Wednesday, July 19, 2006

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...

55 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is the skinny on Vince: First it was a surprise to him. Second he was called into an office and told the station was going in another direction.
Third: To be "fair" to him he was being given a months notice. Vince said in a nice way SHOVE IT and left.

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say good luck to WYOU and the new format...
This day and age you can get news and sports anywhere... What WYOU plans to do (as explained to me by some folks) is a interesting experiment in local news...
It sounds like they are going to try to make an evening local newscast more like a morning newscast - more informational and news you can use...
Fox 29 in Philadelphia is a good example of this morning format... they do headlines and weather/traffic but then have many segements that aren't traditional news (today: one reporter was at Sesame Place and actually did one of the water slides live; they had a local judge in to talk about a verdict in a murder/rape case; had a doctor in to answer a viewer e-mail question).
Also look at NBC 10's "10" show... news type show that is informational...
So what it seems like WYOU might be trying to do is not a new idea in any way, shape or form... just the time slot they are trying to do it in is new...
If WYOU can make this kind of show work for an eveing broadcast, then good for them! They will be the future of broadcasting...

(and yes- Knapp and Sweeney getting canned does suck - but that is the buisness we are in... look at all the fired WYOU/WBRE talent who have gone on the bigger things - Dawn T - NBC 10; John Marshall - NYC; Molly Henneberg (sort of left on her own terms) - FOX news.. I'm sure you can name many others...

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I honestly believe we are seeing the beginning of the end of Nexstar doing news in this market. This is the last gasp. If these changes don't work, and they will not, that'll be Taps you hear playing off in the distance.

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe Howard should have applied for one of the open EP positions at ch. 50. Lots of ideas on how to fix everything. Don't talk it, walk it.

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howard -
Is there some reason you feel the need to pick on Noxen? There are some of us that live in the Noxen area that don't appreciate the sterotype.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here we go with another 28/22 thread. Let's state the obvious.

WYOU AND WBRE ARE BOTH A JOKE!!

They will never, I repeat, never be respectable news outlets in this market again. No good talent, no vision for news, no talented shooters, clowns for management. As Jerry K's column today says: THE PLACE IS A THREE RING CIRCUS!!!

Let's stop wasting our time on this post beating an already dead horse. WHO CARES?? NOBODY IS WATCHING THEM!!!

I will bet this time next year, when the "restructed news" is in full swing...there will not even be a slight bump in thier ratings.
Just like the Al Zobel big plan...HA HA A big bomb!!!
GO BLACK, GO BLACK, PLEASE!!!!

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is the bottom line on 22 and 28... They don't have to worry about ratings... They can't sell them. So, personalities who generate ratings are not needed..Get them yound and cheap! They'll make the same money with new kids as they will with Vince, Jason etc... It's a sad situation but it's reality... It's business plain and simple... News is not a priority and never will be... It's just another show....

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So 22 and 28 are about to reinvent TV news. Let's see, that's the 20th time for WBRE and the 15th time for WYOU, right?

Know why WNEP doesn't have to reinvent itself, why "Newswatch" hasn't changed much in thirty years?

Because they did it right the first time, locked up the audience, and have resisted change-for-change's sake.

16 has evolved and adapted and convinced viewers that they're the definiton of television news.

And here's the crazy part: WNEP doesn't do a particularly good job anymore. They're no longer as agressive or as innovative as they used to be. Most days, 16 just goes through the motions.

Guess the viewers think that's better than coinstant wheel spinning, though.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did someone say "morale?" HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. "Like a morgue" is a phrase I've heard repeatedly over the last week. No smiles, no laughs, just a lot of employees with that shit-scared look on their face, shit-scared that they're next.

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While it's easy to criticize the sorry state of affairs at Nexstar, let's remember WNEP used to be the joke of this market. The high and mighty WDAU and WBRE laughed when 16 tried new things. They laughed themselves right into poor ratings.

I thought 22 would dump news long ago and it's still going. One of my former news directors used to remind me that the underdog rarely defeats the #1 station, but the top station can give away its position with complacency. The quality at 16 isn't what it once was and management doesn't seem to care (notice?). If that kind of thinking goes on too long, the king can be overthrown.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Jason said...

Makes one (me as an outsider who doesn't work in the industry and just watches the local news) wonder how those in power get there, and who those in power answer to who think that their ideas are great and how they keep their jobs.

As far as being shit-scared and wondering if you're next, no wonder the station(s) are in the tank, everyone is too afraid to shit or go blind and the TV product shows.

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haven't they heard of demographics at Nexstar? CW is when you have a grey population with low economic indicators, innovation is frowned on. Hence, the high numbers at NEP and the unchanging format.

Hell, even when they went to the 7 & 10 pm slots, the show stayed true to the earlier version and in all reality, the 10 pm show is specifically for the grey hairs who can't catch the 11 pm and function the next day.

My point is- how can they expect success with a new format when you're dealing with a population that defines the word conservative.

I agree that YOU is fading fast with BRE hot on their heels. If I worked there, I'd be spending a lot more time on my resume and packing because the next empty cubicle is yours.

3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what's all the fuss... Nexstar is the owner , thay can do whatever they want...If you don't like it ..LEAVE..If you don't like their news..DON'T WATCH!!!!! It's life 101 deal with it!!!!!

3:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is America...The beauty of this country is...You don't have to work for people you don't like or respect. Employers can hire and fire anyone they want. It's called FREEDOM...

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IF WBRE was doing what they were doing in 97/98, and with the same team, numbers would be rock solid. Even into 99/00, still pretty darned good. From there forward, they were bound and determined to fix what wasn't broken(in fact, a textbook example of just that)and in the process destroyed the place.

Easy predictions; WYOU's crappy numbers will vaporize, WBRE's will fallen even lower than they are, and that in itself is remarkable.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...I honestly believe we are seeing the beginning of the end of Nexstar doing news in this market..."

I don't think so...in a way...for WYOU, yes, for WBRE, no. I think WBRE will always have news, but WYOU won't, if this new format doesn't work. Either this new format will help us, or it will bite us in the ass.

The real reason, that WNEP is number 1 in this area, is because people in this area don't like change, so they don't like changing the channel, no matter how many times Joe pisses them off.

I've seen many channels in my time, and I have to say, I'm not impress with 16. I'm not saying that because I work for 22/28, I'm saying that from a straight point of view...16 is not really that good. What they have to back them up is...MONEY! They are owned by the New York Times, so they have the money to do whatever they want.

Future for 22, could either be very dim, or could be bright, I hope bright, because I do enjoy 22.

Something I can see Nexstar doing within the coming months (maybe a year or two) is robotics! Watch out production, you’re next on the chopping block! Yes, we all know that Nexstar is cheap, but I would never be surprise about them getting robotics...think about it, they can get rid of several production people, and have someone run all 3 cameras...hmmm, like at 16...they have robotics...

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what's all the fuss... Nexstar is the owner , thay can do whatever they want...If you don't like it ..LEAVE..If you don't like their news..DON'T WATCH!!!!! It's life 101 deal with it!!!!!

3:28 PM


This is America...The beauty of this country is...You don't have to work for people you don't like or respect. Employers can hire and fire anyone they want. It's called FREEDOM...

3:33 PM



And I thought some know-it-all, malcontent said Perry doesn't post here. Prick!

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Replacing the camera operators with robotics would be a good idea, however with how little Nexstar pays these people it would take a very, very long time to make up the investment in robotics and we all know how Nexstar is looking for the get rich quick angle.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

*
4:17 said: Maybe Sweeney can spend more time on his hobby...drinking.

Maybe you can stay OT and not bring up personal issues, hiding behind the "anonymous" tag. Let Vince know who you are.

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "New York Times" is NOT the deep-pockets, altruistic "Big J for Journalism" outfit it’s painted to be: not when it comes to TV.

The NYT uses its broadcast division to funnel profits to its papers. When it come to "Show Me the Money" the Times knows the WNEP goose lays golden eggs.

And NYT executives are smart enough to protect their investment.
Spend money to make money.

But they're not always happy about it. Not too many years ago NYT broadcasting VP Tim Morrissey (himself a former 'NEP News Director) shocked a meeting of Channel 16 department heads by saying, in effect, "Why do we have to be SO dominant in news? We could spend less and make more and still be number one if you'd just cut some corners." His message was that if 16 would let up a bit, let 22 and 28 up off the canvas, it would be healthier for the bottom line.

Think WNEP got into the 7:00 p.m. news business because it sensed an audience need? Hardly. This market was already maxed out for news. But it's 16's way of proving its economic viability to the NYT: same staff, more news = more news profit.

Twenty years ago WNEP did half-hour newscasts at 6:30 a.m., Noon, 5:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. (2 1/2 hours each weekday) with a staff of 55.

Fast forward to 2006: twice as much news with a minimal staff increase. Good economic sense.

The last great broadcasters in the market were the Shelburne family.
When they bought poor little WNEP they upped the ante, and the Megargees and the Baltimores couldn't take the heat. The Shelburnes got out of the kitchen, too: but they sold out to the NYT, which knew (and knows) the price of eggs.

Nexstar's eggs were never that golden, and now tha goose is being cooked.

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW!!
It only took 5 posts to blame Zobel.
You losers!
That's why 28/22 sucks. All of you who work there.
If I were Nexstar, I'd dump the load of you and start all over.
It would be easy too, sans Union.
There are 4 people that work at WBRE worth keeping...and we know who they are.
The rest, like Mehalshick always used to say with the marbles in his mouth, "I could get a job in philly or pittsburgh If I wanted."
Really? Then let's see you try...let's see all of you.
Yah...right...with your skills, you'd all be laughed at with one look at the resume.
As for Sweeney, his salary was cut in half when he got moved to mornings...so this wasn't a money issue, morons. He wasn't liked and was sour grapes every single day.
Knapp - he has talked about bolting since 2002. It was time.

7:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

22/28 could linger around in 2nd and 3rd place for another 20 years and it wouldn't matter. You don't have to win, you just have to just survive. You can take all the talk of "they are circling the drain" that we've all heard for 10 years and shove it. They're not going to go away, no matter how much their existence annoys some people here.

8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can honestly say that the time I spent working at Nexstar was the most miserable time of my life.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yo, Giordan.

"Yah...right...with your skills, you'd all be laughed at with one look at the resume."

The only one who'd hire you was Al
Zobel. Did you apply for Executive Ass Kisser or did Al approach you?

Some career. From Mexstar (which you now defend)in market #54 to an also-ran in #85. And Al Zobel as your hetero life-mate. Ouch!

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"WOW!!
It only took 5 posts to blame Zobel.
You losers!"

Uh, I counted six.
Try one of the blue pills.

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're not alone

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Eggs Benedict Arnold said...

to the 7:29 p.m. poster aka A Loser: Hey Ron, welcome back! I thought you didn't post here? How's things in Cheese Land with Big Al? Leave WBRE and WYOU alone. You left the station. Nobody there liked you anyway. You do your thing and we'll do ours. Piss off asswipe.

By the way Perry..we know you're visiting this board from Texas. You're another worthless corporate stiff neck that go jump off a cliff for all I care. You're the reason why WBRE and WYOU are in the situation they are in now. You're a stain on the underwear of broadcasting.

12:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey 8:28pm...i know plenty of good people who are miserable at 16 as well. If you're looking for the perfect station, you're going to be looking for a long time.

1:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing beats good promotion. In the future, let's hope the people upstairs are better able to help the news department downstairs over at Nexstar. While viewers are able to say which TV talent rides a bike for kids and which two anchors are getting married, NO ONE seems to know more than two people who work for WBRE or WYOU. If the viewer has to ask, "who are those guys", why should they bother to watch?

People get their news from folks they know. So Andy and Hiller had better get out and help cut some ribbons or kick off 5-K walks for some cure or cause pretty soon, or the Nexstar identity crisis will surely continue despite the new formats.

Read to children, show up at a new business opening and stick around to meet people. Do something to promote yourselves.

Ask the reporters at WBRE... they will tell you. They arrive at a fire or accident scene, or some such news event, and NO ONE already there knows who these people are. No one watches because what they see are strangers.

This weather idea is a BAD IDEA. It sounds like reporters making observations. Heck, the viewer can do that. They can just look out the window. Just because they tune in for weather does not mean they want more of it. Nexstar should give them a second reason to watch, not more of the first. Six minutes of partly sunny and seventy degrees gets old real fast.

Find your identity, then promote it.

2:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the poster who said 22/28's problem is nobody ever knows who they are...

I couldn't disagree more. Most of the talent gets recognized wherever they go. However it usually sounds like this...

"Oh I watch you all the time on 16." "Uh, I work for WBRE." "Oh."

More people watch BRE and YOU than anyone knows - because 16 has done such an amazing job branding and never changing. People only know 16 and always think that's what they're watching.

I always get a kick out of the Talkback16 threads that talk about NBC or CBS programming that people think they're watching on 16 - like The Office.

Put Nielson People Meters in this market and it would tell a different story. 16 would still lead but it wouldn't be nearly as one-sided. Of course that would never happen since Nexstar bailed on Nielson.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, for clarification's sake, both Dawn T and John Marshall left of their own accord...neither one of them were fired.

9:29 AM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

So someone at WBRE says (not directly to me) there is a major change coming to the station on August 9.

Any Biters want to spill a bean or two??

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If viewers don't know Mehalshick and Hiller after 20 years, these boys have failed completely, they're not going to turn things around. Andy prides himself on his public appearances, Mark makes a few here and there. Put another way, neither of them can re-invent themselves after all these years.

Now, a brief history of then and now at WBRE, of how a once decent news operation fell from low to mid twenty shares, all the way down the chute to single digit shares, and all within four years.

Dawn T. was forced out, not fired - they told her they were going to demote her, predictably she quit on the spot, which was just what they wanted. When Sweeney was demoted, he dug in his heels, which wasn't what they wanted, they(meaning Zobel)thought he'd likewise resign. Next, it was Keith Martin's turn. The public outcry over Timmeney leaving and Sweeney's demotion made them think twice, and they delayed his dismissal. Then Keith outmaneuvered them by announcing PUBLICLY his desire to re-sign another contract, when they'd yet to offer him one. Brilliant move on his part. Sadly, the rumor was that his last contract cut his pay, he was not happy, he left ASAP, as most know. And all of this happened despite research clearly showing that these people were very well liked, even by non-viewers. And if that is Ron Giordan defending Zobel on this blog, he should be ashamed of himself. Ashamed of himself because of what Zobel did to his wife, and ashamed of himself for again working for Zobel. If it's not Ron, here's an apology in advance; if it is Ron, you do realize you are now as despicable as Zobel, right?

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, here ya go: this will be the roll-out of their new "weather from everywhere" format. WOWIE! Childishly, they've come to believe that if a little of something is good, more is better. Just like a nine year old with a bag of candy; if one piece is good, a couple dozen is better. Then you get sick, you heave your groceries, you learn a lesson. So, how do you suppose Hodell feels about all this? He's supposed to be their star evening meteo, who'll now be competing with several other meteos, who on most nights, will have nothing to offer! And the brilliance continues. Here's a name for you, a name suspected of being behind most of this, Chris Manson, Nexstar's newest corporate ND. Never met him, wouldn't know him if he were here and now. I'm guessing we all know that this will never work.

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You want history? I'll give you history. The best news was in the early 90's in Wilkes-Barre...Rich Noonan, Kevin Jordan and Mark Davis...All fight to get the story!!!! Those were the day's!
They were the most respected newsmen in NEPA back then!!!

3:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Rich Noonan, Kevin Jordan and Mark Davis"

And a bit before that, you could add one more name to the list - Bill Longworth, arguably the best reporter this market ever had. No argument on Jordan, none on Davis. I'll leave it at that. Those days will never be seen again in this market, and the two reasons are Nexstar and The NE PA News Alliance. There is no competition. Take a look at Kaikowski's column today - she handles Knapp's firing with one sentence, just like she did Sweeney's last week. Why? The News Alliance wouldn't approve of anything more. I've had at least half dozen people say they've written The CV's Op-Ed page over what happened, so far they have not printed a single one, nor will they.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to the 2:55 am and 9:24 am posts on how no one knows WBRE reporters. I saw Jill Konopka and recently Amy Bradley on the square for the farmers market and knew who they were and who they worked for. Now I saw some tall looking guy that had a WBRE shirt on and had no idea who he was. maybe that's what 22/28 needs to do - sex up their staff and only hire good looking women.

4:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the poster who mentioned people meters in this market. Believe it or not, before they dumped Neilson, Nexstar pushed for the people meters because they wanted real numbers. The problem is all stations in a market have to agree to it, and help pay for it, and WNEP didn't want to do it.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry... I did forget Bill Longworth...One of the BEST!

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meters in this market? Fabulous idea, one that will never, and would never, happen. The price tag, I believe, runs in excess of 200K per year, and Nexstar would never, NEVER, part with that amount of money. Seems to me that Sook was on record as saying no way, regardless of what WNEP's postition was, and his comment was totally based upon cash.

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andy Mehalshick would have been a much bigger star in this market if he stayed at WNEP. Anyone know why he left 28 for 16 and went back to 28? I've heard he got upset when 16 wouldn't let him report stories he couldn't prove.

10:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keith Martin had visions of running for office. The political powers-that-be knew that even if he couldn't win, he could draw many votes from the "favorite sons" of the smoke-filled backrooms. That's how he ended up being director of Homeland Security. I don't know about the behind-the-scenes contract stuff, I DO know he saw bigger things for himself. Perhaps it was a combination of the two.

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To POSTER 4:56pm...
There's nothing sexy about a reporter who can't dress and is banged up all over the place.

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember when WYOU had a Wilkes Barre Bureau and had two reporters working out of it, David Decomso and Kevin Jordan. Plus Melissa Becker worked out of it for a while

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And you want to know why WNEP doesn't want people meters? Because they are afraid that their ratings will not be as high as the books say they are!

Only if Nexstar would get back into the meters, the real truth will be told...

3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eventually, WNEP is going to have to get on board with the meter system because Nielsen is doing away with diaries.

4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Keith Martin had visions of running for office."

Now here's a poster who knows what they're talking about, this person has the story nailed, it's precisely what happened. My very strong belief, however, is this; Keith was not ready to leave the anchor desk, he only did so because he knew things would never get better under Nexstar's ownership, only worse. I'd say he made a very smart move.

6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andy Mehalshick...I've heard he got upset when 16 wouldn't let him report stories he couldn't prove.

10:05 PM


You're an asshole!

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember when WYOU had a Wilkes Barre Bureau and had two reporters working out of it, David Decomso and Kevin Jordan. Plus Melissa Becker worked out of it for a while

It's almost like I was there!!!!!

7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's true about Mehalshick and WNEP. Management in Moosic wouldn't let him get away with that "sources say..." stuff. He couldn't handle it, so it was back to the unattributable world of WBRE.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lots of true stuff.. lots of lies or just plain wrong and misinformed stuff.

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's true about Mehalshick and WNEP. Management in Moosic wouldn't let him get away with that "sources say..." stuff. He couldn't handle it, so it was back to the unattributable world of WBRE.

2:55 PM


Again, in more ways than one, you're an ASSHOLE!

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm an asshole from the word "go," but I'm also right. Look at the losers on staff at WNEP, and Mehalishick couldn't cut it there.

7:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let us all be patient and see what the November book holds for the folks at 50, especially the 28 side. My guess is that WBRE will see the worst numbers ever in the history of the station - a 1 or 2 point drop on their evening shows, pick one, would'nt surprise me. And that would put them within striking range of WYOU. Holy Christ, isn't that pitiful?

11:22 PM  

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