This week we celebrate the 29th anniversary of the (original) KTLA Morning News in Los Angeles – the Barbara-Carlos-Mark-Sam version was the highest-rated local morning program in TV history! This show provided me with so many life-long friends, a treasure trove of memories and videos, it brought me a mantle full of Emmy Awards and it bought me my first house and half a dozen cars! A few years ago, I wrote a book about my phenomenal experiences starting up the KTLA Morning News – Personality Driven – The Secret Sauce For Selling News. On the off-chance that you haven’t read it, I’m posting the first chapter here – all about the little show that became a monster hit – completely by accident! Continue reading THE KTLA MORNING NEWS JULY 8, 1991
I watched Bobbie Battista religiously on CNN Headline News back in the day. You see, it was my job. The weekend producer at WLWT had me, their intern, logging CNN newscasts for any video we could use from CNN on our shows. OMG! Lynne Russell, Lynn Vaughn, Gordon Graham, that anchorman with one leg, Toria, Chuck Roberts! I watched them all but Bobbie was always my favorite! Continue reading AROUND THE WORLD IN 30 MINUTES
There’s a 5 & 6pm newscast here in Cincinnati that I find myself watching… because it’s so bad. From anchors sporting the latest Wal-Mart fashions and looking as disheveled as a hooker who had a productive night, to a weatherman who, literally, yells at you throughout his forecast, thinking he’s sporting a sexy, booming FM radio voice, but in fact, is just, plain yelling. The anchors start to mirror his absurd volume and the whole show becomes a big yelling fest. But let’s switch gears for a second as there’s one pet peeve I have that gets me yelling back at the TV screen. The anchors are constantly ad-libbing that cliche phrase “switching gears” between stories. It’s a verbal device they use to bridge two unrelated stories to make the transition feel a bit less awkward. As an example, going from a double fatal car crash story to the birth of a new elephant at the zoo is an obvious “switching gears” story. The problem is easily avoided by a producer who understands the art of stacking stories in a newscast. Continue reading “SWITCHING GEARS” HURTS MY EARS
Appreciate Inquiry could have a dramatic effect on the productivity in your newsroom. I’ve seen the powerful results AI’s had on people in addiction recovery and on businesses of all types around the country. At a recent seminar I attended on the subject, I heard from countless people how their businesses and industries have rapidly improved by applying the principles of appreciative inquiry. Continue reading APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY
THE CENTERPIECE OF YOUR SHOW
On The Golden Girls, where did Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia spend most of their time? At The Kitchen Table. At your house, where does the family end up together more often than not? Correct! The Kitchen Table! It’s where you have your everyday meals, it’s where the kids do their homework, it’s where dad does his crossword puzzle and where mom reads her magazine. When a friend stops over, he joins the family at The Kitchen Table. The centerpiece of your home is The Kitchen Table – it’s the “home base” of your family.
The Kitchen Table is also the home base of your morning show. It’s where your family of anchors, sports and weather casters, reporters, and contributors hang out. When Chris Pine drops by, he joins everybody at The Kitchen Table. When the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders arrive, they join the gang at The Kitchen Table. When the mayor visits to discuss the teachers strike, he does so at The Kitchen Table. You don’t take guests and move them to a more formal location (like a living room set). You all hang out around The Kitchen Table where everyone joins in on the interview, the food and the small talk. Continue reading THE KITCHEN TABLE!
California Live premiered recently on the NBC affiliates in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. It’s a half hour lifestyle show airing at 11:30AM, showcasing all the benefits of living on the California coast. Full disclosure: I interviewed for the position of Executive Producer for California Live late last year, but the guys at KNBC, where the show is produced, went with someone else. No worries. It wasn’t meant to be – and I remain a fan of KNBC General Manager Steve Carlston. Continue reading CALIFORNIA GOES LIVE
-TV TEEMS W/GENERIC REPORTERS-
I’m astounded on a daily basis how the majority of TV field reporters are content being anonymous, generic purveyors of facts and information – as generic and anonymous as the fake reporter in this stock photo! Watch reporters on any station in your market – they’ll do a “live” hit – then throw to a package that isn’t the least bit memorable or in any way stylized. Their live shots, their standups, their writing and their producing does absolutely nothing to make them stand out from the parade of generic reporters airing on TV every minute of every day. Continue reading ANONYMOUS PURVEYORS OF FACTS
Sometimes you’ve just got to let them talk it out. When the word “thug” became a news story, everyone on set had an opinion. It’s so important to allow them to discuss these issues – which strengthens the connection between your talent and your audience. In this example, we just let them talk right up to the hard break.
Booking guests is a little understood art that I’ve had lots of time to practice. Between KTLA, E! News Live, GMA Sunday and World News Now, I’ve pretty much had every notable name in Hollywood & New York in studio, on-set for interviews. The key to booking an interview guest is all about how your hosts interact with celebrities. Obviously, you want the guest to look good, have a great time and get to push whatever they’re pushing. But what viewers see is your hosts hanging out with a big star. Continue reading PRODUCING GUESTS
-THE RECIPE FOR RATINGS-
Do you know the “secret sauce” to morning show success? It’s a simple recipe. And it’s right there on the screen. It’s the one thing all these clips have in common.