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Ch. 4's interim news director has a lot on his plate

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.

apergament@buffnews.com

Ch.7 adds third member of sports team; Critics honor "Good Wife"

 By Alan Pergament

It may be last in local news, but Channel 7 beat Channel 4 at something.

While Channel 4 keeps looking for a third member of its sports team, Channel 7 has found its replacement for Allen Leight, who now works for the Buffalo Sabres.

Nick Filipowski arrives at the E. W. Scripps station from KTIV in Sioux City, Iowa, where he has been a weekend sports anchor and reporter. He moves from the 147th TV market to the No. 52 market.

Here is what he says about himself in his KTIV bio: "Growing up in a military family, I lived in eight states and in Japan for eight years.  Moving and living in different places, and experiencing new cultures allowed me to gain a better understanding of sports and the stories that drive the business."

"After graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I spent the next few months selling shoes for New Balance,  before landing my first job as the Weekend Sports Anchor at KNOP-TV in North Platte, Nebraska.

"I love the Yankees, Nets and Broncos. Yes, I bleed Husker red."

The Broncos? Channel 7 will have to talk to him about that. 

He doesn't arrive until mid-August, which means the station will have to cover the Buffalo Bills training camp with Sports Director Jeff Russo and backup Shawn Stepner.

Channel 4, which lost sports producer Jay Harris to John Murphy's Buffalo Bills radio show on WGR and only has two on-air sports staffers in Steve Vesey and Lauren Brill, has been looking for a third member of the sports staff for weeks. However, the station is often slow to fill positions.

In another sports note, John Hager, program director of 97 Rock and Sports Radio 1270 The Fan,  wouldn't say if 1270 is interested in carrying Syracuse University football and basketball now that ESPN 1520 has dropped the Orange in favor of a new deal with the University at Buffalo.

But he did't rule it out, either.

"We are looking at several options to replace UB sports, and should have an announcement soon," Hager said in an email.

Finally, "The Good Wife" may have been ignored in the best drama category of the Emmys, but the Television Critics Association honored the CBS series for "outstanding achievement in drama" at its annual awards Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Here are some other TCA winners:

"Breaking Bad" of AMC as the program of the year.

Matthew McConaughey of HBO's "True Detective" for individual achievement in drama.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus of HBO's "Veep" for individual achievement in comedy.

"COSMOS: A Space Time Odyssey"  on Fox for outstanding achievement in news and informational programming.

"RuPaul's Drag Race" on LOGO for outstanding achievement in reality programming.

"The Fosters'" on ABC Family  for outstanding achievement in youth programming.

"Orange is the New Black" on Netflix for outstanding new program.

"True Detective" for  outstanding achievement in movies, miniseries and specials.

"Veep" and "Louie" (Fx)for outstanding achievement in comedy.

NBC's "Saturday Night Live" earned the Herritage Award and director James Burrows earned the Career Achievement Award.

apergament@buffnews.com  

UB deal means Syracuse is being dropped from ESPN 1520

By Alan Pergament

The move of University at Buffalo football and basketball radio broadcasts from Sports Radio 1270 The Fan to ESPN 1520 won't make every local college sports fan happy.

That's because it means that Syracuse University games in those sports no longer will be carried by the 50,000 watt station where UB is headed in a move that will increase the exposure of its athletic program.

Greg Ried, the general manager of ESPN 1520 and all local Entercom stations, confirmed Thursday night that Syracuse is being dropped.

"ESPN 1520 will be exclusive to UB sports as far as full season coverage," wrote Ried in an email.

Asked if that meant Syracuse games wouldn't be carried on any Entercom station -- it also owns WGR and WBEN -- Ried wrote: "As of right now we will not."

That would seem to leave an opening for 1270 The Fan to carry the Orange if Syracuse is willing to go on a station affiliated with CBS Sports Radio that only operates with 1,000 watts at night and 5,000 in the daytime.

I reached out to a 1270 representative Thursday night to see if the station would be interested in carrying Syracuse and will report when I hear back.

While Entercom's decision to carry the local college team is commendable and understandable, you could have a lively debate here whether there is more local interest in UB basketball or Syracuse basketball.

There are a lot of Syracuse graduates in the area (full disclosure: I am one of several members of the local media who is a SU graduate if you didn't know that already), its basketball program is annually one of the best in the country and it now plays in the prestigious Atlantic Coast Conference.

Syracuse's two appearances in the NCAA tournament at the First Niagara Center last March -- it lost the second game to Dayton -- attracted so many SU fans that they were like home games for Jim Boeheim's squad.

However, just about every Syracuse basketball game is carried either on national or local television, which might reduce interest in its radio broadcasts.

Still, Syracuse's games should be attractive enough to interest 1270 The Fan enough to consider trying to make a deal to carry them to offset its UB loss.

If not, it wouldn't be shocking to see Entercom try to carry some Syracuse games on one of its stations in the area when they don't conflict with UB games.

apergament@buffnews.com    

  

UB football, basketball broadcasts moving to ESPN 1520

By Alan Pergament

One of the complaints about the radio broadcasts of the University at Buffalo football and basketball broadcasts last season was that the station carrying them often couldn't be heard near the Amherst campus.

That won't be a problem this season as UB announced today that those broadcasts are moving from AM 1270 to ESPN 1520, a 50,000 watt sports station owned by Entercom.

By comparison, Sports Radio 1270 The Fan is a 1,000 watt station at night, 5,000 watts during the daytime.

Besides carrying UB football and men's and women's basketball games, 1520 will also carry 30-minute weekly shows with football coach Jeff Quinn, men's basketball coach Bobby Hurley and women's basketball coach Felisha Legette-Jack, the school announced.

The games also will be carried on stations in Rochester, Albany and New York City, which UB said makes it the first time in school history that it will have a radio network carrying games across the state.

apergament@buffnews.com

 

Praising, criticizing Channel 2 for promotion and advertising

By Alan Pergament

I've come to praise Channel 2 for its promotion and criticize it a little for promoting something involving an advertiser during its newscast.

First, the positive.

The praise goes to the promos, which the station usually does very well.

I'm not counting the one currently running in which it has viewers mouth promotional cliches that sound like they've been brainwashed into thinking Channel 2 is "on their side," "holds people in power accountable" and gives a "voice to the voiceless."

That promo is pretty lame.

But you may recall that I wrote a while back about members of the station's promotional department -- Dan Meyers, Jim Caskie and Justin Wahowski -- getting nominated for the prestigious national Promax Awards.

It turns out they won one gold, two silvers and one bronze medal late last month in Las Vegas.

The gold winner was for its promo, "Winter's Coming."

One of the silvers was for the comical "We're Ready for the Olympics" campaign, which I thought was its best promo. It's the one that had several staffers involved in Olympic events, including anchor Maryalice Demler on skates.

Continue reading "Praising, criticizing Channel 2 for promotion and advertising " »

Ch.7 plans show from Judge Judy as news lead-in for Now

By Alan Pergament

One of the big reasons for the decline of Channel 7's news is the lousy lead-in it gets at 4 p.m. weekdays.

That isn't expected to change much this fall when it plans to carry a new judge show, "Hot Bench," produced by CBS and Judge Judy opposite Channel 2's powerhouse "Ellen" and Channel 4's "Dr. Oz."

The talk show from Queen Latifah moves back an hour to 3 p.m.  in place of the canceled show from Katie Couric.

Down the horizon, Channel 7 may have to run a new program being produced by its new owner, E.W. Scripps.

Called "The Now," Scripps premiered it on its stations in Kansas City and Denver this week at 4 p.m.

Scripps executive Brian Lawlor said in a Scripps release that the program will have a heavy emphasis on what is trending on social media.

"I believe The NOW will set the pace for the type of programming that audiences on multiple platforms crave," Lawler is quoted as saying in the Scripps release. "The audiences want to know what's happening right now, give their own take on those events, and share their thoughts with their own social media networks." 

The release said the program will expand to six more stations in the months ahead, including at the  Detroit station Scripps purchased at the same time as Channel 7.

But the expansion of "The Now"  won't include Buffalo's Channel 7 -- at least for now.

"We are not slated to be part of the initial rollout of The Now," wrote Channel 7 General Manager Mike Nurse in a text response. "It requires a dedicated crew locally for that show alone and the feeling was there were too many other priorities initially."

"We are excited about the various programming opportunities from Scripps and are closely following the rollout of 'The Now' as it reflects a different and topical approach to early fringe's 4 p.m. programming and a fresh alternative to syndicated talk."

Of course, another significant reason for Channel 7's decline is the cutback in its news staff. It is expected to rectify that with announcements of new hires shortly.

The celebration of New York Yankee great Derek Jeter during Fox's telecast of the All-Star game Tuesday gave the game a significant local ratings boost from a year ago when Yankee great Mariano Rivera was honored.

But it was no World Cup final by a longshot.

The American League victory averaged a 5.7 rating on WUTV from 8 p.m. until 11 p.m. and fell after that. A year ago, the All-Star game averaged a 4.6 rating here. Germany's World Cup victory over Argentina Sunday -- which obviously was more important to soccer than the All-Star game  is to baseball -- had a 10.4 rating locally during game time.

The Nike advertisement in which a variety of sports stars -- including Michael Jordan at the end -- first responders and ordinary people tip their cap in Re2pect to Jeter (who wears No.2) ran during the game. It is an instant commercial classic.

apergament@buffnews.com  

Local World Cup rating out of this world for soccer

By Alan Pergament

Germany's 1-0 victory over Argentina in extra time Sunday to win the World Cup had local ratings that were out of this world for soccer.

ABC's coverage during game time from 3 p.m. to around 5:45 p.m. had a 10.4 rating on local affililate Channel 7, which was more than double the 4.6 local rating for Spain's victory over Netherlands four years ago during game time.

The rain showers Sunday afternoon may have helped the local rating, as did the fact the game went into extra time.

However, the rating clearly confirms the impressive surge in interest in the United States and Western New York for the soccer competition played every four years. The question now is whether the interest will continue beyond the World Cup. 

The final hour of Sunday's game from 4:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. averaged a 12.5 rating locally, peaking at 13.7 in the final 15 minutes when the winning goal was scored by Germany's Mario Gotze.

While Univision also has had impressive national ratings for its coverage of the World Cup, its coverage didn't register a rating here. The channel is only on Time Warner Cable's Buffalo system, the satellite dishes and FiOs.

The national rating for the World Cup isn't available at this writing. It may include the pregame show, which will lower the rating.

Update: ESPN reports the game averaged a 9.7 overnight rating in the 56 metered markets, including Buffalo. That includes the pregame show, which is why ESPN says that Buffalo averaged an 8.6 rating rather than a 10.4 rating. The rating is reduced when the low-rated pregame show is added. Still, ESPN said Buffalo was one of 12 markets that recorded its highest men's World Cup rating ever.   

To put the local rating in further perspective, let's compare the World Cup final to the decisive games in major sports.

The World Cup rating was:

Higher than the 9.2 rating on Channel 2 for the Los Angeles Kings title clincher over the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup finals.

Higher than the 8.6 rating on Channel 7 for San Antonio's title clincher over the Miami Heat in the NBA finals.

Higher than the 9.6 rating on WUTV for the Boston Red Sox's World Series clincher over the St. Louis Cardinals.

However, it was lower than the 12.2 rating on Channel 4 for the University at Connecticut's NCAA men's basketball final victory over Kentucky.

It was nowhere near the 51.0 rating on WUTV for Seattle's Super Bowl romp over Denver. But expecting the world version of football to compete with interest in the American version on television was way too much to ask.

apergament@buffnews.com 

Berry's series a local hit; Hanks' "Sixties" series gets Emmy nod

By Alan Pergament

This is what I'm thinking;

Buffalo fell much more in love with Halle Berry's new series "Extant" than the nation did.

But that's expected because Channel 4 is one of the strongest performing affiliates in the country for CBS programming.

The Wednesday premiere had a 9.1 rating here, easily defeating a repeat of NBC's reality powerhouse "America's Got Talent" (7.9) in the hour that they went head-to-head.

Nationally, "Extant" had a 6.7 household rating, which analysts described as solid, but unspectacular compared to last season's debut of "Under the Dome."

CBS also repeated "Extant" Thursday night.

It will be interesting to see Sunday afternoon if the Buffalo market approaches the national rating of the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. The game is being carried on ABC.

Argentina's penalty kick victory Wednesday after a scoreless 90 minutes had about a 3.7 rating on ESPN here, well below the 4.3 rating it had nationally when it became the highest-rated and most viewed World Cup game on the ESPN networks that didn't involve the United States men's team. 

Germany's 7-1 destruction of Brazil Tuesday had a 3.0 rating here, well below the 4.2 rating it had nationally.

The local numbers are decent, just not in the range that you might expect in a market that was one of the strongest in the country for NBC's coverage of the Premier League.

As the Buffalo Bills training camp nears, the key local question is whether Channel 7 or Channel 4 will be the first to hire a new sportscaster.

Channel 7's owner, E.W. Scripps, also has posted job openings for a news producer, two associate producers and someone on the assignment desk. Clearly, Scripps realizes it needs help behind the scenes before it hires new reporters and anchors.

Channel 4's newest reporter, Joe Melillo, made his on-air debut this week. According to the station website, Melillo was born in Stony Brook, Long Island and most recently has been a reporter at WENY in Elmira. He is a graduate of Trinity College in Connecticut.  

I enjoyed Thursday night's episode of CNN's series on "The Sixties" that dealt with the British Invasion on the music scene that got a big boost from the arrival of The Beatles. The series produced by Tom Hanks' company had the rare distinction of being nominated for an Emmy Thursday while the series is still playing. The episode on "The Assassination of President Kennedy" was nominated in the outstanding documentary or nonfiction special category. The American Experience program on "JFK" was nominated in the same category.

And National Geographic's "Killing Kennedy'"was nominated in the outstanding movie category.  

apergament@buffnews.com        

More from News interview with Jeanneret

By Alan Pergament

Some leftovers from my conversation with Buffalo Sabres announcing legend Rick Jeanneret that pertain to the reaction from Wednesday's story about his diagnosis with stage 3 throat cancer:

With Buffalo's Roswell Park Cancer Institute nearby, the natural question was why wasn't Jeanneret being treated there instead of the cancer clinic in Hamilton, Ont. Naturally, I asked Jeanneret that question:

"That's not the point," said Jeanneret, who is an independent contractor with the Sabres and not technically an employe with insurance. "The point is where you are insured. I am insured in Canada, not in Buffalo. I know that Roswell is world-renowned. That's out of the question at the moment."

I'm sure many Sabre fans wish Jeanneret would get the best treatment in the place that makes him most comfortable no matter which country the hospital or clinic is located in.

About whether he knows the technical term for his cancer:

"That was enough to give me pause right there," said Jeanneret of hearing the words throat cancer. "I didn't pay a whole lot of attention after that."

I imagine that's a plenty common reaction from cancer patients.

About whether he feels sorry for himself because of the location of his cancer in his throat when he makes his living with his voice:

"I didn't choose to have cancer and secondly I didn't choose where it is going to strike," said Jeanneret. "I have every intention of coming back."

In other words, he admirably isn't feeling sorry for himself.

About whether he has reached out to former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra, who was treated for throat cancer about 14 years ago and was the focus of at least one story in the local news Wednesday pertaining to Jeanneret's announcement:

"I really haven't had time to think about it," said Jeanneret. "Until this article comes out, nobody knows what my situation is so I haven't heard from anybody. I haven't reached out."

I imagine Giambra or anyone who has gone through what Jeanneret is about to experience would be more than happy to talk to him about it if he wants some comfort. 

One more thing: Besides noting the support he has received from his wife, mother, two sons and stepdaughter, Jeanneret also mentioned his sister. It was my oversight and I apologize to her. She  was mentioned in a subsequent blog Wednesday.

apergament@buffnews.com

 

 

 

Sabres release statement asking for Jeanneret's privacy

By Alan Pergament

The Buffalo Sabres released a statement this morning about play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret's announcement today that he has throat cancer.

Here's the entire release sent by Michael M. Gilbert, vice president of public & community relations for the National Hockey League team.

"The Buffalo Sabres are deeply saddened to learn of Rick Jeanneret's cancer diagnosis. RJ has been a vital part of the Sabres family and the Buffalo community for 43 years and this news undoubtedly weighs heavily on everyone who has had the privilege of listening to his broadcasts through the years. As he begins treatment in the coming weeks, we will continue to keep RJ, his wife, Sandra, his mother, Kay, his sister, Marcia, his children, Mark, Chris and Shelly, and his grandchildren in our thoughts. We wish RJ a full and speedy recovery and know his tenacity will serve him well in his fight. On behalf of the Jeanneret family, the Sabres are asking for respect of the family's privacy as RJ undergoes treatment -- any inquiries should be directed to Michael Gilbert michael.gilbert@sabres.com). The team has also set up a dedicated email address,  GetWellRJ@sabres.com, for fans to send well-wishes and notes of encouragement."

apergament@buffnews.com 

 

 

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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

@StillTalkinTV | apergament@buffnews.com

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