When it comes to broadcasting and finances these days, there apparently are no guarantees anymore. The latest local example is the elimination of meteorologist Don Paul's 4 Degree Guarantee on his WIVB-TV weather reports.
The gimmick -- in which Paul awarded cash to a randomly drawn viewer and Roswell Park if his low forecast was off by more than four degrees -- ended last week with little fanfare or explanation from the top-rated local news channel.
In an interview late Friday, Paul said the gimmick began about 11 years ago and cost about $10,000 annually, half of which went to Roswell Park. We're talking roughly $44 a weeknight.
"I'm disappointed," said Paul. "I guess I'll miss it, but I'm not burning with rage. At times, it was a pain to worry about it."
Asked why it was stopped, Paul said: "It got lost in the budget. That's all I've been told."
On Monday, Channel 4 General Manager Chris Musial said: "It wasn't a cost-cutting thing. It's a program that's run its course, and Roswell agreed. We're exploring other ways to work with them this year."
It certainly is a wise public relations move for Channel 4 to find another way to compensate Roswell Park for the loss of a $5,000 annual donation.
"Whether it is a check or other ways, we could raise even more money [for Roswell]," said Musial.
Of course, all media companies are looking for ways to allocate their money more effectively and reduce costs. Musial confirmed that some members of the station's business staff were told in December before the holidays ("happy holidays, you're fired") that they eventually would be losing their jobs. "Not immediately," said Musial. He added the jobs were eliminated because of a regional restructuring of the business office.
He also has to restructure the weekend newscast, too, now that co-anchor Barbara Pinson has left the station. Musial said the newlywed moved to South Carolina with her husband, who works in the medical field. He was sorry to see her go.
"She was one of the bright spots," said Musial. "She had grown a lot. We're going to miss her. We wish her well."
For now, Mylous Hairston is going solo as the weekend anchor. Musial added that Pinson will be replaced on the weekend newscasts, which might not have been guaranteed considering recent events at the station owned by LIN TV of Providence, R.I.
The recent move of former Why Guy Kevin O'Neill from Channel 4 to Channel 2 came after a contract dispute that sources said was partly over the end of Channel 4's former policy of giving bonus money to high-profile anchors and reporters.
Of course, Channel 4's parent company isn't the only one in Western New York looking for ways to allocate its resources more effectively.
The decision of Susan Banks to leave WKBW-TV, the Granite Broadcasting station under bankruptcy protection, was believed to be motivated by the station's plan to move her off the 11 p.m. newscast and severely cut her salary.
As predicted here weeks ago, 7 News moved veteran morning anchor Joanna Pasceri into Banks' 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. weeknight slot and moved young weekend anchor Erika von Tiehl into Pasceri's morning slot.
"Instant hit" wasn't quite the word for Sunday's premiere of NBC's new reality series, "Grease: You're the One That I Want." It finished fourth in its time slot locally. But at least it was the highest-rated of the three reality series that replace NBC's Sunday football package. "Grease" had a 7.1 rating here, higher than its lead-in, "Deal or No Deal" (6.4), and the latest edition of Donald Trump's "The Apprentice" (6.0).
Unfortunately, the three judges casting the leads of a Broadway revival of "Grease" weren't especially clever, funny, nasty or supportive and couldn't hold a candle to the "American Idol" trio. The pathetic people auditioning for Danny and Sandy actually weren't pathetic enough to be interesting. And who decided to make host Billy Bush try and imitate Ryan Seacrest? Bush's popularity defies logic.
CBS plans to tinker with its Monday lineup on Feb. 5, the day after its Super Bowl coverage. A new comedy, "Rules of Engagement," will air at 9:30 p.m. in place of "The New Adventures of Old Christine." The Julia Louis-Dreyfus series will come back at 8:30 p.m. Mondays on March 12 in place of "The Class," the freshman series that will have finished its season by then.