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."

27 comments:

Will said...

Omaha TV news weather manages the impossible: it blows AND sucks.

You know, it would be cool if there was a TV news consultant somewhere who adopted a "less is more" philosophy. All the stations' shows around here (and everywhere outside the really small rural stations) are tarted up like some 50 year-old hooker. Nowhere is this more true than in weather. Since every station now feels the need to give you the forecast "up front," they have to spend the remainder of their air time showing off their increasingly useless and vapid gimmickry, none of which is of any use at all to the viewer. I understand the need to be competitive in a market where weather is often the big story, but things are really starting to get of hand. I think a back to basics approach might be welcome. Channel 3 has tried it (although their weather is about as tricked out as everyone else's). It hasn't made a dent in their ratings, really, but that's only because they are this market's Station No One Watches.

I must say, however, that whoever came up with that computer generated sky crap (who the hell doesn't know what a cloudy sky looks like?) really hit a home run: Everyone uses it now.

janetdoe said...

Don't fault Michael Borne becuase WOWT made the choice to hire him for a job in a market that is way over his skill-level. Make no mistake. Each new person that joins the WOWT on-air staff does so at a DISCOUNT price! Borne is an example of getting exactly what you pay for. 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 Maddox says "turning to weather" 3-4 times a morning becuase 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"?).

Using one of the citycams along with a neighborhood that is nowhere near the actual camera is completely laughable and sad. What's the point? You know, just mentioning a neighborhood's name does not send area residents running out into the streets shouting "Channel 6 mentioned us!! Channel 6 mentioned us!!", nor does it really make viewers feel like WOWT meteorologists really "care" about their area. It is really insulting to everyone's intelligence.

gradstudent said...

>>Each new person that joins the WOWT on-air staff does so at a DISCOUNT price!>>

Real-ly? I have to disagree. WOWT compensates their on air staff quite well. Unless of course your agent is a hack and then it's your own dumb fault for not getting 6-figures.

gradstudent said...

Why bag on Flowers simply because he loves his job and is eager to show his excitement.

Not everyone hates their job like you must. How rich and full can Brockman's life really be when he wastes his energy on damning ppl with negativity day in and day out.

bandit75 said...

His blog, his rules. If you don't like it, don't read it!

Will said...

...WOWT compensates their on air staff quite well.

I'm sure that John Knicely and Tracy Madden are very well compesated.

But I doubt Born is making six figures.

papiopete said...

bandit 75,

I'm not sure how "gradstudent" violated blog "rules"(whatever those are) with his comment. It's an observation that most readers of this blog would agree with. Don't read it ? Love the fascist undertones of this new blogging society. I guess Im old school--if you make strong or controversial postings, than you might expect the same type of comments.

bandit75 said...

Papiopete,

Gradstudent has had a few postings removed in the past couple of days. Basically, if Ted doesn't like what he posted he has the power to remove it. Nothing fascist about it. It's pretty simple, why read a blog if you disagree with everything said on it? While I agree with the flame, get flamed mentality, Ted doesn't have to leave any posting he doesn't want on his blog. Thus his blog, his rules.

janetdoe said...

Grad student:

I doubt you have any idea what it takes to make six figures in Omaha TV news. You, as a tape operator or maybe a low-level producer, would not have any way to know.

The reality is that nobody but the front-line anchors in Omaha make anywhere close to six figures. Knicely, Persuad, Webber, Flowers -- all six figures. nobody else. You can bet the station was able to shave a bunch off the payroll by trading down to Tracy's new salary. She and Mastre maybe made 60k tops before she went to the main team.

As for the rest of the news staff, I suppose "Well-compensated" is in the eye of the beholder. WOWT is bringing in new people at a much lower level than it used to in the Benedek and Chronicle ownership days. Their new morning anchor is probably coming in around 35k, and maybe a little less for Sheila Brummer. Borne might make 30k.

The news director at channel 6, John Clark, is dealing with a severely reduced budget for on-air staff. When they post a new position, intitial interest among semi-qualified candidates is good (forget rookies and under-qualified small market people) until they reveal how much they are willing to pay.

Evidence of this is the lack of new minority news people on the air staff at WOWT. Minorities with a passable level of talent are a commodity to news operations. WOWT would love to be more diverse, but they are not offering the kind of money that can sway someone in that position -- someone who may be able to shoose from several offers from around the country. Why come to Omaha/WOWT for peanuts when others are offering better money?

papiopete said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Spanky Brewster said...

Borne is the type of guy that will tell you what he wants to do to you if you are a chick in a bar, he will tell you for hours and hours. Seeing him on tv creeps me out after a run-in with him in a dark dingy bar. Yikes!!! Change the channel!

papiopete said...

janet, While you're dogging out "gradstudent" Im wondering what lofty position you hold over at Channel Six ? Its pretty obvious that's where you work. Really enjoyed all the salary insights.

janetdoe said...

Pete: You don't have to be in a "lofty position" to have basic knowledge about these things. People in the know have loose lips many times.

market insider said...

Janet you write as if Omaha is some bastion of cheapness in the broadcast business. First of all lets get one thing straight. Omaha is market 75...a small middle market. It is common for markets this size to take reporters and weather people from much smaller markets with 1 to 2 years experience. All 3 stations have been doing it for years and will continue to. As for actual pay, KE and WOW are union shops. Most entry level salries are set at a base by the union contracts. This actully keeps Omaha above many other similar size markets like Des Moines and Springfield. As for the new anchor hires at 6 being cheap hires you are way off. I see where the new morning anchor was the main anchor in Joplin and also the assistant news director. Also has several years in the business. If you think they got him for 35K then you telling yourself a lie to make your own salry look better.

papiopete said...

Janet

Interesting. If people have loose lips then why would "gradstudent" not have access to the same so-called inside information you do ?
Then again..never mind. I think its about time for me to take "bandit75's advice. I really don't like this blog, so I won't read it. It is not about objective discourse on the business. It is about angry, disgruntled station employees or former employees who get off on trashing others. Hope you have a nice life.

Ted Brockman said...

Once again, pete, you need to know that no one writing the blog has ever been employed by any TV station. Some of the commenters clearly do, which is no crime, at least in most cases. Finally, I fail to see how allowing only happy/"gruntled" employees to comment would improve the quality of this (or any) blog. You're obviously an angry and disgruntled reader, so perhaps you'll be happier not reading. Whatever works, dude.

bandit75 said...

Oh, papiopete will be back. They always come back.............

janetdoe said...

"Market Insider," huh? Being a union shop does not equal big bucks. Check the minimums agreed to in the last AFTRA contract, brainiac. Several years in the business and being a main anchor in Joplin is not a knock-out resume. Big freaking deal.

Again, the jobs pay what they pay, and WOWT is now finding people to setlle for mediocre money, in exchange for making a small move up in the market size ladder.

You will now continue to see people start working for WOWT who would not have made the Channel 6 cut 5 years ago.

market insider said...

Janet, the more you write the more ignorant you sound about the business. How much do you think a main anchor makes in Joplin? Also I never said that Union minimums equate to large salries. I said it raises the starting point for entry level on-air people above what you'd make in comprable markets without unions. As far as who made the cut 5 or 6 years ago all you have to do is look at bios on their site to see where people came from. They are pretty much all 100+ markets. Just face the fact thay you have no clue what these people are making.

janetdoe said...

...if you only knew...

You sound like a typical know-it-all MAN. "Insider"? Yeah, right. My ass.

gradstudent said...

This blog is full of speculation and lies, but this one is by far the biggest! I'm laughing my ass off!
>> you need to know that no one writing the blog has ever been employed by any TV station.
>>

FYI: if you're trying to keep your identity secret, you should have never said you were on vacation 2 wks ago.

I spy a little man named Ted and his nefarious news crew!

Ted Brockman said...

gradstudent,

Your "I need attention" comments are getting old really fast. Henceforth, I will accomodate several readers' requests that i delete your comments when they continue in this vein.

Here's the bottom line: You can either accept this blog as it is and comment in an informed, semi-civilized manner (which would be a huge improvement), or your remarks will be deleted. If, as you tried earlier this week, you flood the comments board with posts, I will forward the log from earlier this week (showing your activity) to your employer, who will, I'm sure, be delighted to see how you're using company time and resources. Have a great weekend.

Ted

bandit75 said...

gradstudent = OWNED

Thanks Ted.

janetdoe said...

Who's the bitch now?

gradstudent said...

God I loved that spanking! Give it to me baby.

gradstudent said...

Dear bandit75 you work in corporate america, right? Maybe you could tell me about being OWNED.

bandit75 said...

Hey gradstudent, it means you were put in your place. Guess your screen name is just that, a name and not a description.

You are visitor number