Friday, December 30, 2005

Omaha TV Newser of the Year

We're awarding our first annual pick for Newser of the Year to WOWT anchor Tracy Madden, one of the few bright spots in that station's lineup.

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

Botched By More People Than All Other Local Newscasts Combined

Premature Ejacu-Weather meteorologist Jim Flowers really tickled himself during Thursday night's forecast by playing "Auld Lang Syne" under the "extended forecast," which also featured a Baby New Year image hovering over the January 1st column. He just giggled and giggled during the last few sentences of his segment. Tracy Madden, echoing our sentiments exactly, told Jim she'd be glad when the new year came so he'd "get rid of that baby." Even Brian Mastre commented that the little tyke looked like a "creepy Elmer Fudd."

Out of the Way, You Rubber-Necking Yokels

OK, so aside from sending Gary Johnson to cover the plane crash, WOWT did little to enhance its credibility as a newsgathering operation. According to Brian Mastre, anchoring at 5 p.m., weather "played a factor" in the crash. 'Nuf said.

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?

Viewer Discretion Advised

Don't say we didn't warn you...

Scarier Than the Plane Crash

WOWT's noon news featured reporter Sheila Brummer live from the scene. Apparently dispatched to the site directly from a deep sleep, Brummer appeared with no makeup and hair that was flat, at best. The hideousness of the picture defies description. We were actually relieved when the wind blew her hair and partially obscured her face. It was scarier than a KETV close-up of Elictia Hammond when she has her hair pulled back, if you can imagine that. Wow. We are trying to obtain a screen cap.

So That's What They Mean By "Late Breaking"

Channel 3 was first on the air with news of Thursday morning's fatal plane crash at 117th and Giles Road.

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

Rethinking Malorie Maddox

When she first arrived on the scene a little over a year ago, WOWT's "Daybreak" anchor Malorie Maddox was a breath of fresh air. Paired with Trey Jones, Maddox helped make Channel 6's morning program much better than it had been during the tenure of the obnoxious and undeservedly arrogant Thom Knight. Not only did she look great, she also seemed not to take herself too seriously and avoided the inane comments typical of morning anchors.

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

Pointless Holiday Rituals

Things we wish we never had to see again...

• 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?

New WB "News"cast to Debut on January 16th


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

Cognitive Dissonance

• November sweeps numbers are in and word is that WOWT cleaned up at 10 p.m. More to follow.

• 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

Trolling with the Remote: 10 p.m. Flipping

• How tired has Channel 6 gotten? So tired that sometimes the predictability level is so high that the only fun is guessing which bumbler will be handling which story.

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

Let the Shameless Cross-Promotion Begin!

You couldn't have found happier people than the staff here when we learned that one of Journal Broadcasting's first moves after getting the keys to KMTV was to yank "For What It's Worth," Travis Justice's attempt to have opinions on whatever happened to occur to him on a given day.

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 McGuire McGwire and various mullet-wearing country stars? That guy? Is that really who you're hoping to attract?

God help KM3 if that's the prize they're eyeing.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Movin' On Up...to the Nightside



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

The Case for Anonymity

For those who repeatedly ask why we don't just come out and reveal our identities, this morning's posting of a suspected person's home address and phone number should answer the question. We can only imagine the hell these people would subject us to if given the opportunity. They're a pretty ruthless pack of hyenas.

Justice Draws Praise from New KM3 Boss

In this week's Reader, Sean Weide reports on KMTV's restoration of sports to its 10 p.m. newscast. As we had feared, the station's new owner, Journal Broadcasting, appears to be happy with the work of Travis Justice, who also hosts a call-in show on the company's AM radio station, BigSports 590, and who clings to Z-92's Todd 'n' Tyler like grim death.

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.

Comments Go Bye-Bye

You've heard it since elementary school: It only takes a few idiots to wreck things for everyone.

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.

Sean Weide
Mike Sigmond
Jim Fagin
Trey Jones
Carol Schrader
Gene Hinkle

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

Full-Court Press Is On...Again

Well, it appears that one or more local media types, having no real work to do, have embarked on another effort to determine the identity of the OMA News crew. With Ted Brockman having stared into the bloated mug of KM3's Travis Justice for several minutes last week, one could surmise that ol' Trav is behind this latest push. Who knows?

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

Rethinking Scott Akin

Alert reader tóózy writes,

Hey Ted:

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

Weekend Weirdness

• We shoulda known it was gonna be a strange weekend when we walk into our favorite restaurant on Friday evening and there sits Travis Justice waiting for a table. Having to spend several minutes looking at His Fatness from a distance of only three feet doesn't exactly bode well for any meal, no matter how hungry you might've been. Lucky for the Brockmans that he wasn't seated near us; we think we only heard him braying like a mule once or twice.

• 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

One Woman's Crusade to Give Back to Her Community

Our vote for "Out-of-Context Quote of the Week" goes to this, from KETV's Thursday night story on an anti-prostitution measure:

"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 Loses Managing Editor

KETV managing editor Joseph Kasmir, whose journalism career included a stint at Omaha radio station KFAB, died unexpectedly on Tuesday. Kasmir was a respected journalist who frequently helped colleagues by tapping into his own sources when a confirmation was needed.

KETV has a post on his passing here.

An Ulterior Motive?

An alert reader points out that part of KM3's haste in naming Travis Justice "Sports Director" and returning sports to the 10 p.m. newscast could be related to the following clause in the Alamo Bowl's credentialing guidelines:

"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?"

The Big Six and Holiday Cheer

Three quick observations about WOWT's PSAs for its canned food drive for the Salvation Army:

• 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.

Who Drained the Talent Pool at Channel 6?

Wednesday night at Channel 6, the 10 p.m. newscast featured a lineup that should've been billed as "Tracy Madden and the Dorks." Demonstrating just how bereft of male talent the station has become, WOWT subjected viewers to Brian Mastrebator, filling in for regular anchor John Knicely, Merlyn Klaus subbing for Dave Webber at the sports desk, and high-talker Jeff Jensen handling Ejacu-Weather forecasting duties in Jim Flowers' absence.

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.

A Little Piece of Heaven

Not only did Channel 3's Wednesday 10 p.m. newscast not feature "For What It's Worth," which died with the change in station ownership, it also contained neither hide nor thinning hair of "Sports Director" Travis Justice. We're sure Journal Broadcast Group is just teasing us, but it's fun to imagine Justice's role being reduced even more.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Hip-Hip Hooray (Sort of): Justice Exchanges "Bloviator" Job Title for "Sports Director"

In a sign that another long local nightmare may be over, KMTV is now referring to longtime gasbag Travis Justice as its "Sports Director." The shift comes almost simultaneously with the finalization of Journal Broadcast Group's purchase of the station from Emmis Communications, which occurred Monday.

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

Local Paper Runs Ads on Talking Picture Box

Omaha's daily newspaper may not cover television, but it doesn't mind advertising there.

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

But Who Gets It?

An alert reader points us to a story at newsblues.com detailing an email sent out last Friday to employees of Emmis Communications by CEO Jeff Smulyan. Emmis is in the process of selling 16 of its TV outlets, including KMTV here in Omaha.

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.

KETV Features Unusual Sunday Lineup

With regular weekend anchor Suzanne Deyo missing (and we're not complaining), Channel 7's Sunday evening newscasts found reporter Todd Andrews filling in.

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

Riddle

Q: What's more painful than listening to a dietician?
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

And One More Thing...

Can we please put a moratorium on stories about Internet scams that attempt to get gullible readers to send thousands of dollars to win a non-existent lottery? This week, Channel 6's Mike McKnight did this piece for what must have been his 58th time. We were told that this case had a twist, but the only "twist" was that the scammers waited until the third email to the "victim" to ask for money. That was it. The con artist simply waited longer to set the hook before reeling in the fish.

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 omanews@hotmail.com and leave the money just outside the front door."

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Busy Week Grab Bag

While we've been otherwise engaged this week, odds and ends have popped up here and there, but nothing remarkable. So, for your amusement, we present various of the brain droppings that we've meant to turn into posts over the past few days...

• 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.
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