Saturday, July 29, 2006

Snedeker snubbed, people pissed

By now, you know that Joe Snedeker did not get his 30 seconds of fame on ABC's "Good Morning America," as originally planned. WNEP's resident weather clown, who is biking across the northeast to raise money for a Scranton hospital, was scheduled to appear on the show Friday morning to discuss his charity ride. No dice, though.

Predictably, the bored housewives and yammering morons on Talkback 16 got upset, and WNEP webmaster Mark Sowers even jumped in with contact information for "Good Morning America." Comments range from "I'LL NEVER WATCH GMA AGAIN OMG GO JOE" to "SHAME SHAME SHAME DISLOYALTY BLAH BLAH."

The funny thing about television news is that even the most well-laid-out plans will collapse at a moment's notice. Just ask any harried producer who had to re-stack their rundown because of a reporter's package not making it on time, or a problem with a live shot, or some major story that just happened. It can be for any reason. And while I didn't see "Good Morning America" yesterday - I'm not one for morning news/fluff programs - I'm sure there was a reason why Snedeker didn't get to expose his brand of humor to the American public.

As for the the people sending those frothing-at-the-mouth e-mails to ABC, save yourself a few keystrokes.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

TL trying to woo Times-Shamrock reporters?

NEPA Media was first to catch on to this interesting tag in a recent newsroom note from Times Leader editor Matt Golas...

We have a few more key newsroom reporting and editing openings. We’d love to give local, seasoned journalists a shot at working at the best newspaper in Northeast Pennsylvania. You know who we are talking about. Spice up your work life and give me a call.

(Emphasis mine)

Yes Matt, I believe we know who you are talking about.

Solorzano promoted

Former WBRE reporter Bianca Solorzano, a "Where Are They Now?" feature, has been bumped to the job of correspondent for CBS News. She was previously a reporter for CBS Newspath, the affiliate service that provides video, packages, and reporter stand-ups to CBS affiliates like WYOU.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Where have all the men gone?

Men are starting to become an extinct breed in television newsrooms everywhere. In their place, women, who are inching their way into most newsroom jobs. Chew on these numbers from the Radio-Television News Directors Association:

  • 55% of executive producers are women.
  • 56% of news writers are women.
  • 57% of anchors are women.
  • 58% of reporters are women.
  • 66% of producers are women.

    How about the numbers in this market? Let's take a look at the genders of the anchors and reporters. I'm purposely excluding weather and sports because, as the above article mentioned, both those jobs are still primarily male.

    WNEP: Nine of the 21 anchors and reporters are women.
    WBRE: Eight of the 14 anchors and reporters are women.
    WYOU: Three of the five anchors and reporters are women.

    Alright, why are men fleeing televisio news? From the article...

    "Many observers suggest that their departure reflects the transformation of TV news from a "glamour" business to a low-wage, no-growth field with limited career potential. With TV stations laboring under the same financial pressures as others in the mainstream media, men might be discouraged by television news and might be finding better opportunities elsewhere."

    Perhaps women have a gene that somehow protects them from the overwhelming shit in television news. Maybe you can come up with a better explanation.
  • Sunday, July 23, 2006

    What's in a name?

    There's an interesting thread on Radio-Info about the meanings behind the call letters of local radio and television stations. There is a rhyme and reason behind why a station chose its call letters. For example...

  • WBRE: Baltimore Radio and Engineering, the station's original owners.
  • WYOU: Working for YOU. Never heard this one, myself.
  • WNEP: North East Pennsylvania - or - We're North Eastern Pennsylvania.

    But given recent developments in this market, perhaps the following would be more appropriate...

  • WBRE: Bring Resumes, Eeverybody!
  • WYOU: What, You Operate Understaffed?
  • WNEP: Where Nobody's Ever Pleased.
  • Saturday, July 22, 2006

    Where are they now?

    Today, we feature former WNEP anchorman Nolan Johannes.

    Johannes didn't start in television's Stone Age, but you could say it was close enough. He started in the early 1960s as a reporter at WHEN-TV in Syracuse, New York, after graduating from college. After a few years, Johannes headed out towards Buffalo as a reporter/anchorman for WKBW, and also hosted "Dialing for Dollars."

    He would make his final stop right here in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, joining WNEP in 1982. And after 14 years, Johannes decided to retire, and left WNEP in 1996.

    Where is he now? OK, Johannes didn't really "leave." If you really love waking up EARLY to watch WNEP's Saturday morning newscasts, you can find him there doing a recap of the past week's top stories.

    WYOU format overhaul delayed?

    WYOU's new "Dialing for News" set has been delivered, but don't expect to see anything next month. According to a tipster, WYOU's "interactive" format may not be ready until October. Why? The set may be in, but Nexstar hasn't hired the extra reporters it needs. What's that saying about not biting off more than you can chew?

    And if the rumors are true, then WYOU may want to hire a fat Scottish engineer to compliment their "Dialing for News" set. A tipster reports the set looks like the Starship Enterprise. Beam those resumes up, Scotty!

    Thursday, July 20, 2006

    Dialing for News: Redux

    Rich Mates reports in Broadcasting & Cable that WYOU could have its revamped "interactive" newscast ready to go by next month. And while management isn't giving details on the call-in format you first read about here, it will be similar to "The Law and You," WYOU's monthly legal advice segment, where a lawyer answers viewer questions via e-mail.

    Other interesting things to note from the article:

  • WYOU's 6 p.m. newscast only gets 3% of viewers in the market. Ouch!
  • Diane Lee will stick around, so rumors of her demise are greatly least until management thinks otherwise.
  • News director Ron Krisulevicz promises a time-delay will be used on live calls. With Congress upping indecency fines, it's always a good idea.
  • Nexstar CEO Perry Sook uttered the inane phrase "Think outside of the box." Isn't that something overpaid consultants say as they systematically destroy a newsroom?

    While part of me is suspicious about what seems like a gimmicky format, I'll give credit to Krisulevicz and WYOU for taking a gutsy move. It's clear WYOU's current newscasts aren't cutting it. But management better be ready to throw its weight behind the new format and promote the hell out of it, unless they want Dialing for News to be dead in the water.
  • Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    TL: Bloodletting continues at WBRE

    Times Leader columnist Jerry Kellar takes aim at WBRE and its decision to fire Vince Sweeney and Jason Knapp. Comparisons are drawn to the 1999 resignations of WBRE sports anchors Jim Miller and Sid Michaels, and there's even a final jab against the largely useless NEPA News Alliance.

    Standing over a mess

    I wouldn't want to be in Ron Krisulevicz's shoes right now. Weeks after he was formally promoted to WBRE/WYOU news director, he's already got a big mess on his hands. Two respected high-profile employees have been fired from WBRE, and there's rumors that one more person could be canned. WYOU is even worse; the shoe-string staffing situation is at an all-time low, much like the ratings.

    And get this, WYOU is switching its newscast format. Tipsters say the station's newscasts will be akin to a call-in show. How will it work? The details are still being hammered out, but it seems like viewers will be able to call in and ask about stories of the day. "Dialing for News," perhaps? Those of you old enough to remember "Dialing for Dollars" can make your own jokes.

    As interesting as this format change is - and I'm willing to give it a chance - I'm reminded of Nexstar's past efforts to give its duopoly a fresh identity. No amount of stupid brands and slogans can change the fact that good news doesn't come cheap. One of the main reasons why WNEP is ahead is because they're not afraid to open their wallet and buy what's needed to make sure their news department does a good job.

    I know the Nexstar mentality is "do more with less," but when one of your stations in Market 54 has fewer reporters than a CBS affiliate in Market 208, it sends a message. Management should first worry about putting more reporters on the street to find stories, rather than letting Johnny No Teeth in Noxen play "Dialing for News."

    As for WBRE, I don't know what sort of "restructuring" is in store for the newsroom. And I don't know why management gave Vince Sweeney and Jason Knapp the heave-ho. But while you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette, maybe WBRE should think about the eggs they're breaking. The last thing any news director wants is low morale in a newsroom, and firing two veteran company men doesn't help.

    What will the future hold for our friends on South Franklin Street? Stay tuned...

    Saturday, July 15, 2006

    Where are they now?

    Today, we feature former WYOU weather forecaster Brian Monahan.

    Monahan started at WYOU around 2001 as an intern, and was hired two years later. He filled on weekends, and also shifted to WBRE as well. Between WBRE and WYOU, Monahan was also studying for a M.S. in meteorology from Penn State, and after receiving his degree, he left the Nexstar duopoly earlier this year.

    Where is he now? Monahan is now a weather forecaster for WINK-TV in Fort Myers, Florida.

    Friday, July 14, 2006

    TL plays catch-up on Sweeney firing

    The Times Leader follows up on what Beale's Bites first told you about: Vince Sweeney's been fired from WBRE. Oddly, the article doesn't mention that Jason Knapp was canned as well.

    UPDATE: Tom Carten points out the CV's Tube Talk column had news of this yesterday. I can't find Tube Talk on the CV's website anywhere! Do any of you know where it can be found?

    Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    UPDATE: WBRE fires Knapp, Sweeney

    Beale's Bites has learned that sports anchorman Jason Knapp (left) and weather forecaster Vince Sweeney (right) are out at WBRE. Tipsters report both men were fired Tuesday, due to "restructuring [in] the news department."

    Restructuring? Call me crazy, but it seems Nexstar shook the branches a bit too hard on South Franklin Street. After all, both Knapp and Sweeney had done their time at WBRE; Knapp started at WYOU in the 1990s, and Sweeney is one of the most-recognized personalities in local TV (Remember the "Vince said it would be like this" promos?).

    Knapp and Sweeney are the second and third people to get fired from WBRE so far. You may remember veteran news director Paul Stueber was fired earlier this year after an employee complained.

    Back in the market

    Beale's Bites has learned that WBRE/WYOU has hired a new executive producer to replace Ron Krisulevicz, who was promoted to news director. A tipster reports that Mark Craig Davis, whom you may remember from his time at WNEP, is the new second-in-command at the Nexstar duopoly. Stay tuned for more info...

    Saturday, July 08, 2006

    Where are they now?

    Today, we feature former WBRE weather forecaster Dr. Jon Nese.

    A Penn State graduate (with a Ph.D., no less), Nese split his time between teaching and television. He spent two years in small markets in Ohio, before coming to WBRE in 1995 as a fill-in forecaster. After three years, Nese left television for academia, moving to Philadelphia to head up the weather center at the Franklin Institute Science Museum.

    Where is he now? Nese is now a "storm analyst" for The Weather Channel.

    Friday, July 07, 2006

    Live from the supply closet

    Is it me, or is Diane Lee anchoring from the WYOU supply closet? Take a look at this picture I snapped from tonight's newscast...

    (The line is an artifact from my camera.)

    Let's see, we have what appears to be two desks behind her, a copy machine, a distracting TV monitor, and what looks like a board for employee memos. Throw in a water cooler and a snack machine, and you'll have the all-purpose WYOU news set/supply closet/employee break room!

    You'd think WYOU would learn something from its Nexstar twin when its new set was built a few years ago. WBRE moved its anchor desk to the newsroom, which provided a decent shot of producers and reporters in their cubicles, and someone manning the assignment desk. It showed activity, as if the newsroom was busy digging up that next juicy story. Just look at any cable news channel, and you'll see what I mean.

    WYOU's temporary digs? The only activity we'll see in the background is someone making copies of their resume!

    Thursday, July 06, 2006

    Thanks for the tech support

    This is Rachel Lindenmuth's last week as a WNEP reporter. So anchorman/resident blogger Andy Palumbo offers a nice send-off to Lindenmuth and her support? Seems she stayed around one night to help him learn WNEP's new computer system, which otherwise would have left him up the creek without a paddle.

    So where's Lindenmuth heading? All Palumbo will say is she's "moving on to other challenges" elsewhere. But wherever she goes, one thing is clear: every newsroom needs someone who understands computers. Seriously, I've worked with people who make Sen. Ted "an internet was sent by my staff" Stevens look like Steve Wozniak!

    Monday, July 03, 2006

    Shaking things up

    Now that he's officially in control, WBRE/WYOU news director Ron Krisulevicz appears to have big changes in mind...and the biggest of all involves WYOU's bottom-ranked newscasts. This job posting for an anchor calls for someone to work on WYOU's "soon-to-be reformatted, non-traditional evening newscasts."

    Non traditional? Reformatted? Whatever it is, it can't hurt. WYOU has been last place in this market for a very long time, and it's clear their current formula isn't cutting it. What's the worst that can happen? The big question here is how WYOU will change its newscasts. Shoot me an e-mail if you know what's going on.

    In related news, WBRE has a new job's called a "field meteorologist." The job posting calls for someone to forecast the weather from the station's Williamsport or Stroudsburg bureaus. Why? Unless this person is going to chase storms, I don't think anyone cares where the forecasting happens, as long as it's correct.

    Saturday, July 01, 2006

    WNEP wants you to know...

    So, did you hear that WNEP anchors Julie Sidoni and Scott Schaeffer are getting married? What, you didn't? Then you surely missed the exciting discussion on Talkback 16, where the chatterboxes begin speculating as soon as a viewer noticed Sidoni wearing an engagement ring. Eventually, someone pegged Schaeffer as the husband-to-be.

    I'm calling hypocrisy here, on both WNEP and webmaster/Talkback 16 moderator Mark Sowers. Why? Have a look at Talkback 16's FAQ (emphasis mine):

    Could you mention what former 16 personalities are now doing?

    Many former employees of WNEP-TV left because they no longer wanted to be in the public eye. Others left for personal reasons. WNEP-TV usually does not discuss what happened to them or where they went. We are trying to respect their privacy. We ask that you do the same.

    So, WNEP doesn't want you talking about what people like David Pingalore, Lisa Champeau, or Tina Tenret are doing nowadays. But, feel free to talk about the pending wedding of Julie Sidoni and Scott Schaeffer! I think WNEP wants you to know about their soon-to-be husband-and-wife anchor team.

    Lou Kirchen (Ed. Note: Kirchen is WNEP's general manager), if you're reading this blog, let me give you some free advice. Nobody cares. Just ask WBRE. They made a big fuss about Lyndall Stout's marriage, and look where that got them. Let's have some decency here, and keep Schaeffer and Sidoni's personal affairs off the airwaves.

    ("Where Are They Now?" will return next week.)