Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Andrews to run for General Assembly

WYOU news director Frank Andrews is running for a house seat in the General Assembly, reports The Times-Tribune. He was mulling the decision recently, and has already enlisted the help of the same consultants who worked on Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty's campaign.

Apparently, Andrews has yet to tell his staff of the decision, says one station insider. When that does happen, it's likely he will resign. Conflict of interest, you know? And that means Nexstar will be hunting for another news director in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton market. Or the company will tell WBRE acting news director Ron Krusulevicz to pull double duty. Ouch.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Where are they now?

Today, we feature former WBRE reporter Bianca Solorzano.

Like most WBRE reporters, Solorzano paid her two-year dues in Binghamton before heading down Interstate 81. But her stay in Wilkes-Barre was rather short. After a year, Solorzano headed to California, and spent four years reporting and anchoring for Sacramento's KCRA.

The networks came calling, and Solorzano was off to MSNBC in 2003. For two years, she anchored coverage of the war in Iraq and other international matters. She then jumped to CBS News as a freelance correspondent.

Where is she now? Solorzano is a correspondent for CBS Newspath, the network service that provides customized standups for affiliates.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Not everyone gets anthrax

WNEP's Talkback forums are a fun read, if only to see the pointless comments of "WOW GREAT STATION!!!!!!" or "Joe Snedeker is [YOUR OPINION GOES HERE]." But this post brought up an interesting point on news coverage.

The poster, "Jen," complained that WNEP didn't touch the story about the New York doctor who performed at Mansfield University, and was later diagnosed with anthrax. Mark Sowers, WNEP's webmaster, responded by asking if it was newsworthy "if a local man gets the flu, or gets the measles?"

You should know that anthrax can occur naturally, as it did in this case. The man got it from goat skin he imported from Africa. As such, there's no terrorist connection, which would explain why WNEP didn't touch it. Or, perhaps they already had a full news lineup that day, and didn't see why they should head outside of the market into Tioga County, which is covered by the Elmira stations.

It's a tough call, but I believe WNEP was wrong to not cover this story. Anthrax, be it from goat skin or a terrorist, is front page news for obvious reasons. This wasn't breaking news, but it was worth mentioning, and WNEP failed to do that.


Yes, the blog is still alive. Too bad it will take a week to have my new cable modem activated. Until then, Beale's Bites comes to you via my SLOW modem. Now then, to the content...

Reporters in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton are sometimes given a stipend for makeup. (Anchors get hair AND makeup. Yee haw.) It's not much, but it will at least provide the pancake makeup that's been the staple of every newsroom desk. Now, with HDTV, it looks like station GMs may have to up that stipend.

Well, that's what this cosmetics manufacturer is hoping. Kett Cosmetics is producing a line of makeup designed especially for use on HDTV. The pitch here is that HDTV will magnify any imperfection, and the old standby of pancake makeup won't cut it any more.

When I started out in this business, the only thing I worried about was learning from my mistakes and trying to pay my bills with my craptacular salary. I won't envy that fresh-out-of-school reporter who now has to add "COVER UP EVERY BLEMISH FOR HDTV" to their laundry list. Yes, when you're on television, you should look presentable. But instead of worrying about HDTV makeup, let's instead focus on making sure these new reporters can actually write a good story.

Network news operations (and the large market outfits) will probably go nuts over this makeup. Smaller markets, like Wilkes-Barre/Scranton? Probably not. Looks are fine and dandy, but viewers here tend to care more about seeing a familiar face than seeing a pretty face.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Mini Bites

The WBRE/WYOU channel switch on Service Electric was part of their retransmission fee deal with Nexstar Broadcasting. GM John Dittmeier thinks it's a good thing, since channels two and three "are subject to more interference" in picture quality. Too bad he didn't address the embarassment of WYOU being replaced with the freaking TV Guide channel.

WSWB is sounding optimistic about its future as a potential CW affiliate. You may know that the WB and UPN networks are merging this year, and affiliates are anxious to hear whether they'll be picked. GM John Cadman is hopeful, since there's no UPN affiliate in this market. Why the closed doors then?

The circumstances surrounding Paul Stueber's firing are still a mystery, but if the posted comments here are any indication, people either love or hate him. It's clear that Stueber has rubbed a few people the wrong way, but if you can show me a news director who never gets upset, then I'll eat my shoes. And if you have any new info about what happened, please e-mail me. Confidentiality assured!

Finally, I'm going to take a break this week. It's time to upgrade my computer to something that goes faster than a snail. Or maybe management discovered my identity! Oh no! I'll still be checking the comment queue to approve/reject things, and if anything important happens, I'll update the blog somehow.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Stueber fallout

("Where are they now?" will return next week.)

It appears an employee complaint led to WBRE's sudden decision to fire news director Paul Stueber yesterday. According to insiders, HR and corporate felt the complaint was serious enough to warrant the unceremonial "perp walk" out of the building. Employees were soon told of the decision.

Though Stueber was known to be abrasive at times, a lot of employees have defended him. "He did nothing out of malice," said one. And Rick Gevers, a talent agent, called him "one of the good guys in our business."

What's next for WBRE? Nexstar has pushed executive producer Ron Krisulevicz to acting news director, with WYOU news director Frank Andrews helping as well. Nobody knows how soon a new hire could be made.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Newsflash: Paul Stueber out at WBRE

Tipsters are reporting that WBRE news director Paul Stueber was fired today. According to one person:

"Around 3pm the HR person went into his office. At 3:10 she escorted him out of the building with his personal belongings in tow. No one is talking details. Must be pretty bad since WBRE is in the middle of sweeps and the olympics."

I'll have more details when it becomes available. If you know what's up, shoot me an e-mail.

UPDATE: According to a station employee, WBRE/WYOU GM John Dittmeier did not say why Stueber was let go. "I guess that means [he was] fired," the employee said.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Service Electric bumps WBRE/WYOU

No, the Nexstar duopoly hasn't been eliminated from the Service Electric lineup. But as a blog reader notes, the cable company has switched channels on them. WBRE, formerly on channel 3, is now on channel 13. WYOU, formerly on channel 2, is now on channel 12. And in their original slots are Philadelphia's KYW and WCAU.

A possible motive for this switch-a-roo? You may remember that Service Electric settled with Nexstar demands for retransmission fees earlier this year. It sounds like the cable company is sending Nexstar a message...

And if you're a Service Electric subscriber, you can catch up with Justin Pizzi, Dawn Timmeney, Jim Osman, and Stacey Weaver, all of whom left WBRE/WYOU in the past few years! So much for waiting for the Saturday "Where are they now?" posts!

Anyone watching?

Oh, to be Jason Knapp. The man is a big fan of the Winter Olympics, and being the sports anchor on the only station where you can watch the Olympics seems like icing on the cake. Too bad others don't share Knapp's enthusiasm.

As a matter of fact, the ratings show fewer people are watching the Olympics this year. Perhaps it's because of a lack of any big names or notable competition. Maybe the Olympics are no longer the draw they used to be. Or people were more interested in "American Idol" and "Desperate Housewives."

WBRE will keep promoting this year's Winter Olympics like it's the hottest thing this side of the Sun. And why not? NBC has the rights to the games, so WBRE will ride on the network's coattails and put up some pretty Olympic rings on the anchor desk. But nobody seems to care.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Staying affiliated?

UPN and WB affiliates across the U.S. will start negotiating with The CW this week. Marketing materials have already been mailed to affiliates that have a chance of staying affiliated. We may know, very soon, whether management at WSWB will stop closing their doors when this subject is brought up.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What's in the news?

Let's see what each station did for their 6 p.m. newscast today. If I missed any stories, let me know.

  • George Curry football ads
  • Luzerne County voting
  • Hazelton shooting
  • Park vandalism
  • West Pittston fire
  • Pocono Township fire
  • Wyoming County fire
  • I-80 traffic in Luzerne County
  • Child aafety seats
  • Downtown Scranton development
  • Obvious Valentine's Day story

  • Luzerne County voting
  • Lackawanna County voting
  • Winfield arsons
  • Pocono Township fire
  • Rt. 309 crash
  • Sugar Notch vandals
  • Guys who broke into cars
  • Stealing from Mom (Happy Valentine's Day!)

  • Downtown Scranton development
  • Lackawanna County voting
  • Some sort of study (I didn't catch all of it)
  • Montage Mountain naming rights
  • Rt. 309 crash + safety
  • Sugar Notch vandals

    As usual, WNEP packed the stories into their first block, with WBRE and WYOU doing longer stories. You had your usual mix of fires and crashes, but I was surprised to see only one station did anything on Valentine's Day. Then again, Valentine's Day stories are about as fresh as those "reporter gets tazered" stories.

    WYOU had a strong story to lead their newscast, especially since they are still the go-to station for Scranton news. WNEP buried it later in the newscast, and WBRE obviously didn't touch it.

    In all, just your standard everyday newscast for each station.
  • Sunday, February 12, 2006

    The changing face of weather forecasting

    In television's early days, weather forecasting was an easy job. You'd get the forecast from the National Weather Service, stand in front of a giant map, and point accordingly. Science took a back seat to personality, and with good reason. Any news director will tell you that weather is the primary reason why people watch local news. Nobody cared about the jargon; they just wanted to know if it would rain tomorrow.

    Science gradually made its way into weather forecasting throughout the 1980s. Gone was the "weatherman," in its place was the "meteorologist," someone with a degree in meteorology who knew the difference between cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds. The premise was still the same, though. You'd get the forecast from the National Weather Service (or AccuWeather), stand in front of a giant map, and point accordingly. But now you had moving graphics and an AMS seal!

    Today, weather forecasting has taken a somewhat unscientific turn. Local forecasters, like Kurt Aaron and Dave Skutnik, are expected to grab a microphone and cover stories once in a while. And in small markets, job postings for weather forecasters now mandate reporting duties. Meteorology degrees are no longer required for that coveted "meteorologist" title, as distance learning programs allow you to meet the minimum requirements for that AMS or NWA seal.

    One thing has remained constant in weather forecasting: personality is a must. People can easily turn to The Weather Channel for their forecast, which means the local weather forecaster needs a hook to pull the viewers in. For example, Vince Sweeney's dry wit has made him something of a legend in this market. And then you have the people who watch Joe Snedeker in the mornings, if only because they want to complain about him on WNEP's message boards thereafter.

    Saturday, February 11, 2006

    Where are they now?

    Today, we feature former WNEP reporter Tina Tenret.

    Tenret got her start in the business as an intern on NBC's "Today Show," where I'm sure she had the "pleasure" of dealing with news diva Katie Couric. After that, it was off to London, where she worked as a business writer for CNN. Upon her return to the States, Tenret went to Virginia and spent a few years as a radio and TV news reporter, picking up an AP award along the way. In 2001, she headed to WNEP as the station's Scranton reporter. Tenret left in 2003.

    Where is she now? Tenret is a reporter for WNCN-TV, an NBC owned-and-operated station in Raleigh, North Carolina.

    UPDATE: A reader notes that Tenret left WNCN last year, though her bio is still on the station's website.

    Thursday, February 09, 2006

    Mini Bites

    Many WB and UPN affiliates will be left in the cold when both networks merge into The CW this year. What about local WB affiliate WSWB? "Everytime this subject is brought up around the office, doors get closed," says one insider. As any reporter can tell you, when doors start getting slammed in people's faces, bad news isn't far behind.

    Former WYOU sports anchor John Nugent, the subject of a recent "Where are they now?" profile, is leaving WTSP in Tampa, Florida. Media gossip site Newsblues says his contract isn't being renewed. Did Nugent make that decision, or did management make it for him? Nobody knows.

    Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    Retransmission redux

    Remember when Nexstar Broadcasting was on a mission to get retransmission fees from every cable company where they had a presence? The company has announced the fruits of its whining labor: $48 million. That figure is spread out among the 150 cable companies, which means Nexstar got an average of $320,000 in fees and whatnot from each station.

    $48 million isn't going to put a dent in that half-billion dollar black hole in Nexstar's budget. But they've proved they can "convince" most cable companies to fork over the money, and when renewal time comes up, Nexstar will have another easy source of revenue.

    Monday, February 06, 2006

    Mr. Andrews goes to Harrisburg?

    WYOU news director Frank Andrews is considering politics as a new career. He's one of a few who are looking to run for state representative in the 113th district in Lackawanna County. Should he run, he would resign from WYOU.

    One would think this is an odd move. But in a country where actors have become presidents and professional wrestlers have become governors, you can't rule anything out in politics.

    The 113th also includes Moosic, where a certain ABC affiliate is based. Political vengeance, or am I just grabbing at straws again? (Go for door number two...)

    Sunday, February 05, 2006


    The Times Leader has claimed another questionable exclusive. As a blog reader points out, Saturday's "exclusive" on the downtown college bookstore was actually reported days earlier by Wilkes University's student newspaper, The Beacon. Apparently the Times Leader thinks "exclusive" means "We got to it before the Citizens' Voice did."

    Saturday, February 04, 2006

    Do not adjust your set, we are experiencing technical difficulties

    Blogger was acting up today, and every hosted blog was unavailable for a few hours. I think the outage may have zapped a comment or two here, so if yours was one of them, go ahead and resubmit it if you want.

    Where are they now?

    Today, we feature former WBRE/WYOU weather forecaster Mike Evans.

    Before he stepped in front of a camera, Evans started out in radio. He bounced around stations in Honesdale and State College as a DJ, program director, and whatever else came his way. In 1999, Evans became music director for Froggy 101, and was also a mid-day host.

    But the illustrious world of television beckoned, and he headed to WYOU as a weekend weather forecaster in 2001. He later popped up on WBRE. During this time, Evans was working as a news anchor and producer at WAEB-AM, a news/talk radio station in Allentown. Can you imagine the fun in working seven days a week? Evans didn't, and in 2005, he left WBRE/WYOU.

    Where is he now? Evans is still a news anchor and producer at WAEB. And he'll even promote "Sex and the City" for you.

    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    Happy sweeps!

    Today marks the start of sweeps month. From today until March 1st, television stations will bow to the mercy of the few, but mighty Nielsen families in this market. What sort of crazy hijinks will we see on the news this month? Tune in and see, because YOUR FAMILY MIGHT BE AT RISK!

    In other news, can someone explain why WBRE decided to do a story about a widely-circulated urban legend? Next on WBRE News: why Bill Gates won't pay you for those damn e-mails you keep forwarding.

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006


    If this survey is any indication, WNEP looks to be going the route of podcasting. It's just a fancy way of playing MP3s, but new media types are hyping this as the best thing since sliced bread. The questions about video iPods make me believe WNEP may offer newscasts or individual stories for download, so we'll wait and see.

    Audio podcasting is something radio stations do, so it's unusual for a television station to go that route. Perhaps WNEP's content will be health/consumer features, or stuff from "Pennsylvania Outdoor Life?" Either way, their podcast will probably be MUCH better than most of the news radio stations in this area.