Archive Date 2015-11-02


BEHIND BARS

Raise
your hand if you saw this one coming. John Ahrens, a
soon-to-be unemployed meteorologist at Cox-owned WSOC-9-ABC
in Charlotte (Market #22), spent
the second weekend in a row in jail
, charged with violating a
domestic violence protective order filed by his estranged wife.
Judges tend to take this sort of thing personally.

Ahrens and Sobrina
Driver
were married in 2013 and separated this past June.
Since then, theyve been in a contentious divorce and custody
dispute. Each has accused the other of having psychological
issues. In June, cops were called to the couples apartment after Ahrens
shot himself in the hand during what police described as an
alcohol-induced suicide attempt. Ahrens then sued his wife
in July, alleging defamation and slander.

He
was arrested last weekend on a misdemeanor domestic assault
charge, spent two nights in jail, and the following Tuesday was
slapped with a protective order banning him from contacting his
wife. He was arrested Saturday for violating the order.

Ahrens has steadfastly
denied the charges against him. On Sunday, a WSOC official
said, "John is complying fully with the letter of the
law and denying any charges."

<<<>>>

BAD CASE OF FLEES

Kirk
Chaisson
, a reporter at KRGV-5-ABC in Weslaco, TX
(Market #86), was arrested
last week and charged
with causing an accident involving
injury, and then fleeing, a felony. He was released Friday after
posting a $10,000 bond.

The accident occurred Wednesday
afternoon outside the Blue Onion restaurant. Chaisson
abandoned his vehicle and left the scene. He was arrested the
following day.

This was his second arrest in 14
months. He
was busted in August 2014
with marijuana and drug
paraphernalia. The station has had no comment.

<<<>>>

NEW COMMON ENEMY

Ten
Republican presidential candidates, appearing together at a
forum in Des Moines on Saturday, united to take a stand against
their new common enemy: debate moderators, eliciting loud
applause from hundreds of Iowa voters.

"What a train wreck,"
said former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, complaining of
"ridiculous" questions posed by CNBC moderators
during Wednesdays third debate in Colorado.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas
offered what
he called a "radical" proposal
: "How about if
we say from now on if you have never voted in a Republican
primary in your life you dont get to moderate a Republican
primary debate."

Cruz suggested that future
debates be moderated by right-wing journalists Sean Hannity,
Rush Limbaugh,
and Mark Levin. "How about instead
of a bunch of attack journalists," Cruz said to loud
cheers, "we had real conservatives?"

The
Republican National Committee, trying to calm dissent over
its own handling of the debates, announced
on Friday
that it had suspended a debate scheduled for
February on NBC News and Telemundo.

The move illustrated the partys
distrust of the mainstream media, its leading candidates
preoccupation with rebelling against power, and the tactical wager
that Republicans can outmaneuver television networks
dependent on record-breaking ratings from this years debates.

The action by the party
leadership seemed designed to redirect Republican anger
away from the national committee, which many believe has bungled
the debate process.

Baltimore
Sun
critic David Zurawik
asks the pertinent
question: Is the goal of a televised political debate to serve and
illuminate the public…or to turn a profit for corporate owners?

<<<>>>

DEATH OF GRANTLAND

ESPN
said Friday it is shutting down Grantland, one of its most
ambitious internet ventures and probably its most beloved. The
network said the site was "suspended" effective
immediately, and a senior ESPN source confirmed that there
are no plans to bring it back.

"After careful
consideration, we have decided to direct our time and energy going
forward to projects that we believe will have a broader and more
significant impact across our enterprise," ESPN
said in a statement Friday afternoon
.

The
surprising announcement came five months after ESPN split
up with Grantlands founding editor Bill Simmons.
There has been an exodus of talent from the site since then. 

About 40 writers, producers, and
editors will
be affected by the decision
. Writers who have contracts will
be honored. Some will continue to write for ESPNs website
and produce videos for the ESPN Films unit. But an unknown
number of others will be leaving. Some of the sites most
distinctive work, like its TV show recaps and features about
movies, will be going away.

After ESPN opted to part
ways with Simmons in May, the company appointed Chris
Connelly
as Grantlands top editor on an interim basis.
Connelly said Grantland was ultimately doomed by
recent cutbacks at ESPN

"We found ourselves up
against new economic realities that maybe had not been
foreseen when I took the job," he
told Sports Illustrated
. "When you are doing a
site that you understand is not making money, you kind of
understand when times get challenging or there is a new economic
climate, you will be scrutinized very closely."

<<<>>>

GOSSIP THREATS

Erika
von Tiehl
, an anchor at KYW-3-CBS in Philadelphia
(Market #4), testified
for nearly two hours Friday
in the stalking, harassment, and
identity theft trial of John Hart (not shown here).

Von Tiehl responded to a Facebook
request from Hart in August 2011, and the two exchanged
emails and phone calls. They dated "three or four
times," with Hart eventually staying overnight in
von Tiehls
apartment.

Von Tiehl said she felt
uncomfortable that Hart wanted more from the relationship
than she, and so, in an Oct. 6, 2011 phone call, she told Hart
it was over and wished him luck.

Hart didnt take it well.
He embarked on a month-long anonymous campaign of harassment,
including threats to tell then-Philadelphia Daily News
gossip columnist Dan Gross some of von Tiehls
"secrets" that she feared might ruin her career.

"I was scared," von
Tiehl
testified. "He mentioned Dan Gross and that
my career was over. I worked my tail off and tried to do the right
thing and the fact that some person was purposely trying to take
that from me was very scary." Von Tiehl will return to
the stand Tuesday when the trial resumes.

<<<>>>

DRESSED LIKE GROWNUPS

The
Washington Post

offered
another of those warm and fuzzy profiles of "CBS
This Morning"
on Friday, noting that the shows ratings
are trending upward, while its two network competitors are losing
viewers. ABCs "Good Morning America" has slipped
11% in the 25-to-54 demo, while NBCs "Today" is
down 8.5%.

If you happened to tune into
Fridays morning shows, you saw the "Today" crew
dressed as "Peanuts" characters, while the
"GMA"
hosts wore costumes promoting something called
a "Monster Mash Dubsmash."

On "CBS This
Morning," Charlie Rose, Gayle King,
and Norah O?Donnell
were "dressed like the grownups they are."

In the past year, "CBS
This Morning"
is up 10% in total viewers.

"Were all very competitive
people," said executive producer Chris Licht.
"Thats been a challenge. [Morning] TV is a glacial kind
of thing
, its very habit-forming. Were moving in the right
direction, but I want to knock on every door in America and say
Just try us for one day. Youll really like it!"

<<<>>>

Freedom Communications,
which sold its eight local television stations to Sinclair
in 2012 for $385 million, filed
for bankruptcy protection on Sunday
…again. The company was
reorganized in 2009.

<<<>>>

Jeff
Vaughn
, an "Emmy? award-winning" reporter
and 5 p.m. news anchor for
the past 2? years
at WXYZ-7-ABC in Detroit (Market
#11), will start after the November book as an anchor at CBS-owned
KCAL-9 and KCBS-2 in Los Angeles. 

"I plan on buying sunscreen
by the barrel," he
tweeted overnight
.

<<<>>>

Michelle
Marsh
, an "Emmy? nominated" morning and
noon anchor for the past three years at WRAL-5-CBS in
Raleigh (Market #25), will start January 11 as a 4 p.m. anchor at Sinclairs
WJLA-7-ABC
in DC (Market #7). Shell also front the 10 p.m.
news on cable sister-station NewsChannel 8. 

Marshs sister, Rene
Marsh
, is CNNs aviation and government regulation
correspondent at the networks DC bureau.

<<<>>>

Mayra Moreno, a reporter
at ABC-owned KTRK-13 in Houston (Market #10), debuted
Saturday
as the weekend morning anchor, replacing longtime
anchor Elissa Rivas.

<<<>>>

Pat
Prokop
, a meteorologist for the past 35 years at
Raycoms WTOC-11-CBS
in Savannah (Market #91), will retire
from the station at the end of November sweeps. 

He plans to enjoy retirement
tending to his home garden of more than 300 varieties of exotic
daylilies and other perennials.

<<<>>>

Ali Touhey, a reporter at WROC-8-CBS
in Rochester (Market #76), will join last-place WKBW-7-ABC
in Buffalo (Market #53) on
January 4
as a reporter and anchor.

<<<>>>

Tribunes
KTLA-5-CW
in Los Angeles is now inserting lower-third
banner ads in the middle of its news content. 

A McDonalds "All
Day Breakfast"
banner was dropped
right in the middle
of the 6 p.m. weather segment, where
it collided with a high pressure area moving in from Las
Vegas.

<<<>>>

Just in time for
sweeps, Sinclairs KFDM-6-CBS in Beaumont, TX (Market
#142) asks the question that has been on everyones
mind. 

The station has been running
breathless promos
about the "hidden danger
lurking in your couch,"
a flammable material banned
in the 1970s but still around today.

Of course, if your couch IS
killing you…youll have to wait until 6 p.m. to find out.

<<<>>>

The always-reliable
New York Post reports
that "Tonight
Show"
host Jimmy Fallons drinking has
"turned excessive" and NBC executives are
worried. "Its gone from being a whisper to a chatter,"
said one insider. "Hes a mess."

<<<>>>

Patti McGettigan, the news
director at Cox Medias WHBQ-13-Fox in Memphis (Market
#50), has stepped aside on medical leave. She was recently
diagnosed with breast cancer.

<<<>>>

In his free weekly newsletter,
Indianapolis-based talent agent Rick Gevers reports on a
number of small market news director hires this past week.

Lee
Polowczuk
, the assistant news director and investigative
executive producer for almost three years at WBRZ-2-ABC in
Baton Rouge (Market #93), has
been promoted
to news director. He will replace Chuck Bark when
he retires at the end of the year.

Polowczuk is a former ND
at WPBF-25-ABC in Palm Beach (Market #38), WVUE-8-Fox
in New Orleans (Market #51), and WHNS-21-FOX in Greenville,
SC (Market #37).

<<<>>>

Jenna Huff, the news
director for the past four years at Sinclairs WFXL-31-Fox
in Albany, GA (Market #152), started last week as the ND at Sinclairs
WGXA-24-Fox
in Macon (Market #120). She replaces Gavin
Maliska
, who left in May after more than three years on the
job.

<<<>>>

Stan
Sanders
, the former ND at WCTV-6-CBS in Tallahassee
(Market #108), continues to work his way down the broadcast
ladder. 

He has replaced Shanda
Sandstorm
as ND at Bahakels WBBJ-7-ABC in Jackson, TN
(Market #177). Sanders left Tallahassee this summer to
"take on the new challenges and opportunities that will be
the next phase of my career."

<<<>>>

And Phillip Ohnemus has
been named ND at KULR-8-NBC in Billings, MT (Market #167),
replacing Alan Wagmeister, who left this summer.

<<<>>>

KABC-7
in Los Angeles
and KMGH-7-ABC
in Denver
both unveiled spiffy new studio sets over the
weekend.

<<<>>>

LIVING THE DREAM

As
a former sports anchor in his early 30s, your Surly Editor?
used to awaken in the middle of the night, drenched with sweat at
the prospect of still reading baseball scores on the late news
when he was in his 60s. It was a nightmare scenario of
unimaginable proportion.

Mark Rosen, who has read
the scores for 46 years on CBS-owned WCCO-4 in
Minneapolis (Market #15), has lived the nightmare. At 63, he is
now unofficially the longest-serving local sports anchor in
America.

"Ive been in the right
place at the right time," said
Rosen
.

<<<>>>

The petition to remove Don
Lemon
from CNN appears
to have run out of steam
with 36,100 signatures.

<<<>>>

After taking a closer look at the
numbers, the National Association of Black Journalists now
says it will probably finish the year nearly $380,000 in the red.
That comes on the heels of a $227,000 deficit in 2014, a $612,000
deficit in 2009, and a $60,000 deficit in 2012. In response, the NABJ
eliminated three executive positions
, including the job of
executive director.

<<<>>>

FIERCE AND MIGHTY WARRIOR

You will excuse us for missing
the birthday last week
of Ferdinand Friendly Wachenheimer.

The
former president of CBS News, who went by the name Fred
Friendly
, died in 1998 at age 82. Friendly was the
creator, along with Edward R. Murrow, of the documentary
television show "See It Now" and was an outspoken
advocate for fairness and ethics in journalism.

He served as a war correspondent
in World War II and joined CBS in 1950. Along with Murrow,
Friendly
essentially invented the news documentary for
television
. Weaving together unrehearsed interviews, reports
from the field, and original film clips, his work earned him 10
Peabody Awards
over his career.

A large persuasive man with
strongly held opinions, he frequently butted heads with network
executives over their commitment to hard news over commercial
interests. His forthright criticism of the networks priorities
caused him to leave CBS in 1966 when coverage of a hearing
on Vietnam was scrapped in place of a rerun of "I Love
Lucy."

His colleague Dan Rather
remembered him as "a fierce and mighty warrior for the best
principles in journalism, for his friends, and for his country. He
never gave up, he never gave in; he never backed down, and he
never backed up
."

<<<>>>

MRS.
Bs GRAMMAR YAMMER


"A PBS mind in a Twitter world."

Founder
and flounder, as verbs, are often confused. Founder literally
means to fill with water and sink.

Whether or not the discovery
is the tank barge Argo — which foundered during a
storm nearly 80 years ago in western Lake Erie and may still
hold 126,000 gallons of volatile oil in its corroding steel
husk — remains a mystery. ("Shipwreck discovered in Lake
Erie could be toxic, long-sought Argo," cleveland.com,
10-24-2015)

To founder also means to
fail.

Trump stands by his record in
Atlantic City, whose economy foundered after the 2008
financial crisis. ("Despite bankruptcies, Trump defends
his record in Atlantic City," cbsnews.com, 10-14-2015)

Flounder, on the other hand,
means to thrash around in the water like a flounder–the fish. It
means to perform in a clumsy or confused way. For example:

Wilson seemed at times to
react to pressure that hadn?t yet materialized, and the
offense floundered. ("Seahawks must regain their
ability to close out games," seattletimes.com,
10-11-2015)

Washington Post copy editor Bill
Walsh tweeted this to help us remember the difference in the two
verbs:

Founder is to flounder as fail
is to flail.