Friday, December 29, 2006

Omaha TV Newser of the Year

When it came time to gather the editorial staff to choose our Newser of the Year for 2006, there was no clear consensus, as had been the case a year ago, when we bestowed the first annual award on WOWT's Tracy Madden.

A couple of voices suggested KMTV's GM, Steve Wexler, for giving Channel 3rd a makeover that pulled the station into the 21st Century and (finally) forced WOWT to adopt a new graphics and sounder package. In fact, Wexler might have landed the award, had it not been for his Scrooging of anchors Deb Ward and Greg Peterson on the Friday before Christmas.

Another popular choice was KETV's Kailyn Reed, who in 2006 was one of the few reporters-with-a-brain hired at any station. But we passed on her, too. (Same for Jaime McCutcheon, the only competent anchor hired here in years, it seems.)

We seriously considered anointing KETV Traffic Idiot Jana Murrell and her fill-in-cum-webcrawling-babbler, Veronica Todd as co-winners, but that idea fizzled when Todd left the station after management decided it wasn't comfortable having one of its on-air personalities appearing in TV ads it was running. And we thought giving it to Murrell alone might overwhelm her, especially if she tried to read two whole paragraphs explaining why she'd won.

Finally, there was Devon "Lockjaw" Patton, who was a triple threat: bad at anchoring, over-wrought when reporting, and, according to a complaint filed with law enforcement, a letch when off-camera.

But what we wanted—and eventually decided upon—was someone who best exemplified what Omaha TV stations were up to this year, someone who represented all the excrement that is Omaha TV at the moment. And we could think of no one who better fit the bill than (drumroll, please)...KETV's hideous anchor/reporter Farah "Fubar" Fazal!

Fazal emerged this year as the emblem of everything that is wrong with local TV. From her inability to get even the most basic details of a story right ("United Pacific," "North Bend, Iowa," etc.), to her awful voice and a face better-suited to radio, Fazal is symptomatic of a market in free-fall when it comes to talent. (Our favorite FUBAR utterance? Consider this one: "Deputies found him about seven blocks away. His mother thinks he was only gone about four.")

Remember, this was the year that brought us the likes of Mike "Unfrozen Caveman Anchor" Cronemeyer, Maniko "Crash Course in Standard English" Barthalemy, Laura Liggett, and the unforgivably stupid Rachel "Shlurpy Shpeech" Pierce. But Fubar stands out among this crop of dimwits as the poster-creature in the fight against bad broadcasting.

So congratulations, Fubar. If nothing else, you serve as an example to news directors everywhere of what not to hire.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Soul Brother Number One

WOWT joke of the day: Mike "John Knicely, Jr." Cronemeyer "reporting live" to lecture viewers on the intricacies Kwanzaa in 40 seconds or less.

Yeah, Cronemeyer seems the perfect candidate to discuss the rich traditions of an African-American holiday. Another brilliant move by the Channel Sux assignment desk.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Retractable Stadium Info

Okay, so it turns out that WOWT's John Knicely was citing one of several available figures regarding the number of tickets being sold for next Monday's Cotton Bowl game.

Knicely put the number at 68,000 on a Tuesday newscast, which we took to be yet another sign of his ineptitude, considering that the official Cotton Bowl website lists the stadium capacity at 71,252.

According to several alert readers, the local paper reports that a number of temporary seats used during the Texas-Oklahoma game in October are removed for this game, reducing the total to the aforementioned 68,000. However a story in the same publication on Monday put the figure at 76,000.

Who the hell knows how many seats are really there? But, in this case, Knicely wasn't any more in the dark than the rest of us. So we apologize for leaping to the conclusion that this was a symptom of his congenital stupidity. This will likely always be remembered as "that one time Knicely was right."

Knicely Begins Cotton Bowl Renovation

Following up a story by reporter Maniko Barthalemy on Tuesday, borderline retarded anchor John Knicely told viewers that the Cotton Bowl in Dallas holds 68,000.

Perhaps his information came from another of the station's pleas for viewer phone-ins, but the Cotton Bowl website suggests that folks in Dallas think the stadium holds over 71,000.

Then again, maybe big numbers, like big words, just aren't Knicely's strong suit.

Beyond Lazy

Latest sign that they're not even trying any more at Channel 6: Closing Wednesday morning's 7:55 Today Show local cut-in, loud-talking know-it-all Jimmy Thiedlecki asked viewers "with stories or personal connections" to newly-dead President Gerald Ford to give the station a call.

Um, doesn't the station have reporters to dig this kind of thing up?

Oh, wait. This is Sux News, where reporters like warbler Brian New and corpse-ish Gary Smollen don't really develop contacts so much as they just go out and report one isolated, insignificant story after another.

But then when a substantive story demands attention, you don't have any...Yeah, having folks call in is probably their best bet.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas from Journal Broadcasting. Oh, By the Way: You're Fired

It must be fun working for a company that would kick you out in the cold four days before Christmas.

That's what Journal Broadcasting did on Thursday, when it announced that it wouldn't be renewing the contracts of KMTV anchors Deb Ward and Greg Peterson.

While the station has been lagging in the ratings, much of that can be attributed to years of financial neglect by its previous owners. Emmis, which sold the station to Journal, even went so far as to remove the 6 p.m. newscast from the schedule.

But apparently, Journal either expected its switch to the "Action 3 News" format to miraculously turn things around, or it blamed Ward and Peterson for the station's low performance. Who knows?

It's unfortunate that these two were chosen to take the fall. While Ward has never been our favorite anchor, she has been a steady presence at the station for over two decades and deserved better.

Peterson's departure is even more lamentable. Both he and KETV's Rob McCartney put WOWT's straw-headed straw man John Knicely to shame. Peterson is a class act who will land on his feet, but if the suits at Channel 6 had a clue (and they clearly don't), they'd hire Peterson, wait out any non-compete clause, and put him in Knicely's place at the earliest possible moment.

The most idiotic aspect of this entire exercise at Channel 3rd, however, is the fact that GM Steve Wexler is still nursing his company's hard-on for bloated, nasal-voiced, viewer-repelling sports director Travis Justice.

Wexler is quoted in Sean Weide's Reader Media Notes as saying that there is no plan to change sports anchors.

If one were looking to fix problems at the station, Justice's would seem to be the first head to be placed on the chopping block. Why Journal is choosing to keep that tool on the air is just plain baffling.

Finally, and just as baffling, is why anyone in management would do this to people the Friday before Christmas. Would it have killed 'em to wait a week or two? Or would it have cost a few extra bucks? It was a tacky move by a station that doesn't need any help looking tacky.

Good luck, Greg and Deb. Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Holidays: KETV Dethrones WOWT

Ratings from November sweeps are in, and if the ones we've been provided are accurate, it appears viewers may finally have tired of SuxNews.

In the morning, KETV scored a 28.6, compared to 26.7 for WOWT and just 3.4 for KMTV.

At 5 p.m., the next time period in which all three stations go head-to-head, it was KETV 28, WOWT 22, AND KMTV 6.

Same order of finish at 6 p.m., with KETV at 23, a 17.5 for WOWT and a scant 4.4 for KMTV.

At 10 p.m., Monday through Sunday, KETV led with 29.2 to WOWT's 25.9 and KMTV's 6.3.

Granted these are the only numbers we've seen so far, and we're sure all stations will try to put their own spin on things by looking at total viewers or particular demographic groups in the way that puts the best face on things for them.

But this appears to be a pretty sound thumping of a WOWT operation that has seen its quality slip in recent years. Here's hoping for more where that came from.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Blog's Author Responds

One not-so-alert reader offered the following earlier today in the "Comments" section of our story on former KETV something-or-other Veronica Todd:

I will miss Veronica. I know the blog disliked her, but the blog's author seems to attack everything and everyone anymore, leaving me to wonder who does he/she actually like? Veronica is very sweet, funny, and talented. I am sorry to hear the blog's author decided to judge her without getting to know her.

Good gravy. Where to start?

First, we would agree that our posts lately have not been particularly warm or fuzzy. But we're kind of amused that anyone would come here expecting warm and fuzzy, or be surprised when they didn't find it.

See, we give the love when it's deserved. But we give it sparingly. We're not here to boost anyone's self-esteem or to give high-fives to people for doing their jobs properly. If someone does something extraordinarily well, then we try to make note of it.

But frankly, there hasn't been a lot to praise lately. Channel Sux is in the same basic rut it's been in for a decade now, as, apparently, are viewers who don't seem to care. Every time Channel 7 seems poised to make a run at the top, they manage to shoot themselves in the foot. Most recently, they've done this by chasing away talented, experienced reporters and replacing them with people who were probably turned away when applying for work at Wal-Mart (Lisa Stites and Kailyn Reed being exceptions). And Channel 3rd is Channel 3rd, keeping the revolting Travis Justice and wondering why their ratings are so low.

Finally, we couldn't care less how nice someone is. Nice doesn't do doodley-squat for those of us sitting at home watching these people. Competence is what counts, and lately, that seems like the last thing most of these outfits want. Veronica Todd came off as an idiot, both while filling in for equally stupid-sounding Jana Murrell and then giving us "tips" on worthless crap she found online.

You want nice? You want a "feel-good" blog about these people? Start your own. Then you and the denizens of local TV-land can have a perpetual circle-jerk, with you patting them on the head and them telling you how much they love reading about how great they are. Yeah. That's just what we need.

Bah-humbug.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Veronica Todd Outta There

File this in the "Improvements" folder: Superfluous KETV morning dizzy blond Veronica Todd is no longer working for the station. Her last day was Friday.

According to a source at Channel 7, Todd told management she had too many commitments (appearing in TV ads, etc.) to keep up with the schedule.

Yeah, finding time to locate one item on the internet every half hour and talk about it for thirty seconds had to be exhausting, not to mention intellectually challenging.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Brace Yourselves: Something Improved at Channel 6

No, they didn't fire John Knicely. Or Rachel Pierce. Or Jimmy Siedlecki. Or Gary Smollen. Or Brian New. Or Sheila Brummer.

But anyone comparing Maniko Barthalemy's recent taped reports to those she delivered when she first arrived can't help but notice the improvement in her diction. Gone is the streety, whiny "Queen Shaniqua" sound, and in its place is a much more palatable delivery.

While her taped reports have improved, Barthalemy seems to backslide into old habits when delivering a live shot. Here's hoping that, too, will improve. But give the woman credit: she's working on improving, which is an example that most of the Big Six's on-air types could stand to follow.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Another Opening, Another Show

KETV is now advertising for a general assignment reporter. If we'll all just wait a few minutes, Sean Weide will tell us if this is a newly-created position or a replacement for someone who's leaving.

Yes, we're hoping it's a sign that Fubar Fazal is leaving. But what are the chances she'd willingly give up a gig in which she's allowed unlimited on-air incompetence? Not even she is that dumb.

Dumber Than Paste and a Bag of Doorknobs

We thought we heard her wrong on Wednesday. But today she repeated it.

Yes, for the second straight day, KETV former beauty queen/morning traffic airhead Jana Murrell warned viewers during her 6:10 report that "two east-bound lanes of 42nd Street" were closed.

That would be useful information, were it not for the fact that 42nd Street runs north-south.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Weide Has the Answer

As usual, Sean Weide has dug up the story behind one of our questions—in this case, WOWT's ad for a new sportscaster. Merlyn Klaus is leaving. Read about it in The Reader's Media Notes blog.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

WOWT Ad Raises Questions

WOWT is advertising for a "sports reporter/photo/producer," leading us to wonder if the station is adding staff or if someone at the Big Six's "Sports Machine" (whatever the hell that means) is leaving.

Longtime sports anchor Dave Webber would seem the most likely candidate for an exit, given his age (isn't he about Bob Barker's age?) and his seemingly drunken live report from Kansas City on the eve of the Big 12 football championship game.

Read the ad for yourself, posted at nab.org and see what you think.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Help Wanted: Idiot

Are Jana Murrell and Veronica Todd having a stupidity contest?

That's the only conclusion we can draw after watching several days of KETV's "FirstNews" morning program.

What was the meeting like when it was decided to put these two dim bulbs on the same program? Is 77 KETV management's favorite I.Q., in the same way that 77 is supposedly meteorologist Bill Randby's favorite temperature?

It's been pretty well established that former beauty pageant winner Murrell hasn't a clue what she's doing. But we challenge anyone to either post or create a job description to convey what it is that Todd does at the top and bottom of the hour. It makes Channel 6's "Live at Four" features look like PBS's "Newshour."

You just can't make shit like this up.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Were These People Drunk?

Choose your favorite WOWT blunder from Saturday's broadcasts. Vote by posting in Comments section.

(A) Reporter Maniko Barthalemy calls horticulture expert John Fech "Jim."
(B) Title super'd over Barthalemy's 10 p.m. story reads "Mission Need Donations."
(C) Graphic quoting from Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning's press release says a defendant "prayed on the patriotism and emotions of Nebraska veterans." (The press release on the AG's site correctly spells the word preyed.)
(D) At the opening of the 10 p.m. newscast, milktoast anchor Paul Baltes can't decide which camera he's supposed to be looking at.

Let that be a lesson to you aspiring broadcasters: attention to detail is not a prerequisite for a career on TV.

Scott Fired in KC and Speculation Abounds

Former KETV and KMTV anchor Michael Scott, who had spent the past four years anchoring at KCTV in Kansas City, was abruptly dismissed this week. TV critic Aaron Barnhart delves into the rumors surrounding Scott's departure in this posting.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

You Don't Have to Be Drunk to Work at Channel 6, But It Helps

More than a few people—some of them on air at Channel 6—were wondering if sports anchor Dave Webber was drunk during his 10 p.m. live report from Kansas City on Friday.

Standing in KC's Country Club Plaza on the eve of the Big 12 footbal championship game, Webber at times sang, giggled, shouted at those back in the studio, rambled incoherently, and generally gave the impression of having had about five too many before going on the air.

Anchor Tracey Madden described Webber as "loopy." Fill-in sports anchor Merlin Klaus seemed to have the same opinion, particularly when Webber confided on-air that he and several others were headed to the Cheesecake Factory and shouted in mock (we think) anger that Klaus couldn't go along. Klaus replied that there was a Cheesecake Factory here in Omaha and that a Webber invitation wouldn't be required.

Frankly, we're surprised that there aren't more drunk people on air at Channel 6. Considering some of the dolts they've hired recently and the lame product the station turns out, anyone with any competence and self-respect could hardly feel otherwise.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bring Me the One They Call "Kreskin"

We left work Wednesday around 4:30 in the afternoon, fully prepared to battle the two inches of slushy snow that WOWT Ejacuweather meteorologist Jim Flowers spent so much of Tuesday's broadcasts warning about. So the dry pavement surprised us, as did the sunshine.

What was especially great was the way empty-headed anchor John Kniceley had given Jumpy Jim a premature pat on the back the night before, saying something like, "You told us in your winter forecast a couple of weeks ago that this would happen!"

Indeed he did. And it didn't.

While Flowers' fits of hysteria are generally limited to evenings, viewers looking for weather-related adrenaline rushes first thing in the morning should turn to KETV's "FirstNews."

On Monday, the whole gang was buzzing with talk of slick streets, potential danger, and the like, led by annoying anchor Elicita Hammond and mumbling meteorologist Andrea Bredow, who seems to be in about the fourth year of a really bad head-cold.

What was particularly surreal about Monday's babbling was that the FirstNewsers kept having to interrupt their euphoria to report that things weren't really that bad and that motorists were unlikely to encounter problems. The main reason for this, of course, was that virtually every street in town was DRY. Dry, as in not containing even a thin film of moisture. Dry, as in the same as they'd be on just about any other morning.

Honestly, would any of us be worse off if we got our weather predictions from psychics, tea leaves, or our horoscopes?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What Does This Say About Their Readers?

If you thought you were depressed about local news quality, you'll be even more so when you see who The Reader's readers chose for the paper's "Best of the Big O" awards:

Best Weatherperson: Jim Flowers (WOWT)
Best Television Reporter: Mike McKnight (WOWT)
Best Sportscaster: Dave Webber (WOWT)
Best News Anchor Team: WOWT
Best Anchorperson: John Knicely (WOWT)

On the bright side, however, at least Travis Justice and Fubar Fazal aren't on the list. Yet.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Newspaper Writers Auditioning for TV Gig?

Consider the following facts. Then answer the question that follows.

A body is found in an oil drum located in a muddy area that was formerly underwater. The body is determined to be that of a woman who disappeared 23 years ago.

What conclusion might you draw from this information?
(A) Oil drums are not suitable for use as watercraft.
(B) The woman died of a heart attack.
(C) You just can't hide stuff underwater these days.
(D) The death is considered a homicide.

If you guessed D, then you don't need to read the online story from Omaha's daily newspaper, which features that exact sentence.

Thank you, John Gottschalk and Co., for connecting those dots. Now it's entirely clear why print news is superior to its broadcast step-sister.

Ejacucast Shoots It in Wrong Direction Again

On Tuesday's 10 p.m. newcast, WOWT Ejacuweather Guesser-in-Chief Jim Flowers made it sound as if an overnight snow and/or rain "event" was inevitable, and that we'd all be driving through significant rain or a thin film of slushy snow on our way to work this morning. Based on Jim's "Precision Forecast," a bettor might have wagered the ranch on it.

Now think about your drive to work this morning. Look outside right now. Check the radar.

Amazingly, between 10:30 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., the Ejacuweather team seemed to have forgotten everything their fearless leader had predicted.

In fairness, Jumpy Jim probably wasn't alone in his incorrectness. We didn't see what Bill Randby and Ryan McPike were saying on Tuesday.

But neither Randby nor McPike had the nerve to spend a full five minutes last week regaling us with their predictions about what the weather will be like in February. That is, they weren't that reckless with their credibility.

Weather coverage lends itself to gimmickry, and Channel 6 isn't the only one to exploit it. But that station is, by far, the "Heartland's Leader" in self-aggrandizing, over-the-top, mostly-empty hype when it comes to weather.

The only question is how long it will take viewers to catch on and put SuxNews in the ratings toilet where it belongs.

Torturing Oakey

KETV's long-running effort to surround John Oakey with as many dolts as possible took another step forward last week, when someone at the station decided that it would be a good idea to keep fill-in traffic babbler Veronica Todd around now that regular airhead Jana "Index Card" Murrell is back.

Todd's new role is to show up every half-hour or so, often dressed inappropriately, and share some useless piece of drivel related to what our president refers to as "the Internets." Her feature usually lasts about 20 seconds and has even less news value than what Murrell and Andrea "Mumbles" Bredow have to say—as hard as that is to believe.

One might infer from personnel moves like this one that someone on the inside is trying to sabotage the morning show, in particular—or the station, in general—by putting as many idiots on-air as the payroll will accommodate. The remarkable thing is that all these mental defectives actually make Oakey's albatross/co-anchor, Elictia Hammond, look almost acceptable.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Weekend Notes

• Was WOWT using video equipment borrowed from a Texas Goodwill Store? Highlights of Saturday's Nebraska-Texas A&M looked alternately blurry or washed-out. At first we thought it was the TV, but quick checks of three other sets revealed the same thing. The fact that all the station's shots were taken from about a mile high didn't help any.

• The lobotomization of Malorie Maddox appears to be making steady progress. Teasing some pointless feature or another, Maddox referred to changes that have taken place "since post-9/11." Are Sheila Brummer and Fubar Fazal tutoring her on the side?

• Speaking of Brummer, why do her voiceovers on "coming up at five" promos all sound like she's auditioning for a gig on one of those 1-900 sex chat commercials?

• And, on the topic of Fubar, we passed by a TV following Saturday's Husker game and noticed that KETV management has stubbornly and foolishly decided to let her keep anchoring Saturday evening's newscasts while Suzanne Deyo is on maternity leave. This, despite mountains of evidence that Fubar is embarrasingly ill-suited for the job. Fortunately for us, we were unable to catch the newscasts, leaving us unable to describe the exact nature of her screw-ups for this week.

• Back at Channel 6, the weekend newscasts have gotten downright pathetic. Paul Baltes is about as dull an anchor as you'll find—one who always looks like his contacts are giving him fits. Weatherguesser Jeff Jensen is perhaps the most irritating of the station's four Precision Ejacucasters. With a voice that may be the highest on the station, Jensen is capable of saying more words to convey less information than just about anyone we've ever watched.

And then there's John Chapman, whose woeful delivery was accentuated Saturday evening when he was describing high school football highlights and referring repeatedly to "Millert" North and "Millert" South. We won't even get into the pronunciation of names issues. Why is this guy doing sports? Instead of pulling him off the city hall beat to be a lethargic part-timer in sports and having morning anchor Jimmy Thiedlecki doing his worthless "Thiedlecki on the Thideline" features, why not hire a real sports guy to do weekends?

• But it's not as if Channel 3 is without its problems. Devon Patton is still there, sensationalizing, gesturing wildly, and generally making an ass out of himself more than all the other "Action 3" on-air personnel combined. Who knows what he's doing off the air.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ted's Winter Forecast

This winter, expect some cold days and some snow.

It will snow before Thanksgiving, unless it doesn't, in which case, our first snowfall will definitely come after Thanksgiving. It will be cold in January and February, which isn't to say that there might not be a few warmish days sprinkled in here and there.

Around March, it'll start to get warmer and the grass will begin to green up.

Oh, and at least once between now and March, WOWT's Jim Flowers will warn us about a gargantuan snowstorm. One that we'll tell our grandkids about. One that will dump at least three hundred inches of snow on us. One that will cancel school until the year 2013 and make disabled people walk again. One that will cause Jim to jump in an SUV and drive around telling us via cellphone what he sees.

But then it'll only bring us about a half-inch of snow, if that, and Jim will explain that it just barely missed us.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Mr. Brockman is not a trained meteorologist. His forecasts are for entertainment purposes only and should not be used as investment advice, to plan weddings, or to schedule the planting of crops and/or the care of livestock.]

Wednesday Morning Quarterbacking

• For all the hype WOWT put into the CONTINUOUS TICKER it promised for election night, they might have considered making the words visible to the naked eye.

• KETV buried inept reporter/anchor Fubar Fazal about as deeply as it could without taking her off the air entirely during Tuesday night's coverage. Fubar was sent out to cover those opposed to Initiative 423. Technical difficulties prevented her from littering the station's signal until almost 25 minutes into the 10 p.m. broadcast.

• The normally level-headed Joe Jordan of KMTV got a little carried away when early returns showed Democrats leading in Nebraska's 2nd and 3rd congressional districts, prattling about upsets in the making and so forth. For all his experience, shouldn't he have known that early returns were from early voters and that six percent of the vote is hardly indicative of all the ballots cast?

• KMTV's coverage was generally strong, but why, during its 6 p.m. newscast did they call it "Breaking News" when they noted that several cases of norovirus had been identified at Methodist Hospital?

• Candidate Jim Esch has to be wondering what might've happened had he spent more than $400,000 on his campaign or had the Nebraska Democratic Party put some effort behind him. Esch came within 20,000 votes of unseating incumbent Lee Terry, Jr., even though he had virtually no TV advertising against Terry's non-stop barrage of spots during the final two weeks of the campaign. Perhaps it's a sign of just how eager some people were to vote against uber-dork Terry.

• How delusional was Senate candidate Pete Ricketts? At 10:35, he was 50,000 votes behind incumbent Ben Nelson but telling KETV's Brandi Petersen that he expected things to turn around. He apparently wised up around midnight.

• Why does it take so long for Nebraska officials to count ballots? Iowa's polls closed at 9:00, and by 10:00, officials there had tallied in the neighborhood of 250,000 votes. Meanwhile, west of the Missouri, where polls closed at 8:00, Nebraska's Secretary of State could only report on about 100,000 ballots by 10 p.m.

• Worse yet, Douglas County Election Commissioner David Phipps must've been counting them by himself. By 10:55—almost three hours after the polls had closed—Phipps had only managed to count 27,358 early-voting ballots. Things weren't much better by midnight, by which time he had counted fewer than 20 percent of the votes cast.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Eight Things We Won't Miss When the Election Is Over

• Radio ads featuring Governor Dave Heinemann gushing over Senate candidate/billionaire Pete Ricketts and sounding like a real bumpkin when referring to politicians in "Worshington."

• Ricketts' mother, expecting us to believe that she and her gazillionaire husband are just ordinary folks who brought their kids up in Nebraska City. Put on a hat, Pete, and pull that sucker down over your face, while you're at it.

• Senator Ben Nelson spouting platitudes like, "A penny saved is a penny earned." Way to take a stand, Ben.

• Douglas County Assessor Roger Morrissey's very elderly mother propped up and groaning "Good for you," in the general direction of her son. Shameless.

• Congressional candidate Maxine Moul's mannish mug filling our TV screen. Yikes.

• Moul's grating, whiny voice. On second thought, Pete, just stuff that hat in Maxine's mouth.

• First District Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who always appears to be wearing a Ben Nelson wig and scared to death that he really will be linked with fellow Republican Mark Foley.

• Congressdweeb Lee Terry, Jr. slobbering his way through his list of imagined accomplishments. Yeah, you'll probably be re-elected, Lee, as sad as that is. Just promise to leave us alone for two years. (Whatever happened to this dimwit's pledge to observe self-imposed term limits?)

Mark Twain was right. People generally do get the government they deserve. He should've warned us about the ads.

Another Reason to Get Rid of Travis Justice

While we're on the subject of people who seemingly can't get themselves fired, there's new evidence that KMTV's bloated, nasal-voiced sports director is incompetent (as if anyone needed more).

Sean Weide's blog details how Channel 3 missed the boat on a quintuple-overtime state football playoff game between Lincoln Southwest and Millard North last Friday, while its two competitors aired the finish of the game live.

Nice work, Trav.

KETV's Buckeyewitless News

Time for Channel 7 news director Rose Ann Shannon to have yet another long closed-door talk with her worst on-air employee.

Shannon and fellow KETV management-types may tell everyone that perpetual screw-up reporter/desperation-fill-in-anchor Fubar Fazal is improving, but you have to think they're more than a little miffed that Fubar keeps pooping all over their misplaced confidence in her.

Fubar's latest contribution to her blooper reel/career came Saturday, when she referred to Iowa as "the Buckeye State" and struggled mightily to render a proper pronunciation of the word evangelist.

Wouldn't it be great to be Fubar—knowing that no matter how badly or frequently you screw up, the nit-wits who hired you will never admit they made a mistake in giving you a job?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Palpable Excitement at Channel 6

Now in the throes of November sweeps, Channel 6 is hyping the hell out of what it apparently considers its big assets.

On Tuesday, the Suxers keep promising, their election coverage will include a CONTINUOUS TICKER at the bottom of the screen!

And on Wednesday, everything in Omaha will come to a halt so as to hear JIM'S WINTER FORECAST!

How can any other station hope to compete with all that?

Monday, October 30, 2006

"...and he promotes like hell"

You'd think the story was about someone who'd actually contributed something valuable to his business.

We're referring to Broadcasting and Cable's profile of Harry Pappas, whose company owns KPTM, KXVO, and 28 other "stations."

Our favorite line: "Pappas concluded independents needed 'The 4Ps': Quality programming, top-notch people, savvy promotion and strong transmitter power."

KPTM has been on the air for close to 20 years. When can we expect "The 4Ps" to make it to Omaha?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

WOWT's N.D. Has a College Degree and What Good Has That Done?

No one will ever accuse KPTM of setting its sights too high. The continuing presence of Calvert "Larry Bud" Collins proves that.

Having run off its latest news director in less than two years, Fox42 is running the ad below in the hope of finding a replacement. It's good to know that a GED is accepted in at least one line of work.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Ten Years...and They Still Can't Beat the Crap on WOWT

KETV is performing all sorts of contortions while patting itself on the back via promos "celebrating" the 10 years that its main anchor team has been together.

Station management isn't likely to mention that the quartet's tenure began only after the station drove longtime anchor Carol Schrader off the air. At the time, insiders reported that station management subjected Schrader to repeated slights until the mercurial anchor finally had had enough and stormed out just before the unveiling of the station's "Newsplex."

Schrader's exit reportedly marked the culmination of months of effort by KETV management to do everything it could to push the much younger Julie Cornell into Schrader's chair and make it clear that Schrader was no longer wanted or needed.

An alert reader, reflecting on this new promo, notes that it might also be interesting for KETV to mention the number of capable reporters who have come and gone in the past decade, as management clung to the Cornell-Randby-McCartney-Schuetz team. (That revolving door has left us with the likes of Fubar Fazal and Elictia Hammond—a travesty that won't be easily forgotten.)

What's interesting to note, the reader adds, is the threat that Cornell must be feeling from hard-charging management favorite Brandi Petersen, a fill-in anchor who is much younger and perkier than the tired-looking Cornell.

Where have we heard this story before?

Shouldn't He Be at a Star Trek Convention Somewhere?



What's the deal with the TV ads for doofus Congressman Lee Terry, Jr.? (Besides the fact that he looks and sounds like a grown-up version of Milhouse from The Simpsons.)

For the second or third of his campaigns in a row, Terry mangles the legally-required "I approved this message" tag on his TV commercials. Instead, our boy Lee says "I approve of this message."

Does he have his nose so far up the President's ass that he's starting to say similarly stupid things? Is he just stupid on his own? Or does he think he's clever by saying it slightly differently than everyone else?

We're pretty sure he considers himself clever, since he was dumb enough to think he could go on Comedy Central's Colbert Report without embarrassing himself and his constitutents. He couldn't, even if you gave him a hundred chances.

Why the hell do we keep electing this guy?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Not That It Has Anything to Do with TV

Feeling its oats after passing a resolution requesting an apology from radio station KFAB regarding talk host Tom Becka's North Omaha parody, Omaha's city council is considering a resolution requesting that KFAB's sister station, KGOR, play more Dan Fogelberg songs.

"We really love 'Leader of the Band,' said one council member, speaking on condition of anonymity. "It'd be really neat if KGOR could play that or 'Longer' more often."

According to one source, however, at least two council members intend to propose an amendment that would also call on rival station Z-92 to play more Metallica and for KETV to air "Baywatch" reruns on weekends.

The issue has reportedly caused a deep rift at city hall, with councilman Chuck Sigerson threatening to "kick some ass if anyone so much as suggests that Lynard Skynard isn't the greatest band of all time."

As of this writing, there was no word as to when the music request resolution might come before the council for a vote.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Monotonous Mediocrity

One recent post asked if we were on vacation again.

We wish.

The explanation for the lack of posts on our part is this: nothing's happening. At least nothing that we haven't pointed out a dozen times.

For example, this morning, KETV substitute traffic twit Veronica Todd alerted viewers to anticipated congestion "between 90th and West Dodge." (For those of you reading this who aren't familiar with our neck of the woods: these two streets intersect.)

Or how about Sunday, when WOWT invisible anchor Paul Baltes read Saturday evening's copy about the shooting in Bonaparte, Iowa, that he said occurred "this morning." (Do these people just grab anything that happens to be laying around and read it on air to fill time?)

There's also speech-impeded weekend morning anchor Rachel Pierce, who is able to add a thshyllable to any word, as evidenced by her recent reference to actress "Scarlett Jo-HAN-uh-sun."

And WOWT weekend evening anchor Jaime McCutcheon, who regularly echoes the president's pronunciation of the word nuclear.

At KMTV, weekend anchor Devon Patton still speaks as if he's not quite over a bad case of lockjaw, and at KETV, with beady-eyed weekend anchor Suzanne "The Helmet" Deyo off on maternity leave, someone who apparently hates viewers has decided that FUBAR Fazal is a suitable Saturday night anchor. (We would agree, if by "anchor," they meant something to be dropped over the side of a boat.)

But we've written all this before. Only the particulars are slightly different.

Until something interesting happens, we'll keep our comments to a minimum, thank you.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Made You Look

Nothing makes you look as dumb as when you trust an untrustworthy "alert reader."

KETV's John Oakey is not, as reported here Thursday evening, leaving the station.

We apologize for our stupidity.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Good News

The good news is that perpetually befuddled KETV reporter Laura Liggett has figured out that she may not be cut out for TV. She's taking a job with a local nonprofit agency, according to Sean Weide's Media Notes blog.

Monday, September 18, 2006

A Mighty Wind: Blowin' You and Me

Saturday evening's severe weather outbreak, which featured a tornado touching down at 180th and Harrison, gave Omaha's three serious TV stations the opportunity to put all their personnel and gadgetry to work, and what a show it was.

KETV found itself in the unenviable position of having to alert viewers to the storm dangers while simultaneously broadcasting the Nebraska-USC football game. Except for one brief spell, Channel 7 split its screen, giving roughly half to the game and the other half (and the audio) to meteorologist John Campbell, who was later joined by Chief Weatherguesser Bill Randby. While many insane Husker fans probably resented the intrusion into the game, KETV would have been negligent to ignore a tornado warning; on the whole, they did the best they could.

Over at Channel 3, chief meteorologist Ryan McPike was in the studio with trusty sidekick Charles "C.T." Thongklin. Unfettered by rabid Husker devotees, McPike and Company were able to use the whole screen and their extensive collection of tech tools to keep viewers apprised of the latest developments.

WOWT, too, had the full screen at its disposal with Jeff Jensen and Michael Born providing coverage from the studio, while chief Jim Flowers raced around in his car and reported via cell phone. Flowers offered little that couldn't be picked up on radar or spotted on the "city cam" mounted atop the First National Bank building downtown.

So while the chief meteorologists on two stations covered developments from the studio, where they could access the tools they claim are so vital to their work, Hysterical Jim was out tearing around in an SUV, relegated to describing "a pouch" dipping out of the clouds—one that was clearly visible on the aforementioned "city cam."

So, to recap: what does Precision-Doppler-6000-Weather-Where-You-Live-to-the-Power-of-6 offer that you can't get elsewhere? Hysteria and hype.

Friday, September 15, 2006

A Slow Week

An assortment of observation at the end of an otherwise uneventful week...

• What the hell is Tracy Madden trying to do with her hair? During Friday's "Live at Five," it looked like a mullet as envisioned by KMTV's former stylist. Memo to Tracy: Ignore whoever is currently giving you hair advice.

• KETV's weekday morning "First News" traffic reports were noticeably better this week in the absence of in-studio dolts Jana Murrell and Veronica Todd. Someone named Brooke Williams delivered reports over the phone and was about 20 times more articulate and informative than either Murrell or Todd can ever hope to be.

• And speaking of KETV, Thursday's 10 p.m. newscast featured a rare glimpse of anchor Rob McCartney delivering an embarrasingly overdone package on the wind ripping an enormous American flag from the side of the Woodmen Tower. McCartney's voiceover was overstuffed with overstuffed phrases like "star-spangled banner yet waving," included idiotic soundbites from some yokel who, McCartney said, "rushed into action" to pick up the flag when it hit the ground at 18th and Douglas, and generally looked like something one might submit to Action 3 News to audition for Devon Patton's job. We hope this isn't a sign of things to come.

• On the network front, this question: Are we the only ones who think the Today show's new set makes it look as if Matt Lauer and the gang are doing the show from an Apple Store?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Shaniqua and the Pronouns

When WOWT's bumbling management, in their zeal to double the number of non-caucasian reporters at the Big Six, hired under-qualified reporter Maniko Barthalemy, they must have known this kind of sentence was coming. Teasing one of her several inconsequential live reports on Saturday morning, Shaniqua said, "If a student can't see in class, it can make it harder for he or she to focus."

Maybe hiring she wasn't such a good idea.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Monster Mash



This picture even made our eyes cross.

WOWT's talent-free anchor Sheila Brummer got hitched last Saturday. Read the engagement announcement here. (Sheila's the one on the right.)

And don't stare at the photo too long. It'll burn your retinas.

While We Were Sleeping

Thanks to our many alert readers for pointing out what we had somehow missed: that empty-headed KETV traffic tracker Jana Murrell is off to Washington for a physical therapy internship. (Believe it or not, Murrell is working on a doctoral degree in P.T. It must be easier to get one of those than we had thought.)

Meanwhile, back at the Newsplex, moronic Murrell's moronic fill-in, Veronica Todd rambles on. Despite claims by several alert readers that Todd is a vast improvement over Murrell, we must respectfully disagree.

When she's not looking disoriented by the green-screen, Todd spends an inordinate amount of time telling us about how she prepares the reports, instead of about what's happening on the roads.

"I couldn't find a little icon for fire," she confided to viewers Friday morning, before mentioning that firetrucks were blocking some obscure street or another.

She also seems to be astounded by traffic on the North Freeway every morning around 6:30. It has apparently escaped her notice that there's a major construction project going on in the area just west of Creighton University Hospital.

No, Todd is no improvement over Murrell. She merely offers a slightly different strain of stupidity.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

This 'n' That

• KETV is making its weekend morning newscasts Husker-centric. Starting this week, promos tell viewers, Channel 7's "Big Red Zone" is taking over weekend mornings. Let's all hope that no one decides it'd be a good idea to dispatch Fubar Fazal to cover the Cowhuskers, or whatever the hell she'd probably call them.

• It sure is nice tuning in to WOWT's "Live at Daybreak" this week and not being yelled at by Jim Thiedlecki. Apparently Big Jim is on vacation. Malorie Maddox, as we've noted before, comes across as exponentially more poised and intelligent when she's not splitting time with and being interrupted by her overbearing, buffoonish co-anchor.

• Speaking of absences, where the hell is regular KETV traffic bimbo Jana Murrell? This is, by our count, the fourth week that her equally inept substitute, Veronica Todd has been bouncing idiotically through her duties on the weekday morning "First News." Wednesday's performance was particularly comical. At one point, Todd was tranfixed by the off-screen monitor, causing her to appear to be looking off to her left at nothing in particular. This followed her fumbling with her remote clicker while saying of an accident at 15th and Locust, "I can't show it to you, but I can tell you about it!" Umm, yeah...

By the way: we're not complaining about Murrell's absence. Just curious.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sufferin' Succotash

• A producer at Channel 6 must have a sense of humor. What else could explain having lisping anchor Jim Siedlecki announce another inane "Top 6 List" that forced him to say "Top Six Cities for Shortest Commutes"? Even if there was no ulterior motive behind it, hearing Jimmy spray his way through the title provided a brief bit of entertainment in what has again become a monotonous broadcast.

• Someone needs to give an award to Journal Broadcasting for taming the hair of KMTV's females. The station that a year ago was a haven for all manner of bad cuts has, in the past few months, given anchors Deb Ward and Mary Weeyums considerably downsized coiffes. It's amazing how much easier these people are to watch when you're not distracted by hair that looks like storm damage.

• It may be a very long time before we complain about weekend anchor Suzanne Deyo, now that the geniuses at Channel 7 scared the shit out of us by plopping Fubar Fazal behind the anchor desk on Saturday. Does Fazal have pictures of management in compromising positions? Is she slobbin' somebody's knob? Why won't they stop subjecting viewers to this woman? She's not getting any better! We can think of at least a half-dozen KETV reporters who are better candidates for the anchor desk than Fubar. Why not use one of them?!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Such an Easy Target



How can anyone not love the Onion? It's even more lovable when it mocks local news claims of "non-stop news" and other such hype-laden bullshit. Or is it bullshit-laden hype?

10 O’Clock News Team Relying Heavily On Work Of 6 O’Clock News Team

Friday, August 25, 2006

"Big Turds of Poop": A Fubar Fazal Story

This item comes to us from an alert reader, who pointed us to a story we'd missed.

And who couldn't love a story that includes the phrase "big turds of poop," even if it were just in writing? The bonus is that there's video (at least until KETV decides to pull it).

We're not sure that the closeup shot of sewage was entirely necessary, but it's fitting that Channel 7 dispatched its shittiest reporter to cover a backed-up sewer. (At one point Fazal points to where a light pole was "until about this afternoon." About this afternoon, Fubar?)

You can find it all here.

6 News: Covering the Really Important Stuff

Friday's 6 p.m. newscasts at WOWT and KETV displayed an interesting contrast between the two stations.

KETV devoted the first six or seven minutes to the story regarding the state's attempt to fire Nebraska State Patrol officer Robert Henderson for his ties to the KKK.

WOWT, on the other hand, devoted only two or three minutes to that story so it could get to John Chapman's hard-hitting report about a gaggle of high school girls attending a football game at Millard South High School, parking at an adjacent apartment complex despite many no parking signs there, and —gasp— having their car towed.

"The girls were crying, so I'm crying too with them and I say 'what happed?' [sic] you know," a mom named Starla screeched during the piece.

Thank God WOWT news director John Clark has his priorities straight.

Patton Mentioned in Report on KKK Trooper

KMTV weekend anchor Devon Patton is mentioned in the arbitration decision released Friday by the Nebraska Attorney General's Office. The decision addresses the firing of a member Nebraska State Patrol who is alleged to be connected to the Ku Klux Klan. In fact, it appears that Trooper Robert Henderson's interactions with Patton indirectly led to the Patrol's discovery of Henderson's KKK ties.

Relevant excerpts from the decision:

In August of 2005, Sergeant Todd Kinghorn ("Kinghorn") was promoted to Lieutenant and trasferred from the sex-offendr registry to Internal Affairs. On August 26, 2005, Lt. Kinghorn received a Complaint Control Form (801 Form," "NSP 801," "801") from Captain Tom Schwarten alleging that the Grievant was abusing his authority and haraasing a black k man who was employed as a new [sic] anchor for a television station in Omaha, Nebraska. The Grievant had pulled-over the news anchor because the news anchor had been residing in Nebraska for more than thirty (30) days and had not yet obtained Nebraska license plates, as required by law. The Grievant issued the news anchor a warning. This same news anchor and the Grievant's fiancée worked for the same news organizaiton and there appears to have been some friction between the two coworkers. After being stopped by the Grievant, and being warned to obtain Nebraska license plates, the news anchor had lodged a complaint against the Grievant. The Agency conducted an investigation into the incident — including a review of the in-car video of the traffic stop that was the genesis of the allegation — and concluded that the Grievant had not engaged in any misconduct.

On October 17, 2005, Captain Lloyed Peters ("Peters") received information from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation ("KBI) that a law enforcement officer in Nebraska may have joined a website affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan ("KKK," "Klan"). The information provided by the KBI included mention of an incident that sounded to Management quite similar to the one involving the Grievant and the reporter from Omaha.

The report also quotes a Complaint Control Form, which in turn quotes a posting to a Knights Party message board, allegedly contributed by Henderson:

I have been in law enforcement for 23 yrs. My fiancee has been working in TV news locally for 8 yrs. A recent hired black anchor ie: they need people of color on the news desk, has been trying to get real friendly with her. But she has told him to leave her alone. She even complained to the higher up's. They told her not to cause trouble. So, I contacted him, the black anchor and old him the same thing. Leave her alone. I was very polite and kind about it. He complained to my Capt, that I was harassing him. I was found not to be thru and investigation by IA. But I was told not to contact him any more by my Capt. My fiancee went to an atty. That specializes in these matters. She was told the black card wins all the time. So she probably should start looking for another job, or just not say anything to anyone at work.

It is pretty bad when a person can not even complain about these things and they are told to stay away or not say anything. Over my 23 years in my job this sort of thing has been getting worse, not only at work, but also with suspects. Whites are loosing their rights slowly. It's sad. I pray about it. I hope my prayers get answered. White knight in Ne.

At the end of KMTV's coverage of the story during the 5 p.m. broadcast, anchor Greg Peterson acknowledged that the "news anchor" mentioned in the report was, indeed, Patton.

In the decision, the Arbitrator overturns Henderson's firing. The State is appealing, and State Senator Ernie Chambers is promising to pursue revocation of Henderson's law enforcement certificate.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Live. Local. Big and Thtupid.

Latest word mangled by a Channel 6 anchor: "Tourist."

Morning anchor/Loud-Talker/Gomer-Pyle-Lookalike Jim "Last Word" Thiedlecki pronounced it "tower-ist" several times on Thursday's broadcast.

But what could we reasonably expect from a guy who sounded so enthusiastic when tellling viewers about the October 24th "Cirque DAY Soleil" performance in Omaha?

The folks in Branson and thereabouts must really miss this hayseed.

Reed Continues to Shine; Fazal Festers

The first five minutes of KETV's 6 p.m. news on Thursday revealed everything you need to know about Channel 7.

The station dispatched its newest star, Kailyn Reed, to cover a developing story—a collision between a car and a kid-filled schoolbus. Reed delivered a clear, stumble-free, and apparently extemporaneous report and then conversed briefly with anchor Rob McCartney. It was one of the best spot-news reports we can remember seeing on any station in Omaha.

Not long after that, McCartney turned the proceedings over to Fubar Fazal, who, surprisingly didn't screw up her assignment, which was a mop-up job on a Wednesday story—OPS's latest misplacement of a kid on a bus. For Fazal, not screwing up a worthless story is a victory. Yay, team! Fubar didn't drive us into the ditch!

We'll give credit to KETV management: they at least had the good sense to send Reed out on the live story and consign Fubar to the re-hash desk. Why not go one step further and show Fubar the door?

Honestly. How is it that someone a year removed from college can go out and slam-dunk a story with little or no preparation, while another, allegedly with years of experience in the business, can only manage adequate work on stories that are so easy, even a high schooler could do them? Yes, Reed may be exceptionally strong for a virtual rookie. But, by the same token, Fubar is unbelievably weak for a veteran.

Disappearing Deyo

We hadn't meant to suggest that there was anything sinister in KETV's use of the chroma-key "Newsplex" background during a recent weekend newscast. Multiple sources have informed us that Channel 7 was re-tiling the floor of the real Newsplex and put Deyo against the greenscreen as a temporary fix. We did, however, enjoy the sight of Deyo vaporizing on-air. (Unfortunately, the clip has been removed from YouTube.)

Even if the entire Newsplex were chroma-keyed in every day of the year, you wouldn't hear us gripe, as long as it looked realistic. Anyone who's taken the NBC tour at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York knows that the newsroom behind Brian Williams is a repeating loop. (If you don't believe us, keep an eye out for the guy who pops into the left side of the scene, talks briefly with the person at the desk, and then leaves. So repetitive are his appearances that folks in the news division refer to him as the "hardest-working man in network news.")

More Ladendorff Info

Had we not seen the old KETV promo, the name of Marcia Ladendorff would have made us think of Tim Conway's "Dorf" character. [Shudder]

Several alert readers, however, have reminded us (a) how to spell her name—two Fs, and (b) that she spent time on CNN after leaving the Big O.

Armed with the proper spelling, we were able to locate a bio that fills in some gaps. As of a year ago, she was teaching at the University of North Florida. Here's the complete bio from zoominfo.com:

Marcia Ladendorff, assistant director of the Honors Program at the University of North Florida, came to academe after 22 years in the broadcast news business. During those two decades, she did everything possible in the newsroom, from reporting, anchoring, producing, and editing to even a short stint as a "weather girl."

She's flown through hurricanes, gone swimming with dolphins and sharks, and covered presidents and popes. She worked in markets all across the country, including Phoenix, Arizona; Rochester, New York; and Omaha, Nebraska.

Before coming to Jacksonville, she worked for the Cable News Network. Marcia was one of the original anchors for CNN, working out of Atlanta, Georgia. After the birth of her first child, she moved to Jacksonville where she spent seven years anchoring the 6 and 11 o'clock newscasts at the NBC affiliate, WTLV. She retired from broadcast news in 1993.

Today, Ladendorff is assistant director of the Honors Program at the University of North Florida and teaches Honors courses on media and their impact on our society and culture.

As a media consultant, she also conducts workshops and strategy sessions on how to work effectively with the news media. She is often called upon to conduct workshops on how to make effective presentations. She also occasionally takes on freelance writing projects.

As for her co-anchor in that promo, several folks have let us know that the chap's name is Allan Muse, another name we barely remember. If you have info on Muse, let us know.

Puzzle Half-Solved

An alert reader reminds us that one of the desk jockeys in the 1970s-vintage KETV promo is Omaha's first female anchor, Marcia Ladendorf, something we wouldn't have remembered if we'd had a hundred years to think about it. A very quick Google search turned up little recent info on her. Anyone know what became of Ms. Ladendorf?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Name These Anchors, If You Can

In our YouTube explorations, we came across this item, labeled "KETV Retro Promo." While we pride ourselves on knowing most anchors going back as far as Lee Terry, Sr., we have no idea who the two kids at the anchor desk are. Anyone know?

Playing Hide the Helmet

Oops. It appears KETV has been playing a little chroma-key background trick on viewers to inflate the look of its "Newsplex." Evidence? Click here for the screwup that let the cat out of the bag.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Separated at Birth: Auditory Edition




Mystery Man, "The Spleen" and WOWT's Rachel Pierthsch

Saturation Pandering

Please note August 21st as the date on which we lost our patience with the bickering-through-advertising being foisted on us by U.S. Senate candidates Ben Nelson and Pete Ricketts. Enough already.

If either of these guys had any sense, he'd make an ad saying, "I know you're sick of listening to us piss and moan about each other all the time. Therefore, starting on September 1, I am pulling all my ads off the air until one week before the election. Enjoy September and October. I'll see you again around the first of November!"

No, it'll never happen, but we can dream, can't we?

Honestly, though, does it really matter which multimillionaire ends up winning this thing? Won't they both end up caving to the same lobbyists and special interests anyway?

Why don't these two take all the money they were planning to spend on TV ads and give it to some worthy charity? Or the Ted Brockman Fund for More Extravagant Living?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Saturday Morning Nightmare

Talk about scary.

We awoke Saturday morning, flipped on the tube, and were plunged into an unexpected nightmare.

First, Channel 6 was running its usual weekend shitfest, only with an uglier-than-usual twist. Speech-impaired, fashion-challenged anchor Rachel Pierce showed up for work sporting perhaps the gaudiest, most-inappropriate, busy, deep-purple outfit we've ever seen on a TV newsperson. Wearing a giant purple beaded necklace and that awful hair, Pierce looked even more out of place than usual. There really aren't words for just how hideous it was. (We won't even get into her attempt to pronounce "unconstitutional," because that was at least entertaining.)

Seeking relief from the shower of spit, we flipped to Channel 7. What awaited us there was a lighter shade of purple—lavender, to be exact—being worn by stumbling stooge Fubar Fazal at the anchor desk. Alone. [Cue Little Richard: "Help me! Somebody help me!"]

We won't go into the details. It's just too painful. Suffice it to say that Fubar is as worthless at the anchor desk as she is as a reporter.

Every time we see something like this, we think Omaha television finally has hit bottom and that things will start to improve. But experience is starting to suggest that there is no bottom, given the hiring habits of these stations' management types.

Friday, August 18, 2006

If They Exerted Any Less Effort, The Screen Would Be Blank

Because we write so much about the almost constant screwups on Channel 6, there is always the temptation to forego writing about them, feeling as if we're piling on. But ignoring glaring incompetence and unprofessionalism would really defeat the purpose of this little enterprise, which is to shine some light on our local television news outlets.

Today's episode involves the "Live at Daybreak" gang. Unswervingly following their latest copycat gimmick—having a reporter live in the field—the kids at Daybreak had Unfrozen Caveman Reporter Mike Cronemeyer cover the "Ribfest" scheduled to open today in Council Bluffs. But because it was pouring rain between 5 and 7 a.m., Dronemeyer told viewers, the remote from C.B. was called off, so he was reporting from "about a foot" outside the station, standing under an umbrella.

Translation: We were all too damned lazy (or stupid) to (a) have a contigency plan and (b) come up with a creative solution in the pinch. So we just decided to have me stand outside the door and babble.

Meanwhile, in a demonstration of how to do a real program, KETV's FirstNews had a "Plan B" and brought the Ribfest folks into the studio to show off their delicacies.

Do you think anyone at WOWT is even the least bit embarrassed about this latest example of complacent lethargy?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Omaha's Daily Paper Adopts "Breaking News" Fetish

From Thursday afternoon:



This may be the most idiotic use of the "Breaking News" crutch we've seen yet. The great thing is that it's from a self-aggrandizing outfit that barely recognizes the existence of the medium it's now imitating.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Same Old Fubar

An alert reader informs us that Fubar Fazal, KETV's one-woman incompetence squad, was reporting from Harlan, Iowa on Wednesday night, covering the drowning at a lake there. One of her interviewees was Harlan's fire chief, whose last name is Bissen. But Fubar, rather than calling him by his given name, decided to refer to him as "Chief Harlan."

Just how bad do you have to be to get KETV management to pull your babbling ass off the air? It's not like this is WOWT, where foul-ups, bleeps, and blunders are standard procedure. If Channel 7 is serious about setting itself apart from Channel 6, it'll show Fubar the door and replace her with more talent like Kailyn Reed.

More Time to Reed

Aside from the Channel 6 "first response" event on Tuesday, the only other memorable item we've seen is the work of KETV's Kailyn Reed. We've decided Reed is the Anti-Fazal; she is everything that Fubar isn't. Attractive. Articulate. Poised. Intelligent.

We were with friends who'd not seen her before when one of them remarked, "She's way too good to be working in Omaha." Yeah. We know.

The Newspeople You Don't Trust

We've seen very little local TV the last few days, but on Tuesday morning, we did catch Channel 6's pathetic claim of having the first images of the scene on the West Dodge Expressway, where a construction worker fell 35 feet and suffered critical injuries.

Was it their "first response" team that pulled off this coup for the 8:55 Today Show cut-in? Nope. It was a shaky "CityCam" image—a shot in which one could vaguely make out flashing lights and rescue personnel. That's right: WOWT's "work" involved some stooge pointing a remote-control traffic camera at an accident site.

It was a splendid use of someone's tragedy to pad the station's cut-rate news operation. News director John Clark and Company must be awfully proud of this "journalism."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Even Ten Minutes a Day Is Too Much Channel Sux

Unable to bear the sight of cross-eyed Sheila Brummer in the afternoon/evening or the thound of a solo, loud-talking, know-it-all Jim Thiedlecki in the morning, we've avoided Channel 6 this week. Unfortunately, we twice made the mistake of not changing the station when we got in the car after someone else had left the radio on 87.7.

During Wednesday's "Live at Five" broadcast, when corpse impersonator Gary Smollen was "reporting live" from somewhere or other, the microwave signal went out, forcing brain-dead anchor John Knicely to ad-lib. It took a good ten or fifteen seconds for ol' John to put together a meaningful, relevant sentence.

During the same broadcast, Brummer identified the area of 42nd Street between F and L Streets—the location of a police search—as "midtown." Anyone who knows Omaha will tell you that's South Omaha.

(Sidenote: Why, when referring to the station website, does Brummer insist on referring to the web address as "Dubya-dubya-tee dot-com"? Isn't she forgetting a letter? She's been doing it for months; doesn't anyone mention this to her?)

This morning, during the 7:55 local cutaway from the Today Show, Thiedlecki referred to a chase that led to "an exchange of gunfire from both parties." Umm, doesn't the word exchange make it obvious that both parties were involved?

The piece de resistance, however, was weatherguesser Scott Akin's totally useless forecast. His first sentence suggested it would be raining at least through the morning, but the rest of his time was spent seemingly backing away from that statement. He showed radar images and said the rain had moved out of the metro area into Iowa and ended up saying that any rain would be "isolated."

So, Scott, it's gonna rain, unless it doesn't?

More and more we're convinced that WOWT's target viewer is blind, hearing-impaired, uneducated A.D.D. sufferers who don't really listen to what's coming out of the TV. Who else could take these people seriously?

Wichita Station Flirts With Sanity

In a move that should be emulated by every local station on the planet, Wichita station KSN has stopped using consultants for its newscasts.

That's what it says in this Wichita Eagle story.

Our two favorite lines:

• The new GM is quoted as saying, "'We're not going to do the same old stuff. We're just not going to do it.'"

• "He's told his consultants that their services are no longer needed."

Can you imagine anyone in the WOWT chain-of-command having the balls to say either of those things?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

And You Thought the Dental Plan at Channel 6 Was Bad

"How stupid does one need to be to get a job reading the television news?"

With a first line like that, we said when we received an email recommending this essay from London's Sunday Times, it's gotta be good.

And it is. Among other things, it (sort of) reminds us why John Knicely remains on television year after year.

You can read the entire piece by clicking here: Stupidity Has Its Place

Readers Keep Beating Us to the Punch

A reach into the old OMANews mailbag reveals more discontnet among viewers. We pass along a few of our favorites...

One alert reader writes regarding KETV's Matt Schick:

He apparently has a blog and it's run in the Reader on line today.

He is like every other t-v sports reporter I've ever seen. They think they're overworked and never hesitate to waste a half hour to tell anyone who will listen how overworked they are. I mean, it's tough putting together three minutes of high quality volleyball reporting especially when you need to find some fan in the stands you can get a picture of so you can rip off Warner Wolfe and come up with a smug remark to show the fan's interest in the game.

It has been my personal observation that sports reporters are anything but overworked except when they linger too long at the omni-present free luncheons or dinners that precede virtually every sports event thus cutting short their time to come up with enough two syllable words to describe an incomplete pass.

They are fawned over and praised. They get to cover sports events for free and take glamour vacations to bowl games when their overworked day always includes a dozen shots of bikini clad co-eds frolicking in the surf.

Those poor overworked sports reporters. If they're so overworked I imagine they can change jobs with most any beer swigging, big gutted, fan parked in front of a t-v and a plate of wings who'd be willing to give up his left nougy to get out of the oil- change pit and cover any sports event, even soccer.

Anyway, poor overworked Schick is so overworked that he not only has time to keep a second by second diary of his overworked shift but then somehow manages to find time in his busy overworked day to put it in a blog.

As the wonderful Mike Royko used to say.."sports writers... the nice but slightly retarded members of the journalistic fraternity."

Another, however, reminds us that it's not just sports that features the retarded, noting the following:

On tonight's 10:00 news, John Knicely was wrapping up a sad story about a man killed by a drunken driver when he told us that one possibility under consideration to curb such incidents was "vehicle revocation." Not vehicle confiscation, not license revocation: "vehicle revocation." Maybe channel 6 will follow up tomorrow with a story about how this cutting edge law enforcement tool will work.

Amid all the guffaws over each other's on-air lame jokes, does anyone at that station ever stop to actually proofread their scripts?

Nor is such bumbling confined to any single station (despite WOWT's best efforts). According to one alert reader, Brandi Peterson "was doing the 11am news Saturday, and she mentioned what was coming up on Channel 7: "The Summer Ten Games"...not the Summer X Games, bless her heart." However, the subject line of this email is the real kicker: "Just don't put Brandi in front of a "Thirty" Bookstore."

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Alert Reader Assists in Stowell Update


Where would this blog be without the assistance of our many alert readers. Less than 24 hours after our last post, we received info allowing us to provide more info about and a picture of new KMTV weekend anchor Kerri Stowell.

As mentioned previously, she is originally from the KC area, is a grad of UMKC, and her old KCAU station bio says she enjoys reading.

When is the last time WOWT or KETV hired someone who reads (without moving his/her lips)?

In a related development, a new weatherguesser showed up on KETV Saturday at 11 a.m. Her name is Candace Sorenson, and she does not appear to have spent much time reading.

Friday, August 04, 2006

KMTV Hires Weekend Anchor

An informed source tells us that Kerri Stowell from KCAU in Sioux City has been hired as weekend anchor and weekday reporter at Action3 News.

Stowell is originally from the Kansas City area and has been handling weekend anchor duties at KCAU since joining the station in May 2004. We'd tell more if we knew it, but KCAU has already removed her bio and pic from their website.

We can only hope that Stowell has been informed that she'll be responsible for seeing that her new co-anchor, Devon Patton, gets his tranquilizers before airtime.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Selective Highs?

An alert reader raises interesting questioins below. See what you think.

Having watched both 42 and 6 last night, I'm sorry that I did. I noticed that there is sometimes a nasty discrepancy between weather related high temperatures that both Pearsol and Flowers give to the viewing public regarding the high temperature of the day. Last night's instance of this was 42 giving us the recorded high temperature of the day as 84 degrees and WOWT giving us the reading of 80 degrees. It's rather interesting that Jim Flowers had forecast a high of 80 on the nose and this was the recorded high temperature that he gave.

I've noticed this glaring discrepancy before. I don't wish to point fingers at Jim Flowers or the Channel Six weather team, but the recorded numbers have been off before when compared with 3 and 7 as well as 42. Where are they getting these numbers? I thought that they all got them from the same place. Or do they go looking for other alternatives to make themselves look better in their forecasting skills. Apparently I'm wrong on this matter. I was wondering if anyone else noticed this and if there is an explanation of this by either 6 or any of the others.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Index Card Consumption Continues Despite Murrell Absence

Who the hell is Veronica Todd?

It has the ring of a soap opera name, but actually, it's the one attached to the airhead filling in for regular KETV morning airhead/traffic reporter Jana Murrell.

Like Murrell, Ford can't seem to speak without the aid of a trusty pink index card containing her lines.

Honestly, how hard is it to remember two or three traffic items? It's not as if these nitwits are trying to rattle off travel times like the half-dozen or so familiar to Chicago commuters.

And does KETV have a whole truckload of interchangeable idiots they can stick in this spot? Think about it: Murrell appears to have the I.Q. of a gerbil, and Todd's cranium seems equally vacant. Couldn't this job be done just as poorly by Laura Liggett?

Memo to KETV: We're not in Chicago. We don't even need a traffic reporter. But if you're gonna stick eye-candy on the air to talk about traffic, at least find eye-candy that has the skills of an average eighth-grader.

Weide Gets Scoop on Meuret

In his blog, The Reader's Media Notes, Sean Weide reports that former KETV reporter Trisha Meuret has taken a job in communications with Omaha jeweler Borsheim's.

Weide also includes information on KETV's attempts to fill the gap left by the departure of veteran reporter Tom Elser. For the time being, former intern Kailyn Reid has been enlisted to do some reporting until a permanent replacement can be found.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Picking Up the Mail

Coming back from vacation entails picking up all the mail that came during our absence. Several good items offer themselves up for sharing.

• One alert reader provides us with this link to a Lincoln Journal-Star review of "Don't Touch That Dial," Nebraska Educational Television's look back at the pioneers of local television in the state.

• While out of town, we happened upon a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette feature in which the paper's TV writer provided answers to readers' questions. One such reader asked,

It is just me, or is KDKA news so anxious to get breaking news on the air that they don't get the facts? Watching Channel 2 late last week, they reported a drowning in Dormont pool around 4:30. Around 5:30 it was reported as a near-drowning. To me a drowning means someone has died. A near-drowning means they are not dead. Not to pick on only Channel 2, but they reported last night a man had to have his arm amputated after being hit by a bus in the Strip District. I found out this morning that was not the case. Facts seem to be an afterthought.

In an eerie parallel, we received the following from one of our readers on Sunday:

10pm Sunday Jul 30
WOWT
Breaking News - Top Story..
Paul Baltes: "We begin tonight with local breaking news... Within the hour paramedics were called to a Council Bluffs pool to save a child who had apparently drowned..."

Cut to Rebecca Kleeman at the scene:
"Blah...blah...blah...
We're on Rue Street in the Council Bluffs... blah... blah... blah...
We do know this is a 2 year old...and was taken to the hospital in very critical condition...
Blah... blah... blah...
Again a two year old in Council Bluffs... an apparent drowning... and we're hearing this child is in very critical condition... Jamie?"

Mmmmm...
drown (past and past participle drowned, present participle drown·ing, 3rd person present singular drowns)
1. transitive and intransitive verb die by immersion in water: to die by immersion and usually suffocation in water or other liquid, or kill a person or animal in this way. Death occurs either from lack of oxygen or as a result of cardiac arrest from the lowered body temperature. death by drowning

Mmmmm...
How the hell could a child who drowned be saved by the paramedics and/or be in extremely critical condition?

I'm thinkin' the term, "victim of a near drowning" would have been more accurate considering there was no word as to whether the child had died at the time of the report.

Uncanny, huh? Just to show that it's not an isolated incident at Channel 6, we'll note that Tuesday morning found lishpy reporter Rachel Pierce proclaiming that four people had been killed, two of them confirmed, in a house fire in South Omaha. And yes, that's exactly how she delivered it.

• Yet another alert reader sends this report from masslive.com regarding former KMTV meteorologist Tom Bevacqua:

SPRINGFIELD - Tom Bevacqua, chief meteorologist of abc40, has announced that he will retire on Aug. 31.

"We'd like to thank Tom for his remarkable service to the station and wish him well in the next chapter of his life," General Manager Will Meyl said in a statement. "He's been a trusted friend to Springfield viewers since 1993."

The Greenfield resident came to the station in September 1993 from KMTV in Omaha, Neb. He is on the faculty at Greenfield High School, where he will continue to teach courses in geography, news and meteorology.

We've included the picture from the abc40 website for readers who may not remember Bevacqua or his hairpieces.

• Finally, our favorite alert reader email, ever:

Tonight I was treated to how the heat is a big enemy to our pets. Gripping story.....But the video wrapped up with an over-extended view of a pitbull lickin' his junk close-up. Thanks WOWT!

Now, back to work.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Not Exactly a Win-Win Situation

According to the Des Moines Business Record, KCCI, which has been dominant in the ratings there for a decade, recently overtook rival WHO in a daypart in which it had been lagging last year.

The daypart? Mornings.

The previous morning anchor? WOWT's Sheila Brummer, now of "Dumb and Brummer" infamy.

Apparently their loss is their gain. We certainly didn't get anything out of the deal.

Siedlecki Apparently Offering Pronunciation Assistance

A few items before a brief vacation. We'll return in two weeks...we promise.

• Misprounciations and other language flubs littered this weekend's newscasts. Viewers watching Saturday's 5:30 p.m. news had the opportunity to hear good reporter/abominable anchor Suzanne Deyo make several references to "hez-BALL-uh," while anyone who caught Sunday morning's WOWT story-recycling project were treated to schpitting anchor Rachel Pierce describing wildfires in California's "YUKE-uh" Valley. Channel 3 Viewers on Saturday were told, via a graphic, not to "overdue" it when it's hot outside. And why KXVO even bothers is a mystery; Sunday night's program was hosted by some poor sap whose speech impediment prevents him from pronouncing his rs. It was like listening to Elmer Fudd, only less funny.

• One alert reader notes that he made the mistake of having Channel 6 on at 5 p.m. Friday.

While half listening I heard Gary Smollen say one of the earlier robberies was at a "FirsTier branch at 88th and Arbor." Uh, Channel Sucks must need some new phone books post- 1990. That branch is a TierOne Bank." Similar names, I'll admit, but having previously worked at FirsTier in the '80's, I can tell you that FirsTier became First Bank about 1990 and evenutally morphed into U.S. Bank.

Comment: We've never seen anything involving Smollen that suggested he was anything other than an idiot of the highest magnitude. Few reporters can match his corpse-like delivery and apparent cluelessness about the things he covers.

• KETV's FUBAR Fazal turned in another one for the blooper tape Sunday night at 10. Reporting from near Oakview Mall (site, incidentally, of her famed "United Pacific" reference), FUBAR declared that the grass fire she was covering was "pretty much out." In fact, she continued, all the firefighters had left. Pretty much out, FUBAR? We're guessing the absence of firefighters would be a fairly stong clue that the fire was entirely out. When's the last time she saw firefighters leave a fire on the pretense that it was "pretty much" out? What do you have to do to get taken off the air at Channel 7?

• To the list of bumblers we'd like to bounce from this market—like Smollen—let's add KMTV's Devon Patton. Every live story he delivers includes Mr. Lockjaw (a) using an outdoor voice, when an indor voice would do just fine, (b) inovking the first person ("I just _____"), and (c) turning around and pointing at whatever is behind him, even when it isn't necessary. We had hoped that he might simmer down once the initial adrenaline rush of the "Action" format's introduction wore off, but it's clear that that isn't going to happen. If anything, he getting worse. Nice try, Devon, thanks for playing. Now pack your things and go.

• KETV's Julie Cornell offered an insipid look at "Stressed Out Kids" on Sunday at 10 p.m. Essentially it involved neurotic parents who've overscheduled and pressured their kids into states of unnatural agitation—starting with "play dates" when they were 2—now scheduling them into relaxation classes. Oh the irony. Of course, Cornell missed that angle. But we're with George Carlin on this one when he says to these parents, "You wanna help your kids? Leave 'em the fuck alone!"

• Nebraska Pubic Telvision will host a screening of "Don't Touch That Dial," a program documenting the early days of Nebraska television on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at the Scott Conference Center. Featuring old footage going back to the days when Johnny Carson was just getting his start, the program should be a great look back at pre-consultant television. Admission is free.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Meuret Leaves Ricketts Campaign

Less that two weeks after replacing his campaign manager, Senate candidate Pete Ricketts is looking for a new press secretary. Former KETV reporter Trisha Meuret, who left the station last November to take the job, has left the campaign for "personal reasons."

Speaking on Z-92's Todd 'n' Tyler show, Meuret called her departure "amicable," but seemed somewhat hesitant to discuss the details and appeared to hedge when asked who she'll be voting for in the November election.

Her exact answer: "I don't know. It's a long time away." When pressed, Meuret later seemed to modify her stance, saying, "I really like Pete, and, at this point, it's gotta be Pete."

When asked about whether she'd like to fill an opening at KMTV, Meuret again hedged, suggesting that she is exploring lots of options and would look at any opportunities that might pop up.

We're still a little peeved that Meuret left KETV in the first place. In the wake of her departure last fall, the best replacement her old employer could scrape up was FUBAR Fazal, whose complete and utter incompetence stand in sharp contrast to Meuret's steady professionalism.

If KETV has any sense, it'll do whatever it can to get her back.

This is a Big One!

We'd really like to stop hammering WOWT, but no other station gives us this kind of stuff on such a consistent basis (unless you count KXVO as a station).

On Wednesday night, the Dumb half of "Dumb and Brummer," Channel 6's Brian Mastre, dropped this bombshell: EBay "has changed the way people purchase and sell items."

What's next for this beady-eyed, overweight, moron? A story about how email has changed the way people communicate? Or how cell phones have changed our telephone habits?

Jeez. You'd think someone over there could come up with something better than this for stories.

Of course, it was also Mastre who used his idiotic "Burglaries & Break-ins"/"News Where You Live" feature a few weeks ago to update us on some stolen Tupperware.

Is any local station in any market this size or larger so bad so often? The excrement being cranked out at 35th and Farnam is truly mind-boggling.

Wouldn't you just love to be in the meetings where they decide that stolen Tupperware is worthy of airtime? Or that Mastre should delve into the wonders of eBay?

How do they rationalize this to themselves when they go home at night? What sort of mind-altering medications make them comfortable producing such awful, awful work?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Let's Not Quibble Over Details

This alert reader sends what he calls a "WTF":

Action 3's Mary Wee Yums teased the Noon news by saying "a man was shot atthe Qwest center in broad daylight." Then they go to Kathy Sarontos Niver who tells us she was 3 BLOCKS WEST of the Qwest center, at THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS office where the man was shot. So he was not shot at the Qwest center at all.

Same song, different station. At least they have a reporter who can get it right.

"That Squirrel Can Really Water-Ski!"

WOWT's high-talking Ejacuweather meteorologist, Jeff Jensen, came right out and admitted another truism on Wednesday's 4 p.m. Dumb and Brummer newscast: "There's a pig of a storm over Kansas right now. Since there's nothing going on around here, I thought we'd take a look at it." He babbled for another 30 seconds or so about the blip on the radar screen that, he said, was "hugging I-70."

So now it's out there on the table: even when there's nothing to talk about, the Ejacuweather team will talk anyway. Is it any wonder people don't take these guys seriously?

Of course, it's hard to imagine what the Dumb and Brummer production team would fill the time with, even if Mr. High Voice did cut his chatter short. Not long after Jensen's appearance, viewers were treated to a minute or two of riveting footage and anchor voiceovers spotlighting a crawfish, a "high rent treehouse," and an owl.

Meanwhile, the rest of the staff anxiously awaits the upcoming visit by Cirque DAY Soleil.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Beyond Apathy

If anyone still needs covnincing that the folks running WOWT just don't give a shit, consider one promo that's been running for over a week now.

In it, morning anchor Jim Thiedlecki twice refers to Cirque du Soleil as "Sirk DAY Solay."

Leaving aside, for the moment, that this further solidifies Thiedlecki's image as a Grade-A Goober, shouldn't someone at the station order that the spot be re-done or, at the very least, make Thiedlecki voice-over hith mithpronunthiations?

Everyone has "talent" that screws up on live TV (and using the term talent on Thiedlecki is really stretching it to its limits). But continuing to run taped screw-ups says something even more profound about WOWT's management.

If We Drop In Some New Jargon, Maybe They Won't Notice Our Rotten Forecasting

On Tuesday's "Live at Daybreak," Channel 6's Scott Akin was busy dropping the Ejacuweather meteorologists' latest crutch-word: values."

Akin gave us info on humidity values, heat index values, dew point values, and any other brand of values he could squeeze in.

This is one of those cases that George Carlin has often alluded to: the tendency of dimwits to add words to ordinary terms in an attempt to make what they're saying sound more important. (The example Carlin gives is flight attendants who announce that they're about to "begin the boarding process," when all they really need to say is that it's about time to begin boarding.)

Such is the case with all the Ejacuweather values. Don't tell us that there are high humidity values; just note that there's high humidity and be done with it.

Beyond that annoyance, Tuesday's "Daybreak" also gave Akin a chance to display an Ejacuweather graphic that now classifies dewpoints. According to the chart (and Akin), we can't say it's "muggy" outside unless the dewpoint is 70 or higher. That's right—he actually said that we can't call today's weather muggy, even though it's close. It's only "humid" according to the chart.

We're no weather experts, but one thing's for certain: those Ejacuweather boys sure have some high stupidity values.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Weekend Droppings

• At last! WOWT Ejacuweather meteorologist spoke the truth on Sunday evening. "You never know what the weather's going to do," he told co-anchors Paul "Invisible Man" Baltes and Jaime McCutcheon. Really, Jeff? Then why the hell do they give you and your fellow dweebs five minutes of every newscast to prattle on as if you do?

• Why does Channel 6's lithshping weekend morning co-anchor, Rachel Pierce, have a job? She displays no skills, especially when it comes to conversation. When another Ejacucaster, Michael Born wrapped up his forecast by noting that we'd be seeing the return of "summer-like" weather, Pierce responded, "Yeah...Thshummer in Florida!" She's been here, what, two months and she's already an expert on our climate? They should can this woman, fast.

• We're coming to find KETV's weekend 'casts the most watchable, both morning and night. Morning anchors Todd Andrews and Brandi Petersen make a pretty good pairing, especially considering they have to drag along mumbling "mitterawgist" Chuck McWilliams and perpetually befuddled "reporter" Laura Liggett.

• The same goes for evenings, despite the presence of stiff and clueless anchorette Suzanne "Everyone Has Bad Days" Deyo. Meterologist John Campbell has probably the best voice of any weatherguesser in town and avoids the hazard of taking himself too seriously. And while some will complain that weekend sports guy Matt Schick is a little too cheesy, we'll give him a pass, because the guy brings intelligence to the table and appears to make an effort every time he's on the air. What's too bad is that that sets him apart from about 70 percent of the other on-air talent in this market.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

As If Channel 6 Didn't Look Stupid Enough

WOWT has resumed inflicting its series of "The More You Know" spots on viewers. They started seeping into view a month or two ago but have been in heavy rotation for the past several days. The offending pieces—a combination of public service announcements, feel-good circle jerks, and look-how-much-we-care promotional messages—feature most of the station's anchors yammering platitudes about reading to kids, talking to kids, and generally being in touch with the kids in the nerdy way that only clueless adults think is cool.

Whereas similar spots, produced five or six years ago, featured station personalities inexplicably sporting black leather jackets, the new batch finds only Jim Flowers and Dave Webber still clinging to the old wardrobe. In these latest installments we get, among other things, Brian Mastre in a bright red crew-neck sweater pulled over a white, long-sleeve dress shirt—looking as if he just stepped out of a 1982 toupée catalog.

If we didn't know better, we'd swear these were parodies of spots done by real stations. The attempt to be "arty" is so ham-handed (and poorly executed) that we find ourselves laughing out loud every time we see them.

Knowing how many of these people are totally inept at their jobs, how can any of us take them seriously? Think about it: how many of your acquaintances are clamoring for parenting tips from Dumb and Brummer or Jim Thiedlecki?

With all the problems that plague Channel 6 right now, they'd be a lot better off devoting their time and energy to putting together even one newscast that consistently looks worthy of this market. If we want parenting tips, we'll read "Julie's Diary."

Monday, July 03, 2006

Okay, Who Let Liggett Type That?

An alert reader points out this crawl at the bottom of the screen on Channel 7:

"Your watching Newswatch 7"

Other notes from other alert readers that took the words right out of our mouths:

Who is directing the [Channel 6] news on weekends? I know you have touched on this before, but it is painful to watch Paul and Jaime sitting there staring into the camera, while the other is reading something new. The other week Paul Baltes stared with a look of awkward silence and bewilderment for what had to be 20 seconds while Jaime started into her piece. I am really embarrassed for these people.

Yet another writes, "Any chance you caught Jimmy 'the Geek' Siedlecki's Cirque du Soleil promo? He pronounces it Sirk DAY Solay... can Channel 6 find a bigger bumpkin?"

You wouldn't think so, but we didn't think they could bring in worse than Pat Persaud, Gary Smollen, Brian New, or Sheila Brummer, and look what they were able to dredge up. Siedlecki makes even Travis Justice look sophisticated.

Moral of the story: Never underestimate the power of the Big Sucks.

You Don't Have to Be Retarded to Watch (Or Report)
Channel 6's Weekend Morning News, But It Helps

Quick highlights:

On Saturday, lunkhead anchor Mike Dronemeyer told viewers that a bank robbery looked "familiar" to other recent bank robberies. This erased most doubts that Dronemeyer (a) is being groomed to replace John Knicely and (b) must've taken a few fastballs to the noggin while playing for NC State.

Also on Saturday, Maniko "Queen Shanniqua" Barthelemy teased one of her awful live segments with the promise of tips on kite-flying. Moments later, she followed through on her threat. Her "expert" advised her to "just hold the kite up and let the wind take it." No wonder this station allegedly won so many Associated Press awards.

Finally, it's impossible to watch Rachel Pierce and not wonder what made this woman think television was a good career choice. Leaving aside her speech impediment (does someone at 6 have a lisp fetish?), Pierce appears clumsy on-air and offers little evidence of even basic knowledge. For some reason, when mentioning a street name above 100, she reads it as if it were a fraction. Example: "There's been an accident already this morning, so you might want to avoid the intersection of One-Twentieth and Maple."

Again we have to ask, where's management in all this? It's one thing for these people to do something wrong, but where's the guidance? Who's working with them to correct their defects? From what we can tell, absolutely no one.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

KETV's Other Disaster: Laura Liggett

There are times when we wonder if KETV hasn't outsourced its hiring to WOWT.

The well-documented joke that is Farah "Fubar" Fazal is Exhibit A. Exhibit B is Laura Liggett.

Liggett is nearly as awful as Fubar, only considerably easier to watch and with a more pleasant voice, which is great, as long as you don't want any information.

Near the end of the 5 p.m. newscast on Thursday, anchors Rob McCartney and Julie Cornell threw it to Liggett, who was reporting on the grass fire in Council Bluffs. Delivering her report from the shoulder of a busy road, the L-Train(wreck) babbled for at least 60 seconds, unable to put together even one sentence without stumbling or having to resort to reading whatever notes she was clutching.

The only more desperate performance we've seen on Channel 7 is Exhibit C: morning traffic reporter Jana Murrell's daily struggle to remember the two items she has written on her pink index card while gesturing stiffly in the general direction of the greenscreen map behind her.

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to see a mentally retarded person doing a traffic report, Murrell offers a pretty good approximation. And for an idea of what it might be like to see a 17-year-old with an 8th grade vocabulary doing live shots, keep an eye out for the L-Train(wreck).

WOWT Taking Its Cues from Channel 3, Again

Once again, apparently prodded by KMTV's Action 3 News format, lethargic WOWT is making changes to its otherwise stale product. This time, it's the opening sequences, graphics, and theme music.

We could give a long description of each, but it's just as informative to say that the graphics look like Channel 3's, only blue, and the music sounds like Channel 3's, only with the three-note NBC signature tacked on.

Oh, and the announcer on 6 seems to have pepped up a bit. And he identifies the 6 p.m. broadcast as "6 News, Live at 6."

This is the second wave of changes at the Big Sucks in the last three months. Following Channel 3's switch to the new format in February, WOWT tightened up its reports, mercifully axing the post-story "reporting live" banter with its reporters.

Perhaps Gray Communications could save a little money by firing their consultant and having GM Frank Jonas and news director John Clark take their orders directly from Channel 3's guy.

Maybe one day soon, we'll flip on the tube and find that Channel 6's John Knicely's hair has gone gray and they've forced Tracy Madden to die her locks brownish-black, since that's how Greg Peterson and Deb Ward wear their hair.

If that happens, then it's only a matter of time until they have a monkey delivering sports.
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