OK, I admit it. I cheated. I looked at some of the comments to my blog and column about Eddy Dobosiewicz that reported on the racist tweet that cost him his relationship with Channel 7.
In the blog headlined, “After racism controversy, don’t expect to see Airborne Eddy back on the air,” I explained that he already had a been given a second chance by Channel 7 and the risk of keeping an independent contractor like Dobosiewicz likely wasn’t worth the reward for any media company.
Some comments to the blog were disturbing. However, one comment made me laugh out loud because it exaggerated my power.
A reader noted “quite frankly, I’m not convinced that Mr. Pergament is any arbiter of what is ‘right’ in this matter. And in this case, clearly the reportage WILL have a major affect (sic) on the ultimate outcome.”
I laughed because the writer presumed that I have more power in deciding what happens in local TV news than I actually do have.
I get paid to have opinions about what I view as strong and silly aspects of local news, opinions that stations are free to ignore. And most often they do ignore them.
But the comment got me thinking about all the things about local TV news and radio that I wish I had the power to change.
Here is a partial list. If I had the power, I would:
• Stop airing traffic reports on the early morning shows. This is Buffalo. There is no traffic on the 33 or the 290 at 6 a.m. We don’t need anybody to tell us that all things are clear. Besides, if I’m stuck in traffic, I’m not watching TV. The traffic reports just seem to be an excuse by Channel 4 and Channel 7 to show off some young, attractive women. Channel 2 used to have that formula but now has an old guy doing it.
• Tell Channel 4 anchors to sit down. Why do Don Postles, Jacquie Walker and Nalina Shapiro stand up when they read the news? I guess some consultant told the station it is a good idea. Sometimes, I just think they are giving Postles and Walker an endurance test or trying to get them to retire. I’m in the same demographic and I usually have trouble standing up for 30 minutes at a party. Please let them sit down. They’ve been punished enough by pay cuts in recent years.
• Bring back a traditional sportscast to the 6 p.m. newscast on Channel 4. I’m sure some consultant is behind the decision to eliminate it, though Channel 4 news director Scott Levy says it isn’t so. The jury is still out on whether dropping sports will improve ratings. I imagine changing part of the sports team and adding a third sportscaster would help more. One thing is clear: The extra time seems to be used just to give us more weather details.
• Make it a federal law that any newscast can’t have more than two weather segments. If I want to know what the weather is like, I just go to my smartphone, which saves me from listening to Don Paul’s latest attempt at humor.
• End newscasts at 6:30 p.m., not 6:27 p.m. The stations aren’t fooling anyone. The last three minutes of local newscasts are often just used to show commercials. If the newscasts actually ended at 6:30 p.m., it might convince more viewers to stay around for the national newscasts that begin at 6:30 p.m.
• End the Channel 7 morning weather experiment featuring Andy Parker and Autumn Lewandowski. The idea of concentrating on weather at 6 a.m. was questionable when it began and from the looks of Nielsen ratings, it isn’t catching on at all. It also is unlikely to be a summer draw. I might give it one more sweeps period in November before giving up and hiring a male co-anchor to team with Laura Gray on a traditional morning newscast.
• Drop the 10:30 to 11 p.m. segment of Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock News on WNLO-TV. The idea that Buffalo has enough news to support an hourlong newscast is more ridiculous than traffic reports at 6 a.m. The last 30 minutes are just an excuse to run national stories and air commercials. The needless expansion of the 10 O’Clock News may be one of the two biggest reasons why Channel 4 is losing so many viewers at 10 p.m. to Channel 2’s newscast on Fox affiliate WUTV. The biggest reason is Channel 2’s move from WNYO to WUTV two years ago.
• Name newcomer Dave Greber the weeknight anchor at Channel 4 to replace Lou Raguse. Callan Gray didn’t change my mind last weekend when she got her tryout. She is a passable anchor, though a little too dull for my taste. Marissa Perlman, who had an earlier tryout, has too much energy and speaks too quickly. Greber, who has an authoritative style, gets my vote.
• Have WNED-TV run programs on the PBS schedule. Even I have trouble seeing whether certain national programs are going to air here at the same time as they do nationally. It gets annoying, especially when significant series like the Sherlock Holmes movies play weeks or months after they originally air on PBS.
• I’d make Chris (The Bulldog) Parker challenge Mike Schopp more often on WGR radio. The two hosts agree too much. Parker rarely challenges Schopp unless he says something ridiculous like he did when he recently suggested the Bills use every draft choice on a quarterback because they need one so badly. You can debate whether EJ Manuel isn’t the answer, but there isn’t enough time for any team to give multiple quarterbacks reps in practice to see if they have a future. And if they land on the practice squad, any team might grab them. To get balance and reasonableness, you need to listen to John Murphy’s nightly program on the Bills that runs after Schopp and Parker get off the air. Murphy said he was in the Bills draft room and explained that the team’s scouts weren’t enamored with any quarterback except for Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, who they might have taken in the fifth round if he had been available. We need more of Murphy’s reasonableness and less of Schopp’s silliness.
• I’d make Time Warner Cable News anchors sound like they are alive. The 24-hour station does a lot of good things, including televising important news conferences live. But boy can some of its anchors put you to sleep.