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?
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