Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Turnovers Are The Specialty At WCIA!

The more things change, the more they're unlike they were before. Such is the world of the news department at WCIA, where Morning Show anchor Jennifer Hendricks is saying adios and weekend anchor Elizabeth Wenger will soon follow. Wenger will be off to the Carolinas for a new gig, while Hendricks is taking a PR job at Carle. These two are talented young women who are going to do very well at whatever they do, but it also continues the trend of popular anchors and news talent jumping ship from a station where familiarity used to be the order of the day. Sure, there's Judy, and Jennifer Roscoe has been around for over 10 years. Beyond that, however, there aren't many sticking around. Considering the fact that Michael Marsh, Matt Metcalf, Chris Widlic, Mike Cleff, Gabrielle Martin and Trisha Shephard, among others, have all left, what does that say about Nexstar? It says to me that they aren't that serious about building and maintaing a strong news department that is able to develop a relationship with the counties they rely on for an audience. They'll keep a few cogs in place and let the rest go, but at what cost to the long term of the station? If they don't care about their staff, why should we still care about them?

Similar changes have occurred at WICD, as Aubrey Mika and Andrew Miller were jettisoned for fresh faces, so it's not that Channel 3 is the only one shifting talent. It's just that they haven't held the sphere of influence that WCIA has in the past, making their changes seem less maligned to the viewing public, at least in my opinion.

Unfortunately, as media conglomerates are slowly buying up TV markets across the US, these changes are becoming the order of the day. It's no longer as important to service the interests of the viewers as it is to fill the pocketbooks of the parent company, conveniently located many states away.


At 11:36 AM, February 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Corporate television is all about keeping expenses down and delivering a certain profit margin.

In the case of WCIA, even with all of its turnover, the station turns a tidy profit for owner Nexstar.

Then those dollars are taken and basically used to subsidize all of the loser stations Nexstar owns. They rarely put a dime back into WCIA.

This includes hanging onto talent long term. Obviously, Judy and Jen Roscoe are the exceptions. But unlike younger journalists, they've probably figured they could spend their careers there.

Many smaller television markets do have a hard time hanging on to talent because of their desires to move up. But Nexstar doesn't even try to keep talented people around.

I feel bad for the folks who work hard at WCIA. They work for a corporation mired in insurmountable debt and questionable personnel moves. All to save a buck. To them, news is nothing more than a show. And if it doesn't serve their bottom line, it gets axed (they've axed news operations in Billings, MT and Utica, NY). Forget about serving the public interest.

I really wish the FCC would enforce that again. Maybe it would hold corporate ownership accountable.

At 7:53 PM, February 28, 2006, Blogger schreinervideo said...

It's worse than you think. WCIA and WICD will be lucky to still be doing news in five years. And don't expect the FCC to step in. They're too busy fighting smut. If you want to know more about the problem, read my earlier articles. And watch my blog: I was news director at WCIA for nearly 3 years. Try running a $2 million operation with no money.

At 10:02 PM, February 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The trend that seems to be developing is that only the largest television markets will probably have local news.

I can see a time coming soon when corporations pull the plug on news operations outside the Top 50 markets.

What relevance is left for advertisers to spend on local television?

I get my news on the web, not local television.

How many of the younger generation turn on the 10pm news on the local NBC station?

They're getting it online. Some TV corporations are wise to this and are keeping up with the times. Too many are not. Nexstar is not. Sinclair is not. Lin has at some stations, but they're only a 1/3rd owner of WAND.

Ken, I'm curious, how were you able to even run the newsroom at WCIA? It sounds like they didn't give you much money. I bet it was like having a hand tied behind your back!

At 1:33 PM, March 03, 2006, Blogger schreinervideo said...

I came back to Illinois in 2001 to be closer to my dad, who died last May. I knew what I was getting into and dealt with Nexstar as long as I could. Now I'm moving to Utah with my wife to work on environmental matters and getting out of TV per se entirely. I think your observations are pretty accurate. I think we're closer than everyone thinks. The collapse will be hard and swift.

At 8:52 PM, March 14, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jennifer did a good job after she grew up a bit and started looking more professional. I will miss her.

At 4:07 PM, April 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll miss her too. : (

At 2:55 PM, June 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And don't forget mike tanura (sp?) YOu could tell that guy loved doing the weather.


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