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
This past week, I had the privilege of being invited to the Flourishing Leadership Institute’s “LEAF” workshop. LEAF is a new approach used by change agents (coaches, speakers, trainers, facilitators, consultants, and leaders) to lead groups of all sizes to shape their future or solve specific problems better, faster and more naturally than thought possible with other methods. I was there to premiere a video I shot and edited about Jesse Harless. Jesse is using the LEAF method to help people who are recovering from addiction – and his results are getting glowing reviews. This video is the media marketing he needed to move his program to a national scale. Continue reading ADDICTION RE-LEAF
AN ILLUMINATING OVERSIGHT
If you’ve ever met her, you know Marie Osmond is pretty in person. Stunning even. And she is just as beautiful on TV. Marie, a TV veteran of her own prime-time variety series and a daytime talk show, knows how crucial lighting is on a TV set. Good lighting can make a talent “glow” on screen. Bad lighting is the kiss of death. Many years ago, Marie was a guest on The KTLA Morning News in Los Angeles. Coincidentally, we shot our show on the very same stage she and her brother had shot all 78-episodes of Donnie & Marie on ABC twenty years earlier. I remember very clearly, when she arrived, before going to makeup, Marie asked me if she could go out on set for a moment during a commercial break. I led the way. Once there, she looked at where she would be sitting for the interview and then examined the lighting grid above her, determining whether or not she had a key light, a fill light, and a rim light (a back light). She was happy when our three-point lighting met her standards.
If you’re still in the market for a New Year’s Resolution, I’ve got you covered. Resolve to watch this video below – all 19 minutes of it. Earl Nightingale is someone you’ve never heard of. He is, sort of, the Anthony Robbins of the ’50’s – but oh, so much more profound. His brief message will, truly, change your life. He first released his book, The Strangest Secret, in 1956 followed by an audio recording on a LP album. That sold one million copies – the highest amount of sales ever for a so-called “self-help” genre recording. Don’t focus on the video quality, or the audio reproduction. Listen to his words. And learn. The guy is a genius.
Mr. Branson is so right – “Clients” are our viewers. Newsroom employees are the only people within a huge station group corporation that have direct contact with the company’s clients. So why do stations groups operate as if the important business is being done in its headquarters?
From 1973 comes this behind-the-scenes look at how WABC -TV in New York gets a newscast on the air at 6PM. The two highlights for me are seeing Bill Beutel and Geraldo Rivera doing their jobs. I am a fan of Rivera during his news days. Who can forget Willowbrook? I like watching how Rivera tells a story – so anti-establishment for that time and in some ways, would still be today. Continue reading WHEN GERALDO MATTERED
NBC’s recent firing of Megyn Kelly was no surprise to those of us who know how to “read” TV News talent. Megyn was incredibly successful on her Fox News Channel program. That show appealed to men, most of them over 60, who were looking for right-leaning pundits hoping to pick political fights with their foes. That’s the essence of Sean Hannity‘s little bully program and the format fit Megyn nicely because she’s better looking than Hannity. In that format, Megyn Kelly shined. But there’s a problem. Continue reading MEGYN’S COLD TRUTH
As you move through your TV career – or any career for that matter, it’s important to determine where you set the bar for yourself – despite where the bar is set for the place you work – which will always be lower. I’ve compiled this list of “rules” that I’ve sort of adopted through the years and made my own. Take what works for you and throw the rest aside.
1 – KNOW WHAT YOU STAND FOR
“There’s no need to fear – Underdog is here”.
That’s the catchphrase of the 1960′s cartoon superhero Underdog! He was, sort of, the canine version of superman for the Labrador set. His heroics were often done to impress his love interest, Sweet Polly Purebred, who could never commit. Everyone loves the underdog, which is why the series ran for more than a decade. But an underdog is just as essential and relevant in the realm of morning news. And I learned this first hand.
When The KTLA Morning News first went on the air, we were indeed the underdog. In Los Angeles from 7-9AM, it was us verses the Goliaths of Good Morning America, Today and CBS This Morning. The LA Times called us “the little show that could”. Because we did. We faced off with the three major networks for a slice of the LA morning viewing audience. And on a daily basis, we felt the pressure. We couldn’t book the A-lists guests that the networks did. We didn’t have the million dollar network set, the expensive designer clothes that they wore. And early on, we didn’t have the ratings and we certainly didn’t have the mentality of a “winner”. That title went to Katie Couric and Matt Lauer who ruled morning news for a long time before we arrived on the scene. We were, clearly, the underdog. And we felt it every morning when we hit the air. Continue reading THE “UNDERDOG” CARD
Whatever happened to the “art” of the commentary? I’m not talking about those painful “editorials” at the end of local newscasts recorded by the General Manager of the station, and usually advocating the construction of a new sewage treatment plant. I’m referring to news commentaries by newsmen (and women), back before political correctness took hold and turned every newscast into a generic store brand. Continue reading THE ART OF EXPRESSION
Occasionally as news reporters or special projects producers, we set out to right a wrong. Perhaps a young mother abandons her autistic daughter because the government will no longer provide special daycare services – and the child is a danger to the woman’s other children. We interview the mother and perceive her and her daughter to be the victims. We interview state or federal mental health care bureaucrats only to discover their hands are tied. We interview the dedicated workers at the special daycare center to find they are understaffed and can’t keep up with the growing demand for their services. We come back to the newsroom and what he we got? What do we put together for the 6? Continue reading STORYTELLING AT ITS FINEST
I’ve never told anyone this – only family members know – but I did not attend the graveside services for my father back in 1983. I went to the funeral and church services on that Saturday, but the burial was on Sunday at the same time I was supposed to report to WLWT for my first day as an intern. There was absolutely no question in my mind where I was supposed to be on that day. Continue reading FOR INTERNS ONLY!
It’s amazing to me how job applicants don’t “get it”. It’s true. Most college-educated, pop-culturized, twentysomething millennials, some with MBA’s, are clueless. I have the cover letters to prove it. Just over a year ago, I wrote a “help wanted” ad looking for producer/editor applicants. My bosses at the time were right-brain imaginators who wanted to take everything we do “up a notch”, even ads for jobs at our company. I was completely on board. These were the guys who hired me, so we were totally on the same page. I forwarded my draft to my boss, who then forwarded it to his boss, the CEO. The e-mail reply to me was, “I think you get it“. Here is the infamous ad I wrote: Continue reading SUCKLING THE TEAT OF COVER LETTERS
Let’s face it. Every local station these days has access to the same stories as its competition. The only exceptions to that are unique content a station generates from an Investigative Team or from its field reporters and producers who generate exclusive material. That’s why Signature Segments are so essential. They allow you to take those same stories every station has access to – and produce something unique. Continue reading HEART-WRENCHING SIGNATURE SEGMENTS
Relevance. Everybody wants to be and remain relevant. The dictionary defines “relevant” as: having direct bearing on the matter at hand; pertinent. Conversely, it defines “irrelevant” as: not relating or pertinent to the matter at hand; not important. Continue reading ARE YOU RELEVANT?
My favorite show of all time… don’t judge me!… The Sonny And Cher Comedy Hour. Even now, 40 years after it first aired, it is mesmerizing to watch. And the reason it is? Because the show is nothing but the sum of all its parts. None of those parts could stand alone (and they tried in later years). Cher was OK at best. Sonny was just plain sad – but his lack of talent didn’t stop him from having his own prime time variety show! Continue reading SONNY THOUGHTS TO CHER