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Departing George Richert's classy thank you to WIVB photojournalists

My Sunday story about George Richert leaving WIVB-TV to work for the Catholic Diocese was written and edited before the Channel 4 reporter had to ride around in a car looking for snow during Friday’s newscasts.

If he hadn’t already had enough time in the cold and the snow to decide to leave TV, I imagine that silly exercise would have done it.

After he finished driving around Friday, the Channel 4 reporter wrote a tribute to the station’s photographers, an endangered profession now that new reporters are expected to shoot their own stories. Steve Cichon, who worked with Richert at WBEN and Channel 4, posted it on Facebook on Saturday.

Richert told me on Tuesday that he was motivated to write the note because he realized early on his career that photographers “are under-appreciated, and no one really sees what they go through except the reporters who work with them.”

“I feel so close to each one of them, and they are absolutely what I will miss most,” Richert responded in an email.

Here is the note, which has added to Richert’s reputation as a class act.

Dear Photographers,

I don't even remember who it was who first invited me to have dinner in the Photographers' Lounge, but I want to thank you all for tolerating it.

I've tried to earn the right to be there because I think it represents a sort of brotherhood with our big sister.

It's hardly a 'Lounge' at all...More like a simple table for the purpose of eating fast and getting back to work.

After all, that seems to be the life of a photographer.

You run from story to story, often times finding creative ways to make something out of absolutely nothing.

Yet, when the script finally comes in, your hard work still doesn't usually live up to the high expectations of what's written.

Reporters like me run around looking stressed out, when you have the ultimate deadline resting on your shoulders; the final minutes and seconds before a story or a show airs.

You're usually the first to realize that a (voiceover) wasn't shot at all, or that a certain file simply doesn't exist, and yet you're expected to somehow "make it live."

Reporters like me get to sit in the car while you stay out and shoot the b-roll we need or set up the LIVE shot.

You battle the elements and clock to make a dark LIVE shot look halfway decent, but often times the only feedback you get is to "iris down!"

For you, I love the days when your creative talents shine through and you get a lot of compliments.

But I realize most days you must feel like a masterpiece painter who is only given two colors, and ten minutes to work with.

I want you know that you're the UNSUNG HEROES and the backbone of this industry, and I will never forget you.

My favorite part of this job has been driving around with each of you and sharing the highs and lows of our lives each day.

Those are the lifelong bonds that I will miss the most.

From the bottom of my heart... Thank You.

With Love & Respect,

George

But back to Friday.

Channel 4 ran an unscheduled 4 p.m. newscast without promotion that gave viewers a glimpse of the future and the past.

The past was in the form of the appearance of outgoing meteorologist Don Paul.

The future was a glimpse of what the station’s 4 p.m. newscast premiering on March 28 may look like. We’re talking about a lot of weather coverage even when the weather isn't anything that surprises a Buffalonian.

Viewers at 4 p.m. Friday initially appeared to think all the weather coverage on one of the few days this winter that it snowed was too much ado about too little.

At 4 p.m., viewers might have expected to see the regularly scheduled program, “Inside Edition.” The rating for the first 15 minutes was healthy 4.8.

At 4: 15 p.m., Channel 4 viewers apparently had enough of the weather. The rating slipped about 40 percent to a 2.9, with all the weather coverage sending more viewers over to “Ellen” on Channel 2 and even to “Hot Bench” on Channel 7.

At 4:30 p.m. when Channel 4 viewers expected to see “Jeopardy,” viewership went back up and hit a high of 6.2 at 4:45 p.m. but “Ellen” was the big time slot winner and had an 8.0 rating at 4:45 p.m. on the day President Obama had a lengthy appearance.

It is hard to guess how well Channel 4’s hour-long newscast at 4 p.m. will do when it debuts March 28 with new anchor Christy Kern, a Buffalo native hired Tuesday.

But I would think the station would be much better off starting off with a 4:30 p.m. newscast that only lasts 30 minutes than a hour-long exercise during the early part of the spring that undoubtedly will be filled with a lot of unnecessary weather reports.

email: apergament@buffnews.com

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