Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday Lunch

OK, so we're thinking of food as we get this late morning Monday update underway. Expect us to stop this from time to time as we raid our own kitchen...

SHE'S HERE: Imagine our surprise when OMW received a press release - directly - from Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 on its latest addition at "NewsChannel 5", assistant news director Roberta Petterson.

We got the full press treatment from WEWS, including a photo of Ms. Petterson.

Since we have the release, let's quote it:

WEWS NewsChannel 5 has named a Pittsburgh television executive as Assistant News Director. Roberta Petterson comes to WEWS from WTAE in Pittsburgh, where she also held the position of Assistant News Director. While there, she led WTAE’s newscast development, breaking news, investigative coverage and special projects.

“Roberta’s track record of success in guiding a dynamic news staff in a multiple-platform environment will enable NewsChannel 5 to continue to deliver Northeast Ohio’s leading news coverage,” said WEWS News Director Jill Manuel.

Petterson was responsible for WTAE’s coverage of last year’s Pennsylvania Primary and has played a key role in that station’s superior political coverage. Under Petterson’s leadership, WTAE’s investigative team won a Peabody and National IRE in 2008. She also won Murrow and Headliner awards for driving breaking news and big story coverage.

If this story sounds familiar to you, you're not dreaming...we broke news of this hiring over a month ago. (But we still appreciate the official release.)

Though we assume Ms. Petterson will be welcomed as a person and a new manager at 3001 Euclid, there has been some question within that building if a new assistant news director hire is a good idea in the current economic a world of hiring freezes, contract non-renewals and the like.

Our earlier item said Petterson would take her new role at WEWS on August 3rd.

As a note, WEWS parent Scripps just announced financial results that look like all the other big TV groups...according to this report from TVNewsCheck, the new name for the former TVNewsday trade site:

The E.W. Scripps Co. today reported second-quarter operating results for its television, newspaper, and licensing and syndication businesses. Revenue from the company's television stations was $61.1 million, a decrease of 24 percent from the second quarter of 2008.

You can almost predict TV revenue reports - they're all down roughly 20-30% from the same quarter in 2008...

YOUNGSTOWN TV CHANGES: As the New Vision stations in Youngstown prepare for Life After Bankruptcy, they're making some changes on the air.

New Vision-operated Parkin ABC affiliate WYTV/33 is leaving the 5 PM news game, as the company is no longer going to compete with itself at 5 for news viewers.

In what should be no surprise for a Youngstown media item, the information about this is from Andrea Wood and her Youngstown Business Journal:

As the operators of WKBN/WYFX and WYTV sail through bankruptcy reorganization with a hearing set for Sept. 10 to confirm the restructuring of $400 million in debt, local management today announced it will eliminate one newscast effective Sept. 21.

WYTV’s 5 p.m. weekday newscast will be replaced with a syndicated version of “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader,” says Dave Coy, general manager of the three TV stations. WYTV will continue to broadcast a local news program at 5:30 p.m., he notes.

There's a funny line in there, somewhere, about "Smarter Than a 5th Grader", but we'll let you come up with it in your own mind.

Since WYTV and WKBN are both operated by New Vision out of WKBN's long-time Sunset Boulevard home, it makes sense for the company not to mount two (semi-) different newscasts at the same it hopes news viewers will stick with 27 at 5, and head for 33 if they're not looking for news.

Willl the move increase "27 First News"' ratings at 5 PM, as it would only have to compete with Vindicator NBC affiliate WFMJ/21 for news viewers at that half-hour? They hope so, we presume.

But along with others in that market, we wonder how long New Vision will attempt to differentiate news content between "First News" and "33 News" with different reporters...or if 27/33 will see Erie-style news simulcasting at some point.

The station does say that no jobs will be lost in the move, and says there are no expected job losses as a result of the New Vision bankruptcy filing...a Chapter 11 filng that came packaged with help from the company's lenders. Nominal WYTV owner Parkin Broadcasting - which got financial help from New Vision to buy WYTV - is in the same proverbial boat...

A BOOST: There haven't been many complaints from Cleveland over-air digital TV viewers about the 1000 kW signal from CW affiliate WBNX/55.

But the station got FCC approval for a slight upgrade back in July. (Heads up to reader Andrew for the FCC approval link, which we also missed earlier!)

The new construction permit calls for WBNX's antenna to move about 25 meters or so higher on its Parma tower, at the same 1000 kW power level.

As TV reception is as much about height as it is about power level, some WBNX viewers on the fringes of the signal could see some improvement.

But in the List of Local TV Station Reception Complaints, the local CW outlet is way below such former powerhouses as Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8, and a certain alleged CBS affiliate claiming to serve the Cleveland TV market...

AND ONE RADIO ITEM: Though it's firmly within the territory of our friends at Tri-State Media Watch, the word "Cleveland" is in there somewhere.

From John Kiesewetter's blog on the Cincinnati Enquirer's website:

Christian WAKW-FM (Star 93.3) has a new boss: Randy James has been hired as program director to replace Kurt Wallace, who left in April to a Christian station on the air in Indianapolis. James has worked for WVMX-FM in Cleveland, WMMX-FM in Dayton and KHMX-FM in Houston.

Assuming Mr. James did indeed work at "Mix 106.5" here, the call letters, of course, are WMVX, not WVMX. The latter calls, once in Cincinnati, are now on Saga's "Mix 107.9" in the Columbus market...


steve said...

Supposedly, New Vision's shared services agreement, as reported by WKBN/WYTV when it was first established, said that the stations were not going to use the same on-air graphics and would not simulcast the news for both stations. In all fairness, they did mostly keep their promise to not "share" anchors, even though reporters rebrand all of their stories for both newscasts.

I'm also given to understand that FCC rules prevent them from combining the 27 and 33 graphics and branding in the Youngstown market anyway. Or is the FCC just going to look the other way like they did when this grey-area co-ownership was established two years ago? If New Vision can't afford to operate the stations they should just sell them.

Hey, I'll even buy one of the stations if it gives us some diversity in our local media. I think I can come up with some change from under the couch cushion.

Chuck Matthews Blog said...

Randy James was the "architect" of the MIX brand, first in Dayton, then Cleveland, expanding to other markets. WMVX/Cleveland, when it first hit the air was like "WOW! Now that is different!". Three station voices (voice shadowing), celebrity voiceovers for promos and contests. It was the first time Cleveland had been exposed to Jacor/CC's national contesting. WMVX and the Dayton MIX were both imaged by TR Reszney. Great producer! Later would image WMJI from 1999 to his release in 2007 (or as it 08, can't recall). WMMS producer Jonathan Brown-Tea (Jared Jewelers VO) would VO Mix/Houston. Randy had quite a format on his hands. Randy left Cleveland for another market...and MIX/Cleveland began it's slide.

Scott said...

The FCC does not regulate content, except for obscenity and indecency and the requirement for a certain amount of educational programming each week.

There are no FCC rules that would prevent 27 and 33 from sharing graphics and branding. Plenty of similar shared-services agreements do just that; indeed, I'm sitting in Fort Wayne tonight watching two such stations, WPTA (ABC) and WISE-TV (NBC), which share news staff and branding ("Indiana's News Center.")

steve said...

Well, then it's too bad it has to be that way. I pulled this article from when the agreement was first enacted, and the only hint that they would retain separate newscasts was this line "The agreement notes that WKBN will basically provide fully-formed newscasts for WYTV that 'will have an on-air appearance' as if WYTV originated them..."
Here's the link if you want to read the whole thing:

New Vision has taken every good talent at WYTV and either let them go for a lower-paid replacement or moved them to WKBN. It's like they are sapping WYTV of everything it had just to give WKBN a little ratings boost. And it won't make a difference. Their combined ratings usually don't even break even with WFMJ. I imagine Stan Boney's seniority, along with agreeing to anchor while he does weather has allowed him to remain the one holdout. And don't get me wrong, there are still some talented journalists and reporters at WKBN/WYTV, it's just too bad that 2/3 of Youngstown's on-air media is the same exact content, word-for-word, being broadcast by a bankrupt company from Georgia. Mr. Williamson would be disappointed if he was here to see this today.