Monthly Archives: January 2009

Add Denver to the List of Local Markets Grounding Choppers

KMGHs Bird

KMGH's Bird

Two of Denver’s local stations, KUSA and KMGH have announced a helicopter “sharing” agreement, that will essentially ground of one of the station’s pricey birds. Byron Grandy, GM at KMGH, and Mark Cornetta, GM at KUSA, told the Rocky Mountain News this morning “the stations will share a helicopter and videographers, while continuing to maintain strict separation of each station’s decisions and reporter assignments.”

The move follows similar air wars cease-fires in Dallas and Chicago. “Obviously, there is an economic benefit to flying one helicopter and it’s not unlike sharing pool footage of a political event. Our news departments will each maintain their complete independence, while sharing the use of our most effective newsgathering tool,” Cornetta told the Rocky.

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WCBS Sports a One-Woman Show Starting Friday

Sam Ryan/WCBS's Entire Sports Department

Sam Ryan/WCBS/NY's Entire Sports Department



Sam Ryan, weekend sports anchor at WCBS/NY will take over weeknight sports duties Friday, with the departures of main anchor and sports director Ducis Rodgers and morning sports guy John Discepolo. Rodgers’ last day is tomorrow, and Discepolo wraps his Channel 2 tenure on Friday, according to Richard Huff in the NY Daily News.

Huff reports Ryan will get some help covering sports on weekends from weekend news anchor and former WABC morning news anchor Steve Bartelstein who may do both news and sports duties;  morning sports will be taped, but may also include contributions from CBS-owned WFAN radio personalities.

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UPDATED–Oklahoma Sports Anchor Critically Injured in Fall

Dean Blevins/KWTV

Dean Blevins/KWTV

KWTV/Oklahoma City is reporting on its news9.com website that sports director Dean Blevins has been hospitalized in the intensive care unit at OU Medical Center after falling on ice Monday. 

The Tulsa World has this on the accident:  “Blevins said this morning that he went outside to the check the condition of the streets Monday when he slipped and hit the back of his skull on the edge of the porch and driveway. He said doctors put several staples in his head to close the gash. He also said they performed several tests on him and were considering performing surgery.”

KWTV reports tonight Blevins is being evaluated for a subdural hematoma, and as of 4 p.m. local time was listed in “fair” condition.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Dean and his family.

UPDATE:  Oklahoma’s newsok.com reports this evening that Blevins had been on his way to work, but stepped outside his home in Edmond to check on the weather.  “I slid and hit the back of my head on a step,” Bevins told the site, “I laid outside for 45 minutes in my workout stuff.  I was unconscious for an undetermined amount of time until neighbors came over.”

newsok.com also quotes KWTV news director Blaise Labbe:  “We wish the best for him and our prayers are with his family.”

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LATEST LAYOFFS: KUSA/Denver Cuts Nick Carter: “It Was My Turn”

Gannett’s top-rated KUSA/Denver continues its cost-cutting ways, laying off 24-year veteran meteorologist Nick Carter, effective Friday. Penny Parker at the Rocky Mountain News reports Carter got the news back in October and has had time to look for work, but the job market is, to put it mildly, terrible. “On one hand, it’s kind of scary, but on the other hand there’s always new opportunity,” Carter told the Rocky. “Obviously, the (TV) industry is going through tough times and has had to reduce staff in many cases, it just made sense that it was my turn.”

Carter’s departure follows the release of top anchor Bob Kendrick, who was main anchor at 9News, but whose contract was not renewed after the November book. KUSA News Director Patti Dennis told the Rocky’s Parker, “The difficult changes in the media industry are hard on everyone, and these contract discussion are never easy.”

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LATEST LAYOFFS: WCBS/NY Cuts Rodgers, Discepolo

Ducis Rodgers/WCBS Photo

Ducis Rodgers/WCBS Photo

NY Daily News TV writer Richard Huff quotes a source at WCBS/NY this morning, saying Channel 2 has pink slipped sports director Ducis Rodgers and morning sports anchor John Discepolo, leaving the CBS O&O with a sports team of precisely one: Sam Ryan. Huff says station officials refused comment, but Huff’s source credited the cuts to “cost cutting.”

The layoffs (Rodgers’ last day is reportedly Thursday, with Discepolo ending his Channel 2 run on Friday) come just days after Huff’s column
 arguing that local tv sports itself is an endangered species.

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Andrea McCarren, You Say? Hmmm… Not Ringing a Bell, Comrade

Andrea McCarren

Andrea McCarren

I’ve always felt that, in a perverse way, local television stations are a lot like the old Soviet Union. There’s the cult of personality; the way we line our hallways with oversized smiling photos of our dear leaders on the 6 and 11, and the way we shoot those heartwarming promos at the holidays showing the loving newsteam–all outfitted in holiday sweaters, whether the station’s in Minneapolis or Miami. We’re constantly using words like “family” to describe a group of employees. At least, until something goes wrong.

A beloved family member gets busted for DUI, or a contract doesn’t get renewed, and–poof!–it’s like they never existed. No farewell mention on the news; the picture just vanishes off the wall of heroes in the lobby, and the holiday image promo gets a quick re-edit. Just like Stalin used to do after a purge: cut the pictures out of the history books, and carefully remove the comrade who has fallen out of favor.

Josef Stalin

Josef Stalin

And so it is, in this season of layoffs, with local news websites, where the top banner’s usually reserved for a smiling collection of anchor heads–the Action News “family,” and inside pages have glowing bios describing the health reporter’s love for rescued puppies, and the sports guy’s years of participation in the Big Brothers program. 

But as Neal Zoren writes in the Delco Times, the last place you’d want to go for information on what’s happening to the members of your favorite news team–would be the station’s web site. Think of them as promotional vehicles with a few pop-up ads, some news content, and a striking resemblance to a Soviet history textbook. Because when you fall out of favor–no matter how many chili cook-offs you’ve attended over the years in your Channel 7 polo shirt–you just vanish without a trace: “At a volatile time when layoffs are adding to the missing persons lists, there should be a handy place to find out who, so to speak, is on first,” Zoren writes. “Between firings, resignations, and transfers of market, voluntary and involuntary, station personnel has shifted a lot in the last few weeks.”

But the websites–they just keep on with their family first and all’s well approach. The WJLA/DC website, for instance, would not be your best source on information regarding Andrea McCarren’s layoff. As the cliche goes, her “picture has been removed from the station’s website,” usually an immediate indication that you are no longer part of the family. Ditto for Jay DeDapper at WNBC, and, back in Philly, the notorious departures of Alycia Lane and Larry Mendte.

Alycia Lane/NBC 10 Photo

Alycia Lane/NBC 10 Photo

Until a week ago, Andrea McCarren, a well-respected and high-profile journalist was a key player at WJLA. Today, enter “andrea mccarren” into the search box on the WJLA website, and you get no news story explaining her departure, only a list of stories, presumably reported by McCarren, the most recent of which dates to 2007.

To its credit, the revamped “NBC Philadelphia” website, if prompted by entering “Alycia Lane” in the search box, will cough up a series of articles on the legal wrangling between Lane and Mendte. So maybe there’s hope? Maybe we local newsers will start actually reporting honestly about the stories that involve, you know, us?

Or, then again, maybe not. What was that name again? McCarren something? Nope. Not ringing any bells.

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Fearing the Backpack? Here’s the Skinny on Going “DJ”

Longtime Backpacker Kevin Sites

Longtime Backpacker Kevin Sites


Yeah, sure, you can sit in the newsroom and bitch and moan with co-workers about how sure you are that “it’ll never happen here,” but odds are, the longer you stay in local tv news, the more likely it is that somebody at some point is going to hand you a small camera and laptop and ask you to do it all yourself. We used to call ’em one-man-bands, now you hear “multimedia journalist” or “digital journalist.” And it’s not just for small markets anymore. CNN calls them “all-platform” journalists, WNBC’s “Content Center,” of course, is modeled on the MMJ format, and WUSA in Washington used multimedia journalists on the biggest of big local stories: the Inauguration of Barack Obama.

NBC's Mara Schiavocampo

NBC's Mara Schiavocampo

Deborah Potter, whose NewsLab is mandatory daily reading, has a great piece up on advancingthestory (companion to the book of the same name) about how backpackers like NBC’s Mara Schiavocampo are getting the story–and getting themselves on franchise media titans like the NBC Nightly News. Even if the idea of it gives you sudden rush of thoughts like, “how bad could PR really be?” this post is worth a look.

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