Thursday, March 31, 2005

About Those Ads

Several of you have commented on the ads that have begun springing up on these pages in the past few weeks. We have adopted the ads in an attempt to support our humble effort here without being obnoxious. In all cases, we try to keep the ads from interfering with the content. We despise it, for example, when sites interrupt content with giant ads that force readers to scroll down the page to keep reading. We believe that the only time a reader should be required to scroll down is when the article extends beyond the range of the screen. So you won't see ads within the bodies of posts.

Additionally, we will only carry ads for specific products that we ourselves use and endorse. We use Apple products almost exclusively and encourage you to do the same. Apple's iTunes software runs on both Mac and Windows machines and we urge you to download the program and then partake heartily in downloading from the iTunes Music Store, preferably through this page. The same goes for Amazon. We've been Amazon customers since 1995 and have yet to be dissatisfied with the selection or the service.

As for Google ads, those we have less control over, but we love Google and will continue to run their ads as long as the advertisers they send us do not conflict violently with our tastes. In other words, if the Google folks get lax in their screening, their ads will disappear from our pages.

So, if you're in the market for an iPod or a Mac Mini, something from Amazon, or something you see in the Google ads (like Brother Sebastian's...mmmm....Brother Sebastian's), we'd appreciate your accessing them through our pages. Fair enough?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

PatWatch, Day 13: Omaha in Suspense

John Knicely has returned to Channel 6, while the soon-to-be-put-out-to-pasture Pat Persaud remains among the missing, with just 55 days left in her career. The panic in the streets is palpable. People all over town are asking, "Why isn't Pat talking about herpes and canker sores during dinner?"

Graphics Envy

We didn't catch Channel 7's 5 p.m. newscast, but two alert readers tipped us off to the station's new graphics package, a new sans-serif font in an obtrusive white and red stripe that consumes nearly a quarter of the screen. (We were able to see it on the 6 p.m. cast.) The new look is incorporated into the entire program, and isn't, at first blush, all that impressive. The unveiling comes on the heels of Channel 6's recently adopted weather graphics, which themselves look suspiciously like the ones Channel 3 has been using for a year or two.

Speaking of Channel 3, one of the same tipsters also notes that 7 has also dropped sports coverage from its 5 p.m. news, following KMTV's lead by two years. Since 2003, KM3 has eschewed the traditional sportscast, picking up sports stories only as needed. While the move seemed puzzling at first, it has allowed the station to increase its news coverage, rather than showing the endless stream of high school sports highlights that dominate the other stations' airtime.

And the trend is spreading. A San Diego station recently dropped its regular sportscast, citing the same desire to forego sports coverage (sports is something about 25% of viwers want) in favor of expanded news coverage. While that plan has yet to translate into big numbers increases for KM3, the fact that top-rated KETV is now emulating the tactic suggests that the "Clear, Accurate, To the Point" folks are onto something.

CORRECTION: We have subsequently been advised by several readers that Channel 7 dropped sports from its 5 p.m. newscast in 2002, before Channel 3 adopted its current approach. We apologize for our ignorance. —TB

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Shameless

Being Paul Baltes can't be easy tonight. Imagine going home at the end of your day, saying to yourself, "Today, I was able to exploit a woman's grief and get her to sob uncontrollably on camera. Then, to top it off, I managed to parlay all that sadness into a two or three minute story. Man, am I proud of my work!"

If you didn't see it, WOWT's 6 p.m. newscast featured Baltes interviewing the mother of 18-year-old Amanda Garcia, who was killed in a car crash yesterday. Garcia's infant daughter Evalin was injured in the crash, but survived. We can't imagine what the pretense of the interview was, but the story was little more than tape of a grief-stricken woman's misery and occasional shots of Baltes sitting on a nearby couch, apparently egging her on.

Can someone please explain what the news value of this story was? Instead of trying to skillfully weave the woman's remarks into a piece with some larger point, Baltes opted to take the easy route, using way more of the interview than was necessary or tasteful. When someone is that vulnerable, couldn't stations either keep a respectful distance, or, if invited in by the interviewees, use some discretion in what they air?

This story represents much of what's wrong with broadcast journalism today, and viewers in Omaha should demand better. Perhaps that's what they've been doing in relieving Channel 6 of its first-place position during the past two sweeps periods.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Not That We're Complaining

At the risk of jinxing a good thing, we'll mention that Pat Persaud has been absent from the anchor desk since March 17th, and that John Knicely's last appearance was on the 18th. We can understand that Knicely might be on vacation, but Pat? Her "retirement" is just 57 days away. How much rest can she need with that on the horizon?

But we're not griping. Every day that we're spared one of her "Family Health" reports is a gift. We never have figured out what gave Pat the impression that she is a health expert, but she should've been disabused of that notion years ago.

Speaking of disabusing anchors of notions, let's have someone at the Big Six talk with Tracy Madden about this "Our Heartland Children" business. In one spot, Tracy tells us that regularly reading to a child will make that child love reading, GUARANTEED.

That's pure bullshit, of course. Studies indicate that reading to a child tends to improve the child's attitude toward and proficiency in reading, but they make no mention of any "guarantee." In fact, we know of two particular youngsters (now in their teens) who were read to every night until they were well into elementary school who are capable-but-reluctant readers. What do the parents receive for this unfulfilled gurantee?

As Tracy approaches her coronation, she should regularly ask herself, "What would Pat do?" And then do the opposite. Because all we want is an anchor who dresses like a grownup (no red leather jackets or slinky-looking tops) and delivers the news in a clear, professional manner.

We don't want her to tell us how involved she is in the community. We don't want her to focus all her stories on her pet projects or interests. And under no circumstance do we want her to parade her kids onscreen at Christmastime or whenever there's a story about kids their age. We just want someone to gather the news, write it clearly, find video that adds to our understanding, and pleasantly read to us in a manner that resembles normal human speech.

We heart Tracy, but her continuing to lecture us on child-rearing is gonna wear thin mighty f-ing fast. If she's not careful, it won't be long until she finds herself writing "Tracy's Diary" entries for the WOWT website and being photographed giving some disabled kid the "thumbs up" sign. And that would be a shame for someone with so much going for her.

Chuck Thomas Dies at 84

Channel 6's first weathercaster, Chuck Thomas, died this past weekend at age 84. Complete WOWT story is here.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Morning Mystery Crew

Tuning in to Channel 3's morning newscast, we're never quite sure who we're going to see. Perhaps we're imagining it, but it seems that at least once a week, anchor Mary Williams (or, as she pronounces it, "Wee-yums") is MIA. Likewise, KMTV seems to play roulette when it comes to filling the morning weather chair. Friday, for example, we were (pleasantly) surprised to find our favorite pair o' SarahsSimmons and Walters—sitting in for Williams and meteorologist Charles Thongklin.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that there seems to be no consistent sub for Williams. Sometimes it's Simmons, but on other occasions, you'll find Michelle Bandur or Mary Nelson sitting in. There's no discernible pattern. If you're trying to build an audience, leaving viewers wondering who's gonna show up every morning isn't a very good idea, especially when neither 6 nor 7 ever seem to insert new faces into the morning mix.

KETV Claims Sweep in Sweeps

Channel 7 is claiming victory in all major newscasts in a statement released Friday afternoon.

Who You Callin' Ugly?

Earlier in the week, we linked to a story about the effect HDTV's sharper picture has on the perceived appearances of various stars. In the same post, we speculated as to the effect on local TV types, as did some of you in comments posted on this site. Now, we want to put it to a vote.

Between now and Monday at noon, send us an email telling which local TV folks you think will look better on HDTV and which ones you think will be more frightening. We'll compile the results and share them next week. If you hate typing in email addresses, just click here.

Previous Story: HDTV Ugly Stick?

The Jim Flowers Game

Anyone looking for a drinking game need look no further than Jim Flowers' weather segments on Channel 6. This time of year, nobody gets more stirred up about changing weather than Jimmy. And when Jimmy's excited, Jimmy loves to beat a phrase or two into a fine paste. So, to play the game, just take one sip every time Jimmy says one of these phrases:
• head into the
• for the balance of
• build in
• Let's go topside! (two sips for this one)

Be forewarned: even the heaviest of drinkers may pass out before Jimmy reveals his "extended forecast."

A similar game can be played when Scott Akin is on duty. Take a sip each time he mentions something being above or below average for this time of year. This, too, is a game that must be played with great caution as these can pile up pretty fast.

Next to Hydrogen, the Most Common Element in the Universe is Stupidity


Proving once and for all that what God gives with one hand, he takes away with the other, Channel 6 this week helped relieve our PFS (Persaud Fatigue Syndrome) by giving John and PP the week off AND giving us Tracy Madden in their absence. Unfortunately, with Tracy came that dim bulb, Brian Mastre, who appears to have studied Pat's ad-lib technique all too closely.

Viewers were treated to two delightful examples of those finely-honed skills on Thursday's broadcasts. After Dave Webber rolled tape of a batter being called out because his thrown bat hit the ball in fair territory (an almost unheard-of occurrence), Mastre, for at least the second time this week, demonstrated his intricate knowledge of sports, telling Dave, "I don't think he did that on purpose." Pro that he is, Webber, looking a bit baffled by the remark, managed to chuckle his way out of the segment.

Then, coming out of Jim Flowers' StormTracker SkyVision Double-Dog-Diggity Super-Duper Precision Doppler forecast, Mastre said the snow Jim was predicting would be "scenic." Madden, apparently unable to restrain herself, turned sharply and blurted out "It's March!" and with her look seemed to add, "You Idiot!"

This is what we're talking about when we say the Big Six is sorely in need of some new male on-air talent.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Satellhype Photography

There's not much that we feel warrants comment today, but we do have one question that's been nagging us: Is WOWT's "Neighborhood Tracker" as overblown as we think it is? From what we can tell, the Big Six has purchased a high-resolution satellite image of Omaha, which it then zooms in on and/or decorates as a substitute for actually going out and getting information. Sometimes, we get the feeling that the goal of management over there is to eventually produce a totally content-free newscast. Things like the "Neighborhood Tracker" certainly move the whole operation in that direction.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

HDTV Ugly Stick?


Check out this article on the effects of HDTV on various stars' appearances. Some look better, it says, but in other cases, the increased clarity reveals some scary features on famous faces. Our question, of course, is what it does to local personalities. (Insert a name and shudder here.)

WeatherHype

lather over the possibilities that lurk just beyond the horizon. Off all last week, Flowers burst back onto our screens this week looking giddy about each forecast and doing some serious jonesin' for his new graphicsSpring is here and with it comes the annual ritual of watching WOWT Chief Meteorologist work himself into a package.

Nearly every weather segment now features the excitable Mr. F. bleating "Let's go topside!" (which, we're guessing Mrs. Flowers has heard more than a couple of times) and demonstrating his prowess with his new friends on the green screen. Viewers of yesterday's Live at Five were treated to the sight of Jimmy massaging an enormous blue button that was supposed to represent and transform itself magically into Regency. But no matter how much Jimmy fiddled with it, it just wouldn't cooperate. (He'd let us see that on a later newscast, he assured us, as if we were all crestfallen at miscue.)

Combined with an ever-growing list of confusing names for various features (we now have a "SkyVision" forecast, to go along with SkyTrackers, WeatherTrackers, Precision Outlooks, Upfront Forecasts, the Weather Where You Live, and Precision Doppler 6000), Flowers' endless babbling and an assortment of irrelevant maps make the Channel 6 weather both over-long and tedious to watch. Seriously, does it really matter that it's 34 in Beatrice and only 32 in Norfolk? Is anyone in Florence thinking about moving because it's 53 there, but 55 in Papillion?

Just give us the damned forecast and cut the crap.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

It's Not a Local Story, but...

Are we the only ones who think it was time about a week ago for TV outlets to stop with the almost pornographic use of Terri Schiavo video? Given the almost constant use of the footage on v-rolls for the past week or so, is there anyone left who doesn't know what she looks like?

Continuing to run it so gratuitously is obscene. Just because you have the video, that doesn't mean you're required to show it. Ditto when it comes to sound bites of the husband and family. We've heard everything they have to say. If they come up with something new, let us know. Othewise, there's gotta be something else to talk about.

Covering The Talking Picture Box

One of the main reasons that OMA News even exists is that Omaha's daily newspaper fails to provide regular local coverage of what it seems to consider this new medium called "tele-vision." Omaha has had stations up and running since the late 1940s. Were the paper to look into it, we're reasonably certain they'd find that many of us now own and watch these new machines and that there are story ideas to be found on the programs and personalities involved. While we realize that Harold Andersen and the boys initially wanted to wait 50 or so years to see if this newfangled gadget was really gonna catch on, it's probably time to assume that it's here to stay.

Therefore, we now present our brief list of things the paper could do to improve its television coverage.

1. Bring back Tom Shales' column. Shales is widely regarded as the best TV critic there is, which makes his disappearance from the paper a few years back hard to explain. His column, syndicated by the Washinton Post, offers insightful critiques on new programming and relevant commentary on the medium itself. His work can be savage when necessary (and we've yet to see him let someone have it who didn't have it coming), but also remarkably touching. His tributes following the deaths of Jack Paar and Johnny Carson, for example, struck just the right chord, as have his recent columns on the hubub surrounding Dan Rather. Returning Shales to the Living section on a regular basis would go a long way toward giving the paper some credibility when it comes to media coverage.

2. Hire a TV columnist. How much do we need to say about this? Betweeen covering local stations' efforts and weighing in on network and cable offerings, there is plenty to keep someone busy. Omaha should be sending someone to the "fall schedule" rollouts held for critics each May in Los Angeles. The same could be said for the Emmys. And, as we think we've demonstrated here, God knows there's plenty to discuss when it comes to what's going on at 3, 6, 7, 15, 26, and 42. If you can run columns on technology and getting stains out of the carpet, it shouldn't be much of a stretch to think somebody ought to be writing about television.

3. Rely less on seemingly random features like "TV Q&A." Items 1&2 should help with this. Sure, there's someone in Dallas who wants to know if there any plans to market DVDs of "Sheriff Lobo," but most readers here can probably live without the answer.

Monday, March 21, 2005

GraphicTracker 6000

Channel 6 unveiled a new set of weather graphics Monday. The main changes appear to be a more muted shade of blue and a new font. At first glance, they appear to be a hybrid of those already in use at Channel 3 and on the Weather Channel®. No matter how pretty the pictures, however, Jeff Jensen is still Jeff Jensen, and Michael Born is still Michael Born.

That Explains the Hairy Palms

We never considered Brian Mastre athletic, but now we're pretty sure he doesn't even follow sports. While rolling footage of a high school player making a last-second shot from a sitting position, the oddly-coiffed anchor of Channel 6's Live at 4 explained that the young man shot while seated because he didn't have time to get to his feet. Now even the most casual basketball fan (and we count ourselves among this group) knows that "getting to his feet" would've constituted a traveling violation and prevented him from shooting at all. Maybe all that time learning to speak Klingon wasn't so well-spent after all.

And Now for Something Totally New and Different

That bastion of serious journalism and the region's Opinion Leader, Omaha's daily newspaper, has gone out on a limb and declared itself AGAINST METH in today's editions (registration required). Now that's leadership. [OWH]

(We know this really has nothing to do with local TV news, but it seems like the bold journalistic stand we usually associate with "For What It's Worth.")

Another Thousand Words



We are without speech. Socially acceptable speech, anyway. All we can think of is an Onion headline: "Local Community Transformed By Television Station's Caring." We're pretty sure we'll go straight to Hell if we offer any further comment.

Weekend Notes

Gerrish Resurfaces: Courny Gerrish fans must've breathed a sigh of relief Sunday afternoon when the WOWT anchor/reporter reappeared next to Paul Baltes after more than two weeks of absence. We had already prepared a piece asking if her disappearance signalled yet another departure from the Big Six when, lo and behold, there she was.

The Tiniest Weathercaster: No it's not a children's book title. For some reason, a comment on one recent post inquired about the height of KPTM meteorologist Dean Wysocki. When no one responded, the poster's husband asked again. Now, the mystery is solved: Dean himself responded that he is 5'8" in heels, whatever that means. An OMA News operative attending the severe weather symposium in Lincoln on Saturday reports, however, that KMTV morning weatherguy Charles Thongklin is no more than 5'6" and that his Channel 3 co-worker, Sarah Walters, is approximately the same size. Maybe we should start a chart listing heights and weights of Omaha's TV types. Then again, maybe not.

Me Wan' Go Home: It's time for someone to ask what KETV was thinking in allowing Suzanne Deyo to replace Pamela Jones at the weekend anchor desk. Deyo replaced the perky Jill Cordes at the morning desk when Cordes left for the Food Network, and the result was not good. One would think that Channel 7 management would have learned from that. Deyo is essentially Andrea McMaster without the appealing smile: uninflected delivery, little to no spontanaeity, and general cluelessness about what she's reading. Thinking that she was up to replacing Jones was even more delusional than thinking she could replace Cordes, and less excusable, since 7's bosses knew what they were getting.

Tag Teaming: Speaking of McMaster, viewers of WOWT's Saturday afternoon public service program "Heartland Focus" were no doubt surprised to see new lead anchor Tracy Madden sitting in with Andrea on Saturday's show, which highlighted programs of the Child Saving Institute. The pairing was awkward, at best. The whole arrangement smacked of a big sister assigned to keep an eye on a younger sibiling. Seeing the two of them ganging up to pepper CSI's Wendy Hostetter with questions about dealing with infants and toddlers made it look like Hostetter had been called to the principal's office. At one point, apparently out of questions, Madden and McMaster stared at each other for a second or two before deciding to move to a new topic.

Part of a Maloricious Breakfast: Sunday morning viewers of Channel 6 got a pleasant surprise, waking up to the sunny smile of weekday anchor Malorie Maddox instead of the labored reading of McMaster. What a breath of fresh air, not having to hear about this or that "organ-I-zation," or an "im-por-Tant" development.

Friday, March 18, 2005

All Those Letters Are Soooo Confusing

One of our regular readers, who goes by the name "Bandit," reports that KETV anchor Elictia Hammond (pronounced, believe it or not, uh-LEE-sha) this morning kept referring to the NCAA basketball tournament as the "NAACP" tourney.

She scares us. It's just plain scary to flip on the TV first thing in the morning and have that staring back at you. We can only imagine how dispiriting it must've been to interview applicants for this position if she's the one who GOT the job.

Assorted Qs & As

Some of the more frequent questions we’ve fielded since we began this little experiment a month or two ago…

Q: Why do you pick on Channel 6 so much?
A: For a couple of reasons. First, Channel 6 has led the ratings for a long time now, although they’ve faced stiffer competition of late. Not only that, but it seems pretty clear that they’ve traditionally had a bigger budget to work with. With those advantages, they should be cranking out a top-notch product.

But it isn’t happening. As we’ve noted several times, the "news" portions of the 6 and 10 p.m. casts have become creatively lifeless, sloppily executed, crutch-laden orgies of mediocrity that almost always degenerate into idiotic giggle-fests by the time they’re over. It’s mind-numbing to watch, and there’s no excuse for it in a market this size.

Second, because WOWT airs more news programming than anyone else in town (not to mention round-the-clock repeats on Cox’s Channel 1), there are both more opportunities to sample their product and more material to draw from.

Q: Why do you pick on Travis Justice so much?
A: Our first inclination was to answer, “Why wouldn’t we pick on him so much?” And we forget what our second inclination was.

Q: Seriously, don’t you have anything positive to say about him?
A: Actually, we do. He does a good job on sports, particularly on a couple of recent assignments. The first was the live show he did from St. Louis a week or two ago when Creighton was in the midst of the Missouri Valley men’s basketball tournament. Such broadcasts are difficult to pull off, and this one was very well done and reflected a good deal of serious effort.

The second was his live coverage immediately following the Jays’ victory in the championship game of the same tourney. In both cases, he was able to get interviews with the right people and then ask the right questions.

What we have problems with is KM3’s sticking him in our faces every night to hold forth on everything from Omaha’s annexation fight with Elkhorn to Dan Rather’s retirement. Every time we hear him say, “Here’s what I think,” we want to call KMTV General Manager Jim McKernan and scream “WHAT MAKES YOU THINK WE GIVE A SHIT WHAT TRAVIS THINKS?!”

What’s saddest about the whole arrangement is that this one segment completely obscures the rest of what has become a pretty high-quality newscast. We come away from each viewing so irritated by “For What It’s Worth” that it’s hard to remember anything else we’ve seen. We can only wonder how long it will take McKernan to give up on his ill-conceived brainchild.

For what it's worth, we think Channel 3 needs to find a way to make better use of him on sports assignments, or even spot reporting, and have him save his opinions for Todd 'n' Tyler.

Q: You seem to enjoy complaining about bad TV news, so why haven't you had a field day with KPTM?
A: Remember how we said WOWT, with its big budget, owed viewers a better product? Well, think of KPTM as the reverse of that. Honestly, what is their annual budget for news at 42? It can't be more than like $800, and at least half of that goes toward maintenance on the cage where they keep J.J. Davis at night. Most of their equipment appears to have been procured at garage sales and swap meets, and the INS should investigate the whole ooperation to make sure that their on-air staff isn't a bunch of illegal Canadian immigrants who are being used as news slaves.

It just doesn't strike us as fair to pick on them too much, given that Poopass Telecasting or whoever owns the station doesn't give them the resources to produce a respectable cable-access show, let alone a nightly hour-long commercial newscast. Picking on KPTM is like shooting fish in a barrel; it's just too easy. One reader has dubbed 42 the "Island of Misfit Newspeople," which we can't argue with. But they appear to be doing the best they can given what little they have to work with.

If we're going to pick on someone, it would be Poopass, which has landed itself not one, but TWO bargain-priced licenses in the past two decades, has milked them for millions in revenue, but has yet to plow any discernible amount back into improving the quality of its local product (i.e., the equipment and personnel comparable to those at competing stations). Call us old-fashioned, but we still believe that companies granted such licenses should be required to operate them, as per their agreements, in the public interest. Re-runs of "Will & Grace," "King of Queens," and "Just Shoot Me" aren't exactly on par with the 20+ hours of local news that Channels 3, 6, and 7 each produce every week.

Q: C'mon, really—what did Pat Persaud do to you to earn such wrath?
A: Honest, we don't even know Pat. We think we saw her shopping at Homer's once, about 15 years ago; other than that, zip. We're just sick to death of seeing her and all the mindless crap she's so mechanically churned out over the years.

See, we subscribe to the David Letterman school of thought, which says that TV requires concentrated effort if it's to be done well, and that (as corny as it may sound) the institution itself deserves the honest effort and respect of those who have the privilege of working on it.

Wonder why Letterman still nurses a grudge against Leno? It's not that Leno slithered in and stole "Tonight" out from under him; he probably got over that two or three hundred million dollars ago. What seems to piss Letterman off is that Leno has cheapened the Tonight Show as an institution with his robo-joke delivery and by squeezing it in around his 300 stand-up appearances a year, as if it were just another comedy club gig.

That same line of thinking drives our disdain for Persaud's work. For years now, she has failed to respect the medium, and, in turn, her audience by looking like an apathetic, bumbling hack—one who usually seems to be thinking, "Just let me read what I have to read, get my check, and go home."

Television and the audience deserve better.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Worth a Thousand Words

We're having quite a bit of fun with the Carol Schrader Shrine we mentioned a couple of days ago. We particularly like the photo gallery, which features lots of screencaps of Carol during her days at Channel 7.

A game that you might want to play with the kids and neighbors tonight is one we call "Name This Photo." The rules are simple: Look at the picture and give it a funny title. Funniest title wins, although anyone writing a title that causes another player lose bowel or bladder control automatically advances to the championship round.

Here's one we especially like:



We call it, "Carol nervously grabs the arm of her chair as a young Lee Terry purrs seductively and rubs his thigh."

Zounds! OWH Does It Again!

Something weird is going on downtown. Kim Roberts-Gudeman writes about the new HDTV truck being used by Nebraska's public television outfit, now called NET. This is twice this month that Omaha's daily paper has mentioned local TV. Harold Andersen is so gonna freak out. [OWH]

Weather Junkie Alert

Sarah Walters, Channel 3 meterologist extraordinaire, will be among those presenting at Saturday's Central Plains Severe Weather Symposium at Lincoln East High School (70th & O, Lincoln). Walters' 15-minute presentation is entitled, "We interrupt this broadcast, Responding to the May 22, 2004 Tornado Outbreak" and is scheduled for 9:45 a.m.

Also scheduled to present are 3's Charles Thongklin, KETV Chief Meteorologist Bill Randby, and KMTV's former chief weatherwatcher, Mark Lee, who now works for a Maryland outfit called Weatherbug.

In addition to formal presentations, the event will feature exhibits, storm spotter training, and a three-hour opportunity (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) to meet virtually every Omaha TV weathercaster. If anyone hears Jim Flowers say anything resembling "Oke-ily doke-ily," please notify us immediately.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

In Which the Writers Extol the Virtues of Ms. Madden and Offer a Bit of Unsolicited Advice to Her Pinhead Boss(es)

In an effort to be positive about what’s going on at WOWT, let us focus for a moment on Tracy Madden. As we’ve already noted, we couldn’t be more happy with her promotion to lead female anchor at the Big Six. And it appears to suit her well, too. In the weeks since the announcement that she’d be “movin’ on up,” Madden appears to be absolutely glowing.

Don’t misunderstand: It’s not that she wasn’t already doing a fine job, but we’ve always felt she labored in the shadow of Queen Pat and that the station failed to showcase her properly. However, viewers these days are seeing a Tracy who looks more relaxed and confident than ever before. Whereas Pat comes across as aloof and arrogant, Tracy has always exuded warmth and accessibility, and those qualities are even more in evidence lately.

If Channel 6 learned anything from the PP experience, it should be that it’s possible to overexpose and burn out an anchor. Delivering three or four newscasts a day for ten years cannot be easy, and we’d like to believe that explains, at least partially, Pat’s diminishing performance over the past several years. The workload, combined with the overexposure, seems to have left her with nothing to say and us with little patience for her.

That lesson should not be lost on station management. As we asserted shortly after the announcement, this period is one of opportunity for the station. Instead of repeating the mistake and running Tracy into the ground, WOWT would be wise to exercise restraint in using her and set a pace that will allow her to thrive over the long haul. One way of doing that would be to move current morning anchor Malorie Maddox into the 4 and 5 p.m. newscasts and save Tracy for 6 and 10. (This would also allow Tracy to devote more time to her aging husband, Ed McMahon, who we understand recently took a tumble in their Los Angeles home.)

Using its strong bench to lighten the load on its lead female anchor would be a smart use of resources. Just as importantly, it might induce Maddox—the brightest new talent to hit Omaha in years—to extend her stay here. Such an arrangement would still leave Courtny Gerrish and Rebecca Kleeman to divvy up weekend evening and weekday morning anchor chores, and we can hope that the anchor/reporter who fills the vacancy created by PP’s departure might be used to replace the pleasant-but-dreadful Andrea McMaster on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

With its female lineup set, the bigwigs at the Big Six should then turn their attention to shoring up their male staff, which is not nearly so deep. John Knicely, while a serviceable anchor, will never be mistaken Tom Brokaw or Bryant Gumbel when it comes to intellect. Like Persaud, he suffers from a tendency, albeit somewhat less pronounced, to read news without seeming to understand it. If the station plans to keep him, it would be wise to reduce his workload, too. Morning anchor Trey Jones is the obvious choice to move to an afternoon/evening assignment. He has the tools for the job and, like Maddox, is more likely to remain in the market if he has a prime assignment.

Beyond Jones, however, the cupboard is pretty bare when it comes to male talent. Brian Mastre has always seemed like fish out of water on air, not to mention a perfect candidate for David Letterman’s “Hairpiece/Not a Hairpiece?” game. Paul Baltes, from what we’ve seen so far, is still recovering from charisma bypass surgery, as is Brian New. Gary Smollen, for whatever reason, usually looks more like he’s part of a hostage video than a news story. And Doug Walker sports not just a great radio face, but also a voice better suited to reading the noon farm report on KMA in Shenandoah.

In short, WOWT needs to do some serious cultivation or recruiting of male anchor/ reporters. If Knicely would happen to break a leg or Jones had an anvil dropped on his head, the Big Six would be hurtin’ for certain.

Even a Stopped Clock Is Right Twice a Day

At first, we thought we'd overmedicated ourselves. Then we thought, "Hmm. Smells like an approaching apocalypse." Finally we decided that it was just a matter of the planets lining up just right. Whatever the explanation, we're compelled to admit that last night's 10 o'clock news on Channel 6 was pretty good, at least from the story standpoint.

First, there was Gary Johnson's report on lobbyists. In particular, he drew attention to the fact that three former speakers of the legislature are making ridiculous amounts of money lobbying their former colleagues. The most recent speaker, Curt Bromm, who, as a senator, pushed a bill barring former lawmakers from lobbying for at least a year after leaving office, was shown back-pedaling from that position. It turns out that he's only been out of office since January and is making something like $21,000 a MONTH as a lobbyist. What balls. But kudos to Johnson; it was real journalism! Why don't we see more of him and less in the way of "Family Health" and dancing monkey stories?

Then there was Doug Walker's story about city ordinances on pet licensing, one that provided useful info about the cost of missing the deadline for getting tags on little Snowball or Fifi. Not only was it practical, it was timely (barely), in that the cutoff was midnight last night. Our only gripe is that during the obligatory live shot, we could barely hear Dougie over a blaring police scanner. Doesn't that thing have a volume control knob? Or is the person assigned to monitor it hard of hearing? In either case, there must've been a better location for the scanner or the report.

Now, those of you who watched know that Pat predictably followed one of these stories with her "reporting live" crutch. We've come to the conclusion that she's pathologically incapable of breaking this habit and is unmotivated to do so with just 70 days left in her career. But we have to wonder: Do you suppose she says it after she finishes a phone call at home? ("My neighbor, Doris, reporting live! Now what should I have for lunch?")

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Dead Fish, Live at 4

Yes, Pat sat in for Tracy today at 4, but that's not what we're referring to. This comes from one of our more alert regular readers...
"This just in from the Heartland's news leader:
FRESH ALASKA SABLEFISH.. 10.99 A POUND AT CHUBB'S..
"

A station that spends as much money as Channel 6 does on its news operation ought to be able to come up with better than this. If, as the same reader suggests, the stores pay for these mentions, then the Big Six should be upfront about that. But maybe if you consider reporting grocery prices to be journalism, then your interpretation of ethical conduct is similarly broad.

Maybe Reading the Script in Advance Would Help. Then Again...

Either baffled by an unfamiliar word or showing the consequences of not reading her copy in advance, AARP-member-to-be Pat Persaud Monday night informed viewers that Wayne Richard McGuire had been convicted of murdering Dian Fossey "in [ad-STEN-sha]" (that's in absentia for those of you who expect a newscaster with 20+ years of experience to be able to pronounce things properly).

Gazing into that teleprompter each night must be like a box of chocolates for Queen Pat, because she never seems to know what she's gonna get. We are reminded of Les Nessman reading his station's airborne banner on-air as his employer prepared to bomb the Pinedale Shopping Mall with live turkeys: "It says 'Happy Thanksgiving from W (pause) K (pause) R (pause) P!'"

We just keep repeating to ourselves, "Only 71 more days, only 71 more days, only 71 more days..."

Monday, March 14, 2005

A Walk Down Amnesia Lane

What fortuitous timing. Just when Pat Persaud's impending grand sendoff was reminding us of the unceremonious dismissals of a couple of news legends—WOWT's Gary Kerr and KETV's Carol Schrader—what do we stumble upon but a site maintained by an, ahem, ardent Schrader fan? Dubbed, accurately if not creatively, the Carol Schrader Shrine, the site offers screencaps of Schrader going back as far as the 80s, if the hairstyles are any indication. [Editor's Note: If you can't link to the site, you're not alone. Since posting the link, the site is only sporadically available, sometimes directing visitors to a "temporarily unavailable" message. But the site is there, we swear, and it's worth a look.]


For those of you who don't know her, Schrader was a longtime anchor at Channel 7—a true pioneer woman at the anchor desk back in the "Ron Burgundy" era portrayed in "Anchorman." An Omaha native and UNO grad, she started out at KLNG newsradio in the mid-70s before joining KETV as a reporter. By the mid-80s, she was anchoring the evening news with the late Ted Mullins. Among her other co-anchors were Michael Scott, the creepy short-timer Daniel Plante, and current KETV anchor Rob McCartney.

Her tenure at Channel 7 came to an abrupt end in 1997, when she was elbowed aside in favor of Julie Cornell, who, while perky then, has degenerated into a tired-looking shadow of her former self and shows little interest in real news. While little was said publicly at the time, it was widely believed that management delivered an escalating series of slights to Schrader that culminated in her angry resignation. She subsequently worked as news director and morning news anchor at KFAB radio for a year and now hosts Consider This, a weeky public affairs interview show on KYNE.

As for Kerr, he anchored Channel 6's evening newscasts from the early 1970s until the mid 90s, when he, too, was cashiered in favor of younger players, most notably sports-anchor-turned-news-reader John Kniceley. As Sean Weide pointed out in a recent edition of The Reader, Kerr got nothing like the trumped-up "retirement" gush-fest that the station seems to be planning for Queen Pat. Instead, he was simply told one day that he was done. And then he disappeared. It was a grave disservice to the station's viewers, and an insult to a real newsman who had given the station close to 30 years of service.

Incidentally, both Kerr and Schrader remain active members of the Omaha Press Club, which stages its annual benefit show (supporting journalism scholarships) this Friday and Saturday at the Rose Blumkin Performing Arts Center. Schrader is reported to be in the cast of this year's send up of local politicos.

No More Big Squash Jokes

Okay, so we were out of town Thursday night/Friday and took the weekend off. We received an email this afternoon from one reader who claims to be suffering from withdrawl. It's nice to be missed. Here are a few miscellaneous items littering the desktop today...

•••

A belated thanks to Sean Weide of The Reader, whose “Media Notes” column last week mentioned our humble effort here for the second time in three weeks. In the previous week’s edition, Sean provided the only known report on Amy Jocius’ move from KETV to KPTM and KPTM’s newest reporter/anchor. We’d “build a link” to the column on this page, but—much to our chagrin—it’s not online. Pick up a copy today or tomorrow, before the new edition hits the stands.

•••

In the several years since its inception, Channel 6’s weekend morning newscasts have included any number of timekillers, and few seemed more useless than the “In Case You Missed It” feature. In case you’ve managed to miss it, “ICYMI” recycles a story aired earlier in the week. Until now, we couldn’t figure out who, exactly, would benefit from this, but now we know: It’s us!

As noted in a post last Thursday, we weren’t able to catch Rebecca Kleeman’s investigation into “Mega-Sized Fruits and Vegetables.” We considered ourselves lucky to receive several readers’ accounts of the piece via email (see upcoming post). But we felt even luckier Sunday morning when robo-reader Andrea McMaster intro’d the story…in case we’d missed it! (Apparently they were out of stories about sandwiches that resemble the cast of “The Golden Girls.”)

As far as we know, this is the first instance of anyone being grateful for “In Case You Missed It.” And remember, you read about it here first.

•••

Now to the big carrot story. Several readers sent in their views regarding this latest Channel 6 contribution to the anals, er, um, annals of broadcast journalism. Highlights of those accounts:

• “What the hell does Kleeman mean when she talks about that kid noticing the “bright shapes”? Does she mean bright colors? Doesn’t anyone ever edit anything at that station?

• “Thank God Pat didn't say her ‘reporting live’ line.” [Editor’s Note: She didn’t say it?! Good gravy! Can anyone remember the last time that happened?]

• “You talk about how bad the on-air talent is in handling these stories, but what about the people behind the scenes? Isn’t there an assignment editor? Who came up with this as a story? He or she should be fired.”

• “Is it just me, or does channel six find some of the dumbest people possible to interview?” [Editor’s Note: It’s not so much that they interview dumb people so much as the fact that they use whatever the dumb person says, regardless of whether it adds to the story.]

• On one interviewee: "Mullet alert! Mullet alert! Mullet alert!"

• "The one thing they failed to even mention, probably the most important piece of this story, were the side effects and possible health risks of genetically enhanced, enlarged fruit. Thanks channel 6 for once again giving us half the story and blowing an endless supply of sunshine up our asses."

• "This wasn’t’ a story, it was just a lot of filler. Nothing startling, like 'they’ve been exposed to massive doses of radiation,' just 'they’re the product of careful breeding.' Big deal. That’s like reporting that advertising is the product of careful research. Everybody knows it so shut up already. The problem at six is that nobody in charge seems to have a clue. Sure Jon and Pat suck, but they have a boss, don’t they? Shouldn’t he be helping them get better?"

• "The capper was the live shot, which we knew was live because of the sweet graphic, of Rebecca from the kitchen at 6 showing us how to recrisp our giant celery. She looked like she was hoping for an in-studio drive-by just to get out of the story."

Yeah, you've gotta think she was pretty much hating her life at that moment. Thanks to all who emailed their descriptions of the story. We try to watch this crap so you won't have to.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Separated at Birth? Trois


We're enjoying this feature more than is probably healthy.

Separated at Birth? Part 2


WOWT's Malorie Maddox and Olympic Softballer Jennie Finch.
A much more pleasant pair than we featured in Part 1, doncha think?



But we still want more cowbell.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Calling in the Reinforcements

Unfortunately, we will be out of town for tonight's hard-hitting exposé on big fat tomatoes and oranges on the Big Six, and we forgot to set our recorder before we left. So if any of you are willing to send us your review of Rebecca Kleeman's groundbreaking report, we'd be most grateful to receive your email. We will credit you, or you may remain anonymous; it's entirely your call. (That, by the way, is always the policy here, regardless of the subject.)

We think the brain-trust at 6 should've promo'd this with something like, "If you see just one really stupid news story this year, you won't want to miss this one..." We only wish we could've been in the meeting that produced this as a story idea. Or seen the look on poor Rebecca's face when she drew the short straw and got this assignment. ("C'mon you guys, can't Malorie do this one? I've been here longer!") She's gotta be hoping like hell that a tape or DVD of this thing doesn't surface when she's trying to get a job somewhere else down the road.

Anyway, if you can help, just drop us an email at omanews@hotmail.com. And happy veggie viewing!

Retirement Watch: 76 Lethargic Days Left

As nice as it is to know that there's an end in sight, we can't help but wish Pat Persaud could speed this whole "retirement" process up a bit. Watching her stumble her way through the 10 o'clock news feels even more excruciating than usual. Why? Consider these examples from Wednesday night's ordeal:
• When blandmaster Brian Mastre noted that paramedics had assisted a pregnant woman caught in a traffic backup following a police pursuit, Pat invoked her favorite adjective, "amazing," in response. To make matters worse, she followed that meaningless comment with another old favorite: "Brian Mastre, reporting live."
• Displaying her dazzling writing skills, she capped a story on an Elkhorn businessman's protest banner by telling us that, "People are showing their support for his signs by honking and waving as they drive by." KM3's Sarah Simmons did a story featuring the very same man and was able to resist the urge to share this worthless piece of information. (Note to Pat: This is called editing. It involves cutting out information that isn't essential to the story. It takes place when you're writing your copy, before you go on the air. You should try it sometime.)
• Pat also stunned viewers with a story on rising gas prices, noting that "because many items are carried over the road, we can expect to see higher prices on goods and services." Really? How many hours of research do you suppose it took her to craft that little economics lesson?
• Guess what Pat said when Andrea McMaster finished an in-studio follow-up to a story on a suspected murderer? Yep, "Andrea McMaster, reporting live." (Note to Pat, Part 2: GIVE IT A REST! We can see Andrea in the same frickin' shot with you, so WE KNOW SHE'S REPORTING LIVE. We agree with one of our readers, who commented that every time you say that, he wants to stick a fork in his ear. Would it be so hard to just leave it at "Thanks, Andrea"?)
• Combine Pat's imbecillic remarks with her delivery, which suggests she's reading all her copy cold, and it's hard to believe we're in Omaha and not some market a third the size.

Either no one at the Big Six has been alerting her to her dismal performance for the past five or six years (in which case, her superiors should've been punished) or she's been ignoring the advice (in which case, she should've been fired). Whichever is true, it'd be nice if one of these parties would at least pretend to give a shit between now and the end of May.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

You Know What They Say About a Man with Big Vegetables

Okay, perhaps we're being too hard on the Big Six for its inexplicable interest in freakishly large fruits and vegetables.

To make amends, we offer this site, which features the photo at left. The caption reads, "Anthony Joy shows his giant zucchini to Augie Iannello."

Our favorite part of the accompanying story? "The zucchini that Tony is holding is 66 inches long. It doesn’t quite make a world record."

No, of course it doesn't. Omaha viewers recall that the record is 67.25 inches, set by Jim Flowers during an outbreak of tornadic activity in 2003.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Sweeps Droppings

It appears that Channels 6 and 7 are picking up ideas rejected during February sweeps and running with them now. What else could explain WOWT's dispatching Rebecca Kleeman to investigate "Mega-Sized Fruits and Vegetables!"? Or KETV's decision to have Carol Kloss don her leather coat to find out why Baker's Supermarket rejected some woman's $400 check?

So flabbergasted were we by the Channel 6 promo that we didn't even catch when the Kleeman story is airing. Maybe it's tonight. Old Leatherjacket went charging into Baker's last night at 10.

Honest-to-God, we can't figure out what the hell these people are thinking. Is someone at Channel 6 actually in possession of research that suggests viewers want more stories about ENORMOUS PRODUCE? Is there really someone out there who sees this promo and says, "It's about goddammed time somebody blew the lid off the giant-turnip problem in this country!"? Or should we read something Freudian into this sudden interest in large cucumbers?

And why does it take Kloss to call a store and ask why a check was rejected? Are people so helpless that they call TV stations whenever they experience frustration? ("Yeah, Channel 7? Um, I can't get this pickle jar open; could you send a reporter over to help me out, please?")

Just think of the race to get there if the pickles were REALLY BIG!

The more we see of these nonsense pieces and the hype that accompanies them, the more we think Channel 3 is onto something in its refusal to do stories like this. Take away the blowhard opinionizer (whose name we are sick of typing) and KMTV's newscast looks better than it has in years. Freed from the obligatory sports segment (do we really need to see footage of another high school game?), Greg Peterson and company deliver more news, in a more straightforward manner, than any other Omaha station.

For our money, Peterson is the best evening anchor in town, and meterologist Ryan McPike is affable enough. Co-anchor Deb Ward is adequate, if not outstanding, and is still better than her counterparts at 6 and 7 (although that will change with Tracy Madden's ascension in May). Whether you choose Channel 6 or Channel 3 probably comes down to whether you'd rather watch five minutes of inanity about big vegetables or five minutes of opinion from a big tool. Tough call.

Monday, March 07, 2005

While We Were Enjoying the Weather

Odds and ends that came to our attention this weekend…

Just 79 Days to Go: Friday night’s “Six Online,” WOWT’s weekly feature allowing idiots to spout off (not to be confused with KMTV's nightly slot featuring a salaried idiot) concluded with a replay of and viewer reaction to Pat Persaud’s “retirement” announcement. Not surprisingly, the two comments making it to air gushed about how much they love Pat, with one woman even confessing that she cried right along with Pat. Excuse our barf. If it’s all the same to the folks at 35th and Farnam, we’d prefer not to know what people are doing while they’re watching.

And Patton Makes 3: Channel 3’s new weekend lineup now looks to be the strongest in town, with the addition of Devon Patton to the anchor desk. He joins the splendid Sarah Simmons, who has been anchoring the Saturday and Sunday night casts for a couple of years now, and Sarah Walters, our favorite weathercaster. KMTV’s trio runs rings around the other three stations’ in-studio lineups.

Trouble Getting It Up: Speaking of weekend crews, Channel 7’s outperformed Channel 6 when it came to covering the Pottawattamie County brush fire on Sunday afternoon. Anchor Paul Baltes said high winds kept WOWT from getting its antenna up, leaving the station with only Brian New’s cellphone report on its 5 p.m. cast. Meanwhile, KETV’s live truck suffered from no such embarrassing dysfunction; operating in the same wind, Tom Elser did a stand-up just minutes later from in front of the blaze. Nothing like gettin' caught with your antenna down.

Friday, March 04, 2005

A Lazy Friday: Sorting the Mail

And now, as a public service, we scrounge through the mail and comment bag to engage with our readership in a thoughtful exchange of views about the local TV scene…

One Anonymous reader writes, Let me say that your column about Pat Persaud is the most mean-spirited piece of writing that I have ever seen. Im trying to figure out what type of person would write that garbage. My guess is you are a former Channel Six employee. Perhaps you even had a run-in with Pat at some time and now in your cowarwdly way you are trying to get even.

If this is the most mean-spirited thing you’ve ever seen, then you’ve apparently not read very much. Not that that surprises us. But we digress. We do not, in fact, know Pat, except from what we've seen on TV. But if we're reading you correctly, it sounds as if one can only develop a true dislike for her work if one knows her personally. We'll take your word for it.

Another reader, also Anonymous, asks, Is Tracy [Madden] raising these kids herself? Why doesn't anyone, including the wonderful folks at WOWT, mention that she has a husband?? Get over the fact that he works for a KETV!

Oh great—Now everybody knows, blabbermouth! We had been playing along with the conspiracy because we preferred to believe that she was sending us discreet love messages in morse code via her eyeblinks. (For example, we thought that her references to "Our Heartland Children" were to OUR Heartland Children.) But now that you’ve shattered that illusion, we might as well shout it to the world: TRACY MADDEN IS MARRIED TO ED McMAHON! There, we said it. Are you happy now?! We may be "over it," but that doesn't mean we have to like it. (We really had no idea he was working at 7.)

A third reader, whom we'll call Anonymous, scolds us, writing Train wreck? I think Andrea [McMaster] does a great job on weekend mornings. She is a real treat, especially now that they unhitched Trey from the team to let her show her real talent. . . . Keep up the good work, Andrea! Don't let a pencil-necked geek and his sophomoric comments get you down.

You're right. "Train wreck" probably understates it. However those other comments are wholly uncalled for, as they are an insult to sophomores and pencil-necked geeks everywhere. Nevertheless, we thought Andrea was doing a great job, too, until we turned the sound up.

Except for the High-Water Pants

We've finally figured out who Travis Justice reminds us of: Remember that kid in school who always sounded like his sinus condition was acting up? You know, the one who sounded like a lower-voiced version of Gilda Radner's Lisa Loopner character on "Saturday Night Live"? Travis is THAT GUY! Only now, instead of giving us his opinions about how cool his Chevy Citation is, he's giving us his opinions about flippin' EVERYTHING. And judging overweight, off-key karaoke singers at Harrah's.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Are Your Ready for Some Madden?

So excited were we about the impending departure of WOWT's Pat Persaud, that we devoted little time to her designated successor, Tracy Madden. Madden is one of our favorite anchors, although her profile has been diminished in the last year or so, first with her maternity leave and then by virtue of her anchoring duties being limited to the 4 p.m. newscast and sporadic fill-ins for Pat.

We honestly don't know how long she's been on the Big Six, but it has to have been close to a decade, if not longer. Her on-air presence is fresh and relaxed, and she seems to actually think about the stories she's reading. She has also displayed considerable ability to react to impromptu comments or unplanned moments—probably a result of the bzillions of live stand-ups she's done over the years.

Our only concern is whether she's up to the grind of delivering three newscasts a night, especially given that she has very young twins at home to keep up with. In the past, Channel 6 has divided up the afternoon/evening anchoring chores among three or four members of the team, and that might be a good idea now, to keep from burning her out. With a strong bench that includes Trey Jones, Courtny Gerrish and Malorie Maddox, it would certainly seem to be a viable option.

Management might also be wise to sign former KETV weekend anchor Pamela Jones, whose praises we were just singing last week. Jones is a star performer who languished too long on the sidelines at Channel 7 and who would surely strengthen WOWT's lineup.

The unexpected but long overdue personnel changes at the station over the past six months give Channel 6 an exciting opportunity to re-energize its on-air product. Here's hoping that the decision-makers are up to the challenge.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Breaking Down Barriers

At the risk of another pummeling in the comments section, we have to admit that we just can't get Pat Persaud's self-aggrandizing resignation letter out of our heads. In particular, we are taken with her being so "proud to have tackled subjects that were once taboo on tv." Yes, we had forgotten what a trailblazer she was. Some highlights:

2005: Pat singlehandedly discovers the dangers behind arthritis drugs Celebrex, Vioxx, and similar products using nothing more than a home chemistry set.

2004: After moderating a political debate, Pat repeatedly reassures an agitated Congressman Lee Terry that masturbation does not cause blindness.

2001: Pat uses the word "breast" while urging women to adopt a buddy system to conduct monthly self-exams. "Breast" supplants Pat's previously-used euphemisms like "woman parts," "boobies," and "ta-tas."

1998: Taking a cue from former presidential candidate Bob Dole, Pat thrusts the term "erectile dysfunction" into our faces, during a three-part series entitled "No More Shrinky Dinks." John Knicely seems unusually interested in this story.

1997: After moderating a political debate, Pat repeatedly reassures an agitated Mayor Hal Daub that masturbation does not cause blindness.

1992: Midday news viewers receive tactful advice from Pat, Extension Agent John Fech, and Farm Director Bryce Anderson about the secret shame of Tomato Leaf-Spot .

1991: In the wake of Magic Johnson's announcement that he is HIV-positive, Pat gives the issue a local spin with a report Channel 6 calls "We Have Famous Diseases Here, Too: HIV in the Heartland."

1989: In a "very special" Live at 5, Ross Jernstrom reveals that he was once molested by one of Greg Wagner's stuffed fish.

1982: Pat interviews an Omaha man whose brother's neighbor's college roommate was at the Philadelphia convention that gave rise to the term "Legionnaire's Disease."

1979: In an episode of "Diffr'nt Strokes" entitled "That's My Willy You Talkin' 'Bout!" Pat tactfully explains sex to a confused Gary Coleman, who, viewers notice, is two inches taller than Pat.

1976: Pat, Gloria, and The Meathead teach Archie how to talk with Edith about the lump in her "boobie."

No wonder she's proud.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Great Caesar's Ghost! W-H Mentions Local TV

The World-Herald takes note of Pat Persaud's "tearful" announcement, within 24 hours, no less. Read all 80+ words here.

Peeking Behind the Curtain

Translating selected portions of News Director John Clark's Monday email to WOWT Staffers...

What he wrote: It is with mixed emotions that I share this news with you today.
What he meant: I keep swinging between relief and euphoria; let me tell you why.

What he wrote: Pat isn't retiring just yet. She will stay with us through May 25th.
What he meant: It's not all good news. We've got to limp through May sweeps with her.

What he wrote: Over the next few months you will be seeing us celebrating her career and her many contributions to the success of WOWT in a variety of ways on-the-air.
What he meant: Hang onto your hats: We're going to subject viewers to all sorts of nonsensical "retrospectives" in an embarrassing attempt to pretend that Pat has been a serious journalist in the tradition of Brokaw, Rather, and Cronkite.

In our favorite part of the memo, Clark quotes from Pat's resignation letter:

What she wrote: No doubt, I will miss my time at Channel 6 and working with so many good people. Not the least...the three guys I work with every night. We've been a great team. I truly respect the talent and genuiness of each of them. They've helped me become a better anchor through the years. Can I dare say that maybe I've had a little influence on them too?!
What she meant: My weak performance has made them look better by comparison. That counts for something, doesn't it?

What she wrote: I'm . . . very proud of the work I've done. Proud of the people we've helped with our health reporting over the years...
What she meant: I changed the course of life on this planet by reporting on things like the diarrhea that swept through Dr. Alka Desai's office.

What she wrote: ...proud to have tackled subjects that were once taboo on tv
What she meant: Before I came along, viewers couldn't hear about tumors, sores, and genital warts while eating their dinner.

What she wrote: ...proud to have cooperatively taken us to number one and still there for ten years.
What she meant: Look! I can write as badly in a letter as I do for TV!

May 25th Can't Come Soon Enough

Those of you who witnessed the mid-newscast blubberfest on last night's "Ten at Ten" know that nothing we write here can top it. For those of you who missed it: nothing we write here can do it justice. Billed as a "big announcement" both on WOWT's website and on-air, Pat Persaud announced that she is leaving the station, in a fit of weeping and rambling the likes of which we haven't seen in some time.

Calling the move one that is "best for our family," Persaud choked up every two or three words, exclaiming at one point, "I can't believe I'm doing this!" When co-anchor John Knicely tried to reel her back in by prompting that she isn't going away immediately, she took off on another tangent about how much she's loved her job and how grateful she is for viewers' "support"—whatever that means.

The surprise announcement included Pat's on-air assurance that we needn't worry because Tracy Madden will be taking Pat's position. Our questions: (1) Who the hell was worried? and (2) Why wait 'til the end of May? We'll rent a truck and help you clear your stuff out today.

It's hard to know whether Pat actually got worse as time passed or if we just got tired of her. We seem to recall a time when she was pleasant and well-informed. But at some point in the last five or so years, we came to dread her every appearance, whether it was her moronic "What's Going Around" feature, her canned "Family Health" reports, or her seemingly unending supply of hackneyed phrases ["Thanks, Doug Walker, reporting LIVE" (when he's standing five feet away); "...trouble for Michael Jackson latermorenews"; and, of course, "We've built a link on our website at WO (pause) WT (pause) dot-com."]

Hearing her say she's going to be a full-time wife and mom makes us afraid for her family if her idea of full-time work is as diluted at home as it appears to have been on TV. But that's their problem, not ours.

What's behind her exit is the really interesting story, although we can only speculate based on the bits and pieces of information we'be been able to put together. WOWT News Director John Clark's e-mail (which we will dissect in a forthcoming post) refers to his "mixed emotions" in announcing the departure, and a look at the station's website suggests that the mood there is more celebratory than anything else.

For now, all we know is that the mood HERE is celebratory, and would be even more so if it were May 26th.
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