Has KTVU News lost its luster? It certainly seems that way.
Much of what KTVU does best it still does best but due to circumstances, some of which is beyond their control, the Oakland news powerhouse simply isn't the same.
Let's start with simple personnel. Channel 2 has lost a lot of its star power: the retirements of Dennis Richmond and most recently, ace reporter, Rita Williams. Add Lloyd LaCuesta and Randy Shandobil to that list. And don't forget Ross McGowan too.
And while KTVU still commands heavy-duty respect within the local and national news biz; and makes a ton of money for its corporate owner, Cox Communications, its cachet has taken a hit and has been intensified with a great deal of consternation and angst in the newsroom. Many veterans complain of too many short-story counts, an inordinate intensity of the quick ten-sec snippets that lack zip and reek of simple filler. There's also major grumbling with the "Thanks for trusting us" garbage line uttered by the less-than-thrilled anchor team who cringe. They try to hide it but you can see the what the hell are we sayin?-look on their face.
Most evident at KTVU is the number of new faces. Again, part of that has to do with simple attrition and nobody has control there. People come and go, it's only natural, but KTVU was once the epitome of stability. They still have the familiar faces and anchors. But there's more newbies and out-of-towners than ever before. Nothing wrong with that only these newbies don't possess the kind of Channel 2 brand the station has established over the years. Perhaps the new News Director may give his workforce a needed jolt. They certainly need it.
Channel 2 makes its bread and butter at night with the still-regal "10 O'clock News", but there's no competition there and significantly less viewers. Its newscasts at 5 and 6 PM need major overhauls as it is routinely beaten on several nights even by KRON; (which has suddenly become a major player on the local scene with its beefed-up newscasts); KTVU is also getting killed by both KPIX and KGO-TV in the early evening which has become a thorny issue and cost the past ND his job.
KTVU is most certainly not in the abyss. They still do very good work. Their morning show franchise, "Mornings on 2" has a respectable following and decent numbers. But they need to refine and re-brand their product. They also need to shore up some of their core assets like weekend anchor, Ken Wayne, whose contract status remains up in the air. And they need to make clarity with the likes of stalwart reporters like consumer editor, Tom Vacar, and science reporter, John Fowler. Both Fowler and Vacar are excellent reporters and continue to bring forward solid stories only their status at the station is muddled with uncertainty. Which, according to a few insiders is now the biggest problem with the rank and file. Nobody knows what direction the station is going. Does it do a simple tweak? Is it time to re-shuffle the anchor desk in the early evening? Nobody has a clue other than there needs to be change and change is coming. Bank on that.
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