Friday, May 27, 2005

You Deserve a Break Today

With the Memorial Day closing of the OMA News headquarters and an out-of-town trip consuming Thursday and Friday of next week, our humble little blog will be on hiatus until June 6th. (Party Bonus: We won't have to watch Omarosa's one-woman show!)

Having posted something nearly every weekday since mid-February, we figured both you and we needed the rest. Keep the cards and emails comin'—we'll read 'em all when we get back!


—Ted and the Gang
(It's a Celebration)

New Front Pushes Out Stale Air

Good Golly, is Tracy Madden rising to the occasion or what?

Wednesday's newscasts featuring Madden revealed a stepped-up confidence and presence that will serve the station well if it continues. Madden was gracious, funny, quick on her feet, and warm—a refershing change from her predecessor. It was nice to see someone who seemed to want to be there.

At 10 p.m., both John Knicely and sports anchor Dave Webber presented Madden with gifts and welcomed her to her new role. Madden seemed genuinely touched, even blushing when Knicely placed his gift bag on the desk between them.

And then there are the new Tracy promos the station is running. Featuring interesting camera angles and editing, they show Madden talking about her view of the news. Perhaps the most impressive thing in them is when she says something like, "If people are giving us 30 minutes of their time, we owe them our best effort."

Now there's an idea. Let's hope her attitude is contagious.

Welcome, Tracy, indeed.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Avert Your Eyes, Children

Several people have wondered what we'd do here at omanews headquarters once Pat was gone. Well, it turns out, we can use some of our time to try and spare viewers from unnecessary suffering. Hence, we are issuing a LEVEL 5 ELICTIA ALERT. (For those of you outside the market, this name is pronounced "uh-LEESH-uh"; the name is normally spelled "Alicia" or "Alycia." Who knows what her parents were thinking.)

KETV morning anchor John Oakey is taking some well-deserved vacation time, which leaves the Newsplex in the clutches of Omaha's scariest co-anchor, Elictia "Omarosa" Hammond.

We strongly advise that anyone operating a remote control between 5 and 7 a.m. exercise extreme caution, lest someone be permanently damaged by excessive exposure to this toothy, sharp-voiced egomaniac. Children, small pets, pregnant women, and those with cardiac problems should be shielded from this gruesome spectacle.

Should you or a loved one accidentally suffer Elictia poisoning, we recommend slamming the affected person's hand in a car door several times. It won't erase the memory of the exposure, but it feels a lot better.

Pat Who?

A very alert reader reports that by 11:30 Wednesday night, newly "retired" anchor Pat Persaud's picture was off the "Meet the WOWT Team!" page, replaced by Tracy Madden's, and Pat's bio was no longer among those on the site.

If actions speak louder than words, then break out the earplugs. The folks at WOWT are itchin' to move on.

Our Long Local Nightmare Is Over

For those of you who missed it, Channel 6's Wednesday night sendoff for "retiring" anchor Pat Persaud—the final installment, that is—was about as forced as one might expect, given that hardly anyone seemed to genuinely care that she was departing.

The last stanza began five or ten minutes into the newscast, as had episodes one and two on Monday and Tuesday. Surprisingly, there were no tears, save for those Queen Pat shed at a newsroom gathering taped earlier in the day. Footage of that scene looked like something straight out of NBC's "The Office," with seven or eight staffers standing in a semi-circle outside their cubicles and looking both uncomfortable and only mildly interested. Less enthusiastic clapping you've never seen.

Meanwhile, back in the studio, as two or three uncredited staff members schlepped in balloons, Pat's longtime co-anchor, John Knicely spent an awkward minute or so babbling about Pat's upbringing (daughter of a Lutheran minister, of Indian descent, immigrated from Guyana when she was eight) and struggling mightily to say something nice about her. As he remarked that the influence of her family was clear, Pat interrupted, saying "I think I had a little something to do with that." We still don't know what she meant by it, but it appeared to be an attempt to make sure that no one else got credit for her accomplishments. It was one of the broadcast's strangest exchanges.

Shortly thereafter, Knicely summoned Pat's husband, Fremont dentist Lumir John Drahota, and their two kids, Zachary and Megan, in from an adjoining studio. The trio ambled in uncomfortably, eventually taking meteorologist Jim Flowers' seat next to Pat, where they stayed—without uttering so much as a word—for the remainder of the program. We're props again, they must've been thinking to themselves.

The presentation of gifts included Knicely giving Pat the box she had stood on whenever she was photographed next to him over the years, a cake from sports anchor Dave Webber, and a framed carricature of the SixNews anchor team. Predictably, Pat giggled a lot, in lieu of coherent remarks.

Thus ended the Persaud era at Channel 6.

Tracy Madden takes over Thursday evening.

Long live the new queen.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

All Deyo Long

Meanwhile, over at Channel 7, they've decided to hype the hell out of Suzanne Deyo's interview with prison escapee Michael Maguire.

We're not sure why, but someone over there thinks viewers will be flocking to their TVs to see this guy. So they had Deyo up and in the studio to preview the piece on Wednesday's morning show.

And, of course, tonight's broadcast is commercial-free.

We're all for trying to blunt the impact of the "retirement" orgy over at Channel 6, but maybe the best way to do that would be to offer viewers a regular newscast that's free of the crap they'll witness if they watch 6 tonight. After all, those who flip are probably looking for just that: the news, the whole news, and nothing but the news.

And Now, The End Is Near

In Part 2 of "Things I Love About Me," Pat Persaud on Tuesday evening presented clips of herself just giggling and giggling. Boy could she giggle.

The interesting thing is that all the clips of her cracking herself up appeared to be at least seven or eight years old. No fun since then, Pat?

God only knows what we'll get tonight. Promos are calling this final installment, "Pat Persaud: Saying Goodbye."

And good riddance. It's long overdue.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Not Over 'Til the Short Lady Sings

What was billed all weekend as a Monday night event—"Pat Persaud: A Look Back"—has mutated into a series. WOWT's website features a crawl saying, "Tomorrow she says goodbye...Join Channel 6 as we look back on Pat's career...'Pat Persaud: A Look Back', Tonight at 10 only on Channel 6 News."

As one of our readers commented on another post, Pat's 19 years at Channel 6 warrants maybe thirty seconds of remarks on the final broadcast, not days of self-congratulatory rhapsodizing about how great she's been. Give us the news and spare us the home-video-worthy scrapbook and orgy of remeniscence.

Queen Pat's exit looks more and more like the work of a communty theater actor milking his death scene for all it's worth—dragging things out far longer than either necessary or tasteful. If there are tears in viewers' eyes when she finally hangs it up on Wednesday night, they won't be shed in empathy; they'll be the result convulsive laughter at self-important Pat's vainglorious stab at significance.

Monday, May 23, 2005

On the Positive Side, There's Tracy

Footage near the end of Channel 6's 10 p.m. news on Monday featured the station's "all-star" softball team playing at a benefit for Children's Hospital. Among those playing were the heir to Queen Pat's throne, Tracy Madden, who played the good sport and took at least one turn at bat.

While the evidence suggests that she's not much of a softball player, it seems pretty clear that she intends to depart from the "too tight-assed for this room" personna perfected by Queen Pat and Julie Cornell. The dawn of the Madden era looks promising indeed.

Patsturbation

WOWT's "retiring" "anchor" Pat Persaud paid loving tribute to herself Monday evening, narrating a retrospective that was every bit as free of substance as most of her "career" has been.

It's really amazing that someone could be at the anchor desk since 1992 and have so little to show for it. Based on the footage included, the highlight of her career appears to be one of the following:
• interviewing the family of a victim of Harold "Walkin' Willie" Otey at the time of his execution,
• Y2K,
• her "many family health reports,"
• a Red Cross blood drive,
• her wedding, or
• trotting her kids out at holiday time.

Those were the only stories in which we actually saw Queen Pat reporting. While she made reference to everything from the 1986 mayoral recall to 9/11, she was conspicuously absent from the coverage of anything significant.

It must be a bit sad to sift through nearly 20 years of news coverage and realize you were involved in so little of the important stuff.

Investigation Log: Sweeps Edition (Updated)

Here are the "investigations" we've been treated to so far during the May sweeps. We'll update it as warranted. If there's one we've missed, drop us an email.

May 1:
KETV, Carol Kloss, Real Estate Agents and Home Inspectors
WOWT, Brian Mastre, Teen Driving Dangers
KPTM, Dave Hansen, Cold Case Files (ongoing)

May 2:
KPTM, Hansen, Meth-Related Health Care in Prison

May 3:
WOWT, Tracy Madden, Meth Dangers
KPTM, Reporter Uknown, Meth Costs Small Counties

May 4:
KETV, Rob McCartney, DNA Testing
KPTM, Dave DeJohn, Cleaning Up after Meth

May 5:
WOWT, Courtny Gerrish, Kids' Instant Messaging "Codes"
KETV, Kloss, Termite Inspectors
KPTM, Elizabeth Merriman, Educating the Public About Meth

May 6:
KPTM, Jo Giles, Meth Orphans

May 8:
KETV, Mike Sigmond, Playing with Lead (no mention of Suzanne Deyo or Andrea Bredow.)
WOWT, Mike McKnight, Some kid lost $20 while in jail

May 9:
KPTM, Hansen, Addicted to Porn
WOWT, Brian New, Tracking Sex Offenders

May 11:
KPTM, Amanda Mueller, Sex Offenders in Hiding
KETV, Jon Schuetz, Knee Therapy

May 12:
WOWT, McKnight, Compensation Investigation (all about guys who drive those giant pickups)

May 15:
KETV, Sigmond, Mystery Shoppers
WOWT, John Knicely, Pawn Detectives

May 16:
WOWT, Smollen, Copper Capers (Copper stolen from eight locations. Gary has a map!)
WOWT, McKnight, Elusive Tickets (Some guy had trouble with TicketMaster, to which we say, "take a number, pal.")

May 17:
WOWT, Rebecca Kleeman, Termites Cause Damage (Gasp!)

May 18:
KETV, Kloss, Rapist on Trial

May 19:
WOWT, Madden, Married Without Children
WOWT, Gary Johnson, Mold, Mildew, and Slime in OHA Apartments

May 22:
KETV, Julie Cornell, Abstinence

May 23:
WOWT, Kleeman, Mediums in the Heartland
WOWT, Pat Persaud (or so it seems), Pat Persaud: A Look Back (The remarkable story of how someone who has difficulty reading a teleprompter could get a lead anchor job and hold it for over a decade. Finally, a story worth investigating!)

May 24:
KETV, Kloss, Interview with a Despicable Piece of Shit (Ivan Henk)

May 25:
KETV, Suzanne Deyo, Four Days on the Run (Interview w/prison escapee Michael McGuire)

Ten Minutes of Non-Stop Pat, No-Wait Delusions, and Leadoff Schmaltz: Pat Celebrating Pat Starts Tonight at 10

Questions we can't help but ask...

• Could Channel 6 promo Monday night's "look back" at "retiring" anchor Pat Persaud''s "career" any harder? We swear they were running that thing every six minutes all weekend. Every time we turned to 6, there she was.

• Are we the only ones who think it's kind of odd that she's narrating most of the promos about this alleged retirement? Why not just have her call it "Pat Persaud: A Celebration of ME!"?

• What's with her repreated thanking of everyone for their "support"? She said the same thing when she announced she was leaving. Support for what? And when? Knowing what we know of Queen Pat's "work," it's probably just a meaningless phrase that she thought sounded good.

• It seems strange that the shot of her sitting in the dark (see example at right) is the same sort of look you get when they're interviewing someone who doesn't want to be identified. Then again, if you were as piss-poor at your job as Pat has been at hers for the past five or ten years, you might want your identity protected, too.

Counterprogramming Against Pat's Retirement, Step 3: Ditch the Commercials

While "retiring" anchor Pat Persaud wallows in self-congratulatory monkeyshit and (probably) sobs off into the sunset, Channel 7 is airing its 10 p.m. Wednesday newscast commercial-free.

This is supposedly "Plan B" for Wednesday. There was talk of having anchor Julie Cornell and her husband, Chief Meteorologist Bill Randby, spend the whole 35 minutes doing the horizontal mambo on the anchor desk, as a follow-up to Julie's Sunday-Monday sex series.

It seems the idea lost momentum when everyone got a little too creeped out by reporter Tom Elser's insistence that he be appointed "lubrication engineer" and allowed to wear a swimming cap for the evening. At least that's what we've heard; it could just be a wild story someone made up.

Counterprogramming Against Pat's Retirement, Step 2: Have Julie Talk About Sex AGAIN

The series on abstinence, "WAIT Training," (get it?) started Sunday evening. Part 2 airs Monday night.

Counterprogramming Against Pat's Retirement, Step 1: Have Julie Talk About Sex

It's probably just our dirty minds at work, but KETV anchor Julie Cornell's "diary" this week—on the topic of abstinence—seems to be especially full of thought-provoking phrases.

It probably didn't help that the "Julie's Diary" email announcing the stories started with this line: "An abstinence trainer wants your child to have mind-blowing sex -- just not right now." Some other examples:

• "STDs are going up in virgins." (Note to self: There is no situation in which the phrase "going up in virgins" doesn't sound dirty).

• "Gretna students will be exposed to an abstinence message by a motivational speaker" (as in, "My name is Matt Foley and I'm a ..."?).

• "The number one reason children wait to have sex, is because their parents told them to do so," Kocian said. "We need to turn these kids around." (Huh?)

• "We know we don't have one golden bullet." (No, but we'll bet they have a whole rack of 'em at Dr. John's.)

Friday, May 20, 2005

Changing the Channel

With the final three days of Queen Pat's reign approaching, we thought it would be refreshing to think about something else. Acutally, anything else. As a change of pace, we offer another list of things we'd like to see more of...

A dedicated reporter for "Live at Daybreak." Face it: there are only so many times WOWT's Malorie Maddox and her co-anchor can pretend to care about "First Birthdays" or "DriveTimeSaver Traffic." We understand the rationale for the frequent repetition of the basic elements, but couldn't we break the monotony at least twice an hour?

Mike Sigmond. Sigmond, KETV's consumer reporter, seems to be the only guy in town who's allowed to be a wiseass on-air. His tongue-in-cheek investigations, like the one he did when Mike Severe's kitchen sink backed up, are superb. While he may be over-using his mom as a sidekick, even those reports are a breath of fresh air in that they allow us to actually see a guy on TV who realizes that the fate of the western world isn't hanging on every story.

Greg Peterson's reporting. We've already lauded the KMTV anchor's colonoscopy series this week. He's a huge ASSet (couldn't resist the pun). But we're serious: they really do need to get this guy out of the studio more for imporant stories like that one.

Amanda Mueller. Fox 42 seldom has this much talent on staff, particularly in one person. We're still lobbying for Mueller to replace Taylor Wilson in the anchor chair next to the station's other gem, Tracy Jacim.

And finally...

Pat Persaud standing on the floor (not on the usual box or milk crate) next to John Knicely. If we could get Knicely into a white suit, it'd look like a dinner-theater production of "Fantasy Island."

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Making a Bad Thing Worse

Building on the phenomenal success they've had with calling Jim Flowers' weather report "the forcast for where you live," the Mensa Society members who run Channel 6 have decided to beat yet another phrase to death. Now, every night during the 10 p.m. newscast, one of the station's anchor/reporters is saddled with giving us "news for where you live," a 60 or 90 second content-free blurb about whatever that day's theme is.

It's like on the 1950s version of the Mickey Mouse club, when Tuesday was "Guest Star Day," Wednesday was "Anything Can Happen Day," and Thursday was "Roy Gets Drunk and Passes Out in a Pool of His Own Vomit Day." At WOWT, Wednesday is "Illnesses and Injuries" Night, with poor Tracy Madden delivering a sort of dumbed-down version of the idiotic "What's Going Around" feature that we hate so much on "Live at Five."

Hey mouseketeers: this is what it looks like when a news director and station manager are totally out of ideas and way past their professional primes. It's pretty clear that we're not going to see anything new or innovative out of these schmucks. The only question now is how long the station's owners will put up with this sad state of affairs.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Let the Sickening, Self-Aggrandizing Retrospective Bullshit Promos Begin

We're really lucky these didn't start sooner. WOWT has started running promos in which the "retiring" "anchor" Pat Persaud proclaims that her "time at Channel 6 will soon come to an end." Pat oozes platitudes for another 30 seconds or so while a v-roll montage shows us Pat over the past 19 years and dozens of hairstyles (mullets included).

At one point declaring, "I've done it all!", Pat seems to fancy herself a broadcast legend in the mold of Barbara Walters and Jane Pauley. Who's going to break it to her that she's more likely to be compared with Les Nessman and Ron Burgundy?

One week from tonight, the milk crate goes into mothballs and the nightmare comes to a merciful (and probably maudlin) end.

Paging John Clark...Mr. John Clark, Red Courtesy Phone Please

If ever there were an article that just about everyone at Channel 6 should read, it's Mistakes Are Bad News by newswriting coach Mervin Block.

Block's article describes 16 mistakes that news directors make that diminish the strength of their product. The piece reads like a prescription for much of what ails the sluggish WOWT evening newscasts.

Our favorites, which we'll call "The John Clark Five":

4. Tolerating the ing thing: writing with participles and shunning verbs with a tense: “Governor Grover’s office saying today the governor...”
6. Slapping the banner “Breaking News” on stories long broken.
8. Introducing reporters as “live.”
9. Assigning reporters to conduct man-on-the-street interviews instead of assigning reporters to report.
13. Green-lighting anchors’ chit-chatting, giggling and ceaseless, senseless smiling.

Read the entire article and other interesting observations at mervinblock.com.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

What the hell is Pat wearing tonight?

It's a study in contrasts, if nothing else. Male anchor wearing a professional looking coat and tie. Female "anchor" dressed like she's attired for the annual dental office picnic.

The yellow outfit WOWT anchor Pat Persaud draped herself in Tuesday evening was an, um, interesting choice, to say the least. Scooping from one shoulder down to mid-sternum and then back up to the other shoulder, this little number showed way more skin than a woman pushing 50 with a nasty chicken neck ought to be showing .

Thank God there's only one more week of this ongoing joke.

The Lloyd Christmas Award for Dumb Remarks

As if to remind us that only half of Omaha's stupidest anchor team is "retiring," WOWT's John Knicely has been getting extra airtime the past couple of weeks, filling in on "Live at Four" for Brian Mastre, who is keeping the "Live at Daybreak" seat next to Malorie Maddox warm during May sweeps.

During Tuesday's broadcast, viewers were treated to the following display of Knicely's trademark ability to say words that add absolutely nothing to the mix:

Tracy Madden: "Keep it tuned right here for a rundown of this week's best buys."

Knicely: "A complete rundown!"

Thanks, John.

Up until now, Pat Persaud's stumbling and bumbling performance has served Knicely well, making him look smooth by comparison. It'll be interesting to see how he'll do when he has a fully functioning co-anchor next to him. If what we've seen on the 4 p.m. cast is any indication, things don't look promising.

Footnote: In that "Best Buys" segment, The Heartland's News Leader reported that Bag 'n' Save is selling Boneless Beef Rump Roast for $1.77 a pound, and Chubb's has Jumbo Hot Dogs for just 99¢!

Talk about taking one for the team...

So many potential cheap jokes, so little time. KM3 anchorman Greg Peterson offers himself up for probing tonight, but not in that way. In fact, it's pretty admirable: He begins a two-part series on colon cancer and, in the process, undergoes a colonoscopy himself.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., and experts contend that many of those deaths could be prevented if only more people would undergo the procedure.

Wow. What a novel concept. An anchor sacrificing his pride for something beyond ratings. Peterson could've taken the stunt route and had himself tasered for no particular reason (as WOWT's John Knicely did, not long ago), but instead, he chose to do a story on something that will actually affect more than a half-dozen viewers.

Granted, it's essentially a local version of the story Katie Couric did a couple of years ago, but stories like this probably can't be repeated often enough, given their life and death implications.

Monday, May 16, 2005

WOWT Gets Maddox Partner

"Live at Daybreak" anchor Malorie Maddox will be looking at a familiar face first thing in the morning, now that Channel 6 has hired her former Joplin, Missouri co-anchor to rejoin her at the anchor desk in Omaha. Jimmy Siedlecki has been anchoring and serving as assistant news director at KODE since 2002 and formerly worked as a sports anchor in Evansville, Indidana. Maddox came to WOWT from KODE last fall.

Since When Do Anchors Take Days Off During Sweeps?

Just when we were ready to propose a "Free John Oakey" campaign to get the KETV anchor released from his obnoxious co-anchor, Elictia Hammond, the gods gave us a respite Monday morning. The Omarosa lookalike was nowhere to be found, leaving Oakey to deliver the news to us without her shrill babble sending viewers scrambling for their remotes. If Channel 6 had the wherewithal, it would have been wise to steal Oakey away from Channel 7 and pair him Malorie Maddox. Non-compete clauses or no, it would have been worth the wait.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Hansen On the Job

Contrary to a rumor that surfaced on our comments board, KPTM's Dave Hansen was not suspended over his story this week on internet porn. A source at Channel 42 characterizes the report as "not true."

Hell, when you have FOX in your station's name, porn stories usually mean a promotion, don't they?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Pat Speaks

Leave it to WOWT's most visible developmental reader, Pat Persaud, to have trouble showing up for an interview.

Sean Weide reports that the slippery "retiring" anchor had to "delay an interview request so she could get her children signed up for swimming and tennis lessons." What a pro. A full account of Weide's talk with Queen Pat appears in this week's Reader.

So she can't keep an interview appointment. She has trouble working more than about three days in a row. And, as someone deftly noted in a recent comment/post, it's obvious that she's seeing her copy for the first time when she reads it on air. What, he wonders, does she do all day? Besides signing her kids up for lessons, of course. (In the aforementioned article, she claims to work from 2:00 to 10:30 p.m.)

Even if she had been asked to take a 50 percent pay cut, Persaud should have jumped on any contract she was offered. Where else could she work about 93 minutes a day, be embarrasingly bad at her job, and indulge in seemingly unlimited sick time? Her gig makes the late Dean Martin's work schedule look grueling. (For those of you too young to remember: Dino was legendary for refusing to rehearse, showing up only for the taping of his show on Sunday afternoon, doing just one take, and vacating NBC studios in Burbank via helicopter before the credits were finished rolling.)

This much is certain: glum-faced Pat will never have it this easy again. Her stupid career move, however, is Omaha television's gain. After today, only eight days left in her "career."

At What Point Did We Start Blaming Highways for Accidents?

Moronic Interviewee of the Month Award goes to the guy whose daughter, who doesn't even have a drivers license, rolled her car while going 80 mph on brick-paved Old Lincoln Highway in Elkhorn. Interviewed Thursday on WOWT's 10 p.m. cast by the seemingly pulseless Gary Smollen, this nitwit had the nerve to suggest that the state look into making that particular stretch of road safer.

Note to dumbass: It is safe...IF YOU'RE NOT GOING 80 MILES AN HOUR!

From the news side of things, when Smollen (or producers) realized this was all they had, couldn't they have figured out another angle to take? The interview was clearly conducted in broad daylight, and Pat Persaud told us Smollen followed up the footage "reporting live," so why couldn't somebody do a little extra work and keep the idiot dad off the air altogether? Is that really asking too much?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Tuesday/Wednesday Splatterings

• Anyone playing the drinking game and watching WOWT's 10 p.m. news on Tuesday would've been dead from alcohol poisoning before the first commercial. John Knicely and Pat Persaud were indulging their "so-and-so, reporting live" fetish to a degree unmatched in our memory. Honest to God, they must've said it six or seven times, even though they conversed with each reporter and it would've been obvious even to Rosie O'Donnell's character in that awful TV movie that we were gettting a live report. Morons.

• With Andrea Bredow missing from this morning's news on Channel 7, it fell to Chuck "Mumbles" McWilliams to deliver today's forecast. We don't know which is worse: Bredow, who sounds like she's talking with a couple of jawbreakers in her mouth, or McWilliams, who reminds us of a listless teenager taking our order at Arby's.

Dave Webber made a rare trip out of the studio for the 6 (and perhaps 5) p.m. newscast on Channel 6 to deliver his report from Rosenblatt Stadium, where the Nebraska and Creighton baseball teams were about to meet. Ross Jernstrom crowded into the shot with Webbs at one point and looked as if he were about to poop his pants with excitement. For just a moment, set aside Jernstrom's cheesy grin and munchkin-like voice. There's something disturbing about a guy who gets that big a chubby over whatever he's covering.

• An alert reader points out that of all the stations in Omaha, only KETV was able to run two crawls on Tuesday evening: one containing election results, and the other delivering severe weather updates. Everyone else was limited to one crawl, with an assortment of radar images and weather bugs cluttering the rest of the screen on every station.

CORRECTION: An second alert reader points out that WOWT did run election results just above its weather crawl. Channel 6's results just weren't crawling. Sorry. Our bad, as the kids say.

Brian Mastre was absent from the "Live at Daybreak" anchor desk Wednesday morning, just two days into his stint as a temporary replacement for Trey Jones. Malorie Maddox flew solo and, as usual, never missed a beat. She's one of just a few anchors in town capable of carrying a newscast on her own.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

KMTV Likely to Be Sold

Emmis Communications announced Tuesday that it is considering selling some or all of its TV stations, one of which is Omaha's Channel 3.
Emmis Considers Selling Its TV Stations

Monday, May 09, 2005

Weekend Leftovers

• The June issue of Her magazine, a local freebie, is on newsracks around town and carries a feature on KM3 anchor Deb Ward.

• Information surfacing now suggests that, indeed, WOWT anchor Pat Persaud's "retirement" was at least partially instigated by the station. Apparently, management approached her about taking a pay cut. When she balked, the station refused to budge, and, yadda yadda yadda, she's done on the 25th.

• Things were so busy last week we neglected to mention WOWT's new "virtual" set, now being used for first few minutes of 10 news. The computer-generated backdrop, inserted electronically behind anchors standing in front of a green screen, is similar to the virtual backdrop used to tease viewers regarding the coming evening's broadcast. While it looks a little hokey, it's nice to see any kind of change in the routine over there after so many years of the monotonous "ten minutes of non-stop news, no-wait weather, and leadoff sports."

• Another new feature is a mini-segment of "news for where you live." In it, Tracey Madden or some other designated reporter delivers a brief followup/sidebar to the preceding story. It appears to be an attempt to emulate the Channel 3 approach in which the team attempts to give viewers a sense of the practical impact of a given story. Let's just say, for 6, it's gonna take some practice.

• One of our readers, a former Omaha resident now back in Des Moines, gives this scouting report on Sheila Brummer, who'll be replacing Madden on WOWT's "Live at 4":

"Sheila is about as good on TV as any other Morningside graduate. I've lived in the DSM area off and on all my life. Couldn't be happier to see she was off the morning news here. Maybe working the afternoon shift will liven her up a little bit, but I doubt it."

That doesn't seem encouraging. The same reader also has an interesting take on why Brummer left her Des Moines gig, but lacking corroboration, we'll sit on that for now.

• It's only one day, and maybe we'll get as sick of seeing him in the morning as we are of seeing him in the afternoons and evenings, but Brian Mastre's presence on "Live at Daybreak" this morning with Malorie Maddox was surprisingly not terrible. He seems much more palatable at that hour for some odd reason. But, again, it was only Day One of this reportedly temporary reassignment.

• KM3's Devon Patton, whose hiring seems like a worse idea every time we see him, did a riveting piece on Saturday evening about fluctuating fuel prices. Patton shocked us with news that gas prices (a) are higher than a year ago, and (b) have been going up and down in recent months. Exhibiting the sort of effort normally associated with Channel 6, he went out and got his story about 20 yards from KMTV's studios—at a QuickTrip on 108th Street. There, he introduced viewers to one QT customer who displayed the notepad on which she keeps track of her gasoline purchases. Wow. Just like Aunt Gertrude used to keep on long car trips. The part of the story that made us laugh, however, came when Patton described the woman's notepad as a "personal gas journal." We're feeling lazy this afternoon, so you'll need to insert your own fart joke here.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Just Goin' Where the Action Is

We continue to receive emails and comments suggesting that we're spending too much time writing about Channel 6. In some ways, we agree. But the fact is that right now, 6 is where the stories are. It has been the big fish in a small pond for a long time, and the recent unpheavals—in terms of both ratings and turnover—are causing lots of buzz among viewers and insiders alike.

While KETV deserves some credit for turning up the heat on WOWT, at least half of the latter station's problems are of its own making. Complacency and an unwillingness to move beyond a format adopted a decade or so ago have rendered the whole operation sluggish. The ongoing mismanagement of talent—hiring and keeping too many of the wrong people—has only compounded the problem.

If Channel 6 continues its downward spiral, and KM3 can upgrade the look of its product (see "Three for 3"), it could make serious inroads by drawing away viewers disaffected by 6's calcification. If not, Channel 7 may find itself holding an astronomical share of the market. Among the last things any of us needs is for Julie Cornell to get the impression that she's Omaha's news queen.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Hits Just Keep on Comin': One Bad Decision After Another at WOWT

Place the barf bag near the bed. Come Monday morning, bloated oaf Brian Mastre will be weighing down the anchor chair next to Malorie Maddox on WOWT's "Live at Daybreak." (Trey Jones' last day is Friday.) It truly is raining crap over there right now.

Speaking of Mastre, watching him stroll along a fence last night in his ridiculous looking sunglasses was quite a treat. He looked as if he should be following a seeing-eye dog. What a buffoon. And now Channel 6 thinks it'll help things to limp through the rest of sweeps with his well-fed cheeks cluttering our screen every morning.

What a flippin' mess.

Riding the Short Bus with My Sister



Okay, this has nothing to do with Omaha TV, unless you count the fact that it was viewed on TVs in Omaha, but this TVgasm.com highlight reel from Rosie O'Donnell's made-for-TV movie "Riding the Bus with My Sister" made us laugh so hard we became incontinent. Enjoy. And don't send us outraged emails about our lack of sensitivity; you know we're insensitive, but you're here anyway, right?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Is Morningside Really a College?

One concern we have about newly hired anchor/reporter Sheila Brummer: she is a graduate of Morningside College. Now, we hate to impugn the reputation of a school, but TV news in Omaha has not exactly had the best luck with Morningside alums. KETV's multiply-challenged webmistress Shiloh Woolman claims to have a degree from there, as does WOWT anchor hobbyist Pat Persaud.

Apparently a Morningside education doesn't prepare you to check facts, for example. On Wednesday's 10 p.m. news, Persaud finished a story about proposed changes to the FDIC by noting that it was established "after the depression" to protect depositors from losing their money. However, devoting 30 seconds to a Google search would have shown Pat that the FDIC was actually established in 1934—smack-dab in the middle of the Great Depression.

But why would someone who can't seem to read her copy before going on the air bother with such details? Someone put it in front of her (or she dreamed it up) and she read it.

If Brummer is as annoying as Woolman or as lazy as Persaud, someone needs to see what the hell's going on at Morningside.

WOWT Brings in New Face for "Live at 4"

The Reader hitting stands Wendesday evening contains Sean Weide's report that WOWT has hired Sheila Brummer to fill Tracy Madden's spot as "Live at 4" anchor when Madden ascends to the top female anchor spot later this month. Brummer's bio says she's been working in TV for a decade or so, most recently as a reporter and morning anchor for KCCI in Des Moines.

Brummer may be turn out to be the station's savior, for all we know. But in selecting her for the position, Channel 6 snubbed weekend anchor (and eight-year WOWT employee) Courtny Gerrish, who had also sought the job.

This is yet another brilliant move by the bosses at the Little Six. One station insider reports that passing over a longtime employee who has looks, brains, and skills in favor of an outsider who isn't even currently employed has left folks there shaking their heads. We wonder what kind of message it sends other competent talent at the station.

Gerrish is a class act who kept the morning show afloat for years, despite the presence of insufferable co-anchor Thom Knight, and who has been paired more recently with Paul Baltes on the weekend shift. Baltes, while adequate, is so dull that he's almost invisible, leaving Gerrish to carry the broadcast. She deserves better.

We can only imagine what stroke of genius they have in mind for replacing Trey Jones as "Live at Daybreak" anchor. If the Channel 6 braintrust is true to form, they'll plop some charisma-challenged boob like Doug Walker or Gary "I Couldn't Sound Less Excited" Smollen in the chair next to shining star Malorie Maddox and totally screw up what is currently their strongest program.

Events over the past year or two suggest that WOWT is a sinking ship and that those steering it haven't the slightest idea how to save it. (Witness the amount of time it took them to figure out that Pat Persaud needed to be "retired.") Don't be surprised if you start seeing more of the crew following the lead of Jones and heading for the lifeboats.

Patwatch: 24 Possible Workdays Left


This is a Pat Persaud rain slicker alert. This is NOT a drill. Repeat: This is NOT a drill.

After taking a well-deserved day off on Tuesday (she'd worked six weekdays in a row!), the occasional WOWT anchor showed up on Wednesday's 5 o'clock news sporting her yellow jacket. For those of you with money on the number of times she'll wear it between now and May 25th: this is the first time she's donned it since this line of betting was opened at those unsavory offshore casinos.

Great Scott! Sunday Night's All Right for Fighting in KC, Too

Talk about convergence. We were just writing about the local trend toward placing primary anchor teams on Sunday night duty during sweeps periods (if two stations doing something constitutes a trend). And it wasn't too long ago that we mentioned former KETV and KMTV anchor Michael Scott.

Lo and behold, Aaron Barnhart's article in Wednesday's Kansas City Star reveals that the Sunday night phenomenon is happening in that market too. The station starting the trend in KC last year was CBS affiliate KCTV, which is now home to—you guessed it—Michael Scott.

Not convinced about the convergence theory yet? Scott's station bills itself as "Live. Late Breaking. Investigative." Oy. Again with the "investigative."

Maybe this isn't so much convergence as an example of what they warn you about when you play Donkey Basketball. The first instruction they give you is that if one donkey drops a load, you're to get your donkey to the other end of the floor, so that he doesn't get a whiff of it. Because as soon as they smell the sweet aroma of excrement, all the other donkeys follow suit.
KMBC Sends A Team to Sundays [Kansas City Star]

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Just So We're Clear About This

We've received more than a few emails from readers unhappy with our comments about Channel 6. We've been accused of, among other things, having a "vendetta" against spritely anchor Pat Persaud, and of favoring Channel 7 and/or Channel 3, and/or Channel 42. Some have also suggested that our comments are unfairly directed at reporters who are just doing their jobs. With that last comment, we mostly agree.

Here's the deal: almost all of our gripes about Channel 6 are about things that management has screwed up, not reporters or anchors. Tired format? News directors and assignment editors are to blame. Inane, over-hyped stories about vegetables and speed-zappers? Ditto. Does anyone think Rebecca Kleeman was itching to go stand in front of Conestoga Middle School in Nehawka all day, or that she lobbied for having a live camera there for 10 to 12 hours in case a bomb actually went off? Or, for that matter, that she came up with hyping a story on gargantuan fruits and veggies? Not bloody likely.

Granted, we've taken shots at Andrea McMaster for being an inept anchor, at Persaud for being perhaps the laziest excuse for a journalist we've ever seen, and at Brian Mastre for just coming across as an all-around goon. But they didn't hire themselves. It's not as if they just walked in one day and started doing stories. Someone hired them and continues to put up with them, rather than coaching them and insisting that they do better work. That's a management failure.

So when we're picking at 6, for the most part, we're picking at those running the show. Sure, there's some dead wood there when it comes to "talent." But on-air idiocy is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself.

Weather We Need It or Not

Rather than hype stories about how giant melons are endangering the lives of the elderly, Channel 3 is trying something odd: original programming that focuses on one of the station's strengths. Crazy, isn't it?

But that's what they're doing on Wednesday at 6 p.m., when they air "First with Severe Weather: 10 Ways to Survive the Storm." Featuring KMTV meteorologists Ryan McPike, Sarah Walters, Charles Thongklin, and Suzanne Matthews, the program will offer, as the title suggests, informative tips for dealing with the violent storms that so often strike the region in May and June. The show comes, incidentally, just two days short of the 30th anniversary of the 1975 tornado that began at 108th & Giles Road and ripped across southwest Omaha, up 72nd Street, and left the ground only after reaching the Benson golf course; it is still ranked as one of the most costly tornadoes ever to strike the US.

What's nice about 3's weather coverage is that it generally avoids the hysterical doomsday approach of Jim Flowers' gang at Channel 6, and isn't dependent on the presence of its chief meterologist to communicate during a severe weather outbreak, as is Channel 7. (Anyone who witnessed Andrea Bredow's fumbling, bumbling, stumbling performance during the storms that produced the Hallam tornado last year knows what we mean. By the time chief Bill Randby arrived, 20 minutes into the cut-in, Bredow was barely able to form sentences.)

The focus at KMTV is on informing viewers so that they can take sensible measures to protect themselves. Nothing more, nothing less. Channel 3's crew is well-schooled in meteorology, equipped with superior gizmos like its 3-D Vipir radar, and capable of delivering the latest information without conveying a sense that they're about to experience a Flowers-style, on-air, weather-induced orgasm.

So not only will Channel 3 air "First with Severe Weather," it will likely remain first when it comes to covering it.

Investigative Sweeps

'Tis the season to "investigate." At least that's how May sweeps seem to be shaping up for Channels 6 & 7. On Sunday night, WOWT's Brian Mastre dug into teen driving dangers, and Tuesday night, we're promised a Tracy Madden investigation into victims of meth.

Over at KETV, Sunday night's focus was real estate inspectors referred by agents, with Carol Kloss, who appears to have misplaced her trusty leather jacket, doing the legwork. To her credit, Kloss' report actually seemed newsworthy; to what extent can you trust an inspector whose primary qualification is that he paid the real estate agent a $2500 fee to get business directed his way? It was a question worthy of viewers' time.

For the most part, however, these "investigations" tend to look like little more than high school research paper topics. How much "investigation" does it take to pull up a few statistics on teenage drivers and then interview a couple of victims or parents of victims? The same goes for the meth story.

If all these wannabe gumshoes are more than you can stomach, don't forget there's Channel 3, which deliberately avoids these overhyped stunt stories. Watching them, even if just for a month, would be a nice reward for their willingness to forego the circus that 6 & 7 seem hell-bent on manufacturing.

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Tube, It Is a-Changin'

If you want a sense of where TV is headed, a Sunday Chicago Tribune article provides some interesting clues. TV, it says, will change as much in the next five years as it has in the past 50. We wonder what impact this will have on local broadcast outlets.
6 Ways TV is Changing Your Life> [Chicago Tribune]

Weekend Notes (or While You Were Shivering)

• Taking a page from the KETV playbook, WOWT has decided to put its best anchors on the Sunday 10 p.m. newscast, which is traditionally the most-watched of the week. John Knicely and Tracy Madden were on duty Sunday night, as were Channel 7's Rob McCartney and Julie Cornell. KETV began deploying its primary anchor team on Sunday nights during sweeps periods a while back, and it has apparently paid off, as Channel 7 now leads or is neck-and-neck with Channel 6 in many of the timeslots where they go head-to-head.

• We assume that Madden's presence on the set Sunday reflects the station's desire to showcase her, rather than yet another instance of Pat Persaud just not being able to make it to work. However it may well be an indication of how folks at 6 view Pat's effect on ratings.

• Are we the only ones who found it sick that Channel 6 posted a live crew outside Conestoga Middle School on Thursday? The high school had received a threat earlier in the week suggesting that a bomb would go off on "4-28-05," prompting officials to move students to the middle school for the day. WOWT had poor Rebecca Kleeman doing live shots from the scene before the sun was even up, keeping her there all day and sending in Gary Johnson to relieve her for the afternoon broadcasts. The posture of the station wasn't flattering; you had the distinct impression that someone calling the shots at 6 was really hoping for some good old-fashioned mayhem.

• Screechy, self-absorbed KETV morning anchor Elictia "Omarosa" Hammond, who looked even more scary than usual this morning, is said to be engaged. We're told that she is betrothed to a local minister. God help him.
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