Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Meanwhile, On Channel 7...

KETV must be trying to win over WOWT viewers by getting into the business of half-assed reporting and stupid stories:

• Last Thursday, the station screwed up royally in its coverage of a car accident involving three teenagers. We were swamped with emails griping about the coverage. One emailer summarizes the screwups better than we can:

KM3 at 5pm had 3 teens critically injured in 2 car crash.

WOWT did not have the story at 5pm [surprise!] but had it right at 6pm that 3 teens were critically injured in 2 car crash.

Poor KETV. At 5 Rob and Julie reported a 3 car crash injures 2 and kills 1.

At 6pm. Tom Elser live reported that a 2 car crash kills 1 and injures 2. Banner headline that read "FATAL ACCIDENT"

At 10PM. Tom Elser again went live with a Banner headline "ROLLOVER CRASH". The only mention of the earlier mistakes came from Julie, "initally investigators thought 1 of them had died but tonight all 3 are alive."

But, as another reader points out: "They made a correction at 10, but still had a double-box graphic that read 'DEADLY ACCIDENT'"

• Another alert reader enjoyed it when, reporting on a January 24 near Kennard, Farrah Fazal referred to assistance from a fire department from "North Bend, Iowa."

• Still another writes of a Six-esque graphics error during KETV's new morning show this past Saturday:

Laura Liggett was reporting on a truck that plowed into someone's house, and while showing video of the truck, the graphic "Olympic Champ Visits" was flashed on screen. . . . According to their graphics, the "olympic champ" was visiting [by driving his] truck into someone's house.

• Finally, the "7 Can't Help Itself" crew appears to have addpted the Big Six's penchant for stretching the "local connection" angle to its most ridiculous limits. On Monday, Rob & Julie intro'd a story about ABC anchor Bob Woodruff's injury in Iraq by promsing to bring us individuals with "close ties" to the event.

It turns out that all they had were a couple of local newspaper reporters who have been to Iraq. Neither appeared to have met Woodruff or the camera operator who was also injured. Neither of them had ever been injured while reporting from Iraq. They had just been there.

Wow. If Channel 7's goal is to match WOWT gaffe-for-gaffe, then they're well on their way to catching up.

In 1981, as ABC anchor Frank Reynolds tried to make sense of what was happening in the immediate aftermath of an attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, his producer handed him a note saying that White House Press Secretary James Brady had died from gunshot wounds. Reynolds read the news and continued working. Several minutes later, when told that Brady was still alive, a visibly shaken and angry Reynolds barked, "Let's nail it down! Let's get it right!"

Channel 7 could use someone with that level of concern for accuracy.

Fox42 Follies

• KPTM reporter/beauty pageant contestant Suzy Stark noted idiotically that after a local bar patron died of lung cancer recently, owners of the bar decided to do whatever they could to make sure "that doesn't happen again." Aren't most people limited to just one death?

• New reporter Julie Hong co-anchored Sunday night's Nine O'Clock News with Jo Giles and the result was not in any way an adequate substitute for Amanda Mueller. Hong is about a dozen times easier to listen to than the nasal whininess of Giles, but at times seems like she's just a little too wound up.

• Speaking of KPTM, how long will they keep running those goofy Anchorman-style promos? They're so hokey we laugh every time they appear. If you've somehow missed them: the feature the station's anchor team milling about until Tracy Jacim gives a Barbara Eden-as-Jeanie cross-armed blink that causes the gang to look toward the camera and freeze. It really is as ridiculous as it sounds.

• We've said that we don't consider KXVO's 10 p.m. newscast to be much worse than WOWT's half-assed "Live at 4," and we stand by that. But we're talking about content, not production values. The KXVO set looks, as numerous commenters and emailers have pointed out, like something a high school kid might construct in his basement, what with the HDTV screen seemingly surrounded by a posterboard frame that features the station's logo. Also amusing is the size of the set itself, which appears to be roughly equal to two broom closets.

• The appearance that the whole thing is some kid's "pretend" studio is the fact that anchor Calvert Collins often appears to be delivering the news wearing her Farrah Fawcett wig.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Stampede Created By Threat of KXVO Merchandise

This is what we stumbled upon during a visit to the KXVO website. Some things just speak for themselves. Then again, maybe this was just a poll of station employees.

Using Technology for Evil Rather Than Good

The website for Journal Broadcasting's BigSports 590 radio station is now making mp3 copies of KM3 "Sports Director" Travis Justice's "Big Show" available via its website. For those of you new to the world of mp3 players, this means that you can now download Trav's show to your iPod and listen to his voice for hours on end.

If you don't want to go to all that trouble, you can simulate the experience thusly:
(1) Place your iPod on the ground and cover it with 75 to 100 pounds of human excrement. Then,
(2) Ram an icepick into each ear.

Most people who've tried both can't tell the difference.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

UPN+WB=CW: A Local Marriage from Hell?

Tuesday's announcement that the UPN and WB networks would merge struck us as interesting at first. We were thinking that maybe these two fractional networks might come together to create something closer to one complete outfit.

And then it occurred to us that the local implications could be rather ominous. Might Omaha's UPN affiliate—carried on Cox Cable and operated by WOWT's owner, Gray Television—enter into some sort of unnatural relationship with Pappas Telecasting's WB affiliate, KXVO, to create some awful hybrid containing the worst features of both?

Think about it: Calvert Collins sitting in front of that fake bank of monitors reading "Grocery Prices Underground." Or Jim Flowers delivering Ejacu-Weather segments with his tie off and his shirt unbuttoned to the sternum. Not trembling yet? Then imagine "first responders" Gary Smollen looking dead and Brian New sounding tearful while they deliver stories from what appears to be the homemade set of KXVO's 10 p.m. newscast. (On the other hand, new WOWT reporter Maniko Barthelemy might feel right at home amongst the underqualified KXVO crowd.)

If Omaha viewers love content-free newscasts—and Channel 6's sky-high ratings suggest they do—then having these two vacuuous outfits co-mingling fluids should make them positively giddy.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Resemblance Is Eerie

A few days ago, just minutes after enduring the umpteenth airing of former WOWT "anchor" Pat Persaud's spot for an exciting trip to Australia, we flipped over to KXVO and caught an episode of the Simpsons that featured this image of teacher Edna Krabapple and couldn't help being reminded of the slinky attire Queen Pat frequently draped over her wrinkly torso back when she was climbing into the anchor chair.

Schrader Assumes Assessor Post

Omaha broadcasting legend and former longtime KETV anchor Carol Schrader is reported by the local paper to have taken a $50,000-a-year job as a deputy to Douglas County Assessor Roger Morrissey.

Schrader, who was widely believed to have been forced out at KETV in 1997 to make room for current anchor Julie Cornell, served as KFAB radio's news director for a year before leaving to do freelance work. She has been seen most recently as host of KYNE's "Consider This" public affairs interview program.

Schrader Set to Fill Assessor's Office Void [OWH]

KM3 Now Back in HD on Cox

KMTV, in an abrupt about-face, announced during Sunday's Pittsburgh-Denver AFC Championship game that its HD signal is now available via Cox Cable. The announcement, made via a scroll at the bottom of the screen and reiterated by a more formal announcement during Monday's Todd 'n' Tyler show on radio station Z-92, reverses a policy instituted by KM3's previous owner, Emmis Communications. Emmis pulled its HD signal from the Cox lineup in 2004, when Cox refused an Emmis demand that Cox pay for the right to carry KM3-HD.

Journal Broadcasting, which also owns Z-92 and several other area radio outlets, completed its purchase of Channel 3 in December.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Maybe They Just Like That Name

Channel 6 just can't stop patting itself on the back for reuniting a cat lost in Council Bluffs with its Albany, New York owners. Now that "Bodhi" (pronounced BO-dee) is taken care of, maybe the Big Six will make lost pets a regular segment on "Live at 4," especially since KFAB radio no longer interrupts programming to mention that someone lost a dog in the area of 34th and Erskine.

As for the name of the cat: isn't that also the name of the kid WOWT was having fundraisers for last year? You know, the one that anchor John Knicely kept reminding us had had his "genitalia" rippped off by a dog? Perhaps that, too, can become a regular "News for Where You Live" feature: Here's Gary Smollen with this week's "Something Named Bodhi."

Faces, Old and Newborn

We didn't catch a lot of news this weekend (we were busy digging out from the 8-12 inches of snow Bill Randby warned us about), but a few bits and pieces did catch our attention...

• Channel 6 weekend morning anchor Andrea McMaster returned from maternity leave looking rested and sharing video of her daughter, who was born in October. While we've been critical of McMaster's work, the baby really did look adorable. And maybe we're imagining it, but McMaster seemed to avoid her usual stumbles and mispronunciations.

• WOWT's Saturday morning program featured one of the station's zillion "health" stories, this one featuring a new reporter named Maniko Barthelemy. Barthelemy's arrival doubles the number of black reporters working at the station, but her halting, robotic delivery and nasal monotone make us wonder why the Jonas-and-Clark braintrust doesn't just hire a couple of kids off the Westside High School cable access show. Many of them display considerably more talent than most of the Big Six's recent hires.

• Speaking of recent hires, KETV's weekend 10 p.m. newscasts featured a meteorologist we'd not seen before. His name is John Campbell.

• Finally, who's writing the copy at Channel 6? A Friday night story—one that, in true WOWT style, was repeated word-for-word on Saturday morning—informed viewers that a shooting victim was "rushed to the hospital but didn't make it." We can't be the only ones who wondered where the poor guy had fallen out along the way.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Update on Bill's Snowgasm

Remember the Friday snowstorm that KETV weatherguesser Bill Randy on Monday said could give us EIGHT TO TWELVE INCHES of snow? The one he was literally yelling about?

Well, the chubby we suspect he'd developed over that possibility appears to have gone limp. The latest prediction from Saggy Bill is a 30% chance. Other guesses:
McPike (KM3): 40%
Pearsall (KPTM): 30%
Flowers (WOWT): No mention of snow in latest online forecast.

Create Your Own Adventure

We're too busy and too tired to write today. Therefore, we're declaring this "Audience Participation Thursday." Here's the plan: we'll supply the topic we'd write about if we had time; you write the smartass observations and nasty remarks in the "Comments" section. Here we go:

• Hair Crisis Mussing Omaha's Female Anchors: Deb Ward, Calvert Collins and Tracy Madden. If you saw 'em last night, you'll know what we mean.

• According to Sean Weide's Reader columm, WOWT weekend morning anchor Andrea McMaster returns from 14 weeks of maternity leave this Saturday morning.

• Weide also reports that KPTM is delegating freelance reporting chores to another beauty pageant contestant. This one is named Suzy Stark and was a Miss Nebraska runner-up.

• Finally, an alert reader tells us that KETV may debut its new weekend morning newscast on Saturday—a week or two earlier than previously indicated (TV listings notwithstanding). Apparently if we get a big snowstorm on Friday or Friday night, they'll roll it out. That's what we've told, anyway.

That oughta keep you busy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

He's That Good

We stumbled across this archived Onion article and imagine that the scenario portrayed therein is similar to what happened one day ten or twelve years ago at WOWT and begat the nightly gigglefest that ends nearly every 10 p.m. newscast on Channel 6. Enjoy.

TV-News Graphics Guy Gives Weatherman On-Air Surprise [The Onion].

Watching the Weather and Holding Our Tongues

• The storm that caused KETV's Bill Randby to nearly soil himself on Monday's 5 p.m. newscast continues to make its way across the country. At 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Randby pegged our chance for significant snowfall at 70%, as did KXVO/KPTM's Tyson Pearsall. KMTV's Ryan McPike put the likelihood at 50%, while WOWT Ejacuweather's Jim Flowers declined to put his guess in percentage terms. Stay tuned.

• We are being besieged by emails asking for our review of KXVO's 10 p.m. newscast, which debuted on Monday. We are withholding comment for a few days until the kinks are worked out (or institutionalized), but, so far, we have to say it doesn't look any worse than WOWT's 4 p.m. offering, where they read grocery and gasoline prices and try to pass that off as news.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Separated at Birth: It's Not Just Gomer Anymore

We couldn't help but notice new New York Jets coach Eric Mangini's resemblance to WOWT loud talker Jim Siedlecki.

Randby Encroaching on Flowers' Territory

We stumbled onto KETV meteorologist Bill Randby's 5 o'clock weather segment on Monday and found him in a pretty agitated state about a storm out over the Pacific that he said could result in 'EIGHT TO TWELVE INCHES!" of snow on Friday or Friday night. Randby then added, in more controlled tones, that the aforementioned totals were likely to accumulate...in Des Moines.

Over on Channel 6, WOWT Precision Ejacucaster Jim Flowers, who usually behaves like a miniature poodle on speed at the slightest hint of precipitation, remained uncharacteristically calm while suggesting that such a storm is, indeed, possible.

Randby had apparently calmed down by 10 p.m., when his mention of Friday snow was limited to a 30% chance and just a casual reference to possible accumulation. Even if he turns out to be right, however, Mr. Cornell needs to have his ears boxed for getting himself (and trying to get viewers) so worked up over a storm that's still 2,000 miles away.

Monday, January 16, 2006


We are by no means blaming local media for this one, although we are imploring local reporters, anchors, and producers to please please please please please please refrain from any further use of the phrase "Dr. King's dream" in news stories about today's federal holiday. We must've heard it two dozen times before 7:30 this morning, and there's no sign that it's going to let up without a concerted effort.

The madness should stop here. Find something else to focus on and/or a few more creative ways of phrasing it. Please.

Scrapings from Weekend Viewing

•Yet another of our many alert viewers reports that the woman who once made reference to Boystown founder Father Edward Flanagan's "grandson," KPTM reporter/KXVO anchor Calvert Collins, admitted to listeners tuned in to The Brew (96.1 FM) on Friday that she has dated KETV anchor/reporter Todd Andrews.

• A while back, we mentioned that it might be a good idea to avoid dispatching Gary Smollen to any site where a corpse is present, lest someone mistake him for the cadaver. After seeing his Satuday evening story, we're prepared to add another spot to the list of No-Smollen Zones: Special Olympics basketball tournaments.

• We thought that, perhaps, we had imagined it, but having seen it a second time, there's no denying it: In those 2nd Wind Fitness Commercials airing locally, company CEO Dick Enrico really does introduce a kid as "Little Dick."

• Are we imagining that Big Dick bears an eerie resemblance to Channel 3's Big Tool, only with a (different?) dye job?

• During a recent trip that brought us within viewing distance of Green Bay, Wisconsin, we caught former WOWT Ejacu-Weather meteorologist Patrick Powell, who's now in charge of weatherguessing at the Fox affiliate in Packerland. Powell appears to have gained about 20 pounds, making him look 30 instead of 14. Powell has also gained a habit, one likely to be adopted by Jim Flowers as soon as the consultant tells him it's okay, of naming winter storms as if they were hurricanes. When we were there, a storm he'd dubbed "Brian" had just left the area.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Naming Names

Another alert reader informs us that KETV has actually had the on-air team for its weekend morning program lined up for a while now, despite GM Joel Vilmenay's claim to Sean Weide that such details were not yet finalized.

Anchoring the new show will be Brandi Petersen and Todd Andrews, with struggling reporter Laura Liggett handling live-from-the-field chores and current weekend mumblerologist Chuck "Mushmouth" McWilliams offering guesses about the weather.

Sorry We Missed It

An alert reader fills us in on a Channel 7 moment we wish we'd seen:

Didn't know if you saw it, and I was really hoping you would get screen capture, but on Thu night the 5 o'clock news they were airing a little clip on the "Uses of baby powder" and the clip ended and the shot went back to the anchors. OMG! They weren't prepared and Rob McCartney was sitting there, bored with his head sitting on his hand and Julie Cornell had that "damn this is stupid" look. A buddy and I saw it and were laughing our asses off.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Ghost of TV Pat(hetic)

Tiny "retired" WOWT anchor Pat Persaud has resurfaced on the station, this time hawking a trip to Australia through Channel 6 and some travel agency or another. All tarted up in this new spot, Pat—a 50-something woman trying to look 20—seems to have lost weight and gotten a new hairstyle that droops into her face about half the time.

Apparently Pat wanted a trip to Australia but didn't want to pay for it. (The "leader" of such trips usually gets one or more free trips and/or cash, depending on the number of travelers enlisted.)

Bully for her. We hope she's enjoying being off the air as much as we're enjoying having her off.

KETV, KXVO Prepare to Unveil New Programs

Sean Weide's column in this week's Reader is brimming with TV info, especially regarding the impending launches of news programming in Channels 7 and 15. Highlights:

• According to Weide, KXVO's "10 O'Clock News" will debut, as scheduled, next Monday. As mentioned several times here, the program will be anchored by KPTM's Calvert Collins; Weide adds that Jo Giles, another KPTM-er will anchor on the weekends. We can hardly wait to see this.

• KETV is adding newscasts to its weekend lineup. An early morning program has been known to be in the works for some time now. Weide reports that "First News" will air from 7-8:30 a.m. but that station management has yet to name anchors or reporters for the new offering. That doesn't seem like a good sign, especially with the debut scheduled for January 28th.

• In addition to "First News," Channel 7 will produce Saturday and Sunday 'casts at 11 a.m.

• In a departure from its recent practice of hiring beauty pageant winners, KETV, according to Weide, has finally hired replacements for Reggie Kumar and Tricia Meuret. The hiring of Farrah Fazal and Owen Lei suggests that station management is committed to both diversity and quality. Fazal comes from St. Louis, where her work was nominated for a regional Emmy, and Lei is a Northwestern University grad who arrives in Omaha from a station in Palm Springs, California.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Thurfathe Featureth (Surface Features)

It's a question as old as Barbara Walters: Why do TV outlets hire people with speech impediments for on-air positions that involve speaking?

In a medium where image and appearance are supposedly so important, there appear to be a disproportionate number of local reporters and anchors who exhibit lisps. We'll avoid naming names, but it brings up two questions: (1) What makes someone with a lisp think that broadcasting is a good career choice? and (2) What impels station management to hire these people?

It reminds us of a Kurt Vonnegut story we read in college that begins, It was the year 2081, and everyone was finally equal. Entitled "Harrison Bergeron," it describes a world in which the attractive and talented are assigned handicaps, "so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in."

At one point in the story, when a television program is interrupted for a news bulletin, the narrator notes that it wasn't clear at first as to what the bulletin was about, since the announcer, like all announcers, had a serious speech impediment. For about half a minute, and in a state of high excitement, the announcer tried to say 'Ladies and Gentlemen—'

He finally gave up and handed the bulletin to a ballerina to read.

There are more than a few local news programs that make us wonder if the year 2081 isn't closer than we think.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Nucking Futs

An alert reader reports that KMTV "sports director" Travis Justice has become obsessed with finding out who's writing this blog, reportedly to the point that he's using his time with Z-92's Todd 'n' Tyler to beg listeners for help in tracing Ted's emails. (Trav has corresponded with Ted on several occasions. Ted laughs at the thought that Trav considers Ted's work to be so powerful.)

And Trav isn't alone. We've gotten numerous reports over the past year of insane reactions to what we've written here. One weekend anchor gal is said to have spent part of a workday weeping uncontrollably over what we wrote about her. A female anchor/reporter at another station reportedly told co-workers that anyone she caught reading Omaha TV News wouldn't be her friend anymore. And then there are the suits. One allegedly forbade employees from reading us on station computers, but to no avail. Another, we're told, exhorted colleagues not to read it because it would just upset them.

This just goes to show that it's a lot easier to worry about what's being said in a blog than it is to focus on doing your job better or putting together a more credible newscast. Sad.

And, by the way, is Trav gaining weight? He seems a little puffier than usual. Maybe the receding hairline is just creating an optical illusion.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Weekend News Just Keep Getting Worse

We returned this weekend after a week away to find weekend TV news slipping further into the crapper.

First comes word that KMTV's stellar weekend anchor Sarah Simmons is leaving for a gig in Washington, D.C. Simmons is every bit as good as any anchor in town, yet the programming geniuses at Channel 3 couldn't see their way clear to get her into a higher profile position. Now they've gone and lost her to a larger market. After losing weekend meteorologist Sarah Walters to Phoenix in September, this leaves KM3's weekend lineup—the best in town a year ago—pretty well demolished.

Of course being best on the weekends in Omaha doesn't take a lot, given what's on the other stations. Aside from WOWT's Courtny Gerrish and KPTM's Amanda Mueller, both of whom need to be filling regular weekday slots, the cupboard is bare when it comes to talent. Gerrish's co-anchor, Paul Baltes is nearly invisible and seems to be in a colossal struggle with his contact lenses whenever he's on the air. And instead of having the sense to let Mueller anchor solo, Fox42 keeps saddling her with fill-ins like Jo Giles and Calvert "Larry 'Bud'" Collins.

By far the biggest weekend trainwreck, however, is piloted by the perenially inept Suzanne Deyo at KETV. On Saturday, for example, while video of protesters standing along a curb rolled, Deyo told viewers that passing cars gave "honks of disagreement." Exactly how she was able to distinguish between a honk of disagreement and a honk of support she didn't disclose.

Never satisfied with just one idiotic remark, Deyo came back on Sunday to tease a story about Texas QB Vince Young by asking, "Will he turn pro or head back to Kansas?" Deyo is to anchoring what Pauly Shore is to acting. Only not as smart.

But Deyo isn't the only drag on Channel 7's weekend 'cast. The station's weekend mumblerologist, Chuck McWilliams not only sounds like Buster on "Arrested Development," he also apparently writes like a high school girl. Graphics accompanying his Saturday weathercast said something like: "Mild weather today!! Cooler Temps Coming??" OMG!!
Double punctuation is soooo expressive!!

One final weekend note: WOWT's Gary Smollen handled live-from-the-field duties during the Saturday morning newscast despite apparently being in a medically-induced coma.
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