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.