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October 05, 2006

It's TV on Radio

We gave a National Public Radio (NPR) reporter access to the newsroom a week or two back for a story on our conversion to VJ's. The story is scheduled to run on All Things Considered (ATC) tonight. A friend from Oregon Public Broadcasting forwarded the promotional copy ATC sent out to their affiliates today.

ATC PROMO COPY: Imagine you re a reporter or a cameraman at a television station at a medium sized city. The station is in third place behind its rivals. Then your boss comes in and says you have to do things differently. That s what happened at Nashville's Channel Two, big changes some in the staff call a nightmare Management now expects everyone in the news department to go out and report, film and edit their own stories. Dealing with the newsroom of the future -- later, on All Things Considered from NPR News.

The NPR station in Nashville is WPLN and ATC runs from 3-6pm locally.

UPDATE

The link is up for the NPR story.


October 04, 2006

Lots of Meetings

It's been one meeting after another today so the blogging has been light. Spent most of the day with Gordon Borrell who is an internet consultant and it was interesting to hear what is going on across the country. At my AP broadcasting board meeting a couple of weeks ago the internet was a hot topic for all of us. Actually how to monetize the internet was a hot topic for all of us.

Big night for us with Lost finally resuming and The Nine following. If you watch I'll be interested in your thoughts especially about The Nine. Some jockeying with the schedule has already started. Must confess I haven't seen either of these sitcoms yet. My TiVo is full I just have to find the time. Like John Galt I need another couple digital recording devices. Studio 60, which has been my favorite new show so far, has not fared well in the Nashville ratings. Week one Studio 60 debutedwith a 14 rating/20 share. Week two it fell to a 12 rating/17 share and Monday it fell to a 9.5 rating/13 share. If I remember right West Wing took some time to build but you hate to see the numbers trending down.

October 03, 2006

Musings After Lunch

I’ve always been into Sci Fi. First books when I was a kid then movies and television. When Star Trek first debuted on a Thursday night in 1966 I was eagerly sitting in front of the set watching the voyages of the starship Enterprise. I remember one memorable episode the Enterprise was under attack and in the middle of the melee a comely yeoman with a clipboard approaches Capt. Kirk for his signature while he’s barking orders to the crew. I thought that was the coolest thing and vowed someday I’d get a job where I had to sign my name a lot. The irony has not escaped me forty years later when every Thursday I usually groan after seeing the stack of checks the Business Office has dropped on my desk for my signature.

I’ve told the story previously of hiring Edye Tarbox now E.D. Hill of Fox News for an anchoring job in Pittsburgh. The station was WPXI-TV; the NBC affiliate for the Steel City, the year was 1986. The promotion director at the time (they weren’t called marketing directors yet) was a genuinely smart and good guy named Steve Riley. Edye was teamed up with the current male anchor Mike Hambrick. It was Steve’s job to craft a promotional campaign to introduce this freshly minted team to the market. A lot of people used city busses in Pittsburgh. It could have been the narrow streets and dearth of downtown parking that drove them to it but whatever the reason a lot of them did.

One of Steve’s ideas was a bus billboard campaign. On the side of the bus the billboard would read, “Mike & Edye Are On This Bus.” On the back of the bus would be a picture of Mike & Edye. As Steve presented the concept in a meeting with me and the general manager I groaned and shook my head.

“I take it you don’t like this idea,” said the GM.

“I hate it,” was my reply.

“What’s wrong with it?” asked Steve.

“Well for one we’re lying to people. Mike & Edye aren’t on the bus,” I shot back.

“Sure they are,” he replied. “Their picture's on the back.”

“Oh please. We’re lying to folks and they are going to see right through it. This is a perfect example of what’s wrong with promotion,” I shot back.

The argument went on in this vein for a while and stopped when we both looked to the GM for guidance.

“I gotta tell you Mike I don’t have a problem with it.”

I gasped in disgust and did a pantomime of washing my hands as I left the meeting. Fast forward a couple of weeks later and the bus campaign is launched. It was one of the most successful anchor campaigns I’ve ever seen. It just caught fire.

Radio stations jocks started talking about Mike & Edye are in our studios. Restaurants put signs in their windows: Mike & Edye are in this restaurant. A local magazine that wouldn’t give us the time of day before put the two on their cover with the headline Mike & Edye are in this magazine. It was huge, got us some much needed attention and jump started the new team. I went to Steve, apologized for being a jerk and learned a valuable lesson in humility, something that doesn’t come easy to news directors or general managers.

Postscript

Steve is now the Marketing and Promotions Director at WSB-TV in Atlanta.

Most people never noticed but under the picture of my first WKRN ID badge in the space for name and job title it read: Michael Sechrist...Starfleet Commander. After 9/11 it seemed trite and I had it changed.

October 02, 2006

A Question of Definition

I am an early adapter of anything related to TV. It's probably no coincidence my Dad bought the first color TV on our block. Color was in its infancy and maybe one or two shows a night would be in color. The neighbors would come over and ooh and ahh as they heard the words, "The following program is brought to you in living color on NBC," while the NBC Peacock spread its wings. When TV started broadcasting stereo sound I bee lined to my nearest TV store and bought a stereo set. I don't remember what primetime medical drama it was but in stereo if you listened closely you could hear goofy inside pages for Mr. Tartikoff or Mr. Spielberg. I'm fairly positive I purchased the second TiVo sold in Nashville the first going to the Circuit City general manager and when HD rolled around I was back with my Amercian Express card. The only thing I could get on HD at that time was a promotional loop the stores used and an occassional movie. I now have trouble watching football games if they aren't in HD.

And speaking of football there is this gem from Cory Bergam of Lost Remote regarding last night's NFL game on NBC:

Samsung’s “HDTV Play of the Game” ad was not in high definition. No joke.

A DirecTV subscriber has asked the courts to step and rule on just what is a HD signal. We are going through the growing pains of HD and I for one will be glad when the transformation is finally complete.

September 29, 2006

End of the Week

Whew, what a week. Corporate in town for budget presentations, fly off to Chicago for an AP Broadcast meeting (chronicled in the post below) return in time to be interviewed by a national media outlet, NPR, concerning our switch to Video Journalists (VJ’s) and then meet Amanda Congdon and crew who stopped in town while on her trek across America to also inquire about our foray into VJ’s. In between all that deal with the various personnel and operational challenges that crop up in any television station. Wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Thursday night is a crucial night for broadcasters. Nielsen starts each rating book on Thursday and national advertisers especially movie studios covet the night. It is the reason NBC had their biggest guns, ER, Seinfeld and Friends on Thursday night. The NBC dominance began ending when CBS moved Survivor to Thursday alongside CSI.

ABC decided to get into the Thursday game this year. Finally with some hit shows the network upped the ante moving the break-out hit Grey’s Anatomy to 8pm central between the new Ugly Betty at 7pm and 6 Degrees at 9pm. In Nashville the first part of that strategy is working. Ugly Betty came in with a 10 rating/15 share compared with NBC’s two half hour sitcoms My Name is Earl, 7 rating/11 share and The Office, 6 rating/10 share. On CBS the still very potent Survivor clocked in with 17 rating/25 share for the hour. A good sign for Ugly Betty was its shares rose for each quarter hour starting out with a 13 and ending with a 17. Grey’s weighed in with a 15 rating/22 share to NBC’s Deal or No Deal, 7 rating/11 share against CSI’s winning 20 rating/28 share. This is as good as ABC has been on Thursday night in a long, long time. Unfortunately we hit a wall with 6 Degrees which received a huge lead-in from Grey’s but tanked with a 7 rating/11 share. 6 Degrees started with a 21 share lead-in from Grey’s and ended with 9 share. Not a good sign. ER and Shark on CBS were virtually tied with 14 rating/20 share for the Docs and a 14 rating/21 share for the Lawyers.

This gives you an idea of what happened nationally:

BREAKING NEWS FROM MEDIAWEEK ONLINE

In a major turn of events, regularly scheduled programming on ABC--Ugly Betty, in particular--and CBS shared Thursday leadership, with ABC first in the overnights and adults 18-49, and CBS No. 1 in total viewers. NBC remained in the distant third-place spot, followed by a night of lackluster
season-premieres on the CW and Fox’s dead-in-the-water ‘Til Death and Celebrity Duets.

Remember it’s the demographics we all sell. Total viewers don’t mean that much if the demos aren’t good.

Have a nice weekend.

Recent Posts

  • It's TV on Radio
  • Lots of Meetings
  • Musings After Lunch
  • A Question of Definition
  • End of the Week
  • Back South
  • Heading North
  • They're Here
  • Edye and Me
  • Anticappointment

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