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 (tangotraffic.com). 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.