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Milwaukee

Samara Sodos Returns to WTMJ

sodos_twitter_wtmjSamara Sodos has joined Milwaukee NBC affiliate WTMJ as noon co-anchor and morning show reporter.

Sodos started her career at WTMJ as an associate producer. In June 2012, she left her job as a reporter for Tampa’s WFLA to work as the public information officer for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Florida.

Duane Dudek of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports at Sodos’ last press conference before taking the job as as spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told reporters, “Now she’s going to be an obstacle to all of you doing your jobs. She’s going to be on this side of the podium giving you all hell, denying your freedom of information requests and saying she has no comment whatsoever, (and) that David Gee is the greatest sheriff in the history. Sam, we love ya, it’s been a long time.”

WTMJ Apologizes For Report Alleging Police Misconduct

wtmj_surveillance_304Five months after a sensationalized promo for a Sweeps story, Milwaukee NBC affiliate WTMJ has apologized to a police officer featured in the promo.

WTMJ promoted an “explosive I-team investigation months in the making” by showing surveillance video of police officer Matthew Knight at an ATM with a man. The promo copy reads: “A Milwaukee police officer taking a man’s cash out of an ATM. Then walking off with that cash in hand. What’s really going on? The Milwaukee police department has some explaining to do.” (Video of the promo is after the jump.)

The police officer in the surveillance video was cleared of wrongdoing in March, two months before WTMJ aired the story. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s Duane Dudek reports that during Tuesday’s 5 pm newscast, anchor Mike Jacobs read the following statement:

We strive for accuracy in our reporting. But despite our best efforts, when we do get a story wrong, we owe it to you to stand corrected. Earlier this year, our reporting and promotion of a story involving Matthew Knight, a Milwaukee police officer, left the wrong impression that Officer Knight was involved in inappropriate or wrongful behavior. He was not. Read more

After Settling Retrans Fight, WTMJ Not Channel Four Anymore

tmj_twcLast week WTMJ and Time Warner Cable settled a nearly two-month long battle over retransmission fees. While Time Warner Cable customers can watch NBC programming again, they can’t watch it on channel 4 anymore.

The Milwaukee station that markets itself as “Today’s TMJ4″ was moved two slots down to channel 2 on the standard definition tier but stayed at channel 1004 on HD. TWC added the “Game Show Network” to SD channel 4.

WTMJ executive vice president Steve Wexler told TVSpy, while the move may have initially confused TWC customers, “it’s clear viewers have made the adjustment, as we’ve seen audience levels bounce back quickly.”

So why the move? Mike Pedelty, spokesperson for Time Warner Cable told the Milwaukee Business Journal his company gets to decide where stations air since they own the space. Read more

Milwaukee’s WDJT Expands Morning Newscast

wdjt_304Milwaukee CBS affiliate WDJT is expanding its morning newscast by 30 minutes, TVNewsCheck reports.

“We feel it is important to give our viewers an even earlier start to their morning,” WDJT news director Genie Garner said. “When you wake up, what happened overnight, and what the weather is going to be for the day ahead is very important information. Our expanding coverage will give morning Milwaukee news viewers more choices in the morning.”

The expanded morning newscast, anchored by Jessica Tighe and Nate Kuester, will begin at 4:30 a.m.

Former Milwaukee, Dayton Anchor’s Death Ruled Accidental

The death of former Milwaukee and Dayton anchor Asa George has been ruled accidental, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. According to the medical examiner’s report, George was found in her apartment after a relative called police and asked them to check on her:

Officers and firefighters found George’s decomposing body inside a bathtub filled with water. The house was messy and covered with blood and feces, and a malnourished boxer dog was in the home.  Positive identification was delayed as examiners awaited dental records from Ohio, where George had once worked as a TV anchor in Dayton.

Relatives told investigators that George had battled a serious alcoholism problem for years. Two empty vodka bottles and numerous prescription medications also were found in the home. George’s aunt told investigators that George had lost several jobs over her drinking problem and had been treated numerous times, against her will, but continued abusing alcohol.

The report indicates that the death was not attributable to drowning or a laceration to her head.

WDJT Responds to Recent Complaints

WDJT has responded to TVSpy’s request for comment about the two discrimination complaints recently filed against the station.

In an email, vice president and general manager Jim Hall told TVSpy,

We have received copies of the discrimination charges that were filed by two employees with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Weigel Broadcasting Co. and CBS 58 have a strong commitment to equal employment opportunity and nondiscrimination.  We take any such allegations very seriously, and we are reviewing them with our legal counsel.   However, as a policy, we do not comment on pending legal matters.  We look forward to addressing these matters through the legal process.

Anchor and reporter Shari Dunn filed a complaint on August 30 saying both parent company Weigel Broadcasting and WDJT management maintain “a culture of discrimination where white males are favored over minority females.” Two weeks later, WDJT reporter and Telemundo Wisconsin anchor Carlos Vergara filed a separate complaint alleging he was denied the opportunity to anchor for WDJT in favor of less experienced anchors who spoke only English. This week, a station photographer resigned saying he didn’t feel the station was concerned with his safety.

Former Milwaukee, Dayton Anchor Found Dead

A former anchor for CBS affiliate WDJT in Milwaukee has died. Asa George was found dead at her home in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis. WDJT had a story on George’s death last night reporting that the medical examiner’s office has “put a seal on all documents relating to her case,” so they could not reveal the cause of death. “We wish to express our condolences to her family and friends and broadcasting colleagues,” said anchor Michele McCormack.

George was a morning anchor at WDJT from March 2010 to February 2011. She had also freelanced at Fox affiliate WITI.

George had previously worked at Sinclair duopoly Fox45 and ABC22 in Dayton, OH.

More Problems for Milwaukee’s WDJT

WDJT, the Milwaukee CBS affiliate that has seen two separate discrimination complaints filed against it in the last couple of weeks, now faces allegations it is putting its news crews in danger and ignoring their safety concerns.

In an email obtained by TVSpy, WDJT photographer Eric Ellis sent a resignation email to staffers where he said he was sent to the North side of Milwaukee by himself to cover an anti-violence rally despite being told in a previous email sent by management that crews were not to be sent there alone. That email told staffers a station MMJ had her iPhone stolen while she was covering a story there.

According to Ellis, when he told station management he had nearly been robbed in the same area, they told him he was fine and “that the people were ‘just messing with me.’” He said he was also told the next time he is faced with a similar situation he needs to record the incident on camera. Ellis said he feared that would only escalate the problem.

Ellis told TVSpy, “I no longer felt safe at work and I was very disappointed with the way that the station handled my attempted robbery.” You can read the entire resignation email after the jump. Read more

WDJT Hit With Second Discrimination Lawsuit in a Month

Weigel Broadcasting and Milwaukee CBS affiliate WDJT are facing two separate discrimination lawsuits complaints brought within the last month.

On August 30, Shari Dunn, anchor and reporter for WDJT, filed a complaint alleging both the station and its parent company Weigel Broadcasting maintain, “a culture of discrimination where white males are favored over minority females.”

According to the Hispanic News Network Blog, Carlos Vergara, bilingual anchor for Telemundo Wisconsin and reporter for WDJT, filed a complaint alleging he was denied the opportunity to anchor for WDJT in favor of less experienced anchors who spoke only English.

The Hispanic News Network said, according to Vergara’s attorney Cole White, when the anchor told WDJT and Telemundo Wisconsin news director Genie Garner the station doesn’t speak to the community it’s supposed to cover, she said, “we don’t care about them anyway.” White also alleges Garner refers to the Latino community as illegal aliens and that Weigel corporate executives told him they don’t care whom she offends.

>UPDATE: Cole White, Vergara’s attorney told TVSpy they have not filed a lawsuit against WDJT yet. But White did reference our most recent story about the WDJT photographer who quit over safety concerns. ”Recent events have made it clear that there are many more instances of discrimination and many more individuals who have been victim to the stations atmosphere of discrimination, intolerance and bullying,” said White.

Read more

Portia Young Says Goodbye to WISN

After 10 years at WISN, Portia Young signed off from the Milwaukee ABC affiliate Sunday (video above).

Young shifted from weekday mornings to weekend mornings last month as part of a series of changes to the WISN anchor lineup.

“Portia resigned her position to pursue other opportunities,” WISN general manager Jan Wade told OnMilwaukee. “We thank her for her contributions to the station over the years and wish her success in her future.” Read more

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