Saturday, December 26, 2009


Watching tonight's "FOX 29 News" broadcast at 10:00 was obviously a one-man band for FOX 29 and anchor, Steve "how's my hairpiece look" Keeley, filling in for Joyce Evans. By the way, has anyone else noticed that FOX weekend newscasts are 99% fluff? The broadcast began with two "stories of the day" followed by prepackaged network segments then the remainder of the broadcast is repeat "fluff" segments seen earlier in the week. This has become commonplace on the weekends for FOX 29.
Another thing I noticed, never seen before in this market but something I've read about in the trades that seems to be the newest trend in TV news...the anchor operating their own teleprompter. Keeley could be seen operating the prompter with his right hand from a hand-operated box placed on the anchor desk. Very strange looking if you ask me.
Finally, when the broadcast shifted to "THE weather station" coverage, no meteorologist on-duty! Only, "one man band Keeley" giving the five day forecast. If newly hired Sally Ann Mosey couldn't work where was freelancer John Krasting? Heck, how about departed David Aldrich? OR, unemployed Rob Guarino?
All in all, a wasted sixty minutes of a newscast...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Prayers Go Out To Don Lancer

According to his blog, long-time KYW anchor, Don Lancer, has announced he is battling lung cancer. "Forty plus years of smoking, it's my own fault", says Lancer. His wife won the battle of lung cancer five years ago. We send our prayers to Lancer and ask that you do as well.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Remembrances of Dave Roberts...

"Action News" began a week-long segment tonight on the six o'clock evening newscast. Anchor Jim Gardner reminded viewers of Dave's retirment this he introduced the series remembering Dave's beginings in broadcasting. Set a reminder to check it out the rest of the week in the second segment of the newscast at approximately 6:13 p.m. In case you missed it, here's the link on WPVI's website.
Tuesday's broadcast included this remembrance by Rick Williams, while THIS rememembrance by Lisa Thomas-Laury is of the parades Dave has covered.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

KYW Traffic Man Out...

Long-time KYW traffic anchor, Tom Collins, has departed company with Metro Networks. Collins, anchor of the weeknight shift of six o'clock to midnight, worked on-air for KYW the past twelve or thirteen years and was last heard on-air November 20th.
Word has it that conditions at Metro Traffic are as bad as ever. Recent pay cuts were followed by additional company imposed "time give backs" where employees have been forced to give up the equivalent of three days compensation to be paid back by the company early next year. Apparently, the company is in serious financial distress making the latest employee contributions a necessity. Ongoing conditions remain of "more work and not enough people to do it effectively", I'm told. The producer and anchor pool is as scarce as ever -- making it difficult to cover vacations and call-outs. So far, I've heard weekender's RJ McKay and Eric Herr covering the open shift with no word on when it will be filled.
Metro has seen several traffic veterans come and go over the last few years including Lorraine Renalli, Dorothy Krysiuk, John Valario, Rod Carson, Tom MacDonald, Deborah Byrne, Matt Tacha, Mary Cantell and Brian Ramona. Renalli continues to promote her book, "Gravy Wars"; Krysiuk remains unemployed; Valario can be heard most nights anchoring at KYW newsradio; Carson works part-time at the PennDot Traffic Control Center; and no word on the latest doings of MacDonald, Byrne, Tacha, Cantell or Ramona.
I'm told Collins took an opportunity to utilize his talents with the folks at PennDot's Traffic Control Center.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

So long Erica Grow...

Another on-air talent has departed our local airwaves. This time, we say good-bye to Erica Grow from WPVI's "Action News". Nothing officially announced by PVI other than that Erica's one year contract was not renewed. It's unfortunate because I grew to like Grow! She really grew on me! (Okay, I'll stop...)
Hopefully, she will take her talent to another station real soon.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Former KYW Anchor Retiring...

For those with good memories from the late 80's who remember former KYW anchor, Jackie Hays? She departed KYW in 1988 for NBC affiliate WAVE-TV in Louisville KY and will retire at the end of the year to spend more time with her family, after serving nearly 22 years with the station.
Hays began at WAVE-TV in 1988 and is currently co-anchor of the station’s 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

So Long to Dawn...

Well, it seems I write these "so long..." items more and more these Dan Gross reports that FOX 29's Dawn Stensland has exited the premesis, unfortunately.
Gone now are the teams of Noonan, Chernekoff, Cariello/Guarino and Cherkin/Tolefson as well as Huddleston, Stensland, Guarino and Tollefson. Quite a shame too because all the changes the powers-that-be have made at FOX do not seem to have made a darn dent in their ratings. Bolaris' return gave NO RETURN on the ratings scale and my personal opinion of Kerri Lee Halkett is not a good one. I'll suffice to say that her sing-songy voice surely grates on my nerves and I see her as nothing more than a stand-up Barbie doll. When have you seen her in the field showcasing her journalistic skills?
It's no surprise, of course, that Dawn was shown the door. For over a year now, she's been absent from most news promotions and at some points in watching the broadcast, it almost felt as though maybe Dawn should slide her chair right off the set to make room for Halkett.
Hopefully, Stensland's agent has some irons in the fire for her...and good luck is wished for her--for sure.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

CBS-3 Cancels Eyewitness News at Noon

CBS-3 is cancelling their noon newscast to make room for a new "daily, lifestyle program" -- Talk Philly, set to debut Monday October 18th.

The new thirty minute show will be hosted by Pat Ciarrochi and Ukee Washington who have co-anchored Eyewitness News at Noon since 1996. According to Jon Hitchcock, President and General Manager, “Talk Philly is our chance to offer viewers more health, consumer and lifestyle solutions with the advantage of in-studio guests, longer interviews and demonstrations.” The program gives CBS-3 the opportunity to showcase the arts and entertainment goings-on in the city.

Talk Philly will broadcast from a newly-constructed set that was created to resemble a cozy Philadelphia loft, allowing for casual interactive conversation between hosts, guests and the home audience. Liz Keptner will provide news updates within the program with Maria LaRosa providing weather.

Monday, September 28, 2009

So Long David Aldrich

As you may have already read online or in the Philadelphia Inquirer--FOX 29 is bidding a farewell to meteorologist David Aldrich. Unfortunately, management declined to renew his contract which makes one wonder, WHY? Was it viewer surveys, which can be one reason for a non-renewal. Was he a "difficult employee"? Maybe a cost-cutting move? Or, just to plain--make room for former channel 6 weather gal, formerly from WNBC in New York, Sally Ann Mosey?
I can't say I understand FOX 29's logic, first--letting Rob Guarino go for the lackluster/has-been John Bolaris. Did Bolaris rise the meter rating of FOX 29 News? "Nadda!" In today's television news world, it's rare for the move of talent from one station to another to make a rating blip in the radar...and same goes for Bolaris, formerly of NBC10 who came to FOX from New York's WCBS. In my opinion, FOX 29 made a huge mistake in letting go Guarino. He was a true weather freak--and it showed in his forecasts. He was the one responsible for ramping up FOX 29's weather coverage, then came Aldrich who also jumped in to make FOX 29 the local station to turn to for an accurate forecast, especially in the hard-to-forecast winter season!
Now the news comes that Aldrich follows Guarino out the door as well. SHAME ON FOX 29 MANAGEMENT...nothing against Sally Ann Mosey (because I actually like her and look forward to seeing her on our local air again)--but--you've lost this viewer's confidence for sure!
I can't help but wonder that Sue Serio will be the next victim of the ax!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

WPVI debuts their new digs

"Impressed" would be my word to describe WPVI's new facilities. You too can see the new facilities here in a 16 minute tour given by Matt O'Donnell and David Murphy. The tour shows the lobby, newsroom, accuweather office, microwave control room, studio/set and the "Action News Patio" overlooking Monument Road. The new set is quite impressive as well! The crystal city skyline is to the left rear of the anchor desk...the accuweather set to the right, as before. "...Alot sleeker looking all-in-all..." as evidenced by the debut on-air tonight, during the 11 o'clock newscast...shown at about 11:44 p.m. after Nascar on ABC. Adam Joseph broadcast the first outside weather teaze from a new outdoor locale as well. No more weather off City Avenue with the "honkers" driving by in the background. Also new, the "7 day Accuweather forecast"...where the 5 day graphic is displayed as before. Then, instead of the former "look ahead" graphic, the 5 day graphic now expands to "day 6 and day 7", taking up the full screen, to allow the talent to walk back to the anchor desk from the green screen.
Rob Jennings got the honor of christening the anchor chair--putting Action News on their newest journey in broadcast journalism.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Action News

We're only a matter of weeks away from the crew at PVI to be hanging their hat in their new building that was completed a few months back. Everyone has moved in and the news staff are now in the process of making their move. As I wrote below (from April)--I'm told there won't be any real drastic changes in the new set. Has anyone noticed the "crystal city skyline" is gone from the current set? I'm told big money was paid for that and it will be incorporated into the new set. Plans call for the crew to soon begin doing duplicate newscasts from the new studio as a rehearsal for going live from there in the next few weeks.

Posted 4/09: Look for the crew at WPVI to move into their new digs, next door, and be broadcasting from there by early September. I'm told that staff is pretty psyched about the new state-of-the-art facility along Monument Road just east of City Avenue and their current home which was considered "state-of-the-art" back in the day. Don't look for any drastic change in the on-air look of the Action News broadcasts, however. I'm told there will be a few tweaks here and there that are in the plan but overall--the home of Action News will pretty much look as it does now.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sean Murphy Drives Into The Sunset

Former CW57 "Wake Up News" traffic reporter Sean Murphy--who transferred to CBS3 in June when "Wake Up News" awoke at 5 a.m. for the last time--has been canned from CBS3. Marnie Hall's Philly Gossip recently reported that initial rumors were that the features/traffic back-up reporter recently signed a 3 year contract to remain at KYW. However, management took an early-out clause and bid farewell to Murphy instead. Murphy is married to the daughter of former CBS3 General Manager Michael Colleran who retired from CBS3 about five months ago and seemed to be Murphy's biggest fan. Time will tell who Bob Kelly's official back-up will be but smart money would bet on Jamie Shupak?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Shupak Clearing The Way..

Philadelphia Inquirer's Inqlings reporter, Michael Klein, reported yesterday the "clearing of the way" for Jamie Shupak, the FOX 29 Traffic reporter for weekday FOX 29 news broadcasts. Shupak has been an interim fill-in for the departed Dorthy Krysiuk since October 2008. FOX 29's reason for the decision is "economics" and will have the anchors voiceover the traffic problems over the video feeds from Penndot. Shupak will most likely use her nine months on-air experience to add to her resume for another traffic gig, most likely, outside of Philadelphia. Traffic Pulse provides traffic information to Channels 3, 6, 10 and 29 while Metro/Shadow Traffic provides their information to Channel 3 as well as local radio stations and XM/Sirius.
Who knows if it's really "economics" or just a change of direction by management. In reviewing the FOX blogs, it seems she has about a 60/40 group out there. About 40% seem to like her and about 60% who seem to dislike her. Comments were posted about her wearing yellow nail polish (something one would do in college, one person posted); her annoying voice, her lack of professional dress (too tight blouses, belly blouses exposing her stomach on-air as several posted) and even a comment from another about her having "great camel toe"! Based on some of the postings, I would think management might have decided to find someone else "down the road" a little more polished and professional.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mike Jerrick's First Day...

Mike Jerrick's return to FOX 29 was today and his first day on "Good Day Philadelphia" was uneventful. He kissed co-host Sheinelle Jones and weathergal, Sue Serio, who commented "do you believe I'm still here!". Later, as he introduced traffic reporter, Jamie Shupak, he walked over to her to give a kiss on the cheek...all very hokey and silly stuff. GDP's John Anderson was reporting live from the Lehigh Valley on the Eagles summer camp with Hugh Douglas. Does FOX 29 really think Douglas has the chops for television? Wow---the guy is a disgrace to television professionals!

Jerrick returned to Philadelphia from his cancelled national FOX show "The Morning Show with Mike & Juliet" that lasted two years. He hosted GDP for three years from 1999 until 2002 when he bolted for a national gig with FOX News Channel.

Philadelphia Daily News' Dan Gross reports that plans are in the works for GDP to expand from four hours to five beginning September. John Anderson will co-host from 5 a.m. till 7 a.m. with Jones and then give up the anchor chair to Jerrick from 7 a.m. till 10 a.m.

Jerrick began his TV career at Topeka Kansas station WIBW-TV and later moved on to New York's WNYW-TV as a producer for a time before moving on to San Francisco station KPIX-TV. Jerrick also worked for HBO, Sci-Fi, the "America's Talking" cable network as well as CNBC.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I hear everything is on track for the Action News family to be moving into their new digs in the next 4-6 weeks. Construction, which began in the summer of 2007, was completed some time ago. Now, it's the completion of all the wiring involved of an HD state-of-the-art type facility it is.

I'm told the station should go on-air from the new building by early September. As I wrote in late April, don't expect any drastic changes in the look of "Action News", only some tweaks here and there. The studio will definitely be larger which should allow some elbow room in future programming.

WPVI went on the air September 13th, 1947 as WFIL-TV. WFIL-TV was the home of Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" which hit our airwaves in 1952 and went national on the ABC network in 1957. WFIL-TV was also ABC's first affiliate.

A little known fact I found interesting? According to Wikipedia, channel 6 never carried ABC's new morning news show, "AM America", back in 1975 when ABC decided to create a morning news show to compete with NBC's "Today". ABC cancelled the ratings struggled "AM America" six months later and debuted "Good Morning America" in October of that year. WPVI only aired the first hour, opting instead, to air locally produced "Captain Noah and his Magical Ark" in the 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. hour. It took three years until ABC pursuaded WPVI to air the show in its entirety. Similiar situations happened with ABC's "Home" show (anchored by Robb Weller and Sandy Hill) and daytime soap, "The Edge of Night". "Home" was preempted entirely and finally hit WPVI's air only to have the first half hour preempted. "The Edge of Night" never aired on WPVI but instead, on independent stations in Philadelphia that were contracted by ABC to carry the show.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Gary Papa Passes On...

I join the fans, viewers and the 6ABC family in mourning the passing of Gary Papa. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and two sons. Channel 6 devoted their entire 90 minutes (5 p.m.-6:32 p.m.) to Gary's life and time at Channel 6. You can read about his life here

At the close of the 6 p.m. "Action News" they showed a 2 minute video montage of Gary played to the song "The Time of My Life" which was quite touching.

You can watch the announcing of Gary's death, by Jim Gardner,here.

Rest in peace Gary!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Phone Rings Live On-Air

Near the close of PVI's 6 p.m. Action News tonight (Mon 6/15th)--Adam Joseph (filling in for Dave Roberts) was throwing it back to Jim Gardner as he sat back down at the anchor desk detailing thunderstorms coming into Center City from neighboring Montgomery county. As Adam said "a small storm, but a POTENT storm--with the possibility that..." at which point the phone behind Gardner began to ring. Adam acknowledged it by laughing and saying "someone's calling us over here, who is it Jim?"
Gardner turned right around, saying "the phone is ringing!"...picked up the phone and said "HELLO?". Adam cracked up again saying "THEY HUNG UP!". Gardner then responded by saying, "running out of time here--I'm sorry!". Gardner went on to say, "first time THAT'S EVER HAPPENED!" as he squinted, smiled and shook his head in amusement. Gardner promoted the upcoming World News Tonight and as they went to commercial, Gardner picked up the phone again with Jaime Apody and Adam Joseph laughing at Gardner.
Nothing like LIVE TV, at its best!

What is up with???

...the women on-air wearing the false eye lashes? I first wrote about this in regards to channel 6's Monica Malpass. She looked ridiculous and still does, in my opinion. Yeah-yeah, I's because of HD. Now, I stumble across channel 10 and Traci Davidson and weather gal Michelle Grossman are doing it now too! It looks just as bad on them and I hate to say it -- but -- Grossman looked like she might be working the corner of Broad and Spruce. Davidson is one of the more attractive young ladies on our air and simply does not need false eyelashes to "make her eyes pop". Just my opinion.

Bye-Bye John Blunt

After about 25 years John Blunt waves goodbye from channel 10 where he's been employed since 1984. At one time, Blunt was anchor of the "Live at 5" newscast and has spent the last handful of years anchoring weekend mornings at 10 and reporting three days during the week.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bye-Bye "Wake UP News"

Laura Nachman reports this morning on the demise of CW57's "Wake UP News" anchored by Natasha Brown along with Christa Quinn and Shaun Murphy. It's unfortunate the market is losing another *local* broadcast and another alternative to news broadcasts currently being offered.
The plan is to continue CBS-3's "Eyewitness News" from 7-9 a.m. after they say goodbye on channel 3.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

What's Got Me Bugged?

I'll steal the phrase from FOX-29's segment "What's Bugging You" because THIS POST is about FOX-29's "News at Ten".
On Thursday night's broadcast, May 14th--the news crew at FOX decided they should lead their newscast with the John & Kate rocky relationship story of TLC network's "John & Kate Plus 8". I find it unbelievable this would lead a local newscast when Chrysler announced the same day that close to 800 dealerships in this country would close in the next few weeks. Approximately 15 in our local area are affected.
Is this the direction FOX-29 is going? *NewsFLUFF*? It sure makes one wonder.

Monday, May 4, 2009

UPDATED: Use of Digital Feeds

Here's an UPDATE to my 4/20/09 post "Use of Digital Feeds". A new HD digital network, "Live Well HD Network" launched April 27th on the top ten ABC owned-and-operated stations in the top markets, including here in Philadelphia on WPVI-2. The new network is scheduled to debut in other markets by September of this year.
The program schedule includes six 30 thirty minute series including an interior design show, Home with Lisa Q; a healthy cooking show, Let's Dish; beauty and fashion show, Mirror/Mirror; a health and medicine show called Say Ahh ; an outdoor lifestyles program, Motion; and Advice for Life, an advice driven type program.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

PVI's New Home

Look for the crew at WPVI to move into their new digs, next door, and be broadcasting from there by early September. I'm told that staff is pretty psyched about the new state-of-the-art facility along Monument Road just east of City Avenue and their current home which was considered "state-of-the-art" back in the day. Don't look for any drastic change in the on-air look of the Action News broadcasts, however. I'm told there will be a few tweaks here and there that are in the plan but overall--the home of Action News will pretty much look as it does now.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Use of Digital Feeds

As I mentioned in the previous post--WPVI channel 6 chose not to air live "traditional" coverage of the Harry Kalas memorial service this past Saturday which was held at Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia. I commented that, even though they aired streaming video online at makes me wonder why they didn't also air coverage on WPVI-2, one of their digital feeds?
Currently, WPVI has two additional channels in this digital age. WPVI DT2 and WPVI DT3. DT2 airs *repeat shows* such as "FYI Philly", "New Visions", "Perspective: Delaware" and alot of paid programming. DT3, better known as "Action News Now" is a 24/7 broadcast of local and national weather (provided by AccuWeather) along with news headlines.
Over at WCAU's NBC-10, there are also two additional digital channels. WCAU DT2 is "NBC Plus" (the former WeatherPlus) much like WPVI's 24/7 local/national weather. WCAU DT3 is "NBC Sports" provided by NBC.
KYW-3 and FOX-29 do not currently air digital feed signals. WPSG-TV "CW Philly 57" airs THREE additional digital feeds. There is children's programming Qubo; lifestyle type programming on ION Life and the power of faith on Worship.
A look at how some other markets have become creative in the programming of their digital feeds? CW affilate WTVX-34 in the Miami area airs three digital feeds one of which is "Retro TV Network" with oldies shows such as "Ironside", "Marcus Welby M.D.", "Emergency", "Kojak", "Adam-12", "Dragnet" and "The Incredible Hulk" to name a few.
New York's NBC affiliate, WNBC-4, began programming "New York Nonstop"--a 24 hour local news network similiar to CNN but with lighter fare and more repeated news cycles while Houston CBS affiliate KBTX airs "The Martha Stewart Show", "Family Feud", "Trivial Pursuit" and other syndicated fare on its DT2 feed.
ABC affiliate, WNEP-16 out of the Scranton-Wilkes/Barre market is probably the boldest and most creative I've heard about. They recently began airing a continuation of their weekday early morning "NewsWatch 16 This Morning" in the 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. timeslot after saying goodbye on their main channel and signing off to ABC's "Good Morning America". Station management felt it was just a logical move in providing news, weather and information to those looking for "local" versus the national network fare.
Other networks such as Retro TV are out there attempting to grab this additional "tree fruit" that has blossomed in the digital TV age. I would love to see stations continue to reach out to the viewer and utilize their digital feeds in this type of *interesting programming* as well as breaking news events. Live coverage of a story could be provided and promoted on the digital feed while still airing network fare on the main channel. Imagine Channel 6 airing a show in the 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. slot to compete with FOX-29's "Good Day Philadelphia"? It wouldn' take much on Matt O'Donnell and Tamala Henry's part to give "Good Day" a run for their money with "Action News Later Morning"! How about KYW-3 airing "Eyewitness News at 5 p.m." once they begin digital streaming -- against their own "Dr. Phil"?
Obviously, economics is probably the biggest obstacle in all of this and time will tell what direction this type of programming goes.

Reflections on Harry Kalas Memorial

The Harry Kalas memorial was held Saturday (4/18th) at the Phillies hometurf, Citizens Bank Park, and covered LIVE by not only CBS-3 but MyPHL-17 (using the news crew from NBC10), FOX-29, Comcast Sportsnet as well as inserts within the news on KYW 1060/Newsradio by Mike Dinardo who was good friends with Harry.
The viewing service, scheduled to begin at 8 a.m., started earlier than planned at about 7:35 a.m. when officials began allowing mourners to pay their last respects. Two large pictures were placed at the casket as mourners and fans passed by.
I watched the coverage provided by CBS-3 with Susan Barnett and Chris May handling the anchor desk. Beesley Reese and Don Bell anchored the service from the ballpark which drew Darren Daulton, John Kruk, Mr. and Mrs. Mike Schmidt, Mitch Williams, Larry Andersen, Merrill Reese, Howard Eskin among hundreds of others.
Interestingly, Channel 6 did not air coverage but chose to stream coverage online at This is when, in my opinion, stations aren't utilizing their HD digital feed capability to their fullest potential. Why couldn't they have aired live coverage on WPVI-2? THAT is an entirely separate subject (the underuse of programming on stations' digital feeds)
The service was well done, quite moving and the Phillies organization should be proud. Rest in peace Harry...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rough Going at Metro/Shadow Traffic These Days

I was sent an email today of details that don't bode well for the folks at Metro/Shadow traffic, Westwood One. Folks like Sam Clover, Pat Winters, John Brown, Tom Collins and Mike Lankford who report your traffic on KYW newsradio are among those affected. Other traffic announcers you may recognize from Metro/Shadow are folks like Paul Perello, Wendy McClure, Bill Zimpfer, John Butterworth, Randy Chepigan, Bryan Ramona and Cindy Graham to name a few on stations such as WMGK, WPST, WRTI, WOGL, WPHT, WXTU, WHYY, south Jersey's WSJO and even Sirius/XM Traffic.
Metro/Shadow producers and announcers voted in June 2008 to be represented by AFTRA (the American Federation of Television and Radio Announcers) because of "an increase in deteriorating working conditions that included a lack of training, a lack of sufficient staff to provide the top-notch product expected by their affiliates, a lack of merit increases, a lack of working equipment and a lack of overall good management" to name a few.
Since late summer 2008, AFTRA and Metro employees have been negotiating for a contract with top-level management but were only able to reach a tentative agreement on a few issues. The biggest issues remain unresolved, according to AFTRA, such as the lack of an agreement to minimum pay rates for staff, the lack of an agreement to layoff/severence protection (which is in place in other Metro/Shadow centers across the country), the lack of an agreement to put in writing that adequate training for new technology will be implemented OR the implementation of training for the introduction of new markets.
Metro/Shadow Philadelphia not only covers traffic for the Philadelphia market but also the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pittsburgh and Mercer county markets. I'm told there is little to any resources, however, in the gathering process for these other markets. The first question one might ask would be "how do you cover traffic for a city 65 to 300 miles away without resources such as a driver or scanners for that area"? A very good question and one of many concerns at Metro/Shadow.
According to AFTRA, from 2003-2007 Westwood One/Metro Networks saw its stock fall from a high in the $30s to around $1.50 per share by the end of 2007. In January 2008, magazine executive Tom Beusse was hired to address the problems in the company and make improvements in both profit and quality of the product. Buesse hired a consulting firm Spring of 2008 to conduct a review of the company's efficiency and by September of '08, Buesse determined layoffs were in order. Three hundred producers/announcers across the country were let go (15% of the Metro/Shadow payroll) and a month later, that $1.50 per share dropped to just 18 cents per share. The Beusse regime lasted a mere nine months and, according to AFTRA, his severence package included the following:
*$1.9 million in cash over a two year period
*18 months of health insurance coverage
*Stock options for 333,333 shares of Company stock
*A $300,000 cash bonus

The Philadelphia center lost 30% of its staff; thirteen announcers/producers including long-time traffic innovator Rod Carson. However, at the same time were given more business by adding the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Pittsburgh markets. The Harrisburg market comes on-board in the next few months, according to AFTRA with shore traffic that Metro/Shadow is known for just about eight weeks away. "More work, less people, little to no resources" is the word I'm told.
The next question is, "at what point does the product suffer if it hasn't already? A road in Pittsburgh could literally collapse any weeknight or weekend and it wouldn't be out of the question that it would never make it into the information broadcast on XM/Sirus or the internet. Management hasn't put any resources in place to actually gather the information properly", I'm told. The Pittsburgh market is staffed locally during the weekday business hours, according to AFTRA.
With the exception of a few long-termers most of the staff make $10-$15 an hour, according to AFTRA, including the only two African-American producers who are the two lowest paid employees and have been on-staff a number of years.
AFTRA recently presented their issues to about fifty AFL-CIO union members last week and report their delegates were "outraged" that Westwood One would pay someone $1.9 million to lay-off 300 employees AND give a $300,000 severence bonus when the stock price dropped 88% during his tenure. Additionally, AFTRA's Metro/Shadow representation is "sick and tired of CEO's around the country, including Westwood One, getting huge bonuses while working people get nothing".
Negotiations continue at Metro. However, as of the March 20th negotiations management continues to refuse to agree to a contract with set minimums, a severence package and even withdrew a previously agreed-upon 1.5% wage proposal and replaced it with "no proposal on wages at this time". This is considered in poor taste in the union negotiating process and certainly not well-received by AFTRA.
Metro's next negotiating session is scheduled for April 16th.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Cherie Bank Steps Down

You may have heard the news yesterday that NBC 10's Cherie Bank has made the decision to step down from her post as the station's health/medical reporter for "HealthWatch" at the young age of 58.
Cherie has been fighting myopic degeneration the past 17 months or so and had to make the difficult admission that she can no longer do her job. She was last on-air in October 2007.
Bank created a name for herself at Channel 10 as an anchor and reporter, way before her medical reporting beat. She fell in line with the long line of female anchors at Channel 10 who came and went. Doreen Gentzler, Stephanie Stahl, Deborah Knapp, Kasey Kaufman and Jane Robelot. It was in 1983, however, that she built a niche for herself with "HealthWatch".
Bank joined Channel 10, a CBS affiliate--in 1979 from St. Louis where she co-anchored the evening news. Once here, Bank co-anchored "10 Around Town" with colleague Steve Levy. The show was a lifestyles/entertainment type show that earned a #1 spot in the ratings and something of a rarity these days, "LOCAL PROGRAMMING". She was an active participant of the now-defunct "NBC 10 Fit Fest" held each year at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, a symposium of health-related information booths sponsored by the station. She earned numerous Emmy awards for her medical reporting and even appeared on NBC's "Today" and "The Montel Williams Show". TV follower/columnist Laura Nachman wrote in December 2002 that Bank was favored 44% as the area's favorite medical reporter over WPVI's Anita Brikman or Dr. Dorian Schneider.
Bank continues to live in the burbs with her daughter, Emily.

Friday, March 13, 2009

So Long to Don Polec

What a shock. Michael Klein from "The Insider" reports today that Don Polec will be going buh-bye from Channel 6. After being actively employed by "Action News" since 1982, Polec's contract was not renewed. What a shame. His reports at the end of most newscasts were a fun, unique way to end the show. He'll definitely be missed.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Quite the Hub-Bub on Guarino

Former FOX29 weather-caller Rob Guarino is causing quite a stir on the web these days. Apparently, his wish is to return to Philadelphia and back on the airwaves here. So, he's using his website "" to ask readers to rally the TV honchos here and attempt to pursuade them to consider him on their station.
One would have to ask, how does this look to his managers at his current station in Albuquerque? Certainly doesn't look good in my opinion. Some web posters even go as far to say Guarino never had "a name" here in Philadelphia...that it doesn't matter how many schools you visit--it's RATINGS that really matters. Personally, he ought to be counting his blessings that even HAS a gig in todays economy and with news stations downsizing.
Of course, having a new girlfriend here probably doesn't make it any easier since his children are still here with his ex-wife.
Inside word is Guarino has zero chance of returning to Philadelphia airwaves. FOX29 has no interest, obviously. He would never have a chance at WPVI's channel 6. Channel 3 has no openings and he already was considered by Channel 10.
Obviously, time will tell--but for the time being -- it looks like lots of air commuting between the city of Brotherly Love and Albuquerque.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Eyewitness News on CW57 Debuts

Last night was the debut of Dave Huddleston anchoring "Eyewitness News on the CW Philly" at 10 p.m. Best I could tell, it was a nice paced newscast with everything one might need or want at the bedtime hour. They even changed the set "a tad" to reflect the CW Philly logo over a Center City skyline.
Huddleston seemed to shine a bit more as a solo anchor than his days as co-anchor on FOX 29. Just my opinion.
Doug Kammerer will do weather for the broadcast with Beasley Reece handling sports. A great first show you might want to check out as an alternative to the 30 minute "My PHL 17 News at Ten".

Monday, January 26, 2009

Saturday Morning News Wiped From The Slate

A reader emailed asking me why there was no newscast this past Saturday on CBS-3? I was not able to get an answer. However, according to an update posted on Laura Nachman's website--CBS-3 has confirmed they've eliminated the Saturday morning newscast "to concentrate on other resources such as the upcoming weekday newscasts on Philly 57". Sounds more like a cutback to me...since not only are the on-air talent on the payroll but also cameras, audio, etc. What a shame...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A 3rd 10 p.m. Newscast

As you may have seen in the headlines this week--CBS-3 have plans up their sleeve to expand on their news by adding a 10 p.m. broadcast to compete with PHL 17's "My PHL News at Ten" and "Fox 29 News at Ten".
CBS-3 confirms the new 30 minute newscast, "Eyewitness News at Ten on CW Philly 57" debuts Monday February 2nd. It will be anchored by new-hire/former FOX 29 anchor, David Huddleston.
I've read from industry message boards things like "oh no, not him again..." to "good decision!" to "jeez--he looks like the gingerbread man, I'm not watching him".
Let's see how this flushes out and whose ratings get hit by this third entry into the 10 o'clock news war.