Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Other Youngstown TV Shoe Drops

The job carnage at the OTHER Youngstown TV news operation, the one absorbing Parkin ABC affiliate WYTV/33's news production starting Monday, wasn't quite as severe as the list of cuts at the station being merged into it.

But the Youngstown Vindicator reports that "about a half-dozen" workers at New Vision's WKBN/27-WYFX/17-62 were told that their services were no longer needed - mostly off-air/engineering/production types.

The two on-air staffers gone from "27 First News" include veteran reporter Joe Bell, who told the Vindicator that he was "a little bit outside (New Vision's) price range". The 15 year station vet wasn't saved by seniority rules, since those rules were suspended in a recent contract pact.

Bell, of course, was a highly visible union leader at WKBN, though he doesn't give any thought to the possibility that may have contributed to his departure.

"First News" reporter Tricia Perry is also leaving, though Bell says she voluntarily left - accepting a station buy-out offer. Considering the situation at WKBN/WYFX/WYTV, that might be the smartest move of all.

The layoffs announced last week at WYTV were much more severe - with 40 employees gone, including anchors Vince Bevacqua and Gina Marinelli.

And OMW hears that Bevacqua reluctantly gave a very brief farewell speech on "33 News"' last originally-produced newscast. In a solo shot - without Angee Shaker, who stays aboard - Bevacqua thanked viewers, and we hear he seemed to allude to the fact that Friday's program may be his last television newscast - ever.

(Maybe he'll catch up with former WKBN anchor Robb Schmidt, who made the escape to the world outside TV news to Youngstown State University's athletic department, and land somewhere at YSU.)

OMW also hears that coverage of the news merger was muted on the stations involved.

WYTV did not report the news on its own 11 PM program, and Bevacqua's newscast-ending speech didn't mention the reason for his departure, or anything else about this ongoing story.

We're told that "27 First News" touched on the story during its 10 PM "First News on FOX" on FOX 17/62, with a short voiceover ending, ironically enough, the Youngstown Business Journal-branded business segment.

Speaking of the Business Journal, it's been the place where much of the "behind the scenes" action has been documented.

On Friday, the paper's Andrea Wood detailed the moves, including the filing of a police report by Bevacqua over apparently threatening message board comments on the Youngstown Vindicator's website. The comments in question have been removed, but at least some station employees' comments are still there. (And they laughed when we started requiring logins for comments here...)

As earlier reported, the "33 News" operation is taking the weekend off, as New Vision and WKBN/WYFX readies a new studio to produce the station's newscasts starting Monday.

What will "33 News" look like Monday?

Well, the branding will continue in some form, and we're guessing that New Vision will move the current set at Shady Run Road into the new space on Sunset Boulevard.

With Vince Bevacqua and Gina Marinelli gone, Angee Shaker stays, as, apparently, does long-time sports anchor Bob Hannon and veteran weatherman Stan Boney.

As for the rest - the Business Journal's Andrea Wood sums it up:

Separate news branding and anchors will be maintained but editorial content and some reporters will appear on WYTV, WKBN and WYFX newscasts.

We'll guess here that all of the combined operation's reporters will mostly appear on all stations for the vast majority of stories, such as breaking news or hard news stories. Why send two sets of reporters to the same fire or news conference?

If WYTV does split off reporting, it'll likely be for various "special report" series the station does now.

This is all speculation, to make it clear. But though we don't have any indication this will happen, and we don't want to introduce any unneeded worry, OMW wonders how long the reasonably large combined reporting staff at WKBN/WYFX/WYTV will continue at that size.

If it all fits under the Shared Services Agreement between WYTV owner Parkin and WKBN/WYFX's New Vision, then we'll assume that question gets put off until that agreement needs renewed. Again, we hear nothing to suggest that further cuts are in the immediate offing.

But a year or two down the road, or whenever Parkin can renegotiate the contract? Who knows?

And with that, that's why we said Tricia Perry may have been smart to take the buyout, and move on...


max coyne said...

OMW...i must take issue with the term"carnage" this would indicate it was un avoidable...

the job loss is unfortunate to be sure....however it was un-avoidable...

Radio and TV revenues have not had any growth since 2002. This is a result of the market shrinking and good jobs going away...thus...there is much less disposable income......

there will be more....even WFMJ TV, which has never had to manage to a budget as the other operators must, will be hit sooner than later.

until new employers, employing 100 people or more, with good wages, return to mahoning, trumbull, and now portage county....there will be no positive finanacial news for the youngstown broadcasters...

Continue to Spread the Word!!! said...

Sad sad day in Youngstown... I really can't stand watching 21 and their reporters. Bob Black is old, Mark Koontz isn't right half the time, Dana Balash just doesn't compare to Bob Hannon.

Monday will be interesting to see how everything looks.... I will report back!