Friday, April 29, 2005

Patwatch: 27 Possible Workdays Left

We were going to lay off the criticism of WOWT "anchor" Pat Persaud, but if the station's going to make us suffer for nearly another month, we're going to keep bitching about her incompetence.

• Pat's "Family Health" report on Friday's 6 p.m. cast focused on "Blackberry Thumb," a condition caused by too much text messaging. Clever little elf that she is, Pat noted that for text messagers hoping to avoid the condition, "incomplete sentences are acceptable." Her usual writing has never suggested that she considered incomplete sentences anything but standard English.

• On the topic of English and health: Her bio claims she majored in British Lit, and she has been the station's self-proclaimed health expert for nearly 20 years, but this week she managed to mispronounce the word mitral. The correct pronunciation involves the "long i" sound; Dr. Pat, of course, invented a pronuciation using the "short i" sound, as in the initial sound in the word idiot.

• One reader commented this week on Pat's stumbling through just about every story she reads: "Nice to see that merely reading words is still too hard after 20 years of practice." It really is hard to believe.

• Pat may be the only woman in Omaha TV who makes Andrea McMaster seem like a breath of fresh air. But then again, that's like saying, "your breath's so bad, we look forward to your farts."

• New potential betting lines this week involve Pat's wardrobe: How many more times will she trot out her black leather "Rizzo" and yellow "rain slicker" jackets?

• Pat has worked all five days this week. We can't remember when that last happened. She must be exhausted. We know we are.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

At least it's not mouth sores

At Channel 6, there's no idea that isn't worth repeating until it has all the life beaten out of it. The latest example of this philosophy comes in promos for Mike McKnight's "Six on Your Side" "investigations." Rather than have McKnight cut a new promo for each story, the geniuses at WOWT have their announcer lay down a voice track describing the latest scam, roll a a graphic and/or a little video, followed by McKnight stepping toward the camera saying, "I'll expose the real truth behind the promises."

Tired, tired, tired. Channel 6 seems stuck in a late-90's rut, putting on the same broadcast they were doing five or ten years ago, only with Paul McCartney tickets. Meanwhile, over at Channels 7 and 3, those who run things are acutally thinking. Recent ratings suggest that the chickens are beginning to come home to roost. We can only hope all that clucking spurs Gray Communications to figure out who's responsible for WOWT's lazy approach to news and clean out some of the chicken shit.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Wednesday Evening Notes

• KETV is featuring new openings on its newscasts, displaying its anchors in waist-up shots against a mainly white background. Snazzy, and a big improvement over what anyone else in town is doing.

• This week, hit-and-miss anchor Pat Persaud spiced up our dinner with reports of herpangina (mouth sores) and Fifth's Disease (skin rash) in her weekly "What's Going Around" feature on Channel 6.

• It's amazing how one person could be so bad at anchoring and so good as a reporter. Channel 7's Suzanne Deyo, whose weekend anchor work makes us cringe, delivered a stellar report at 6 p.m. describing Wednesday afternoon's high-speed chase through midtown Omaha. While she has trouble reading a teleprompter, she has first-rate storytelling skills.

• Hitting the stands tonight, Sean Weide's "Media Notes" column in this week's Reader sheds a bit more light on morning anchor Trey Jones' decision to leave Channel 6. Jones says he wouldn't mind getting back on the air, if he could land a spot that doesn't interfere with his ability to be a dad. Jones' decision to put his kids' interests first is refreshing, not just in TV, but in any business. As strong an anchor as Jones is, Channel 6 should have found a way to accommodate his situation.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Maybe It's Some Kind of Dress-Up Day at the Big Six

We'd vowed to give our remarks about WOWT guest anchor Pat Persaud a rest for a while, but we can't resist pointing out that tonight, she appears ready to audition for the role of Rizzo in the road company of Grease.

Is This Guy Colorblind?

On one hand, we wish we had a screen cap of Brian Mastre anchoring today's 4 p.m. news on Channel 6. On the other hand, it's probably just as well that we don't.

Mastre appeared wearing a blue blazer over what may be the most hideous shirt-tie combination we've ever seen. Now, we're not talking garden-variety ugly; we're talking about the sort of unsightliness normally only associated with old photos of middle school classmates. By itself, Mastre's blue-and-white-checked spread-collar shirt would have induced eyestrain among some viewers, but the pea-green tie, with its thin, generously spaced navy-blue stripes, rendered the ensemble absolutely revolting.

We'd like to chalk this up to a medical condition or a lost bet, but perhaps it's just bad taste. Whatever the case, someone should urge Mr. Mastre to take someone shopping with him next time; we'd urge someone at 6 to make sure he has matching clothes on before he heads for the studio.

Rebecca Kleeman Endorses iPod Shuffle (In a related note, shameless corporate shilling is just one of the many services we offer.)

On Monday's 5 o'clock news, WOWT's Rebecca Kleeman's voice-over of a Consumer Reports evaluation of Apple's iPod Shuffle concluded that the $99 gadget, which holds 120 songs, is a good buy. We couldn't agree more, and we encourage you to buy one now, by clicking on one of the Apple Store ads on this page.

Enough with the Smoking Chimp Already

Unable to keep the hilarity to herself any longer, KETV's Elictia "Omarosa" Hammond on Monday morning just HAD to show weathergirl Andrea Bredow the video Andrea missed last week when she was off. Of course, it was the video of the chimpanzee at a South African zoo who smokes cigarettes thrown to him by idiotic zoo visitors. Elictia and Andrea just laughed and laughed. It was THAT funny.

Note to news directors: Enough already. We don't want to see odd primate behavior. We want the news, not stupid creatures entertaining themselves. Oh, and do something about that chimp footage, too.

Monday, April 25, 2005

They've Got Tickets to Ride

WOWT will offer viewers of its 10 p.m. newscast six chances to win tickets to Paul McCartney's Qwest Center Omaha Concerts in October. Not coincidentally, the giveaway will take place during the first week of the May sweeps period. Channel 6's ratings have slipped over the past several books, and the hope appears to be that spreading out a McCartney ticket giveaway over seven days between May 1st and 7th will bolster viewership for its sagging evening newscasts.

Friday, April 22, 2005

McMastering the Language

Perhaps thinking it was somehow related to the term "pap smear" Channel 6's Andrea McMaster alerted viewers to this weekend's coverage of the papal installation service by pronouncing "papal" as if it rhymed with "apple." Then again, at least she didn't call it a PayPal service, so maybe this is a sign of growth.

But rather than filling in for Tracy Madden, as she was on Friday afternoon, maybe she should just hang around the weather office and let Scott Akin regale her with stories of all the rural kids who routinely drive tractors to school.

A Big Loss for the Big Six


In an enormous blow to a station already short on male talent, "Live at Daybreak" co-anchor Trey Jones has informed the station that he will be leaving WOWT after his May 6th broadcast. According to sources, Jones has said that the demands of the early morning schedule just aren't compatible with raising young children. His departure breaks up one of the best anchor teams in Omaha, which had only been in place since November, when he joined newcomer Malorie Maddox on the early shift, and extends a string of turnovers that hasn't been seen at the station in years.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

"People seem to like me because I am polite and I am rarely late. I like to eat ice cream and I really enjoy a nice pair of slacks."

Alert reader Bandit75 sent us the following email this morning regarding a Channel 6 "Live at Daybreak" moment we're sorry to have missed:

"Something I witnessed this morning needs to be addressed . . . . While getting my daily Malorie [Maddox]-fix, they cut to Scott "No Bantering Skills" Akin for our morning forecast. I think he used fifteen different colors on the screen to illustrate how awful our storms were and might be for the rest of the day. For the first time I heard "purple front" on the news. There were so many colors I almost had a seizure.

"In order to save myself from the impending color-induced body quake, I switched to 7. Big mistake. I forgot about the Omarosa factor and immediately began to twitch. Either I need to switch to decaf or stop watching the news and get my information and forecasts from the 'net.

"I did switch back to 6 in time to catch a 'take your tractor to school' story in which Malorie commented on her dad not letting her take his tractor to school. Scott then added that as a city kid he had never seen that but understood that many kids in rural areas still ride their tractors to school."

So, to summarize: Not only is Brick Tamland alive and well, he is apparently disguised as Scott Akin.

Pat Gets Loose Again

Never one to overtax herself, especially since she's just 34 days away from "retirement," teenie-weenie WOWT anchor Pat Persaud managed to take another day off on Wednesday. Since Tracy Madden is away this week, probably resting up from doing her job and Pat's for so many weeks, Rebecca Kleeman filled in.

If we had the wherewithal, we'd open our own offshore, online casino and take bets on whether that little dickens will show up on a given day, how many days she'll miss between now and May 25th, or how many times she'll say "[reporter's name], reporting live." The possibilities for betting lines are endless.

In lieu of that, maybe we could organize a county-wide "Where's Pat?" game. Anyone with a digital camera could keep an eye out for the city's most famous sick-day-taker and snap a picture, which could then be submitted for posting here. And we could develop our own version of WOWT's "Neighborhood Tracker," plotting Pat sightings on a map. Who knows? Maybe the dots would form a pattern, like 6-6-6 or something.

For those days when Pat does grace the studio with her presence, there could be a Pat drinking game. One sip for each time she starts a sentence with the word "and." Two sips for each time she stumbles over her copy. Three sips for each random giggle. And a chug for each utterance of her inane "reporting live" tag. The spike in alcohol poisoning cases might draw attention from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, so maybe this drinking game isn't such a good idea after all. We don't want that much suffering on our consciences.

Yeah, we'd better just stick with working ourselves into a trance: "Thirty-four, thirty-four, thirty-four, thirty-four..."

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Three for 3: Suggestions for Getting KM3 Out of the Hole (Part 2 of 2)

With Channel 3's ratings stuck in the basement, the station faces a challenge, to say the least. Back in the summer of 2003, General Manager Jim McKernan told Omaha B2B magazine that he "would be disappointed if we weren’t at least number two in overall news viewership" within two years. Well, the two years is almost up and things for the station are the same, if not worse.

The question is, what can be done to change it? As promised, we present three ideas that would go a long way toward getting KMTV back in the hunt:

Suggestion #1: Reduce Travis Justice's visibility. When the decision was made to remove sports as an obligatory part of the newscast, McKernan decided it'd be a good idea to have Travis sound off on the news of the day. So now we get to hear what Travis thinks about Omaha annexing Elkhorn, cardinals selecting a new Pope, Callahan starting a new quarterback: you name it, and Travis has an opinion on it.

"Travis has a very strong extemporaneous skill that some people in television don’t have,” McKernan is quoted as saying in the aforementiond B2B article.

That may be true, but he also has another thing that "some people in television" lack: a knack for repelling viewers. Since he was hired in 2002, ratings have plummeted. Okay, determining causality is dicey business, BUT even assuming that he's driving no viewers away, "For What It's Worth" isn't worth what it's supposedly for: increasing viewership. People aren't flocking to KM3 News because they're hungry for Travis' latest pronouncement.

As we've mentioned before, Justice does have some talent, but it's being misused. When it comes to sports— particularly live sports coverage, he may be the best in this market. Unfortunately, the station has so closely tied itself to his annoying "For What It's Worth" blowhard image that keeping him around in any capacity might do damage. Perhaps if they confine him doing to his Sunday night sports show and serving as a karaoke judge at Harrah's, viewers' memories of his opinionizing would fade. That part's the tougher call. But however they deal with him, the powers at 3 need to make a bold statement to show that Travis isn't their mascot anymore.

Suggestion #2: Increase the Sarahs' visibility. Meteorologist Sarah Walters knows her stuff and delivers it in an engaging, friendly manner without seeming either hysterical (like Jim Flowers) or bland (like Bill Randby). Putting her out front strikes us as a no-lose proposition. Making her a more visible presence on the weekday newscasts (perhaps Omaha's first female chief meteorologist?) would give KM3's news a distinctive, pleasant flavor.

The other Sarah we need to see more of is current weekend anchor Sarah Simmons, who could easily be the lead female anchor at any station in Omaha. Her bosses need to find a way to integrate her into the regular nightly newscasts. She's that good. We're not sure where you put her, with Deb Ward already ensconced as a satisfactory anchor, but this is where McKernan and his superiors need to get creative. Having a talent of Simmons' caliber join Ward and Greg Peterson would give KMTV perhaps its best anchor team ever. Add Walters to the mix and you're looking at a powerful lineup.

Suggestion #3: Give the news set a complete makeover. You'd be hard-pressed to discern that KMTV has the newest building of the four stations in Omaha. Both WOWT and KETV have been in their current locations since at least the 1960s, while KM3 built its facilities in the late 70s. But flip on the TV and Channel 3's set appears dark and cramped, as if the ceilings are about 6 feet high. Meanwhile, KETV broadcasts from what seems to be a spacious "Newsplex" (gag) and WOWT's set, while appearing less spacious, is noticeably brighter.

Management at Channel 3 needs to make fixing the set a top priority, and that means spending money on a top-notch design. Getting some lights in there and making use of the horizontal and vertical space available are musts. When your building is one of your few advantages, it's downright foolish not to make the most of it. If that means shoving something else into a smaller space, so be it. Have Travis do his sports show on folding chairs in the lobby. Whatever. Make the news studio look like a warm, inviting space, and viewers will be more likely to want to visit.


Channel 3 is doing a lot of things right. The anchor talent is top-notch, and as noted yesterday, the reporting is also a strong point. Likewise, the videographers at the station do some pretty creative work on even the most mundane stories. The three moves we've proposed here, if well-executed and promoted, could make the former home to Brokaw, Kalber, and Roberts a force to be reckoned with.

Time Swap

When we first heard that KMTV was moving "Entertainment Tonight" from 6:00 to 6:30 p.m., we were hoping it meant Channel 3 was getting back in the 6 o'clock news race. Alas, 'tisn't so. They're only swapping "ET" and "The Insider," which will now air at 6.

On the Take

What was once called "The Tiffany Network" is trying to figure out a way to charge cable operators for carrying its signal.
CBS May Seek Signal Fee [LA Times]

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Three for 3: Suggestions for Getting KM3 Out of the Hole (Part 1 of 2)

It's been two or three decades for Channel 3. Putting a finger on just when things went wrong can be difficult. Some say it started in 1975, when it took the station months to figure out that it needed to bump its home-grown "Creature Feature" back to midnight to make room for a new network show called "Saturday Night Live." Other say it was when the station moved west to 108th Street from its former location at 24th and Farnam (just a stone's throw from KETV and within sight of WOWT). Or it may have been in the mid-80s, when it lost its NBC affiliate status to WOWT, just when NBC's fortunes were on the rise and CBS was treading water. The exact date isn't as important as this fact: KMTV management, under a succession of owners, repeatedly dropped the ball when it came to developing a consistent vision and identity for the station.

When it dropped Channel 3 as an affiliate, NBC's big gripe was the station's propensity for pre-empting network shows in favor of the latest Billy Graham crusade or other syndicated offering that promised a quick buck. Rather than using network programming to build and hold an audience, management at Channel 3 turned the station into a confusing hodgepodge with little discernible focus. Viewers expecting to see "St. Elsewhere" on a Wednesday evening might tune in to find a syndicated music special on and learn from the crawl on the screen that the aforementioned "St. Elsewhere" episode could be seen at 2 a.m.

That shortsighted approach has haunted KM3 for most of the years since, and was never more visible than in its budget-busting hire of Michael Scott in 1997. In committing so much of its news budget to Scott's salary (rumored at the time to be very generous by Omaha standards), management left the newsroom with little money to spend on anything else. When Scott's presence failed to deliver immediate ratings results, he was dumped, even though he had time remaining on his contract. That left the station cutting payroll and hiring lesser talent on the cheap. And we know the impact that has had.

Which brings us to the past couple of years. Under Emmis Communications Television President Randy Bongarten, management has worked on the vison/image thing, and with some innovative, if not always logical, ideas. First, they went out and got a strong anchor in Greg Peterson, and promoted another from within: veteran reporter Deb Ward. And rather than continue to deliver the same newscast everyone else was doing, General Manager Jim McKernan decided, as have several other stations around the country, to drop the obligatory sports report from both the 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts. That left him with a problem: what to do with sports director Travis Justice. Oy. More on that later.

More recently, the station has developed a consistent focus with its "Clear, Accurate, To the Point" approach. Rather than hype things that aren't really news (like giant vegetables and dirty restaurants), KM3 now works to explain what's going on in straightforward terms. A perfect example came recently in Mary Nelson's report on the awful home life of Tracy Dyess, the 17-year-old charged with starting a fire that killed her two siblings. Rather than ramble through the standard "here's who's been arrested, here's the hearing date" routine, Nelson showed viewers a bulletin board chart illustrating the bizarre family tree in whose shadow Dyess had grown up—one that involved multiple step-fathers, bigamy, as well as emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. It was a troubling story, but one that acutally helped viewers understand what was behind the headline.

In a cruel twist of fate, however, the news product that 3 is putting on the air these days is probably better than it's been in years, but the ratings have been dismal. The most recent sweeps numbers show Channel 3's 5 and 10 p.m. audiences to be well below those of its competitors. Some of the shortfall may be attributable to a low return rate on Nielsen diaries—a problem that has undermined confidence in the numbers in markets other than Omaha. When the sample size shrinks, some stations suffer more than others, and the case can be made that this at least partially explains KM3's lower numbers.

But even if the sample size were optimal, Channel 3 would likely still be Number 3. If it's ever to rejoin the race with the big dogs, more changes are in order. Tomorrow, we'll suggest three ways that KM3 can make itself competitive again.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Corrections to this story were provided by yet another alert reader. We apologize for the previous inaccuracies.]

Movin' On (Up?)

Our dream of a Jacim-Mueller anchor team on KPTM appears to be one step closer to reality. Check out who was medialine.com's talent of the day for Tuesday. Thanks to the alert reader who pointed this out to us.

Early Morning News Means Money

Local stations are finding mornings to be rewarding in terms of dollars and viewers. No wonder WOWT and KETV have been shoring up their morning programs (although we're not sure adding Elictia Hammond shored 7's show up so much as it bogged things down).
The interesting story is entitled Local News Wakes Up. [Broadcasting & Cable]

Monday, April 18, 2005

KETV to Lose "MNF," WOWT Will Get NFL Back

In a surprise development, NBC has landed rights to broadcast NFL Sunday night games beginning in 2006. As expected, ESPN picked up "Monday Night Football," which has been carried on ABC since its inception in 1970. Speculation had been that ESPN and ABC would end up swapping the two nights. The upshot of the new deal is that KETV will lose primetime NFL games after this season, while WOWT will regain NFL games for the first time since 1998.

'MNF' Moving to ESPN [TV Week]
NFL Announces New TV Packages [NFL.com]

Weekend Notes

• In a move that could have a significant impact on local TV news ratings, ABC is almost certain to end its 35-year run as THE place to see football on Monday nights. While it's been talked about for months, it now seems all but a done deal. [TV Week]
• Are we the only ones who are more than a little creeped out every Sunday at 10:25 or so when Ross Jernstrom teases for his "Sunday Sports Extra" show by saying, "and I go one-on-one with [insert name of interviewee here]"? Ross always seems just a little more excited about it than might be considered healthy.
• We've been meaning to mention it since she was keeping the KPTM anchor seat warm for Tracy Jacim: Amanda Mueller is a very good anchor. Before Jacim's arrival, we couldn't figure out why Mueller didn't get the weeknight spot permanently. With both now on board, maybe 42 should follow the lead of "Saturday Night Live" and go with a two-female-anchor arrangement.
• The best weekend anchor in town, Channel 3's Sarah Simmons, was off this weekend and boy did it show. Devon Patton was left to solo, and it wasn't pretty. When he first arrived, he appeared adequate to the task, but subsequent weeks have dulled our enthusiasm for him. This weekend's solo shot confirmed our opinion that Simmons is carrying him.
• We're starting to think it's a Morningside College thing: WOWT weekend sports anchor John Chapman couldn't seem to figure out a "yards-per-carry" statistic during the 5 p.m. cast on Sunday. He made several attempts at it, always deferring to what he said he had been told by others, but he seemed baffled by the entire concept. Wouldn't it have been a good idea to do the math before going on the air?
• Congratulations to KETV Consumer Reporter Mike Sigmond, whose engagement announcement appeared in yesterday's newspaper.

Friday, April 15, 2005

You Can't Stop Her; You Can Only Hope to Contain Her

Even the most dogged efforts of her Channel 6 co-workers were no match for scrappy part-time anchor Pat Persaud (and/or the incessant high-voiced whining of meteorologist Jeff Jensen). After four days of anchoring, Persaud, who appears determined to use up every second of sick time accumulated over her 19 years at the station, escaped from the studio and took Friday off. Heir presumptive Tracy Madden subbed, as usual.

In all seriousness, WOWT management should bring an end to this on-again/off-again nonsense, and spare us the charade of the overblown send-off that's likely to come in May. Since announcing her "retirement" at the end of February, Omaha's tiniest anchor seems to have been absent from the desk more than she's been present. It would seem to be in the station's interest to get on with the switch and allow the audience to get accustomed to Madden on a regular basis before the May sweeps period begins. If Pat insists on showing up (which seems unlikely), stick her on the midday cast, have her voice a few of her pathetic "Family Health" pieces and send her home to Lumir and the kids.

If anyone needed evidence that her exit is anything but voluntary, these sporadic appearances would seem seal the case. People leaving of their own volition don't typically take 16 of 22 workdays off just weeks before they exit. It appears that the final two months of Pat's career will reflect the same lackluster approach and underwhelming engagement we've sufferred through for the past five years. This is the television equivalent of a long, lingering death—sad and painful to watch. Somebody needs to pull the plug.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

We'd Link to It If We Could

In this week's "Media Notes" column in The Reader, Sean Weide reports that KETV has hired an "executive producer" for its newscasts. The story quotes news director Roseann Shannon as indicating that the position is newly created. There is no mention of what specific duties this person will have, but we're praying that it involves stuffing a sock in Shiloh Woolman's mouth and breaking the news to Suzanne Deyo that Deyo is to anchoring as Ashlee Simpson is to singing. Then again, analogies may be lost on Deyo.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

If She Keeps Up This Pace, "Retirement" Is Going to Feel Extra Sweet

For the first time in nearly a month, WOWT anchor Pat Persaud has shown up at the anchor desk for a third consecutive day. If our earlier speculation is correct, it has now been 72 hours that the 6News team has been locked in the studio, part of an effort by management to get PP on the air more. As we understand (or imagine) it, John Knicely and fill-in sports anchor Merlyn Klaus hold Pat down while food and clothing are slipped through a crack in the studio door.

Knicely and Klaus are said to be holding up well, but apparently meteorologist Jeff Jensen is starting to whine quite a bit about not having adequate access to his hair care products. During a Wednesday food/clothing drop, Jensen apparently made a break for it, only to be pulled back by Klaus. According to witnesses, Jensen was clawing at the door and crying uncontrollably about missing the weather porch.

Persaud is being pacified, at least for the time being, by generous supplies of "Family Health" scripts, which she is robotically voicing over between newscasts, when Jensen isn't throwing a tantrum, that is. Our source says that Pat is strangely comforted by the opening lines of these stories: "Shoe salesman Joe Ryan has an itchy scrotum," they begin. "He's one of ten million American men who suffer from 'jock itch.' Now an experimental device is offering hope."

Most disturbing of all are reports that Ross Jernstrom has been pitching a similar fit outside the studio, upset that he's not included in what he keeps calling "the slumber party."

UPDATE: We're told that Jensen's condition was exacerbated at least somewhat by having to spend three solid hours on the phone Tuesday with a sobbing Jim Flowers, who was distraught over being on vacation during Monday's severe weather outbreak.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Which of These Doesn't Belong?

OK, what's going on at Fox42? Is this some kind of sick joke? We've watched new anchor Tracy Jacim several times, always thinking we'd figure out why she ended up at the station that quality forgot. Jacim seems knowledgeable, personable, and prepared. In other words, she seems to possess all the traits that usually disqualify people from working at KPTM. It's a perplexing situation, but one that Channel 42 viewers should appreciate while it lasts.

Anchors Away

With Julie Cornell on vacation, KETV took two steps forward late last week, giving Brandi Petersen the opportunity to sub in the big chair. But when Monday rolled around, the station took at least two steps backward, placing the bleach-blond and brainless Suzanne Deyo in the slot. When will the braintrust at 7 realize that Deyo isn't anchor material?

Things were much better handled over at Channel 3: Deb Ward was gone Monday, and her chair was filled by Sarah Simmons, who pairs well with Greg Peterson. Channel 3, it seems, knows a good anchor when it sees one.

Potential Disruption for IPTV Viewers

If you're planning on watching something on Iowa Public Television in the next week or so, you may be disappointed. IPTV is upgrading the KBIN (Cox Channel 13) tower for digital broadcasting, which may, the station says, disrupt programming.
TV tower upgrade may disrupt Iowa Public Television service [OWH]

Monday, April 11, 2005

Monday Must Be Payday at Channel 6

Why else would part-timer and aspiring retiree Pat Persaud be sitting at the WOWT anchor desk on a Monday evening in what appeared to be a pink rain slicker? Our guess is that management caught her trying to sneak in the back door to collect her check and then tossed her into the studio, locking the door before she could escape.

Luckily, Pat's razor-sharp wit and sophisticated sense of humor are still intact. When her co-dolt, John Knicely, made some pointless reference to speaking French, she cracked herself up by replying "Oui, oui."

Oh Pat!

How many days until she disappears permanently, you ask? Forty-flippin'-three. Merde!

The Importance of Being Ernie

For dozens (if not hundreds) of reasons, the State of Nebraska will be infinitely worse off when Ernie Chambers is forced from office by term limits. Need evidence? Look at the longest-serving state senator's remarks to Nebraska Associated Press broadcasters this weekend: he told them their newspeople tend to be lazy.
Chambers rips 'laziness' of TV, radio news [OWH]

Friday, April 08, 2005

If They Get Her Off the Air, Perhaps She Can Do Something About This

When we suggested the other day that KETV purge its 5 o'clock newscast of webmaster Shiloh Woolman's ghastly "Online @ Five" appearances, we were looking at it only from the perspective of irritated viewers. But as we browse Channel 7's staff bios, it occurs to us that she could devote that recovered time to her real job and do a little editing.

First off, from an entirely aesthetic standpoint, she could standardize the staff photos. Julie Cornell's appears to be a graphic, while meteorologist Chuck "Mumbles" McWilliams' looks like a screenshot. The majority, however, appear to be candids that Shiloh captured by walking around the station with a ten year old digital camera. Our favorite, however, is Suzanne Deyo's—a JCPenney-quality professional portrait of Deyo, her husband, and baby. We could not imagine a more bizarre choice.

Our second gripe is with the content of the bios themselves. Again, Deyo's page offers ample evidence. It goes on about twice as long as that of most other staffers (the only one longer is Woolman's). More entertainingly, it is riddled with dozens of irrelevant and seemingly random facts. Some examples:
• Suzanne loves Omaha and does not plan to leave.
• Her favorite food is fried chicken fingers.
• Suzanne married in August 2000.
• Her husband is an Independent Registered Investment Advisor.
• They adopted an orange tabby cat from the Nebraska Humane Society named "Rusty."
• Her favorite shows are "Spin City", "Friends", "Alias", and "The Practice."

And then there's this baffling quote: "The people here are wonderful. And there's plenty to do without a terrible rush hour! What more could you ask for?"

Well, we could ask for coherence. Coherence would be really nice.

Most of our incredulity at the quality of these bio pages disappeared when we read the beginning of Woolman's tribute to herself: "Before I jumped on-board TheOmahaChannel.com I'd never even built a mail group, much less a web page." Why are we not surprised by that?

"But I'm learning," she adds.

Not fast enough for us.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The World's Largest Outdoor, Concrete, Free, Municipal Pool

Go to Garden City, Kansas, and that's the wording they use to convince themselves that their swimmin' hole is worth bragging about. As a friend once remarked, "Take away any one of those adjectives and it's just another pool."

That's kind of how we feel about Channel 7's recent press release trumpeting itself as the "No. 1 rated newscast by adults 25 to 54 in the Omaha viewing area." Take away a word or two here and there and they just have a newscast.

Sean Weide breaks details of the February sweeps numbers in this week's edition of The Reader, which hit the stands Wednesday evening.

Having taken a look at the numbers ourselves, we see some sour notes in KETV's horn-blowing, and reasons for all stations to be concerned.

Despite 7's lead among viewers in the 25-54 age group, WOWT captures a greater share of the audience when all viewers are considered. In fact, by that measure, Channel 6 wins the midday, 5 p.m., and 10 p.m. time slots while KETV finishes first only at 6 p.m.

The morning race between the two stations is essentially a dead heat, although a comparison of year-to-year numbers, as well as November-to-February figures, suggests that Channel 6's new team of Trey Jones and Malorie Maddox may give the Big Six an advantage over Channel 7's recently adopted dual-anchor format, which placed the off-putting Elictia Hammond, like an albatross, around John Oakey's neck.

The midday contest appears to be moving in WOWT's direction. Compared with a year ago, when viewers had to suffer through a half-hour with the horribly misplaced Thom Knight, the 11:30 program featuring Jones is up 41 percent.

The news is not all good at WOWT. Among the 25-54 demographic, the station's 6 p.m. audience share dropped 30 percent over last year, and the 10 p.m. cast lost 20 percent. The trend is not positive, and it could explain Pat Persaud's "retirement" at the end of May. Perhaps she saw—or was shown—the writing on the wall.

At Channel 3, there is little good in the most recent numbers. KMTV's share of the audience is down between eight and 33 percent from a year ago, depending on the program. Replacing a local newscast at 6 p.m. with the syndicated Entertainment Tonight does not seem to have helped matters; the station's at 6 p.m. audience is down a whopping 30 percent from 2004 levels, among all viewers. Among viewers 25-54, the news is even worse, with 3's share of the audience off over 45 percent from a year ago.

Perhaps the decision to drop news in favor of ET has led viewers to conclude that KM3 has given up on news altogether. Despite producing what has steadily become a higher quality product, Greg Peterson and company can't seem to catch a break. Even in the 10 p.m time period, where the ratings news is best, KMTV's audience is down nearly eight percent among all viewers, and over 18 percent among those 25-54.

Local news in Omaha is losing viewers when compared to the same period a year ago, reflecting an ongoing local and national trend away from traditional broadcast outlets. In all but the earliest morning news blocks, the percentage of viewers tuning in to the three major news stations in Omaha is down anywhere from three to nearly 16 percent. At 10 p.m., for example, only about two-thirds of those watching television are tuned to 3, 6, or 7.

This leads us to wonder what sort of audience KPTM's repeats of Seinfeld are drawing at that hour. With a third of the audience unaccounted for, it's not unreasonable to assume that Channel 42 might be scoring a 10 or 15 share; if so, Channel 3 could actually be finishing in fourth place. Unfortunately, the numbers that we've seen do not include ratings for KPTM, so any speculation about the strength of their lineup versus that of the news-carrying stations is merely that—speculation.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Channel 6 Breaks Health Story

With Pat Persaud taking another night off (apparently two days in a row is too much for her), it fell to heir-presumptive Tracy Madden to deliver this evening's report of "What's Going Around." What did the staff of the self-proclaimed "Heartland News Leader" discover by making five phone calls to local pediatricians' offices? Well, in addition to the fact that there's a lot of seasonal allergy trouble out there, they're also treating a sh'load of gastroenteritis at Dr. Fernando Correa's office.

As if it were a perfectly normal thing to include in a 6 p.m. newscast, Madden noted that gastroenteritis is "a nasty combination of vomiting and diarrhea." Yes. Yes it is. And we can't think of anything we'd rather hear about at dinnertime. Pardon the pun, but who is the moron that keeps approving this shit?

Let's hope that when Pat's little tiny legs carry her sorry ass into the sunset, the Big Six takes this utterly idiotic feature and hurls it off the weather porch into the path of a speeding beer truck. If ever there were an item that seemed like a parody of something a TV news station would air, this is it, and anyone even remotely involved in producing it should be ashamed. Very ashamed.

"Online @ Five": Time to Reboot

Watching someone surf the web (or talk about it) isn't exactly the most riveting television. It ranks somewhere between Andrea McMaster's "Heartland Focus" and televised fishing. Channel 7's "Online @ Five" feature is worse. The segment seems to be the product of several station aims, most notably to give the impression that the folks at 7 are "with it," as the kids say, when it comes to "computers."

A second goal appears to be to promote KETV's website, which someone inexplicably decided to call "theomahachannel.com," instead of the more sensible (and easier to type) "ketv.com." But that's an entirely different rant.

Guiding this magical tour of the internets each day is the station's obnoxious webmaster, Shiloh Woolman, who is perhaps the worst thing to come out of Morningside College since Pat Persaud. In describing this woman, the phrase, "She has a good radio face," should be modified to "She has a good voice for the deaf." Aside from KFAB radio's Tom Becka, there are few individuals with more grating voices in Omaha media today. Woolman sounds like a cross between the annoying book-lady that Channel 3 formerly featured on its morning show and the actress who so hideously over-acts on those commercials for No-Frills Supermarkets.

And it's not just her voice. Her attire usually looks more appropos of a company picnic, and most everything she says seems designed to impress us with how much she knows or how cool she is. On one segment last week, she launched into a story about how she formerly worked in Washington, followed by a spate of name-dropping, apparently intended to let us know that she's a big-time operator. While that sort of blather might impress a roomful of her fellow webmasters, it doesn't make for very interesting television, and it hardly qualifies as news.

Why the planners at Channel 7 thought it would be a good idea to put Woolman on the air is hard to imagine. Why they keep her there is an even bigger mystery.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Sign Her Up!

KETV should probably consider signing Drake University student and part-time Channel 7 reporter Kailyn Reid to a contract ASAP. Reid has been winning awards left and right for her series last summer on the bullying and murder of a mentally handicapped student in South Omaha.

Not only has she captured $1500 in Hearst Scholarships, the senior broadcast journalism major has been named a Radio Television News Directors Foundation scholar, which she will collect later this month at the RTNDA convention in Las Vegas.
KETV Reporter Gets Student Award [theomahachannel.com]

Peter Jennings Diagnosed with Lung Cancer

ABC made the announcement today.
ABC Says Peter Jennings Has Lung Cancer [ABC/AP]
Internal ABC Memo on Jennings [Drudge]

Ready—or Not—for Their Closeups

We asked for your opinions and got a surprisingly consistent list of folks whose faces you think will be rendered either more attractive or more hideous by HDTV technology. Longtime KM3 reporter Kathy "I Sound Like I Have a Secret" Sarantos-Niver garnered the most concern, while WOWT Rookie of the Year Malorie Maddox's mug is the most eagerly anticipated. Below, with occasional reader comments, are the names most frequently mentioned.

Most Likely to Be More Frightening in HD
1. Kathy Sarantos-Niver, KM3 ("Yamahama, her tiny picture on the web is gruesome. What will she look like in HD?!")
2. Carol Kloss, KETV reporter ("Leatherjacket? More like tight leatherface!")
3. Elictia Hammond, KETV morning anchor ("OmaRosa? That would be an improvement. That haircut makes her look like an Afghan hound.")
4. Merlyn Klaus, WOWT sports [Yeah. Are comments even needed here?]
5. What's-His-Name, KPTM ("So many possibilities. So little time.") [We think that crappy set will suffer more than the personnel from the increased resolution.]
6. Kayla Thomas, KMTV reporter ("A visual disaster, starting with her wardrobe. Were they out of stuff in her size?")

Frightening Honorable Mention: Michelle Bandur, KMTV reporter. Joe Jordan, KMTV reporter. Lee Terry, Sr., KETV Kaleidescope panelist. Michael Born, WOWT weatherboy

Most Likely to Be More Appealing in HD
1. Malorie Maddox, WOWT morning anchor ("The Anti-Sarantos-Niver")
2. Tracy Madden, WOWT anchor ("...but what are those deals on her face? Warts or moles?")
3. Greg Peterson, KMTV anchor ("Classiest of the Male Anchors in Town. Suits alone should look better in HD.")
4. Sarah Simmons, KMTV weekend anchor [Again, no comments, but oft-mentioned.]
5. Andrea Bredow, KETV weatherbimbo [Frequently mentioned but we disagree; this could be scary.]
6. Todd Andrews, KETV reporter [No comments provided.]

Appealing Honorable Mention: Mary Nelson, KMTV reporter

Monday, April 04, 2005

Pat's back and—gack—still a hack!

Pat Persaud returned to the anchor desk at Channel 6 Monday afternoon, dashing hopes for thousands who wanted to believe that she had decided to embark on an earlier-than-planned "retirement." For those of you scoring at home, the magic number is 50.

Weekend Musings

Brandi Petersen anchored the Friday night's 10 o'clock news on Channel 7, while Rob McCartney and Julie Cornell were off hosting an Easter Seals benefit. Can anyone explain why Suzanne Deyo has an anchor assignment and Petersen doesn't? Using Deyo instead of Petersen is like casting Pauly Shore for the lead in a film over Tom Hanks; it should be a no-brainer.

• Speaking of Julie Cornell, we wonder if she introduces herself in social situations as "KETV/Newswatch 7's Julie Cornell," as she always does on TV. With the approaching "retirement" at Channel 6, this little tick will undoubtedly become the most annoying crutch in Omaha TV.

• Are we the only ones who think we might like WOWT reporter Brian New better after he gets through puberty and his voice changes?

• From last week's leftovers bin: During its severe weather week coverage, Channel 3 last week featured a report by meteorolgist Sarah Walters describing the station's 3-D Vipir radar system—something that none of the other stations in the area possess. The report detailed how the technology (which we're not smart enough to explain) can pinpoint areas where tornadoes are likely to occur.

Walters also allowed viewers to see the images provided by the system during last May's tornado that nearly destroyed the town of Hallam, Nebraska. The amazingly accurate information provided by 3-D Vipir that day demonstrates the number of lives that this particular package could save when a storm moves into a population center. Unlike the often over-hyped tools thrown at us by other stations, KM3's 3-D Vipir is, by most accounts, a significant step forward in weather forecasting. Kudos to 3 for bringing it to us (and to Sarah for explaining it).

• And while we're on the subject of Sarah: We try to avoid commenting on appearance, but we have to say we preferred Walters' previous hairstyle to the current one. One reader has suggested that perhaps she was the victim of a Deb Ward/Mary Williams special "KM3 Makeover," the image of which, for some reason, still makes us laugh out loud.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Weekend Special: World-Herald Now Offering Same-Week Coverage of News

Pouncing on the story five days after it appeared on WOWT, Omaha's daily paper on Saturday noted the death of pioneer TV weathercaster Chuck Thomas. Unfrickinbelievable. Rumor has it that the paper will run an article on the death of Pope John Paul II sometime in mid-April.
Charles F. Thomas Was TV Forecaster [OWH]

Friday, April 01, 2005

OMA News Bulletin: Big Shakeup in the Works

Just when we were thinking it'd be safe to get back in the water, we are getting reports that Pat Persaud will be joining the KPTM staff as lead anchor this fall. (This would explain her two-week absence from the air, wouldn't it?) Word is that there are other "big moves" associated with Pat's jump to 42. More info as we get it...

UPDATE: (11:11 a.m.) Negotiations over non-compete clause in Pat's contract are preventing 42 from announcing her as anchor. We're told that another big name in Omaha news (perhaps from Channel 7) is lined up to join her as co-anchor. Working on getting that name. More coming...

1:10 p.m. Conflicting information now suggests that Pat's new KPTM co-anchor could be a former Channel 6-er. (Thom Knight, maybe?) Still working on it...

2:03 p.m. Okay, the latest is that Thom Knight has, indeed, been signed, but for weather (which he apparently did before coming to Omaha). And from what we understand, there is interest at 42 in bringing Travis Justice back to his old stomping grounds to be Pat's co-anchor, but that is all in the very preliminary stages.

2:25 p.m. Holy crap! This is gettin' good. In addition to the aforementioned changes, KMTV's Kayla Thomas will be making a break for Channel 42 this fall to head up the station's new investigative unit. (Sorry for the earlier name mixup. With all the info coming in, it's getting hard to keep names and stations straight.)

2:51 p.m. We think we've nailed down all the personnel changes for the moment. Other details: Apparently, KPTM is planning to put several hundred thousand dollars into a brand-new state-of-the-art studio, to be unveiled when Pat and her yet-to-be-named co-anchor debut in September (perhaps a throne will be part of the deal?).

We're thinking the hiring of this team, combined with the spending on the new set, could be the greatest waste of money in Omaha TV history, except, of course, for Channel 3's hiring of Michael Scott back in the late '90s. What a weird lineup it'll be, especially if Travis becomes part of the mix. Stay tuned.

3:10 p.m. We thought we were done, but now this: KPTM will have Omaha's first-ever all-female anchor team. KETV weekend anchor Suzanne Deyo has been tapped to join Pat at the desk. Current 42 sports chief J.J. Davis will remain. Adding Deyo completes an unprecedented raid by the Fox affiliate of other stations' talent.

Aw, what the hell: several of you (Bandit being the first) have figured out that this is our little April Fool's joke, so we'll stop here. For those of you who caught on early and have been calming your co-workers, we hope you are rewarded for your cool-headed common sense. Have a nice weekend and try not to have nightmares about what this lineup would've looked like in real life.

—TB

Can I Get an Amen?

Here's a great article from the Seattle Times that echoes much of what we were ranting about last week regarding coverage of Terri Schiavo's demise, but we wouldn't limit our criticism to cable outlets. Channel 6 was still running plenty of the same footage of her last night at 10, even though the poor woman had been dead for nearly 36 hours.
Cable news' coverage of Schiavo case was obscene [Seattle Times]
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