Catching up on Orlando TV news after being busy Christmas shopping …
Former WESH anchor Wendy Chioji has reunited with former Channel 2 colleagues Marc Middleton and Bill Shafer on their Growing Bolder television venture. She’s joining the show for its second season on public television. She was at the show’s Maitland headquarters recently to tape segments for season 2. Click here to see a video of the shoot. And the Orlando Sentinel has more on Chioji’s new role with Growing Bolder. …
WESH News Director Bob Longo responded to Comedy Central’s poking of the station for its incorrect report about “red and green” being banned at Heathrow Elementary for the holidays. Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker says Longo sent him the following email: “We pride ourselves on providing our viewers with accurate information. It’s one of our core tenets. And while we always strive to be accurate, in this case we made a mistake We regret it. We spoke to the school superintendent after the story aired and asked what we could do to make it right. We corrected our mistake immediately on TV and posted the school’s entire statement on line, which was two weeks ago. They are satisfied.” …
WKMG reacts to that news, reported here via NewsBlues.com, that it was dropping weekend sports anchor Todd Romero and bringing in Jamie Seh from Albany, N.Y., as his replacement. “It’s a personnel matter. He has left the station following the conclusion of his contract,” WKMG General Manager Skip Valet told Boedeker. Said Romero, “My contract was ending Dec. 31. I just think they didn’t want me to say goodbye on the air.” …
While RogerSimmons.com was offline with technical difficulties last week, WKMG-Local 6 announced its new 7 p.m. newscast. And I have a couple of observations about that.
First, the news: Channel 6 will ditch it’s hourlong news from 6-7 p.m. starting Jan. 3. Instead, it will offer a half hour at 6 p.m., followed by the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric at 6:30, then another half hour of news at 7 p.m. “A newscast can be successful at 7 p.m.,” Local 6 GM Skip Valet told Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker. “We’ve seen a lot of growth in the 6 p.m. newscast in the last two months.”
Well, not so fast. Local 6 has been dwelling in the ratings cellar for awhile. Its idea of doing local news at 6:30 p.m. while the others did national news (or aired TMZ), was a novel idea — until WFTV started up its own 6:30 p.m. local newscast on sister station WRDQ-Channel 27 and started beating WKMG. So, to me, Local 6 is looking to move to another time period where it can try to have the local news audience to itself.
But if Orlando TV history is any guide, this move is doomed. Back in 1981, WESH was the only station in town doing 60 minutes of news in the evening — airing NewsCenter 2 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. It had been doing so for years. But in a move that still seems baffling, it decided to change and do a half hour at 6 p.m. and another half at 7 p.m., sandwiching NBC Nightly News. (Sound familiar?) “The Right News at the Right Time,” was how Channel 2 marketed the move. Wrong! WFTV was all too eager to expand into the 5:30 timeslot left vacant by WESH. WFTV’s 5:30 news has continued ever since, while Channel 2’s little-watched “NewsCenter at 7” was quickly forgotten.
The second 7 p.m. newscast in Orlando was even more short-lived than WESH’s. It was a WFTV-produced newscast on WRDQ-Channel 27 during the early days of the Iraq War in 2003. The war went on for years but the newscast lasted for just days.
Have times changed enough that Orlando viewers want local news at 7 p.m.? Personally, I doubt it.
Anderson Cooper may not be the next Oprah, but the folks at WESH are hoping he’ll at least be the next Dr. Oz.
Cooper’s new talk show will be joining the Channel 2 lineup next fall. TVNewsCheck.com reported Wednesday that show distributor Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution added 21 markets, including 11 where WESH parent Hearst has stations.
Just guessing here, but I suspect “Anderson” will get the 3 p.m. timeslot that Dr. Oz now occupies on WESH. Channel 2 will lose the good doctor next year to WFTV-Channel 9, which will put Oz in Oprah Winfrey ‘s 4 p.m. spot as the lead-in to its top-rated Eyewitness News.
One other interesting note: Fox grabbed Anderson for its owned-and-operate stations in Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston … but not Orlando.
In addition to cataloging Orlando TV history, I also collect old newspapers. Lots and lots of old newspapers. And I have many copies of the Orlando Sentinel (or, as it was known for a time, the Sentinel Star).
Over the next couple of days, I’ll post different newspaper advertisements from Orlando TV stations.
Today’s ad comes from February 1981. Back then, before Oprah, lots of stations — including WESH-Channel 2 — aired movies in the afternoon leading into their evening newscasts. Here’s WESH’s “Cinema 2” movie stunt for the February sweeps: Sci-Fi movie week. In case you can’t read the type in the ad, here’s what it says: “Sci-Fi. Two words that mean the best science fiction around. This week! Prehistoric monsters. Atomic ants. Giant frogs. Panther-sized rats. Afternoon movies are here!”
Between lots of travel for business (and some for pleasure), I’m playing catchup with the latest Orlando TV news…
Interesting — and unconfirmed — rumor passed on by a tipster: Bright House may be getting ready to add its Tampa Bay news channel, Bay News 9, to its Orlando channel lineup that already includes Central Florida News 13. Stay tuned. …
Former WKMG traffic reporter Secily Wilson returned to local television screens with a splash. She and her family were on the Orlando-based Family Feud game show. She had a bit of a slip in answering a question in the Fast Money segement — and it made her a YouTube star (with more than 940,000 views so far). Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker catches up with Wilson to see what she’s been doing and how she hopes to return to television beyond game shows. …
Have you noticed the changes at WOFL-Fox 35 during the November sweep? The station has rebranded its 4:30 a.m. to 10 a.m news block “Good Day,” added a news ticker to its newscasts and has seemed to be much more aggressive. Will it make a difference in the ratings? …
Speaking of Fox 35, anchor Cale Ramakertweeted this update about a former co-anchor: “Had a very nice lunch with my former co-anchor Corrina Sullivan, today. Very happy with her decision to be a full-time Mom.” …
GM Jim Carter is verrrrry happy with the performance of his Orlando duopoly, WESH 2 and especially WKCF-CW18. “Absolutely. They have got it going. Our prime-time ratings [on WKCF] this year in October were up 21 percent from last year,” he told the Sentinel. Read the full Q&A with Carter here.
WFTV is reaching into its past to try to secure a ratings win in the November sweep.
Today and tomorrow — the last days of the sweep — Channel 9 is offering $5,000 to lucky morning news viewers. The reason?
“WFTV is the longtime leader in the 6 a.m. time slot and will win most news time slots in the November ratings period,” Orlando Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker reports. “But WESH has been growing in the morning and enjoys a slight lead at 6 a.m. in the 25-to-54 age group measured through Friday. WESH has a 2.14 rating to WFTV’s 2.03. The 25-to-54 category is most important to news advertisers.”
WFTV wants to keep the morning news crown, so it’s putting up the cash to try to turn the ratings race in its favor. To longtime Orlando TV viewers, this should sound familiar.
It’s the same stunt WFTV has used before — to hold off WESH.
In February 2000, WFTV’s Eyewitness News trailed WESH’s “NewsChannel 2” newscast at 11 p.m. — until putting up a $5,000 “Watch and Win” promotion. Money talks.
“We were in first place at 11 until the last week, when Channel 9 did an instant cash giveaway and beat us,” then-WESH GM Bill Bauman said. “I would say that I am disappointed. I think we have a good news product and I’m proud of it.”
And if you have to pay people to watch your news, just how good is it?