While most of Atlanta TV-land is watching Oprah, WGCL is producing an hour it calls “Atlanta’s only 4 o’clock news.” The very existence of this newscast hints at the desperation, yet sometimes-twisted creativity, of this perennial number four station. Its 6pm news, which competes directly against other newscasts, has long been in asterisk territory, numbers-wise. And the 4pm remains a novelty broadcast.
But by gosh, it’s sometimes fun to watch this station try to dig itself out of its well-worn hole. Friday at 4pm provided the following:
- The lead– exclusive! Adam Murphy, live in front of a DeKalb Co. school that has a somewhat substantial pothole in its parking lot. We’re trying to picture the decision-making:
Q: “Should we lead with Murphy’s pothole exclusive?”
A: “That’s crazy. (Pause.) Crazy-smart!”
This is WGCL’s version of thinking-outside-the-box. Murphy delivered the details with all the indignation he could muster. Grade: D+
- Then– Rebekkah Schramm did a live shot in front of another pothole. But Schramm’s story was legit. The layoffs of city workers, she reported, would deplete the Mayor’s storied “pothole posse.” Grade: B-
- Hawks Mania. Is the city really excited about the Hawks sub-.500 presence in the NBA playoffs? Helen Neill gave it a “yeah, kinda, pretty much” while still giving the story and live shot sufficient energy. Not an easy balance to strike. Grade: B-
- A “CBS 46 Investigates” piece on a Norcross company that sells exam books to potential postal workers. Problem? The same books are free at the post office, and the postal service ain’t hiring anyway. Nicely shot and edited, interestingly told by Kim Fettig. Easily the best piece in the broadcast. Grade: B+
- Mike Moore produced an interesting piece on the DOT’s HERO workers who are increasingly giving fuel to stranded motorists. A 46 photog rode along. But he couldn’t coax on-camera interviews out of the two out-of-gas motorists encountered, reducing Moore’s grade from a B to a C.
- Renee Starzyk produced a predictable, disposable piece on out-of-work folks at the unemployment office. Their somewhat-poignant stories were undermined by the dull video and overall tedium. C-
- Final story: Joanna Massee does an exclusive piece on some Cobb Co. kids who’ve formed their own Fight Club. But the only person talking on camera owns a gym and has nothing to do with it. The report is still interesting, but ends abruptly and incompletely. Good idea gone wrong. Grade: C
- Prior to weather, WGCL’s helicopter provides a live aeriel view of sunbathers at a pool. Wasteful and kinda creepy. Grade: F+
And then there’s the whole business of WGCL’s heavy promotion of a certain weather talent (and if we publish her name, LAF’s google hits will spike ’cause internet pervs apparently can’t get enough of her… talent). We give WGCL credit for trying to get noticed. We watch to revel in its boisterous, try-anything spirit. And we often cringe at the result.