Saturday, February 21, 2015

Talk Isn't Necessarily Cheap At KTVU News

 One of the biggest noticeable changes at newly-re-branded Channel 2 --KTVU-Fox2 is the talk between anchors; sports, weather, anchor and reporter during live shots. It's nothing out of the ordinary--but it's become so much a part of KTVU's newscasts that some people are aghast at its presence. Take a deep breath.

There's nothing wrong with some genuine banter as long as it doesn't sound fake and forced. Worse yet, if the exchange is uneven and/or contrived then we have a problem. So far, based on my watching, and I've been watching a lot of Channel 2 news lately, I don't see any issues. As a matter of fact, for the most part I like what I see and hear.

KTVU's old owners, Cox Media, was adamant about more stick to the teleprompter approach. And such policy was one of 2's staple ingredients to success. Could you imagine Dennis Richmond having a back-and-forth on-camera with Azenth Smith? Good luck. That's not to denigrate Richmond and his four-decade career at JLS--it's just to point out that as good as Richmond was he was never considered the greatest ad-libber. Nor did he like idle chit-chat between anchor and reporter --it wasn't his style nor Cox's --now it's become pervasive on virtually all newscasts --a KTVU version of "Happy Talk." Most of it has worked thus far, although there's a few rough edges to sort out.

Frank Somerville is good at asking legitimate questions. His back and forth recently with Tom Vacar, who was doing a live shot from the Port of Oakland was proof positive. He asked some pointed questions to Vacar about why it's taken so long for the union and management to sit down to negotiate a contract, (a deal has now been reached) and Vacar obliged with some solid, specific reasons for the stalemate. It was honest and straightforward to the core and made for a compelling local TV news segment.

Not all of KTVU's anchors are up to the chore. Gasia Mikaelian is a competent, attractive news reader but her interview and ad-lib skills are less than decent. She tends to come off looking like she's out of place --which can often lead to awkward moments on her newscasts. It's not glaring but it needs work.

Overall, KTVU and it's talk mode are more than adequate, in fact, quite welcome at times. After all, it's a part of the FOX handbook.. As long as it remains genuine and functional there's no problem. Talk doesn't necessarily have to be cheap.

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  1. So you like it when they do a sad story and cut back to Frank and Julie and they look down, bite their lips and go "Umm"?

  2. I watched my last KTVU afternoon news show last week. They use Fox correspondents who display the typical anti-Obama half truths in their stories. I will still watch Bill Martin's weather reports but it's KGO-7 all the way for me. I already stopped watching MO2 with the phony happy talk except to hear Steve Paulson's weather reports.

    1. You really need to check out kpix, they did a story a week back that you would have loved. They painted Oakland's "radical brownies" as adorable little angels. Sounds like that's right up your alley.

  3. One of the first things I noticed with the new graphics is that the Fox logo is now on the left side of the screen. I once wrote to the general manager of KTVU back in the day and complained that they sometimes had 3 or 4 id logos on the screen at the same time. And the logo on the right was covering up vital information during sports highlights like the game clock and the score of a game that was being reported on. I never got an answer, but that problem doesn't occur anymore.

    Which brings me to another question ... Why is the logo really necessary at all ? I assume they are trying to protect their copyright but I still find it very obtrusive. We know what channel we're watching. Can't they dim it a little so as not to obscure the picture so much ? Guess not, but some cable channels display their logo every 15 minutes or so and then take it down. This seems to be the way of things in the 21st century, but I never did like it.

  4. One would guess that all questions to field reporters are vetted and scripted with answers researched prior to the broadcast. It would be a real embarrassing gaffe if the reporter's answer was "I don't know.."

    1. George Reading stalks meFebruary 21, 2015 at 4:18 PM

      That really depends on the shop and the reporter. I worked with plenty of reporters who could catch any anchor question with ease, completely unscripted.
      Other reporters will use suggested questions.

      George Reading was the all-time wildcard when it came to questions.
      No matter what you did...he would screw it up with his own "ideas".

      During one liveshot about an escaped prisoner. The reporter mentioned that the crook was re-captured during an all-night search.
      George was off "In the redwoods" during the reporter package.
      When we came back live, George asked...

      "Where is the suspect now???"
      The reporter said as if George was the ONLY person NOT paying attention and said...

      "He IS in JAIL GEORGE!"

      Like duh! George just bounded on...tralala.

      On another liveshot George pissed off the reporter so bad that the reporter "spiked" the hand held stick mic into the pavement after the shot cleared the show air, but the shot was still hot back home.

      The ND saw the spiking in master control monitors, and we all get yelled at for abusing station gear. It was an Electrovoice 635a... that is the worlds toughest mic.

      Now producers mostly insist on scripted questions because most anchors and reporters are just NOT reliable otherwise. When there is trust...but some doubt's cool to ask for a question.

      Whenever you see the field reporter pull the IFB/earpiece out of the ear...during the liveshot....that is the signal to the control room that they have lost IFB.
      No questions....things just went to shit...back to you in the studio ASAP.

    2. Thanks for posting. Fun to hear inside information!

  5. This station sucks now.
    "Happy talk" takes valuable minutes away from real news stories.
    And this newscast has less stories now, and tons of babble.
    "Nobody cares" about news reporters babbling over & over about the weather.
    This station has cut back on real news big time. $$ Ya it shows, $$ babble,babble
    Newscast is on a downward spiral now.

  6. I believe that this chatty-anchor environment is what mainly gives rise to anchors thinking they're stars. Before, as you mention, anchors read the news, punched the clock and went home. Having said that, this format has worked for Fox in market after market across the country, so for better or worse, we'll likely see more of it.

  7. I liked it better when Claudine Wong was stoned-faced.

  8. I haven't watched as much KTVU news since Fox took over. When I've tuned in, I've noticed the new addition of reports on national defense and politics. There is more emphases on these types of reports now, as compared to before Fox took over. These segments seem to be prerecorded and done by correspondents outside the market. They seem similar to the kind of reports you find on Fox News. They have a conservative bent. After one report that was clearly pro-conservative and ended with video of John Boehner criticizing Obama, Tori Campbell seemed appalled. I actually rewound my live DVR to make sure I saw things correctly. Campbell made a little noise like someone being punched in the gut. The report was so obviously biased and I guess Campbell was stunned.

    I watched KTVU's newscast last night. Ken Wayne was co-anchoring. I thought he did a very good job. He seemed to be in his element.

  9. I love me some Gasia, always have. But the one example of the Fox rebranding jumping the shark is the Gasia-TMZ bit at the end of almost every 7PM TV36 cast. Seems really forced, and while I LOVE TMZ (only reason I started watching the 7PM cast was as the leadin to TMZ) the TMZ bit is more than a bit much...