Saturday, June 05, 2004

Memphis Television Market News

I blogged middle of last week about the changes coming to the local television stations. Scroll down to see that. More changes are coming.

Joey Sulipeck will be the new chief forecaster at FOX13. He has already done a "Backyard Weather" promo, seen Saturday morning. I'll be watching the Monday news to see if he's starting then. Southern television market website SouthTVNews has this to say about the Sulipeck hiring:
Yesterday, we reported on the hiring of WREG freelancer Joey Sulipeck as chief forecaster at FOX Memphis (WHBQ-TV), and opined a bit on why he would've been chosen. Today, we found out some scattered details on the hiring (and would welcome any additional information or details that people might wish to send).

Insiders tell STN via the rumor mill that Sulipeck's hiring was an inside job of sorts, a direct hire of the station's GM...not via the news director, and that the news director's top choices were not considered. We also hear Sulipeck has already appeared on WHBQ, though he had not yet formally signed a contract....

Sulipeck previously worked at Sector Capital Management as Director of Communications (and for all we know, still will be?) while freelancing at WREG. Sulipeck's hiring is still being viewed with scratching heads.
They also have a couple of new folks on the Saturday evening newscast. Ernie Freedman is the new co-anchor (with Tanya St. Romain tonight) and Ed Echols has been the weekend weather forecaster for a couple of weeks now.

SouthTVNews is also reporting that WREG's Jamie Turner, who used to be the weekend anchor, is leaving, possibly to return to Alabama. He was a former reporter and anchor at WHNT in my hometown of Huntsville.

And completing the cribbing from SouthTVNews, he has an excellent survey (dated 6/5) of the Memphis market's stations and personalities. A must read!

I would only add these observations to his. I think that WPTY, ABC24, can do the best hard-news coverage when they want to. For some reason, they lurch between excellent and penetrating work on government and schools, to silliness like Jeni DiPrizio asking to get run over in traffic, if not maced or shot. If you remember the Dyersburg hostage situation, they were the only station on top of the story from beginning to end, with regular break-ins and updates until the end, when they went live to cover the grisly finale. It's almost schizophrenic, watching their newscast. I wish they'd commit to hard news reporting and just nail it. Which they could do easily.

Oh, and they need to have their reporters prep better for the live bits on broadcasts. I can't count the number of times when Cameron or Dee will ask a reporter an obvious question about their story, and the reporter doesn't have a clue. ("...and twenty-two complaints have been filed. Cameron?" "How many of those complaints have been resolved, Betty?" "Uhhhh, I don't know. I'm sure many of them haven't, though.") Think about the next logical question your story raises and be ready to answer it, alright y'all?

WREG and WMC both waste too much time with flashy graphics and portentous music in their broadcasts. I know that some audience researchers have found that people will stick around if you bombard them with that kind of stuff, and if you relentlessly "tease" the coming stories instead of just giving it away. ("Will change be coming to our weather? I'll tell") Too much handing off and bouncing around. Just report the news, OK?

Frankly, I don't watch FOX13 news. No disrespect to Steve Dawson, but he initially gave me the sense of a person with a drinking problem on the way downmarket. He just makes too many basic presentation errors for someone of his age and experience. And ever since I saw Allyson Finch waving a realistic-looking .45 caliber fake gun around, with her finger on the trigger for a live report, it's been hard to take them seriously.

Before they dumped their anchor team, WPTY's 9:00PM weekday newscast for WLMT was some solid "urban" newscasting. I enjoyed it as a newscast, but I know a whole lot of black Memphians who really enjoyed the Afro-centric appearance and perceived focus of the 'cast. For this market, it was ground-breaking and appealing. Too bad to see it disappear.

Now for the sexism! By far, WMC has the best-looking on-air team. Both Carries, Donna, Ursula, Anne-Marie, Joyce, Janice, Renee. Wow, did I forget anyone? Sunrise to sunset to dark, eye-candy for everyone.

I don't watch WREG, but I've got to say that Amy and Jennifer are both top drawer in the looks department, as is Pam. Woot!

WPTY has changed so much in the past year, I've lost track. Where is Ellen, she of the dark looks and hair? Some of the new women are attractive, but don't stand out yet.

But my definite broadcast crush has to be FOX13's weather-babe extra-ordinaire Holly Hancock. She has this fresh-faced, cute quality that endears me, I must admit. That she's a competent professional just means I can justify staring at her...uh, watching her weather forecasts.

It's depressing just how much turnover there is in this market, as far as television news reporters go. It means we lose out on reporters knowing the history and meaning of what they cover, knowing the players and their relationships and antagonisms, and knowing the subtleties of the community. Few know the special places, but seem to always end up back at the same old tourist brochure traps.

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