Posts Tagged ‘Mike Warren’
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.
Shawn Rutherford Lives
A strange thing happened Friday night on KEYE-TV while Ron Oliveira and Judy Maggio were interviewing the three candidates for Austin mayor. One of the questions, repeated three times, was from a KEYE Facebook friend. Lo and behold, it was the missing meteorologist Shawn Rutherford, not seen since being let go four months ago by KXAN-TV. Oliveira and Maggio played poker face, for the most part, not letting on that they knew who that was. Conspiracy theorists (me??) might say that it was a subtle tease and that Rutherford just might be joining the KEYE news team.
KEYE has had a weather opening since axing Kelly Slifka. I have maintained ever since Rutherford left KXAN that teaming him with KEYE weekend anchor Katherine Stolp and sportscaster Courtney Timmons would make for a formidable trio.
Of all the people about whom I get questions at this blog site, no one comes close to matching Rutherford in number of queries. He obviously has a loyal fan base to deliver to whichever Austin station picks him up.
The Candidate Interviews
Kudos to KEYE for the mayoral candidate interviews themselves. I liked the format with each candidate getting three minutes to answer the same three questions. Many of us have tired of the debates, which often end up with the candidates talking over each other. This format moved quickly despite the commercial interruptions, the candidates all performed well and Maggio and Oliveira were their usual highly-professional selves as moderators.
A Tale of Two Sponsors
Two Austin stations did special reports with major sponsors last week, but in totally different ways. KEYE pretty much tore down the historic and venerated wall (at least among journalists) between the news department and the sales department, turning over many newscast minutes to Bobby Jenkins and his friends from ABC Pest Control. The bug chasers had a table in the studio with phones, much like a telethon, and they answered questions from viewers live. Jenkins also did an extended live studio interview with Oliveira. At least the segment offered valuable tips to viewers, but somewhere Walter Cronkite is turning over in his grave.
Meanwhile, KXAN elected to take on Bill Dickason and his Capitol Kia crew in a major probe by Lead Investigative Reporter Chris Willis. I’m not sure if Dickason will be offering to “just give it to ya” on KXAN in the future, now that Willis has run his story, based on a complaint from the Better Business Bureau and some customers, charging “bait-and-switch” sales tactics at Capitol Kia. If Dickason is honest, he will acknowledge that Willis was scrupulously fair, granting the famous car dealer 40 seconds of rebuttal time out of a three-minute piece to attack the BBB. I would guess the KXAN general manager, news director and sales director had an interesting conversation before running the story. It was good journalism. Cheers to KXAN.
Twinkle, Twinkle Little STAAR
KXAN seemed to be the most prolific of the special report producers last week. In addition to the Capitol Kia expose, education reporter Erin Cargille did a solid job with an in-depth look at the much-debated STAAR test, bane of many a parent’s and student’s existence.
This was certainly the longest of the sweeps series last week, totaling about nine minutes. Cargille delivered an excellent reporting job overall and the series was well shot and edited by a crew of four photojournalists.
I disagree with just one aspect of the long report. In the web site version of the story, Cargille reports that interviewee Sandy Kress, who both designed the test and formerly served as an education adviser to governors Bush and Perry, has worked for the Pearson test company since 2002. Pearson rakes in many millions of dollars administering the testing program. I believe Kress should have been identified as a Pearson representative on the broadcast report as well. His views in favor of the test surely need to be evaluated by the viewer in the context of his Pearson employment.
“If I could do it over, it would be in there,” Cargile told me.
She says the issue needed further investigation and promises future reports on the state testing system. We should look forward to those. Cargile is a strong reporter who has earned the right to the benefit of the doubt on this one.
KXAN anchor/reporter Shannon Wolfson delivered a five-minute-plus report on the City of Austin refusing to reimburse citizens when rotting or rusting light poles crash down causing damage to cars, houses, etc. It’s a chilling situation which could even result in injury to persons, yet the city says the state legislature is to blame. Wolfson summed it up nicely, adding personalization with the case of a local cancer patient whose car was destroyed by a falling rotted pole.
FOX7 Care Force
- FOX7 aired a winning three-minute special report featuring the bubbly and positive former Army truck driver Heather Romiti, who survived IEDs and roadside bombs while piloting vehicles in Iraq. The report, introduced and voiced by anchor Mike Warren, was a FOX7 Care Force story. Romiti told of her harrowing military experiences while expressing her gratitude for her survival despite some injuries and her new life as a health and nutrition product sales person on the Internet. Good to have a feel good story in amongst the many problems exposed by sweeps month.