Saturday, June 09, 2007

Time to play catch up!

Let's recap some of the exciting stuff that happened in my absence...

1. People got fired at WNEP

Back when WNEP was sold to Oak Hill, I predicted that some changes would be coming. And what do you know, they did, in the form of pink slips. The four who were canned were all behind-the-scenes people: operations manager Len Modzelesky, engineer Bob Schacht, assignment editor Mike Rudolf, and photographer Dan Harvey. Viewers would raise a stink if an on-air person got canned, but nobody really cares about the hard workers behind the camera. It's one of those sad facts of life under new ownership: your new bosses will find ways to save money, and if it doesn't mean smaller paychecks, it means none at all.

Meanwhile, a newspaper down in Virginia speculated that WNEP anchorman Mike Lewis might want to return to his old stomping grounds. Should that happen, I honestly don't think anyone would care. It's not that Lewis is terrible, it's just that people who were hot at WNEP tend to become nobodies when they leave the station. Look at what happened to Gary Essex.

2. Someone hand Perry Sook a parachute!

Talk about interesting; Nexstar Broadcasting is thinking about selling its TV stations! There must be something in the water that's causing everyone to sell TV stations like it's a freaking sale on hi-fi stereos at Crazy Eddie's. It's not like selling WBRE or WYOU would necessarily be a bad thing, as both stations don't do anything but exist. WBRE is stuck in the middle of the road, and while there's interest in WYOU's "Dialing for News" format, all eyes still shoot over to wNEP come news time.

Maybe a new owner is what both stations need. If anyone's willing to pump money into all the right things at WBRE and WYOU, like technology and staff, then I think WNEP could be given a real run for its money.


Yes, I know, it's a Rube Lomax column.

Either way, arbitration has made two former WYOU employees a lot richer. Photographer Stephen Yevchak and reporter Gabrielle Prutisto will share a $1.36 million arbitration judgement stemming from a car crash a while back. I don't know the details of the accident, but it kept Prutisto off the air for quite some time, even though her picture remained on WYOU's website. She thankfully seems to be doing better (I've been in car crashes, and they're not fun), as she's now jumped over to PR as one of those people at the state capitol who keep flooding my inbox with stupid press releases about how Democrats in Harrisburg are better than Republicans, and vice versa.

PR people usually wind up in my spam filters anyway.

4. Impersonating Don Imus gets idiot in trouble

Here's someone who makes Stephen Hawking look like Beavis or Butthead. As Don Imus faced a lot of heat for that whole "happy headed hos" comment, which ultimately cost him his job, a morning radio DJ in the Poconos decided to say the same phrase on-air, and even hold a contest about it. Not surprisingly, he lost his job, which proves that the clue train didn't stop at Gary Smith Junction that day.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been dying to say this somewhere. Just a day or two after Bob Schacht was fired "Talkback 16" online had multiple comments about problems with the signal, video and audio. When will new management EVER learn that the reason you pay people is because they know something valuable that YOU never think of?

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

New owners "...willing to pump money into all the right things at WBRE and WYOU, like technology and staff..."

As friggin' if!

You're not going to believe this. Hell, I'm not sure I believe what I'm about to say: it's not all Perry Sook's fault.

Over the last 25 years ALL the previous owners of 22 & 28 refused to put enough money into the stations to keep them competitive with WNEP. 16's owners during that time --the Shelburnes and the "Times"--made sure they pulled in front and stayed way out in front. Perry Sook didn't fiddle any more than the other "Neros" did while WBRE and WYOU burned to the ground.

Think if some new owner sank $15 or $20 million into manpower and equipment that "Channel 50" would be competitive in a week--a-month--a year? Think again. Both are too far gone. WNEP would have to work hard to fritter away the good will they built over the last 25 years.

Love Perry Sook or hate him (put me down for "hate"), he's smart enough not to throw money down a bottomless pit.

Maybe the old union members can chip in for a billboard that says "Please Watch Us Now."

1:13 PM  
Anonymous John said...

don't you mean he made Beavis & Butthead sound like Stephen Hawking (rather than vice versa)?

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you also meant Nappy headed hoes...

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anonymous on no owners in the past 25 years were willing to pump money into 22 or are wrong.

When Diversified bought then WDAU off the sisters, they pumped a lot of money into the station in the next ten years. At that time 22 had some momentum going for itself. Diversified increased the staff, built bureaus in Wilkes Barre and Williamsport….was the first station in the market with a satellite truck…started a 5:30 newscast….introduced medical reports and consumer reports…did live high school football games…reached out to communities with live newscasts…the list goes on and on and all of it cost big bucks. Did it pay off? Maybe not as well as it could have in the ratings, but the station did grow market shares, increase its billing and yes make money.

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope that the future owners
of WBRE have the good sense to bring back Vince Sweeney.

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About that list of Diversified's achievements:

INCREASED STAFF? But not to the staff level of WNEP.

BUILT BUREAUS? Following WNEP's 15-year lead.

FIRST WITH A SAT. TRUCK? Yeah, but they often rented it out instead of using it for local programming.

STARTED A 5:30 NEWS? Because no one was watching their 6:00.

MEDICAL AND CONSUMER REPORTING? How long did it take them to realize that Dr.
Steve Greenberg and "Action 16" were working on WNEP?

FOOTBALL? Years after WNEP.

Under GM Bill Christian (who worked for years at WNEP) WYOU was the ultimate 'NEP wannabe. Just too little, too late.

C'mon. There was a time when 22 reporters were under orders to follow WNEP reporters around and duplicate their interviews and standups.

Face it: if you're not the lead sled dog the view never changes.

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a lot wrong with WDAU when DC took it over...I think they were still shooting some film at the time.

While it may not have paid off...they did make a good run at 16 for a number of years...and make in roads into ratings...not just news...but afternoons and 7 to 8 pm...

The growth was happening...16 was losing market share, it might have been from a 60 to a 50...but sets were starting to change...

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:57 PM is more-or-less right: WYOU did make a half-hearted run at WNEP for awhile. But they did it as cheaply as they could, and when the owners realized what it would REALLY cost to catch up to 16, their commitment evaporated and their wallet closed.

WNEP ain't that great. They've never gone 200 miles an hour. But going 55 is good enough when your competition is determined to go 25.

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WYOU's brief run at WNEP was rather ill-advised, don't you think? First they would have had to catch and surpass WBRE. Stretching from third to first, completely passing second, is just a little ambitious. Actually, it's a fool's pursuit.

To keep records straight, WYOU has been third for a long, long time. However, there was a book or two in the late 80s/early 90s when they did manage to beat WBRE on the, I believe, 6:00 PM show. A few years later and WBRE came within a share point of beating WNEP at 11:00 for several books. Then Nexstar happened, and there went the neighborhood...literally. 1:13 PM has it nailed, both WBRE/WYOU are too far gone.

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two words that will save WBRE:

Vince Sweeney

10:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm afraid 2:29PM is repeating urban legend in writing, "A few years later and WBRE came within a share point of beating WNEP at 11:00 for several books."

Untrue. Never happened. WBRE hasn't been within ten share points of WBRE since the early 70s.

Now, Micah Johnson may have been ahead of his time--he'd have bailed out Paris Hilton so he could A) have her on the set, and B) try to date her--but even he couldn't ride NBC's "Must-See-TV" coattails to within spitting range of Channel 16.

7:12 AM  

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