Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Changes on the Horizon for FOX-29 Weather

TV Spy's Merrill Knox reports on a new arrival for FOX 29's "Weather Authority". Caitlin Roth, a Philadelphia native, worked at Accuweather prior to her stint at NBC affiliate WOWT-TV. Plans for Roth are for covering the weekend shifts taking the place of the departing Sally Ann Mosey.
Mosey, a former WPVI alum, recently endured contract negotiations and agreed to take a pay cut. However, according to reports, Mosey decided to hit the pavement when a request for additional "paid time off" was denied.
Things seem to still be up in the air for the outcome of John Bolaris' situation with the station. Bolaris, who is the Chief Meteorologist, has been suspended "indefinitely" because of a recent interview Bolaris did with Playboy magazine. The situation is now in the hands of attorneys.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Departures at 6 ABC & CBS-3

WPVI-TV recently announced the retirement of long-timer Cathy Gandolfo. She joined the station in 1975 and moved up from writer to reporter two years later. By 1978, she was named New Jersey correspondent. Gandolfo leaves the airwaves at the end of this year.
Meanwhile, across the city at KYW's CBS-3, Dave Huddleston tweeted this past Sunday that he's leaving Philadelphia for a new job in Alanta at station WSB-TV. Huddleston arrived in Philadelphia back in 2002 when he worked at FOX 29's "FOX 29 News". He was let go and moved on to CBS 3 in November 2008 as the new weekend co-anchor of "Eyewitness News". Three months later, he launched the new 10:00 p.m. newscast on sister station, CW 57. Huddleston will anchor on WSB's "Action News" beginning in January.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

WPHL-17 "Eye Opener"

WPHL-TV announced a newcomer to the morning TV newscape is on the horizon. Coming the end of October is "Eye Opener", a two hour morning news/features show that will compete with news on the other four stations which include KYW, WPVI, WCAU & FOX29. Eye Opener will air weekdays from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and include news, weather, consumer and entertainment/feature type segments. Also, traffic will be provided by Tango Traffic. Reports will be provided by five one-man-band types which means each person will be soley responsible for their report from interview, taping and editing their piece. With such a small staff I cannot believe this show will be much competition for the existing "big four" as far as covering breaking news. Reports indicate this show will focus more on features than news.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Steve Schwaid Making His Mark at FOX29

UPDATE TO JULY '11 POST: According to's Marnie Hall, News Director Steve Schwaid has begun the revamp process at FOX29 by cancelling the popular Friday night segment, "Mob Talk", with Dave Schratweiser. Word is the plan is to return the newscasts to hard news and abandon the unpopular "interview, conjecture, opinionated" style ordered by former News Director Kingsley Smith which sent the newscasts and staff morale into a downward spiral. Smith left the station after 3-1/2 years for KTTV in Los Angeles. Check out Hall's video column HERE.
JULY 12, 2011 POST:
Former NBC10 News Director, Steve Schwaid, returns to Philadelphia to take the same post at WTXF FOX29. The position also includes the title of "Vice President" in addition to News Director, a post Schwaid will begin in August. Schwaid was News Director across town at WCAU and responsible for the station nipping the heels of WPVI's 11 p.m. news rating as well as introducing the EARTHWATCH brand and bringing weather into the lead of most newscasts. Schwaid joins fellow alums Dave Schratweiser and John Bolaris. Schwaid comes to Philadelphia from his post as News Director at Atlanta's CBS station, WGNX. Read the story of Schwaid's return HERE.
There's also some interesting reading on Steve's blog, though, it hasn't been updated since March 28th. Check it out HERE.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Coverage

Unless you live under a rock OR don't own a television--you would know that Philadelphia news teams covered Hurricane Irene nonstop throughout the storm. Personally, I switched back and forth between Channel 6 and Fox. I checked out 10 several times but not being a fan of Tim Lake or Bill Henley made me watch less than I would have otherwise. I did not watch channel 3 at all. Not a fan of Bob Kelly, Justin Drabick or Kathy Orr.
That being said, I found the coverage informative and repetitive. Of course, how can it not be repetitive when it's continuous for 30+ hours? Being in the business myself--it is very difficult to talk about the same thing over and over and to talk continuously to the point of mental exhaustion. I found Brian Taff and Shirleen Allicot to be effective and informative. Alicia Vitarelli got alot of face time as well and the jury is still out for me whether I've warmed to her or not. There is a likeability to her, yet, I find a bit of phoniness to her as well. A bit of self-involved maybe? Self-impressed, perhaps? David Murphy and Adam Joseph were very good under pressure. Joseph seems very genuine, no ego...and I like that. Again, especially for the weather and traffic people, keep in mind that all that they do is AD-LIB! Imagine doing that for 12 hours nonstop? Not easy. I also found John Bolaris, over at FOX29, to be good. SallyAnn Mosey was effective, but I personally find her to be weak. Maybe just my own thing, who knows? Kerry Barrett is very good and I like her presentation. I couldn't help but feel bad for her when I read one tweet from a person who I believe only meant well, asking within her first 30 minutes on-air "are you feeling okay? You don't look well." Another tweet asked if she had John Bolaris' pubic hair caught in her throat. She handled that one well too in her response. Thomas Drayton provides his delivery in a calming, authoritative manner. Meanwhile, Lauren Cohn seems to be in downward slope. And a question came to mind when watching Jeff Cole in the middle of the storm wearing a ball cap, clutching with one hand. That hand didn't move--it kept a firm grip on that ball cap the entire report! WHY DO REPORTERS WEAR HATS WHILE REPORTING IN A FRIGGIN' HURRICANE, I ask? The new Social Media reporter, "Kelly", could have taken a few extra minutes to do something with her appearance. Her hair looked like she may have been related to IRENE!
In flipping by Channel 10, I certainly found Glen Schwartz to be very good as well. His delivery is to the point, spot-on, no hype, just the facts. I appreciate that! Monique Braxton reported from a fatal accident scene in N.E. Philadelphia in a heavy downpour with no umbrella. Looks pretty silly to me to do that. A new Social Media reporter debuted as well with some good information to pass on.
All-in-all, a good job by all. I do find it noticeable that all the stations tend to cover the same places over-and-over. The true and tried locations. What about the flooding that ALSO occurs in Chester, Delaware county? Or in areas of Chester county?
I had to wonder where Jim Gardner was, though? He finally appeared on Sunday. Who knows, maybe he wasn't able to appear or was on vacation as was Rick Williams who returned today.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Kathy Orr Cuts Back at 3

KYW-TV has announced that Kathy Orr is cutting back her hours at CBS3 beginning this month to spend more time with her fast growing children. Orr will concentrate on the 10 p.m. "Eyewitness News at 10" on the CW as well as "Eyewitness News at 11" on CBS. Early-morning weekday weather caller, Kate Bilo, moves up to the 5 and 6 p.m. broadcasts while CBS-3 welcomes new addition, Katie Fehlinger to the fold. Fehlinger, a Lehigh Valley native, comes from WCBS-TV New York where she has been the weekend morning weather talent. Previously, she worked in State College, PA at Accu-Weather. Fehlinger hits the air here in September with Ukee Washington, Erika Von Tiehl and Bob Kelly on the early-morning "Eyewitness News 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. and 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on the CW57.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Former NBC10 News Director Returning to Our City

Former NBC10 News Director, Steve Schwaid, returns to Philadelphia to take the same post at WTXF FOX29. The position also includes the title of "Vice President" in addition to News Director, a post Schwaid will begin in August. Schwaid was News Director across town at WCAU and responsible for the station nipping the heels of WPVI's 11 p.m. news rating as well as introducing the EARTHWATCH brand and bringing weather into the lead of most newscasts. Schwaid joins fellow alums Dave Schratweiser and John Bolaris. Schwaid comes to Philadelphia from his post as News Director at Atlanta's CBS station, WGNX. Read the story of Schwaid's return HERE.
There's also some interesting reading on Steve's blog, though, it hasn't been updated since March 28th. Check it out HERE.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Six Months of TV Traffic

So, let's see how much has changed in six months. It was six months ago today that Navteq's "Tango Traffic" signed on WPHL-TV's digital OTA 17.4 and carried by Comcast and Verizon Fios.
I wrote an honest critique of Tango six months ago tomorrow--on January 2nd. There were all sorts of things to write about, mostly negative. And there hasn't been a post I've written before OR since that elicited more comments!
I must begin by saying this writing will be much kinder in that Tango seems to have worked out many of the problems that plagued their efforts early on. Things like shoddy production, bad audio, poor delivery, etc.
Jason Lee gets my vote as the star of the effort. His delivery is smooth, top notch and perfectly concise and clear. Lee has previous traffic and radio experience to back-up those compliments having worked for B101 and Metro Traffic. Lee provided the traffic updates for "Action News" back in the days post-John Valario.
Kristin Cellins has improved and I enjoy her delivery as well. The team of LEE & CELLINS is a good one.
Then, there's the midday team of Dale Shaw and Rhonda Fink-Whitman. I'm not familiar with Shaw's past experiences. Though, a broadcast background is in there I'm sure. Check out this clip of Shaw's adlibbing an accident not long ago involving a vehicle veering off Kelly Drive and plunging into the Schuylkill River. Great work. Adlibbing is not easy, speaking from first-hand experience. It becomes a talent that not all can do or at least are good at.
Fink-Whitman is another traffic reporter from days gone by whom you may have heard doing Shadow Traffic on any number of local radio stations. Her delivery is spot-on, concise and delivered in a easy-to-understand mode.
The "ride home, rush/drivetime" is the show I can only watch in small doses. Vittoria Woodill and Stephanie Humphrey's chemistry bothers me. It comes off as unnatural and forced. Woodill's delivery still needs more work and experience. The shenanigans they do only pull from any credibility either might have earned from the viewer thus far. Of course, strictly my opinion. Are they here to provide traffic information or to entertain with air guitar, signing, glow worm comments, etc.? I caught Tango Thursday 6/30th in the 4:30 p.m. timeframe when Woodill and Humphrey were in the midst of providing continuous comprehensive coverage of all the closures of highways in the area due to the arrival of President Obama. I must say, I was impressed with both. They did a good job throughout as you keep in mind that this type of delivery is all ad-lib. You must think quick on your feet and be able to do it calmly and effectively. So a pat on the back there! However, generally--these two seem to act like frick-n-frack most times.
Putting those points aside. We've seen big strides in the graphics and overall production of the programming. We now see a constant scroll of drive times versus specific incidents. Personally, I wonder how many people really use the drive time information?
And finally, the channel has gained more camera views through the use of NJ DOT cameras that appear to be pulled in from the internet. Whether they are or are from NJ DOT directly doesn't matter. They're yet another effective tool to get the information out and into the ears and eyes of the viewer. I applaud Tango for adding New Jersey camera coverage. The last to go is DELAWARE. That small "diamond state" to the south of Pennsylania. Tango doesn't need me to tell them that traffic delays do not begin and end on I-95 at Naaman's Road (near the Delaware state line).
The summer "shore thing" was a surprise. Tango provides Shore Traffic reports just as radio stations through the summer weekends. A separate team of Dale Shaw and Brian Ramona provide the information. Other hosts I've seen have been Robert Block and Vittoria Woodill.
Tango has even upgraded their website ( A live feed of programming is streamed via U-Stream LIVE for those times at work you might wish to see conditions before hitting the route home. However, their smartphone app once promoted has yet to materialize.
Here's to a toast of six more months of progress into your one year anniversary. I see more tweaks along the way and -- hopefully--management is always open to comments and suggestions.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Action News at 4 Debut

Today was the debut of "Action News at 4" (watch it HERE) and quite an impressive one I must say! The new show is anchored by Shirleen Allicot and Brian Taff accompanied by Sarah Bloomquist reporting the top story from the field. Alicia Vitarelli rounds out the anchors from in the studio to report on the day's top national headlines as well as showbiz news and tweets from Twitter. Adam Joseph provides Accuweather from the newly revived City Avenue weather location, long known from the days of Dave Roberts. And last but not least, two traffic reports within the hour by Matt Pellman. The newscast looks a bit different than the other 5, 6 and 11 shows in that the anchors sit at the desk closer to the weather area of the set. Also, some new features such as the chat cam online at Jim Gardner was the first candidate today where online viewers could chat directly with Jim in a separate "chat cam" window. Also, Hollywood buzz, a national news headliner, financial news from the New York stock market as well as lots of Big Board use!
The station debuted the new "Mobile 6" which was designed specifically for the 4 o'clock newscast. The vehicle has 2 onboard cameras, one for the reporter in the passenger seat while the other shows the road ahead...allowing for live updates enroute to the breaking story. The microwave transmitter uses GPS technology that automatically tracks their broadcast towers. In addition, there is a portable, battery powered transmitter that allows them to broadcast from anywhere a cellular signal can be had. Basically, this allows a live report from ANYWHERE one would make a cell call from.
So, check it and "Action News at 4".

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New Weather Guy...

WPVI's "Action News" debuted new weatherguy, Chris Sowers, this past Saturday on the early-morning newscast. Sowers, a former Weather Producer, for Dave Roberts previously worked at Chicago's FOX affiliate. Sowers takes over the weekend morning shows moving Melissa Magee into the slot formerly occupied by Adam Joseph...the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. weekend shows. Joseph moves up to 4 p.m. weekdays beginning Thursday May 26th. That's when WPVI debuts the new "Action News at 4" which replaces the departing "Oprah". KYW's "Eyewitness News" moves their 4 p.m. newscast to 5 p.m. and replaces the 4 p.m. show with "Dr. Phil".

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Larry Mendte's First Interview...

There's an interesting read in the latest "Philadelphia Magazine" with the first interview with Larry Mendte who tells his story in the aftermath of the Larry/Alicia nightmare. We now get an idea of his personal struggle in "reinventing himself", as he shares, as well as the pain his children and wife, Dawn Stensland, have endured. It's an honest, straightforward inside look. Check it out --->HERE.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

6ABC News

Two tidbits out of the Action Newsroom. The debut of the new 4 o'clock "Action News" will be Wednesday June 1st. Oprah's last show is the day prior. The 4:00 show will be anchored by Brian Taff, Shirleen Allicot and Alicia Vitarelli. Adam Joseph provides weather.
Also, Orlando's Kenneth Moton joins 6ABC as a general assignment reporter, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Former NBC10'er Amy Freeze Is Out at Chicago's WFLD

Former NBC-10 meteorologist, Amy Freeze, has been let go from Chicago's FOX affiliate, WFLD-TV. She left our city four years ago for a promotion in Chicago. Unfortunately, she was released from her contract effective February 20th, she wrote on her Facebook account. No reason was given but Freeze finds the news "very disappointing to she and her family". Freeze became quite popular here and moreso in Chicago. Someone as good as her won't last long and will surely be scooped up by another station. Read more HERE

Monday, January 31, 2011

You Heard it Here First...

As I reported over the summer...WPVI recently made it official: The debut of a new 4 o'clock "Action News" once Oprah ends her run in that timeslot. Brian Taff, Shirleen Allicot and Alicia Vitarelli will anchor. Adam Joseph will handle weather duties for the new show.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

First Impressions of Tango Traffic Channel

Wow. I can certainly say that this new traffic channel is just what I expected. Very Mickey Mouse type presentation and certainly nothing much.
I watched today for about thirty minutes, which was all I could handle. The announcer, a young male, made reference to a camera shot of I-76 at Passyunk Avenue as being I-76 at the 26th Street ramp. Obviously, not very well trained and not able to read the camera shot location. On another note, he made reference to "all the bridges doing fine, in case you're coming up to South Philly for the Eagles game from Delaware". I don't know of any practical route between Delaware and South Philly that would require using any of the area bridges.
On another report, a 7.5 mile back-up on the southbound NJ Turnpike showed a map with lots of red cars. Then, POOF---within the next report, all the red cars were gone as was the delay! Obviously, the electronic map does not really correspond to the actual traffic volume but is manipulated somehow since a delay that lengthy doesn't just "go away" within three minutes. So, these guys' *sensors* aren't really based on the actual traffic volume but are nothing more than graphics manipulated by a computer.
The graphics are a bright green and the information across the bottom of the screen leaves one scratching their head. For example, "slow at Spring Garden", but--they don't tell you what highway they're referring to that is "slow at Spring Garden". Obviously, if you know the area highways, it would be I-76. But eastbound or westbound? "Slow at Rt 363/Trooper Rd"...hmm, must be Rt 422. East or West? Another example, "slow 4 miles into Mid-County tolls". This delay must have been the southbound side of the PA Turnpike's N.E. Extension yesterday. Why they don't clue you in as to WHAT highway they're referring to is beyond me.
Then, there's the music. Some very strange selections of music that will certainly annoy anyone over the age of 40. Why they wouldn't select a more soothing, laid back music bed is baffling. There were also volume issues...commercials playing way louder than the programming...and the music then playing even louder while the announcers' audio played lower. You certainly better have your remote handy watching this channel.
All-in-all....a frustrating waste of air time that looks like a public access or college-type production. Today's live anchor debut wasn't much better. A few cheap shots at humor come off weak and the illustration of the particular highway that ran down the left of the screen rarely matched the illustration the anchor was giving with camera or map shots. Additionally, other major highways get no mention, the Rt 309 Expressway, Delaware's I-495, New Jersey's A.C. Expressway, Rt 70 or Rt 73 to name a few.
Which leads me to one last point. Cameras. How can a station that claims to be "your 24/7 traffic source" serveing a tri-state region (NJ, DE and PA) NOT have camera views from Delaware's DelDOT or New Jersey's DOT? I've always found that to be odd that the local Philadelphia stations have never spent the money to bring in NJ and DE DOT cameras. I find it to be just what I figured with this "traffic channel", that they would go the cheap route and not cough up the bucks to also provide New Jersey & Delaware residents the camera shots of their traffic problems.
Basically, this channel isn't something I would waste my time on. I believe it would be more exciting watching paint dry. I'll continue to get my traffic information while watching the local morning newscast, then, in my car, on my way to work. You decide what's best for you...