Friday, January 25, 2008

WNEP hires Erik Schrader as news director

Erik Schrader, formerly of KODE in Joplin, Mo. and most recently of WJCL/WGTS in Savannah, takes over for Dennis Fisher as WNEP news director, the Citizens' Voice reports.

73 comments:

Anonymous said...

Erik Schrader please fire leatherface Burke

Anonymous said...

A nationwide search that began WHEN ended WHERE? With WHOM? WHY? WHAT gives?

Anonymous said...

How's Carl taking it?

Anonymous said...

4:55 anonymous hit all the reporting questions. But I am not sure what he wants to know.

Anonymous said...

Uh...I guess I'm trying to figure out how you go from Joplin to Savannah to the highest-rated newscasts in America.

So I guess it boils down to "What the fuck?" Simple enough for you?

Anonymous said...

I'd take someone from a smaller town before I brought in someone from a bigger one. But that's just me.

Anonymous said...

"Highest Rated Newscasts in America" plus NEPA equals "Tallest Midget in the Circus."

Compared to the top-rated newscasts in many larger markets (and I'm not talking NYC, LA or similar major metro here), NEP's are laughably bad. From Mike Lewis' goofy baritone to Paola Giangiacomo's bored monotone to Tom Clark's halting delivery of basically the same set of information every night (how can a guy with this many years in the biz still seem so self-conscious?), NEP is small-market all the way, baby.

Sure, NEP dominates the market like no other station in the country. I think that speaks more to the market.

Anonymous said...

The WNEP newscasts may get delivered by less experienced people now, but that's mostly the reporters. I would say they still compare well with newscasts in many other cities.

Hiring someone with only small market management experience is a surprise, but Dennis Fisher never worked in a big market either.

Anonymous said...

Hey 5:39pm, do you mean Carl Abraham? I don't believe he applied for the job.

Anonymous said...

Who does 'NEP compete with? And don't say channel 50?

Anonymous said...

A few points:

1) It is not WNEP's fault that Nexstar has gutted the competition;
2) It is greatly to their credit that they continue to spend handsomely in spite of Nexstar's lack of competence;
3) It is a mistake to think that bigger market stations necessarily make better television;
4) WNEP has for decades been recognized across the industry for excellence and integrity;
5)They deserve great credit for their work ethic and "clean journalism"-- i.e., no billboards, segment sponsorships or sales-driven content.
6) Marisa is one of the most talented people in that newsroom, and she knows the local scene very well.

Anonymous said...

That "Highest Rated in the Nation" bullshit has to stop. The only reason they can claim that is because they are the only station doing news, everyone that watches has been watching since the day they were born, and if you held a gun to the viewers head they wouldn't know how to change the channel. WNEP's product sucks. Period. They have gotten lazy because they have no competition. The anchors are either too boring to watch, or too annoying. They need to stop listening to the consultants that get paid to tell them the exact opposite ever 6 months. I bet a million bucks if you put them up against any market smaller than Wilkes-Barre they would get their asses kicked on a nightly basis. It is easy to call yourself the best, the biggest, or the "Highest Rated" it doesn't mean shit when you are the only one doing it in the area.

Anonymous said...

10:40
Great post Marisa....you are your biggest fan

Anonymous said...

5:24 is the only one with any sense.

thank you

Anonymous said...

Ever noticed that WNEP people never talk about their ratings? They don't get caught up in that. They also never-- and I mean NEVER-- paid much attention to consultants. It was always the other way around, in fact.

WNEP's dominance. Shelburne paid for it. Elden conceived it and built it. Absher kept it clean and kept the work ethic up. It's a thing of beauty. Local TV the way it was supposed to be.
Let's hope the new owners can understand that it is something that deserves to be preserved, if only for the fact that there are so few honest stations left.

Anonymous said...

Let's also hope Schrader understands it and fights to preserve it.

Anonymous said...

Lewis is a retard and Burke a telep. reader. The reporters are all $22,000 a year nobody's. They have a helo, better graphics, a better promotion department and a bigger budget. At no time did they ever cover "news" better than anyone.

That "highest rated newscast in the country" shit is a decade old too. I'd like some modern day proof of that.

Paulo and Ryan are complete hacks, Noreen has a twitch and can't speak English, Snedeker is a clown, Tom Clark is a robot, Sowers went to print, Nolan reads PSA's, Tom Williams is a Mongoloid; Christ, does it get any worse?

End of story.

Real journalists laugh at them and pity their competition for having zero imagination.

Anonymous said...

Wow. A lot of jealousy in that last post. All ya gotta do is look at the scoreboard kids: They are the kings. You can make all the hateful comments you want, but that doesn't change the ratings.

Anonymous said...

16 makes its hay because of their self-aggrandizement and their image as our family. They'll show us their babies, they'll lead a newscast with their weddings. that caught on with the dear hearts and gentle people of NECPA years ago and 50 has been unable/unwilling/incapable to break hold

Anonymous said...

So you admit their formula works?

Anonymous said...

Huh huh. He said "Mongoloid."

Anonymous said...

WNEP is number one for one reason: old habits die hard. People have always watched WNEP, because WNEP knows how to draw attention to itself. The "proud to serve" slogan? Bingo. Flashy new equipment? Bingo. Letting Joe Snedeker ride his mountain bike up and down the East Coast for charity? Bingo. In the eyes of the viewers, WNEP can do no wrong. And in the cases where WNEP does do wrong, like Snedeker's "choose between your kids and your job" crack to Kim Supon, or the video news release brouhaha from a while back, WNEP's existing public image overshadows it.

Like the 11:23 PM poster notes, viewers see WNEP as less of a news station, and more as a family. That's fortunate for WNEP, because their news coverage is nothing spectacular. Anyone can cover a fire, a car crash, or an arrest. Whatever happened to the serious journalism from the days of Shelburne and Hale? WNEP seems content to have its reporters chase down stories they found that morning in the local newspaper, or on the news wire.

WBRE arguably has better news coverage than WNEP, but viewers don't care, because so few of them watch! WBRE fails to promote itself, and that's due mainly to Nexstar Broadcasting's reluctance to spend money on ANYTHING, be it promotions for news coverage or staples for your stapler. (Dear God, don't ask for any push pins for the bulletin board!) WYOU got an initial boost from its "interactive" newscasts, but I'll bet you that boost is now as flat as an open can of week-old soda.

Anonymous said...

Elden Hale was the “founding father,” the genius who (under the Shelburnes) created Newswatch 16 from scratch. In the early 70s he pushed it and pulled it and shaped it into not just the most dominant but also one of the most aggressive medium-market stations in the country. It certainly helped that the clueless owners of 22 and 28 stood by and let it happen.

Bob Absher was the lieutenant who engraved the commandments in stone, set them in concrete, and refused to let anyone add or subtract from the list. Creativity wasn’t/isn’t part of “The Book of Absher.” Woe betide the maverick who tried to bring energy and life to the newscasts. Singlehandedly Absher made WNEP stagnant. Besides an occasional face and some technological wrinkles, what has changed at “The News Station” since 1980? Some of you think that’s a good thing. I think gloating over yesterday’s triumphs makes today’s WNEP a monument to mediocrity.

Every news director since Hale has been nothing but a caretaker. The ambitious ones have tried to shove the ten-ton boulder labeled “The WNEP Way” up the hill, but why bother? The staff doesn’t know how to deliver creativity and innovation. Their commitment is to a decent paycheck and a cushy lifestyle.
The audience doesn’t know what it’s missing so it doesn’t demand better. Viewers unwittingly settle for same-old, same-old from the same old faces because they don’t know enough to demand more.

How could WNEP go for nine months without a news director? Easy: the stone tablets are there for all to read and heed.

The warning signs are there, though. WBRE and WYOU may have shoved viewers away, but ask yourself why WNEP isn’t the beneficiary. Newswatch 16 is still getting a monumental slice, but the pie is getting smaller. As long as 16 buys the “It’s always worked this way” argument, it will continue to lose audience.

Even Elden Hale has moved on and tried new things. He knows you can’t go forward with your eyes trained 35 years into the past.

Good luck, Erik. Put in your two years and you’ll be able to get a real job in a real TV station where you can innovate and create and lead. Between now and then your mantra has to be “What Would Absher Do?” Look around you and you’ll see lots of “SOBs.” That’s “Sons of Bob.” They’ll tell you exactly what they’ll allow you to do.

Anonymous said...

Regular readers of NEPA media blogs recognize this argument. It is likely written by WNEP competitors. I guess they are tired of getting their brains beaten out by WNEP, so they try to goad WNEP into changing its strategy. I think WNEP is a little too smart to fall for that.

The overall pie has been shrinking over the past 10-20 years, it is tru. But WNEP's growth has been so strong that it has overcome that. Except at 11 pm, it actually has more viewers now in its newscasts. That is a rare achievement in TV.

One other thing. You'll often read that WNEP's only strength is viewer habit. The implication is that their viewers are all old, and soon to die off. This is not true. They have astonishing numbers in the younger demos.

WNEP haters, keep whining. Keep ridiculing the people who want to remain true to the formula. It just might work someday.

It's certainly your only chance.

Anonymous said...

I'm not an 'NEP hater, I'm an 'NEP love who's heart is broken when I see the promise of the past squandered in the present.

Newswatch 16 staffers know all the rules, but they've forgotten the spirit and drive that made them the best way back when. They've become the "News Nazis" marching in lock-step.

Hard to picture Hale or the Shelburnes putting up with the lackadaisical attitude and self-satisfied smugness that marks the place in 2008.

Anonymous said...

10:31, I would like to believe you, but your tone changed dramatically from your 9:31 post.

Judging from your nasty tone at 9:31, it is hard to believe that "your heart is broken" at how far WNEP has fallen.

Your tone then marked you in my eyes as a former manager who got bounced from WNEP.

Anonymous said...

I have worked at WNEP for a long time, and there is something you both are missing. Back in the 70's and 80's, there were only a few news programs. There were plenty of people, and deadlines were spaced out enough that we had time to actually think about what we were doing.

These days, we've tripled the amount of news we do. Of course it operates like a news factory. Of course we have to follow a formula.

Given all the time we have to fill-- and a web site, etc...-- I think we do a pretty good job.

Anonymous said...

Word.

Anonymous said...

At WNEP we don't talk about ratings.
At WNEP we don't talk about ratings.
At WNEP we don't talk about ratings.
At WNEP we don't talk about ratings.

And, boy, we've got great demographics.

That's how we judge "excellence" at 16.

Anonymous said...

Simply put, WNEP always made the station ‘the star.’

Starting tomorrow, you could take all of the people on WNEP and put them on 22/28 and the ratings would still be the same. Frank Andrews is the best example. Putting him on Channel 22 only saw their numbers decline, not rise.

Anonymous said...

The same thing happened with Gary Essex. He made the jump to WYOU in the 1980s, but the viewers didn't follow him.

Anonymous said...

And Paul Heppner, WNEP meteorologist, who jumped to WYOU in the mid-eighties. Anyone remember him? I didn't think so.

Anonymous said...

Heppner's leap was a bit different.

He was being muscled out. NEP thought that he had poor on air presence. Shit man, Clark was the best man a his wedding.

Heppner left because NEP made him, not because he was trying to prove anything about ratings. The guy just wanted a job. Lucky for him he began teaching and abandoned broadcasting.

Anonymous said...

Wrong: Heppner got a big-bucks deal to be the weather "savior" at 22, and plopped his WYOU contract on WNEP's news director's desk with no warning and no negotiation.

Anonymous said...

Paul Hepner's on-air presence was as exciting as Carten's blogspot posts. And when you stuck him on that non-descript YOU set, it was Drab City, baby

Anonymous said...

One thing to Remember about Gary Essex, his move from 16 to 22 took several jumps including Cleveland Denver where he was put on a shelf before coming back to NEPA. He was on a downward trend on his second stop in the area.

Anonymous said...

All the dynasties get ripped on. That's because they're dynasties.

Anonymous said...

There's some agreement here that WNEP today isn't as good as when the Newswatch 16 way was created. My question is this, how is stagnation and lack of creativity in 2008 the fault of the Shelburnes, Elden Hale or Bob Absher? The Shelburnes sold the station, what, 20 years ago. Hale became GM, but hasn't been there for at least 15 years. And didn't Absher quit three years ago? If anyone is to blame, shouldn't it be the current GM and news management?

Anonymous said...

At WNEP the Emperor wears fashionable, sophisticated, trendy, stylish, classy, elegant, chic, custom-made designer clothes. YOU see them, don’t you?

Anonymous said...

Compared with WPVI and other dominant stations around the country, WNEP has been VERY willing to modernize and innovate. It's easy to see why these stations don't want to change what they're doing. For the most part, they WON'T change unless their ratings decline. And WNEP ain't declining. And don't be too quick to say all was rosy in yesteryear. They had some bad patches. Who was the lady ND at WNEP in the early 90's? They say she was awful. And didn't Micah Johnson almost catch WNEP in the ratings by 1997? Talk about complacency-- how about the era of Warren Reed?

Anonymous said...

Bob Absher was the creative genius behind all of Newswatch 16's major advances and innovations over the last 35 years.

For example, he was the one who...
Well, he was behind the...
OK, but he...

Never mind.

Anonymous said...

In the 1980s, their chopper pilot would land the bird at Pine Hills and golf until they paged him. Crews weren't expected to turn two packages per day.

I'll bet they work harder now than they ever did then. They have to fill all those newscasts.

That also explains why not every story is an award-winner. They grind 'em out. Good strategy. Cover the whole market.

Anonymous said...

No one has been close to WNEP in the ratings for a long, long time. Micah Johnson at 28 went after ratings in Luzerne County and got to the top. Overall, WNEP remained king.

Say what you will about 16..it's a machine. No news director for nine months, no problem. It's been even longer at other times. A news director with serious health problems who can't work for months, no problem. A news director who's an alcoholic and may or may not show up for work, no problem. Even a sex pervert anchor didn't make a dent in the popularity of the station.

If you don't like WNEP for what it is, know that you can safely hold those feelings for years to come.

Anonymous said...

A word in defense of Absher. Yes, he was a control freak. Yes, he was no fun as an immediate supervisor.

But he kept that newsroom clean. He kept the standards and the work ethic up. He taught a lot of people how to be journalists.

What some take as a "lack of innovation" I think was Bob's unswerving devotion to the tenets of clean journalism. There is a lot to be said for that.

Anonymous said...

Bob was especially generous in giving personal attention to young, beautiful blonde interns.

Anonymous said...

So how did he end up with Stephanie Thornton?

Anonymous said...

The Absher blonde thing was partly a joke that he for whatever reason promoted. I remember he liked Marisa Burke, Paola Giangiacomo, Danielle Schlesier and Tina Tenret. Not all young and no blondes there. Bob thought women reporters were more driven and willing to learn what he was teaching. As far as I know, his involvement never went beyond work.

Anonymous said...

So he's an older, more restrained version of the ShaffDog

Anonymous said...

Elden Hale is rolling in his grave

Anonymous said...

Are Bob and Stephanie still together?

Anonymous said...

3:30:
Elden is, of course, very much alive. Not many people know that he went to college with Bob Absher back in the sixties. Bob was assistant for nine or ten WNEP news directors (counting Elden). He was even news director once--but asked out of the job and went back to being second-in-command.

Anonymous said...

Blatant derail here, but...

http://www.wnep.com/Global/story.asp?S=7783418

Why is WNEP doing north to Binghamton for news? Do people in Hancock, NY even get WNEP on cable?

Anonymous said...

In the 1980s, their chopper pilot would land the bird at Pine Hills and golf until they paged him.

In the 80s, WNEP's chopper was leased from a local businessman, so was the pilot. And, it was paid for under the promotion's dept. budget, not news. WNEP really had no say where it was unless it was on their clock, if you will.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure about the first year or two under the Shelburnes--that would be in the early 70s. But they eventually bought the first, small leased helicopter (a Hughes)and hired the pilot, Jack Ruland. The present "Skycam" (A Bell Jet Ranger) was purchased in '84 or '85.

Anonymous said...

Elden Sr.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Bob Absher stood for "clean journalism." But many here seem to think "clean" HAS TO equal "dull." Not so.

By squeezing the life out of stories and reporters, by instilling a paint-by-the-numbers system for 16's reporting, Bob held back a generation broadcast journalists.

12:16PM asked how Absher could it still responsible, even after his retirement. Easy. Who's there now who knows any better?

Good luck, Erik. Maybe you can drag the newsroom into the 1990s.

Bill Mecca said...

Any observer will tell you Newswatch 16 and WPVI's Action News were both generated from the same consultantcy, Frank Magid and Associates. Magid came up with the "Action News" format with "Action" reporters, live shots, fast paced newscast, cover small community events (usually at the end of the newscast), overuse of the words "now", "tonight" etc, to give it a somewhat false sense of urgency.

Anyone in power at WNEP was just following the formula they purchased from the consultants.

It worked very well in this market, where the other affiliates were "The Scranton station" and "The Wilkes-Barre station."

It's the way it evolved. Yes, each tried to put thier own "shine" on things, but the basics are still there, including the same theme music.

Anonymous said...

Love ya Bill!

Anonymous said...

Remember also that WNEP was first in the market with many things including video tape, ENG trucks and others....

WBRE and WYOU were still shooting with film in the late 70's....

Anonymous said...

Remember also that WNEP was first in the market with many things including video tape, ENG trucks and others....

WBRE and WYOU were still shooting with film in the late 70's....

Bill Mecca said...

Heck WBRE and WDAU were still shooting film in the mid 80's. when I started the film gear at 22 was more reliable than the old TK76 and 3/4' decks.

Remember 22 had been up for sale for a long time. It's move from Scranton Prep to 415 Lackawanna Ave was part of a deal to sell the station. that deal fell through, and the station languished. they were looking to sell and mistakenly didn't invest in new gear, people, or even repairing the gear we had.
The leader in the film processor had so many staples in it... well let's just say I can remember that alarm going off many many times.

side note, one of our cameramen Tom Costanza (a college buddy of mine) re-wrote the words to Margaritaville and one of the lines was "and I've got a film break down in the lab..."

Anonymous said...

A couple of corrections, please!

Newswatch 16 was created several years before Magid became the station's consultant. WNEP first used a one man consulting outfit.

WBRE was first in the market with tape and a live truck. WNEP's new technology came just a little later and its video camera was branded the "Insta-Cam." Good promotion is why most people think 16 was first.

Anonymous said...

Who can forget the "Live Eye" at WBRE? Apparently, a lot of people. WYOU had the first satellite truck in town, "Spacelink 22." No one knew because no one watched.

Bill Mecca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill Mecca said...

The LIVE EYE!! I remember that now, Cholly Hayes driving it around. that was a loooong time ago. I think he was shooting with a Hawkeye camcorder at the time I met up with them, M format one piece unit.

Spacelink was a trip. I remember being sent to NYC to do a live shot on the Auto show at the Javitz center, why? because the station had rented the truck to some NY operation and figured if it was going that far why now make use of it.
Heck I got to sit in a Lamborghini Countach, but I have to say at 6'1" I wouldn't be driving one even it I could afford it. You had to slide down into the seat, my head crammed against the roof and then I had to as gracefully as possible (yeah right!) clamber my way out of it. The car for short rich guys...LOL

www.losttownsvideo.com

Anonymous said...

Bill you should have your own site!
You are a Hoot!

Bill Mecca said...

Thanks 4:53 LOL

I do have a couple sites, including
http://billmecca.blogspot.com but haven't gotten it to too much of this old news.

Anonymous said...

Carl will have to treat himself to a new 1970's mommas boy sweater vest to get over not being chosen to head the news department at 16. He may cry in one of his cats milk bowls for months. Best choice 16 could have made. The man is like a frustrated "Old Maid." He needs to get a life and get out of his house once in a while to learn what is going on in NEPA. Maybe then he would be able to possibly begin to fill the shoes of the famed assistant News Director....Bob Absher. Absher may not have been the greatest people person in the world, but he KNOWS news. Carl (sniffle, sniffle) only knows how to degrade anyone who knows more than he does.

Anonymous said...

How much news can YOU stand? 16 would never have started the overly repetitive 7pm newscast if they really understood the New Yorkers in the Poconos. The reason for the zzzzzzzzzzzzz repeat and repeat again 7pm cast was supposed to cater to the people who commute from New York and live in 16's coverage area. The problem was, no one ever did their homework to see exactly when these new found viewrs got home at night. 7pm is way too early for these people who don't get over the bridge until 7pm, and don't watch what they call "your boring backwoods news" anyway. They watch New York News. They only have a Bedroom here, their lives, work and hearts will always be with "The Big Apple." So, we are stuck trying to fill another newscast with bullshit no one really cares about anyway. Besides, the daily viewers in our market will never trade Pat and Vanna for Scott and Julie "The Schaffer's." at 7.

Anonymous said...

Id like to make sweet love to Paola, do you think that a fella like myself has a chance with a piece like her??

MEOW!!

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Anonymous said...

Haha you all fucking care to much .. nw16 is so sad and not with the times... thay are fake. Newsday. losers