYNE: Brain Food, Not Brain Candy

We were just talking a day or two ago about shining the spotlight on KYNE's "Consider This" program (hosted by news legend Carol Schrader) when we stumbled onto a rare World-Herald story about local TV--this one featuring the aforementioned Channel 26. Links to both follow...
Consider This
Public TV to Add More Local Fare (OWH)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

WOWT Offers Live-Stream of Callahan

In a new twist on "Signing Day" hype, WOWT offered a live-streaming broadcast of Husker coach Bill Callahan's 3 p.m. news conference today. Check out the whole 47-minute event. As Pat Persaud would robotically say, "we've built a link" below...
Reloading NU
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