Monday, January 31, 2005

An Explanation

My apologies to people who wanted to post today...

I got wireless notification of a post to the blog at lunchtime and had someone temporarily take the comment section down. I have asked in my disclaimer that posters refrain from posting inappropriate comments and that they will be deleted at my discretion.

I'm going to chew on this as I bowl tonight... but for the purposes of this blog, I do need to draw the line between critique of something you see on air and accusations of behind the scenes behavior. This is not me taking sides with one side of the comment or the other, just taking necessary precautions.

Update: An anonymous poster left the following comments. It was in response to me pulling the plug on another anonymous comment regarding Jason Koma's departure from WHOI.

Your item on Jason Koma leaving HOI made it sound as though he was leaving on
his own. That is not the case. You owe it to your readers to put the item in a
proper and accurate perspective.
No, what I owe to my readers is to post what I know. Have people told me things. Absolutely. But not having been there, how am I any authority to put any of it into proper and accurate perspective. If Jason would like to post here, I would welcome him to do so.

The information posted about XXX's history of conflict with his co-workers
explains why Jason (and others before him) is moving on. It is unfair to
Jason not to include this history because it makes it appear as though Jason
decided to leave on his own when he did not. In the future, when you prepare to
post an item and you don't want any further context added to it, don't post it.
If you have a bone to pick with a co-worker or need a place to vent your frustration start your own blog. My disclaimer clearly states that this is not a place to air personal grievances with co-workers/competitors and inappropriate comments will be deleted at my discretion.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Moving On

Jason Koma is leaving WHOI. It looks like, from this post at Peoria Television Stations that Sunday was his last show.

I did post on the 8th that HOI was looking for a sports reporter/photographer. Not sure if they're moving Donnie Tillman to the weekend spot, although I saw him fill once (in with the past few months, I think) and he looked and sounded good.

Best of luck, Jason.

Be At Philly

Flipping around Sunday night. Caught the end of 25's show.

Out of a story about Tom Brady's high school alma mater, sending him a message by lining up kids on a football field and taking a picture from a helicoptor, Jenny Li says:

Why does it say "Be at Philly?"

Jeff or Marc (didn't catch which) points out it actually says "Beat Philly."

I laughed.

Props to Jenny for being able to share that with the viewers. Borders on self deprecating, but that's okay... nice way to make a connection with your viewers.

Why Do You Watch What You Watch?

I've actually learned a lot about this since leaving television news, but I'd like to pose the question to readers who don't work at any of the stations.

A recent post addresses current local news ratings, so my question is:

Why do you watch what you watch?


Why don't you watch either of the other stations?
What could one of the stations you don't watch do to gain you as a viewer?
What could the station you do watch do to send you to another station?

I know we have a lot more people reading than commenting, but I think those who work at the stations could benefit from your thoughts.

Home Team Wins

From Steve Tarter's column in the PJ Star

WEEK remains dominant in all local and national news time periods, said
WEEK General Manager Mark DeSantis. Still, there are signs of hope for 25
pursuers in the ratings competition.

WHOI-TV has moved into second place during the morning news block, sweeping past the mixed-up Mix on 31. Eddie Urish, by the way, has left his morning post at 31 for a job in commercial real estate in the Peoria area (with developer Gary Matthews).

Channel 19's afternoon and evening news would benefit from stronger
lead-in programs, said WHOI GM Dave Kuehn. WEEK's Dr. Phil and Oprah Winfrey
"juggernaut" continue to be a ratings monster wiping out all weekday competition
from 3 to 5 p.m. in this market, he said. Kuehn is hopeful that ABC
continues to develop shows like "Desperate Housewives" to boost evening audience

As for WMBD, the CBS affiliate has the strongest prime time numbers of any of the local networks while running as a strong No. 2 at 10 p.m.

The more things change...

Anchoring For Dummies - Scripts Are Not Props

I like unscripted live shots. The two best people in MARKET 117 at doing these don't do them much anymore: Brent Lonteen and my wife, Shannon. But if you're doing that kind of live shot, you're not depending on a script so it's not an issue.

When you're in the studio, either anchoring or reporting (stand in)... use your scripts, or at least have them ready!

Reporters: Don't roll them up. You're not trying to kill a fly. Teleprompters go down at the worst times and your viewers get short changed if it happens and you're not ready to continue.

Anchors: Scripts aren't just there for you smack down on to the table after a show. I know some people who don't "turn the page" until a few stories past where they are in the show. What's the point in having them? Draw a line after the last on camera sentence. Make marks that will help you pick things right back up should you lose your place in the prompter or it goes down.

Good Looks And Chemistry

Here's an article about news anchors from the Denver Post.

What Exactly Do You Say To The ER Nurse?

From Bill Flick's column in the Pantagraph

In Springfield, as part of a stunt before a music concert at the state
fairgrounds, an on-air radio personality was injured and treated for burns on
his rear end after something he'd "done 100 times (before) and never had any
trouble" backfired. He was shooting bottle rockets from his buttocks, of course.
This is the kind of creativity we're missing in local radio.

Greg And Yvonne

Thanks to whomever tipped me off to this tidbit in the Chicago Sun Times. Hey people, why not post who you are so I can give you credit?

Health Radio Network was founded last summer by three longtime Chicago
radio executives, Tom Disa, Darrel Peters and Rick Jakle, through north
suburban-based Independent Radio Services. WKKD has been airing the syndicated
health talk programming on weekends since September.

Overseeing the format switch and ongoing operation at WKKD will be Greg
Batton, the former WLS-AM (890) talk show host who recently became the network's director of special projects. Along with his wife, Yvonne Greer, Batton
doubles as co-host of "Hot Mamas," a show geared to helping women get in shape
physically, mentally and emotionally.

I used to love listening to Greg and Yvonne when they were on WMBD radio. I'd even call in... (in my real voice, as me, Bill - LOL).

There's also a writeup on former WHOI reporter Bob Arya's investigation that showed how easy it is to obtain authentic airline pilot uniforms.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Airwaves Lose Another Close One

The Airwaves lost Thursday night, 2-1 on another late goal. Better luck next week team!

Moving On

Eddie Urish, morning weather guy at WMBD will be moving on. Details at Jeff's Peoria Television Stations blog.

You Ain't On My (expletive deleted) Side

Every station has a slogan. Jeff's Peoria Television Stations blog points out that WHOI's has changed.

WMBD's is "Making a Difference For You" which I found amusing because WISN, where I started out pushed "Together, We're Making A Difference" although today they are "Live, Local, Latebreaking." WEEK's is Your Home Team, which is appropriate. My station in California was and continues to deliver "Coverage You Can Count On." If you travel much and watch the news, you'll start to notice that basically all news slogans are reused or reworked versions of the same five or six slogans that have been around since... they've been doing slogans.

But my favorite thought about all this comes from a viewer. This story was told to me by a friend who shoots in Vegas now and I don't remember a lot of the details. But if I recall correctly, he was at some sort of volatile situation and the slogan for one of the stations covering it was "On Your Side."

At some point, an angry woman blurted out "On Your Side? You ain't on my mother (expletive deleted) side!" Well, at least they were well branded.

Thanks For Reading

I'm taking a half day this morning. Didn't realize until the pizza guy pointed it out recently, that my license is expired. With the baby arriving, just haven't had a chance to take care of it. Here's to not getting pulled over on the way down!

Traffic to my blog has jumped from an average of about 40 hits a day to more than 100. I don't expect everyone to agree with my ramblings, but I hope you enjoy the effort and find it an interesting read.

Here's an update on what/who people are looking based on search engine hits:

  1. Market 117
  2. some form of my name
  3. Rebecca Somach
  4. Aimee Nuzzo
  5. Jessica D'Onofrio
  6. Peyton Manning - "Cut that meat!"

Sorry, Jonathan.

I will get back to the breakdown of Wednesday's coverage this weekend. If there's anything else you'd like to see here, please let me know.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

"I'm Not Here.. To Make Friends"

People from "back in the day" at WMBD might remember that quote. A couple new reporters were hired about six months after I was. Having struggled being the "new guy" I offered to take them to lunch. Over lunch I told them about the area, how we had such good photographers, that there were lots of people our age and that I've made some great friends (many I'm still fairly close with today). One of the reporters proceeds to tell me "I'm not here... to make friends."


I'm not saying you have to like everyone you work with, but to me the friendships were the best part of my time at 31 and I think many who work in TV have had a similar experience. Think about it. You're in your early to mid 20's. You don't make a lot of money, but don't have a lot of responsibility. You're away from home, but out of college. It's a great time and you're all in the same boat. My point is if you're here for just a year or two... enjoy the experience and embrace the people (you don't actually have to hug them).

When people move on, you've got friends all over the country... to hang with, crash with or to keep you posted of openings. There are consultants who will tell you "news is about people." For me, it was... it was about the people I worked with and competed with.

And now... writing this... I feel like Doogie Houser.

Live Shots For Dummies - To Script Or Not To Script Questions

Do you ever watch a reporter do a story, end it, then an anchor asks him or her a question? In this market, it is often times scripted. In the prompter. That's why if the question is too long or clunky it sounds stilted when asked. Worse yet, the answer is in the prompter.

There are lots of reasons for doing this... anchor interaction, giving the reporter credibility etc... all stuff consultants like to push and there's a place for this. Unfortunately, in many cases it comes off as robotic. What's also unfortunate is that sometimes reporters are forced to leave stuff out of their story and turn it into a question/answer, but unchecked, it becomes something obvious that should have been in the story in the first place.

When I moved to Monterey, I'd end a live shot and the anchor there, Dan Green, would just ask me a question. Related to the story, yes, but a question I didn't know was coming. I thought, "What the heck (I wasn't thinking heck, but I'm trying to keep my blog clean) is he doing?"

But after a week I realized how good this was for me. He was asking me something I should know if I covered the story well that day. He was making me think on my feet. He was asking a question he just felt like asking, one that a viewer might ask if they could... one that might give the story a little something extra and he made me give an answer that I had to formulate in my mind in an instant.

The resume tape I had when I left was stronger because of this. When he'd do this with a lighter story, my sense of humor came to the surface and I knew I hit a home run so to speak, when my spontaneous answer got a good laugh out of him or his co-anchor Erin. It wasn't always perfect by any means, but a good exercise nonetheless.

We saw some unscripted Q & A from Gina tonight, but we don't see a lot of it as a whole in MARKET 117. I'd like to see more. I know there's some thought to not doing it when you don't think a reporter can handle it, but some people teach kids to swim by throwing them in the pool. Sink or swim, right?

Thanks, Dan.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

By The Way

Glad to see Jeff filling in for Lee at 10... get better, Lee!

Peoria TV News Project - 1/26

Bear with me folks... I had wanted to do this in depth, but more important "daddy" duties called. I'll get to the details tomorrow. Tonight, I'll go through "A block" rundowns and hit the highlights. Let me start by stating that all three stations did a great job of covering two major news events in Market 117.

UPDATE: The way I want to do this is going to take a little more time and I've got soccer/big TV night tomorrow. I'll get to this as soon as I can and explain the terms for our non-TV readers.

Editor's note: this blog is about the coverage itself. Situations like the ones covered today are horrible and I'm sure if it were my child in that school, I would have been just as emotional as many of the people you saw on television today.

OPEN SOT - Paul - excellent, parent on cell phone, kid describing gun, parent confronting administrator
LIVE VOSOT (2 bites) - Josh - arrest
VOSOT - Jen - excellent, talked to Bright's attorney before arrest
VOSOT - Jen - Erving inquest SOT from coroner
NEWSROOM PKG - Brock - student reaction to Woodruff shooting
VOSOT (2 bites) - Paul - good, parents and cell phones,
READER - Paul - recaps 15 year old in custody, also a special ed student?
GRAPHICS - Paul - good, add perspective with school shooting statistics
VO - Jen - Abuse victims get money from Kroger

I thought the HOI show open was excellent. It had all the elements of the shooting and it really pulled you in. I really liked that they had sound from Bright's attorney. I think HOI was the only station to talk about how communication was cut off between parents and students. Graphics towards the end of the block also offered good perspective on the situation. Maybe could have saved the Kroger story for later.

MONITOR VOSOT - Jeff - good, arrest, solid delivery, reaction from Neal's mother without SOT
VOSOT - Mac - Erving inquest, technical problems, no SOT (it seemed like there should have been one
WALL VOSOT (2 bites) - Denise - police at home, SOT from neighbors
NEWSROOM PKG - Susanna - intro/tag needed work - PKG itself was excellent - great bites from parents and students
At this point, Mac teases Gina at meeting... was live shot supposed to go here?
PKG - Jenny - excellent sidebar story on metal detectors and district policy, SOT from board member in 2002
LIVE - Gina at school board meeting - technical problems, no audio, went back to her at start of "B" block... only station live at the meeting, good stuff from Gina

Technical problems derailed this "A block." WEEK had the most reporter presence with five during the 6:00. The two packages were excellent. The natural sound made Susanna's piece the most compelling... had all the emotion while it was happening. Jenny's side bar was the perfect complement. Parents were more calm, talking about metal detectors and school board member saying metal detectors send wrong message was from 2002... whoever found that... great digging, great historical perspective!

LIVE VOSOT - Liza - excellent, very strong delivery
VO - Bob - Erving inquest
VO (setup) - Amy - good, nuts and bolts of shooting
LIVE PKG - Stephanie - intro/tag redundant, PKG itself very good, wrote to video several times
VOSOT - Amy - district 150 policy, sot from District 150 police
VO - Bob - Phillip Johnson death
VO - Bob - truck accident
VO - Amy - Abuse victims get money from Kroger
VO - Amy - East Peoria special ed story

Solid show from WMBD. I thought Liza was excellent live, especially since it's so freaking cold out. She didn't look at notes once on camera and teased what's coming up at 10. I like when producers use VO setups to get nuts and bolts out of the way. Good producing. Stephanie's package was also very good. Her script matched up to her video of cell phones, emotions running high, lockdown. Transition was tough to lower half of block.

TV News Project - Peoria Starts Early

At Shannon's encouragement, TV News Project - Peoria will start tonight as this is one of the bigger news days we've seen in MARKET 117 in quite a while.

Look for updates breaking down local 6PM TV news coverage after the 10PM newscasts.

Academy Award Nominations

The 2004 Academy Award Nominations came out today. You'd be suprised just how much goes into getting movies nominated. Trust me. I lived it one year and let me tell you the Weinstein's and the team they have developing strategy are geniuses. This article is from a few years later. I've got the nitty gritty, but not sure I want to share.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

I'm Tired Of These Guys

I'm tired of Lee Ranson and Mac doing the travel commercials. I want to see Bev! I want her to say "join me and my husband Lee..."

Or how about Mary getting some face time. Enough of these guys.

(For those who don't get my sense of humor, this was meant to be funny... Bev and Mary are sweet women, but most viewers only know them by name from the travel commercials.)

PS: I would be more than happy to host a family trip to Disney with "my wife Shannon." Hey, my blog... my shameless plug.

Anchoring For Dummies - Listening

Whether you anchor regularly or just fill in, here's something to think about: listen.

Listen to the package that's running. Listen to the soundbite. Listen to your co-anchor, the weather person, the sports person. Try looking at them too. This is important for a number of reasons. You're sitting next to these people. If you were sitting at the kitchen table and someone was talking, you'd be listening, right? You'd make some eye contact too.

This is good for the people talking because now, they're not just relating to the camera, they're talking to you too. This will impact how they deliver.

If you're listening, you're going to avoid a disconnect between something you read with your co-anchor. Let's say there are a couple of weather stories in a row using the word "weather", for example, in the script. Start watching/listening closely for how often the second anchor says "weather" like it wasn't connected to the previous story ("weather" is just an example, this can apply to any well blocked "like" stories). That's not listening.

Also, if you're listening to how your co-anchor finishes , you'll know how to transition into your lead and you'll avoid crutches.

Listen to soundbites. Your tone will (should) naturally complement theirs when you start reading.

Listen to the package. There's time for chit chat after the show. How often do you see awkward cross talk out of a package? Probably a product of goofing around while it was going. Or bad cross talk out of one anchor reading a vo or vosot? If you're listening to what they're saying you're better prepared to react to anything they add.

Yes, anchoring is about reading from the prompter, but listening brings a certain amount of harmony to a news set.

Illinois vs. Wisconsin

This game is awesome, baby. Sorry. Couldn't resist. It is pretty amazing. It's like watching one of the fight sequences from Rocky where all hey do is punch and punch and punch.

Even though I'm from Wisconsin, I'm not torn. I started following Illinois closely after occasionally covering the Manual kids who went on to Champaign. Plus, my wife's an alum.

This year's team is so unselfish. Hope they take notice that its on the defensive end that they can set themselves apart. Their early season dominance had a lot to do with the defense they were playing.

Vitale actually grates on me. I understand he's a fan of college hoops, but it's like the boy who cried wolf. Everything is the greatest thing ever. This Erin Andrews is solid (by the way, check out how happy the guy in the linked picture is). Not a huge fan of her voice, but she's got a great look, she's very confident and very credible. I'm jealous... she's got the best seat in the house tonight.

Airwaves Lose At The Buzzer

The Airwaves went lost 3-2 this evening. Our opponents were up 2-0 when WEEK's Dave Romero made a great run and scored to make it 2-1. I scored with 4 minutes left and thought we could come all the way back, but it wasn't to be. They scored on a scramble in front of the goal with four seconds left. Great game, everyone!

Drew Barrymore Was On Conan Tonight

Bill, I hope you were watching.

Monday, January 24, 2005

TV News Project - Peoria

Despite leaving for greener pastures, I am still the biggest cheerleader for TV news in this market. I really enjoy seeing people get experience and growing as storytellers. If they stay great. As a viewer it means there's another reporter to have confidence in. If they leave, which most do, that's great too. This is a terrific place to learn the ropes and there are lots of good people to learn from.

Something I always wanted was for someone to compare the coverage of the three stations during sweeps... when each was putting forth its best effort. Now that I've got this blog, I've decided to do it myself.

So here's the deal. I'll pick some random days during sweeps and do a comparison of the three stations. I'll break down all three 10PM newscasts based on topics covered, story count, local coverage and other criteria, in a scaled down version of's TV news project from a couple of years back. I know when I was working at 25 and 31, people always wanted feedback. I look at this as my chance to contribute.

Just for reference... the point of this is not to make anybody feel bad. The point is for viewers and people who work in the market to see what all three stations are doing well and what they struggle with. The goal is to take away ways to improve, see what you can learn from the competition and celebrate when a job is well done. If you work in this market and can only see this as criticism, please look up the term "self awareness."

The plan is to have a "fair and balanced" (please don't sue me FOX) look at how stations are handling the show of record in this market. If you have any suggestions for what you'd like to see in such a comparison, please comment.

P.S. I don't have time or energy to do every night of sweeps, so please don't suggest that.

I Don't Miss The Hours

While waiting in line for food today, a very nice lady asked me "do you miss it?" "It" being television. I told her, "I don't miss the hours."

On occasion, I do miss the front row seat, the storytelling and the sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. But here's the thing:

Every day, when I come home from work, I go through the garage and into the kitchen, and no matter where he is in the house, an amazing little boy hears the door shut and he screams “Daddy!” I hear his little foot steps in a full out sprint to greet me in person. Before he even turns the corner into the kitchen, I hear another little voice. It belongs to my sweet little girl and she screams “Daddy!” and you can hear her footsteps, not as fast, but just as determined. And they run towards me, as if I’ve been gone on a trip for weeks, but really it’s only been since that morning. And I get hugs and kisses from two people whose love is unconditional... who don’t care what daddy does, just that he’s home. And every night I get to tuck them into bed and tell them good night and hear it back in these quiet, tired little voices. It melts my heart.

These are things I couldn't do if I didn't get home until 11. And these are the things I am determined not to miss.

Happy Birthday To Two Special People

This is a little off topic, but not totally. Hey, it's my blog, right?

Took my father-in-law to dinner tonight to celebrate his 59th birthday. Looking back, it's funny because when I first met him, I was cub reporter and he was Mayor of Pekin. I was doing a story on TIF districts and needed sound from the city. He was busy with a bunch of things that afternoon, but suggested I come to his house and he could do an interview before his family sat down to dinner. I liked him right away. Very personable, very gracious and a great soundbite to boot. Funny, I didn't even know he had a daughter about my age.

Dave is a pretty amazing guy. Sharp as a tack. Can fix anything. And the way he fought through cancer was an inspiration to many. I was disappointed of course when he lost the last election, but it has turned out to be a blessing for me, as my family and I have been able to spend more time with him.

My father-in-law just happens to share a birthday with one of my best friends, Nikki. While in college, she and I pushed each other and helped bring out the other's best. When I left Milwaukee, it turned out to be a blessing for her as she got the reporting job. She was a better reporter anyway.

When I moved to Peoria, she was anchoring weekends in Champaign. As I didn't know anyone when I moved here, it helped keep me sane to have her close by. She ended up working in Chicago, San Francisco and Phoenix. We traded e-mails today... its kind of funny that ten years out of school, two of the most driven people in our class are both married, both have kids and both out of television.

"24" Update

Wow. I paid for the whole seat, but I only used the edge. Great scene showing the terrorist father and defense secretary and how they had such similar relationships with their sons.

If you watch, could someone fill me in on what the deal is with Audrey's husband. They took the one shot that made him look menacing as if to foreshadow a future plot line.

Oldies Rule

From Steve Tarter's column in the PJ Star

The three stations - WPBG-FM Big Oldies 93.3, WMBD-AM 1470 and WSWT-FM Lite Rock 107 - finished 1-2-3 in the latest Arbitron ratings of Peoria-area radio listeners. All three stations are owned by the JMP Radio Group. For Big Oldies, it was a repeat performance atop the Peoria market. The station drew 9.9 percent of the total radio audience in the fall ratings period. The oldies station led all others last spring with a 9.1 rating.

The station making the biggest move between ratings books was news/talk WMBD, which went from 8.1 percent in the spring to 9.4 in the latest survey. JMP General Manager Mike Wild credited several station moves for WMBD's success. He said the decision to run Rush Limbaugh's popular syndicated show live from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. instead of tape-delaying the program was paying off.

"We had to move a successful noon farm show to do that, but we were losing listeners to (Chicago's) WLS who were running Rush live," Wild said. A local talk show featuring Jamie Markley and the Journal Star's Phil Luciano, introduced in the 4 to 6 p.m. slot last year, helped bring new listeners to WMBD, he said.

I've been listening to Markley and Luciano for a while now. Don't agree with everything they're saying, but I enjoy it. Although early on, I had trouble distinguishing their voices.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Where Are They Now - WHOI

Here's part three of "Where Are They Now." Part one was on former WMBDers with part two covering former WEEKers. For all three lists, I've started with on camera people who were here during my two stints. I know there are many others before my time.

This is a list of people who were at WHOI while I was at WMBD/WEEK and in between (I'm sure there are others I'm just overlooking or were here while I was in Monterey). Many I got to know socially... others I never met, just saw them like any other viewer. This list is in no way exhaustive, as I have not yet included those who are shooters, producers, managers or directors. If you know can add to this list or the others please do so.

Ivra Bassett - Silverback Marketing - updated 1/26
Staci Bivens - last seen at KSN (Wichita, KS) - updated 1/26
Todd Blackinton - KPVI (Pocatello, ID) - updated 2/6
Josh Brogadir - WNEP (Scranton, PA) - updated 1/27
Kim Carollo - ???
Blake Chenault - WOIO (Cleveland, OH) - updated 1/26
Tracie Collier - Tracie Wells & Co. - updated 1/26
Brendan Conway - WISN (Milwaukee, WI)
Mike Costa - last seen in Toledo, OH
Dale Deskis - ???
Jessica D’Onofrio - WKMG (Orlando, FL)
Lourdes Duarte - WGN (Chicago, IL) - updated 1/26
Aimee Fuller - Cornerstone Jewelry Designs - updated 1/26
Jessica Gellady - Pediatric Nurse, (Jacksonville FL) - updated 1/26
Doug Higgins - WLUK (Green Bay, WI)
Mark Joseph - KTVQ (Billings, Montana)
Michael Kelting – KRON (San Francisco, CA) - updated 1/26
Jason Koma - WOUB (Athens, OH) - updated 1/26
Monica Landeros - WLUK (Green Bay, WI) - updated 1/26
Claudia Lane - ???
Jamie LaReau - Automotive News - updated 1/26
Lisa Manna – WTMJ (Milwaukee, WI) - updated 1/26
Karen May - WTKR (Richmond, VA) - updated 1/26
Jake Miller – WITI (Milwaukee,WI) - updated 1/2/09
Steve Nicoles KCRG (Cedar Rapids, IA)
Jennifer Nittoso -The Weather Channel (Atlanta, GA)
Reed O’Brien - left for Decatur, then a market in the south
Donna Pitman - KMBC (Kansas City, MO)
Tracey Peterson - Artista Records (New York, NY)
Christine Roher -
Eric Runge - WOAI (San Antonio, TX) - updated 1/26
Jill Ryan - ???
David Scott - WDRB (Louisville, KY) - updated 1/26
Tim Seymour - KGAN (Cedar Rapids, IA) - updated 1/26
Linda Skulsky - Columbus, OH - updated 1/26
Kristine Soledner - last seen at WZTV in Nashville, TN - updated 1/26
Rebecca Somach - Sacramento, CA
Jen Speiser Koma - Simon Kenton Council, Boy Scouts of America - updated 1/26
Kari Stewart –last seen at KARE in Minneapolis, MN - updated 1/26
Nancy Thiel -Reno Gazette Journal (Reno, NV) - updated 1/26
Frank Vascellaro - WCCO (Minneapolis, MN) - updated 1/26
Marjorie Vincent - law school in Jacksonville, FL - updated 1/26
Jerry Warfield – Caterpillar (Peoria, IL)
Jill Wunrow - last seen at WGBA (Green Bay, WI) - updated 1/27

I Have A Sense Of Humor, It's Just My Wife Who Doesn't Think So

Bill has updated his post on Peoria Pundit...

As Bill has never met me in person, he doesn't know my sense of humor and sarcasm doesn't always come across in the written word. Bill... I spent a day in an empathy belly.

UPDATE: Edgar responds, saying that I am looking for Peoria's version of
Hopefully the statute of limitations has run out on
prosecuting people for bad comedy bits.

Well, that may be true, but we
could still have an investigation that could issue a report demanding the
termination of a bunch of mid-level executives, leaving Chuck with his job.
In all seriousness, on a 1-10 scale of serious ethical lapses, this counts
as a 1. It's probably not a good idea for journalists to fake calls, even for an
obvious comedy bit. There are people out there without a sense of humor.
Speaking of which, I went ahead and added a "tongue in cheek" tag to this
post, because apparently Edgar thought I was being serious.

I'm ready to name names. :)

What Are People Looking For?

I've let just a few people know about my blog, although an e-mail to people who've moved on is on my list of things to do. People have found MARKET 117 through The Peoria Pundit, Peoria Television Stations and the Champaign IL, Media Blog... but others have found it via search engines.

I was curious to see what are people looking for that's leading them here? The five most popular in order were:

  1. some variation of my name
  2. Aimee Nuzzo/Rebecca Somach (tie)
  3. Peyton Manning chanting "Cut that meat!"
  4. Jonathan Ahl
  5. Jessica D'Onofrio

What's Good For The Goose

Nexstar plans to do for Springfield what they do for Bloominton/Normal.

From Nick Rogers' column in the State Journal Register

Springfield viewers looking for local news created in the city soon will have something they've never had - a choice between two channels. Beginning in April, WCFN-TV, Springfield's UPN affiliate, will air a half-hour local news broadcast at 9 p.m. each weekday. WCFN broadcasts on Channel 49. Its debut will mark the end of WICS-TV's monopoly on television news targeted at Springfield, a monopoly held by the NBC affiliate since its debut in 1953. WICS-TV broadcasts on Channel 20. "Springfield viewers have asked for this, and asked us many, many times," said Russ Hamilton, vice president and general manager of WCFN and its sister station WCIA, the Champaign-based CBS affiliate for the Springfield-Decatur-Champaign television market. NexStar Broadcasting Group, in Irving, Texas, owns both WCIA and WCFN. Jim Gee, news director for WCFN and WCIA, said WCFN's newscast will focus exclusively on Springfield and the surrounding area. The station's nightly news will be compiled and reported by a staff of full-time reporters and photographers, who have yet to be hired, from offices in the Hilton Springfield, 700 E. Adams St. Staff members in Decatur also will contribute to the newscast.
Reporters will send their story packages to Champaign, where the broadcast itself will be filmed at WCIA studios. No anchorperson has been named, but Gee said WCIA's chief weathercaster, Judy Fraser, will deliver weather forecasts tailored to Springfield. Sports content, also devoted to Springfield-area athletics, will see contributions from WCIA sports anchor Jason Elliott.

Jim Gee was an assignment editor/producer at WMBD and moved up to the top spot at WCIA after stops in Michigan and Virgina.

Pundit Weighs In

The Peoria Pundit has deemed "Ask Chuck" to be "blatant fakery" on his site. Too bad it only took place every once in a while, seven years ago and the stations are no longer connected... otherwise Bill would have his "Rathergate." Hopefully the statute of limitations has run out on prosecuting people for bad comedy bits.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

What Makes A Good Anchor?

In looking back at Jeff's archives, he poses the question "What Does it Take to Find a Good Anchor?" Good question. I thought I'd share my two cents. The following is based in part on personal philosophy and the thoughts of an anchor I consider to be a mentor and a friend. In previous posts I have described "it" and "the look" as intangibles in television, but to be an effective main anchor means doing so much more than being on television and it also means doing much more than reporting the news.

The role of the main anchor needs to be divided equally between the community and the newsroom. Main anchors should be mentors and they should have done just about every job in the newsroom, but more than that, they should be willing to share their experience with anyone willing to learn.

A main anchor should be a repository of historical perspective. He/she should know the problems each town in the market faces, the history and prognosis of those towns and be able to put things into context. This assumes that the path to main anchor in a newsroom begins somewhere other than the top. When the goal of management is to attract viewers with a pretty or flamboyant anchor... one that lacks a solid foundation, you're setting up for a disconnect within the newsroom and with the audience. The reality is many stations don't care.

The main anchor needs to be the most respected, most widely read, most knowledgeable and most experienced person in the newsroom. Still, building and maintaining relationships with the community will at times need to be as much of or more of a priority than reporting. It means becoming a part time journalist and part time Rotarian.

The main anchor should be on a first name basis with every mayor, every police chief, every business leader, every top level educator, every legislator and other significant “official” in the market. They should ride in every parade, kiss every baby, shake every hand, much like a successful politician. My father-in-law used to be mayor of our town and could be reached by journalists any time, day or night, even going so far as to give local reporters his cell number. The main anchor should be that accessible to people. For those "big J" people reading, this is far from journalism in it's truest sense, but I don't think TV news is that anyway (this is another debate for a future post).

In the end what you have is someone who is an important part of the community... someone who truly has the public's trust and whose work connects all kinds of people.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Where Are They Now - WEEK

Part two of "Where Are They Now." Part one was on former WMBDers.

This is a list of people that I worked with at WEEK or were there while I was at WMBD and got to know that way. Some I know well, others just met or knew casually. Some I've kept in contact with, others it's been a while. This list is in no way exhaustive, as I have not yet included those who are shooters, producers, managers or directors (I do keep in touch with some, so contact me if you're looking for someone). One more list will follow in next week, but if you know the whereabouts of someone, can think of someone not on the list or any other information, please add to the comment section.

Steve Ammerman - WTEN (Albany, NY)
Jim Barnett - Jim Barnett Realty (Peoria, IL) - updated 1/08
Ben Bailey – WJBK (Detroit, MI)
Jesse Chavez - KSTM (El Paso, TX) - updated 1/26
Pat Dix– WHO (Des Moines, IA)
Melissa Dunton - Caterpillar (Peoria,IL) - updated 1/26
Fraser Engerman - State Farm (Bloomington, IL)
Steve Gehlbach - WOFL (Orlando, FL) - updated 1/08
Trazanna Halstead - KPRC (Houston, TX)
Brad Harding - ???
Denise Heilman - WCIC radio (Pekin,IL) - updated 1/08
Jill Henriksen - WICD (Champaign, IL)
Sabrina Kang - Suburban Cities Association (Singapore) - updated 1/29
Troy Kehoe - WSBT (South Bend, IN) - updated 1/26
Julie Kimble - last seem at News 12 New Jersey
Kelly Morgan – ???
Adam Nielsen - Illinois Farm Bureau/Normal Town Council (Normal, IL)
Vokaye Parker – (Somerset County, NJ)
Matt Pendergrass - Caterpillar (Peoria, IL)
Laura Skirde - KXAN (Austin, TX)
Keenan Smith - WGN (Chicago, IL) - updated 1/08
Susanna Song - KSTP (Minneapolis, MN) - updated 1/27
Shannon Tebben - freelance WEEK/Pekin Times (Pekin, IL) - updated 1/08
Kathy Topp - KVBC (Las Vegas, NV) - updated 1/08
Scott Unes – actor (Chicago, IL) - updated 1/08
Christine Zak - ???

Ask Chuck

Another walk down memory lane. I was reminded of this after talking to a former WMBD co-worker today.

Every once in a while, when WMBD and WMBD radio had the same owners and shared a building, Chuck Collins would fill in and cover a shift on the radio. One of the segments he’d do was called “Ask Chuck.” Basically, the premise was you could call in and ‘ask Chuck’ anything and he’d answer it or do the best he could to answer it.

What listeners didn’t know was that all the callers were reporters and other newsroom staffers bringing their day to a screeching halt to call in. Calls were made on the way to and from stories. There was a format to this... a sarcastic homage to talk radio with a little alliteration.

1. Basically, you’d make up a name… for example Marvin, from Manito.

2. You’d tell Chuck that you were a “long time listener, first time caller.

3. Then you’d ask the most ridiculous question you could find/think of.

I actually kept a running list of questions. It was stuff like “Um, yeah, Chuck? When you go to China and order Chinese food, do you just call it food? Stuff that is very Steven Wright-ish like “Why do people park on driveways and drive on parkways?” Or you could ask anything related to James Bond (Chuck actually will know the answer to anything James Bond).

4. Finally, you would end the call with “I’ll hang up and listen."

The flaw in all of this was that we all did radio reports for radio, so you couldn’t very well call in, in your own voice… then a few minutes later have your voice come on the air talking about city council or a shooting.

So we’d all disguise our voices. To protect the innocent, I won’t reveal identities, but a bunch of us started using what can best be described as a high pitched, pre-pubescent, falsetto voice to ask these questions. Others used a voice that was a cross between Wolfman Jack, Barry White and WMBD Chief Photographer Bill Marshall. Writing about them doesn’t do these voices justice. The hardest part for us (and I’m guessing, Chuck) was to not crack up while doing this.

To me, the funniest byproduct of all this was that one of the photographers... let’s call him Steve... has continued (on occasion) to talk in the high pitched voice, even today. He brought it to his station in Chicago and from what I recall him telling me... at one point a bunch of people started doing "the voice" and they didn’t even know why. Sometimes he calls and leaves me messages in “the voice.” It still makes me chuckle.

Pass It On

If you have something to share, whether it's talent or experience or perspective... pass it on. My early influences were:

Dave Bakken
Mike DiOrio
Pat Doland
Cary Edwards
Mike Heider
John Kenney
John “Ivan” Lazarevic
Eric McGee
Roy Michel
Jeff Thomas
Bob Vermiglio

They are/were news photographers at WISN in Milwaukee. They are all solid pros, tell wonderful stories with pictures, but most importantly they all took the time to teach me. They took me out, taught me how to edit, how to shoot, how to handle myself in the field. To be honest, I didn’t have a great eye for shooting. But I asked lots of questions, listened, learned and did the best I could.

Ryan Goble came to WMBD as an intern not too long after I got there. He had shot some snow boarding videos in Colorado where he was from, but had no news experience. We became fast friends and I passed along what I had learned from the guys back home. Ryan had natural ability, but I did what I could to encourage him to: look for sequences, shoot with your ear, physically move as much as possible, don’t zoom or pan unless necessary, tight shots tell stories. He took some very basic thoughts and ran with them. If I brought back stuff from my former co-workers in Milwaukee or NPPA tapes, he absorbed them like a sponge.

Today, he is an amazing shooter. I take much pride in this, but absolutely no credit. The point of this rambling is this: whether you know it or not, you touch people’s lives doing whatever it is that you do. The guys at WISN probably just figured they were training some kid who was going to cover weekend shifts and move on. Little did they know their influence helped shape a terrific photographer in Memphis.

By the way, Ryan married former WMBD reporter/anchor Darcy Thomas in 2003. They left Peoria a couple years before that for WHBQ in Memphis, although Ryan has since moved on to a production company and shoots NBA games when they come to town.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Dress For Success

This is the begining of an article posted on the Illinois News Broadcasters Association website.


By Laura Trendle-Polus, Illinois State University

You’ve probably seen them in a newsroom or a classroom, at a job interview or a convention - young attractive women dressed in tight shirts and short skirts, or wearing hip-hugging pants that expose backs, stomachs, and often tattoos. They look ready for a nightclub, not a news story.

I asked a number of television newswomen for their take on this topic. They offer a range of experience, from a 25-year veteran to a brand-new graduate working in her first job, and all agreed that newsroom attire is worth weighing in on.

Styles change, and while I like to keep up with fashion, there are some risks I
know I cannot take as a young professional. I have seen students, right out of
school, come into this office with the shortest skirts - I’ve had to ask them to
change. I have also seen reporters who bare their belly - which is an absolute
no-no. I think you can "jazz up" a nice conservative suit with a blouse or
camisole underneath. I watch the women on "The Apprentice" (my favorite show!)
and wonder how on earth they think they are going to be taken seriously with
skirts cut half up their thighs and blouses that basically bare all. It is
amazing to me - we as women have made incredible advances in our careers,
because of our minds - not our clothing (at least not me!). Amanda Wozniak, News
Director, WHOI-TV, Peoria

When I was a manager at WISN-TV, I would send interns home if they came to
work dressed inappropriately.... especially in the summer months. I told them
this was not "beach blanket bingo" and please go home and put on something more
appropriate. I even told a reporter who was wearing a jogging suit to go home
and change, since she wasn’t doing a story on exercise that day. She couldn’t
believe what I had asked her to do, but she did it. Maryann Lazarski, Faculty,
UW-Milwaukee and former Assistant News Director, WISN-TV, Milwaukee

Just a few of thoughts: 1) ladies... heed this advice. 2) I am proud to say that when I was an intern/worked for Maryann, she never had to send me home for showing my belly or wearing sweats. 3) I think Amanda would do well on "The Apprentice." 4) As much as I steer clear of reality shows, "The Apprentice" and "Survivor" are my guilty pleasures... but I blame Shannon for this entirely. ;)

Airwaves Drop Two

The Airwaves soccer team came back down to earth Thursday night. We lost the first game 5-1. Then, missing our best player Kelli Meisinger, our other team lost 8-5. Big thumbs up however to Gina Morss for scoring her first goal ever. Great shot, Gina!

Congratulations Christine

A belated congratulations to former WHOI reporter Christine Roher on the November arrival of baby Eleanor. Christine moved from here to WOOD in Grand Rapids and eventually ended up at KGO in San Francisco.

She also holds the dubious distinction of being the only person to send me an autographed station photo.

Updated Where Are They Now - WMBD

Thanks to some posters and a sudden surge of memory to my brain, this list has been updated.

Midwest Title Loans

Has anyone seen the ads that have been running for Midwest Title Loans? Do they really have to have that guy coming out of a kid's toy car? Really?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

By The Numbers

The February ratings period is almost here... a time when news managers across the country and here in MARKET 117 are focused on the numbers. Thought I’d share a story… after I was at WMBD for a while, the GM decided to hire more reporters and photographers. I like to think of this as the last golden age of WMBD/Midwest Television (but generally when catching up with friends who’ve moved on I’ll refer to it as “back in the day.”) Bill Lamb was very open about how he wanted to be number one. This included a great new set, a new show - The Morning Mix and lots of different promos including one Jeff writes about on his blog (for the record, I think I was the only on air staffer not in that promo... just didn't fit in with my schedule, darn!). The attitude Bill pushed was “first we’ll be best, then we’ll be first” and he was willing to spend the money… arming the newsroom with more than enough bodies to be the best.

Maybe my friends at WEEK will dispute it, but for a while WMBD was the show in town. And why wouldn’t it be. I’m not saying this just because I was there at the time… it was just a difference in sheer manpower. We had four or five reporters dayside and depending on the day, two or three reporters nightside. That was crazy for a market this size. Eventually this expanded to include a nightside Twin Cities newsroom presence. We seemed to get to so much more than the other two stations, with a reporter presence to boot. It meant getting to enterprise a lot of the features I loved to do and there were nights, that the producer might not have a long form story for one of us.

But there was little change in the ratings. WEEK continued to dominate, although over lunch one day, even one of their staffers acknowledged how well he thought we were doing. Didn’t matter. Eventually, when staffing numbers didn’t translate into improved Nielsen numbers and the station was sold to another company, it all came to an end. WMBD is still a solid station, but the staffing today is probably more in line with what this market will support.

Job Hunting For Dummies – Breaking Into TV

It was nine years ago this week that a 20-something was packing up, leaving sunny, Southern California for his first, on air job in Peoria, Illinois. My big break. In checking my sitemeter and by the feedback I’m getting, I’m starting to realize that this blog is also being read by people who live in this market, but haven’t worked in TV… so I think occasionally I’ll pull back the curtain so to speak.

This blog is titled MARKET 117 based on the Nielsen ranking of the 210 television markets across the country. For reference, New York is 1, Chicago is 3, Champaign/Decatur/Springfield is 82. Peoria/Bloomington (117) is considered a small market, a place where many people get their first or second job in television (there are certain flaws to the way the markets are setup, but I’ll save that for a later date). Theoretically, the larger the market, the more you are paid although that isn’t always exactly true. Cost of living, quality of station, experience can all factor in. Also, anchors will make significantly more than the majority of reporters.

It all starts with an internship. Unlike other fields interns in television don’t generally get paid. But you do get college credit. Some people at bigger market stations… others cut their teeth at smaller ones. There are advantages to both, but for practical experience nothing beats markets like this one. Interns in big markets might get opportunities to go out on stories, but in many cases they are relegated to answering phones for assignment editors. Interns in Peoria often get a chance to report, which goes a long way to building a good resume tape and that is the goal.

A reporter’s resume tape consists of stories and standups (or with more experience, live shots). Anchors include “scoped down” shows of them reading and interacting with others on set. This is your calling card. For other jobs, people will look at your resume and transcripts and do an interview. In TV, if you don’t have a solid tape, you won’t get an interview.

And getting that first job is the tough part. There are thousands of students graduating every year competing for very few, generally low paying jobs. Depending on the opening, even in a market this size, offering 20K or less to start can get 50-100 tapes. The first place I ever interviewed paid reporters, no joke, less than 14K.

First and foremost, you need to have a tape coming out of school. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you need to have one. I was lucky that I worked as a photographer in a big market and was able to shoot my own tape while shooting real stories versus many “first” tapes that come in with stories on their college’s student council election or a “B list” band comes to the student center. But even that tape would be better than no tape.

Medialiners Love "24"

I used to "hang out" at Medialine when I lived in Monterey, which was quite the coincidence because as it turns out, their offices were right down the street and one of the owners was also an anchor at my station. Medialine is primarily a job subscription service, started by some journalism folks from the University of Missouri. Open Line is their website's message board where tv folks and others post about the industry, what's going on in the world and pretty much anything else.

Steve Gehlbach, who eventually replaced me at WEEK, probably got to know me from my posts as much as he did when we worked together. The message board has become more political and a bit meaner since when I used to post, but it's still a good read on occasion.

This is a thread about my new favorite show, "24."

Standups For Dummies - Now

I've titled "Anchoring for Dummies" posts on the crutch word "well" and what is known as "uptalk." The point of these posts isn't to be mean or even critical. I won't call anybody out specifically... you know, "he who is without sin etc." My hope is anyone who reads these posts and recognizes these issues in themselves will work towards changing... although in my experience self awareness and broadcasters don't always go hand in hand.

The word "now" is another crutch word. On my first resume tape montage, I used the word "now" to start every standup. Annoying. Another habit I was eventually able to break. It's a crutch. You might as well add it to your countdown: "In 3... 2... 1... now..."

Yes, I know it probably helps people get through clunky areas of writing or brings a sense of immediacy to the standup, but really it should be reserved for describing "then versus now" or live shots to explain "it's happening right now." If the writing doesn't work for you, rewrite it. And say what you will in your standups without saying "now."

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Look

In a previous post, I shared some thoughts about "it." I think having "it" is often confused with having "the look" although it is possible to have both.

When I worked in Milwaukee, I had a cousin who once asked "Do you know so-and-so?" He continued on to basically say "she's really hot, that's why I watch that station." All things being equal, there are people who choose to watch the more attractive face. And why not? That's what sells all those magazines at the grocery store, right? That and proof that Roseanne actually gave birth to a three headed alien baby, but I digress.

Usually people in TV fit a certain look. To stereotype for a moment: the hair is close to perfect, the teeth are straight, they're clean cut and look fresh. I think that is fairly standard for most (not all) of the people you'll see on the local news in any market. Again, not always, but they are usually what much of society considers attractive, in many cases above average as looks go.

Then there are people who look like stars. They look like supermmodels or"A List" actors... on camera. There is something about their faces... the combination of their eyes and ears and mouth and hair. They have features that make them attractive in person, but are enhanced even that much more by the camera.

Of course who people find attractive is all subjective. I'll use myself to explain the difference... so as not to pick on anyone else. I don't think I'm unattractive, (and really, it only matters what Shannon thinks, right?) but I don't have "the look" of which I speak. The fact of the matter is my nose is flat. It is. I'm not cutting myself down. I readily admit this. It means I don't have to worry about getting hit in the face. My parents point out that my nose is flat. Heck, it's their fault. Stupid genetics. In fact, we had all hoped my kids would get my wife's nose... but that didn't happen. Amazingly, they're still cute. So maybe my nose is okay.

In reality, there is nothing wrong with my nose, but on camera it can tend to look really flat and at times seemed to get lost because I wear glasses. Am I being overly harsh? Maybe a little. But it's small things like that or unmanageable hair, a few extra pounds, bad teeth etc. that separate your average television person from the ones who can attract additional viewers based in large part on just how they look.

While some of what I've written may seem silly or shallow... keep in mind that when you work at a station, people will call in to complain about hairsyles, clothes or earrings an anchor is wearing, even though those things have absolutely nothing to do with how they deliver the news. And news directors sometimes watch a tape for ten seconds. You're told thirty seconds in school, but in conversations I've had with two big market news directors, if they don't like tape within the first 10-15 seconds, they're popping it out. This is a visual medium. Looks (and how you sound) matter.

So here are the two people in MARKET 117 that I think, on camera, have "the look."

Paul Ferrante - Paul just looks like an anchor, doesn't he? Great skin tone, hair that ages him a bit (which if his goal is to be a main anchor in a larger market isn't a bad thing) and of course the teeth. I don't know if WHOI's demos have improved since he's been here, but I'd guess it would be with women 13 to whatever. By the way ladies, he's engaged.
Disclosure: I've met Paul a couple of times when visiting the WHOI newsroom and actually interviewed for the job he eventually got. It has worked out quite well for both of us.

Jill Henriksen - Jill doesn't get a lot of face time, although she's starting to do more fill in work for Sandy on the morning and noon shows. She is blessed with a look that will open lots of doors. I've told her that she just needs to be more confident. Jill has taken some anonymous criticism from people who read Jeff's blog, (some of it has to do with conflict at her old station, which I don't know enough about to comment on and I'll bet some of it is jealousy). Here's the reality. Jill will put in her time here just like eveyone else. She will get more experience. Eventually, with all things being equal, she will get calls for jobs that others won't... because of her look.
Disclosure: Jill did weather graphics at WEEK when I first started there and I have done a tape critique for her.

There have been others since I first moved here... Aimee Nuzzo and Frank Vascellaro come to mind.

Monday, January 17, 2005

The Never Ending Christmas Project

From Steve Tarter's column in the PJ Star.

Holiday favorites

You may recall us asking folks for their favorite holiday tunes in this column last month. Here's what Edison Media Research came up with. The company recently tested women between the ages of 30 and 49 to find out their most- and least-loved songs. Here they are:

Top holiday songs
1. "The Christmas Song" - Nat King Cole.
2. "Holly Jolly Christmas" - Burl Ives.
3. "O Holy Night" - Celine Dion.
4. "Jingle Bell Rock" - Bobby Helms.
5. "Happy Xmas (War is Over) - John Lennon

I set out to put together a CD of the best versions of the best Christmas songs. That was two years ago, but this is truly one of the few projects that has ever gotten away from me. If anyone wants to share their two cents, please do so. There's always next Christmas, right?

TV Newsroom Humor - Q&A

A friend from another market sent this today...

Q: How many producers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Only one, but before it's all over, they're gonna change ALL the light bulbs.

Q: How many reporters does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Three.. two.. one.

Q: How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: It's okay, I unscrewed the bulb for the dramatic effect!

Q: What's the difference between God and a news anchor?
A: God doesn't think he's a news anchor.

Q: How many station department heads does it take to change alight bulb?
A: You know, this issue strikes at the very heart of one of ourcore competencies.We need to think outside the box, and be proactive on this. Hereis the bottom line: at the end of the day, we need to leverage our knowledgebase and find a viable solution that fits synergistically. All right people, let's put together a game plan that makes sense, and tomorrow we'll touch base and see where we're at on this.

Q: How many Business Managers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Did you requisition this bulb? If so, I haven't signed off on it. Oh and by the way, once it's approved in Movaris make sure you order online through Staples. The $.03 credit will show up on your repair and maintenance line next month.

Q: How many General Managers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: (Assistant:) He'll give you an answer as soon as he gets backfrom golf with a very important customer, but I'm sure he's going to want to know why we need to replace it, since it's only been out for a few days.

Q: How many Promotions people does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: If this light bulb isn't changed soon—your FAMILY, your HOME,even your DOG-may all be at risk! Change this bulb tonight or you may spend a lifetime in darkness!

Teaching Future Broadcasters

For those of you who listened to the John Malone show on WMBD radio, John has moved on to teach at Lincoln College.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Some Good Reading

My freshman year of college, there was a guy who cited "Murphy Brown" as an influence for getting into broadcast news. A little scary to me, but hey, I'm sure there were people with worse reasons.

This is an interesting read, written by Laura Trendle-Polus who runs the TV-10 program at Illinois State University.

Discosure: I used to occasionally get lunch for Laura when I was an intern at WISN. She also used to work at WMBD.

Where Are They Now - WMBD

For anyone who has read "The Tipping Point", my wife says I'm what the book calls a "connector." As one of the five frequent questions I'm asked relates to where did somebody go, I thought I'd share what I know.

This is a list of people who I worked with at WMBD or were there while I was at WEEK and got to know that way. Some I know well, others just met or knew casually. Some I've kept in contact with, others it's been a while. This list is in no way exhaustive, as I have not yet included those who are shooters, producers, managers or directors (I do keep in touch with some, so contact me if you're looking for someone).

More lists will follow in the coming weeks, but if you know the whereabouts or can think of someone else not on the list, please add to the comment section.

Darin Adams – KSL (Salt Lake City, UT) - updated 1/08
John Alois - State Farm (Bloomington, IL) - updated 1/27
Ann Bagel - Meatingplace (Chicago, IL) - updated 1/08
Cherie Berkley – Web MD (Chicago, IL) - updated 1/08
Mike Bloomberg – WSCR radio - 670 The Score (Chicago, IL) - updated 1/08
Beth Brotherton – WYFF (Greenville, SC)
Stephanie Brown - WDJT (Milwaukee, WI) - updated 1/21
Renee Charles – WKYT (Lexington, KY) - updated 1/08
Mike Colpitts - Destin Florida Real Estate (Destin, FL)
Melissa Crabtree - WPSD (Paducah, KY)
Chris Curtis - ???
Jenifer Daniels - KPSP (Palm Springs, CA)
Shelli Dankoff – Easter Seals (Peoria, IL)
Liza Danver - WFIE (Evansville, IN) - updated 1/21
Donna Davis - Home and Style TV (Atlanta, GA)
Jim Dugan - Caterpillar (Peoria, IL)
Rusty Dunn - Caterpillar (Peoria, IL)
Annette Eulitt - Caterpillar (Peoria, IL)
Nancy Flagg – Big Oldies 93.3 The Drive (Peoria, IL) - updated 1/08
Mark Goldman - Sara Lee (Chicago, IL)
Yvonne Greer - PowerZone/WGN radio "pinch hitter" (Peoria, IL) - updated 1/08
Kristyn Hartman – WBBM (Chicago, IL)
Maria Henneberry - Instructor at Illinois State University/WRPW 92.9 (Bloomington, IL) - updated 1/08
Kimberly Houk - WKMG (Orlando, FL) - updated 1/08
Alan Heymann - Washington D.C. - updated 1/27
Courtney Jamieson – ABC News (Washington D.C.) - updated 1/08
Todd Jones - ???
Kate Kenney - Caterpillar (Peoria, IL) - updated 1/08
Will Koch - Country Insurance (Bloomington, IL) updated 1/27
Matt Kummer - WISH (Indianapolis, IN) - updated 1/08
Kimberly Laburda - last seen at KSPR (Springfield, MO) - updated 1/27
Jeff Lamb - WMYO/WDRB (Louisville, KY) - updated 1/08
Tim Lampley - Freelance Entertainment Reporter (Belleville, IL) - updated 1/26
Marcus Lynch – WCYB/WEMT (Johnson City, TN)
Mike McClellan –Mobile Weather Team (Washington, IL)
Krystal Morris - WYIN (Merillville, IN) - updated 1/21
Aimee Nuzzo – Snapfocus Productions (New York, NY) - updated 1/08
Lee Ross - Fox News Channel (Washington D.C.) - updated 1/08
Rachel Ryan - Caterpillar (Peoria, IL)
Tricia Skidmore - WEWS (Cleveland, OH) - updated 1/27
Dave Snell – Bradley University (Peoria, IL)
Karl Spring – WBJR (Duluth, MN) - updated 1/08
Darcy Thomas – WHBQ (Memphis, TN)
Steve Trainor - ???
Bianca Tyler - Connecticut
Jay Verner - Country Insurance (Bloomington, IL) - updated 1/27
Doc Watson - WZPN radio - 96.5 ESPN (Peoria,IL) - updated 1/08
Caitlin Weinstein - KCCI (Des Moines, IA) - updated 1/21

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Welcome Wagon

Welcome to Brock Spencer, the newest reporter at WHOI. He replaces Steve Nicoles who has moved on, but truthfully, I've been too busy to find out where. I heard Iowa.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Two Words

Mike Colpitts

The Phenomenon Of “It”

Karen Hutton is California based talent coach. I doubt she’d remember, but I met her the same weekend I met my former agent, Steve. Over drinks, we discussed “it” with renowned TV headhunter Don Fitzpatrick. The following is an excerpt from a column she wrote about “it” for Shoptalk a few years back.

Then there are exceptional talent who are both competent and possess that
"something extra". Some of the qualities used to describe this "it" factor are
energy, charisma, an ability to "sell" the news and draw us in. We can see it in
the eyes, hear it in the voice, feel it in the energy and focus of the person.
Some say you have to be born with "it", you can't develop it. Most say they know
it when they see it, though they don't always agree on who has it. Sometimes a
talent doesn't seem like they have it at an early stage of their development,
only to show up later with it sparkling through the screen. People wonder what
it is, wonder if they have it, hope they have it, are afraid they don't have it,
can't believe they have it, don't think about it, are confused by it. It doesn't
even have a name, only ... it. One thing it does for sure is get people all
revved up and ready to race - and not necessarily focused on the things that
might actually move them closer to "it".

To this I will add “it” is the ability to break through the camera lens and into people’s living rooms. “It” is being comfortable with a certain part of your inner self and being able to let that out on camera. And “it”, for the purposes of this discussion, has nothing do positively or negatively, with how attractive you are, what kind journalist you are, if everyone likes your style, how you conduct yourself in real life or how much experience you have, although I think experience can help cultivate a certain degree of “it.”

So who has got “it” right now in Peoria? Here are four people (two with a lot of experience and two people who are younger) that I think have “it.” Just my opinion. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll share how I know these people so no one accuses me of just writing about people I’m friends with.

Liza Danver has “it.” There is a certain strength to her voice and an air of confidence that she exudes. It comes across in the way she voices her packages and in her live shots/on set intros and it’s starting to come through when she fills in on the anchor desk.
Disclosure: I’ve never worked with Liza, but we were both at the same Christmas party last month.

Sandy Gallant has “it.” Sandy just naturally relates to the camera. Although, someone has complained to me about her “winking.” I don’t mind it. Sandy talks with her entire face, the way people do when they’re telling a compelling story to a good friend and that’s what I think you need to shoot for.
Disclosure: Sandy was an intern when I anchored weekends at WEEK and she went full time when my wife left the station to stay home with our son.

Brent Lonteen has “it.” I’ve watched Brent doing a live shot outside an execution that was flawless and mostly unscripted. I’ve seen Brent doing a live remote show that was crashing and burning and it didn’t phase him. In my travels, I’ve seen few people (and this includes larger markets) who are more comfortable than he is in front of the camera in all types of situations.
Disclosure: Before he got married Brent, Jerry Warfield and I shared the TV house on Purtscher in Peoria. We worked together at WMBD.

Jim Mattson has “it.” When I talk about breaking through the lens, Jim is exactly what I mean. He is high energy and you get the passion he has for sports. The same drive he’s got in trying to get to as many games as humanly possible doesn’t slow down when he gets on set.
Disclosure: I’ve never worked with Jim, but on my occasional visits to the WHOI newsroom or when I saw him out in the field he has always said “hello” and been very cordial.

These are not all the people in this market that I think have “it”, but they are very different from each other, which is why I chose to write about them.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Just A Guess

I don't think tonight is a good night to be in the WEEK newsroom. Not only are they pre-empting "Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search" and "The West Wing", but for much of the first half, the weather was interfering with the Bradley game's signal. Hope I'm wrong. Jimmy has got a show to produce.

Hopefully viewers/callers read what Amy Paul had to say in the Journal Star a few week ago.

Living Next Door To The House Of Mouse

Jessica D'Onofrio, formerly of the WHOI Twin Cities newsroom is on the move. She left Peoria for Indianapolis and a reporting job at WXIN-TV. Jessica is on her way to warmer weather at WKMG the CBS affiliate in Orlando.

As someone who twice has moved to popular spots, she expect many more visitors than she got in Bloomington or Indy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Even More Help Wanted

WMBD is looking for a general assignment reporter. When I first started it payed $20,800 plus a clothing allowance (I think that was $500). I took away lots of good memories and my wife.

Don't know if someone is leaving... stay tuned.

Airwaves Win

Airwaves win 6-0. Props to Bart for a shutout in his first ever game in goal while filling in for Trent who was sick tonight.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Curiosity And The Cat Coverage

I reverted to flipping mode tonight to see what kind of coverage the three stations had on the UAW vote. A couple of thoughts. I liked that WHOI brought in their main anchor team. No offense to the weekend crews, but when you bring your main team in, it brings more attention to the importance of the story. That said, WEEK bringing Gina in to cover was the next best move. She has a lot of experience covering Cat/UAW.

Just for reference... I was never a big fan of the "we got it first/happy, happy... joy, joy" mentality of TV news because in the end, who the heck really knows the difference. Really. I'm guessing almost no one at home is flipping around to see who got the ratification announcement first. I'm guessing no one at home has three televisions on to monitor this. Really. The only people who know are people in the respective newsrooms.

But in case you're keeping score (and unless I missed a quick mention while flipping) an out of breath(just talked to her), on set Gina Morss (WEEK) was first (for reference, the UAW hall is literally throwing distance from 25). As Gina was finishing, Laura Michels (WHOI) was second with a live shot. WMBD was starting their weather at the same time as Laura's report, got through the weathercast, went to break without a tease, then started the next block with a Lisa Miller live shot. Don't know if there were technical issues or what. But like I said, in the end I don't think it really matters on something like this. Now, on a tornado coming through the area, the quicker the better.

Basically the big benefit comes for promotions who can create a spot that says "we were first to tell you..." Producers can write in their leads "as we first told you..." which you hear once in a while, although if you're gonna play that game, write it "as we were the first station to report..." A subtle difference I know, but whatever. I do give a lot of credit to news directors who refrain from singing this song when they don't know for sure, because some will take credit for being first or doing something in a promotion when it's not even true.

As for the web coverage, as of 11:30, WEEK and WHOI both had the ratification news on their respective websites as did the Journal Star and WMBD radio. WMBD TV did not have it.

In the end, all three stations did a solid job on a Sunday night when staffing isn't usually all that good.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

A FOX TV Night

Born and raised in Milwaukee, I'm a die hard Green Bay Packers fan. They were really bad today. On the bright side, I've found a new show to watch. "24." Talk about edge of your seat. I'm just sorry I missed previous seasons.

Moving On And More Help Wanted

From Steve Tarter's column in the PJ Star.

Melvin moving
Brad Melvin, an announcer at WCBU-FM 89.9 for the past five years, is headed off to graduate school at the University of Kansas.
"I think the most rewarding aspect of my time at WCBU has been being an active part of my alma mater (Bradley University) each day, and, hopefully, being a voice listeners don't dread waking up to when the alarm goes off in the morning," he said.
Melvin was also the PA voice for the Bradley women's basketball and volleyball teams.

Happy trails, Brad. Now when you come home, you've got a built in reason to say "I'm not in Kansas anymore."

If you're looking for a radio job, this is a great opportunity. Jonathan Ahl, the news director at WCBU, is a sharp guy, a great story teller and extremely fair. I'd work for him in a heartbeat.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Help Wanted

From the WHOI website:

Sports Photographer/Reporter HOI 19 Sports has an immediate opening for a Sports Photographer/Reporter.

This is a rare opening. When I left WEEK in 2001, the sportscasters in the primary and weekend spots at all three stations hadn't changed in about a decade. The number three positions turnover every three years or so.

On air sports jobs are harder and harder to come by both locally and nationally. At the networks/major markets the demand is highest for women and former athletes. Add to that the fact that sportscasters will often stay "forever" once they get to a "major league city" and that doesn't leave many chances for folks in smaller markets. And if you find a good small market, like Peoria, there's even less movement.

It is a numbers game when you talk news versus sports. For example in terms of on air talent, WBBM in Chicago has more than twenty news anchors and reporters not including freelancers while they have a three person sports crew. Do the math across 200+ markets and by nature there are much fewer sports positions available.

TV Job Hunting For Dummies - Conventions

This Illinois News Broadcasters Association spring convention is coming soon. For students and people in their first jobs especially, this is a great way to network, get feedback and have fun.

I went to a NorCal RTNDA conference in 1999 and aside from hearing some great speakers, I came away with two critiques and two talent agencies offering to sign me. I signed with Steve Caruso who I'm still friends with, even though by coming back to Peoria instead of moving to a larger market, I made him very little money. So if you're any good and in the market for an agent... here's his contact info.

If you have off or can get out of work, I encourage you to go. A little investment of time and money can do wonders for your work and your career.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Anchoring For Dummies - Uptalk

Unlike people who might change channels cause they don't like the content of a story, there is nothing that will make me reach for the clicker faster than a reporter or anchor uptalking. You know what I mean. When an anchor reads a story and brings their voice up at the end of each sentence so basically a 30 second story sounds like one long sentence.

Uptalk is defined by The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language as "a manner of speaking in which declarative sentences are uttered with a rising intonation as though they were questions."

Usually associated with Valley Girls from Southern California, uptalk is something you'll catch a young anchor doing, but even experienced anchors who just don't care do it all the time.

Anchoring is different from talking. When we talk, there is a certain rhythm to our speech that just happens naturally. You don't even think about bringing your voice down a notch when you're making a point or ending a sentence. But when anchoring, you're often reading sentences that are close, but not exactly how you'd say something if you were just saying it.

Just my theory, but that's one of two things that causes uptalk. The other is insecurity. The article talks about basic insecurity, but for some anchors I think there's a feeling that if you don't make everything connect together, people aren't going to pay attention to the whole story or they're not gonna get the message.

I know of some people who've made uptalk part of their style, but generally it just sounds stupid.

For those who uptalk: end your sentences people! Be confident. It makes for better story tellers.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

See, You Can Go Home Again

Former WHOI anchor Rebecca Somach proves that you can go home again. She left Channel 19 last fall, after her husband Josh got a job with the Triple A baseball team in her hometown of Sacramento. She is currently reporting for KOVR, the CBS affiliate there, which means you might end up seeing her on WMBD'S noon show.

One of her stories (That Goose is No Chicken) can is posted on the network website.

Rebecca, by the way just recently celebrted a significant birthday (I won't tell you which one).I miss the Morins as they aren't just good friends, but also godparents to the sweetest girl in the whole world, my daughter.