It’s not enough that Orlando’s main TV stations have thrown out their networks morning and afternoon schedules to show the Casey Anthony trial. On Thursday night, WKMG bumped part of CBS’ prime-time lineup for a trial recap.
Local 6’s Casey Anthony Special Report aired at 10 p.m., in the slot where a repeat of “The Mentalist” was scheduled to run. I suspect when ratings come out, Local 6’s bold move will prove to be a ratings winner. It was the most dramatic day of the trial with Cindy Anthony testifying that she was responsible for chloroform searches on the family computer and that stains in the trunk of Casey’s car were there when the family bought the vehicle.
Some big changes with Orlando-based television start on Monday — the first weekday of the new year.
Cellar-dweller WKMG launches its new 7 p.m. newscast with Lauren Rowe as primary anchor. The station has split its hour-long 6 p.m. news into two 30-minute segments with the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric sandwiched in between at 6:30 p.m. Local 6 has been heavily promoting the new 7 p.m. news — but will Orlando folks decide to tune into to it over Jeopardy or Entertainment Tonight?
The Orlando-based The Daily Buzz hits the big time on Monday, with its debut in a top 10 market. The nationally syndicated morning show, based at Full Sail Studios in Winter Park, begins airing on Boston’s WLVI-CW 56. It will be the 165th station to carry the show, but most of those stations are in small markets. How will it fare in the nation’s No. 7 market? Lots of folks will be keeping an eye on the progress. Meanwhile, I was pleasantly surprised to find that The Buzz still airs in Orlando on WRDQ-TV 27 from 6 to 7 a.m., then continues until 9 a.m. on the WRDQ-27.2 digital subchannel.
And not to be left out, Orlando-based Golf Channelgets into the morning show business with the launch of its new show, The Morning Drive. Veteran sports broadcasters Erik Kuselias and Gary Williams anchor the show, which will air from 7 to 9 a.m. each weekday from Orlando. Central Florida icon Arnold Palmer is penciled in to appear on Monday’s first telecast.
It’s back. The Orlando Sentinel’s annual ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas video has been posted. In addition to Sentinel staffers, it also includes prominent Orlando TV newsers, politicians, athletes and theme park characters reading the famous holiday poem. (I even make a cameo — see me waving my hands like an idiot in the background while Greg Dawson is reading his part.)
Labor Day will mark the launch of WFTV’s 6:30 p.m. newscast on sister station WRDQ-TV 27. The new Eyewitness News at 6:30, anchored by Vanessa Welch and Josh Benson, will go head-to-head against WKMG-Local 6’s The 6 o’clock News with Lauren Rowe and Mike Garofalo. So Central Florida … which local newscast at 6:30 p.m. do you think will have the most viewers at the end of the month?
Local 6 has been doing news at 6:30 for more than year. Eyewitness News is Central Florida’s top-rated news, but will viewers who watch at 5, 5:30 or 6 follow the Channel 9 gang over to WRDQ at 6:30?
Could Orlando’s Channel 6 have been the site of one of the most unthinkable breaches of journalism ethics by the profession’s most trusted anchorman, Walter Cronkite?
That’s what a FBI informant claimed in documents obtained by a Yahoo! News blogger in a Freedom of Information Act request. According to John Cook, senior national reporter/blogger for Yahoo! News, the informant claimed that in 1969, Cronkite offered to help Rollins College students with an anti-Vietnam War protest, going so far as to say that if they invited Maine Sen. Edmund Muskie to address their protest, “CBS would rent [a] helicopter to take Muskie to and from site of rally.”
How does Channel 6, then known as WDBO-TV, fit into all of this? According to the FBI files, the informant says the protest leader was at WDBO to meet with newsmen about the planned Vietnam protest. The informant claims that while at the station, the leader discussed plans for the anti-war rally on the phone with Cronkite for about 45 minutes .
“[Redacted] told group he had been to CBS Channel Six in Orlando prior to meeting to speak to newsmen about Vietnam moratorium activities. [Redacted] related that while at TV station, Walter Cronkite, nationally known radio and television commentator, spoke to him by telephone for approximately forty five minutes and that Cronkite reportedly told [redacted] that CBS would have thirty six hours of coverage on Vietnam moratorium with ‘open mike’ to give demonstrators a chance to be heard. Cronkite noted, according to [redacted], that Senator Edmund Muskie would be in Orlando, Fla.,November 13 instant for Democratic fund raising dinner. According to [redacted], Cronkite suggested that [redacted] attempt to Muskie to come [sic] to Cape Kennedy to speak at Kelly Park rally to be held November thirteen instant. Cronkite allegedly told [redacted] that CBS would rent helicopter to take Muskie to and from site of rally at Kelly Park.”
WKMG reporter Tony Pipitone fronted the story on Local 6’s 6 p.m. newscast Friday night. “It’s a little bit of FBI history. How much of it is true or not, I guess we may never know,” he told anchor Lauren Rowe. He noted that the FBI destroyed most of its files on Cronkite in 2007 — it was only by happenstance that this particular file survived.
“You’re not buying it, are you?” Rowe asked Pipitone.
“I’m not buying it. I don’t think Cronkite would do that … but, who knows,” he said with a shrug.
I, too, strongly suspect this informant’s account is completely inaccurate. Still, I found it interesting that Pipitone and Rowe went out of their way to tell viewers twice that the current ownership and management of Channel 6 had nothing to do with alleged incident.
Something is up at WKMG — and it’s not the ratings.
That’s one likely reason the station is playing musical anchors. GM Skip Valet told the Sentinel’s Hal Boedeker that morning anchor Lauren Rowe will now anchor the 11 p.m. newscast — displacing Jacqueline London, who will still anchor at 6 p.m. Moving into Rowe’s morning spot opposite Erick Weber is Laura Diaz, who has been WKMG’s weekend morning anchor.
Boedeker obtained an email Valet sent the WKMG staff: “You will notice some different anchoring assignments over the coming weeks. We are simply trying some new things over the long, hot summer. We feel we are now producing the most comprehensive and interesting newscasts in town, and we want our viewers to be exposed to all of the members of our strong team.”
So, from the sound of the email, it appears the changes aren’t permanent. Of course, there’s nothing permanent in TV news, right? Read more from Hal here.
Do you think the moves will move the ratings needle in the right direction for WKMG? Sound off with your comments below….