Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Spotlight Feature: Finding a TV Job - Part I: The State of TV

by Frank Macek

About a week ago, I had the opportunity to talk with a blog reader who wanted to be find a job in TV. This individual worked in radio, like myself, and thought making the transition to television would be interesting - inspired, in part, by what he hears from reading our Director's Cut Blog.

I also find myself talking to students from Kent State University and Cleveland State University who are in the building as part of their studies to learn from us.

I've wanted to do an article on my thoughts about this and think the time is appropriate, with a little thought.

While I don't discourage anyone from getting into this business, I do offer some caution to those who wish to work in this field. Television is evolving and becoming more and more difficult to survive in.

I first saw this trend about 12 years ago when the FCC issued the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This single act was the death sentence for radio. Shortly afterwards, major corporations like Clear Channel, AMFM, Radio One, Educational Foundation and plenty more began to gobble up every station they could find - and thus the Clear Channel monster was born. Fortunately, Clear Channel might not survive.

Television on the other hand didn't find itself in that position back then. I think the huge cost of stations prohibited massive consolidation. Today, there are some large broadcast companies, like Gannett (WKYC's parent company) but these companies are limited to ownership caps that this and other TV companies have been fighting for years. Recently, some legislation allowed cross ownership between TV and newspapers in some markets under the right conditions.

We haven't seen much change so far other than the Tribune deal with Sam Zell.

The bigger threat for TV has been the internet. You have heard me say time and time again that TV must evolve to compete with the web and co-exist with it. While broadcast TV won't go away anytime soon, the dynamics are changing in today's newsrooms.

Basically, think WEB first. It's where the growth potential is - and where the big advertising will wind up. Advertisers are no longer spending freely on broadcast TV like that have in the past.

What does this mean for people wishing to get into the business now? You must be flexible, versatile and web knowledgeable. Journalism programs like Kent State's drive home the point that producers will write for multi-platforms, each requiring a specific set of skills and talents. Directors will switch, direct and work on the well others in each department.

And don't expect to get rich working in the business anymore. The high paying jobs are becoming as extinct as high paying jobs in manufacturing. They aren't being outsourced - they are being given to younger people entering the business at much lower rates of pay than their predecessors. Only talent continue to make the dream money. And even that dynamic is changing as stations tighten their money belts during tough economic times, like now.

The business is not all doom and gloom. It certainly has its perks...great people to work with, new technology to tackle, and a media that is evolving into something unknown really. No one quite knows where broadcast TV will be in 5 or 10 years.

So think carefully about the pros and cons of committing yourself to a career in TV.

In Part II of my feature, I'll share some thoughts about how to get noticed by the managers who do the hiring.

Disclaimer: The thoughts in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of WKYC or Gannett.

Video: News you can use about Digital TV from a specialist

On Tuesday, April 29th, DTV specialist Jon Gensel stopped by the WKYC Digital Broadcast Center to discuss a little about television's transition to all digital broadcasting by February 17, 2009, on Good Company Today, our weekday morning show at 10 a.m.

If you are still a little uncertain about what to expect, please take a moment and watch the interview to learn more.

We also have a complete section here on the blog about DTV: CLICK HERE

*To watch Jon discuss DTV: CLICK HERE

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Video Feature: Director's Cut Interview

This afternoon, my good friend Eric Mansfield was here in the Channel 3 Newsroom and had his trusty flip cam with him, so he stopped by my desk to ask yours truly a few questions.

One of the fun parts of this business is that you never know when someone is going to throw a camera in your face...and want to know the inside scoop on folks here at Channel 3 News.

After all, that's why you read this blog.

Well, I'm not sure Eric got any good stuff today...but feel free to check us out on his blog "Have I Got News For You."

To see me being interviewed by Eric: CLICK HERE


Monday, April 28, 2008

Where Are They Now?: Thor Tolo

When you think of Channel 3 Sports, you can't help but remember Thor Tolo. Thor was a weekend sports anchor who has a witty sense of humor (to say the least) and tons of energy. His travels took him through Cleveland to Pittsburgh to Seattle among other places where he is currently host on the afternoon drive show for KGNW, a Salem Radio station.

We recently touched base with Thor to see what he's be up to and found he had a lot to tell us. So enjoy, another in our "Where Are They Now?" feature from the Director's Cut Blog.


Having driven my U-Haul through the night on the last leg of a three-day journey from Laredo, Texas to Quincy, Illinois to take a sports reporter gig at the NBC affiliate there, I pulled into a Holiday Inn and phoned Laredo for my messages and got the voice of news director Paul Beavers offering me a round-trip flight from St. Louis to Cleveland to interview for the weekend sports anchor opening left by Jim Mueller or Wayland Boot or any of the other 18 folks who'd held down that fort through the 1980s.

After three weeks of learning the ropes with Allen Davis, who stayed on a couple more years with sports producer Al Symanski, I debuted on Saturday, March 4th, 1989. It was an evening Tom Sweeney - our weekend news anchor - called "the most unusual in his many years in broadcasting." No sooner had I tossed back to Tom and Connie Dieken and gone to commercial than Sweeney glanced over and said: "Good job, but why were you shouting?"

Channel 3 weekends (with weatherman Terry Burhans) were off and running into a new era. I produced and anchored my own sportscasts every Saturday and Sunday at 6 & 11. Occasionally I'd do Fridays when Jimmy Donovan was off doing NFL games for NBC, but my day job during the week was really the night shift (3 to 11:30 pm) helping Jimmy prepare his sportscasts. I learned more about "relaxing into the moment" with that guy than anybody else I've ever worked with. He's the best conversational writer I've seen.

I'm maybe best remembered for (a) capping off my 11 o'clock call of the '89 Kentucky Derby with "Sunday Silence wins by half a nose...make it half a booger"; (b) pushing back my chair after a show opening sports tease and rolling off the back ledge while Jim Hooley led the newscast with a death penalty story; and (c) joking off air with Hooley about auto racing not really being a sport, then turning to the camera, on air, and saying: "Yes, the Cleveland Grand Prix - what a waste of gas!"

However, it's also true I broke the Browns' hiring of Bill Belichick on the Sunday night before the Tuesday morning Art Modell introduced him as the successor to Bud Carson. I was the only person to grab a sound byte with Larry Bird on his last-ever stroll off a basketball court in a Celtics uniform following a playoff loss to the Cavs at old Richfield Coliseum. And, after Cleveland State basketball coach Kevin Mackey's crack house arrest on Friday the 13th (July 1990), I was the only reporter to interview on camera any of his players. I also, on camera, took a Tom Candiotti curveball to the groin. It didn't air.

One year to the day after winning my Best Sportscaster Emmy, I got fired. It was June 8, 1992, so I caught on with all-sports station WKNR - co-hosting their morning show for a year with Paul Tapie. In August 1993, my dream of anchoring post-game shows on the Minnesota Vikings Radio Network actually came true when I was brought on board by their flagship station (KFAN), where I hosted in mid-days before moving to mornings.

On July 12, 1995, I debuted my nightly call-in show on KDKA Pittsburgh - the world's first radio station - and won a Golden Quill along with four sports reporting awards.

After sunset, my show could be heard in all or parts of 37 states. In May of 1997, I married the gorgeous gal (Shelly) I'd met in the KDKA newsroom two years earlier.


After a fairly remarkable run of more than seven years on KDKA, we've since settled into our downtown Seattle condo overlooking the Puget Sound and Elliott Bay. (That's where Tom Hanks and his boy row their boat in Sleepless In Seattle.)

For four years, I've hosted the Pacific Northwest's only "live" drive-time Christian call-in show every afternoon on KGNW - one of more than a hundred stations owned by Salem Communications, the nation's third largest radio chain. I've traveled with Bible League to Africa, Asia and South America.

Put it this way: you're not going to confuse my 50,000 watt high-energy show with any typical program of the genre.

Shelly owns a very successful event planning company [Tolo Events, LLC]. Business is booming with our offices in both Seattle and Pittsburgh. This summer she coordinates the grand opening of the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center with President Bush possibly attending.

Channel 3 was one of the most enriching and cool places I've ever worked. It was my fourth of eight jobs (and third of six places I've lived) since graduating from college. The behind-the-scenes voices of producers like Nick Kovijanic - who went on to MSNBC - and Al Szymanski - who went on to NBC Sports in New York - still echo after 16 years away.

Donovan, Davis, Dieken, Hooley, Burhans, Steve Browne, Tony Harris, Kim Bratton, Leon Bibb, Jill Beach, Tom Beres, Paul Orlowski, Tom and Del, Liz Habib, the great Irishman - Tom Sweeney and anybody else whose name I'm spacing out - thanks to all you guys & gals for making my years in Cleveland so much fun! (Oh & Stanley Fears) And, you thought I was a piece of work!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

News: Group recognizes Romona Robinson for her leadership

Channel 3 news anchor Romona Robinson has been awarded the Toastmasters District 10 Communication and Leadership award at a ceremony held in Chardon on Saturday.

Every year the Toastmasters present the award to one local leader who does his or her part to enrich our community and lives.

They selected Romona for her work with "Romona's Kids."

Congratulations, Romona!

*To watch Romona accepting her award: CLICK HERE

Friday, April 25, 2008

News: Jimmy Fallon to succeed Conan on "Late Night"

Variety is reporting this afternoon that Jimmy Fallon will most likely be announced as successor to Conan O'Brien when Conan takes over for Jay Leno on the "Tonight Show" next year.

NBC was planning on making the announcement to advertisers next month at a gathering at 30 Rock, but the news was reported on a Fox News web report, making it likely the Peacock network will have to make the announcement much sooner.

Insiders also say that Conan will likely take off about six months between his final "Late Night" and first "Tonight Show."

To read the entire Variety article: CLICK HERE

News: Turkish CNBC Reporter and Student Visit WKYC

Melis Kobal is a CNBC reporter covering the business beat out of Istanbul, Turkey.

She's in Cleveland along with a Bogazici University student, Elvan Salman for three weeks and stopped by WKYC-TV to check out a U.S. television station and see how Channel 3 produces its newscasts.

The women met with Senior Political Correspondent Tom Beres...they talked Turkey with Tom in the video below!

For a look at Bogazici University in Istanbul, check out the link below. Welcome Melis and Elvan!

*To watch their interview with Tom Beres: CLICK HERE

Bogazici University, Istanbul
Bogazici University photo tour

News: "Live on Lakeside" debuts on Channel 3 News Today

"Live on Lakeside" kicked off Friday morning with a brand new, live and local concert series being produced by WKYC Channel 3 every Friday morning at 1333 Lakeside Ave.

We are giving local bands the opportunity to be heard "on-air" between 5 to 7 AM on "Channel 3 News Today."

  • Audio Euphoria from Orange High School

  • To watch the band performing a couple of sets in studio: CLICK HERE


    Photos Courtesy: WKYC Production Manager, Allen Wohl

    • Here's the official sign up form to be considered for "Live on Lakeside": CLICK HERE
  • Tuesday, April 22, 2008

    News: "3D" TV coming to a living room near you

    You knew this one was coming...

    If you have a new flat screen television, you know it goes up on a wall someplace in your living room or bedroom. But what if you could put a tv in the middle of the room and watch it from any angle?

    A man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has come up with the solution - 3D TV. And it's even better than HDTV.

    He's been an attorney, businessman, and a governor's big brother, but Martin Keating's latest technological venture began all the way back at Guttenberg's press.

    Keating wrote a book several years ago and got to wondering how he could tell the story in a more modern way.

    "I was thinking what if we could create these scenes in people's homes and they could actually live the book and of course there was no way to do that," he recalled.

    Doctors James Sluss and Hakki Refai didn't know it at the time, but they were about to begin a collaboration that might change the way we watch electronic entertainment.

    Keating's idea was a full three dimensional image, something a viewer could see from any angle.

    "Full color, 3D, walk around, better than HDTV. It will change the way the world communicates. You could put a Superbowl live on your tabletop," Keating explained.

    Dr. James Sluss put it into technical terms.

    "What we do is project invisible infrared laser beams up from the base through this image space material that we're perfecting."

    Sluss, Refai and several other University of Oklahoma engineers and researchers put their heads together.

    The result was a company called 3DIcon.

    Thanks to new technology and good collaboration, the results came faster than anyone thought.

    "You can connect our C-space display with any available 3D graphic engine in the market now," noted Refai.

    Their research goes on in the basement of building four west at the O-U Tulsa campus, but the company's work did catch the attention of venture capitalists like Lawrence Field.

    "We felt like the concept, the research was at such a point that it could in fact become commercial," Field said.

    A few spinoff products have already hit the marketplace, and their first full three dimensional product is mere months away.

    *To watch Galen's package on 3DTV: CLICK HERE

    Monday, April 21, 2008

    TV Tech Center: Don't forget the audio

    By Frank Macek

    One of the best parts of the new digital television revolution is often overlooked - the audio.

    Most people buy their new digital or high definition television sets, take them home, plug in whatever audio cables they can find and they are instantly gratified with their new purchase.

    If you one of those folks, you are missing out on the wide world of multi-channel audio.

    Today's new media, including DVDs, often come with a multichannel audio track - in the form of the Digital Theater System (DTS), Sony Dynamic Digital Sounds (SDDS) or Dolby Digital - which gives the viewer the benefit of true 3-D like surround sound. This is multi channel system with different sounds separated into different parts of the audio spectrum.

    Although 5.1 channel surround is now the norm, some systems are now supporting 6.1 and 7.1 channel surround. Japan's NHK has even developed a 22.2 channel system, so the possibilities are ridiculously endless.

    While most home theater and media center PC's support a full range of audio modes, most audiophiles suggest you have an A/V received as the "hub" of your entire HDTV setup. A good receiver also serves the role of being able to switch and scale, taking video in from different source outputs and sending it via an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) right to your HDTV.

    If you aren't familiar with the "surround sound" concept of arranging your speakers for maximum listening satisfaction, the following gives you a brief overview of how to set up your home system.

    WKYC is currently broadcasting in 5.1 surround sound for our network programming. Coming VERY soon, we'll also be including our Channel 3 newscasts in the mix. As time goes along, you'll be noticing even more channel separation and a wider range of sound for most of our programming - whether it comes from the network or locally.

    Surround Sound Illustrated

    News: New WKYC Weekend Morning Show Blog

    As part of the WKYC Information Center, several of our staff members are taking a cue from the popularity of the Director's Cut Blog to do a little bloggin' of their own.

    Here is another new blog to check out when you get a little web surfing time.
    • Weekend Morning Show - a blog from our highly rating early morning weekend crew. Find out what Kim Wheeler, Jeff Maynor and Bruce Kalinowski are really doing when you aren't seeing them on camera. Plus, a number of the production crew also contribute their own unique perspective about the newscasts each Saturday and Sunday morning from 9 to 10:30 a.m.

    For more blogs from the WKYC Digital Broadcast Center: CLICK HERE. We also have a list of our favorites in our right hand menu under "Favorite Sites."

    Many of our staff members also have profiles on Facebook. You can sign up for a free account and then join our groups and interact with many of us online about the station and the news stories we cover. Just search "WKYC". To join Facebook: CLICK HERE

    News: WKYC launches the "Stream Center" on Facebook

    As part of the WKYC Information Center, we are launching new feature on Facebook called the "WKYC Stream Center."

    It will be your one stop shopping for exclusive video, promotion video and unplugged interviews with reporters working on various stories.

    To go to the "WKYC Stream Center," click on the following picture:

    News: Gannett follows other big media in weak 1st quarter sales

    McLEAN, Va. - The nation's largest newspaper publisher Gannett Co. (parent company of WKYC-TV) says its earnings fell about 9 percent in the first three months of the year as the weak economy contributed to a drop in advertising.

    The McLean-based publisher of USA Today and 85 other daily newspapers in the U.S. on Monday reported a profit of $191.8 million, or 84 cents a share, compared with $210.6 million, or 90 cents a share, in the first three months of 2007.

    Excluding a gain of 7 cents per share for the sale of land, the results were in line with estimate of 77 cents per share of Wall Street analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

    Broadcasting revenues declines 7.0 percent and television revenues were 7.3 percent lower. Based on current pacings, television revenues for the 2nd quarter of 2008 would lag last year's second quarter in the mid to high single digits.

    Quarterly revenue fell 8 percent to $1.68 billion from $1.83 billion a year ago.

    Courtesy: The Associated Press & Gannett

    Friday, April 18, 2008

    From the mailbag: Why does the 6 PM News start so early?

    From: Brian via Facebook

    Q: I have a question I've pondered for years and in which I think others might be interested: It seems every station in town starts their 6:00 pm newscasts not at 6:00 pm but at 5:57 or 5:58 pm. Why is that? Is it so the viewers don't have a chance to tune away from the previous show? When I got my DVR, it took a little practice to tell it to start recording 6:00 pm newscasts a few minutes early.

    A: Brian.. you have answered your own question.. but let me elaborate a little bit on this. Speaking just about Channel 3, we try and start our newscast at 6 p.m. as soon as Dr. Phil says goodbye. Because we are up against other stations who are already doing news during the 5 p.m. hour we don't want to be at a disadvantage by having them beat us to the start line at 6. On the flip side, the others stations don't want us to be first - and them last. Thus, we all start at about the same time - around 5:58 p.m.

    For folks who record our shows via DVRs...that has been a major complaint for the very reason you mention. They miss the first 2 minutes of our broadcast, which is always the big story of the day - and viewers who are tuning in live right at 6 also discover they have missed something important.

    You can email your questions to me:

    Thursday, April 17, 2008

    From the mailbag: Talkin' Tribe

    From: Ken in Barberton

    Q: I used to watch your Monday night Indians program at 7...and now it's not on. What's going on?

    A: "Talkin' Tribe" did not return this year as part of our Indians programming on Channel 3. Instead, we are presenting the "Tribe Report" with host Jim Donovan that airs on Sportstime Ohio on Monday nights at 6 p.m.

    I believe this show repeats a couple of times as well, in case you miss it. You can always check the Program Guide for SportsTime Ohio: CLICK HERE

    Thanks for the email.

    You can email your questions to me:

    Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    Director's Alert: Akron Canton News Being Discontinued

    WKYC General Manager Brooke Spectorsky today announced that the Akron-Canton News which was developed as a partnership between WKYC and Time-Warner cable, will be discontinued on May 30th, due to weak economic conditions.

    He also announced, however, that the Akron Canton News bureau will remain open, and WKYC Channel 3 News will increase its coverage of the Akron-Canton area.

    My colleague, Eric Mansfield, reflects on today's announcement. To read his thoughts from his blog: CLICK HERE

    Web Link: TV News Re-defined, kinda

    Around WKYC, I am probably one of the biggest, new tech geeks around. When I see something new, I am usually among the first to try out and play with new things. And I like to share my new found "geekness" with others who share a similar aptitude.

    Several of my colleagues have pointed out a really cool site for news savoy folks called ""

    Basically, it's a collection of all the video streams available from various news organizations - streamed in real time, from the US and around the World.

    But the part that caught my attention the most was having a camera trained on a News Producer as they worked at their desk...with seemingly big brother watching every move. That's kinda of freaky, but way too cool. (Note: If the producer is away from their desk, they through up a slate temporarily. Click on the audio button to hear them too!)

    In the meantime, feel free to watch these poor producers at WFLD in Chicago do their job in front of everyone...and check out the neat sources available on the even cooler part of the site: CLICK HERE

    Tuesday, April 15, 2008

    Spotlight Feature: Could NBC's woes be cured with less?

    By Frank Macek

    Anyone who follows the Nielsens has no doubt noticed that NBC still lags in prime time ratings and late news numbers are falling for the 11 p.m. time slot across the country. The trend started several years ago and will eventually force broadcasters to re-think their late night strategies.

    Broadcasters feel that to win late night, means the ability to win earlier mornings as well - with the belief that whatever channel a viewer is on at bedtime will be the channel they begin the new day with.

    The new world reality is viewers are working longer days, getting home later and going to bed earlier. This trend is not likely to change anytime soon as a worsening economy forces people to change their lifestyles to fit their increasing work demands.

    Could this be an opportunity for NBC to re-define itself now, using the highly successful FOX model that has turned that network, and it's local news operations, into a powerhouse?

    I think so. And here's why...

    The Reality:

    *NBC is facing an internal battle between Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien. Jay says he isn't really ready to give up "The Tonight Show" to Conan O'Brien next year. If fact, Leno is seeing his best numbers for the network, thanks in large part to the Writers Guild strike that proved to viewers Leno still has the right stuff, while Conan came off as less than polished. It will be a $40 million penalty for the network if Conan isn't given the job in 2009.

    *NBC is facing higher production costs for its prime time programming. And with an Actor's strike looming - the network may well find itself running Law & Order episodes a hundred times a week. Even NBCU CEO Jeff Zucker calls the looming strike a potential "devastating" hit.

    *Local NBC affiliates 11 p.m. news ratings are quickly on the decline. Fortunately for WKYC, we have remained strong thanks to a consistent news product - while other stations across the nation have seen dramatic nosedives after being unable to combat lower NBC primetime numbers.

    In fairness to the network, prime time numbers have improved - but not to the levels where NBC will become #1 again in the forseeable future. And that's a problem.

    The Solution:

    *NBC should consider cutting its primetime schedule to 2 hours from 8 to 10 p.m.

    *Local news moves to 10 p.m. - one full hour earlier to help stations recapture the lost news audience from 11 p.m.

    *Jay Leno gets a brand new show at 10:30 p.m. which keeps him at NBC and gets late night programming, which is cheaper to produce, started earlier.

    *Conan O'Brien succeeds Jay as host of "The Tonight Show" at 11:30 p.m. - as planned next year.

    Whether NBC seriously considers the success that FOX is having with a shortened primetime schedule, plus the opportunity to strengthen our late night schedule still remains to be seen.

    But for local stations, this could be the one big chance to replenish our late news numbers with a shift to 10 p.m.

    Your thoughts are welcome. You can email me at:

    Disclaimer: The comments are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of WKYC.

    Monday, April 14, 2008

    News: And the Winner Is?????

    We'll find out on June 1st...

    The Ohio Associated Press has named "The Investigator" WKYC's Tom Meyer as a finalist for "Best Reporter in Ohio."

    Tom won the award last year and is looking to bring it home again this year.

    Over his distinguished career, Tom has won more than 175 awards for his investigative and journalism work.

    Meyer joined WKYC last year from WOIO and currently heads our investigative unit.

    You can watch WKYC's latest Tom Meyer promo below. If you can't see the video: CLICK HERE

    Get To Know Team 3 - Barbara Gauthier

    Time for another of our special "Get To Know Team 3" features which give you a chance to learn a little more about the people you see on the air at WKYC. These are fun, behind the scenes question and answer sessions dealing with subjects you might not normally hear about from them on the air.

    Barbara Gauthier is currently a morning co-host on Channel 3 News Today from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. and anchor of Channel 3 News at Noon. We recently sat down with Barb to find out a little more about her career.

    Q: What was your very first job in broadcasting? And what station was it?

    Barb: My first "real" job - or paid job was at KTVT Television in Dallas, Texas. Yes it was a big market and it's very unusual that I would get an on-air job in a large market as my first job, but this was an independent station and the newscast was very "small market". I was hired as a reporter and eventually ended up anchoring the morning news. There was no teleprompter operator - so I had to "rip and read" as they say. There was a lot of wire copy and very little tape. It was a very good learning experience and I was fortunate to be hired. The station has since become, I believe a CBS affiliate and a much different place than it was 20 years ago when I first started out.

    Q: You worked at Black Entertainment Television (BET) prior to coming to WKYC. What was it like working for a network?

    Barb: I really enjoyed my time at BET. They treated me very well and it was exciting being a part of the new venture. I was hired as the "chief national correspondent" when the network launched it's nightly newscast and it was a real adventure and experience. It was challenging too - because there was no network affiliation like NBC - so it was difficult getting national video and support. It also involved moving to Washington D-C and I my husband and I had somewhat of a commuter marriage for a while. He and the kids were pretty much living in Atlanta. So that was extremely difficult but I'm glad I had the experience.

    Q: Tell me about your experience while covering the Oklahoma City Bombing?

    Barb: Oh Wow, how to begin on the Oklahoma City Bombing coverage? It was the most difficult, most emotional, most heartbreaking time of my career - probably my life. I was one of the first, if not the first television reporter on the scene. I know this because I was about 2 blocks from the building on the way to a doctor's appointment when it happened. I was the morning anchor at KOCO - the ABC affiliate at the time, and had finished up the morning show and had left for the appointment. When I heard the explosion, my car lunged forward and I thought I'd been rear-ended. When I looked back there was no one behind me. I looked to my right and I saw this huge plume of smoke. I grabbed my cell phone, reporter's notebook and purse and started running toward the smoke.

    I arrived as police, firefighters and rescuers were arriving. The building had not been cordoned off or anything. I saw people, children bloodied and dazed and everyone running around looking for lost co-workers and loved ones and people hurting and in need of help. I was trying to help and didn't know what to do...calling the station trying to figure out what was happening. I eventually went on the air and was able to share some of the stories of those who'd survived, or had lost loved ones. Everyone in the city seemed to have been touched in one way or another by the tragedy. I will never forget the people I met or the stories from the bombing.

    Q: What has been your best on-air blooper?

    Barb: I've had a lot. Let's see - about a month ago I had one that everyone else seemed to think was pretty funny - (though I didn't think it was THAT funny). This was here at WKYC - during the morning show. I'd talked about a new fast "text" site to get the caloric intake on fast food items. We'd been promoting all morning that I would "text" live on the air to show in real time how quick this site was indeed. When it came time to text - I fumbled it, pressed the wrong button on my phone and completely messed it up. It was at the end of the show so we ran out of time and never got it done. I was so nervous about the whole texting thing, which I'm no good at, that I was trembling so bad it was so obvious. People seemed to get a real kick out of my nervousness (after all these years in the business).

    I've had other major screw ups - I got the opportunity to anchor at WCBS Radio in New York, early in my career and it was a terrible experience. I started out bad and just snowballed from there. It was not pretty. I also really blew it when I interviewed Whitney Houston in Atlanta this was probably 10 years ago or so.. I was in a big crowd of reporters outside an awards show and we weren't expecting her to stop and take questions, but she did and turned right to me. I was so star struck I guess, I don't know, I couldn't think of anything to ask. I was like "duhhhhhh" - and she turned and walked away. Bad experiences but rather than dwell on how bad I was - I tried to learn from my mistakes and use them to get better - still working on it!

    Q: What do you find to be the best part of your job?

    Barb: The best part of the job by far is that I get to impact people's lives - hopefully in a positive way. The stories that I report can give people information that can perhaps improve their lives, or solve a problem or even help them raise their children. It's great being in a position to come into people's homes and be a part of their daily routine, part of their daily lives. It's a privilege to be allowed to be there and to be in a position to that kind of impact.

    Q: You've been working on the morning show lately...How do you find the strength to get up at that hour of the morning? Any secrets you can share with early risers?

    Barb: Honestly, I am probably the most sleep deprived person in Cleveland. I've always had a problem sleeping and it seems to get worse on this shift - I can usually get to bed at a decent time - I just can't fall asleep. But I love the schedule, it works so well with my family life and I love doing the morning show. So if anyone has any tips for me on how to get a good night's sleep, I'm listening.

    Q: What do you like to do in your free time to help take your mind off work?

    Barb: I have 13 year old and 8 year old - so I spend a lot of time at their schools and doing things with them and my husband. I love to travel and reading and I love music and entertainment. As a matter of fact I love to sing - that's probably what everyone at Channel 3 would say if you asked them about me...They'd say she's always singing. I'd hope they'd say - "And she's good too."

    Q: What is the best thing about living in Northeast Ohio in your opinion? And why?

    Barb: I love the seasons in Northeast Ohio, yes the winters can get a little long - but this winter my family discovered winter sports - skiing and snowboarding's - so perhaps even the winters will seem shorter. But the spring, summer and fall are just beautiful. I also love the fact that traffic is manageable. We moved here from Atlanta where traffic is always a nightmare. It's so nice being able to get where you need to go in a reasonable amount of time and not spend hours in the car. The people are nice too...

    Q: Who is your favorite movie actor? What do you find appealing in him/her on screen?

    Barb: Denzel Washington - he's fine.

    Q: What is your favorite type of music to listen to? And why?

    Barb: I love R& B and I love Jazz. I particularly like Old School R&B - Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, and Aretha from that era. But I love just about all music really.

    Q: Have you read any good books lately?

    Barb: I read Kite Runner at the end of last year. It was really good. When I go on vacation, I usually grab the romance novels - Danielle Steele - something like that for a quick read. It's fun and relaxing.

    Q: Tell us one or two things about you that most people don't know about you.

    Barb: I used to sing in bands - all kinds - R& B, even a band playing all original music, before making the move to television. I sang in just about every major club in New York City. I grew up singing in church with my sisters and when I go to visit my Mom in tiny Waverly Hall, Georgia – they usually ask my sisters and I to sing a song or two. Also when I was little my goal in life was to marry Santa Claus...

    You can reach Barbara via email:

    News: "Northcoast Moms" website gets a fresh coat of paint

    WKYC has relaunched its original site dedicated to Northeast Ohio mothers and their kids called "Northcoast Moms."

    On the site, you can find all kinds of useful information that relates specifically toward moms, their children and lifestyles - moderated by WKYC Special Projects Producer (and mom) Susan Moses.

    Feel free to post your own thoughts or respond to those moms who have already placed their ideas in our forums. Enjoy!

    Make sure to tell a friend about the site.

    Check out the new site:

    Friday, April 11, 2008

    Director's Alert: WKYC Wins Edward R. Murrow Award

    WKYC has been named as a winner of a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for "Overall Excellence" it was announced today, April 11, 2008.

    Our winning entry included WKYC's 2007 coverage including the Success Tech Academy Shootings, Painesville Train Derailment, the Jessie Davis story, CSU Death, Mirage, TSA Theft, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, the Home Made series, Race for the Cure Special, Officer West's Funeral and the 7pm newscast the day after Virginia Tech.

    The RTNDA (Radio & Television News Directors Association) has been honoring outstanding achievement in electronic journalism with the Murrow Awards since 1971. Radio and television news managers from markets across the country judged the entries in March.

    Regional winners automatically become eligible for the national awards competition, which will be judged in early June. The national Edward R. Murrow Awards will be presented in October at the RTNDA Awards Dinner in New York.

    RTNDA is the world's largest professional organization devoted exclusively to electronic journalism. RTNDA represents local and network news professionals in broadcasting, cable and other electronic media in more than 30 countries.

    For a complete list of winners: CLICK HERE

    DVR Alert: "Countdown to DTV, Are you ready?"

    WKYC will present a special presentation this Saturday at 1 PM called "Countdown to DTV, Are You Ready?"

    We'll show you how to stay connected and enjoy the benefits of your new, all digital and high definition television sets.

    This informative half hour program will take a look at everything you need to know from the important transition date, to what you need to do to get your analog to digital tv converter coupons and more...

    That's this Saturday at 1 pm on WKYC-TV.

    And don't forget, we have a whole digital TV section both here on the blog and on

    WKYC Wins National TV Award

    WKYC-TV has won a national Humane Society Award for a series of reports by WKYC reporter Bill Safos.

    Bill accepted the award at a star-studded Hollywood event.

    The Humane Society of the United States rolled out the red carpet at the 22nd annual Genesis Awards. CNN's Anderson Cooper, NBC's Hayden Panettiere and celebrity Chef Wolfgang Puck were among the eclectic honorees announced on Saturday, March 29th in Beverly Hills, California.

    The Genesis Awards honor the news and entertainment media for showcasing animal protection issues, highlighting emerging concerns or bringing a fresh perspective to long-standing ones.

    Hosted by Bill Maher, winners included 60 Minutes, a CNN documentary called "Planet in Peril", a episode of CSI "Lying Down with Dogs," a Paramount film titled "Year of the Dog", and local news features on Cleveland's WKYC, WAGA in Atlanta, and KHOU in Houston.

    The WKYC news feature was a no-holds barred look at the appalling abuse inflicted upon pigs in a factory farm. The story launched an in-depth investigation by local and regional authorities.

    "We have always believed that animal cruelty need not be exaggerated or embellished, rather it just needs exposure," says Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society.

    "As soon as we saw the video, we knew this was a story that had to be told," explained reporter Bill Safos. "We received more email and more phone calls about this series than anything the station has ever done."


    *To view more pictures from the event: CLICK HERE

    *To see Bill accepting his award at the ceremony: CLICK HERE
    *To watch Bill's original report: CLICK HERE (Caution: Video is disturbing)

    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    News: Bye Bye Katie?

    Speculation is running rampant about former NBC sweetheart, Katie Couric's, pending demise as anchor of the CBS Evening News.

    The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday evening that Katie will be off the anchor desk well before her contract expires.

    CBS is strongly denying the report.

    We say to CBS at the Director's Cut Blog, PLEASE keep Katie! In fact, instead of sending peanuts to CBS executives, we'll send bottles of bubbly instead.

    Why? The answer is quite selfish for NBC and WKYC. Since Katie abandoned us and took over at CBS, her show's ratings haven't been a serious threat to Brian Williams or Charlie Gibson on ABC. This basically makes it a two person race for the coveted national news broadcasts - certainly helping WKYC in the process with higher numbers.

    So, we are officially petitioning CBS to please keep Katie and bring all this speculation to a quick end. Please sign her for the next 50 years!

    Monday, April 07, 2008

    From the mailbag: Where's Scott Newell?

    From: Chuck in Cleveland

    Q: Did Scott Newell leave your station? Lydia said that Chris Tye is her new co-anchor on the weekend news...I loved Scott!

    A: As we mentioned in an earlier posting (Chris Tye named weekend anchor), Chris Tye was recently named new weekend co-anchor replacing Scott.

    Scott was offered a different position with WKYC, but decided his true love is freelancing and working for the networks as a producer which gives him the chance to travel. So, unfortunately, Scott's last day with us was last week. We'll all miss him greatly.

    You can email your questions to me:

    From the mailbag: Closed captioning with DTV

    From: Ruth in Akron

    Q: I often use the closed captioning on my TV set to help me since I don't hear so well anymore...Will it still be available on the new digital TVs?

    A: An excellent question... The answer is yes!

    Analog TV has only one format for closed captions in which the captions are encoded invisibly in the analog TV signal.

    However, Digital TV can support two formats. The second format is newer and offers more choices of font, color, and size, which can result in better visibility and ease of use. Digital TV carries captions of either format as data along with the digital audio and video content, but unlike analog TV, the captions are not embedded in the video signal.

    Basically, it is up to the originator of the programming to provide the captions for any given program and to select the format. When the captions are decoded and displayed, the resulting text and symbols appear on the screen. The caption decoding function, by U.S. government mandate, is included in all digital TVs that have a screen size 13 inches or larger. It is also included in all separate, stand-alone digital TV tuners (e.g., set top boxes or "STBs").

    In either case, the digital TV tuner reads the closed caption data, interprets it, and writes it into the video so it becomes visible when the video is displayed on a screen. (More specifically, the captions are written on top of the video images.)

    You can email your questions to me:

    Sunday, April 06, 2008

    Director's Alert: Cleveland TV Broadcaster Gib Shanley passes away

    NEW INFO 4/7 @ 6:30 PM: WKYC Remembers Gib & funeral arrangements... See below

    CLEVELAND -- The former voice of the Cleveland Browns, and Cleveland television icon Gib Shanley has died. Shanley passed away this afternoon from complications of pneumonia. He was 76-years-old.

    Shanley's broadcasting career covered three decades from 1961 through 1984.

    Shanley grew up in Shadyside, Ohio, attended Shadyside High School. From there he went to radio broadcasting school in Washington D.C., where he started his career in radio.

    Shanley first came to Cleveland in 1961, and worked for WGAR AM-1420 Radio as play by the NFL's Cleveland Browns and the Ohio State Football Games. Shanley continued his work with the Browns as co-commentator and play-by-play with the likes of sportcasters Jim Graner, Jim Mueller, and former Browns' offensive tackle Doug Dieken until 1984. At about the same time, Shanley began his work on television as the evening sports anchor for ABC-TV affiliate WEWS, where he also served as sports director.

    In November 1979, Shanley gained widespread attention locally when made a controversial public statement against the pubilc displaying of the Iranian Flag and the burning of the American Flag by pro-Ayatullah Khomeini supporters in New York City by burning an Iranian flag himself on a WEWS-TV 11:00 p.m. telecast during the Hostage Crisis in Iran.

    Shanley continued full time in his job capacity at WEWS before becoming Sports Director for the then fledglng independent station WUAB-TV channel 43's 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. newscasts in 1988. Shanley was the lead sports anchor, and he continued there until 1993.

    In 1995 Shanley returned to WEWS-TV as its weekend sports anchor. In addition to this, in 1996 Shanley became guest commentator on the weekly sports wrap-up/NFL coverage and commentary show "Countdown to 99" that was hosted by the late Casey Coleman and former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Reggie Rucker.

    In 1991 Shanley was inducted in the Ohio Broadcastsrs' Hall of Fame. He also received the Ohio Sportscaster of the Year Award numerous times and he will always be remembered as a legend.

    The Director's Cut Blog had heard that Gibber was in bad health for the past several months. All of us at WKYC are greatly saddened by Gib's passing today.

    He is survived by his four children and six grandchildren.

    Funeral arrangements are still pending.

    Gib is pictured at the right with former WKYC Sports Anchor Jim Graner.

    Biography courtesy:
    Classic photo courtesy:


    Steve Ripepi, president of the A. Ripepi and Sons Funeral homes, on behalf of the Shanley family has announced funeral arrangements for broadcasting great, Gib Shanley.

    Visitation Hours:
    Friday April 11 2-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. @ Ripepi and Sons Funeral Home, 18149 Bagley Road Middleburg Heights

    Funeral Services:
    Saturday April 1211 a.m. @ Our Lady of Angels Church, 3644 Rocky River Drive, Cleveland

    WKYC Sports Anchor Jim Donovan remembers Gib: CLICK HERE

    *Gib on WEWS/Channel 5: CLICK HERE
    *"Catch 5" Promo with Gib: CLICK HERE


    To share your memories of Gibber, feel free to post your comments below.

    Wednesday, April 02, 2008

    News: Tribe a hit on 'KYC

    WKYC, Channel 3, the official broadcast home of the Cleveland Indians, posted winning numbers for the Tribe's first home opener since 2001. The earliest opener on record for Cleveland, the game averaged a 16 rating, 33 share. Up 10% from 2007, the game also trended up 26% from 2006.

    "It was a great way to start the season," said Brooke Spectorsky, President and General Manager of WKYC. "Our pre-game show and Indians on Deck were both up sharply from 2006. More importantly, the Tribe won!"

    SportsTime Ohio now steps up to bat with a 133 game schedule, with all home and away games in High Definition. "When Sportstime Ohio launched two years ago, we promised a quality product both in content and presentation" remarked Jim Liberatore, President of STO, "With that mission, HD was a logical next step allowing STO to offer NE Ohio sports fans the best local events in the best format available, HD. We are proud to offer the first full season in HD for any Cleveland sports franchise, the Cleveland Indians".

    WKYC will broadcast an additional 19 games throughout the season. The pre-game action can be found on SportsTime Ohio, along with post game highlights and "All Bets are Off" with Bruce Drennan.

    *To download a schedule of the televised games on WKYC: CLICK HERE
    *To download a season schedule of all Indians games: CLICK HERE

    Director's Alert: New NBC Schedule Unveiled through 2009

    NBC& WKYC has announced a new 65-week schedule through 2009...getting a head start for advertisers to plan on their purchasing schedules.

    Here is what the Director's Cut Blog has learned that will make up the new schedule:

    NBC 2008 Fall Schedule

    8-9 p.m. Chuck
    9-10 p.m. Heroes
    10-11 p.m. My Own Worst Enemy*

    8-9:30 p.m. The Biggest Loser: Families
    9:30-10 p.m. Kath & Kim*
    10-11 p.m. Law & Order: SVU

    8-9 p.m. Knight Rider*
    9-10 p.m. Deal or No Deal
    10-11 p.m. Lipstick Jungle

    8-8:30 p.m. My Name is Earl
    8:30-9 p.m. 30 Rock
    9-9:30 p.m. The Office
    9:30-10 p.m. The Office/SNL Thursday Night Live*
    10-11 p.m. ER

    8-9 p.m. Crusoe*
    9-10 p.m. Deal or No Deal
    10-11 p.m. Life

    8-9 p.m. Dateline NBC
    9-10 p.m. Knight Rider (Encores)
    10-11 p.m. Law & Order: SVU

    7-8:20 p.m. Football Night in America
    8:20-11 p.m. NBC Sunday Night Football

    NBC 2009 Winter Schedule

    8-9 p.m. Chuck
    9-10 p.m. Heroes
    10-11 p.m. The Philanthropist*

    8-9:30 p.m. The Biggest Loser: Families
    9:30-10 p.m. Kath & Kim*
    10-11 p.m. Law & Order: SVU

    8-9 p.m. Knight Rider*
    9-10 p.m. Deal or No Deal
    10-11 p.m. Law & Order

    8-8:30 p.m. My Name is Earl
    8:30-9 p.m. 30 Rock
    9-9:30 p.m. The Office
    9:30-10 p.m. The Office Spinoff*
    10-11 p.m. ER/The Celebrity Apprentice

    8-9 p.m. Deal or No Deal
    9-10 p.m. Law & Order: SVU
    10-11 p.m. Law & Order

    8-9 p.m. Dateline NBC
    9-10 p.m. Law & Order: SVU
    10-11 p.m. Law & Order

    7-8 p.m. Specials/"Dateline NBC"
    8-9 p.m. Merlin*
    9-10 p.m. Medium
    10-11 p.m. Kings*

    NBC 2009 Summer Schedule

    8-9 p.m. American Gladiators
    9-10 p.m. America's Toughest Jobs*
    10-11 p.m. Dateline NBC

    8-9 p.m. Most Outrageous Moments
    9-10 p.m. America's Got Talent
    10-11 p.m. Law & Order: SVU

    8-9 p.m. Shark Taggers*
    9-10 p.m. America's Got Talent
    10-11 p.m. Law & Order

    8-8:30 p.m. The Office
    8:30-9 p.m. The Office Spinoff*
    9-10 p.m. Last Comic Standing
    10-11 p.m. The Listener

    8-9 p.m. Chopping Block*
    9-11 p.m. Dateline NBC

    8-9 p.m. Drama Encores
    8-9 p.m. Drama Encores
    10-11 p.m. Drama Encores

    7-8 p.m. Dateline NBC
    8-9 p.m. Monk
    9-10 p.m. Nashville Star
    10-11 p.m. Kings*

    *indicates new series coming to NBC

    To print out a copy of these schedules: CLICK HERE

    Tuesday, April 01, 2008

    PHOTOS: Behind the Scenes of Opening Day 2008

    Wow! What a day...WKYC's opening day broadcast was a huge hit on Monday.. Ratings for both our pregame special and the game itself exceeded expectations. And the Indians did their part with an exciting game that leaves them undefeated at their new home, Progressive Field.

    It was 61 degrees, unlike last year, which saw snow...snow...and more snow!

    Let's give you a behind the scenes look at what was happening during the Channel 3 live broadcast. Enjoy the following photogallery.

    If the slide show isn't playing, just click "refresh" on your web browser.

    Courtesy: Thanks to Mac Mahaffee for taking the pictures for us

    Spotlight Feature: Are Broadcasters in Trouble?

    by Frank Macek

    Every morning when I wake up, I spend some time reading through all the industry trades and on-line media blogs to find out the state of our business. It's the same thing you are doing by stopping by our blog each day.

    Here is a summary of today's headlines from CBS stations...

    Is the sky falling on our little broadcasting heads? Some say yes. I say - not so fast.

    It's really no secret that times are tough for everyone. When the economy falters, so to does the lifeline of broadcasters - advertising revenue. The Cleveland market is no exception - and may actually be in worse shape than other markets across the country - thanks to the economic downtrend. Our region always gets hit the hardest when times gets tough because of the continuous erosion of our staple - manufacturing.

    Plus, there is another facet to this issue... the internet and in particular companies like Google.

    Advertisers are tightening their budgets for spending on ads, which is leading to lower revenues across multiple platforms - newspaper, tv and radio.

    But the real threat is coming from companies like Google, who are sucking dry billions, yes BILLIONS of advertising dollars from local companies who are able to advertise for virtually nothing. It's true that one web ad gets few clicks...but millions and millions of clicks of an ad across their entire website adds up to big bucks - something local broadcasters can't compete with.

    We aren't picking on Google, because they have every right to be in the business like we are. But, it highlights challenges we, as broadcasters, are facing.

    This is forcing broadcasting companies like CBS (or our parent company, Gannett) to turn lean and mean - and that means reducing staff in some cases or not replacing those who leave. New technology will replace inefficient positions. At WKYC, we are incorporating new systems, like graphics, that allow us to do a lot more with less. No longer does one person have one job. It simply can't happen anymore.

    Everyone is being asked to do more. We can fight it all we want -but the truth is, those who don't adapt will find themselves left behind. Of course it's not fair - it's the new reality.

    When I see groups of students come to the WKYC Digital Broadcast Center for a tour or as part of their college learning assignments, I can't help but think these next generation kids have a very tough road ahead.

    With a recession or at least a major slowdown happening, times are going to continue to be tough for broadcasters. We are not out of the woods. Job cuts are going to continue to happen - and maybe at a record pace for the foreseeable feature. It's a gloomy picture right now across the industry.

    Time will tell if we, as a business, can save our listing ships or if we'll head to the bottom of the sea depending on how fast and smartly we re-invent ourselves. I feel we are all up to the challenge of it - and broadcasters will not die... We'll just evolve to the next stage in whatever form that it takes.

    Your comments are always welcome, feel free to email me: