*Staff disgust at "talk like a pirate" stunt
*Status of Julie Haener worries management
KTVU (Fox2) is in a rut.
As a matter of fact, there's a bunch of quiet finger-pointing going on and it all stems from the horrific "Talk Like a Pirate" on-air gimmick (Video) that took place last Saturday on the station's "Weekend Mornings on 2" program.
Sources close to the station tell me "several" senior staffers--including on-air anchors, reporters, producers and editors are privately fuming over the decision to run the story (really, just a scene of news people mugging the camera and "performing" a "pirate" stunt). --at least twice, no less.
Furthermore, the on-air charade apparently got the OK from VP/ND, Dana Hahn. Attempts to reach Hahn were unsuccessful.
KTVU has been in a steady transition of re-branding its newscasts to a more talk-heavy format (called in the biz, "Happy Talk"); the makeover has been orchestrated by new owner, Fox, which has transformed Channel 2 into a model of almost all their O and O's (owned and operated stations).
The change, both in appearance (splashy new Fox-inspired news graphics some of which hasn't been so swell-looking) and actual content, wasn't so radical at first and didn't cause much of a stir from staff but Saturday's buffoonery has created quite the storm.
Frank Somerville, KTVU's lead anchor, I'm told, was none-too-thrilled with the on-air pirate stunt. Of course, Somerville isn't going to say anything publicly but knowing the veteran newsman, the idea that a third-rate circus act made the air has to have him revolting.
Making matters worse at the station (and thoroughly unrelated) is the ongoing medial status involving Julie Haener, the weeknight anchor who has been recovering from emergency intestinal surgery.
It was expected that Haener would return to the anchor desk sooner rather than later but the veteran KTVU anchor posted, recently, on her Facebook page that there have been complications from her procedure and her return now is up in the air.
Haener's absence (and I wish her a speedy recovery) is of major concern to station management; senior staffers have been huddling up in conference rooms at Jack London Square talking about the ramifications of a prolonged absence. So far, KTVU's ratings have not suffered at venerable 10 PM but long-term, who knows.
Heather Holmes and Keba Arnold have been filling in. And, says an insider at the station, that's a problem.
"They're (management) worried because they really don't have a back-up plan if Julie is gone for an extended length. Holmes and Arnold just can't replace her (Haener); it would be a 'devastating hit to the station."
So you have a major TV station in the Bay Area muddled with internal problems and a pirate stunt that has several staffers in the newsroom (not to mention a majority of viewers) incensed. Read the comments.
Sounds like someone high up needs to talk to the troops quickly at the Oakland station.
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