Friday, February 26, 2010

Weather Sells!

Not only has Channel 6 done their "weather specials" within the 11 o'clock Friday night broadcast two weeks in a row, but now, Channel 3 has jumped on their own band wagon tonight with a "CBS-3 Eyewitness Weather Special Report".
The regular "Eyewitness News" broadcast led with three weather-related stories followed by Kathy Orr's regular weathercast, then four more stories, sports and a good-bye.
At 11:15, the weather special kicked off anchored by Kathy Orr and Doug Kammerer with another weathercast for the week ahead as well as a "super extended ten day". Then, you got it---eight commercials...eating up four minutes then back to Kathy & Doug with Doug giving us a "look back" at the winter history of the December storm that dumped 23.2 inches on Philadelphia the week before Christmas. Then, just a mere 3 inches of snow in January and two huge storms in early February...a 28.5 inch storm followed by the first blizzard warning since 1996 giving us 15.8 inches in the city. Finally, the 5.6 inch storm last night into today giving us a whopping 78.7 inches thus far for the '09/'10 winter season. In comparison, Buffalo NY has gotten 69 inches compared to Chicago's 49.3 inches there. Finally, Minneapolis/St. Paul's 40.7 inches and Denver's 46 inches is no comparison to here in the City of Brotherly Love, says Kammerer. We then were treated to seven more commercials, another three and a half minutes. Kathy went into the next segment with a taped interview with meterorologist Jim Eberwine from the National Weather Service, asking where all the snow is coming from? The answer, El Nino, which is the warm water current in the eastern Pacific ocean. This moisture has played a big part in the east's winter storms. By picking up Pacific moisture, throw in some Gulf moisture along with some Atlantic moisture, and, BOOM--a huge winter storm! Eberwine's prediction for March? "It could be rough if storms continue to form from the Gulf of Mexico". According to Orr, March temperatures will be below average while precipitation will be more than average. Another six more commercials, a CBS 3 promo and a quick goodbye from Orr & Kammerer.
The point? Sales, sales, sales...the station was able to sell 10.5 minutes of advertising for 9-1/2 minutes of information. But, I will say Channel 3's "special" was much more informative than Channel 6's.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I experienced something pretty neat tonight on the website during the 5 p.m. "Action News". The station decided to create an online webchat complete with webcams not only on the weather set but also on-set with Rick & Monica as well as a third webcam in the control room. Additionally, there was live audio on-set as well as on the weather set so you could see and hear the talent while each reporter's package was airing during the live broadcast. According to webchat host, "Corey", this was the second time they've done this...the first during the last storm which I actually caught one morning during the "Action News Morning" broadcast not long ago. Corey indicated this was a special webchat event and not currently "the norm".
As we watched Rick & Monica during the live show, we got to see Rick teaze Monica about her "baby belly" and say that her outfit was designed by Barnum & Bailey's. We also learned that Monica's twins are boys and she is due in June. Also, that Rick is suffering from a nasty head cold and taking something over-the-counter..."though, if I need something more my wife can always write a script". She must be a physician. Also, that Rick's home is only two minutes walk for his child to walk to school while Monica has to fight traffic for her son to get to school on-time. By 5:45, we heard Monica say "mmm, I'm ready for some dinner", to which Rick replied, "ugh, I'm ready for my bed". Before we knew it, they were saying goodbye and to stay tuned for Jim Gardner and "Action News at Six".
Rick packed up his laptop (they must be able to bring their own laptop on-set) and both he and Monica disconnected their mikes from the main anchor line, got up and turned over the chair to Jim Gardner, wearing a dark blue pair of jeans, shirt, tie and suit jacket.
Within two minutes the news open began and Jim was off and running. Sports guy, Keith Russell, arrived on-set within the first few minutes of the broadcast, sitting next to Gardner. During the first commercial break, Gardner looked to Keith to remind him to keep the language and demeanor professional, then turned to the webcam to welcome the viewers behind the scenes. At another point, Gardner turned to Adam Joseph to ask for a quick explanation of why we didn't see accumulations from today's snow. Joseph's answer was that the snow was light with a combination of tempearatures, especially GROUND TEMPERATURES, being too warm. Cecily Tynan's accuweather teaze eminated from the anchor desk and she commented on one of the snowtograph pictures that were displayed of a cute local boy she took a liking to. During the break, she talked with producers in the control room to confirm she would be getting a PennDot camera shot of I-95 near Philadlephia airport to illustrate road conditions and snow falling.
Gardner then threw it to Cecily at the end of the newscast for a quick throw to Adam Joseph in the weather advise viewers that new computer storm models would come out at 10 p.m. and that they would both be combing over the storm details for the 11 p.m. forecast. Gardner then quickly teazed a segment for the 11 o'clock of a look at Dave Roberts' retirement through this cold and snowy winter. THAT should be some fun viewing!! --->VIDEO HERE<---
At the end of the newscast, Corey asked Keith & Jim if they would mind sticking around for a few questions from web viewers. The first question was for Keith, from "Mike", asking who does his hair. Obviously, being bald--it was a bit of comic question to which Russell replied, "a razor, soap and water...".
The next questions were directed to Jim, asking what he does for dinner to which he replied that he goes home for dinner each night, allowing him about 45 minutes to spend some quality time with his family. I thought he said he has little ones who are very important to him, but, that must be incorrect as I thought his children are grown. Another viewer asked when 6ABC went on the air, however Corey nor Jim knew the answer. According to wikipedia--WPVI signed on in April 1971. However, WFIL-TV signed on as a Dumont network in September, 1947...changing to ABC (the first ABC affiliate in the country) in April 1948 but continuing to carry the Dumont network until its demise in 1956. Someone also asked who his most memorable interview was which took some thinking on his that point--I signed off as my dinner was eagerly awaiting me!
Good job to Corey and the powers-that-be at PVI for an innovative way to bring the viewers behind the scenes of "Action News".

Monday, February 22, 2010

Larry Mendte

This will be a short post because a Chicago columnist covered the return of Larry Mendte to Tribune TV's sure to read the posts by readers of the article as well.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Tonight was a first for Channel 6 when they did a shortened newscast and bailed out at 11:18 after the sport segment.
Jim Gardner said goodnight and said "Accuweather Special Report is next on channel 6". Six commercials then followed going into the first segment of the "special report". Cecily Tynan then began stating that everyone is talking about the weather with two blockbuster storms this week alone topping our all-time total snowfall record. She then went on to give the typical forecast, went to break for five more commercials...came back for a few more words and statistics, followed by six more commercials! The third and final segment was simply to give credit to "Paul", an Accuweather producer, and then said goodnight. Guess what? Six MORE commercials before going into the ABC feed of "Nightline". That's 23 commercials total at 30 seconds each...for 11.5 minutes of commercials alone...leaving 4.5 minutes of information for this "special report".
I have no idea what Channel 6's motive was for this stunt because it was about as innovative and exciting as watching paint dry. Was it just an opportunity to catch up on some lost revenue from days before when they went live with the 14 hours of continuous snow coverage perhaps? Who knows...

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I have some thoughts on the coverage of the record snowstorm provided by Channel 3 and FOX 29. These all-day "snow coverage specials" are 90% fluff and completely assinine in my opinion. If stations are going to do this, why not make them more informative? For example, who wants to see Bob Kelly or Thomas Drayton make a snow angel, or Sally's new puppy jumping into the snow, or Fred at a bar in S. Philly, minus one front tooth, talkin' about the "beer is just a-flowin'". What about those who absolutely HAD TO DRIVE at some point in the storm? Those who could in no way cancel or postpone their driving? Do station managers really think outside of the box? During Channel 3's coverage you got no more than two traffic reports an hour. The reports Bob Kelly provided were very informative--showing highway conditions, explaining what problems there were -- and covering the mass transit issues. It just wasn't enough coverage. When snow has affected all area highways--why does there need to be time constraints? FOX 29 didn't even HAVE a traffic traffic reporter doing anything. What's up with that? How can a major market TV station be so cheap as to not have a traffic reporter on staff? I noticed Channel 6 brought in Matt Pellman to provide adequate coverage, but again, not enough reports in my opinion.
Yes, some of the new technology unveiled by KYW & FOX 29 was incredible. The new "U Video" technology by Iphone users, as well as the skype video and streaming video. However, once again, the U video contributions were more of the "look at my daughter's swing set in my backyard" or a guy sitting in a lawn chair, beer in hand, with his fishing pole and cooler---amongst mounds of snow...more fluff!
Valerie Lavesque provided a live report from the news van via Skype, as she headed east on the A.C. Expressway. This was a perfect opportunity to provide a live report of a road condition on a specific portion of highway. Yet, she missed that opportunity--never once pointing the camera directly in front of her at the highway. Her report was to illustrate the beauty of the snow in the trees lined next to the highway. Informative? I think not...nothing more than self-promotion of new technology.
One could only hope the station "powers-that-be" could somehow lessen the fluff factor during these specials and add more information the viewer can use. Unfortunately, I can almost guarantee that won't happen any year soon since these snow specials yield boo-coo ratings.

Friday, February 5, 2010

An Embarrasing Gaffe for Bolaris' "Weather Authority"

Imagine where in the heck the producer's head was who was in charge of the FOX29 News at 5 broadcast today?
John Bolaris was literally in the middle of his weather segment, illustrating with "FOX FUTURECAST" the intensity and direction of the storm to hit our area during the overnight hours. All of a sudden, literally in mid-sentence, you see Bolaris give a downward brow and say "I'm getting a wrap so I guess I gotta go?"...You then hear him huff and say..."back to the desk...okay...I didn't even get a chance to get to the snow amounts there, uh...I needed to show snow amounts, I think we need to get to the snow amounts, if I could have the time to get to the snow amounts". At that point, he was sitting at the anchor desk with Halkett and Drayton who both responded, "go ahead John...yes John, that's critical". Bolaris then said, "let's go to the snow amounts--we REALLY NEED TO GET TO THAT, PLEASE...let's go to the maps and show the snow amounts..."
Finally, at that point, the snow amount graphic was displayed, Bolaris continued to illustrate expected snowfall totals and then wrapped up the segment throwing back to Halkett and Drayton.
WHAT A TRAIN WRECK *THAT* WAS TO WATCH! Completely embarrassing...and what a joke for a station trying to brand themselves as "The Weather Authority". And, what might have been the rush, you ask, that Bolaris end his weather segment? A toss to a reporter standing in Stanton Delaware to show a few flurries flying through the air...