Tag Archives: chuck scarborough

Ron Burgundy’s Memo to Chuck Scarborough: “Stay Classy, and Go Home.”

The Man, the Myth, the Legend:  San Diegos Ron Burgundy

The Man, the Myth, the Legend: San Diego's Ron Burgundy

Ron Burgundy has a message for mega-anchors like WNBC’s living legend Chuck Scarborough:  “fly off into the sunset while there’s still a dash of news left.”

Okay.  The quote’s not technically from Burgundy himself (admittedly, a fictional character and all) but from the closest thing we have to Burgundy this side of Will Ferrell, “Anchorman:  The Legend of Ron Burgundy” co-writer Adam McKay, who writes in today’s New York Post that the day of the big time local news anchor is officially over.  “So farewell perfectly parted ones,” McKay writes.  “Adieu teleprompter readers.”

McKay’s op-ed comes on the heels of a rough week for high-salaried, deep rooted local newsers, like Paul Moyer in LA and Len Berman in NYC.  Both announcing unexpected departures from NBC O&O’s, and raising questions about the network’s continued investment in superstar anchors like New York’s Chuck Scarborough.

When Anchors Ruled the World:  WABC's Grimsby and Beutel

When Anchors Ruled the World: WABC's Monster Duo: Roger Grimsby and Bill Beutel

As McKay writes, “Their avuncular baritone voices reassured us in times of crisis and made us laugh when there was a frog leaping contest or a cat who had befriended a pig.  But slowly their days are coming to an end.”

McKay has a pretty good grasp on the changing local news landscape, noting that “gone are the days of only three networks, the days when these men were gods.”  And sure enough, he’s right.  I realized earlier this week that I may have been clouded by my own emotions–rooted in the local news of my childhood, with three stations doing news and big, oversized anchors chuckling and clearly ruling the Earth–when I wrote that it would be nuts for NBC to get rid of Chuck.

The movie man may have a better grasp on my biz than I do:  “Let’s face it,” McKay says.  “Local news has always been pretty sugary, but these days it looks like the National Enquirer and the Weekly  World News had a baby and taught it to only speak drug shootings and Madonna affairs.  It’s orange, loud, dumb and absolutely devoid of any news whatsoever outside of the occasional baby food recall or toxic spill.  I’m convinced their entire audience consists of people looking to see if they got on TV while waving their hands behind a reporter in the field.”

Ouch. 

Detroits One and Only Bill Bonds

Detroit's One and Only Bill Bonds

I’m tempted to defend my dear local news, with an impassioned argument of the irreplaceable role of local newsers in informing communities in the face of dangerous weather and in the aftermath of horrible tragedies.  But the impulse passes quickly.

McKay offers this to the goliaths who still toil in TV:  plan your exit, and plan it now, while you still can.  “What does a retired anchorman do?  He can yell at the neighborhood kids not to play in his yard in a pitch-perfect non-geographically specific voice.  He can watch the local anchor in Clearwater, Florida, and mumble ‘punk kid’ to himself.  Or he can host a PBS news show and bask in the joy of no producer handing him copy about a dog trapped in a drainage ditch.”

Too bad PBS isn’t hiring.

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The Inescapable Truth: NBC’s Secret Evil Plan to Destroy Local News as We Know It

NBC:  Out to Destroy the Local News

NBC: Out to Destroy the Local News


Who knows?  We may look back on this era and think, “Man, NBC was so far ahead of the curve!” They knew the model of local news many of us grew up with:  the big, well-paid anchors, the choppers, the liveshots, the stable of seasoned reporters–those were all, you know, expendable. In the future, the local news would come from content centers:  awkward, low-ceilinged newsrooms where recent college graduates would produce quick and dirty stories that air in endless repetition on digital cable channels somewhere between monster truck shows and classic movies. Oh!  And you can also get the stuff (sorry–the “content”) on your phone.

Well anyway, this Secret Evil Plan to dominate the next evolution of local news is well underway at NBC.  That conclusion is now inescapable.  A few cases in point from the past few days:  the departure of Paul Moyer in Los Angeles, and NBC’s enraged response to WHDH/Boston’s decision to ditch Jay Leno in favor of an hour of local news at 10 p.m.

KNBC's Paul Moyer: An Unexpected "Retirement"


First, LA.  Earlier this week, I wrote about the splashy yet debatable Defamer report that NBC had plans to kill off two of its golden geese:  Moyer at KNBC and Chuck Scarborough at WNBC/NY. Showing my bias as a kid who grew up watching local news in New York, I largely dismissed the idea as almost-too-stupid-even-for-NBC. The next day, Moyer announced his “retirement.”  As the LA Times reported, “Moyer, whose last day has yet to be determined, would not comment on the reasons behind his unexpected announcement.”

The reason is this:  NBC is over big money anchors and believes young and nameless (and by definition easily replaceable) is the way of the future.  And now, more than ever, I wonder how long Chuck and Sue will sit at the desk in New York.  Sources this week confirmed what I had only jokingly suggested:  that yes, NBC has had “brainstorming sessions” that have focused on a WNBC without its longtime anchor.  If your goal is translating local news to an ever younger demographic, the thinking goes, why stay tied to a guy who, you know, is only getting older?

Jay Leno, Key Component of NBCs Secret Evil Plan

Jay Leno, Key Component of NBC's Secret Evil Plan


And then there’s Boston.  A key component of NBC’s Secret Evil Plan is the move of Jay Leno to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, bringing his sleep-inducing show from its position AFTER the local news, and putting it on as a LEAD-IN to local news.  Once upon a time, NBC produced excellence in the 10 o’clock hour:  dramas that were so good, the network and its local stations worked together to seamlessly move from the last frame of the drama right into the first tease of the local newscast, so as not to lose a single eyeball.  It was designed to deliver a profitable payoff for stations, especially NBC’s O&Os.

Now comes Leno.  An hour.  Every weeknight.  Imagine how tired you’ll be by the time 10:58 rolls around.  Ed Ansin, no stranger to maximizing an audience at ten o’clock, decided he’d be better off in Boston doing an hour of news.  As Ansin told the Boston Globe, “We feel we have a real opportunity with running the news at 10 p.m. We don’t think the Leno show is going to be effective in prime time,” Ansin said yesterday. “It will be detrimental to our 11 o’clock [newscast]. It will be very adverse to our finances.”

Even more interesting than Ed Ansin’s pushback against NBC (and do you think he’ll be the only one?) is the enraged response from the network:  “WHDH’s move is a flagrant violation of the terms of their contract with NBC,” John Eck, president of NBC Television Network, told the Globe. “If they persist, we will strip WHDH of its NBC affiliation. We have a number of other strong options in the Boston market, including using our existing broadcast license to launch an NBC-owned and operated station.”

So much to dissect in that statement.  But let’s go with the craziest first.  NBC would invest in starting its own station in Boston?  Over Leno?  The network’s been trying for months to offload some of the best local stations in the country, with no luck.  Clearly, NBC thinks owning stations is a losing proposition.  A year ago, LostRemote reported on a revealing NBC memo:  “We’re in the process of re-engineering the way we think, shifting our focus from a traditional stations business to becoming full-service local-media-production centers,” NBC Local Media president John Wallace said in an internal memo obtained by Broadcasting & Cable.

WHDH/Boston:  Ed Ansin Wants 7 News, Not Leno

WHDH/Boston: Ed Ansin Wants 7 News, Not Leno


So it’s really not about having a station in Boston.  It’s about destroying local news as we know it. And damn Ed Ansin if he still believes in local news as a profit center!  Not only that, but how rude of WHDH!  Leno grew up in Andover, Mass!  You’re basically stabbing a local boy in the back in the name of a few bucks!

Oh wait.  That’s what NBC does every day.  Never mind.

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20 and Out: WNBC Fires Len Berman. Anything, It Seems, to Save a Buck at NBC.

WNBCs Len Berman

WNBC's Len Berman


“I do not want to retire,” Len Berman told Richard Huff at The New York Daily News.  But after 20 years as main sports anchor at WNBC, Berman’s getting the boot, the latest goliath to fall at a station that was once known far and wide for having assembled a stellar collection of New York journalists, many of them, like Berman, a nationally-known name with his appearances on Letterman and his “Spanning the World” segment. But hey, there’s that nasty downside to being a “name.”  You know, that oversized salary.

So Berman’s gone.  Not because WNBC’s eliminating sports, as some other cash-strapped and struggling local stations are doing.  This is all about the money.  WNBC news director Vickie Burns writing in a newsroom memo:  “Going forward, we remain committed to our local sports franchise and will announce new plans for our coverage soon.”  You gotta love those “we’ll figure out the rest soon memos.  It basically tells you the key thing was getting rid of a superstar and his salary.  How they’ll fill the big man’s shoes?  Eh.  We’ll figure it out. The key thing is we just knocked off a legend and saved a TON of cash.  You can almost imagine the relieved high-fiving going on among the suits.  That wasn’t so hard!  Maybe we should ditch Sue next?

Spanning the World for 20 Years

On the Daily News website this morning, they’ve got a poll:  “Are you sad to see Len Berman go?”  The overwhelming answer:  “Yes.  He’s a New York City icon,” with 84%.  You’d like to think this was a not all that funny April Fool’s joke from Channel 4.  And then you remember.  It’s NBC.  No sense of humor.  No sense of history.

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WNBC Without Chuck Scarborough? NBC Couldn’t Possibly Be That Stupid. Right? Um… right?

Chuck (and Sue)... Somehow Making it Feel Like Nothings Changed

Chuck (and Sue)... Somehow Making it Feel Like Nothing's Changed

At first read, the dramatic Gawker headline was downright laughable: “NBC News to Axe Chuck Scarborough and Paul Moyer?” Uh… Sure. Just go ahead and kill the last shred of respectability at WNBC in the name of saving Chuck’s reported three million beans a year.  The very idea that “content center” suits would make such an astonishingly stupid move seemed simply beyond the realm of believability.

Right?  I mean, we’re talking NBC here.

Oh, no.

For the record, WNBC shot down the Gawker post this way:  “It is not true. He is not being bought out. Chuck is a big part of our station.”  And he is.  He IS the station.  Watching WNBC on a recent JetBlue flight, I thought to myself, my God, without Chuck this would be absolutely unwatchable.  Suave Chuck with his unflappable delivery and that oh so familiar, comforting voice somehow performs magic every day for Channel 4:  he makes it seem like the same old WNBC.  

Take Chuck out of the equation and what’s left?  

Could NBC even float that in the wildest of brainstorming sessions?  

And then I realized sure they could.  Of course they could.  Why wouldn’t they?  

This is the same station that, in the name of cost-cutting and creating a new kind of multiplatform content delivery machine killed off just about every name reporter they had;  it was like the Yankees, in a fit of cost-cutting to pay for their new stadium, had gone into the dugout and started firing their best players…suddenly fielding a team of up-from-the-minors nobodys.  The Yankees hoping to fill seats on the familiar name, the pinstripes, and Derek Jeter.  And yet that’s been the blueprint at WNBC.  

Kill Off the Captain? Fire the Franchise? Seriously?

But fire Jeter?  Chuck is Derek Jeter at WNBC.  Gawker reports:  “It used to be that, in local news at least, the anchor meant everything and was worth outsize salaries some of them have commanded in major markets. If Scarborough and Moyer, both of whom are giants in the business, get axed, it means that ‘NBC is essentially getting out of the local news business,’ one NBC source says.”

If only the managers at NBC were as reliable and focused on truly fielding a winning team as the Yankees. Because you know there’s really no chance anybody’s been brainstorming about saving a few bucks by offloading Derek Jeter.  But then again, the Yankees still perform.  They still sell out at home. And, most important, they have money.  

Lots and lots of money.

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WNBC/NY Newsers Party in Midtown: "Severance Fest '09"


Yeah.  It wasn’t your typical going away party.  As detailed in the New York Observer’s The Media Mob column, WNBC/NY newsers gathered at an Irish bar in midtown recently to send off a group of some of Channel 4’s best and brightest;  not headed to bigger and better things, just headed “in a different direction,” as the ludicrous management cliche goes.

“In the days leading up to the party, some staffers jokingly referred to it as a ‘Wake 4 NY and a ‘gathering of the recently departed.’ Others took to calling it ‘Severence-Fest 2009.'”  As the once-mighty WNBC has transformed in recent months from a team of titans to an ever-more-anxious group of survivors in the “Content Center,” the bold-faced names that once populated the place have been picked off, one by one.  

“By the time Friday night rolled around, everyone needed a stiff drink, went the thinking. And in the end, despite the recent gloominess at WNBC-4, Friday night’s party turned into a jovial affair, according to several attendees. The cash bar, located in the basement of Legends 33, was packed by 7:30 p.m., and the party didn’t break up until 3:30 a.m. By Monday morning, photos of the revelry were already making their way onto Facebook,” the Observer reports.

Jay DeDapper

Jay DeDapper

Recently laid off political reporter Jay DeDapper served as an impromptu emcee, and kept it positive, but told the paper the station New York had come to know over the last few decades as solid, serious, and staffed with veteran New Yorkers, has ceased to exist.  “It was more of a reunion and a goodbye. We put the dot at the end of the sentence. News Channel 4 is over.”  (DeDapper, though, is not.  He’s taken his show on the web.)

“Everything that we did, all the Emmys we won, all the great stories and series we did, that’s done,” he added. “There may be great stuff in the future with the new group of people. We’re just not going to be a part of it. We had what we had. Now it’s time to move on.”

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WNBC/NY Newsers Party in Midtown: “Severance Fest ’09”


Yeah.  It wasn’t your typical going away party.  As detailed in the New York Observer’s The Media Mob column, WNBC/NY newsers gathered at an Irish bar in midtown recently to send off a group of some of Channel 4’s best and brightest;  not headed to bigger and better things, just headed “in a different direction,” as the ludicrous management cliche goes.

“In the days leading up to the party, some staffers jokingly referred to it as a ‘Wake 4 NY and a ‘gathering of the recently departed.’ Others took to calling it ‘Severence-Fest 2009.'”  As the once-mighty WNBC has transformed in recent months from a team of titans to an ever-more-anxious group of survivors in the “Content Center,” the bold-faced names that once populated the place have been picked off, one by one.  

“By the time Friday night rolled around, everyone needed a stiff drink, went the thinking. And in the end, despite the recent gloominess at WNBC-4, Friday night’s party turned into a jovial affair, according to several attendees. The cash bar, located in the basement of Legends 33, was packed by 7:30 p.m., and the party didn’t break up until 3:30 a.m. By Monday morning, photos of the revelry were already making their way onto Facebook,” the Observer reports.

Jay DeDapper

Jay DeDapper

Recently laid off political reporter Jay DeDapper served as an impromptu emcee, and kept it positive, but told the paper the station New York had come to know over the last few decades as solid, serious, and staffed with veteran New Yorkers, has ceased to exist.  “It was more of a reunion and a goodbye. We put the dot at the end of the sentence. News Channel 4 is over.”  (DeDapper, though, is not.  He’s taken his show on the web.)

“Everything that we did, all the Emmys we won, all the great stories and series we did, that’s done,” he added. “There may be great stuff in the future with the new group of people. We’re just not going to be a part of it. We had what we had. Now it’s time to move on.”

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“NY Nightly News” May Move to WNBC’s Cable Channel

Chuck Scarborough/Daily News Photo

Chuck Scarborough/Daily News Photo

The revamped news lineup at WNBC/NY may be getting revampier, according to a report in today’s NY Daily News. Richard Huff reports the Chuck Scarborough-helmed 7 p.m. “New York Nightly News” could be cable-bound in the next month, moving onto the yet-to-be-formally-named-or-described-but-definitely-24-hour-channel that WNBC has been planning as a key part of its evolution into a “content center.”

Huff reports: “As part of programming the new network, expected to launch next month, Ch. 4’s 7 p.m. newscast may slide over to the so-far-called NY Channel and become a “signature” show, the Daily News has learned.”

Sources also tell the News the 7 p.m. show will expand to an hour, and Scarborough will continue in his role as main anchor of Channel 4’s 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts.

What the remaining 23 hours will look like on the tentatively-titled “NY” channel remains unclear, though it won’t be an all-news competitor to Time-Warner’s NY1.

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