Daily Archives: May 30, 2008

WGCL’s news director exits

We don’t know if Rick Erbach deserved to get shown the door by WGCL, a station that’s been a basket case since it first rolled out “News at 10” in the 1990s. We do know that he inherited a ratings-challenged (to put it kindly) shop, and failed to improve. And we know that WGCL’s staff couldn’t be happier about it, if one is to believe the bloggers at TV Spy. A sample:

“I have never seen so many happy people in this newsroom, now that the ND has been dumped.
Today, we we could barely hold in our glee..knowing that we now have a CHANCE to succeed with a real leader.
All of that glee was tempered by the harsh reality that all of us who have been here for a few years know that Meredith [the Des Moines-based owner of WGCL] will probably screw this up again.
Can you imagine anyone actually taking the ND job here! WOW, this last guy screwed up so many things the new person will start off in a big black hole.
The new ND will be fired fast like all the others if he or she cant move the numbers fast enough… WGCL is clearly the worst big market station in the country..lets hope another big move will change things for the better.

TV news directors are like baseball managers, receiving too much credit for the good and too much blame for the bad. WAGA has one of the most durable news directors in the country. Yet in his nearly 20 years in that post, Budd McEntee’s newsroom has never convincingly led the ratings. It’s never been in last place, either.

In WGCL’s case, the current regime made some questionable talent moves (see Rodney Ho’s AJC piece on the station’s chest-up promotion of a certain weather personality). And its obsession with leading its shows with “only on CBS 46” pieces was frequently laughable.

WGCL takes chances and has a pretty good staff. The new guy / gal shouldn’t (and couldn’t) make wholesale changes in staff. Instead, the station needs to be smart and aggressive. It should stop embarrassing itself. It should give its reporters more leeway to develop stories, and let its investigative reporters take the time to really investigate. Let WAGA and WSB chase the phony “breaking” news– the gas leaks, the lone windblown tree. If viewers can get a smarter newscast with teeth, they’ll watch. It’s a niche that is overdue to be filled in Atlanta.