By Alan Pergament
This is what I'm thinking about a busy news week:
Channel 4's interim news director, Peter Jacobus, sure has several staff hiring issues on his plate however long he stays here.
That's because the former Channel 4 news director, Joe Schlaerth, had a reputation for being very slow to fill open positions. That was true throughout his 10-year tenure as news director. However, it is possible he wasn't allowed to hire anyone in recent months because he was about to be let go.
I would have liked to ask Channel 4 General Manager Rene LaSpina about that, but she still hasn't answered my telephone call from Wednesday after Schlaerth was removed.
In any event, here are some of the immediate things that probably are on Jacobus' plate:
Replace former anchor Diana Fairbanks, whose 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts have been filled by Don Postles and Jacquie Walker since Fairbanks worked her last newscast more than a month ago.
Replace meteorologist Brian Shaw, who got a job in Louisville quickly after being led out the door after being fired in early June.
Replace sports producer Jay Harris, who left in March to produce John Murphy's radio show on WGR. That means Steve Vesey and Lauren Brill are Channel 4's only sports staffers at a busy time with the Buffalo Bills in training camp.
Hire a third sports reporter, which has been on Channel 4's agenda for months. It is unclear if the new sports reporter actually will fill Harris' position.
Replace several important people who worked behind the scenes and have left.
Jacobus has a fan in former Channel 2 General Manager Steve Cohen, who currently is the news director at KUSI-TV in San Diego.
After Wednesday's blog listed some of Jacobus' credentials that I was able to gather from a google search (Channel 4 didn't put out a release), Cohen sent me an email.
"Your description of Pete Jacobus does him some disservice. He is one of the longest standing, most respected news directors in the profession. He is a superior newsman, who has covered most of the major stories of the last four decades. He ran KGO-TV (in San Francisco) in its heyday, and virtually mentored, hired, and led a generation of news executives from New York to Los Angeles.
"We have been colleagues from the time he ran KGO and I was at WXYZ in Detroit. Buffalo will find his leadership and community-based news gathering a refreshing change for viewers of WIVB."
Cohen concluded his email by saying something nice about my coverage of his "crazy profession."
Crazy indeed. In Buffalo, we have a TV channel that covers news that refuses to be interviewed when it makes news.
I also received an email from WBBZ-TV's John DiSciullo, director of promotion and production, that noted my column last Sunday about all the digital channels available free over-the-air failed to mention the extra channels WBBZ carries. I was aware of it, but primarily dealt with the new sub-channels being offered.
"At WBBZ-TV we offer the following," wrote DiSciullo:
WBBZ 67.2: THIS TV – the 24/7 movie channel offered by MGM. THIS TV was on our main channel before MeTV launched.
WBBZ 67.3 MeTV- available 24/7 without our local program insertion.
WBBZ 67.4 DAYSTAR – Religious programming 24/7
Program Note: If you missed the June compilation episode of Visit Buffalo Niagara's web-based series "Buffalo For Real TV" with Nelson Starr as host, be advised it is being repeated on two Sinclair Broadcast stations this weekend. It airs at 4:30 p.m. Saturday on WNYO and at 4 p.m. Sunday on WUTV. It also was written by Starr. John Paget is the director.
Edward J. Healy, vice president of marketing for Visit Buffalo, Niagara, reports there is a possibility that it will produce another half-hour special to air this fall.
Finally, inquiring minds want to know what happened to Williamsville East graduate Justin Rhodes during Judgment Week on "America's Got Talent"? The singer didn't make it to the round of 48.