Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Another Station Loses Talent, Retains the Mediocre

Our silence has been the result of some work-related out-of-townery that keeps us from seeing Omaha TV and the desperate assurances from KETV's "I-Team" that they're working to help us and our families.

(Hmmm...We need the house painted this summer. Perhaps the I-Team can help with that. Imagine: Suzanne Deyo scraping paint and littering her helmet with primer while Farrah Fazal shoots herself in the eye every time she looks into the nozzle of the paint sprayer. And Mike Sigmond shouting tips on the best paint to use. People would pay to watch the I-Team on that job. Talk about a new revenue stream for Hearst.)

But we digress. Sean Weide reports in his Reader column this week that WOWT's Courtny Gerrish is leaving the station to take a job anchoring the 4 p.m. newscast at a station in Milwaukee. This is the same Gerrish—the nine-year employee—who wanted the 4 p.m. slot at Channel 6, only to see it handed to smarmily repulsive (and then-unemployed) former Des Moines morning anchor Sheila Brummer.

This is another nice move by local station management—the latest in a string of recent blunders that has resulted in local viewers losing the services of talented on-air personnel. Among the others that got away:
Pamela Jones left in 2004 after languishing for years at KETV's weekend anchor desk;
Trey Jones vacated WOWT's morning anchor chair last May to pursue work outside of television;
• In September, KMTV's Sarah Walters left her weekend weather job for a higher-profile position in Phoenix;
• KETV reporter Tricia Meuret left Channel 7 in November to work in politics; and
• Channel 3's high-caliber weekend anchor, Sarah Simmons, recently departed for a gig in Washington, D.C.

The mismanagement of talent has been particularly costly at KETV—at least in terms of on-air product—where Meuret has been replaced by the hopelessly inept Fazal, who could apparently screw up the proverbial two-car parade.

What news directors John Clark (WOWT), Rose Ann Shannon (KETV), and whoever's in charge this week at KMTV can't seem to figure out is that if you don't provide your more talented on-air personnel with opportunities to showcase their skills and/or you pass them over for better slots in favor of lesser talent from inside or outside the market, someone else will recognize the superior talent and lure them elsewhere. Is that so tough to understand? Or anticipate?

Apparently it is, because we viewers end up having our news slung at us by the likes of Deyo, Fazal, Brummer, Kayla Thomas, Gary Smollen, and Jim Siedlecki.

A station that finds a way to reward the deserving and flush the inept could own this market. But we're not holding our breath.


Will said...

Right on, Ted.

Newsroom politics must be even trickier to negotiate than I ever imagined if no talent hacks like Brummer and that Gomer Pyle guy on 6 in the morning can thrive and survive while talent the likes of Gerrish and Jones give up and take off.

It all seems so staggerinly counterintuitive.

dannymccaslin said...

Noooooooo Courtny!

jmsqabq said...

I think Omaha is a great place. But when Phoenix, D.C., and yes, even Milwaukee come calling with opportunity and $$$, unless you've got about 8 kids in 5 different Omaha schools .. yer out. There is nothing you can do. Good talent moves on.
And you can bet all of those people mentioned in the post who moved on planned on it. They didn't 'give up' ... Omaha wasn't their destination.
So enjoy John Kniceley for the rest of your lives.

Damon Scott Hynes said...

Milwaukee? Damn, we suck.

DiggerDog said...

With Gerrish leaving, so goes the desire or need to watch Channel 6 anymore.

She's the best Omaha news has had, and now she's leaving. Nice job idiots at WOWT. Real nice job.

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