Posts Tagged ‘television’

Formula TV News Reporting

February 4, 2010

Borden Back, a former broadcast journalist with whom I worked at both WRBL and WTVM (she works freelance for print media now),  sent an email about a satirical TV news package on formula news packaging that is funny, but, also, all too true. You can see it by clicking this link.

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Al, Don and I Dine at 79

October 4, 2009

My old broadcasting days co-worker and friend Don Nahley called me recently to asked me to lunch.  The occasion was his birthday. 

 “It’s your birthday.  Well, in that case, I’m paying for it.”

“No.  I’m going to call Al and see if he wants to come, too.”

He did, and the three of us had lunch at a Chinese restaurant.  Don wouldn’t accept my nor Al’s offer to pick up the check.  “I’m not going you invite you to lunch and then let you pay for it.”

“Well, all right,” I said, “but we’ll do the same thing on my birthday. You and Al can come and I’ll pick up the check.”

Al Fleming, Dick McMichael, Don Nahley celebrating Dick's birthday at Fudruckers.

Al Fleming, Dick McMichael, and Don Nahley celebrating Dick's birthday at Fuddruckers. (Photo taken by busboy at Fuddruckers using Don's camera)

And that’s exactly what we did Friday.  Al said he was going to do the same for his next birthday, if he’s still alive next March.  All three of us are 79 years old.  Wonder if Don and Al wanted me to tell you that. Oh, well, too late now.

“I think we ought to put it in our wills that we will pick up the check for our next birthday in case one of us doesn’t live that long,”  he said.

Nobody ever said the three of us are normal and conventional, probably because we’re not.  That’s no fun.

One time when the three of us gathered for lunch at the Mediterranean Cafe (no longer in business), a lady, who was with a group of other ladies leaving the restaurant, stopped at our table and grabbed the check.  I tried to grab it back because it was my turn to pay. She wouldn’t hear of it.  She said, “It’s for all that you guys did for us over the years.” Now, that was special.  I have to confess that I was moved. 

All of us worked in at least two Columbus TV stations, and, at one time, all three of us worked for the same station, WRBL, at the same time.  Al worked at WTVM, WRBL, and WLTZ. (He still does commentaries on WLTZ’s Rise n’ Shine Show with Calvin Floyd.)  Don worked at WRBL for about 29 years, then worked for WXTX for a short period. I worked at WRBL, off and on, from 1953 to 1986, when I switched to WTVM, where I worked until retirement in 2000.

The three of us have personally experienced the evolution of television broadcasting in Columbus.  What’s the difference between then and now?  Stay tuned.

Wayne Bennett’s First Retirement Party

May 10, 2009
(Left to right) Dave Platta, Jason Dennis, Paul Therrien,  Cheryl Morgan Myers, Wayne Bennett, Borden Black,  Kurt Schmitz, Bob Jeswald,  Columbus, GA TV personalities

(Left to right) Dave Platta, Jason Dennis, Paul Therrien, Cheryl Morgan Myers, Wayne Bennett, Borden Black, Kurt Schmitz, Bob Jeswald, Columbus, GA TV personalities

It was like a family reunion at the Borden Black and Cheryl Morgan Myers “oldtimers” retirement party for WTVM anchorman Wayne Bennett . Wayne’s last night on WTVM will be Friday,  May 15, 2009.  Just as it did for me when I retired in 2000,  the station will give Wayne a few minutes at the end of the 6 p.m. newscast to say goodbye. 
Wayne Bennett, retiring WTVM anchor,  Jason Dennis, Fox 54 anchor and Fox 54/WTVM reporter

Wayne Bennett, retiring WTVM anchor, Jason Dennis, WXTX Fox 54 anchor and WXTX/WTVM reporter

Jason Dennis,  who anchors the 10 p.m. news on WXTX, Fox 54 and also does some reporting that airs on both WTVM and WXTX,  has been preparing reports on Wayne’s broadcasting career.  Wayne is happy with that.  “I requested that he be the one to do it,” he said.  “I asked him to keep it light,  not make it into an obituary.  I’m not dead.”  That could be a clue that Wayne will keep his goodbye light Friday evening. 

“How would you sum up your 20 years at WTVM?” I asked him.

“That’s a loaded question, Dick.  I have to be careful because you’ll put it on your website,” he quipped.

I smiled and suggested, “Just tell the truth.”

“Well,  the truth is that television has been good to me.  I have enjoyed it,  but,  I don’t like the direction television [news] is taking so I am glad to be getting out at this time.  That’s the truth”

The sentiment that TV news has been and continues to go downhill was prevelent among the oldtimers who are no longer in the business. 

But, the serious stuff didn’t dominate the party.  There were plenty of laughs, and folks had a good time remembering stories they had covered over the years.  Though there is concern about the future direction of TV news,  it was clear that the oldtimers love the business.  Like I have always said,  one thing is for sure,  you won’t be bored if you work in television news.  It does, indeed, get very exciting.

Wayne and Betty Bennett, Wayne Bennett's  "oldtimers" retirement party

Wayne and Betty Bennett, Wayne Bennett's "oldtimers" retirement party

Now, like me,  and Dee,  Wayne gets to kiss the crushing deadlines goodbye  and to relax a little.  And that’s what he plans to do.  He and wife Betty, after a brief stay in Florida, are heading for Panama, where they plan to live. The cost of living there is a third less than in the United States, Wayne told me.  How long?  “Well, that depends on how well we like it.  If we don’t like it, we’ll go somewhere else,”  Betty  said. 

“Sounds like you are going on an adventure.”

“That’s right,” she said. “We are going on adventure and we look forward to it.”

Sounds like a fine plan to me.  After all, life is for living, as the cliche’ goes.  Bon voyage to both of you.    

For years, Wayne sported a mustache, but shaved it off a few years ago.    I asked him, “Are you going to grow a mustache now?”

“I’m probably going to grow a full beard,” he said.

He gets one more retirement party.  WTVM is having one for him Saturday.

Why Crime, Crime, Crime All the Time?

January 4, 2009

  It seems like 90 percent of television drama is about crime, and, the movies concentrate intensely on the subject; local television news is totally dedicated to reporting it, and the newspaper is loaded with it also. Though, I must admit, the paper does the best job of filling us in on other truly important local non-crime news, too.

Frankly, I find a steady diet of crime entertainment depressing. Maybe I’m not alone and that’s why American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, Million-Dollar Password and such programs are attracting large audiences. They are a break from crime, crime, crime, crime.

Sure, crime is important and has to be dealt with, and our law enforcement agencies need our full support, but do we have to be inundated with it all the time? Thank goodness for the great live football coverage on the networks, also, because that, too, is a break from crime, crime, crime all the time.

Why Politics Top the TV Ratings

September 5, 2008

  What’s hot on TV right now?

   Politics.

   Speeches by Barack Obama, Sara Palin and John McCain have attracted more viewers than the Olympics opening ceremony and the American Idol finale.

Sen. Barack Obama

Sen. Barack Obama

  Why?

Sen. John McCain

Sen. John McCain

  The same reason that Americans tuned in by the millions to hear what President Franklin D. Roosevelt had to say in his fireside chats during the Great Depression. They are now paying attention to what the politciains are doing because of what they have done to them. Their lives are directly being affected by the state of the economy, the high price of gasoline and food, incomes that are not keeping up with inflation, jobs being sent overseas, illegal immigration, and an unpopular war that is siphoning off billions of dollars that could be spent at home,  

Gov. Sarah Palin

Gov. Sarah Palin

    Too bad they wait until things get so bad before they really start paying attention. But, the fact is, they now are.

Sen. Joe Biden

Sen. Joe Biden

Dee Armstrong’s Advice to Her Replacement

July 30, 2008

  A lot of people have asked me about Dee Armstrong now that she is no longer with WTVM.  The timing was interesting because I talked with her this morning, the day after the announcement that Dee’s replacement had been named. Barbara Gauthier, who grew up in Waverly Hall, Georgia will be coming to take over the co-anchoring duties that Dee had performed. Her impressive resume includes stints at BET, WXIA in Atlanta, and radio and TV stations in Cleveland, Oklahoma City, Dallas, and Hartford. She has a husband and 2 children.  She is a Mercer University graduate.

 

  I asked Dee if she had any advice for her replacement. She said, “I would tell her to make WTVM a part of her life, but not her life.  One of the reasons that I am handling this situation so well is that my job was not totally who I was. I was called ‘Mama’ more than I was called Dee. I spent a lot of my time raising kids.. Also, I have music. I perform and I write songs.  So when people ask me if I miss television, I say no.”

 

  I can indentify with that. I also tell people “no” when they ask me if I miss television. Dee pointed out that, like her, I had other interest when I was working in T.V. “You were writing and sailing and doing other things.” She was right, and she is right about it being a good idea not to let your career become your whole life.

 

Dee Armstrong, former WTVM news anchor

Dee Armstrong, former WTVM news anchor

  

She did say, though, that she has been overwhelmed this last month because she now works on her schedule, not on someone else’s . She anchored on WTVM for more than 20 years. “Now,’ she said, “if I am sitting at the computer and I look out the window and see some flowers that need watering, I just stop what I am doing, get up, go outside and water the flowers.”   I don’t water any flowers, but I do put water into my hydroponic garden that sits on a table in my sun room. I am about to “plant” lettuce.

 

  Dee told me she is doing fine. She works in financial services now. She said she is doing a lot of teaching about financies for Primerica, which is associated with Citibank. She is happy doing that. She did, however, let me know how hard it had become for her at the station for the last months that she worked there. She said that she felt even people who wanted to be friendly would stay away from her at work for fear of management thinking they were siding with her.

 

  Also, she is still pursuing her civil rights suit against the station.  I am not going to get into that because litigation in underway. If it ever reaches trial, we’ll get the details then.

 

  So that’s how it is going with Dee Armstrong, probably the best known person in the Columbus-Phenix City- Fort Benning area,  a month after her job ended at WTVM.