Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Writing about television

If you worked in television, Saturday was always a big day. That's when (what is now) The Times-Tribune would print Rich Mates' weekly television column. It was the way to learn what was happening at each station; who was coming, and who was leaving. There would also be interesting features about current trends in broadcast journalism, and how it applied to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Mates was the right guy to pen the column. A former Scranton radio reporter, he knew most everyone in this market, and had good connections. You can have a look at some of his columns to see what I mean.

Sadly, complications from Parkinson's disease forced Mates to retire from The Times-Tribune earlier this year. His column was renamed Tube Talk, and was taken over by Geri Anne Kaikowski, a Citizens' Voice reporter. But as of late, there's been no updates. The most-recent Tube Talk from last month dealt with Paul Steuber's firing.

What happened? Did someone at Times-Shamrock decide to kill their television columns? If so, perhaps the Times Leader can pick up the ball. That is, if they can get over their police blotter obsession.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That woman has no clue. She doesn't report the comings and goings... hell, I doubt she could identify 1/2 the talent here. I use talent loosely. And that is the best picture of a columnist I've ever seen in my life. It's truely a snapshot of NEPA. Rich's column is missed, but it could have used just a little more depth. I'd take Rich any day of Gerry.

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must admit I miss the articles. I usually found out about my own station's comings and goings there first. Now the only (newspaper)place that I can get any tidbit of local industry info (and sometimes very incorrect info)is from that wretched Rube Lomax.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geri Ann has been at this awhile, and is still as green as when she started. She is spoon-fed everything and has no originality. When she tries to be clever or write like an insider, she always falls short.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Tom Carten said...

I was one of many people who wrote the CV's radio-tv column under the name "Bart Sommers." I probably had it the longest, as usually it was a wastebasket column, with everybody tossing in items they ran into. Later, when "Bart" retired, it split into "Tube Talk" and "Radio Days."

You need contacts in the stations who will feed you all the news and all the gossip. Then you shake out the hurtful gossip and print the rest; it makes for an interesting column. Make your writing spicy and readable; don't print station handouts in their entirety; keep items short.

Keep twitting the stations that are getting pompous. That makes it fun for everybody except the uppity station involved. As Bob Hope said (in Thanks For The Memories), "You may have been a headache, but you were never a bore."

"Hi there, boys and girls; this is your Uncle Bart. Hey, let's mess up the Arbitrons! Stick with your regular stations and don't fall for all those contests! They're trying to buy your votes and that's bad, boys and girls! Stay loyal and report honestly!"

Oh, I loved that one. A whole column about ratings boosting during the Arbs.

12:23 PM  
Anonymous John said...

I met Rich Mates in 1983. I was working at a different station though when I first heard him in 1982. It was a Saturday morning and he was doing reports on ABC Radio as their man-on-the-ground on the George Banks murders.

Rich is a good guy, knows all, has a pisser of a sense of humor and his column every Saturday was the first thing I looked for in the paper. I still get an IM a few times a week when he feels like bustin' some clackers. Good man, Rich.

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mates had his fair share of enemies, most of which he made the last five years or so, and most of them had legitimate reasons for not liking the guy. I know this is a lovefest for the man, but let's strike a balance here; lots of people did not like Rich Mates.

7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the post @ 7:16 p.m.--- Very well put. Thanks for saying what needed to be said and what everybody else was dancing around. Not everybody adored Mates, he had his favorites and was guided in his stories by some 'alliance' politics.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Times~Leader did have a TV columnist many years ago, but it fell by the wayside.

No one takes the Citizens Voice TV column seriously. It's obvious the writer has no idea what she's doing. It's all news releases and stories friendly to the News Alliance stations.

Rich Mates knew his stuff. Unfortunately, it was nothing anyone at home cared about. His column was under a cloud due to the News Alliance. I had the stones to write something vegative to WYOU one week. A puff piece followed the following week. It looked like someone got to Rich and told him to knock it off. Overall, and in spite of all that, he was the best of the bunch.

6:08 AM  
Anonymous John said...

"Mates had his fair share of enemies", meaning who, you? Fair share? How about a list? What a dumbass thing to say. Because he didn't send you or your ego-trip pals a weekly bouquet in ink he had enemies? And "alliance" politics? How disturbingly naive for a "journalist" to even feign surprise at publicly displayed loyalty to one's employer. Hey, maybe it sucks where you are but not everyone is allergic to talking about what's good about where they work.

7:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa, easy there, John. The vein in your forehead is sticking out.
While I don't know about any "enemies" Rich may have had, I was on the receiving end of his journalistic vindictiveness for not playing ball with him. Having said that, I don't think my judgement is too clouded to say that his final years were spent towing not the Shamrock line, but feeding the "Alliance" beast. Ther IS a difference.

8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was going to challenge that poster about using the word "enemies" but your remark about "ego-trip pals" startled me. Your rant against those who aren't all giddy and tingly about Rich Mates, those who disagree with your opinion of the man, is the very definition of an ego-trip.

Rich worked quid pro quo - a favor for a favor. Somewhere over the years, he forget his end of the bargain and stopped returning favors. A favor from him was typically a positive mention in his column. For a big favor, you might get an entire paragraph. He just stopped doing that. He burned me a few times. I stopped taking or returning his calls. In fact, I hung up on him at least two or three times, just my way of communicating contempt.

While saying he had enemies may be innacurate, it's completely accurate to say he didn't have a lot of friends.

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John may have been a little heavy on the gas there but I think he's right if he means that the "Alliance beast" is nothing more than a cross-promotional tool and yet some tend to think of it as "The Evil Empire". Except for being aligned with a newspaper which is now about to be shuttered and a radio station that is a poor fit for them, the opposing team is by default and of course obviously channel 16 and what's anybody there worried about? Hmm?

It's "toeing" the line but that only matters in print I suppose.

5:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The word "startled" came up in a comment above.

I'm startled. I'm startled that some of you TV types think anyone not directly involved with TV gave more than passing notice to what Rich Mates had to say about you in his column.

He could have said you all have horns on your head and drink like fish and guess what, no one's really all that interested.

He stopped returning favors? You know why? Because if you didn't have anything of interest to say on a regular basis, there were a dozen people in the same shop who did.

Get a grip. You're on TV in Scranton, PA. Realizing that you're the only ones who took Mates column to heart ought to startle you.

10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And being members of the News Alliance really has done wonders for the ratings at WBRE and WYOU.

6:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

***I'm startled that some of you TV types think anyone not directly involved with TV gave more than passing notice to what Rich Mates had to say about you in his column***

Okay, I'll buy that. But then you tell me, what was the point of his column in the first place? If it was written for us TV types, you're looking at a mighty small group of readers.

***Get a grip. You're on TV in Scranton, PA.***

Fine, now you get a grip, you're not on TV anywhere. Jealous?

1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point is not that no one else read it. The point is that almost no one else gave it a second thought after they read it save for those of you with an ego so fragile that no mention of you in the column triggered your passive-agressive war of words on Mates.

And how telling is that remark about "you're not on TV anywhere, jealous?" Well you don't really know if I am on TV anywhere, do you? And even if I weren't, I'm not sure how much jealousy I could muster pining to be on TV.

6:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rich's column ran on Saturdays, the least read day of the week. It was too inside and not viewer friendly. In other words, much ado about nothing.

7:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

***Well you don't really know if I am on TV anywhere, do you?***

Well, no, I do not. But since you used the term "you TV types," it somehow gave me this tiny clue that maybe you're not on TV. My guess is you're not.

And you can twist, turn, and spin Rich Mates all you like, one solid fact will continue to remain; more than a few people did not like the guy, at least not professionally.

That aside, I do agree with the poster who said his column was too inside, it was. My guess is that Mates always wanted to be respected broadcaster, yet had to settle for being one of those ink-stained wretches who could only write about broadcasters.

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well if I'd said "us TV types" that would be conceding the vanity and fragility of ego of which I accuse you. I'm long past those delusions.

Let's just say that you didn't like Mates because he wasn't impressed by your ilk. And that's the same reason that I did.

5:25 PM  

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