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.