A few days ago, a reader asked me via email what happened to Channel 4 meteorologist Amelia Segal. I advised her that Segal had left for a job in Washington, D.C., as I had first reported in a March blog.
The request reminded me that a lot of my newspaper readers don’t read Talkin’ TV on the Buffalo News website, where I blog almost daily. I suppose that is a shameless plug.
I apologize to my regular blog readers, but I feel a need to periodically update my print readers with some of the things in my blogs that they might have missed. I may do this every month or so. My blog readers do get something extra, too – my initial comments have been updated.
Demler’s Two Cents: Those three words make me cringe, and readers tell me I am not alone. For some reason, Channel 2 anchor Maryalice Demler feels the need to deliver occasional commentaries rather than just read and report the news.
This past week, she gave her take on the decision of National Basketball Association player Jason Collins to become the first professional athlete in the four major team sports to come out as a gay man. Demler’s heart was in the right place. But she delivered a painfully obvious and unnecessary commentary of support that ignored the fact that Collins initially was getting overwhelming support. Some so-called “experts” predicted some sort of eventual backlash, but it hasn’t happened at this writing. Someone at Channel 2 should tell Demler if she doesn’t have anything but platitudes to say, there is no need to say anything. We all know that we should be decent human beings. We don’t need a TV news reader to remind us. Besides, an anchor’s job is to report or read the news, not give opinions about it.
I wasn’t sure if Demler was advised by a consultant to do commentaries or if they illustrated her misguided self-importance, so I asked General Manager Jim Toellner. He said Channel 2 doesn’t use consultants.
“We do know, however, through regular viewer research that opinion and debate is something viewers like and would like more of in local news,” wrote Toellner. “That is why we started the ‘2 Sides’ show and regularly bring in experts on opposing sides of topics for debate within our shows. We have also made it known to our anchors that the opportunity for them to opine is there when they feel so inclined. Maryalice’s occasional commentaries have had strong and overwhelmingly positive response.”
It is a good idea for Channel 2 to bring in outside so-called experts to debate issues. But having a news anchor deliver commentaries that say next to nothing is a bad idea even if some viewers seem to like being preached at. Who would debate Demler’s stance that we need to be good and accepting human beings? I suppose it could be worse – Demler’s co-anchor, Scott Levin, could feel the need to add his two cents occasionally.
The 10 p.m. News Race Tightens: When Channel 2 announced its 10 p.m. news was moving from Sinclair Broadcasting’s little-watched WNYO to Fox affiliate WUTV, I called it a potential game-changer in the race with Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock News on WNLO. It is a marathon but not a sprint but so far Channel 4 has maintained its strong 10 p.m. ratings. For the first week of the May sweeps, it was up 11 percent from a year ago to a 5.0 average rating. Meanwhile, Channel 2‘s 10 p.m. news ratings rose by 40 percent to a 3.0 rating in the same week. It is much closer to Channel 4 at 10 p.m. on some nights than it ever has been. The real winner is the local radio stations, which are carrying a lot of advertisements from both stations.
Buffalo Is No. 1: ESPN reported that the Buffalo market was No. 1 in the country for its coverage of the NFL draft on the night that the Bills selected quarterback EJ Manuel with their first draft pick. The local rating was higher than every prime-time show here that night except for an episode of CBS’ extremely popular “The Big Bang Theory.” That should help you understand why the local TV news departments focus so much on the Bills and Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo slipped to No. 4 for ESPN’s three days of draft coverage.
BEMAs Award the Young: What are the BEMAs, you ask? In its second year, the Buffalo Excellence in Media Awards attracted a big crowd of local media members last weekend and reportedly a good time was had by all. Since members of the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame were ineligible for the awards and some awards (Backpack Journalist of the year, Rising Star) were geared to the young, it wasn’t surprisingly that several winners were new to the market. It also wasn’t surprising that many of the winners (Ed Drantch, Brittni Smallwood, Diana Fairbanks) were from Channel 4 because it has hired more new people this year. Fairbanks was deservedly named TV News Personality of the Year, succeeding Channel 4’s Jacquie Walker, who was ineligible after the Hall of Fame rule change.
Channel 2 Wins “Real” Awards: Meanwhile, Channel 2 recently has won the more prestigious awards given out by national organizations. Reporter Scott Brown won two New York State Emmys and one of the five regional Edward R. Murrow Awards the station earned. Dave McKinley and semi-retired Rich Kellman also won Murrow Awards, and the station won for overall excellence and for its website. The BEMAs also named Channel 2 TV Station of the Year, its only BEMA. The BEMAs really would have lost credibility if Channel 2 hadn’t won.
Katie and Max Hit the Final Four: The local newlyweds, Katie and Max Bichler, inset, have made it to this Sunday’s Final Four episode of “The Amazing Race” on CBS. They’ve already won two cars and $20,000 for winning the last two legs and look like the favorite to win the $1 million first place prize. I wouldn’t have expected that from watching the first episode, when they looked lost. There is no question, they are smart. I’m told that the Bichlers did well in the leg of the race in Germany because Katie is fluent in German. They also have become much more likable in recent episodes after initially looking a little like jerks.
Channel 4 Wins Big on NFL Schedule: The local CBS has the potential to carry 13 Buffalo Bills games this season if the home games are sell-outs and the schedule has many early season home games that are more likely to be sold out. Each game is worth an estimated $100,000 to $150,000 in ad revenue. Doing the math, that means close to a potential $2 million in ad revenue. Maybe Channel 4 could use that money to hire a third on-air sports staffer.