Friday, June 30, 2006

Flood redux

The flood's over, and many of you are already putting your bets on who had the best coverage. Guess I'll chime in too!

WNEP seemed to have all their bases covered, and stories like this one practically lend itself to the advantage of a helicopter. WBRE and WYOU also did great jobs, especially since they were right in the flood plain. At times, the Nexstar duopoly was even one-upping WNEP (flood press conferences vs. Good Morning America anyone?) in coverage. Given the situation, I think all three did a good job, though I think all three could have said "Screw you" to primetime programming and went wall-to-wall.

WNEP did have a major advantage, though: constant updates on their website. River levels, video, new stories, etc. What did our Nexstar twins have? The same crap-ass website with a story that said "Check back tomorrow for updated river levels." Check back TOMORROW? You're killing me here!

Of course, what good is TV and the Internet when you've lost power or your house is floating down the Susquehanna? That's where radio comes in, and for NEPA, WILK was the only option. Being the only news station in this part of the state, WILK pulled through with its coverage. And for those of you further south, WKOK also did a great job with updates on flood levels, road closings, and the like.

(Update: And for those of you in the Bloomsburg area, several blog readers tell me news/oldies station WHLM went wall-to-wall with coverage. I didn't get a chance to listen to it, but the reviews I've heard tell me WHLM did a good job, especially since Bloomsburg doesn't have a flood wall. Whaaaa?)

But as blog reader Tom Carten, one of the only people who signs his name here, pointed out, Wilkes-Barre forgot about WPUU, its own emergency radio station. That's right, if you tune your AM radios to 1620, you'll hear it broadcasting weather forecasts and trash-pickup schedules. Perhaps someone should have...oh, I don't know...USED IT?

Still, flooding like this brings out the best from even the most mediocre of news operations.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Evacuations ahoy

It's 1972 all over again in Wilkes-Barre, as authorities have ordered everyone to bug out because of the rising Susquehanna River. The Times Leader and the Citizens' Voice have both bugged out, while WBRE and WYOU are sticking it out at their South Franklin Street newsroom, which was flooded during the Agnes storm of '72.

By the way, be sure to fire off an e-mail if you're one of the journalists affected. How is your outfit coping with the evacuations? And did anyone remember to move Jack Scannella's film?

Stay safe out there. I'll hopefully have an update tomorrow.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Times Leader sold...

...and it wasn't to Times-Shamrock. The TL says it has been sold to former publisher Richard Connor. Expect a few orgasms columns from Dave Iseman and Matt Golas this week.

Update: And here comes WNEP with its coverage of the TL sale. I'm told WBRE's coverage consisted of Scott Lynett angrily shaking his fist at the TL.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Where are they now?

Today, we feature former WNEP reporter Lisa Champeau.

As is customary with reporters in this market, Champeau came here from Binghamton's WBNG. But unlike most reporters, she spent eight years there reporting, anchoring, and even doing some administrative errata. Champeau came to WNEP in late 2002 as its "Action 16" consumer reporter, replacing Stephanie Thornton.

But like her predecessor, Champeau's tenure as WNEP's consumer reporter was short. By mid-2003, she told station management she was heading out the door to be closer to her family. And the consumer beat was put back in the closet for another two years.

Where is she now? Chempeau is the PR director for Wayne Memorial Hospital in Honesdale.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Keeping television history from becoming history

When I saw WNEP's tribute to former anchorman John Glawe, one thing seemed odd: it was a bunch of still pictures of a guy who spent his life in front of a television camera. While WNEP did say that it never taped its "Dialing for Dollars" segments, I was surprised that WNEP didn't have some news footage of him to show. After all, he was an anchorman, right?

Turns out there's a reason. WNEP's film archive was destroyed by an employee. But the folks on Montage Mountain Road aren't the only ones without anything to show for its years of broadcasting. WBRE lost its archive in the 1972 floods. WYOU, on the other hand, has managed to keep a film archive dating back to the 1960s, and even the 1950s. Longtime WGBI-WDAU-WYOU photographer Jack Scannella (right) managed to save the old film and the accompanying scripts, thus saving years and years of local history.

What has become of WYOU's archive? Randy Williams, former production manager for the Nexstar duopoly, has talked about creating the "Jack Scannella Film Archive," but I don't know if anything has happened. The film is probably still in the basement down on South Franklin Street, dusty, forgotten, and an easy victim for another Agnes-style flood.

In today's era of digital technology, we often forget about the "old days," when photographers would develop and cut their film for broadcast. We don't remember when the pictures were black and white. We can't fathom news footage without natural sound in the background. And unless someone saves the last piece of local television history, we'll never get a chance to know.

What can be done? WYOU can do the right thing, and see to it that Jack Scannella's efforts don't end up as a pile of dust. Is cost an issue? I'm sure something could be worked out with one of the local colleges, who would surely have the ability to digitize those negatives and tapes.

But we cannot let this final piece of television history disappear. If it does, we will have lost irreplaceable pieces of history, from the people who reported the news, to the newsmakers and the people of the era. And if you care about this, there's no better time than now to contact the people in charge at WYOU.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Catching up

Well, I'm still here, so it looks like I've eluded management and my detractors! Anyway, in case you missed it...

  • Ron Krisulevicz is officially the news director at WBRE and WYOU. Of course, those of you who read Beale's Bites tend to find out about these things long before the newspapers. :)

  • Former WVIA-TV technology guru Mike Burnside is heading into publishing as the managing editor of a publication at Wilkes University. You might remember him as host of "" and as the derby-wearing auctioneer on WVIA's auction fundraisers.
  • Friday, June 16, 2006

    Some fun to kick off the weekend

    I'll be back on Tuesday. Either I'm taking a small vacation, or station management has outed me. Oh no! Comments will still be moderated though.

    Anyway, because we can all use a good laugh on Friday, I was forwarded this via e-mail (click for larger). Whoever created this did a good job!

    See you in three days!

    Former WNEP anchor dies

    Former WNEP anchorman John Glawe has died. While you may not remember his anchoring (after all, it was in the 1960s and 1970s), you might remember him best as a Dialing for Dollars host.

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    Al Zobel "not very connected to the whole blogging thing"

    Former WBRE news director Al Zobel has found an outlet to opine about various things. You can read his thoughts on "Behind the News," a blog at WKOW in Madison, Wisconsin, where he became news director in 2003.

    Don't expect anything too insightful though, as most of the posts are self-congratulatory about WKOW. Still, I commend Zobel for attempting to be somewhat transparent with his viewers.

    Monday, June 12, 2006

    A friendly public service announcement

    Today's broadcast journalism newcomers have it pretty rough. Journalism schools are cranking out more graduates than there are available jobs. And in some cases, you have more than 25 people competing for the same crappy one-man-band job up in Watertown, New York. What's an eager news newbie to do, to make sure they stand out?

    How about get taken advantage of? There are countless "resume tape services" listed in every industry publication, where you pay $500-$2000 to have the supposedly "perfect" resume tape created. You know, the one that will prick the news director's finger when he tries to hit the eject button on his VCR? And let's not forget about those agents who swoop up these young graduates even before they get a job that pays less than $22,000 a year.

    I'm sure there's some job seekers lurking around here, so let me give you a free piece of advice: SAVE YOUR MONEY. The best way to get a job is through an internship, hands down. You get experience and contacts that can help you down the road. Networking is the number one way that people find jobs in this line of work, especially those all-important first jobs.

    And your resume tape? Try to make one at your internship. Ask a reporter or a photog if they'd be willing to help you. More importantly, ask the news director what they want to see in a resume tape. Use their advice when you create your tape, and then have them critique it. By the way, please don't use a story involving a building fire. Every news director has seen these, and unless you've got a really freaking creative angle, you're going to bore the news director into ejecting your tape.

    The lesson? Those "professional" resume and agent services are no guarantee of a job. Hell, the people I see who take that route end up in the same crappy starter markets as the people who went the internship route. And since your first job is going to pay you a hilariously crappy wage, shouldn't you try to save your money?

    Saturday, June 10, 2006

    Where are they now?

    Today, we feature former WYOU weather forecaster Scott Hetsko.

    Like so many forecasters in this area, Hetsko started his career while he was wrapping up at Penn State. He came to WYOU as its weekend forecaster, and also threw in some reporting as well. Hetsko stuck around after graduation, but other things called, and by December 1999, he bid Wilkes-Barre/Scranton farewell.

    Where is he now? Hetsko is now the "chief meteorologist" at WROC in Rochester, New York.

    Friday, June 09, 2006

    Looking good, sounding good

    WNEP anchorman Mike Lewis decided to stop by Williamsport's WKSB-FM this morning to promote his newest CD. For those who don't know, Lewis has a side career as a musician. I've never heard the guy's stuff, but hey, we all need a hobby.

    A tipster wrote in to say that Lewis told DJ Gary Chrisman that he has to "shoulder" all the responsibility when Marisa Burke is off. But other tipsters offer conflicting reports, saying Lewis is more like the NEPA equivalent of Ron Burgundy...look good and read straight.

    But if I had Lewis' paycheck, hell, I'd read the Teleprompter and sing a song as well!

    Oprah eats dinner in Danville!

    Take a look at WNEP's after-the-fact coverage of a well-known talk show host eating dinner at a Danville restaurant. While it's not often that famous people make stops in our area, it's pretty sad that this constitutes a story. What's next, a live shot outside the McDonalds where Jack Palance gets his coffee?

    Grasping for news stories like this is one of the unfortunate side effects of adding more news programming to your schedule. When many stations are cutting or eliminating news, WNEP doing the opposite, and that's to be praised. But when do they cross the line from an informative and interesting newscast, to doing news just for the sake of it?

    Stories like "Oprah dines in Danville" are indicative of that problem. When there's not enough real news to cover, assignment editors and producers are forced to use stories that would not otherwise be a blip on the radar. When you've got a gaping hole in the rundown to fill, you shovel as quickly as you can.

    Wednesday, June 07, 2006

    Down to five

    With Phil Yacuboski's departure, WYOU is left with just five reporters. Well, perhaps that should be four: anchorwoman Diane Lee is basically stuck to her chair. Nexstar Broadcasting does not appear to be in a rush to fill Yacuboski's job either. With the company's "do more with less" attitude, I'm not surprised.

    Either way, a five-reporter newsroom is unheard of in markets like Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Consider this: WAGM, the CBS affiliate for Presque Isle, Maine (Market 208) also has five reporters. That's perfectly fine when your market is one county. But for a medium-sized market? You've got to be kidding me.

    Had there not been a merger with WBRE, WYOU would surely sink!

    (Keep in mind this does not include the sports and weather teams, which are separate from news.)

    Monday, June 05, 2006

    To catch a predator, again?

    Beale's Bites has learned that WBRE may do more of its "To Catch a Predator" stories, a localized version of the much-ballyhooed NBC Dateline sweeps series of the same name. Anonymous tipsters say anchorman Andy Mehalshick believes more arrests may be forthcoming.

    Did anyone tell WBRE that the May sweeps period is over?

    I'm sure Mehalshick and company are happy they aren't in Arizona. Perhaps you've heard of the recent state Supreme Court ruling there, which says charges can't be filed against someone lured into meeting a reporter who poses as a minor. So much for that sweeps idea.

    Saturday, June 03, 2006

    Times Leader boss to buy newspaper?

    The Wilkes-Barre newspaper war keeps getting more interesting! The Times Leader quotes an anonymous source as saying publisher Pat McHugh has submitted a bid to buy the TL, likely to keep it out of the hands of Times-Shamrock. The newspaper article says McHugh is either putting up his own money, or trying to drum up support.

    This will certainly put Times-Shamrock in an interesting situation. It's obvious that the Lynett family wants to go after the newspaper that spawned the competing (Shamrock-owned) Citizens' Voice, but could a last-minute deal from McHugh complicate matters?

    Where are they now?

    Today, we feature former WBRE reporter Julie Bidwell.

    Bidwell's two-year tenure at WBRE was nothing too spectacular. She came to the station around 1999-2000 as a reporter, making her way up from a smaller market in Virginia. After her contract was up, Bidwell made the huge jump to New York, working as a reporter/anchorwoman for Fox flagship WNYW.

    Here's where things really get interesting. First of all, Bidwell changed her name to Banderas, supposedly to give it a more-ethnic flavor. Bidwell/Banderas defended her choice, saying she did have Colombian lineage, and the name change was approved by WNYW management.

    And here's the kicker. If you believe the gossip, Bidwell/Banderas has a wild side. As in, there's certain pictures of her doing certain things in a WNYW live truck (I don't have those pictures, so don't ask). Management wasn't too happy about that, and fired her.

    Where is she now? Bidwell/Banderas is now a reporter for Fox News Channel.

    Friday, June 02, 2006

    Mini Bites

    Here's a few odds and ends from the tipsters out there...

  • Former WYOU/WNEP anchorwoman Jane Adonizio is now working for local Fox affiliate WOLF, likely in production. Makes sense, since Adonizio does own her own production company.

  • There's additional details to Wednesday's story about former WBRE desk editor Ali Stevens' return to WKOK. According to several tipsters, management decided to welcome Stevens back by giving WKOK anchorwoman/WQKX morning show co-host Sara Lauver the boot. CORRECTION: Lauver tells me the decision to leave was mutual, since she had already found another job.

  • So much for Tube Talk. It appears Geri Anne Kaikowski's weekly-turned-monthly-turned-whenever column is dead. I guess the Citizens' Voice is too busy with its plans to buy the Times Leader and give news editor Matt Golas the boot.

  • When former WBRE consumer reporter Elliot Weiler heads to St. Louis this month, he'll have odd company. Fox O&O KTVI has a feature reporter named Smash. Yep.

    If you know of anything interesting out there in your newsroom, you can send your anonymous tips to me. Confidentiality assured.