Meet the new boss

That didn’t take long.

We have unconfirmed reports WGCL hired an old-school news hound named Steve Schwaid to run its sputtering newsroom. Schwaid has been with NBC since 2001. Bloggers at TV Spy describe him as a guy with a heavy hand and little patience.

This guy is a rare, smart, savvy, and damn good exec. You should consider yourself lucky if you’re at 46. He’ll make you, the station, and even the other newsrooms better just trying to keep up. It’s the best thing Meredith [WGCL’s Des Moines-based owner] has ever done.

And more:

Type A personality. All the general whiners from CBS46 may want to polish up their resumes as I do not belive this guy will put up with it. You will be out the door.

Ten years ago, Schwaid was hired in Philadelphia, at a time when the TV market churned and upstart stations upended old favorites. Schwaid led one of the upstarts. From a March 2003 article in Philadelphia Magazine:

Before landing in Philadelphia, Schwaid… had built a reputation for sweeping through newsrooms from Tampa to Hartford with the destructive force of the storms he loves to hype, and getting results in the process. Though he looked bookish in his suspenders and glasses, Schwaid made it clear that things were going to be done his way, with an emphasis on splashy graphics, breaking news, and weather.

Most news directors fall into one of two categories: people persons who are sensitive to personnel issues and can carry on a conversation; and field generals who set aside the common courtesies most humans extend to each other and focus on nothing but the news and the numbers. Even his fans, [WCAU GM Dennis] Bianchi included, know which category Schwaid falls into. “Does Steve have some ‘development areas,’ as we like to say in human resources? Absolutely,” says Bianchi. “But we all do.”

When news broke… reporters had three minutes to be at their posts or face his wrath. “It was like we were under attack,” says a former employee. In a staff meeting, Schwaid announced, “If I had an Uzi right now, I’d take all of you out with no remorse.” On another occasion, he walked into the newsroom and asked, “Who are the writers here?” When arms went up, Schwaid bellowed: “Our writing sucks!”

We’ll see if age has mellowed the Schwaid of a decade ago. If it hasn’t, then it may mean that WGCL will try to out-shout WSB and WAGA in breaking news and hyping weather. Atlanta needs a smarter newscast.

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About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

8 thoughts on “Meet the new boss

  1. rptrcub

    Yay! More flashy shiny things & hyperbole & coverage of fires, crashes and other things that really don’t affect anyone except the people involved in them!

    Reply
  2. Edward

    Will he lure Winne to the WGCL fold? Cue the drama! Cue the close-up of the bloodstains on the pavement! Cue the lascivious double-entendres! It’s a ratings war, people! Journalistic ethics must be set aside, much like civil liberties, in a time of war, you know.

    Reply
  3. Steve Barton

    Doug:

    Can you recommend a “smarter” newscast in another market that one might sample while traveling (or from their website)? I am curious about this animal.

    My guess is that a smarter newscast that is also a ratings winner is still going to be a shout-fest and impending-doom-weather-carnival (with able reporters digging up untold and semi-important stories as better filler between the fires, snow predictions, and tears-on-her-face shots).

    Anybody else bugged that the ubiquitous (not just for ladders!) thunderstorm warning crawl knocks out the HD picture feed on WSB and others? For 45+ minutes at a time?!

    Reply
  4. nooozeguy

    I’ve worked both at a news division headed by Steve Schwaid and at an affiliate where he was once the news director.

    I can say that I have never worked for a more dedicated news hound.

    When he was the SVP of news for the NBC O&Os, he would email wire alerts and self-generated dispatches from 4 am to midnight *on weekends* … and often times beyond that.

    I’ve worked for news directors who have no clue what happens between Friday night and Monday morning.

    There is also the story from when he was the WVIT news director and a live truck needed to get to a reporter in time for the news. When Steve couldn’t find anyone else to drive it… he drove the truck himself.

    Say what you will about the style of his teams’ newscasts, but I challenge anyone to find a news executive who’s as in touch with the actual process of TV news as he is (with the exception of Budd McEntee).

    Years after he left WVIT, there were still people hiding under their desks on the off chance he was coming back.

    But not the people who came to work ready to win.

    Come to think of it, that’s the kind of leader WGCL has needed for at least the last 10 years.

    Reply
  5. nooseman

    I’ve heard about Schwaid driving a live truck and for a TV exec that sounds very impressive. But noozeguy’s praise of Bud Mcentee is surprising. I’ve been around Mcentee a long time. He’s never been in the field and he doesn’t know the names of most of his staff. The closest he’s ever come to a live truck is when he walks past one in the parking lot on his way to drive his BMW home. Mcentee is successful because he (mostly) hires good people. WAGA is successful in spite of Mcentee not because of him.

    Reply

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