It'll be six years in May when Dennis Richmond retired from KTVU --May 2008--seems like ancient times. Six years in today's environment is like 20 lifetimes. Six years ago KTVU was still the legacy station with a roster of award-winning reporters, anchors, news writers and directors and some of the finest people working in TV News.
Today, after a series of debacles --the biggest of which involved the Asiana fake pilot's names read on the air, KTVU is a station in crisis. New reporters almost every day; the big ones still left being pushed my management to leave.
How bad is it when your News Director and Managing Editor of a once-storied operation are tweeting about American Idol?
Richmond wasn't perfect by any means but was respected and revered by KTVU staffers. He didn't get along with a lot of people and he often clashed, quietly, with fellow anchors. But he remained the face of the station and was credited with making and establishing KTVU as a news powerhouse. Especially at 10 O'clock.
Here's a story I told not so long ago: Richmond was ready to call it quits back in '08 and enjoy retirement and a steady game of golf. He had lingering health issues but was mostly fit and active.
I asked a prominent Channel 2 air personality if the station had asked Richmond to stay another year or so because he looked and sounded at the top of his game would he do so. The answer was yes. Emphatically yes. Only Richmond wasn't asked and in fact, encouraged to split. Let that marinate in your mindset.
I have both praised, admired and scolded KTVU since Richmond's retirement. Clearly it is not the same company. Sure, change is a constant in life and business but that should not have dramatically rearranged the furniture at 2 Jack London Square. It did.
I have been consistent. I was the FIRST to praise Channel 2 for its smooth transition post-Richmond into Frank Somerville anchoring the ship. I lauded Somerville as a quality lead anchor with solid credentials and news savvy. I was the FIRST to recognize Frank and Channel 2 for its immediate and tremendous coverage of the Asiana crash direct from the scene of the tragedy and eight hours of non-stop reporting.
I wasn't the one who wrote a press release about the coverage the Monday after.
I was not the one who read the fake names of the pilots on board that plane.
And today, I'm not the one who blasts out mind-numbing "BREAKING NEWS" silos every five minutes of NON-BREAKING NEWS. (Yeah, everybody does it here and around the nation, but 2's over-over-over is beyond embarrassing).
It would help that KTVU have a team of management that staff would respect and heed advice only the big boys who run KTVU are a bunch of low-rank amateurs. The GM has the people skills of a diseased cat. The News Director, Wonder Boy, is lampooned and satirized. At least Special Ed knew how to read the room. He knew what he was and what he wasn't. Wonder Boy thinks he Willie Mays but he's really Wally Pipp.
I didn't write the Monday Press Release. He did.
2008 was a long time ago but at least the anchors were not thanking viewers for trusting us. Reporters weren't coming and going. People weren't reading fake pilot's names on a teleprompter and tweeting out American Idol sweet nothings.
BREAKING NEWS: KTVU is the not the same KTVU.
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