Posts Tagged ‘Mike Barnes’
As my subscribers know because of an inadvertent early post of a rough draft last week, after much consideration your humble proprietor has decided to close down the Listening Post. It’s been fun and I’m happy that some of you liked it and found it worthwhile, but it’s time to move on.
Writing the blog has become too much like a job, an unpaid job at that. To do this blog right means spending way too many hours in research, handling technical problems, developing relationships and writing several posts a week, not to mention watching lots of local TV news. I’ll do that anyway, but I would rather be free to watch what I want, when I want.
One of the reasons I started the blog was my belief that the Austin American-Statesman was not doing a very good job covering Austin TV news. Its media reporter/blogger has his hands more than full covering radio, retail and various and sundry other business and city desk stories. I know times are tough in newspapering, but I hope his editors will give the guy time to do some original reporting and in-depth analysis on the local TV news scene. I haven’t even been trying to compete with the Statesman, but I have consistently beaten them to stories they should have had. That’s no great credit to me, but it should be a concern to the Statesman. I fear it is not.
With that, I thank all of you who have read this blog regularly over the past 17 months and wish you news junkies happy viewing. I’m sure I’ll continue to have some thoughts on the local TV news scene on Twitter, so please follow me @billrr.
Ranking the Newscasts and On-Air Professionals
Before I go, a number of you have asked me from time to time to offer my opinion on Austin’s best newscast, best anchors, reporters, etc. I have refrained from doing so because I felt it would taint various stories I might write. I did not want to appear to be coming down on the side of those I had identified as my favorites or criticizing those I had left off my lists. Now, with no future stories to write and with 2013 upon us, it seems like the appropriate time to do a report card.
These choices are just my personal opinion, based on what I have seen on the air. I have no axes to grind or personal vendettas or anything like that to influence these choices. Almost everyone in Austin TV has treated me wonderfully and I am truly grateful.
For all of you who did not make my lists, I am in no way saying you are bad or that I do not like your work. I simply chose my favorites and in many cases it was a very close call between making the list and just missing.
Judging TV newscasts and TV news talent is a very subjective topic, and I’m sure most of you would choose differently if you put together similar lists. No rights or wrongs here, just differences of opinion. I’ll leave the site up for awhile so that those of you who feel strongly can comment on this post and make your case for why anchor “X” or weatherperson “Y” should have made my list. Please, no obscenities, especially about me.
I based my opinion purely on journalism and on-air performance over the long haul–those I think have the best chances for success in TV news for the foreseeable future.
Best Overall News Coverage
1. KVUE (Tie)
1. KXAN (Tie)
Comment–OK, I punted on the big one. Sorry, couldn’t choose between them.
Best on-set team
1. Tyler Sieswerda, Terri Gruca, Mark Murray, Mike Barnes, KVUE Prime Time
2. Robert Hadlock, Leslie Rhode, Jim Spencer, Roger Wallace, KXAN Prime Time
3. Bryan Mays, Yvonne Nava, Albert Ramon, KVUE Mornings
4. Brian Sanders, Sally Hernandez, Mark Monstrola, Amanda Dugan, KXAN Mornings
5. Greg Kerr, Katherine Kisiel, Keri Bellacosa, Zach Shields, FOX 7 Mornings
Comment–These are the teams that both deliver professional newscasts while also seeming to genuinely enjoy each other’s company. They are comfortable with each other and as a result, we are comfortable watching them.
Best Male Anchor
1. Tyler Sieswerda, KVUE Prime Time
2. Robert Hadlock, KXAN Prime Time
3. David Scott, KXAN Weekends
4. Mike Warren, FOX 7 Prime Time
5. Robert Maxwell, KXAN/KNVA Prime Time
Comment—While for me, Sieswerda is the best, KXAN seems to have cornered the market on male anchors. I could have added that station’s Brian Sanders, but I elected to put him on my top up-and-comers list (below) as he begins new duties on the KXAN weekday morning team.
Best Female Anchor
1. Katherine Stolp, KEYE Weekends
2. Sally Hernandez, KXAN Mornings
3. Yvonne Nava, KVUE Mornings
4. Terri Gruca, KVUE Prime Time
5. Leslie Rhode, KXAN Prime Time
6. Shannon Wolfson, KXAN/KNVA Prime Time
Comment–I have ranked three “secondary” anchors ahead of the prime time stars. For me, Stolp, Hernandez and Nava are essentially tied for first. Because of families and ties to Austin, I’m assuming Hernandez, Nava, Gruca and Rhode will be around for awhile, which is good. Wolfson has already announced she will be leaving in March in search of greener pastures and I fully expect Stolp to land a better job in a bigger market at some point, if she chooses. Still, this is her hometown, so we may keep her, too.
1. Jim Spencer, KXAN Prime Time
2. Mark Murray, KVUE Prime Time
3. Scott Fisher, FOX 7 Prime Time
4. Burton Fitzsimmons, YNN Mornings
5. Zach Shields, FOX 7 Mornings
Comment–Spencer and Murray are tied for first in my opinion, and obviously Troy Kimmel would have made it a three-way tie had he remained at KEYE. This is probably Austin’s strongest category and we will be blessed indeed if these gentlemen continue in their roles.
1. Dave Cody, FOX 7
2. Roger Wallace, KXAN
3. Bob Ballou, KEYE
4. Mike Barnes, KVUE
5. Ricky Doyle, YNN
Comment–Again, tough call. Veterans all who seem to love Austin sports. We are the winners.
Best Male Reporter—Non-Regular Anchor
1. Chris Willis, KXAN
2. Chris Sadeghi, KXAN
3. Mark Wiggins, KVUE
4. Rudi Koski, FOX 7
5. Jim Swift, KXAN
6. Shelton Green, KVUE
Comment–For day-to-day, on-the-street coverage of any story, Sadeghi is the best in this market. You can argue that Willis does not belong here since he was a long time anchor and still fills occasionally on the desk, but as KXAN’s chief investigative reporter, he has assumed that role as his main job. He has become the face of KXAN’s branding efforts with frequent on-air promotions. You can also argue that Swift is more a story teller than a regular news reporter, but that’s quibbling. I love his work and it’s my blog.
Best Female Reporter—Non-Anchor
1. Heather Kovar, KVUE
2. Jessica Holloway, KVUE
3. Noelle Newton, FOX 7
4. Erin Cargile, KXAN
5. Jessica Vess, KVUE
6. Karen Kiley, KEYE
Comment–These women all do a good job. Kovar’s experience shows. Holloway has brought a real skill to sensitive interviews.
Up and Comers to Keep an Eye On
1. Brian Sanders, KXAN anchor
2. Mark Monstrola, KXAN meteorologist
3. Angie Beavin, KXAN reporter
4. Amanda Dugan, KXAN traffic
5. Shawn Clynch, KVUE sportscaster
6. Adam Bennett, KEYE reporter
Comment–I guess there’s not too much doubt about which station I think has a bright future.
With the heavy turnover in Austin television news, it is easy to forget that the sports directors have been here for many years. FOX 7’s Dave Cody has 27 years, KVUE’s Mike Barnes, 23, KXAN’s Roger Wallace, 17, YNN’s Ricky Doyle, six, and KEYE’s Bob Ballou, five.
In the last of a five part series, KEYE Sports Director Bob Ballou talks about his effort to put a smile on someone’s face each day.
Last week, Texas Coach Mack Brown interupted his weekly news conference to playfully accuse KEYE Sports Director Bob Ballou of falling asleep while the coach was dispensing his pearls of wisdom. Ballou denies it and says he was checking something on his laptop.
Was Ballou embarrassed? Hardly! All you need to know about Bob Ballou and his sense of humor is that he put the clip on his Facebook page and called further attention to it with a Tweet.
“I still don’t know why Mack thought I was asleep,” Ballou said. “This week, he thanked me for staying awake. Pretty funny.”
Ballou, 34, takes it as a compliment when someone calls him a funny guy.
“I love to put a smile on someone else’s face,” he said. “Everybody is going through something. I hope I can make it better.”
Ballou Moved Here From San Antonio
Ballou is the shortest-tenured Austin sports director, joining KEYE in 2007 from KENS, San Antonio, where he did weekend sports for three years.
“I covered three San Antonio Spurs championships in three years and met some great people,” he reported.
Ballou grew up in Dallas and played every sport but football at J.J. Pearce High School. At 6’5” and 160, basketball was his best sport.
“The team wasn’t very good, but I finished as the school’s 40th all time leading scorer at that time,” Ballou laughed.
He says he knew he wouldn’t play in college so decided instead on a career in sports broadcasting. An early influence was famed WFAA sportscaster Dale Hansen, who helped break the SMU football cheating scandal in the 1980s.
“I watched him and admired him,” Ballou said. “In Dallas, you love him or hate him, but I loved his sarcasm. He’s a great writer.”
Missouri J-School Lured Ballou North
With two parents who bleed burnt orange, Ballou assumed he would go to UT. Then, he discovered the outstanding journalism school at the University of Missouri where students gain experience by working at the school’s NBC affiliate television station, KOMU. He began as a production assistant on the Mizzou football show.
“I wanted to learn what happened behind the scenes, so I would be better prepared when I got on the air,” Ballou said.
He started reporting news his junior year, then moved over to sports. Four months before his December 2000 graduation, the station hired him full time, a job he kept until 2004. He did sports on both the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts and also did a 30-minute sports show on Sunday nights. Part of the job was also to teach students, a duty Ballou enjoyed.
He credits KOMU Sports Director Chris Gervino, with whom he worked all four years, with teaching him how to be a professional.
“Chris had a profound impact on my life in this business,” Ballou said. “He was always giving a compliment and I’ve tried to copy that.”
In 2004, he moved to San Antonio with KENS. Then, KEYE beckoned in 2007 and he won the job here.
“I love Austin, and the chance to be the main sports guy was important,” Ballou said.
Ballou is Two-Time TAPB Award Winner
Ballou does sports at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., winning two Texas Associated Press Broadcasters awards for Best Sportscast along the way. He also delivers a 30-minute sports show on Sunday evenings after the late news. That program used to cover only the Texas Longhorns, but now covers all sports. Unlike his competitors, Ballou no longer does a Friday night high school football show. KEYE has opted for special news reports at 10:15 p.m. on Fridays.
It’s all part of a KEYE change in emphasis for Ballou, sports anchor/reporters Adam Winkler and newly-arrived Cassie Gallo, and longtime sports producer, Anthony Geronimo. They are focusing now on more long-form, in-depth sports stories on issues like concussions among football players at all levels, especially younger gridders.
“The concussion thing is becoming bigger and bigger,” Ballou said. “It’s a touchy subject. Dads want their kids to be tough, but where’s the balance? A lot of people don’t know how serious this is.”
Ballou says he and his colleagues are still working through the transition to the new format. He describes it as a “day-to-day process” of trying to figure out the bigger sports issues affecting Austin and the surrounding area.
“I’ve been through four different transitions in my time here,” Ballou said. “I’m proud of how all four of us have handled these latest changes as professionals. We’re pushing to make this the best sports that we can.”
Sports Cutbacks Not a Worry
Ballou says he is not concerned about cutbacks in sports at local news operations in other parts of the country.
“I’ve been told about cutbacks since I got into this business 15 years ago,” Ballou said. “I just keep plugging away at what I’m doing and just keep bringing the best sports journalism I can to the viewer, with the emphasis on journalism. I believe in the ethics of journalism and the way you tell stories.”
Ballou credits his religious faith with providing an antidote to any worries he might have.
“My faith as a Christian is the most important thing in my life,” he said. “I try to live the right way, but I’m not perfect. It’s a daily process of trying to follow God’s plan for me.”
Does that plan involve a move? The lure of a bigger market is apparently not there for Ballou, who says the opportunity would have to be just right to attract him away from his “dream job” here.
“I would never move to just be in a bigger market,” he said. “It’s more important to be happy.”