Wednesday, January 26, 2011


With so many problems to document, WOWT seldom gives us cause (or pause) to praise its quality-challenged efforts.

However, from time to time, we try to remind ourselves that there remain a few salvageable parts that could form the core of a reconstituted on-air team, were the station's management/ownership so inclined.

1. Caitlin Roth. We've sung her praises twice recently, so there's not a lot to add. But why it's taken years for the higher-ups to recognize (and put to good use) this woman's talent is a complete mystery. (The answer is probably related to why it's taken the station close to two decades to recognize the ineptitude of John Chapman and Gary Smollen.) As we've said previously, Roth should be put in charge of the weather department immediately, if not sooner.

2. Jaime McCutcheon. The longtime weekend anchor is SuxNews's second most recent high-quality hire. Her delivery is generally polished, her demeanor poised, and she does more than stare vacantly when something goes wrong, which on the weekends is often. In the events of a shakeup at 35th and Farnam, McCutcheon would be our choice to take over the 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. newscasts.

3. Rusty Lord. Prior to Roth's arrival on the morning scene, Lord was stuck in the Kingdom of the Dumbed, somehow retaining the ability to speak intelligently, despite spending most of his on-air time with Hee Haw candidates Jimmy "Jethro" Siedlecki and Malorie "Ellie May" Maddox. It's a wonder he's not playing a banjo and talking like Eb from Green Acres.

4. Tracy Madden. While she isn't perfect, Madden has done a reasonably good job of steering clear of the inanity thrown at her by co-anchor, John "J-Pa" Knicely.  Honestly, who among us could prop this empty suit up through three newscasts a day and not become a drooling, babbling idiot? Not to mention putting up with all the idiotic consultant-driven gimmicks that keep creeping into the station's programming. Somehow, Madden has come through it relatively unscathed and displays a fairly low tolerance for the giggling antics of J-Pa, Giggly Jim Flowers, and gopher-voiced Ross Jernstrom. Give that woman a medal!

5. Mike McKnight. Yeah, the pun schtick has worn thin. But the guy actually does some real reporting and clearly puts thought and effort into his work. He's one of the last reporters of his generation still on the air in Omaha and he deserves a place as long as he wants one.

Aside from those five, everyone else deserves pink slips, because, unlike Channel 7 and even Channel 3, Channel Sux has done an embarrassingly bad job of developing talent. As one alert reader commented recently, "WOWT changes people once they've been on the air there for a while, and not for the better. . . . Something about how poorly that place does business just seems to eat away at them, killing them slowly. You don't get better there."

Evidence? Compare results.

KETV has reporters who often start out shaky but manage to develop into relatively competent personalities. And it's not like they truck talent in from all over the country. A surprising percentage of their roster includes high-performing natives of the area: Rob McCartney, Brandi Petersen, Melissa Fry, and Todd Andrews are the most notable of the current staff who hail from nearby. Someone is helping them improve, "coaching them up" to higher, more professional levels of performance.

By contrast, consider SuxNews's local "talent": Smollen has been at the station over 15 years and is no less boring today than when he started. Jodi Baker seems to have regressed since her arrival at Sux, developing an oddly-pitched on-air voice and stilted delivery. Brian Mastre's skills, if charted, would result in a flat line. And mousy, inarticulate Ann McIntire is beyond help. All of this is to say nothing of the station's penchant for clinging to dead wood like Chapman and J-Pa.

So, in addition to pink slipping most of the current staff (they're all either in too big a rut to change or lack the requisite talent altogether), those who are responsible for staff development at the Big Sux should also start packing up.


Andrew said...

I know you're not fond of Mallory Maddox. And, I see you give props to Tracy Madden. In my opinion, you have it backwards (but, it's your blog, you're entitled).

I hadn't noticed Mallory's mispronunciations until I started seeing you point them out in your blog. But, aside from that, I think she gives a reasonably professional delivery...clear, strong voice, professional style and writing.

I think she deserves Tracy's chair.

Tracy, on the other hand, while surely a very nice person, drives me batty. Her airy, breathless voice, her soft, cotton candy writing are bad enough. What takes me over the top is how she keeps turning to J-Pa so adoringly, like a little girl.

All co-anchors turn away from the camera to their on-air partner once in while. Most, however, do so while keeping a slight angle in the direction of the camera, and only when the other anchor is talking.

Tracy, however, flips her head all the way around, like it's spring loaded, full-on toward John, and (worst of all!) while she's still delivering a story!! Don't tell the news to J-Pa. "Hey Tracy, we're out here, look in the camera". It just seems so week and unprofessional.

Well, will all due respect, those are my personal reasons for preferring Mallory over Tracy.

Regardless, Channel Sux could do much better over all as a news organization, and we'll all be forced to soldier on.

I used to watch Sux on channel 4 because of the 24x7 repetition (rarely being home when the news if "live"). That is, until it dawned on me that I could TiVo the channel 7 news and watch it whenever I wanted. Haven't watched Sux regularly ever since.


Cogitor said...

@Andrew: I'd be kind of surprised if they write much of what they read, outside of the women's health features for Tracy and the scam beat now for Malorie. I like them both, though Mal needs some diction lessons like it's nobody's business. It would be nice if she could clean that up during her leave, and then stick to the prompter and not be drawn into WOWT's abortive version of happy talk.

Ted, I tend to agree with your assessments, but am inclined to give Mastre a little higher grade. And I know how you feel about Andrea Rich's countenance, but I think she does a good job on the air, save for a few too many suggestions about how people should use their time during her weather casts. In fact, the three "underlings" of WOWT's weather department are among the best on-air people they have...hands down.

Wade said...

I agree with Andrew...given the choice, I'd prefer Mallory over Tracy's airheaded syrupy delivery any day. As for Ann McIntire, she has a lot of experience yet to be built but she has made great strides in the last year or so. I'd give her the "most improved" award, but that may not be saying much.

Dumb Anguish said...

I agree that all three “non-chief” meteorologists at Channel 6 are pretty good. Especially Caitlin Roth and Rusty Lord. Andrea Rich is actually not too bad, as long as she doesn’t smile and creep me out with her nine million teeth.

I keep hoping for some sort of palace coup where the three overthrow Jim Flowers and he’s sent into exile on some South Pacific island where he’s forced to create animated graphics of ducks building snowmen for the rest of his life.

I have to agree about Tracy Madden too. She was really pretty awesome once. But, God love her, over the years they have slowly just sucked it right out of her. And now, sadly, she’s just one of the “Ten at Ten” Stepford Wives.

By the way, I really appreciate how the voice over man always introduces the news: “LIVE from Channel 6 studios”. It clears up a lot of confusion for people who think stations do their newscasts from the IHOP or something.

CLINT said...

I think Mal does better job reporting the news when she is alone than when that idiot is there.

Andrew, I agree with you 100% about Tracy. I just hate how she looks at him like he was God or something.

Damon Scott Hynes said...

Remember Christine Craft? Fired for not being 'deferential to men'? Even now, female anchors performance reviews are in part based on how often they exhibit BJ-eyes toward their male co-anchors.

Operation Seng said...

Did anyone catch the abortion of an 11:30 newscast on Sux this morning...? 1-28-11. Apparently they were having some troubles with their audio board, as there was a high pitched whine pealing through the entire broadcast. At one point it became so intense that I had to mute the audio. This was a great improvement over the inane nattering of Jim Side-Splitty. Suxers...please add the technical glitches to the newscast more often when this poor excuse for a newscaster is on. It might actually improve the ratings by keeping him silent...

Jack said...

Rusty Lord continues to fail to update his daily "Hour-to hour" by the 5 AM broadcast. He had the Friday 1/28 forecast up on MOnday morning 1/31. The Friday forecast was off by at least 5 degrees. What are they paying these weather people for? Doesn't anyone check they work before it is broadcast?

Cogitor said...

@Damon: Going along with your comment, I turned the channel over to WOWT last night just in time to hear Tracy (who does have beautiful eyes) say, "some people spit it out and some people swallow", and even though I believe it was a comment about wine-tasting, I think I fainted anyway.

Some Guy said...

I'm surprised no one is talking about Melissa Fry filling for Brandi Petersen.

Rich said...

@some guy
UMMM, she's hot

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