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Pittsburgh

TV Writer: Pittsburgh Weather Coverage ‘Feels Like Showboating, Not Public Service’

Picture 3It happens in every market: the weather turns nasty, the weather team cuts in on prime time, and the phones in the newsroom light up with irritated viewers. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette TV writer Rob Owen says often, those cut-ins seem “like showboating and an opportunity to promote the station’s weather brand more than…a sincere effort at public service.”

Owen turned to Pittsburgh NBC affiliate WPXI‘s news director Mike Oliveira, who defended his station’s coverage:

“Sometimes weather events affect only part of our large viewing area. If there’s a severe thunderstorm storm warning in Butler County, it might be sunny in Washington County. The weather alert may feel like a nuisance to some of our viewers, but we’re always going to err on the side of safety.

“We have an entire book of protocols for how to handle weather warnings on television, online and on social media. The severity of the threat and the content on air both play a role in the protocol. For example, when a show with a lot of on-air text like ‘Jeopardy!’ is on, we’ll switch from a warning map on air to a less-invasive crawl. When we’re in a prime-time drama, we try to cover up commercials instead of a key part of the show.”

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Nearing 25 Years Together, WPXI Co-Anchors ‘Defy the Odds’

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WPXI anchor David Johnson knows the business well. Anchors, like news directors, can’t count on anything. “You can be good, and they’ll get rid of you. You can be bad, and they’ll get rid of you,” he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

And yet, for nearly 25 years, Johnson has been a fixture on the desk at the Pittsburgh NBC affiliate, alongside Peggy Finnegan:

But despite the odds, Johnson and Finnegan — who are closing in on 25 years together in January — are already the longest-running local news-anchor team in Pittsburgh television history and one of the longest in the nation.

Twenty-five years for a single anchor is extraordinary, says Robert Thompson, professor of media and culture at Syracuse University.

“For a team to stay together for 25 years is almost unheard of,” Thompson says. “You’re talking about two different people who have to be incredibly stable in a field that is unstable. Those in TV news tend to move around all over the place, to bigger markets or for personal reasons, or new management shakes things up and they’re fired.”

KDKA Sports Anchor’s ‘Batman’ Wedding Photos Go Viral Years After Big Day

KDKA WeddingThey say it’s good luck to have rain on your wedding day. The same may be true for having your wedding ceremony coincide with the filming of a Batman movie. KDKA sports anchor Rich Walsh and his wife Michele had that happen when they were married back in 2011–but the photos resurfaced Thursday, and by Friday, the pictures were the most popular story on Vulture.

KDKA wrote about the anchor’s viral fame in a post Friday afternoon:

Rich and his wife Michele were married at St. Paul Cathedral — on the same day crews were filming fight scenes for “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Although filming created a bit of a parking issue for the wedding guests, Richie says it made for a great wedding  memory.

“It did, it definitely did,” he says. “It was something different, something unique.”

Rich Walsh Joins KDKA in Pittsburgh

Sports anchor Rich Walsh will join Pittsburgh CBS owned station KDKA tomorrow.

Walsh last worked at WPXI. He left the Pittsburgh NBC station in 2013.

Pittsburgh Stations Cover School Stabbing Spree

Stations in Pittsburgh broke in to network morning shows today with news of multiple stabbings at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville.

ABC affiliate WTAE was the first station to report the news, breaking in to “Good Morning America” at 7:44 a.m. Kelly Frey and Michelle Wright anchored, with Amber Nicotra reporting from the scene.

CBS-owned KDKA and NBC affiliate WPXI both reported the news at 7:56 a.m. Jennifer Antkowiak and Rick Dayton anchored coverage for KDKA, with Trina Orlando reporting from the scene. On WPXI, Joe Arena and Katherine Amenta anchored and Joe Holden reported from Franklin Regional High School.

Fox affiliate WPGH, which does not have a morning newscast, did not have coverage of the stabbings. WPGH’s primetime newscasts are produced by WPXI.

Pittsburgh Paper Mourns the Loss of Meaningful Local TV News

switcher_color barsThe Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran an op-ed mourning the passing of local TV. The title says it all, “Local TV News, RIP. It used to keep us informed; now, it’s not even entertaining.”

Is the writer disremembering local TV’s Golden Age or is he spot on? You be the judge.

At some point along the way someone came up with the bright idea that the news could be a profit center with commercials and ratings instead of being a public service, and things began to change.

What has evolved is only a faint remnant of what TV used to be and what it still could be if some executives would realize that quality content sells soap. Instead we are bombarded with a barrage of shameless self-promotion for the sake of ratings.

I actually think they spend more time telling us what they are going to tell us than they do actually telling us. Then there is the extremely annoying and endless teasing. If Chicago were hit with a nuclear bomb, the local stations would say, “Find out which major city was wiped off the map today –— details at 11!”

The actual content of the news is woefully lacking. I think that a house fire in some outlying small town belongs in the local community paper, not on the metropolitan 6 p.m. news.

Check out the entire read by clicking here.

Meteorologist Valerie Smock Joins WPXI

valerie smock wpxiMeteorologist Valerie Smock is joining WPXI, Cox Media’s NBC affiliate in Pittsburgh, next month.

Smock joins WPXI from AccuWeather, where she has worked since 2010. before that, she worked at stations in Toledo, Youngstown and Great Falls, Mont.

“From the start, we recognized Valerie’s ability to forecast and communicate the weather story on air. When we got to know her work ethic and her personality, we knew she’d be a great fit,” news director Mike Oliveira said in a statement.

More from WPXI after the jump. Read more

Meteorologist Steve MacLaughlin Joins WTAE

Meteorologist Steve MacLaughlin is joining WTAE, Hearst’s ABC affiliate in Pittsburgh. He begins October 1 as the station’s morning and noon meteorologist.

MacLaughlin comes from WTNH in Hartford-New Haven, where he has worked since 2011. He has also worked at WPIX in New York City, KXAS in Dallas and WPHL in Philadelphia, as well as at The Weather Channel.

“From tropical storms to full-blown Nor’easters, Steve has tracked a wide variety of weather events,” WTAE president and general manager Charles W. Wolfertz III said in a statement. “His impressive experience forecasting storms will serve Pittsburghers well during severe weather.”

More from WTAE after the jump. Read more

WATCH: WPXI Crew Member Makes Cameo Appearance During News

WPXI evening anchor David Johnson had an unexpected visitor on set during the 11:00 p.m. newscast Friday night.

Coming out of the break, while the anchor for the Pittsburgh, PA, NBC affiliate was reading a story about a man who used a taxi as a getaway car for a bank robbing spree, a crew member, identified on Johnson’s facebook page as George, wandered on set behind the anchor. Johnson noticed and smiled, but continued reading while George made his way off set.

Johnson’s comment on facebook seemed to sum up the crew member’s brush with fame, “Hey, it’s live TV.”

CNN Correspondent Lisa Sylvester Joins WPXI

After nine years at CNN, Lisa Sylvester is joining WPXI, Cox Media’s NBC affiliate in Pittsburgh.

Sylvester officially joins the station in October. She will co-anchor the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts, as well as the 10 p.m. newscast on Pittsburgh Fox affiliate WPGH, alongside David Johnson. She replaces Darieth Chisolm, who is leaving the station to spend more time with her family.

“We’re lucky to find such a perfect fit for our newsroom,” WPXI news director Mike Oliveira said. “Lisa is not only a great journalist, but a great person. I know she’s ready to work hard and invest in this station and this city. I know our viewers will recognize and appreciate that.”

At CNN, Sylvester was the cut-in anchor and correspondent for “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.” Before that, she worked at ABC News. More from WPXI after the jump. Read more

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