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.” …
Finally, another WKMG alumnus, Donald Forbes, has joined Bright House Networks as its senior director of corporate communications. Congrats.
In the summer of surprising changes at WKMG Local 6 continued Tuesday with word that main 6 and 11 p.m. anchor Mike Garofalo has left the station.
This switch “started with Mike’s decision,” WKMG GM Skip Valet told Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker. Garofalo was married in October to a reporter at Post-Newsweek sister station WPLG-10 in Miami. Apparently the two decided they wanted to live in Miami.
Garofalo arrived at WKMG in December 2008 from KOAT in Albuquerque, where he worked with his now-wife. In Orlando, he’ll likely will be best remembered as the man who replaced longtime popular anchor Bob Frier on Channel 6’s anchor desk.
Garofalo’s replacement — at least for now — will be Erik von Ancken. He has the 6 and 11 p.m. co-anchor slot next to Lauren Rowe on an interim basis and is a candidate to take the job permanently. “I have a lot of confidence in Erik and want to give him a chance to do the job,” Valet told Boedeker.
In an odd arrangement, von Ancken was anchoring on Saturday evenings and Garofalo was anchoring Sunday evenings. Now that both are off the weekend shift, who’s going to anchor? WKMG said that task falls to Bridgett Williams, who arrives at Local 6 from WAGT, the NBC affiliate in Augusta, Ga.
Garofalo joins the other high-profile departures from the station in the past several months, including longtime anchor Jacqueline London, morning weather guy Eric Wilson and reporter Donald Forbes.
“I don’t think we have any more turnover than the other stations,” Valet said. “Ours are coming a little quickly. I’m back to fix our product.”
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….
It didn’t take long for Orlando’s news pool to spring a leak.
The Sentinel’s Hal Boedeker reports that Central Florida News 13 has left the news-sharing pool that also included WKMG-Local 6 and WOFL-Fox 35. “I don’t think it’s as beneficial to our organization as we hoped,” News 13 GM Robin Smythe told Boedeker. “We’re stepping away from it on a daily basis. The experiment is going extremely well. Everyone is playing well with each other. We have a different deadline structure from the traditional newscasts. Our story coverage needs are different, the timing is different.”
The news-sharing agreement — in which News 13, Local 6 and Fox 35 shared video of certain news events — started less than a month ago. It mirrored news sharing deals that have been popping up in other markets across the nation.
WKMG GM Skip Valet told Boedeker the pool will continue with Local 6 and Fox 35. “For now, it’s the two of us,” Valet said. “It’s going fine. Robin wasn’t specific about what didn’t work for her. WOFL and WKMG are pleased with how it’s working out.”
Thursday was a sad day for those at WKMG-Local 6.
Hit hard by the sagging revenue and sagging ratings, the CBS affiliate reportedly laid off 20 staffers and canceled its 4, 5 and 5:30 newscasts. Starting Monday, WKMG will air Dr. Phil from 5 to 6 p.m. and an hourlong newscast from 6 to 7 p.m. The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric moves to 7 p.m. from 6:30.
If this lineup sounds familiar to TV observers, that’s because it’s the forumla used at Post-Newsweek sister station WPLG-ABC 10 in Miami and at Gannett’s WTSP-CBS 10 in Tampa. Both stations moved Dr. Phil to 5 p.m. to compete against rivals’ local newscasts, and both saw bumps in ratings for their 6 p.m. newscasts — a feat Local 6 hopes to repeat. But it may not be so easy.
Former Local 6 news director Skip Valet returned to WKMG last week as its new general manager. He’s replacing retiring GM Henry Maldonado – and it sounds like he’s ready to get to work to push WKMG out of the ratings cellar.
In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Valet said, “I don’t think a great newscast is defined by the number of hours. I don’t think people are clamoring for more and more news. People want a real, honest accounting of what happened in our town. They get sick of repetition.”
So, does that mean viwers should expect to see elimination of some newscasts at WKMG? “Or expanding somewhere else. We have to figure out where the viewers are. You’ll see an ever-increasing presence by us on the Internet,” Valet said.
One thing that will remain the same at WKMG: on-air editorials. Valet said he will continue to practice started under Maldonado of having the station GM deliver commentaries.
Read the full Q&A with Valet here.