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.
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