Just what the hell was someone thinking over at KTVU?
I'm talking about the lovely, genius idea of a station-wide American Idol "live-tweet", complete with hashtag, #IdolOn2. Wow.
First off, I'm going to be kind here. You saw the "tweets" I posted on Thursday that came from mainly the news dept. at KTVU including, remarkably, the News Director, the 'Managing Editor', a few of the major anchors like Heather Holmes and Noelle Walker, heck, even top banana himself, Frank Somerville. As I said, I'm going to be kind, maybe.
I'm going to assume this epic failure of thought was somebody in the KTVU Marketing Dept. had this great idea and thought it would be real swell that the station's bigwigs would help promote, via Twitter, the station's big show, American Idol. That's what I'm assuming --a huge leap of faith, mind you, but I'm figuring that this great idea, how stupid and awful and dumb, it looks now, was the brainchild of some yenta or dork in PR who perhaps was nudged by the FOX people as some grand idea and shit, somehow, someway, KTVU and the misfits that run the news operation fell for this dorky, stupid, brand-tainting idea.
First things first before we continue to give the dorks at Channel 2 the benefit of the doubt. American Idol long ago lost its magic. American Idol's ratings are in the toilet. Idol used to be FOX's cash cow, its water-cooler America secret weapon --I'm not into talent shows --I like the real deal, but even I used to watch Idol because, well, who wasn't watching Idol? Only these days, actually, the past five or six years, American Idol began losing viewers, in droves. It's still popular but its ratings are more than 50% down from their high in 2007. The show started tinkering with the judges; most of the biggie judges started leaving, like Paula Abdul--mind you I don't care for Abdul, but her drugged-induced persona and weirdness had me watching as much as British Darth Invader, himself, Simon Cowell, who also left. Bye Bye Idol. Now you hear reports that Ryan Seacrest himself wants out just as soon as his contract is up, but let's get back to KTVU.
Supposedly, a few other Fox stations, especially Fox-owned stations participated in this dumb stunt. We can excuse them because they're beholden to the network but KTVU isn't owned by FOX. KTVU, I had thought, was protective of its brand and image as a Bay Area TV News tradition, yes, even though time has tested KTVU in recent years, it still reigned as a legacy station but that all went out the window with this ill-advised Idol campaign. It looked TACKY. Speaking of looks, it WAS A BAD LOOK. It reeked of desperation and despair --I'm being kind. It looked amateurish and contrived, certainly something that a major force, still, in the TV News Biz would not be a part of. Wrong.
This is where the captain of the ship intervenes and has it out with the network bigwigs and/or the misfits in marketing and programming. Kevin O'Brien, for all his faults, would have told whoever or whomever was a part of this tacky campaign to go shove it. O'Brien, better known as "KOB", in fact, may have even got into a fistfight to STOP this ridiculous idea. But these are different times at Channel 2. Mediocrity has become the high bar. Reporters come and go. Anchors no longer, it appears, give a damn, but we'll give them the benefit of the doubt here and get back to the theory that this was some in-house campaign.
Whatever it made KTVU and the participants look like a pack of cheesy frauds. Credibility? Gone. I went to Twitter to see if this Idol campaign was the work of some parody account, but it was not. Sad. I'll tell you one thing, if I were Frank Somerville and Heather Holmes and the Managing Editor I would have told whoever was responsible for this to shove it, nicely. I would gone up to management people like the News Director and GM that by participating in this tacky endeavor would forever taint me and KTVU as a whole. Only, get this, both the ND and the GM, (Wonder Boy, Lee Rosenthal, and Tom Raponi, also took part in the Idol circus), my God. Are you kidding me? No, I'm not.
KTVU should be ashamed. I spoke to at least two of their key players who, of course, couldn't speak on the record because they were fearful of retribution. Anyway, privately, they too were embarrassed and thought the whole thing looked tacky at best. Mind you, some of the people taking part were respected, veteran on-air talent--you would assume they balking at such a stupid-looking thing like this travesty, they'd be given a pass or simple say no. But that didn't happen. You would also assume that 2's News 'MANAGING EDITOR' would also take a pass, nope. The GM? Raponi started out his career in the Sales dept. so I'm not at all surprised there. He also doesn't talk but given the embarrassing Idol shenanigans maybe it's best he didn't talk too much. I'm assuming someone high up in the Cox Media food chain had a problem with this and there could be repercussions but I won't hold my breath.
What we've seen here is the official destruction of a once-mighty news division and a core group of reporters, anchors, producers and writers forever tainted. The Idol crash sealed the deal. Sure, it's a new world in the TV News business and such but this travesty, and it was, was about as stupid, outlandish and pathetic as can be. It accomplished nothing and only provided more scorn and embarrassment for the people who not so long ago thanked us for trusting them.
#IdolOn2 --forever. No more trust. Just a whole lot of laughs.
*Follow me on Twitter