Four stories jumped out at us from WGCL’s website. All had an odd quality to them. (None was the “Restaurant Report Card,” which we’re unofficially ignoring these days…)
Mike Moore delivered a piece the site calls “bad news takes stressful toll on Atlantans.” Predictably, WGCL took no credit for any of that “bad news.” Moore did man-on-the-street interviews with three men who were losing jobs or afraid of losing jobs. It led us to expect some sort of unemployment-malaise-mindset think piece. But the three vignettes developed into no real storyline. The most interesting thing about it was Moore’s stylish striped overcoat, which caused an audible buzz in his intro.
(Why would a striped coat cause a buzz? Andy Funk explains: “Sharp, vertical transitions between white and black — such as from striped clothing — lead to the greatest amount of high-frequencies in a video signal. Due to the way live shots are sent back to the station (microwave signal with the video FM-modulated and the audio as a subcarrier, often at 4.83 MHz), video with a lot of high-frequency content can encroach upon the audio subcarrier and be heard as an objectionable buzz.” Thanks for that, Andy.)
An engineer at WGCL got the word to Moore, who shed the coat by the time he delivered his live tag, eliminating the buzz. Grade: C
The peculiarly-titled “Missing Couple Talks to CBS 46” was the work of Harry Samler. WGCL gave it the “we ask the tough questions” treatment, but Samler correctly treated the elderly couple with kid gloves. “Just tell us what happened,” Samler said in the only moment approaching a tough question. “You tell me,” answered the no-longer-missing Sam Hewatt good-naturedly. He and his wife left a Waffle House in Loganville and ended up in Hoover Alabama. “Next time, someone else will be driving” said Samler in his live shot. No other station talked to the couple, probably because they recognized it as an odd personal embarrassment rather than a news story. Still, Samler’s Grade is B-.
WGCL now re-broadcasts vignettes from Sarah Parker’s live shots from the station’s “Better Mornings” program. Good thing, a) since Better Mornings frequently shows up as an asterisk in the ratings, Parker’s work gets some actual eyeballs and b) her squirrelly antics, shown later, may open some of those eyeballs for the 5 – 7am show. In this vignette, Parker dons Tom Waits-style eyewear and a bikini top over a t-shirt, then does a cannonball into a pool, nearly clobbering some training Navy Seals. Since Better Mornings professes not to be a newscast, we have to evaluate Parker’s performance and style, with a resounding grade of B+.
Saving the best for last, here’s Samler again. We wish we’d seen this story before we declared the death of whimsy. This is borderline brilliant, almost Corvinesque but without the darkness. Samler produced a breezy, funny yet informative story about Decatur’s new parking meters. The writing is cute and chatty. The nat sound hits are splendid (especially the meter cops laughing about the fines). Samler’s standup enhances the tone and bridges the storyline. And the piece concludes with an amusing two-line punchline, a nice example of giving the viewer something unexpected at the end of the piece. Great success. Check it out. Grade: A-