Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Internal Combustion at KTVU and KGO-TV; Current State Turbulence and Tumult; Plus Some Advice to New Circle7 GM, Tom Cibrowski; 415 Media Tuesday Open

Image result for combustion TUMULT too. And loads and loads of pounding flesh ready to explode at any given moment.

Let's not beat around the bush--there's a big knot inside both KGO-TV and KTVU; more notably at KGO and KTVU to a lesser extent but trouble nonetheless.


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KTVU building and studios
KTVU's numbers are still very high, particularly in the morning and late night which would normally translate into a happy camp in Jack London Square. Not so. Since Fox took over in October, 2014, things have gradually gone to the dumper. There is a noticeable rift between management and the working staff; even the big shot anchors have become more tense and nervous as salaries have been slashed and a more leaner operation has been instituted. Sure, the Somerville salary (at $600K) is pretty good in today's new anchor compensation phase; too bad Somerville is not the happiest of folks around the newsroom--another story we'll get to one day.

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The average salary has been lowered dramatically as viewer numbers dwindle; KTVU isn't the only station affected by that note as a new, younger, demo watches less and less of broadcast TV News and instead have flocked to their mobile devices and watched outlets that stream content. TV news in general has become sort of a lost tradition and the numbers are getting even more staggeringly low.

That said, KTVU has always been the market leader and still is but a growing number of its personnel are on edge and, as indicated in a previous column, have taken to going to work akin to having a root canal. "It's not fun here anymore," a longtime staffer told me via e-mail. That person, like all others spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation from management. Paranoia is a big issue at Channel 2 and will continue to be so as over 50 cameras watch the huddled masses.

KTVU has been hit by a massive number of anchors and reporters leaving the station, with Ken Wayne, the latest and most tenured news reader; Wayne is now as KRON making half of what he earned at Fox2 but it's a job and that's better than nothing. Nonetheless, Wayne's split left many folks unnerved and upset. It was a move strictly about the money; a move that won't rock the boat but indicative of people in suits who devalue long termers like Wayne.

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ABC/KGO-TV Broadcast Center at 900 Front
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KGO-TV GM Tom Cibrowski
*Speaking of bleeding talent, ABC7 (KGO) as I pointed out Monday is not a sea of tranquility and whose own in-house issues have turned a once-stable 900 Front edifice into a house of fire. Talk about tumult. And Her Highness has quite a jittery staff on her plate with even the most ardent fans of her reign (few if any) are having a hard time winning over staff fed up with people-less skills, growing dissatisfaction over roles and assignments and overall confusion. A good boss would gather the troops together and talk turkey but Her Highness hasn't a clue how to conduct basic business technique. Maybe that's why she still has the job of News Director because in this day and age, incompetence seems to be a commodity.

The new big boss, GM Tom Cibrowski, is still finding his place and ordering furniture for his office. His reputation is good but his first move pissed off a lot of people, including longtime reporter, Katie Marzullo, who asked to report part time so, among other things, she could spend more time with her young kids.

Cibrowski rebuffed her and said no. Instead of trying to work out a compromise with a popular reporter, Cibrowski held firm and subsequently, Marzullo quit. She'll be leaving in a couple of weeks. Good way to rally the troops in your first month on the job but that doesn't surprise me; it's just more of the same management doo-doo that rips apart worker morale and causes major friction like that in the KGO newsroom.

Image result for dan ashley Ama Daetz kgoHere's my advice to Cibrowski as he meanders about the Embarcadero and orders the steak at Kokkari and drinks his second glass of the house cab, settle in and get down to business. Take Ashley to lunch and get out in front of the future contract negotiations and sign him to an extension, like today. You need stability and something to install confidence in the rank and file. That should be priority number one.

Don't stop there. Bring in some nice food and sodas for the staff and have a newsroom meeting. I'm not talking about your first "Hi, I'm Tom, nice to meet you meeting"; those are customary and par for the course, do something with a touch and have an air-it-all out meeting so everyone can get shit off their chest and vent. Now that's a way to rally the troops. First, you'll clear the air and second, they won't distrust you like they do now. And boy do they ever based on that first move with Marzullo.

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Her Highness, Tracey Watkowski-Silva
Then maybe have a come-to-Jesus moment with Trixie; she's hated by almost the entire staff. I used to think it wasn't that bad and that some Circle7 staffers were being harsh and overblown but I've had people that I know and respect tell me that the woman is a control freak and lacks essential people skills. You, sir, want that in your newsroom?

Moreover, who exactly is in charge over there? If it's not you, sir, and TWS is the de facto boss, you got a problem. A BIG one.

She needs to be reigned in and fed a dose of how the Disney family is to be treated. Clearly, she didn't get the memo.

So, like Ashley, take her out to lunch at the Old Ship and over a couple of burgers and wine, ask her about why she has such a bad reputation and how she could change it--make life a little more harmonious for the staff, and in turn, for herself too. Think about it: if you have a dedicated news staff and the people are happy, then, darn, you just might have one helluva future Sweeps and boy how Mickey Mouse would love that!

Am I injecting too much common sense? Maybe, but I believe in the old, scientific method that, as my mother used to point out, "Treat people the way you want to be treated," right Tom?

I hope so but I'm not gonna hold my breath.


  1. TWS is #1! The most despised ND in Circle 7 history. No one else even close.

  2. Rich: I know you're not holding your breath, but let's hope someone reads this blog to Cibrowski and points that nationality bias won't cut it (the obvious similar spellings between the two Circle7 big wigs). Trixie MUST GO or he may lose his anchor!