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Kevin Eck

WFTS Ousts News Director and Assistant News Director

WFTS-304Both the news director and assistant news director Tampa ABC affiliate WFTS have been let go.

The Tampa Bay Business Journal reports, GM Nick Nicholson told staff in an email that news director Bill McFarland and assistant news director Michele Murray “were no longer with the television station. We wish them the best in their future endeavors.”

Sources tell TVSpy the firings come in the aftermath of last month’s story about WFTS reporter Cameron Polom finding a child who had been reported missing.

The day after ten-year-old Paul Fagan was reported missing by his parents, Polom was walking through the boy’s neighborhood and saw him standing near a fence. Polom promptly turned him over to deputies.

Sources tell TVSpy that McFarland and Murray were not happy with how Polom handled the child’s return and thought he should have milked it for more exposure for the Scripps-owned station. An internal review of the situation was launched leading to today’s dismissals. We’ve reached out to WFTS GM Nicholson and Polom for comment but have not heard back. We will update when we do.

New York Governor Cancels Interview with Rochester Station


WHAM, the ABC affiliate for Rochester, NY, said a Wednesday interview with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was canceled after the station said it didn’t want to limit the interview to questions about his new book, All Things Possible.

“Nobody was interested in just doing a story about his book,” Brian Houseman, WHAM assignment manager, said in a story the station did about the interview.

After one book related question, the publisher said 13WHAM would be free to use the remainder of the four minute time slot to ask about other topics. “Hydrofracking, we wanted to talk about the Marsh Road Bridge, the governor’s race,” Houseman said, “so we wanted to get him on that.”

Then, a member of the governor’s campaign staff called to ask us to limit our interview to questions only regarding the book.

13WHAM News refused multiple times and the interview was subsequently cancelled. Cuomo’s interviews with other stations across New York went ahead as scheduled. Read more

Fan Causes Drama at Florida Gubernatorial Debate on WFOR

When WFOR aired the Florida gubernatorial debate between former Governor Charlie Crist and current Governor Rick Scott, the Miami CBS owned station probably had no idea the biggest drama would come off the top, over a small fan.

Crist had a small electric fan placed under his podium. Governor Scott didn’t like it and wouldn’t come on stage.

When pressed by moderator Rosemary Goudreau about whether the rules of the debate allowed electronic devices like fans, Crist replied, “Are we really going to debate about a fan or are we going to talk about education, and the environment and the future of out state? I mean, really?”

Crist came out eventually. According to WFOR, Scott’s camp blamed the dust up on Crist.

“When I got here today for this debate, I was told that Charlie Crist was going to cancel the debate, because unless there was a fan on that stage, he would not come out,” said U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. “So I think that Governor Scott was waiting to see if Charlie would actually pull that off or not.”

Crist’s fan now has it’s own twitter page:

Seattle ND Leaves for Denver

gauntt copySeattle news director Holly Gauntt is moving to Denver to be the news director at Denver FOX and CW affiliate KDVR-KWGN.

“I have reached a crossroads in my life in which I need to choose family and home,” Gauntt told staffers in an email sent to TVSpy. “I wasn’t looking for a job but a fantastic one presented itself. I have accepted the position of Vice President of News & Digital for KDVR/KWGN in Denver.”

Before working as news director at Sinclair’s Seattle ABC affiliate KOMO, Gauntt was the news director at WTXF in Philadelphia. She replaces Ed Kosowski who left KDVR in August.

The Denver Post reported earlier current Gauntt was in the running for one of three news director jobs open in Denver, but didn’t know which one.

You can read the full text of her email after the jump. Read more

Omaha Meteorologist Says Her Contract Wasn’t Renewed

lemke wowtMeteorologist Cheryl Lemke has left Omaha NBC affiliate WOWT.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I let you know that management at WOWT has decided not to renew my contract and so I am no longer working at WOWT,” Lemke wrote on her facebook page.

Her bio page has been removed from the WOWT website. We asked WOWT for comment but haven’t heard back.

Before coming to to WOWT in February 2013, she worked at WSBT in South Bend, Ind., WXIA in Atlanta, WTHI in Terre Haute, Ind. and The Weather Channel.

On the Move, 10/15/14

Meghan Schiller joins WJCL in Savannah, Ga. as a weekend anchor. She comes from WBND in South Bend, Ind.

Gene Kennedy is the new weeknight anchor at WGEM in Quincy, Illinois. Kennedy comes from KSTU in Salt Lake City, Utah where he was a reporter/fill-in anchor.                       

Alyson Bruner jumps 146 markets to join KSHB in Kansas City. Bruner comes from WHSV in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Chip Scarborough also jumps 146 markets in his move to WVTM in Birmingham, Alabama. he comes from WTOK in Meridian, Mississippi.

Kennedy, Bruner and Scarborough are represented by David Brunner of DB & Associates. Schiller is represented by Mort Meisner Associates.

To report a move, send an email to tvspy@mediabistro.com with the subject line “On the Move

Homegrown Teen Reality Show Boosts Dayton Station’s Ratings

wbdt The Valley_304Last month we reported Dayton CW affiliate WBDT had launched a locally produced teen reality show called “The Valley.”

“Since it starting airing on Sunday, Sept. 14, “The Valley is averaging a 1.0 HH for the 8-9 p.m. hour, which is nearly a 60% increase over the syndicated content that was running in the time period last year,” Joe Abouzeid, president & GM of WBDT, told TVNewscheck’s Paul Greeley.

Part of the show’s success might be the extensive coverage The Valley received in both the local and national press, in addition to the promotion WBDT gave the show.

According to Abouzeid, there were no less than six articles written about the show in the Central Ohio local press and one local live interview done by a Dayton radio station.

“The uniqueness of local broadcasting is that we can do this kind of thing,” Sadusky says.

Strike Two You’re Out: Charlotte Judge Bans Cameras in Courtroom After Latest Lapse

cameras in courtroomCameras have been banned from courtrooms in the Mecklenburg County Courthouse after news photogs from Charlotte TV stations violated courtroom camera protocol for the second time in five months.

In May, Superior Court Judge Richard Boner met with the news directors of the Charlotte TV stations to go over courtroom rules after a TV news photog tweeted out a cellphone photo during a trial.

The Charlotte Observer reports, the latest incident happened when the City Attorney was recorded in a hallway after leaving a hearing.

Charles Keller Jr., community access administrator for the courthouse, notified Charlotte media outlets Tuesday that any requests for photography inside the courthouse will be summarily denied until further notice because of a violation Friday, when news cameras from five TV stations and the Observer filmed in the hallway.

City Attorney Bob Hagemann was filmed when he walked out of Judge Robert Ervin’s courtroom after a hearing about the regional airport commission. A group of reporters and photographers were gathered in the hallway and asked for an interview, Hagemann said.

“I didn’t give it a thought,” he said. “I wasn’t aware of the rule.”

But since 1992, the judicial district has banned photography in hallways and other public spaces in the courthouse unless permission is specifically given. In May, an NBC Charlotte journalist shot a cellphone picture and Tweeted it to followers outside the courtroom where Carolina Panther Greg Hardy had just appeared on a domestic-abuse charge. Read more

Bill Hader Brings Herb Welch Back to SNL

When Bill Hader came back to host “Saturday Night Live,” he brought recurring character Herb Welch along to delight local on-air news talent everywhere.

You may remember Welch as the gruff, somewhat senile reporter who smacks his interviewees in the face with his mic.

Some think Hader’s character is inspired by a 2001 on-air scrap between WNYW reporter Dick Oliver and anchor Jim Ryan. See that video after the jump. Read more

Restaurant Owner Tells Reporter Where He’d Love to Put His Meat


Better Kansas City” reporter Courtenay DeHoff was interviewing Joe Zwillenberg, the owner of Kansas City burger joint Westport Flea Market, about his famous meat products when things got a little racy.

Zwillenberg pretty much let on he dreams of places he can put his burgers and told DeHoff one of those places was her mouth, but the way he said it made it sound less sad and more dirty.

[Deadspin]

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