Friday, December 30, 2005
Madden earns this prestigious honor for several reasons. First, she improved the quality of Channel 6's evening newscasts just by taking over for human pall Pat Persaud when the latter woman "retired" in May. That was the official handoff date, anyway. In reality, Madden essentially took over almost as soon as Persaud finished blubbering through her retirement announcement at the end of February. (Persaud appeared only infrequently between the announcement and her overblown May 25th swan song.)
Since her ascension, Madden has clearly gone out of her way to avoid being snared by the consultant-driven cliché machine that "6 News" has become. For example, in stark contrast to her doltish co-anchor John Knicely, Madden never follows up a live report with the hackneyed and unnecessary "So-and-so, reporting live" tag. Likewise, she skillfully avoids drinking whatever Kool-Aid that impels Knicely and others to tease the "More News" feature with the "latermorenews" incantation scripted by the Big Six's puppeteer-for-hire.
Her willingness to forego the consultant's canned phrases and be herself has paid off; in fact, the station's ratings are higher now than they were when Queen Pat was climbing up into the chair. So much for consultants.
More than anything else, however, Madden has brought a warmth and smoothness to the anchor desk that is seldom seen these days in Omaha television. Here's hoping her tenure is a long one, that she continues to do things her way, and that they find her a decent co-anchor.
NOTE: The Omaha TV News Crew will be taking the first week of the new year off. Comments will be moderated intermittently by the custodial department.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
But the even bigger idiots of the day were those brainless morons who, upon hearing the location of the debris, went rushing to the scene with their home video cameras. It was as if Travis Justice had cloned himself a hundred times.
What did these shit-for-brains dickweeds think they were going to accomplish by getting video of this? Here's our guess: each of these Einsteins, seeing what was happening, grabbed his camera in the firm belief that he could get footage and sell it to CNN or FoxNews.
No, it doesn't seem logical, especially given that by the time they arrived, there were three broadcast crews in place (four, if you count KPTM). But none of these people seems to have been weighed down by excess brain capacity or preoccupied about what to wear to the next MENSA Society meeting.
Just once, wouldn't you like to see people like this attacked by a bunch of other people wielding hammers?
With studios located a good seven or eight miles southwest of Channels 6 & 7 (and only about two miles from the crash scene), KM3 had a built-in advantage in just getting a reporter on the scene. Corey Rangel delivered a telephone report at approximately 10:15 a.m. Channel 7's Mike Sigmond was on the air with his report about ten minutes later, joined shortly thereafter by Todd Andrews.
Both stations aired their first live images of the scene—shrouded in fog—by around 10:30, although KETV's initial shot showed viewers little more than a close-up of an unidentified white pole that appeared to be part of the station's live truck.
Bringing up the rear was "Live, Local, Late-Breaking" Channel 6 News. Apparently loathe to break into the "Tony Danza Show" (Tony was singing with the Muppets!), the Big Six first provided only in-studio anchor Malorie Maddox describing the scene and meteorologist Scott Akin telling viewers that it was foggy. Eventually, reporter Gary Johnson reported live from the scene, joined sometime thereafter by Sheila Brummer.
It was Brummer who astutely informed viewers that "if you need to drive in this area, the best thing to do is not to drive in this area." Thanks, Sheila. Dumbass.
It was also Brummer who observed that the absence of rescue vehicles suggested there were no survivors. While she turned out to be right, her certainty might have been tempered had she been there a half-hour earlier when Rangel and Sigmond were describing the arrival of ambulances.
As always when it comes to Channel 6, it fell to Johnson to do the real reporting. Of all the TV personnel on the scene, it was he who was first able to confirm that three passengers in the plane had been killed.
It's really too bad that Omaha viewers either aren't smart enough or interested enough to recognize how much of WOWT's operation is window dressing. Being able to create the illusion of news reporting—which is what 6 seems to be best at—isn't the same thing as doing news reporting.
The station has plenty of people who can sit in the studio and read news, and several more who can look at a camera and form sentences, but only two or three who can actually find information and report it with any discernible degree of skill. Perhaps if they spent less time on faux-news like "Burglaries & Break-ins," "Illnesses & Injuries," and "Schemes & Ripoffs," they could cultivate some real reporters.
Then again, as long as Omaha viewers keep rewarding their half-assed approach, there's not much motivation for them to move in that direction, is there?
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Not that there weren't flaws. Her predilection for fake fingernails cheapened her otherwise pristine appearance, and she had a somewhat nasal voice and, um, "vowel issues." At first we chalked it up to her southern Kansas upbringing; it seemed like a bad habit she'd outgrow. But after nearly a year of hearing her talk to "Scawt" Akin about the weather "detells" and "timps" across the "Heartlund," it's clear that her pralking toblems aren't going anywhere.
But what has really hurt is her descent into the scrum of the Big Six's Mindless Prattling Club. In her early days at the station, her remarks were generally sensible, relevant, and avoided most of the stupid babbling common to the likes of John Knicely, Andrea McMaster, and the now-"retired" Pat Persaud. But as the months have passed, life at WOWT has apparently worn her down; nowadays, there's no telling what drivel is likely to come out of her gorgeous mouth.
Much of the problem stems from the station's decision to reunite her with her former Joplin, Missouri, co-anchor, Jim Siedlecki. Since Siedlecki's arrival in June, Maddox has become progressively deferential to the big dolt, playing the dizzy blonde to his "Big Smart Man" act. When Gomer is gone and Mal anchors solo, it's a whole different ballgame. She seems confident, knowledgeable, and able to converse with other humans. But as soon as he lumbers back into the picture, it's back to Dummyville. It's like watching the articulate cheerleader become a blithering idiot when the school's quarterback walks into the room. Blech.
We wish we had a solution to this problem. Short of reassigning Siedlecki and letting Maddox solo in the morning, or booting Sheila Brummer from the 4 p.m. chair and pairing Mal with Brian Mastre, we have few suggestions. It's just another case of Channel 6 management's remarkable ability to mediocritize even the most promising talent to match its tired, formulaic operation.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
• Stories about last-minute shoppers on December 24th.
• Stories about shoppers seeking bargains and using gift cards on December 26th.
• Stories Omaha's first baby of the new year on January 1st.
• Military personnel wishing their families well, endlessly. Seriously, is there a less efficient means of getting these messages to families? What are the odds that some poor airman's holiday greeting from Germany is going to be seen by his family when it airs at 2:45 on Christmas morning? Airing these little blurbs is less about letting families hear from loved ones than it is about station p.r. How about giving all the time and money put into these things to the soldiers themselves?
An alert reader informs us that KXVO's new 10 p.m. program anchored by Calvert "Larry 'Bud'" Collins will begin rehearsals on January 2nd and begin airing to an only slightly larger audience on January 16th. Anyone wanting a bellyfull of Collins' self-congratulatory, delusional description of the new show should get a copy of the Reader and check out Sean Weide's interview with her.
Here's one quote, just to whet your appetite: “The WB is part of that generation that is sophisticated news watchers.”
Yeah, this is gonna be a real trip.
Monday, December 26, 2005
• Were we the only ones who noticed idiot anchor John Knicely's reference to a "calvary" unit that would no longer be deployed to Iraq? What's sad is that he'll read this and have no idea what he did wrong. What a stooge. We love this picture of him, by the way. He looks like he's doing math in his head and taking a grunt at the same time.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
In the case of the fatal shooting of a tobacco store worker on Tuesday, the winning answer was Gary Smollen and Brian New.
Smollen handled the story at 6 p.m. and was on again at 10. They should really be careful about sending this guy out to a crime scene where there's a dead body involved. One of these days he's bound to be mistaken for the corpse, and there's probably no end to the paperwork that Channel 6 producers will need to fill out to get him released from the morgue.
Honestly, how would you prove he's alive? Certainly not from his delivery, which sounds better suited to describe a Sunday afternoon bake sale than a murder investigation. This guy makes comedian Steven Wright sound like Robin Williams by comparison.
As for New, well what can you say about a TV reporter who always sounds like he's about to burst into tears? Neither the quavering voice, nor the deadpan/deer-in-the-headlights expression inspire a lot of confidence that he has even the slightest clue what he's talking about. And he appears to have stolen KETVNewswatch7Investigator Carol Kloss' leather jacket.
• Luckily, Kloss still has her Jiminy Glick-ish spectacles; she was sporting them during her Tuesday story about the Dundee serial rapist who wants a new trial.
• Back at 6, don't even get us started on Sheila Brummer, who was filling in again for Tracy Madden. That creepy, eyes-half-closed grin that she occasionally flashes really makes our skin crawl. Is she possessed? On drugs? Or just scary without even trying? Yamahama, it's fright night when the Des Moines castoff is in the anchor chair.
• And yes, KMTV anchor Deb Ward really did say it. Coming out a a story about a teenager whose muscular dystrophy attacks the heart muscle, has killed two of his brothers, and threatens to claim him if he doesn't get a transplant, Ward really looked into the camera and said, "Our hearts go out to the family." Smooth.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Unfortunately, it's been downhill ever since. First, they kept him on the air, stamping "Sports Director" on his sorry hide. Now, they've gone and added an opinion segment to his 10 p.m. sportscast, called "The Big Take." The one good thing we can say about it is this: at least he's no longer spewing his uninformed views on fiscal policy or the war in Iraq. But that's about it.
During "The Big Take," he spends at least 20 or 30 seconds plugging his radio call-in show on Journal-owned "BigSports 590," about which the only positive comment we can make is, "At least when he's on the radio, you don't have to look at his face."
So we'll ask Journal the same thing we asked former KM3 owners, Emmis: What evidence do you have that ordinary TV and radio consumers are hungry for Trav's opinions? Or for anything containing Trav?
Better yet, just who IS the target audience for The Big Tool, anyway? The fat, middle-aged, male sports fan who drinks too much and drives around town in an oversized pickup bearing his favorite team's emblem and a picture of Calvin pissing on something? The same guy who thinks taxes are too high but can't stoping griping about how bad the roads and schools are? The one wearing the "No Fat Chicks" t-shirt that barely covers his colossal beer gut and wears that Travis-esque mustache-and-goatee-hybrid popularized by 'roid suspect Mark
God help KM3 if that's the prize they're eyeing.
Monday, December 19, 2005
KXVO is (sort of) swiping KPTM's Calvert Collins to anchor its new 10 p.m. newscast. No word on when the program will debut, but look for Sean Weide's Reader column on Wednesday to have more details.
Boy, howdy. Only with Pappas Telecasting of the Midlands can a gal land a weeknight anchor gig in a market this size when she's just seven months removed from college.
We can imagine the scene 20 years hence, when Collins is regaling cub reporters about the early days of her career.
"Yeah," she'll say knowingly, "I remember what a grind reporting can be sometimes, but it's part of payin' your dues. My days as a reporter were some tough times, but I saw it through and I was rewarded for my four months of work with an anchor job."
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Weide quotes new KM3 GM Steve Wexler as saying "We're . . . committed to covering sports in an informative, entertaining way and Travis Justice has the experience and ability to go beyond the obvious headlines in both his nightly sportscasts on KMTV and weekday mornings on [the radio]."
What a shame.
Not content to cloak their inaccurate guesses in hints, the morons this morning posted the name of their latest target in the comments section of this blog, along with his home address and phone number. Shame on you nimrods.
So the comments feature has now been turned off. Now all you get is the monologue; no audience participation. If you've got anything to say to us, you'll need to say it via email. Sorry, but we're not going to stand watch over the comments board to make sure personal info isn't being posted, especially when it's personal information of people we've never even heard of.
For those of you just tuning in, in the year or so since we started writing here, we've heard any number of ridiculous guesses about who we are. What follows is a list of those implicated in those guesses, none of whom have anything to do with the production of this blog.
So how 'bout leaving these people alone? Better yet, how 'bout focusing on doing your job better instead of playing Inspector Clouseau?
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
First, Sean Weide posted a reward for identification of Ted on a Yahoo group devoted to local newswomen. Then yesterday, some yahoo posting under the name "riddlemethis" commented here that Ted worked for an ad agency and posted a long 2002 press release that Ted supposedly wrote. (We deleted it since it was (a) too long and (b) violated copyright laws.) Then, with that theory apparently falling apart, "diddleme" ranted today about Ted working—we think—for Union Pacific.
For the record: diddleme is grasping at straws, based on god-knows-what for information. If Justice really is behind this, his fact-finding would appear to be about as solid as his mercifully defunct "commentaries." Again, we are not in the TV, advertising, or p.r. biz. We are just viewers revolting against stupid shit we see on TV. Is that so hard to understand?
Most importantly, however, we hope that diddleme's reckless and constantly-shifting accusations don't get some poor innocent bystander in hot water at work. No one on the OMA News staff is anyone that local media types would know. So get back to work and leave your latest suspects alone. You're not even close.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
You got to give Scott Akin some props. Last week when he was filling in for the Pornstache, there was a forecast for a few inches of snow. Instead of on air Armageddon as is the usual, he was very relaxed with it, no hyperbole, no doom. He just went about his business, seemingly giving the audience credit for knowing about winter. He stopped just short of calling us "knuckleheads" like a Bill Murray character, and telling us to drive like the crazies we are. It was refreshing.
Okay. We'll grudgingly agree that if, under some godforsaken circumstance, we were forced to choose our favorite Channel 6 Ejacu-Weather meteorologist, we'd choose Akin.
Akin is, as noted above, the least prone to hysterical over-prediction and the least annoying of the bunch. Yes, his bantering is weak, but most of the time, he's having to deflect whatever witticism Jim "The Shouter" Siedlecki has lobbed at him. Siedlecki, who has dragged the entire morning operation down to his level, seems to fancy himself something of a hipster/expert-on-everything instead of recognizing that he'd be "kind of a big deal" only if he were in a market half this size.
Now before all you Friends of Jim email us about what a nice guy he is, save it. A nice guy he may be, but a smoothly confindent, knowledgeable anchor he ain't. He seems to suffer from some kind of voice modulation disorder which causes him to be a bit of a loud-talker. We could go on, but it's the Christmas season, dammit. The bottom line is that the only thing we viewers care about is how he comes across on-air.
But we digress: Akin is miles ahead of his wanky weather co-workers. We've discussed Jim Flowers' apparent psycho-sexual connection to the climate. We've also registered our disdain for high-talker Jeff Jensen, whose voice makes us yearn for the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard. And then there's the toolish-looking Michael Born, whose creepy visage in those opening montages has been known to frighten pets and small children.
Given the quality of his co-workers, picking Akin as the best among them is hardly a ringing endorsement.
Monday, December 12, 2005
• Former KETV weekend sports anchor Sean McMahon made his debut on WOWT this weekend—as a spouse. Now that he's no longer working for the competition, the Big Twits at the Big Six must've decided they could permit him to appear in the "holiday wishes" promo with wife Tracy Madden and their twins. Given the pathetic state of the male talent on that station, they oughta try to get him into promos year-round.
• God help poor Rebecca Kleeman. We would speculate that monkeys were running the control room on Sunday morning, but to do so would insult the professionalism of monkeys. No one seemed to be able to inform Kleeman which camera to look at, and even when they did, they kept giving her inaccurate information.
Later, right in the middle of a taped piece, the Powerball graphic popped onto the screen while interview audio continued to roll underneath. This lasted for at least six or seven seconds—long enough for all five numbers plus the Powerball to be revealed. Combine the techno-debacle with the fact that Kleeman has to share the studio with Ejacu-Weather Super Tool Michael Born, and it'll be a wonder if she even shows up at work again. When it comes to amateurish technical values, KPTM has nothing on the weekend crew at Channel 6.
Friday, December 09, 2005
"I've always thought we could make a difference with prostitution. Otherwise, I wouldn't be doing this."
—"Neighborhood Leader" Jan Quinley
Thursday, December 08, 2005
KETV has a post on his passing here.
"Television: All stations must have regular nightly sports segments with a full-time sports director/talent. "
Words that must have been spoken at the station in the past few days: "Okay, we have a regular nightly sports segment, and we have a full-time sports director (or what passes for one). But where are we gonna find talent on such short notice?"
• What's the deal with Malorie Maddox's hair? Did she lose a bet? It's not been like that any other time we've seen her on-air. And we'd like to keep it that way. Yikes.
• Are we the only ones who want to bury the Ejacu-Weather "team" under about eight feet of that snow they keep getting a chubby over? In these little features, most of them appear in stupid-looking hats. Boy do we hate guys in stupid-looking hats.
• Does John Knicely not make enough money to buy a sweater that fits? The one he's wearing looks like something he's had since Dale Munson and Frank Bramhall were doing the weather.
As if that weren't enough, there was also a report on "box stores" like Wal-Mart and a push by some locals to require such stores to put up more aesthetically pleasing structures. The story, by corpse impersonator Gary Smollen, addressed the appearance of such buildings; inexplicably, his primary interviewee—a woman who lives across the street from a newer Wal-Mart in Millard—complained only about how the store's exterior lights flood her home 24/7, saying nothing about the appearance of the building. It was incongruous, at best.
The departure of similarly weak Doug Walker gives the Big Six a chance to hire a male reporter who has (a) a pulse, (b) a head covered with his own hair, and (c) no discernible speech impediments. Taking advantage of this opportunity would be a nice change of pace for a station whose management continues to coast on its past glories and big budgets.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
What, precisely, Trav is "directing" isn't clear, since he has yet to deliver a sportscast and there's no one else on the sports staff. He did do play-by-play on Tuesday night's Creighton game in Chattanooga. Not since one of his predecessors, Jim Kelter, was broadcasting have we heard a more nasal voice calling a game.
At least we're no longer being subjected to his nightly musings on whatever headline catches his eye that day. If Journal does nothing else, it has taken a big first step in improving Channel 3's programming. Maybe voice lessons for ol' Trav could be next.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
We noticed one spot over the weekend that features a young couple pushing a stroller through a kid-infested playground, only to be accosted by columnist Mike Kelly, who appears out of nowhere to offer them a paper.
The ad doesn't make us want to read the paper, but it does make us wonder why Kelly is hanging around a playground in the middle of the day. Isn't this where the late Peter Citron's career took a wrong turn?
Monday, December 05, 2005
In the email, Smulyan apologizes for a "difficult year" and announces a "minimum bonus for each TV employee equal (to) three months' salary."
It's not clear if the bonus will go to those at stations being sold by Emmis. We hope the answer is yes, with one exception. We'd prefer to see Emmis send Travis Justice's bonus to viewers as a reparations payment for having subjected us to his pontificating for the past three years.
Reporting were Carol Kloss, who offered options for Husker fans planning to travel to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl, and Laura Liggett, with a piece on the ongoing search for a missing girl in North Omaha. Kloss, sporting some specs that looked like they came from the Jiminy Glick collection, told viewers that tickets for the game were available for "four hunnerd" dollars and that travel packages were going for about "fifteen hunnerd."
Liggett, who sounded like she was 12 when doing morning traffic reports in the days immediately preceding the arrival of Jana Murrell, looks and sounds much more polished and mature, turning in solid reports on both Saturday and Sunday. Given her apparent poise, we can't help but wonder why she didn't get the traffic gig ahead of Murrell, whose wooden mannerisms and monotone delivery make even Suzanne Deyo look loose and spontaneous.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
A: Listening to WOWT's Andrea McMaster interview two of them.
Such was our misfortune Saturday afternoon when we stumbled onto Channel 6's "Heartland Focus" public service program. Apparently recorded before she went on maternity leave, McMaster's little show focused on eating disorders and allowed the vacuuous anchor/reporter to ask two dieticians stupid questions like, "Can dieting lead to eating disorders?"
As is frequently the case, this riveting half-hour showed the station's version of Suzanne Deyo sporting her favorite magenta blazer and over-enunciating the first "T" in the word important. As an added bonus, we learned that Andrea's mother requests a doggie bag when dining out, then puts half her meal in the bag before she even starts eating!
We really hope McMoron is enjoying her new role as a mother. In fact, we hope she enjoys it so much that she stays home permanently.
Friday, December 02, 2005
First of all, if people are stupid enough to fall for these things despite the dozens of news stories "exposing" them, then another one probably isn't going to have much impact. Second, if people are stupid enough to send thousands of dollars to someone they know only through emails, then they deserve to lose whatever they send. Redistributing wealth from the impossibly stupid to these internet "entrepreneurs" is merely an extension of the con being perpetrated by lotteries and casinos, only with lower overhead.
Instead of running this story ten or 15 times a year, stations should just run a constant scroll at the bottom of the screen that reads, "Attention all you dumbasses out there: Don't send money to anyone you know only through email. If you just can't resist giving your money to a stranger, email your home address to email@example.com and leave the money just outside the front door."
Thursday, December 01, 2005
• In addition to eyeing work at KPTM, former WOWT morning anchor Trey Jones has apparently informed KETV of his interest in filling the anchor chair on that station's soon-to-be-created weekend morning program.
• The shooting of two would-be robbers of a Benson pawn shop sent every Omaha station into overdrive on Wednesday. All three 10 p.m. newscasts devoted several minutes to the press conference held by the two owners of the store and their attorney, James Martin Davis.
At Channel 7, Brandi Petersen turned in a rambling, disjointed piece on the alleged robbers' backgrounds. Several minutes after anchor Julie Cornell had told viewers of one suspect's 28 run-ins with the law, Petersen wrapped up her own story by suggesting that poor school attendance was a factor. Hell, who has time for school when they're trying to keep up a busy schedule of court appearances and criminal activity?
• An alert reader, writing on Wednesday night, pointed out that KMTV's Deb Ward led off the 10 p.m. newscast by telling viewers that the snow that had been falling all evening would end "well before midnight." "It is now 11:35 p.m. and the flakes are still coming down," he continued. "And this from a station that is promoting the heck out of their weather forecasting..."
• Speaking of weathercasting, we will credit KM3 meteorologist Ryan McPike for admitting later in that same broadcast that he hadn't seen the snow coming when he made his forecast the night before. We certainly didn't hear any such mea culpa from Chief Ejacu-Weather Guesser Jim Flowers and his merry band of ninnies on Channel 6 regarding their six days of clucking about a storm that ended up missing the metro area by a couple of hundred miles; ditto when it comes to Channel 7's Bill Randby and the Mumblecasters.