Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Rumor Mill: Jonesin' for a Gig at 42?

An alert reader and tipster reports that former WOWT morning anchor Trey Jones is in the running for the weekend spot that became available when the station fired Dave Hansen. Putting Jones alongside the impeccable Amanda Mueller could conceivably create Omaha's most watchable weekend anchor team. Jones left Channel 6 in May, citing the toll the early shift hours were taking on his family life.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Always on His Mind

The media column in this week's Reader, written by Sean Weide, devotes some space to local personalities' responses to the question, "What are you thankful for?"

Now, we've long heard that this little blog gets under the skin of KMTV's serial opinionator, Travis Justice, but we had no idea that we were so engrained in his consciousness until we read his response to Weide's question: "I'm thankful for omanews.blogspot.com, some of the nicest people in the world! They know how to spread the holiday cheer."

Aw shucks, Trav. We hardly know what to say.

On the topic of Weide's column, the previous week's edition revealed the impending departure of Trav's boss, KM3 General Manager Jim McKernan. As soon as Journal Broadcasting completes its purchase of the station from Emmis Communications, McKernan is history.

Since McKernan is largely responsible for Justice's presence at Channel 3, one could hope that the new management might turn full custody of the "For What It's Worth" blowhard over to the radio side of its Omaha operation. After all, Trav already spends quite a bit of time on Z-92 with Todd 'n' Tyler and on Big Sports 590, where he has his own call-in show. Both stations are owned by Journal.

If We Didn't Know Better, We'd Swear He Attended Morningside

During Sunday's 5:30 p.m. newscast on KMTV, did Devon "Lockjaw" Patton really say that a plane was registered to someone in "Illinoise"? After further review, the call on the field stands; fifteen yard penalty, loss of down, and lots of questions about how someone with an anchor gig can get to this point in his life without being able to properly pronounce the names of all 53 states.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Brace Yourselves—Jim Thinks He Smells Snow in Them Thar Hills

It was only Wednesday, but WOWT's Jim Flowers was already jonesin' for a Sunday-Monday snowstorm. Flowers' 10 p.m. Ejacu-Weather foreplay forecast maps indicated "HEAVY SNOW" would be "possible" toward the close of the holiday weekend, and we all know what that means: Jimmy and the Boys will be milking the living shit out of that possibility for as long as is humanly possible.

We're not saying it won't snow, or even that we won't get heavy snow. But the Ejacu-Weather Wankcasters have shown us time and again that no one can beat them in the over-reacting department, so you'll pardon us if we view this latest prediction with more than a little skepticism.

Kayla Thomas Must Be Stopped

Wednesday night's report by Kayla Thomas on KMTV pulled off a rare feat—it made "For What It's Worth" look good by comparison.

It was bad enough that Thomas was doing the obligatory Thanksgiving turkey story, replete with idiotic puns like "gobbledy-gook." But what made us want to kick in the TV screen was the image of the clumsy Thomas tromping awkwardly across an open field, screeching moronicisms like "here, turkey turkey" and "C'mon you guys, I just wanna ask you a couple of questions."

Christ. Thomas is to Channel 3 what Sheila Brummer is to Channel 6: an ill-suited, sorry excuse for a journalist—especially a TV journalist. Put her on our list of people who need to find other work.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Blunders to the Power of a Hard Three Inches

An alert reader notes the ongoing technical glitches at WOWT:

I am watching the replay of 6 at Six, and in the middle of Gary Johnson's report on airport security, he stops mid- sentence, the camera pans out, then zooms back in, then he starts over again.

This is the second time in as many weeks that I have seen this. Last Tuesday after the "Great Snow Storm of 2005", we saw the second take of Sheila Brummer's interview with a traffic safety official as he was displaying the survival items that should be kept in the trunk. I believe you mentioned that.

So with that said, did they trade in the editing equipment in exchange for Jim Flower's new radar?

Hansen Sacked by KPTM

Fox42/KPTM is said to have canned anchor/reporter Dave Hansen today. A source there says he has been barred from the building. No word yet on why, but at KPTM, logic and reason seem to play a very small role in hiring and firing decisions. Or anything else that goes on there, for that matter.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

It's How You Use It



Apparently dismayed by the meager 1.2" offical snowfall reading from Eppley Airfield, WOWT chief meteorologist Jim Flowers proudly reporter that he had "a hard three inches" in his front yard. There are some things we'd prefer Jim only share with Mrs. Flowers and his urologist. (Feel free to contribute your own punchlines.)

It Really Blows Out There

The arrival of winter weather sent TV stations into its usual frenzy of idiotic stories. After the early morning exhortations to "allow yourself extra time" and "bundle up," all three of Tuesday's 10 p.m. newscasts featured the obligatory "let's have a reporter show us what snow looks like" package.

KETV sent Brandi Petersen out to tell us that it was so windy that a station engineer had to hold a light up so she could do her live shot. WOWT's Sheila Brummer showed us car accidents and near-accidents, while KMTV's Michelle Bandur drew the short straw and had the privilege of interviewing local dolts to get their brilliant observations about the weather. All three essentially did the same story; only the order of information, particular locations, and individual dolts differed from one station to the next.

In typical Brummer fashion, video in her story included the first and second takes of an interviewee demonstrating how to put together a winter survival kit. Not surprising.

Perhaps the most pathetic aspect of local coverage came eve before the snow fell. As early as the 5 p.m. 'cast on Monday, Channel 7 anchors were crowing that meteorologist Bill Randby's "winter forecast" had told us that we'd get snow before Thanksgiving. Let's hope these people aren't as impressed as they sounded, because predicting snow before Thanksgiving is like predicting heat in July—it doesn't take much training to get that one right.

In fact, we'll go out on a limb of our own and predict that it's gonna snow again before Christmas. Imagine the oohs and ahhs from the Newsplex if we're right about that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Channel 6 Breaks 1998 Technology Story

During a report on rumors that ran through Papio-LaVista South High School, OPS-toady-to-be Doug Walker revealed on Tuesday's 10 p.m. that it's possible to have several different Instant Messenger windows open at the same time. Why doesn't this guy have his own technology show?

In a rare episode of stupid banter, Tracy Madden then stunned Omaha by informing Walker that IM is "the way kids communicate these days," instead of using the phone.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Investigasms

It appears that local stations are no longer concerned with ratings, but with seeing who can "investigate" more than all the others. In just a few days time, we've seen the following investigasms:

• KETV has sent Mike Sigmond out to check on carbon monoxide detectors and Carol Kloss to look into the lives of sex offenders. (One associate noted that Kloss removing her shirt for these creeps might scare 'em straight.)

• At WOWT, warbly-voiced Brian New, who always sounds like he's about to cry, was dispatched to do some detective work on Wi-Fi and the awful, terrible, very bad things that await those who connect at public hotspots. (And as hard as it is to believe, a question from anchor John Knicely—a guy who'll never be mistaken for George F. Will—left New unable to speak a coherent sentence; he clearly had no idea what he was talking about or what he was even trying to say.)

• KMTV, on the other hand, appears to be continuing its investigation into how low it can push its ratings; the station continues to let Travis Justice torture viewers with his unsolicited and largely uninformed opinions on everything from illegal immigration to the teaching of evolution in public schools. Monday night's installment featured a caller specualting about scientists finding the so-called "missing link." Watching "For What It's Worth" makes us think we've found it.

And speaking of public schools, why doesn't one of these stations investigate why OPS superintendent John Mackiel seems determined to stir up racial discord as he seeks to expand his empire. Mackiel and the rest of his sychophants, including school board members, have apparently decided to paint anyone who disagrees with their "One City, One School District" plan as would-be Ku Klux Klan members.

First, Bellevue Superintendent John Deegan—a man who never met a federal handout he didn't like, as long as his district is the recipient—suggested that those in suburban districts using the word forever sounded like Alabama Governor George Wallace. Then came a Sunday newspaper story in which Mackiel and others seemed to threaten to bring in federal civil rights agencies if the legislature didn't drink the OPS Kool-Aid.

When it announced its "plan" back in June, OPS claimed it was done to prevent its becoming hemmed in by outlying districts. In the last few weeks, however, the story has changed. Now Mackiel and Company are self-righteous crusaders for civil rights, even though it has little succes integrating its existing schools. Indeed, the Sunday newspaper story points out that OPS schools in West Omaha are some of the whitest in the city.

If local TV stations want to do some investigating, the actions of OPS's little dictator offer plenty of material.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

We'd Prefer Hell, Thank You

One of the few faces on TV that make us wish we were watching Travis Justice:



On Tuesday, residents of Dover, Pennsylvania voted to remove their entire school board after the board had mandated the teaching of "intelligent design" in science classes. On Thursday, televangelist Pat Robertson suggested that they shouldn't expect any more help from God.

"While you're living in My universe, you'll obey My rules," God is reported to have said.

The people of Dover replied that they are so sick of Him and His "hang-ups," man. Nobody else's gods are pulling this crap, they continued. They added that they will be so glad when they can get out on their own but also asked if they could borrow the car on Saturday.

God said he and Pat would discuss it and let them know.

Sorry for the Inconvenience

We're turning the comments feature off for the time being due to a wave of spam that's hitting blogs right now. We have neither the time nor the energy to weed this crap out. We'll turn them back on once blogspot plugs whatever hole is letting these things through. Feel free to email your comments to us at omanews@hotmail.com; we'll post what we can.

Perhaps Making Creepy Masks for the Kids Would Be Fun

Unless you were working at one of those secret CIA torture camps, why would anyone feel the need to enlarge this?

KMTV Reaching into the Grab Bag of Tired Stories

It appears KMTV's practice of avoiding stunt stories during sweeps is going by the wayside. Sarah Simmons is doing a piece on meth.

Hasn't this story been done enough? Thanks to the media's constant harping on the topic and law enforcement's incessant lobbying, it's already easier to buy a handgun than it is to purchase a box of Sudafed. Do we really need to hear more about this "crisis"?

We tend to have a pretty libertarian/Darwinian view of this issue. There's no amount of regulation that's gonna keep these people away from this stuff. Let 'em have it and allow natural selection to work its magic. Same goes for the meth addicts.

KETV Preparing to Challenge WOWT on Weekend Mornings

KETV is now advertising for an anchor/reporter, stipulating that the new hire will be anchoring weekend mornings. Informed sources suggest the new program will debut sometime after the first of the year.

Maybe this will force Channel 6 to put a little more effort into its weekend morning McMess.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

KETV Makes Sunday-Monday Night Adjustment

As it has for the past several sweeps periods, KETV is deploying anchors Rob McCartney and Julie Cornell on Sunday nights in an effort to boost ratings on what is one of the most-watched evenings of the week.

What's new this year is that they're givng Rob and Julie the post-Monday Night Football newscast off. MNF ordinarily ends around 11:30, too late for the pair to go head-to-head with the other late news programs.

Instead of plopping weekend anchor Suzanne Deyo in the anchor chair, however, Channel 7 has wisely given the slot to Brandi Peterson, who is superior in both talent and watchability. Putting Peterson in makes perfect sense, given that MNF viewers tend to be overwhelmingly male, especially at that hour. It's yet another hint that station management may feel more comfortable with Peterson anchoring than with Deyo stiffly rumblin' stumblin' and bumblin' her way through 35 minutes of weeknight airtime.

A Different Sort of Shout Out

Tuesday was a little busy at the OMA News headquarters, so we didn't get to one item we can't let pass without comment.

Part of sweeps at WOWT seems to be a tendency to strain to come up with "unique" angles to stories without realizing those angles are either unoriginal or just plain stupid. We're not sure where to file Jim Siedlecki's Monday night story about high school football games.

The intent appeared to be to show a game from a variety of vantage points. It might've been at least a passable story, were it not for the fact that Siedlecki somehow got the idea that it would be a good idea to SHOUT the entire piece at viewers. It didn't help that he chose to do his standups from loud locations, but by the end of the story, when he was planted in the midst of the student section and screaming his lines at the camera, it was downright comical.



Even funnier, if you've followed our "Separated at Birth?" feature, was the fact that when Siedlecki shouts, he even sounds like Gomer Pyle responding in agitated fashion to Sargeant Carter.

Golly, indeed.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Perlman Auditioning for Knicely's Job

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman has now proven himself clueless enough to qualify as a replacement for John Knicely or Andrea McMaster.

According to the local daily newspaper, Perlman offers two astoundingly foolish quotations:

(1) "We'd like to be playing for the national championship. We're not," Perlman said. "Would I be more pleased if we were? Sure. But I think these programs are not built overnight," and

(2) "We have said all along that it would take awhile to turn the program around."

On both points, he is somewhat right. Programs are not built overnight. What he fails to mention is that there was a program in place that won 10 games during the 2003 season. The only reason that one needs to be "built" at all is that he and athletic director Steve Pederson destroyed the one that worked—a feat that can be accomplished overnight.

As far as turning the program around, the precipitous drop from 10-3 to 5-6 (probably twice) suggests that the turnaround has already been accomplished.

Kumar Leaving Channel 7

KETV reporter Reggie Kumar is leaving the station to return to his native California. Word is that he has no job lined up but just hates it at 7, even though it's considered by many to be Omaha's most pleasant newsroom to work in.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Radar, Radar Everywhere and "Winter Forecasts" Stink

Dear god. Where do we start? Jim Flowers' "big announcement on Friday was "Radar to the Power of 6." As if he needs another stupid gimmick to squeeze into the Channel 6 forecasts.

If you didn't see it, the geniuses at 6 will now be able to show us three different radar scans at once, which will, according to Flowers, allow him and his lackeys to give us 3-D images of storms and whatnot.

Um, hasn't Channel 3 had that for at least a year and a half now, without the need to show us three radars at once? All we can think of when we see the three images is that guy who would come onto Ed Sullivan's shows back in the 60s and spin plates. It's not nearly as exciting watching Jim and his boys do it with radar.

The other sweeps monstrosity rolled out by 6 this weekend was John Knicely riding along with the police to bust drug dealers. Whose idea was this? Why send the dumbest man in local TV out on this assignment? We didn't see anything new or interesting, or for that matter, anything that we couldn't see on COPS.

Just let poor John sit at his desk and watch golf until airtime. Or bring back "John at Work," "John Gets Tasered," or give away a chance to knee John in the junk. But spare us the lame attempts to make him look like a journalist.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A November Tradition

Electricity is in the air tonight all over town as neighbors and friends gather around the television to receive "Jim's Precision Winter Forecast"—that magical moment when WOWT meteorologist Jim Flowers works himself into a lather and tells us what to expect for the next five months. For the Brockmans, this is better than Thanksgiving and Christmas combined.

As is the case with other holiday seasons, this one heralds similar observances by Omahans of many faiths. Thursday night, for example, Sevenites lit candles and listened solemnly as KETV Newswatch 7's Super Doppler Meteorologist Bill Randby assured his followers that, among other things, temperatures will be near normal, January will be snowy ("a blizzard," he suggested), and the area will get 23-25 inches of snow this winter.

Seriously, though: As many have suggested, both on our Comments board and via email, do these two guys—who can't accuratelytell us what it's going to do in two days—really expect us to believe that they can predict what it's going to do in February? Flowers nearly pisses himself at the slightest hint of snow and Randby, while an earnest, likeable TV presence, is no better than average in his forecasts.

This sort of pseudo-scientific forecasting is detrimental to the credibility of both the individuals and the stations themselves. And, as one email suggests, if news operations lose their credibility, they have little reason to exist.

FLASH...6:14 p.m.: Jim Flowers is making us wild with his teasing. Now, in addition to billboarding his winter forecast, he is promising "a special announcement" at 10 p.m. We're going to have Mrs. Brockman standing by with the defibrilator, just to be safe; this is waaay too much excitement.

And on Monday, He'll Tell Us All About the Internets

Watching WOWT anchors John Knicely and Tracy Madden deliver their obligatory 30-second teaser in the midst of the Today Show, we were amused (but not surprised) to hear Knicely refer to the Summit of the Americas as the "Summit of the Americans. (He's also probably one of those dolts who calls his internet provider "American Online.) If you ask, he can also tell you about how San Diego was founded thousands of years ago by the Germans.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Meuret Leaving KETV

It's November and turnover is in the air. First, Doug Walker decides to leave WOWT to go help OPS Superintendent John Mackiel play TV. Now comes word that KETV reporter Trisha Meuret plans to leave KETV in a week or so to work for Pete Ricketts' Senate campaign.

Such departures always create a situation that we love here at OMA News: the opportunity for a station to introduce a fresh face into the mix. It also provides us with insight into the thinking of the folks doing the hiring. Specifically, it shows how competent they are at judging talent, how much they're willing to spend, or in some cases, how little they think they can get by with spending.

There Are Some Things a Station Shouldn't Want to Be #1 In

Proving, once again, that KETV thinks that it must beat WOWT at everything, meteorologist Bill Randby will try to beat Jim Flowers to the punch by delivering a winter forecast today (Thursday)— a full day ahead Hysterical Jim's pointless, meaningless, worthless, hopeless, useless "Precision Winter Forecast."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Get a Load of This!

KPTM is advertising for a reporter/anchor and a couple of other positions, as we reported earlier. It turns out, however that the new suckers employees will be slapping together a 10 p.m. newscast for KXVO/WB15.

The new program may not add much to the local broadcast scene, but think of the hundreds of dollars that these three new jobs will pump into the local economy each month.

We now invite you to contribute your own punchlines, via the "Comments" section.

Sarantos-Niver Upgrades Delivery

Having complained about Kathy Sarantos-Niver's longstanding tendency to sound as if she were whispering a secret when doing a voiceover, we would be remiss if we ignored the fact that she has kicked the habit. We caught a story she did on Tuesday and it was clear that she has backed off the mike and decided to speak in a more natural, conversational tone. Way to go, Kathy!

Updating the Scorecard to Know the Players

Activity in the rumor mills and job postings...

• Reporter Doug Walker is leaving WOWT for a job outside the biz. Is Channel 6 considering making someone a one-man band? Its ad for a "reporter/videographer" suggests it's possible, however unlikely. We've learned it's unwise to underestimate the Jonas/Clark braintrust's capacity for boneheaded moves.

• Speaking of The Big Six, an alert reader prompts us to ask why Rebecca Kleeman's Monday story on spooky voices and the oddballs who love them failed to mention that one of her interviewees, Shawn Halpenny, is a WOWT writer/producer. Is the station not acquainted with the concept of full disclosure?

• Turnover Central, KPTM, is advertising for an anchor/reporter, suggesting that either Dave Hansen or the splendid Amanda Mueller is headed elsewhere. The Fox affilliate is also running ads for a producer and a photographer.

• At KMTV, there's still no evidence of a replacement for weekend meteorologist Sarah Walters, whose last day was October 21st.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Channel 6 Comes Charging Back in Battle for Stupid Sweeps Stories Crown

Today viewers are being hit with promos for Mike McKnight's "investigation" of police "stop sticks," in which we're told we'll get to see "actual video of a police chase!" Also, the station is hyping the snot out of Jim Flowers' "Precision Winter Forecast." We defy anyone to show us a more worthless weather "feature" than Jim wandering out to the weather porch to see whether his shadow appears.
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