A critical look at the Wichita TV news

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Extra points

Here are a few random points on my mind:

The Brady Bunch
I'll admit I was wrong. A few posts ago I complimented KAKE hire Carol(ine) Brady. She is serving as a fill-in on the weekdays for Jemelle Holopirek who is on maternity leave and also anchors/reports on the weekend mornings. I watched her with Mike Iuen last week anchoring the 1130 show a couple of times. Mike and Carol (I like the way it has that vintage TV show sound) are certainly no Mike and Jemelle. Carol comes across as a loud girl who has to comment about everything whether or not it relates to the topic at hand. (Marsha! Marsha! Marsha!) I feel bad for Mike Iuen because he is left picking up the pieces. Her comments leave him at times in some tough spots to get back in the flow of things. While she hurts Iuen, she helps Saturday morning co-anchor Cayle Thompson. In the past, I have said I didn't like Cayle anchoring Saturday morning, but that was when he shared the camera with former anchor Rachel Phillips. It was as if the two competed to one-up each other. With Carol he has toned himself down and it works, but still doesn't make up for Carol's loud brash nature. If I never had seen Cayle anchor with Rachel before, I probably wouldn't be as positive about his performance with Carol, but he has been forced to improve himself.

One Down, One to Go
With the Hawker Beech strike settled, it now looks like the 2nd aviation strike will soon begin with Boeing. I didn't really get a good look at the coverage from the three stations on the Hawker strike, but I cannot really think of many miscues. It was peaceful and once started I couldn't think of major developments. The stations did a decent job of talking to strikers and their families as it drug out, but still refrained from getting overly emotional with the story.

Musical Anchor Chairs
It didn't interest me as a topic until a comment was made from the last post. Someone wrote that at KSN on Friday, Anne Meyer anchored at 5PM, Jason Kravarik at 6PM and was wondering if Larry Steckline would anchor at 10. I am sure the last part was done tongue-in-cheek. For those who don't get up early every morning he is the guy who does the ag reports on KSN and is Anita Cochran's dad. At 10PM Larry didn't appear, but rather Dana Hertneky, but it did get me to thinking. Lately KSN has had Aileen Simborio fill-in to less than solid results. I thought the 3 replacements on KSN did a fine job and show KSN has other possibilities for fill-ins rather than Ailieen. As I mentioned in a previous post I thought Aileen handled her anchoring fill-ins poorly and did not interact well with weather and sports. Meanwhile the three filling in on Friday, overall did a nice job, they didn't force anything, yet they didn't hold back either.

Hal Writes something Positive:
Readers have criticized me saying I never write anything positive. Here it goes and with two people I have been critical of before. Kudos to KAKE's Abby Barnett, KSN's Casey Walkup as well as KWCHs Megan Strader for stories on a high school student from Winfield who was moments from having a different procedure performed, when a heart became available. A heartwarming story by all who did it. In stories like this its easy to add drama and emotion. There was plenty of that without adding any and I thought the three reporters did a nice job in balancing that.

Sarah Palin as a Sports Reporter: No this isn't a local tie-in, but it is related to local TV news (Anchorage). The current Governor of Alaska and now VP candidate was a sportscaster at an Anchorage TV station. Station KTVA found a clip of her anchoring sports on Good Friday 1989. The news that day was allegations of Pete Rose betting on baseball. I guess this topic is somewhat locally based, keep reading. If you make it through the clip keep watching, because you might recognize the anchor on the next clip. I sort of recognized the face, but didn't think of anything until the graphic appeared with the name, Matt Simon. He used to be a reporter for KAKE a couple of years ago and now is listed as a reporter for KTVA in Anchorage and he must also be an anchor.
The Palin Sports Clip:

Hurricane coverage
Since I have posted one link, why not another? As the hurricane approaches the Southeast, there is a site which posts links to the live coverage of the various spots in Gustav's target area. -Hal

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sweeps Month in August

Watching the stories Yesterday on some of the local stations, you would think it was a ratings month, however the Olympics on one of them makes it close to it. KWCH's story on the 911 dispatch system and problems sending out crews was well done both in content and execution. Although KSN ran a version of the story earlier in the day, it wasn't near to KWCH's Kim Wilhelm's story who had interviews from people who were forced to wait for help while equipment was dispatched from far away. It is a good example of the same topic, but with a few more details and a little polish the stories can come off much different. Good work KWCH on that one. I will give KSN credit for a story that ran after the Olympics on the VA Hospital and medical alarms being ignored and silenced. Josh Wittsman had a solid piece, but the more disturbing thing was that most of those interviewed feel like the situation has been taken care of, although it doesn't quite seem that way. This has been one of several special features KSN has aired following NBC's nightly Olympic coverage. I will say I think the network isn't helping its affiliates much by delaying the end of the Olympic coverage. Often times the athletic action will end and then they will continue with a few more segments of feature stories. With the coverage already past 11, I think it gives people further excuse to turn out before it even gets to the local news. So despite the large numbers NBC is pulling I would love to know what percent of that stays around for the local newscasts. I am sure it is an increase from normal, but could be better if NBC just got out of their coverage a few segments and minutes earlier. -Hal

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Getting Away from the Past

A comment from the last post struck me:

Hal - You always complain about Wichita TV news and say certain people are over-the-top. Everyone is doing it and frankly Wichita could stand to do more of it. Get away from your 50's-60's news thinking and get with Today.

Hey buddy, last I checked, stations across the nation are LOSING viewers to the internet and other viewing options. I don't know what exactly you are referring to, but I base this on my previous posts. You may argue that TV stations today cannot stand doing stuff of decades ago because of the internet, but I don't think just being louder and more annoying will prevent the inevitable, the death of local TV news.

On a separate note I see KSN has some new IDs, web logo and all. I guess they used the Olympics to premere it. I wonder if they are doing any other special things for the Olympics. With a big audience sampling them, this Olympics is big for a #3 station. I think they need to promote the stories they do and forget, as past posts have suggested, strategies from the past where they only promote weather and on-air talent viewers don't like. Maybe if they promoted some of their reporters and the stories they do it would go over better, than seeing them promote and expose their biggest problems like weather and a weak main anchor. -Hal

Friday, August 1, 2008

From the Mailbag

I was holding off on this topic for awhile, but I got a comment asking my opinion on a "fill-in" anchor on KSN:

Hal...what do you think about KSN Aileen Simborio?

I wondered what exactly Aileen did at the station, because I would see her every once in awhile, but not on a routine basis. I then discovered online, that she anchors the news for Western Kansas. Aileen might be fine doing news for Western Kansas, but should not be filling in for Anita. That is not a slam on those people out there, but I have seen those newscasts before (without Aileen) and the anchors don't have to interact with anyone on camera, so "happy talk" isn't a concern so Aileen probably would do OK with that. Aileen has been filling in for Anita on the 5,6 and 10PM newscasts all this week and did as well a few weeks ago. During that first stint, I didn't think she would get another chance at it, so I was surprised to see her once again in the anchor chair this past Monday. As much as I am not a fan of Anita, and I have written about that before on this blog, I think Anita is more watchable than Aileen. Anita does comes off colder, however she comes off more professional. Aileen doesn't come off as a human, but rather as a teleprompter reading the news with an occasional coo or giggle. KSN might be better off scripting her "happy talk" in the prompter, because all you get now if she tries to interact with Jim Kobbe or fill-in weatherman Leon Smitherman at 10 are awkward giggles and "right" or "thanks." Those 2 guys have set Aileen up for some great interaction this week, but she just fails and drops the ball all the time. I question why weekend anchor Anthony Powell doesn't fill-in or shuffle things around and let morning anchor Stephanie Bergman fill-in on the main casts.

While I am talking about new anchors, I have been impressed by new KAKE hire Caroline Brady. She appears to be filling in for Jemelle Holopirek. While she doesn't have an overly flashy or take charge delivery, its mild mannered and worked well with Mike Iuen this week. According to the KAKE website she will be anchoring the weekend morning show. I will say it should be a huge improvement over former weekend morning anchor Rachel Phillips. -Hal