Tuesday, April 15, 2008


So what do viewers watch for on local TV and listeners listen for on local radio? Of course, they want accurate information and insight, but they also want, and the numbers back me up on this, personality.

Personality is what sets reporters, disc jockeys, anchors, meteorologists and sports broadcasters apart from the robotic, brainless, template-haircut/hairdo, stereotypical anchor-boys and anchorettes dominating the airwaves these days. Those with real personality and the knack of spontaneous, quick minds tend to strike a chord with viewers and listeners. They're simply more fun to tune in to. That's why they're so popular. Not many on-air types have "the knack" and the "personality." People enjoy watching natural, real people: the kind of people who make them feel better, make them laugh and make them feel as though they know them. Over the years I saw a lot of reporters, anchors, meteorologists come and go. If they had "the knack," the personality and the experience, they were tops with the viewers. If they didn't, it was impossible to learn. It always came out forced and unnatural, and the viewers picked up on that in no time. "Deer in the headlights" is a popular phrase I heard viewers use to describe these stiffs over the years.

I remember when #1 WMPS in Memphis fired popular personality Rick Dees many years ago. He went across the street to "also ran" WHBQ, and the stations immediately flip flopped in the ratings. WMPS never recovered, and Dees and WHBQ never looked back.

Just last week, WCCO in Minneapolis decided to trim it's payroll by firing longtime popular meteorologist Paul Douglas. They said he was "laid off" due to corporate restructuring. What it was, was a firing. They never offered to "restructure" his contract, but instead just showed him the door. It was part of the massive layoffs at CBS owned and operated stations across the country which dumped a lot of fat salaries, and popular personalities at their stations. There was plenty of outrage among viewers, not that it matters. If the ratings fall far enough though, that it effects the bottom line, it might matter....especially for the manager who recommended pulling the trigger on Douglas.

It's just one of many examples across the country in the biz. It's part of a trend in the changing business that for so long has been built on "giving the viewers what they want." Except now, it's "give Accounting what it needs." It's aimed at keep profits high, or driving them higher, and it will, at least in the short term. It's a business. These days many businesses, no matter what business they're in, are concerned with revenue for the next quarter, not next year, or 5 years.

In the meantime, believe it or not, a station in Vegas is locked in contract negotiations with a dog. Not just any dog. A weather dog. Could it be the pup has more "personality" than most on their "on-air" staff? Probably.

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