Thursday, June 30, 2005

A Mid-Year Resolution

After much thoughtful consideration (or what passes for it here at the OMAnews offices), we've decided that for the month of July, we're going to totally ignore the Big Six.

No, you're not hallucinating. We've decided to take a break from the Six-bashing. The plan is that no matter what happens in the Kingdom of Jonas and Clark, we're keeping our thoughts to ourselves. To give you a sense of what we have in mind, we've prepared this brief Q&A:

Q: What if Pat Persaud were to come back, put her head down on the anchor desk, and sleep through through an entire "Ten at Ten" EVERY night? Then, would you write about it?

A: Not a chance.

Q: What if a tornado hits and Jim Flowers is shown sitting in a recliner, calmly reading a fishing magazine and then saying "SuperDoppler 6000, my ass" on the air. Certainly, you'd mention that, right?

A: Certainly not.

Q: Okay. How about if, in the middle of the Saturday 10 p.m. news, Courtny Gerrish finally snaps and starts screaming at Paul Baltes to start carrying his share of the load, beating him mercilessly with a rolled-up newspaper and dropping variations of the f-bomb every other word? You wouldn't be able to resist that, would you?

A: Be able we would.

Q: What if WOWT delivered one entire 4 p.m. newscast that was (1) full of fresh, substantive stories, (2) free of technical glitches, and (3) free of consultant-driven gimmicks and slogans?

A: Okay, now you're just talkin' crazy.

So maybe that wasn't all that helpful. But you get the idea. No mention of Channel 6 for an entire month. Starting tomorrow.

KM3 Delivers Its Spin on May Ratings

KMTV issued a press release on Wednesday highlighting what it sees as bright spots in the recently issued May sweeps ratings.

Entitled "KMTV Viewership Continues to Grow," the 121-word statement boasts that
  • the station ranked first in total viewers, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., mainly on the strength of its network and syndicated programming, including Regis & Kelly, The Price is Right, Dr. Phil, and Oprah;
  • KM3 was first in primetime, mirroring CBS' strong national performance;
  • Channel 3's 5 p.m. newscast viewership among the 25-54 demographic increased 37 percent (over what period it doesn't say);
  • compared with year-earlier numbers, Late Night with David Letterman's numbers were up 12 percent.
All of this impels us, then, to ask: with a strong daytime, primetime, and late night lineup, why do the station's 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts remain mired in third place?

That's actually a rhetorical question. We've offered our own hypothesis several times. The answer involves an annoying nasal voice that emanates from something that looks like this:

Granted, the Channel 3 news budget needs to be increased to add personnel and overhaul its visuals, but putting an end to the nightly bleating of this guy would both free up some dollars and give viewers less reason to tune out.

As one of our alert readers (who goes by the name of "Luke" on these pages) asks, "Does Travis have any understanding of voice modulation? Everything he says sounds like a Menards commericial."

If people are watching KM3, it's probably more in spite of him than because of him.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Media Biz Clippings

Finally, A Place for Great Radio Faces: Check out this story about a Detroit TV station whose reporter remains off-camera. Always. Do you think we could get Travis Justice to do stories in which neither his face nor his voice get into the story?
Channel 4 Mystery Reporter Is Intriguing [Detroit Free Press]

Wherever They Can Get It: A firm that tracks ad spending, oxymoronically-named TNS Media Intelligence says that if TV networks and stations had to pay for the ads they run promoting themselves, that spending would account for 22 percent of television advertising revenue. Reported in the New York Post, this information probably wouldn't surprise most viewers, who've long known of local TV's self-loving ways.
TV Stations Are Their Own Best Customers [NY Post] (free registration required)

One Biiiillion Dollars: The CEO of KMTV's owner, Emmis Communications, Jeff Smuylan, says he's hearing from lots of companies interested in buying his company's television stations, which went up for sale recently. He's thinking they may fetch a billion dollars or more. Latest rumors suggest the possibility of a swap with Disney involving its radio stations.
Emmis Aims To Fetch Over $1 Billion For TV Assets [Radio and Records]

The Sweeps Are Coming! Quick! Let's Find Something to Investigate!

The madness begins. On Thursday night at 10, KETV's answer to Inspector Gadget, Carol Kloss, delves into the heretofore undiscovered topic of "Child Support Trouble." Why isn't there an emoticon for eye-rolling?

Sheila's Shifting History

As noted earlier, new WOWT anchor/reporter Sheila Brummer's bio on the Big Six website was posted Monday. Among other things, it says that she "grew up watching Channel 6 while growing up on a farm in Western Iowa." Other than awkward phrasing, nothing odd there, right?

Well. While we were trying to Google up a picture of Brummer to put in place of the "Picture Coming Soon" space-filler linked from the WOWT website, we stumbled onto her bio from KCCI in Des Moines. For some reason, that account says that "Sheila grew up on a farm in central Iowa" (italics added for emphasis).

We have to wonder if her bio during her time at a Wisconsin station described her as being raised on a farm in "America's Dairyland."

A quick look at a map of Iowa counties reveals that those named by this former "Four County Fair Queen" (Harrison, Shelby, Monona, and Crawford) are clearly in the western part of the state. So it's not like this is a case where you could say, "well, some people consider it western Iowa but others think of it as central Iowa." It's not even close.

We're not suggesting that this is scandalous. But what would motivate someone to (apparently) fudge on something so mundane? Is she so eager to fit in that she's willing to bend the truth if needed? Or is she just really bad at geography? - KCCI - Sheila Brummer

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Revisiting Our Identity Crisis

We've discussed this before, both on this page and in dozens of emails. The last time we addressed the issue in a post (back in February), we were averaging just over 100 readers per day. With current levels reaching about ten times that figure, this might be a good time to restate a few things.

First, let's look at what we wrote back on 2/25:

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

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

So what can we add?

For starters, we can say that our hunch regarding the need for a pseudonym seems prescient, especially if you read the tone of the speculation in the MediaLine discussion board thread devoted to us. Weird wild stuff.

Second, we will underscore that none of us, including Ted, has ever worked in television. Ever. In any capacity. Ever. Swear to God, hope to die, stick a needle in our eye.

But seriously: we're really NOT TV or media types. You wouldn't know us if we listed our names here in 24-point bold-faced font. We're just viewers writing a little blog that keeps track of what's going on in Omaha TV. We started it out of frustration with two things: that the daily newspaper here in town can't seem to find space for such news, and that local TV seems to be getting worse, not better.

People we are NOT:
  • Sean Weide (this is the most frequent guess we've received). We didn't even know Sean existed when we started this. We now know who he is and we've even corresponded with him on occasion, but he does not write for OMAnews.
  • Jim Fagin (this is the most surprising guess). We hope we don't sound like the kind of people who would cut their own hair. But beyong that, we didn't even know Fagin was still in town until he sent us an email noting that he had been accused of being Ted. Ouch.
  • Mike Sigmond (we hear this is the top guess at WOWT). Sigmond was recently absent for a week or two, we assume, on his honeymoon. If you examine the amount of writing posted in that same period, you'll quickly conclude that either (A) he spent his honeymoon within reach of local broadcast signals or (B) he is not associated with OMAnews. (Hint: Choose B.) Beyond that, if Sigmond were writing this, do you think he could've left his mom out of it for this long?
There are six or seven billion other people that we are not, but listing them all here would be tedious. No one has a clue who we are, and that's the way (uh-huh, uh-huh) we like it and expect it to stay.

Separated at Birth? The Gomer Strikes Back

WOWT Morning Anchor Jim Siedlecki and Lovable Actor/Singer Jim Nabors

Finally! Some Good News About What the Kids Are "Into" These Days

Now here's an upbeat story: It's all about some nice youngsters with a wholesome hobby trying to make the world a better place. Looks like fun.

Media Activists Who Smile and Throw Cheese [Arizona Republic]

Monday, June 27, 2005

Gannett-Emmis Deal May Be Unlikely

An alert reader forwards a snippet from Television Business Report suggesting that the reported Gannett purchase of Emmis stations (including Omaha's KMTV) may not be happening after all. According to TBR, the primary obstacle to such a deal deal would be an FCC rule that prohibits companies from owning newspaper and broadcast outlets in the same market. Gannett already owns newspapers in at least eight of the markets in which Emmis holds TV stations.

"There would have to be so many spin-offs that the deal wouldn't be worth doing," the article says, adding that Gannett doesn't seem prone to enter into the protracted and expensive legal battle that would be required to challenge the regulatory limit. The article concludes, calling it "unlikely that Gannett would bid to buy all of Emmis TV if it then has to spin-off eight of the 16 stations."

Does Morningside Offer Mail-Order Degrees?

If, as we've been told, anchors write their own bios for posting on the web, the one just posted for WOWT's Sheila Brummer goes a long way toward explaining why she can't pronounce Guantanamo. Read it here. We especially enjoy the fact that she misspelled John Knicely's name. Unbelievable.

Embarrassingly bad writing skills aside, Brummer's career path looks eerily similar to that of recently "retired" anchor Pat Persaud, who also attended Morningside and spent time working in Sioux City before coming to Channel 6. Let's hope that Brummer is better than we've seen so far or that we don't have to wait nearly two decades for her "retirement."

[Editor's Note: The original version has been cleaned up a bit since we first posted the link. What was spelled "Nicely" is now "Knicely."]

Wysocki Done at KPTM

Meteorologist Dean Wysocki, who was being shoved aside for a new meteorologist (former KETV weathercaster Tyson Pearsall) had been scheduled to remain at the station through September 10th (as reported last week in a Lincoln Journal-Star article).

It turns out, however, that Wysocki's last broadcast was Friday, probably due to comments attributed to him in the aformentioned article and in Sean Weide's column in this week's Reader. In both, Wysocki expresses dissatisfaction with what he calls the station's outdated weather forecasting tools.

For now, Wysocki plans to return to his hometown of Chicago to regroup and figure out where he's headed next.

His departure is likely to be followed in fairly short order by that of Channel 42 anchor Taylor Wilson, who has been looking for some time now, and by veteran reporter Matt Meyer whose ad appeared recently at MediaLine.

KPTM to Replace Wysocki [Lincoln Journal-Star]

Brumming Down

Given our admitted disgust at WOWT for passing over Courtny Gerrish for the "First News Live at 4" anchor position, we've been trying to reserve judgment regarding Sheila Brummer who was tapped to fill the seat vacated when Tracy Madden was elevated to co-anchor of Channel 6's 5, 6, and 10 p.m. programs.

Let the record show that our resolve lasted until Sunday morning, when Brummer was subbing for Andrea McMaster. Not only did she display her disconcerting habit of grinning at the camera sporadically as she spoke to meteorologist Jim Flowers (as if she and the audience share some secret about Jimmy), she managed to match McMaster's knack for mispronouncing names.

First, there was the reference to outgoing NAACP President Kwasi Mfume, which Brummer turned into "KWA-ahm-see OOM-fuh-may." That was followed closely by a mention of "gwon-TOM-uh-no" (Guantanmo) Bay, and then a teaser for a sports report by Merlyn "Kloss."

If the mangled pronunciations were the result of not reading her copy in advance, she should know that the station just escaped from the shadow of one anchor who couldn't bother to prepare for broadcasts, and that we don't need another. If the missteps stem from not having encountered the names of Mfume or the base in Cuba, then that's just sad.

Whichever is closer to the truth, the whole thing seems to signal yet another brilliant personnel move at the Big Six.

Hot Weather in June?!! What a Great Story Idea!!

With temperatures reaching the upper 90s last week, Omaha TV-types just couldn't talk about it enough. We'll not pick on any one station, because every outlet in town has done at least one "How People Are Coping with the Heat" story in the last seven or eight days. One particularly annoying instance came on Friday, when a reporter was dispatched to cover the Summer Arts Festival and, instead of focusing on the four blocks full of artists and vendors there, she gave us the "people are drinking lots of water" angle to the exclusion of anything else.

Look: we know it's hot. It's effing June, for God's sake! If it were February 24th and the thermometer hit 98, then you'd have a story. Or if it snowed on June 24th, that would be worth noting. But hot temperatures at this time of year aren't news.

So stop telling us to drink lots of fluids, wear light-colored clothing, and stay in the shade. We agree with a rant we heard from George Carlin once, in which he advocated giving natural selection a chance to work. People who are stupid enough to avoid water, wear hot clothing, and exert themselves in hundred-degree heat shouldn't be kept around to reproduce. Or do reports on it.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Can't a Guy Just Have the Newsplex to Himself for Once?

Another of our alert readers poses an interesting question: Why is it that when KETV anchor Rob McCartney has the night off, Julie Cornell usually solos, but when Julie is gone, McCartney almost always gets a substitute co-anchor? This week, for example, McCartney was accompanied by stiff-as-a-board Suzanne Deyo on Monday and Tuesday, and by Brandi Petersen on Wednesday and Thursday.

What is the deal? When McCartney's away, why not pair Cornell with Mike Sigmond or Todd Andrews? Or when Cornell is gone, let McCartney work alone? It's not just a matter of the female subs not adding much to the broadcast, Deyo actually makes things worse with her zombie-like delivery and knack for butchering names. She's a very good reporter, but an anchor she ain't.

More Complete, Live, Local, Late-Breaking, Clear, Accurate, To-the-Point Prime Coverage...of Ratings

Thanks to an alert and helpful reader, here are more precise numbers from the May sweeps. Let's compare the actual numbers with what we said in our first and second posts:

What we wrote:

WOWT's decision to milk Pat Persaud's departure and the giveaway of a few stray Paul McCartney tickets for ratings paid off; viewers turned out in droves to watch Pat salute herself, giving Channel 6's 10 p.m. newscast a clear win in its time period.

The Numbers:
10 PM, Total Households
WOWT: 16.9
KETV: 11.1
KMTV: 6.4
Furthermore, according to Sean Weide's column, "Persaud’s last night on the air drew a 25 rating, seven points higher than a normal 10 o’clock newscast."

Bottom Line: OMAnews Got It RIGHT

What we wrote:

WOWT also won the morning show battle. . . despite the mid-book departure of Trey Jones.

The Numbers:
5-6 AM, Total Households
WOWT 2.3
KETV 2.3
KMTV 1.0

6-7 AM, Total Households
WOWT 6.4
KETV 5.2
KMTV 1.6

Bottom Line: OMAnews Got It RIGHT

What We Wrote:

In the midday race, KMTV trounced the other two stations' efforts, which air a half-hour earlier than Channel 3's.

The Numbers:
Midday, Total Households
KMTV 4.4
WOWT 3.3
KETV 1.7

Bottom Line: OMAnews Got It RIGHT

What we wrote:

In total viewers over the course of the day, KMTV's numbers were up a bit.

The Numbers:
KMTV Rating, Total Households, All Newscasts February: 20.8
KMTV Rating, Total Households, All Newscasts May: 18.2

Bottom Line: OMAnews Got It WRONG

What we wrote:

More good news for KM3: the station's 5 p.m. numbers were up a whopping 37 percent.

The Numbers:
KMTV February Total Households, 5 PM: 3.9
KMTV May Total Households, 5 PM: 4.8
Increase: 23%

Bottom Line: OMAnews Got It WRONG

What we wrote:

At 5 p.m., KETV won the 25-54 audience.

The Numbers:
5 PM, Viewers 25-54
KETV 4.4
WOWT 3.8
KMTV 2.1

Bottom Line: OMAnews Got It RIGHT

What we wrote:

KETV also won the 6 p.m. contest for viewers 25-54.

The Numbers:
6 PM, Viewers 25-54
KETV 5.4
WOWT 5.3

Bottom Line: OMAnews Got It RIGHT

Five right, two wrong, for an average of .714. Our goal is perfection, so it's hardly a satisfying record. On the other hand, it's not like we were wildly off-base on any of these. We'll keep on keepin' on and try to do better in the future.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Gannett Info

Miscellaneous background info on Gannett:

A list of Gannett TV Stations
Latest stock quote and financial info
A Profile of the company

Gannett May Soon Be Channel 3's New Owner

That's according to Gannett CEO Douglas McCorkindale, who, according to Bloomberg, says his company is interested in purchasing 16 television stations owned by Emmis Communications, of which KMTV is one.

"If it makes sense economically, then we will do it," he is quoted as saying at a conference in New York.

Gannett already owns 21 stations and over 100 NEWSpapers. We can't help but think this would be a good thing, both for KM3 and for Omaha TV.

CEO says Gannett may buy Emmis television stations [Indianapolis Star]

If At First You Don't Succeed...

Today's ratings update comes via someone who identifies him/herself as "whatever1." (Based on a number of factors, we're pretty sure "whatever" is a certain "talent" who has found himself on the sharp end of our critiques on several occasions and, thus, has an ax to grind.)

He posted this info in the Comments section yesterday and included lots of other nonsense that we've chosen to edit. But he does seem to have detailed and accurate ratings data, which we present for your perusal...

Ted, once again you're wrong on your information. I know it's your blog. But let me correct you on the ratings.

[Results reformatted for easier reading and comparison.]

5 PM
WOWT: 9 (rating)/26 (share of audience)
KETV: 8/21
KMTV: 7/23 [this doesn't look right to us, but that's what "whatever" sent]

6 PM
WOWT 10/24
KETV 8/21

10 PM
WOWT: 18/33
KETV: 12/22
KMTV: 7/13

In the 25-54 Competition...

5 PM
WOWT: 4 (rating)
KMTV: ["Whatever" writes, "Why bother?"]

6 PM

10 PM
WOWT: 13
KMTV: ["Whatever" writes, "Why bother?"]

[Editor's Note: The person sending these, while perhaps well-intentioned, rounded the decimals on these numbers, giving the impression that we were way off on our previous account of the numbers. We'll provide a complete run-down of the particulars on Friday.]

So as you can see, WOWT has a huge share of the market. Including the "key demos" at 10pm. Which everyone in the biz knows is any station's cash cow. KETV didn't win a thing. They TIED WOWT in demos at 5 & 6. [Editor's note: Doesn't tying for 1st count as a win?] One more point about those demos. KE lost a point in demos at 5 & 6 in May. WOWT gained a point at 5 & 6. Oh, and Pat Persaud's last night was ONE of the big nights as far as ratings go. The Paul McCartney giveaway ranked lower than other 10pm shows in May.

Now, about the numbers used in previous posts: We can only operate using numbers we're provided, and so far, we've had to depend on the kindness of strangers.

We have sent requests to all four stations' management asking for ratings data but have received no reply. Just as the local newspaper chooses to pretend television doesn't exist, apparently in the misguided notion that ignoring it will make it go away, so do local TV stations seem to treat this blog—seemingly hoping that ignoring it, (or, in some cases, telling employees not to read it) will make it vanish. The fact that we had over 700 readers access this site yesterday, for example, suggests otherwise.

C'est la vie.

WOWT Control Room Commandeered By Chimps?

That's the best explanation we can come up with for the ongoing technical snafus that plague the Big Six. It seems as if every newscast includes at least one blindfolded or very drunk button-pusher. Examples? We have scads of 'em, but we'll share just a few of the most recent:
  • A Tuesday afternoon/evening story featuring the parents of a woman killed in a weekend car accident superimposed the mother's name (Sara) but identified her as "Victim's Father."
  • On Wednesday morning's 7:25 "Today in the Heartland," the camera suddenly plunged from Malorie Maddox's face to her, um, mike before abruptly switching to a b-roll.
  • During Wednesday's "Ten at Ten," en route from a story to a headshot of anchor John Knicely, viewers were detoured for a second or two to the gaudy set of the Powerball drawing in Des Moines.
  • And most newscasts feature at least one instance of a baffled anchor looking into the wrong camera. If it happened only to one or two people, we'd attribute it to talent error, but when it strikes just about everyone who sits at the desk, one has to believe that there's something funky going on in the booth.
Whatever is going on, it'd be nice to see the problem fixed. But with Channel 6 back at #1 in the ratings, station manager Frank Jonas and news director John Clark have probably already settled back into a complacent stupor.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

More Ratings Info

Sean Weide's media column in this week's Reader contains an alternative lens through which to view the May ratings. In terms of "total households" watching local TV news, WOWT won across the board, with KETV "close behind" at both 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

And while KMTV's numbers were up from the February sweeps period, their total households ratings were flat or down compared to a year ago. This, of course, brings up the obvious question: Will this be the book that convinces KM3 management that it's time to show resident gasbag Travis Justice a goose egg and tell him thaaaaaaaaaat's what he's worth?

Weide also reports that KPTM meteorologist Dean Wysocki is blaming his dismissal from the station, at least in part, on viewers who complained when he interrupted Fox's "American Idol" broadcasts during a severe weather outbreak. The interruptions, he contends, were needed because of 42's "1990s" equipment.

While we sympathize with Wysocki, we must admit to some surprise that the station has anything that new. Honestly, we wouldn't be surprised to tune in some evening and find a 42 weathercaster standing in front of a 1960s-vintage markerboard map of the US and writing in temps for various locales with a big black marker.

Before you laugh, just think about how bad the production values are on this station. Reverting to black and white never seems beyond the realm of possibility with KPTM's ownership.

Ratings As We Know Them

We haven't come across a lot of ratings info, but based on tidbits provided to us by an assortment of friendly contacts, here's what we think we know:
  • WOWT's decision to milk Pat Persaud's departure and the giveaway of a few stray Paul McCartney tickets for ratings paid off; viewers turned out in droves to watch Pat salute herself, giving Channel 6's 10 p.m. newscast a clear win in its time period.

  • WOWT also won the morning show battle for the 25-54 year old set (the group coveted by advertisers and whose numbers drive ad sales), despite the mid-book departure of Trey Jones. This seems to confirm two of our hunches: that 6's Malorie Maddox pulls viewers in, and that 7's Elictia "Omarosa" Hammond drives them away.

  • In the midday race, KMTV trounced the other two stations' efforts, which air a half-hour earlier than Channel 3's.

  • In total viewers over the course of the day, KMTV's numbers were up a bit.

  • At 5 p.m., KETV won the 25-54 audience.
  • More good news for KM3: the station's 5 p.m. numbers were up a whopping 37 percent, leading us to theorize that (a) viewers are catching on to Channel 3's hype-free format, (b) previous ratings were, indeed, artificially low due to small sample sizes, (c) viewers are too lazy to change the channel after watching Oprah, or (d) there's some other explanation.

  • KETV also won the 6 p.m. contest for viewers 25-54, suggesting that evening viewers turned to Channel 6 not for news or to find out "what's going around," but to gawk at the spectacle of Queen Pat's departure, in the same way that they might stop in traffic to watch some idiot pounding his car with a sledge hammer.
We would be remiss if we did not note, again, that Channel 3 garnered its numbers without the stunt stories and "investigations" trotted out by the other stations, and also that Channel 7 was the only station not running some sort of contest or giveaway during the May ratings period.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Name That Face

In addition to providing updates on a jillion former local newsers (see comments section of previous post), Sean Weide has suggested that we post this picture and see who can give us the name of this former Omaha talent (see below). The first person to post the correct answer in the Comments section of this post gets to buy Sean lunch.

Meteorologist Juli Marquez
BayNews9, Tampa/St. Petersburg
Congrats to Husker Mike

Lost and Found

An alert reader recently wrote that one of the benefits of OMAnews is that it keeps readers in the loop regarding changes in personnel. So, rather than having it take a period of months to realize that Joe Schmutz has disappeared from Channel 56, a regular reader of OMAnews may know about it before said reporter or anchor is even out the door.

Given the relative newness of OMAnews, we've fielded several questions about what happened to various MIA TV types, including those listed below. If you have info on these folks and don't want to go through the hassle of contacting Robert Stack in the afterlife, you can give us an update via Comments or email. Most people want to know (a) why they left and (b) what they're doing now.

Aida Amoura (WOWT) Now works for Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack
Margaret Bummann (KETV) Toiling away in public affairs at U of Nebraska Med Center
Tom Bevacqua (KMTV) Chief meteorologist at WGGB/ABC40, Springfield, MA. Bio is here. (He seems to have put on a few pounds, but his hairpiece doesn't appear to have gained an ounce.)
Nancy Chandler (KMTV)
Bev Chapman (KMTV) Closing in on 20 years at KMBC in Kansas City
"Dr. Dave" Eiser (KMTV) Left Omaha for WLS-TV/Chicago, then to KRLD/Dallas; Current whereabouts unknown
Kent Grisham (KMTV) Public Relations/Communications Director for Great Plains Communications in Blair
Joni Hoffman (WOWT)
Thom Knight (WOWT)
John MacDonald (KMTV)
John Mason (KMTV) Weekend anchor at KSTP in the Twin Cities
Grace Polanski (KPTM) Last known gig: a bad show in Buffalo, NY. Whereabouts unknown.
Jan Rasmussen (WOWT)
Vineeta Sawkar (WOWT) Weekend anchor (with John Mason) at KSTP in the Twin Cities
Brad Stevens (KETV) Left Omaha to anchor in Orlando; no info on current whereabouts
Yvette Villareal (KPTM)
Byron Wood (WOWT, KPTM) Anchor, KRIS 6 News/KDF-Fox in Corpus Christi, Texas

Monday, June 20, 2005

CWS Live Reports Hit and Miss

This weekend's live reports from the NCAA Men's College World Series were something of a mixed bag in terms of quality. None of the stations delivered any home runs.
  • The most ambitious of the broadcasts was Channel 6's attempt to broadcast most of its 6 p.m. program from Rosenblatt Stadium. The result was mostly awkward and not particularly well executed. Anchors John Knicely and Tracy Madden were forced to share a handheld, corded mike, both with each other and with anyone else who wandered into the action, including meteorologist Jeff "Vienna Choir Boy" Jensen and sports anchor Merlyn Klaus. Klaus subbed for Dave Webber, who was inexplicably absent.
  • Contributing to the awkwardness was the fact that the whole on-air crew was forced to stare into the evening sun while standing in near-90-degree heat. The sun, however, doesn't account for the technical glitches, like the fact that the names supered over stories were incorrect on at least a couple of occasions. The immediacy of the event was also diminished somewhat when the proceedings were thrown back to the studio and the so-far-not-very-impressive Sheila Brummer, who delivered several more minutes of "other stories making news."
  • Another sloppy performance came from the normally flawless Sarah Simmons on Sunday's 5:30 p.m. broadcast. With co-anchor Devon Patton back in the studio, Simmons appeared almost totally unprepared to go live, stumbling and seemingly wandering and/or killing time without any clear destination in mind. While she managed to get through the ordeal, there was little news value in what she had to offer. We would've prepared to see Patton out there and Simmons in the studio. Watching him struggle through a shot like that with little to fall back on would have been much more entertaining.
  • Channel 7's Friday offering was adequate but not outstanding, with sports director John Scheutz being joined by reporter/sometime sports anchor Mike Sigmond. While the "live from the ballpark" shots are a nice change of pace, thirty minutes of Julie Cornell looking miserable and bitchy in the heat would've livened things up quite nicely.

Same Song, 42nd Verse: Revolving Door Spinning Again at KPTM

The station that stability forgot, Omaha's Fox42, is going through more turmoil. The latest involves the impending departure of meteorologist Dean Wysocki, who is to be replaced June 27th by (we think) former KETVer Tyson Pearsall. Rather than be relegated to weekends, Wysocki has chosen to leave.

His exit is the latest in a string of changes over the past several months, including the departures of an assistant news director, editor, v.p. for sales, and a sales manager. Add to this weeknight anchor Taylor Wilson's ongoing job search, and we have to wonder why they don't just turn that whole operation over to the broadcasting department at UNO and let them practice on us.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Sunday Special Edition: Ratings Info Creeping In

The May Nielsen numbers are in, and while we don't have very much info yet, what we are hearing is that Channel 6 fared pretty well, especially on Pat Persaud's final broadcasts. We are told Queen Pat's final night on the air drew twice the station's usual audience.

More info as it becomes available (most likely Monday, at the earliest).

Friday, June 17, 2005

Fresh Air

Now this is a step in the right direction: In light of the opening day of the College World Series, Channel 6 is set to deliver its entire 6 p.m. newscast from Rosenblatt Stadium.

An anchor reporting, remote broadcasts. Is the giant finally emerging from its coma?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Channel 6 Evening Anchor Who Reports?

Tracy Madden continues to delight as she nears the end of her first month as successor to Pat Persaud. Not only does she class up the joint, Madden also seems determined to shake off the lethargic pall that has settled over the rest of the 5, 6, and 10 p.m. broadcasts.

She has, for example, proven herself capable of the quick comeback, no matter how inane the remarks from deskmates John Knicely and Dave Webber. It's a colossal improvement over the befuddled blank stares and babbling that her predecessor employed in those same situations.

And Madden has actually retained the ability to go out and report stories. Tuesday found her in the living room of 85-year-old Joseph Kvapil, who had been shot earlier in the day, caught in crossfire as he approached a bus stop at 16th & Vinton.

In a promo that sounds like a pointed attempt to separate herself from the examples set by Persaud, Knicely, and Channel 7's Julie Cornell, Madden suggests that an anchor's credibility is higher when she continues to function as a reporter. (We know; it seems like a no-brainer, but these days at Channel 6, it's truly a novel concept.)

Gotta like that attitude, which could eventually spur Knicely to do more than the occasional stunt story (John Gets Tasered) and/or prompt Cornell to move beyond her "Julie's Diary" features, which too often seem to involve Julie gracing some retarded, ill, orphaned, or handicapped kid with her presence.

Channel 3's Deb Ward and Greg Petersen must be gratified to see Madden joining the "working anchors" club: It's something they've been doing for quite a while now. For viewers desiring an improvement in the quality of local TV news, Madden's efforts are most welcome.

Morning Outlook

New morning co-anchor Jimmy Siedlecki made his Omaha debut on Channel 6's "Live at Daybreak" this morning, joining his former Joplin, Missouri, partner Malorie Maddox. He had been scheduled to start on June 20th, but he was rolled out early so that he could appear next to Maddox before she departs for a much-needed vacation (she'll be gone next week). [NOTE: This glaring error was the result of Ted reading his email at 1 a.m., when his attention to detail (like whole words and phrases) is somewhat diminished. We apologize for the screwup.]

Speaking of vacation, Channel 7's Elictia "Omarosa" Hammond has been off this week, giving viewers of that station's morning show a much needed rest of their own. Her absence also underscores why the station should've left John Oakey as the solo anchor of the program if they couldn't find anyone better than Hammond. The bad news for KETV viewers is that Oakey is taking vacation next week, leaving Omarosa to fly solo (with or without the broom).

"Heartland Connection" to Jackson Trial Found!

No matter how much local TV news we watch, we always seem to miss something. Browsing the video section of the WOWT website, we noticed the story about the "former Omahan" who served as a juror in the Michael Jackson trial that ended earlier this week.

The "Omaha Connection" fetish is an old standby that local media just can't seem to get enough of, no matter how remote that connection may be. In this case, the link is pretty remote: Ray Hultman, the juror in question, hasn't lived in Omaha since 1972.

Since this was apparently John Knicely's "reporting" foray for the week, we learned the following:
  • Knicely talked to him on the phone!
  • Hultman is 62 years old.
  • He was Juror Number One! (Who says a local boy can't make it in the big city?)
  • And Knicely solved the "mystery" of who had been delivering baked goods to the jury room (you may want to sit down for this): It was Ray's wife!
Someone get Woodward and Bernstein on the phone.

Occasionally, "connection" stories make sense: Alexander Payne wins an Oscar? Sure. Fat triplets get humiliated on "American Idol"? You bet. But a celebrity trial juror who hasn't lived here in 33 years? Give it a rest, please.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Is The Screaming Attorney Named Joe Howard or Moe Howard?

Yet a third source tells us that The Screaming Attorney specializes in "lemon laws." The only problem, it seems, is that Nebraska has no such laws.

Call us crazy, but we think it'd be a good idea—since news directors and assignment editors seem to have an affinity for getting people to emote on camera—to spend some time on this guy. His Monday outburst suggests he's emotionally volatile, so how long could it take to get him worked into a lather? Whether he goes ballistic or plunges into a fit of sobbing, it's money in the bank.

Now that's a story we could record and enjoy over and over again.

The Screaming Attorney Twist

Yeah, um, about that attorney who was yelling at the Channel 6 photographer for getting footage of his alleged child molester client shuffling out of the courthouse: It turns out, according to two OMAnews readers, that this fine barrister's name is Joseph Howard and he is engaged to Channel 7 reporter Trisha Meuret. Which one of these two do you suppose is more embarrassed? Or are attorneys capable of shame?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Having a Screaming Attorney May Not Help Your Case

Anyone who caught Channel 6's 5 p.m. newscast on Monday were treated to footage of the attorney for an alleged sex offender shouting at WOWT's camera. It seems the attorney didn't like all the attention his client was getting. Local marketer Matthew Samp has a full account and an insightful take on the incident in his blog.

Pat Left Her Ad-Libbing Skills at the Station and Guess Who's Using Them Now

You gotta wonder if Channel 6 meteorologist Scott Akin thinks or talks about anything that doesn't involve weather.

This morning, Akin displayed his weather fixation during a short banter session with anchor Malorie Maddox. Faithful reader "Bandit 75" describes it:

Malorie did a story on the new Batmobile and remarked that it was a lot different than the one her dad knew, and then commented that she wondered if it had all the remote control gadgets. Scott, straight faced said it would 'make a great a storm tracker vehicle'. I paused and thought 'I didn't just hear that did I?' Maybe it was because I hadn't had my morning coffee yet, maybe I was still in that in between sleep and wake coma. So to verify, I rewound the broadcast to that point to listen again (thank you COX DVR). Sure enough that's what he said.

Wow. This leaves us imagining his co-workers at the station Christmas party arranging elaborate rescue scenarios for extricating each other from his conversational clutches:

Scott: So I was watching Precision Doppler 6000 for the fourteenth straight hour when I noticed this hook echo in North Dakota—

Trapped Co-Worker (looking around frantically and using the predetermined signal to get her friend's attention): Uh-huh.

Scott: —and I called Jim at home and told him about it. He was really excited that I was using my vacation time so productively, and said he'd be in right away—

Rescuer: Oh my God, Scott, sorry to interrupt—(turning to Trapped) Your mom just called and said you need to bring her more ointment for her lip fungus. She said it's an emergency!

Trapped (grabbing her things and moving toward the door): Oh, no! I was afraid this would happen. You'll have to excuse me, Scott. Gotta run. Mother gets very upset about her lip fungus when the ointment runs out!

It might be time for Akin to consider taking up a non-weather-related hobby.

The Reporter's Side of the Story

Yesterday, we criticized KMTV and KETV for running interviews with the mom and brother of a Council Bluffs boy run over and killed by a school bus. Channel 3's Michelle Bandur posted the following comment in response:

There is nothing I loathe more about my job, than to interview a grieving family or cover a funeral. It's difficult enough when horrible things happen to your OWN family. I'm sure Brandi would agree with me. Then why do we do these stories, you ask?

First of all, if a family doesen't want to talk..I don't push. I tell them I'm sorry for their loss and leave them alone. Justin's family had a story to tell. They wanted to share their love and grief for their family member. Justin's mother and his older brother, Jake not only had a message, but they wanted the world to know what a sweet boy they had in their life. They wanted everyone to know about Justin and for everyone to look at his adorable face. Jake asked me to tell my viewers to be watch for kids when you're out driving. Who better to send that message than someone who knows? He asked me to tell people to be careful so another kid doesn't die needlessly. It's powerful stuff. and if we, as reporters, can get one driver out there to listen to a grieving kid...and slow down and watch out... I have no trouble sleeping at night.

We still disagree with the practice and would like to see all news stations back away from expecting reporters to go after these families. Nevertheless, we appreciate Michelle's willingness to share her point of view publicly.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Is Channel 6 Feeding Story Ideas to Channel 7?

Brandi Petersen appears to be Channel 7's answer to Rebecca Kleeman: the reporter who gets to handle all the really stupid story ideas at her station. Monday afternoon's verdict in the Michael Jackson case prompted Petersen's bosses to dispatch her to Nebraska Furniture Mart for man-on-the-street (MOS) reactions.

God we hate these stories. What a waste of airtime and talent. How much skill does it take to say, "How do you feel about (insert topic here)? Moreover, who the hell cares what some schmo at the Mart thinks? We never thought we'd say this, but we'd rather have Brandi reading grocery store prices á là Channel 6 than shoveling this crap at us. Give her a real story; don't insult her by saddling her with nonsense.

More Complete Coverage? To What Point?

We decried it when Channel 6 sent Paul Baltes into the living room of a grieving mother back in March, so it'd be unfair to ignore the fact that both Channel 7 and Channel 3 did the same thing on Friday when they sent Brandi Petersen and Michelle Bandur, respectively, to milk the tears of a 12-year-old boy whose brother was run over by a school bus.

Gee whiz, it doesn't get much more sickening than this. Questions for news directors and assignment editors:
  • What possible "news" are you expecting to get from a boy who a day earlier had witnessed his own brother's grisly death?
  • How does this serve the community?
  • What are you thinking when you ask your people to go out and exploit a family's most vulnerable moments?
  • Would you do this to your own family?
Stories like this aren't news. They are cruelty. Stations that are continually urging viewers to "count on" them should demonstrate that they can be counted on to use some discretion in situations like this.

Weekend Wandering

• Several readers have written asking why WOWT weekend anchor Courtny Gerrish was missing from the desk this weekend. We have no idea, but we agree with those who've suggested that it seems she's been absent quite a bit lately. For lack of a better explanation, we'll assume she's just catching up on vacation time. But given that she appears to have been passed over for the "Live at Four" anchor/reporter slot despite eight or nine years of excellent work at the Big Six, we wouldn't be surprised to hear that she's out exploring other options.

• Speaking of the Big Six, what was going on in the control room during Sunday night's Ten at Ten? At times, it appeared that someone was randomly hitting buttons and switching from one camera to another. It happened once or twice early in the 'cast, with anchor Paul Baltes reading the news, and then, when meterologist Jeff Jensen was beginning his "Upfront Weather" segment, we got a double box—on the left, Baltes sitting with his chin in his hand and then looking startled to see himself on the monitor, and on the right, sports anchor John Chapman staring straight-faced into the camera. It lasted maybe two seconds, but we came away with the impression that Wally the High School Intern had been left to run things in the booth.

• We kept intending to mention it last week, but Channel 3 unveiled a new look for its website. According to Sean Weide's "Media Notes" column in The Reader, the redesign is intended to underscore the station's emphasis on severe weather. This is a noticeable change from the previous layout, which tended to underscore KM3's emphasis on Travis Justice.

• Since we haven't mentioned Justice lately, when will the bigwigs at KMTV give up on this guy? Giving him a whole segment every night is like spraying viewer repellent on every TV screen in the region. It's not like he's getting any better, or that he's growing on viewers. Look at the ratings. Every time he brays "Thaaaaaaat's 'For What It's Worth,'" the dozen or so people who are still tuned in (we're not counting the deaf or the mentally retarded) are probably wondering why the station doesn't give old Trav more vacation time. Or better yet, a permanent vacation.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Keep It Tactful

That's what we keep reminding ourselves to do with this post.

See, there's this poor five-year-old kid who was badly injured a couple of years ago when he was attacked by a pit bull. Channel 6 has dutifully provided updates since then and has worked to draw attention to a fundraiser for the lad's reconstructive surgery. Fine, right?

The problem is that EVERY time John Knicely mentions the kid, he also mentions that the boy's "genitalia" were torn off in the attack. He always uses the word genitalia.

C'mon, John. Doesn't the little guy have enough problems without you reminding everyone that he has no testicles? Honestly, he's gonna be in school soon. Do you really think you're doing him a favor by continuing to bring up the exact nature of his injury?

For cryin' out loud, from now on, just say he was badly injured and leave it at that. Okay?

Omaha "Market Leaders," Take Note:

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Feder writes that longtime ratings leader WLS has revamped its look for the first time in four years. In a passage that WOWT and KETV would be wise to post prominently, Feder writes

While most top-rated stations would be content to keep things exactly as they are for as long as possible, Channel 7 continues to find new ways to freshen its product and keep ahead of the pack.

It's nice to see that being at the top of the heap doesn't always mean complacency and stagnation.

Channel 7 freshens up with classy makeover [Sun-Times]

Hiyo! McMahon Leaving for Consulting Gig, Time at Home

As reported earlier this week, a guy widely regarded as one of Omaha's best sports reporters and top talents, Sean McMahon is leaving KETV. A memo from an unidentified person at the station announced the news thusly:

"I am sorry to tell you that Sean McMahon will be leaving the station to take a job outside of television news. Sean will be working with two other former Omaha sports guys---John Glenn and Rich Roberts--- in a consulting business. He is taking this opportunity because of the more regular hours and the additional time it will allow him to spend with his two wonderful little boys.

We at OMAnews wish McMahon the best and hope that we'll see him back on the air at some point.

Who Makes What

A few participants in the Comments section have been having a, um, "spirited" discussion regarding salaries for TV news types. "Janetdoe" contends that in the Omaha market, only Knicely, Flowers, Webber, and Madden are pulling down six figures annually, while a newly hired anchor/reporter is likely making closer to $35,000.

According to a 2002 study done for the Radio Television News Directors Association/Foundation, the median anchor salary for markets 51-100 was $60,000 in 2001 (Omaha is market #76). Selected median salaries from the same study (our own inflation-adjusted figures are in parentheses):
  • News Anchor $60,000 ($73,000)
  • Weathercaster: $45,000 ($55,000)
  • Sports Anchor: $43,000 ($52,000)
  • News Reporter: $28,000 ($34,000)
  • News Director: $75,000 ($91,000)
  • Photographer: $25,000 ($30,500)
Based on this information, it would appear that janetdoe is pretty close. As always, being outside the biz, we're at the mercy of those on the inside to fill us in on reality. If anyone has more accurate information, let us know.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

That Is So Crutch

We probably owe Michael Born at least a partial apology. As reader, frequent commenter, and bastion of level-headed thinking "janetdoe" reminds us,

Don't fault Michael Borne [sic] becuase [sic] WOWT made the choice to hire him for a job in a market that is way over his skill-level. . . . . The thing you point out about the hydration obsession is just an example of a concept that should never be minimized: It's a crutch. Just like when Malory [sic] Maddox says "turning to weather" 3-4 times a morning becuase [sic] she has nothing better to say (ok, the meteorologist is right beside you, and you are turning your head toward him -- do you really need to TELL us that you are "turning to weather"?).

All too often, as we have frequently mentioned, we tend to vent our frustration in the direction of the on-air personnel, rather than at the more appropriate target: their bosses. Yeah, the talent should be professional and self-critique and self-correct things like crutches. But there should also be someone managerial who works to bring these people along, someone who nudges them to be better all the time.

Instead, the muckety-mucks at 6 seem content to lean on their own crutches, sending their people out to deliver the same tired newscast they've been doing for the last eight or ten years. It's little wonder that Born and Maddox are sporting crutches; in the apparent absence of guidance, they shouldn't be judged too harshly for following their leader(s).

That Minge Thingy

We appreciate Jim Minge's recent mention of OMAnews in his City Weekly column, but we have to wonder what he and/or his editors were thinking when they decided to headline this week's story on Retro 106.9's transformation (the station is now known as "The Bob"). Was "Bob on the Knob" really the best of the options they had? Honestly, whose radio actually has knobs these days? Or did they want people to think Minge was reviewing a gay porn film?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Behold the Weathergasm 5800

Introducing Weathergasm 5800. Weathergasm 5800 represents the latest advance in television weathercasting. With Weathergasm 5800, your local television station stands ready to interrupt regular programming at even the slightest hint of severe weather. Tornado? Turn to your station for Weathergasm 5800. Severe thunderstorm? Weathergasm. Garden-variety thunderstorm? Oh, what the hell—Weathergasm!

Recent posts by "will" and "cogitor" put into words what many of us have been sensing for a while now: that Omaha TV stations (and probably stations in lots of other places) have developed a hair trigger when it comes to interrupting programming for weather bulletins. Whereas 20 years ago, it took a report of a funnel cloud to warrant preemption of regular programming, these days, it seems a stiff breeze will do the trick.

That's why the staff here at OMAnews has developed Weathergasm 5800—to provide us all with a quick way of identifying a station's hasty or entirely unnecessary deployment of its meterological tools.

The latest example of Weathergasm 5800 came during Wednesday morning's thunderstorm, when KM3 gave us close to an hour of nonstop narration by meteorologist Charles "in Charge" Thongklin. Thongklin gave us repetitious, minute-by-minute updates of the storm's location, intensity, path, hail sizes, favorite color, hobbies, and turn-ons. Every now and then, he'd throw it to the disembodied voice of traffic reporter Cammi Carlisle (wasn't she a panelist on "To Tell the Truth"?), who'd report that drivers were driving more slowly than usual, due to all the rain. Thanks, Cammi. Where's Bennett Cerf when you need him?

Obscure '60s television references aside, it seems to us that this "the sky is falling" approach will condition viewers to disregard all interruptions in programming as just another overreaction and ignore warnings that pose a significant danger to the general public. Eventually, after so many Weathergasms, viewers may simply conclude that the interruption is "just Jim Flowers enjoying himself," rather than taking shelter.

As cogitor puts it,

You're desensitizing your viewers. Save the break ins for serious situations, not for pea-size hail reports and heavy rain. If I'm out in it, I already know there's heavy rain and hail. If I'm inside watching you, I'm protected from rain and hail. Just tell me if a tornado is coming so I can move to the basement.

It won't matter who's "first in severe weather" if no one takes the reports seriously.

Sean McMahon Leaving Television?

We are told by what we believe to be a reliable source that KETV weekend sports anchor Sean McMahon has decided to leave the station. Channel 7 has not yet released the information, so not a lot more is known at the moment.

If true, the departure would represent a significant loss for the station, given McMahon's strong on-air work and widespread reputation as an all-around good guy.

McMahon's wife, Tracy Madden, recently assumed her position as the top female anchor at Channel 6, and the move may reflect an understandable desire by the couple to minimize the amount of time their not-quite-a-year-old twins have to spend in daycare. But that's entirely speculation on our part.

More info as we get it or make it up.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

When It Blows, It Blows

Having expectorated diminutive "anchor" Pat Persaud from its system, WOWT would do well to turn its attention to overhauling its bloated and seemingly clueless weather department.

OK, Jim Flowers looks like Ned Flanders from the Simpsons. He has that porn mustache. And he seems to simultaneously hyperventilate, soil himself, and suffer premature ejaculation every time there's even the slightest hint of a storm in the area. And then there are the catch-phrases. Jimmy loves his catch-phrases: "Let's go topside for the balance of the evening and wait for this front to build in ahead of this polar plunge that'll be dropping in from Canada just in time for the weekend."

We've sorta gotten accustomed to all that, kind of like the crazy uncle at the family gatherings who rants about how the Trilateral Commission is messing with his tomatoes and how if we'd all just read the Bible more, we'd see that everything that's happening in the world was all foretold in Revelations. You kinda just chuckle and say, "Wow that Uncle Jim, he sure is a card."

But the content of the weather segments on Channel 6 is totally out of control. Starting with "Precision Doppler 6000" eight or nine years ago, Flowers and Company have steadily added so many bells and whistles to the proceedings that it's nearly impossible to tell what the hell's even going on. Stormtrackers, stormcasters, neighborhood weathernets, skyvision—the list is seemingly endless and the manic straining to include every gimmick in every segment is positively disorienting.

Two recently added items jump to mind. First, there's the map of the city which usually features two enormous blue dots labeled with names of neighborhoods. Monday night, one said "Dundee" on it, for example. The weathercaster fondles the dot, which pulsates briefly before shooting out a livecam shot that quickly fills the screen. But it's not, as you might expect, a shot of that neighborhood; it's just one of the six or seven livecams, usually an interstate or busy intersection. So what's the point of the neighborhood dot? Your guess is as good as ours. If the image isn't of that neighborhood, don't say "Let's check in with Dundee" and show us a picture of the 72nd Street exit on I-80!

The second senseless feature added recently is the "Skyvision" forecast, which is apparently intended to show us what the sky will look like for the forecast period. If the forecast is for sunny weather, we get a computer-generated image of downtown Omaha with a sunny sky overhead; if it's going to be cloudy, we see downtown Omaha under clouds. You get the picture. How does this help us? Again, all guesses are equally valid. Compounding the weirdness is the fact that all precipitation looks like giant snowflakes. If Jim and the boys are gonna give us an animated view of rain, couldn't they at least choose a package that makes rain look like rain, rather than the onset of nuclear winter?

While Crazy Uncle Jim is a fixture that we can sort of laugh off, the same can't be said of the collection of dorks that he's hired to assist him. There's Jeff Jensen, the high-voiced, dull-witted sap who makes us want to throw a hammer at the TV, and perennial dolt Scott Akin, who, as we've mentioned before, seems chronically obsessed with how every temperature compares with what's normal for whatever time of year it is.

But the real winner of the bunch is relative newcomer Michael Born, whose creepy visage in the opening montage once prompted a 10-year-old we know to blurt out, "That guy looks like a molester!" Looks aside, when it comes to his on-air work, the guy is a tool. On Monday's midday newscast, he was seemingly driven to distraction by the notion of keeping everyone hydrated. Thrice in a two-minute span, Born urged viewers to keep a water bottle nearby to avoid dehydration.

As a recent commenter suggested, the problems at Channel 6 are deep-seated and it's going to take more than a few cosmetic changes to turn things around. This is a station that needs to re-evaluate every element it puts on the air. We can't think of a better place to start than the "Precision Forecast Team."

You Can't Spell KDUH Without DUH

Check out the brainiacs who can't even keep a job at Scottsbluff station KDUH. Is there a station lower in the food chain for these two to land at? Seems unlikely, but you never know. Does Benkelman, Nebraska have a station?
KDUH Reporters Arrested For Erasing Video Tapes

Monday, June 06, 2005

Tan, Rested, and Ready

We're back from our self-imposed hiatus and ready for action. Some random notes, just for warm-up:

• There's nothing like a trip to the panhandle to renew one's appreciation for the news operations in the 76th largest market in the US. Take KDUH in Scottsbluff, for example. There's an anchor there who must be at least 17 and who has all the charisma of chalk. Her delivery is so stiff, she makes Suzanne Deyo look like Oprah. And the production values? Let's just say that there are worse stations than KPTM.

• What's the deal with Ryan McPike rushing to the studio whenever there's severe weather on the weekend? It happened on Saturday, with McPike pushing aside Sarah Walters for airtime. It's understandable when Channel 7's Bill Randby does it; without him, Andrea Bredow and marble-mouthed Chuck McWilliams are pretty much helpless. But Walters is every bit as capable as McPike, if not more so. He should stay home (or at least off-camera) and let Walters do her stuff.

Sean Weide, writing in this week's Reader, reports that new morning co-anchor Jimmy Siedlicki is scheduled to join the sparkling Malorie Maddox beginning on June 20th. By the way: how long does a person have to be at WOWT before getting a vacation? Poor Mal's been there since November, with only a few days off here and there. Having anchored solo probably 20 percent of that time and, since Trey Jones' departure, producing and delivering the midday 'cast, she's earned some time off, hasn't she?

• Tell us this: If Siedlicki, who has a job, can get here by June 20th, what's holding up the arrival of the unemployed Sheila Brummer from Des Moines? Brummer was announced as Tracy Madden's replacement at the beginning of May but has yet to surface.

UPDATE: At the end of the midday news, Maddox promo'd "Live at 4" with Brian Mastre and the aforementioned Brummer.

• Are we the only ones who think Julie Cornell always looks like she smells something nasty? She didn't always have this look, did she?

• And while we're asking questions, why is there a telethon for children's hospitals? Hospitals are, when you get down to it, businesses, whether they're technically for-profit or not-for-profit. Isn't having a telethon for them a little like raising money for Blue Cross and Blue Shield (a "not-for-profit" operation) or Spaghetti Works? (This isn't a jab at Channel 6, by the way—the "raise money for children's hospitals" racket is a longstanding tradition all over the country, one that even pre-dates the CMN phenomenon.)
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