No action

wsb_news_logo240x104First, a pet peeve:  “Action News” is almost the stupidest handle ever applied to a local TV news brand.  It dates back to (probably) before your birthday, when TV stations quaintly told their stories by way of 100-foot spools of mag-stripe news film.  As Electronic News Gathering busted through the technological gate, some genius in Philadelphia birthed the moniker.  “Action News” was deemed to have an actual meaning:  Shorter stories, a higher story count, younger anchors and livelier content.  Hey — look it up in Wikipedia!  There’s an entry under “Action News.”

This 1970s-era relic is still used by a certain TV station in Atlanta, along with the same gold-and-blue color scheme, fronted by the oldest most veteran anchor team in town.  In the early 90s, WSB anchors still occasionally tossed to “this channel two action-cam report.”  One expected to see Jessica Savitch‘s image materialize into the chromakey.

This backs us into the point of this post:  WGCL has changed handles.  Again.  Our cranial capacity is too limited to remember them all:  News at 10, Clear News, CBS-46 news.  Now it’s CBS Atlanta News.

(We were among the only folks on the planet who thought “Clear News” was kinda cool, a forward thinking and somewhat descriptive brand for what the station strove to deliver.  But in most quarters, it became a local punchline, and helped keep viewers away from the station’s newscasts in droves.  Shows what we know.)

Anyway.  We know that WAGA’s “Fox 5 News” and “CBS 46 News” were so named for the cold purpose of delivering ratings.  When Nielsen had diarists who manually recorded their viewing habits, they had to write down either the network or the channel in order for the show to get a Nielsen credit.  “Fox 5” and “CBS 46” gave them two chances to get it right.

Now, it’s done electronically.  WGCL is acknowledging this by pulling back its alpha-numeric brand, and giving Atlanta its only TV news station with “Atlanta” as part of its name.  Isn’t CBS “America’s most watched network” or something like that?  Could be genius.  But what do we know, right?

By the way, ever notice how WAGA won’t completely dislodge “Eyewitness News,” its pre-Fox outcue, from its promotion?  “If you see news, call Eyewitness News,” they say in newscasts.  It’s because WAGA doesn’t want another station to grab it.  As if “Eyewitness News” was a hot property worth protecting.

Oh yeah — “11 Alive”?   The alliteration is cool up to a point.  But it’s even stupider than “Action News.”

This entry was posted in WAGA, WGCL, WSB, WXIA on by .

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.

11 thoughts on “No action

  1. Russ

    Good post, Doug. I grew up watching the original Action News. Just a minor correction: Jessica Savitch worked for KYW way back when, which, interestingly enough, called itself Eyewitness News if memory serves.

  2. English major

    I agree on many counts, esp. regarding hackneyed, overused monikers like “Action News,” “Eyewitness News,” or my personal favorite redundancy, “Dateline Update,” much over-used by WLOS in Asheville for many years. However, while I agree “11 Alive” is essentially meaningless, that’s beside the point. It’s a well-established brand by now. Everyone knows what station it refers to (for better or worse). “Coca-Cola,” “Nike” and “Exxon” are essentially meaningless also but it doesn’t matter – you know what they stand for. WXIA has many problems, but changing its brand shouldn’t be one of them – at least until they improve the product. And then they can THINK about it.

  3. Jim

    You weren’t the only one who thought Clear News had potential. I can live with the Action News thing-I try to look past the silly slogan to see who actually covers real news. In that department, WXIA seems to be doing very well. The whole “part of the family” feeling they’re striving for is working for me. They just have to make sure they don’t make it such an insiders club that people who don’t watch all the time are left out in the cold

  4. Jim

    Maybe another reader can confirm/correct this?: I understand a lot of UHF stations are dropping channel designations in their branding because once TV goes all digital next month, those frequencies will no longer carry the station’s signal. I.E., calling yourself “CBS 46 News” won’t make much sense when there’s no longer a TV Channel 46.

  5. steve

    Trivia Note

    so years ago, wpvi in philly decided to have their opening redone by the Philadelphia Symphony. Same music, different treatment. Viewers hated fact the first night it aired the phone calls blew out the switchboard…the old music was back the next day.

  6. daryll

    Got a few minutes for a long reply?

    Many stations will no longer transmit on their original analog channel number after the soon to be postponed “digital transition”. Your digital tuner will see that WSB is sending a digital signal that is identified as 2.1 or 2.2 but they are actually sending the signal on what is really the frequency of Channel 39 which is in the UHF band at 620-626 Mhz. You must use an antenna with the smaller elements for UHF to receive WSB-DT while an antenna with the really large elements is what you need for their analog signal. Your television decodes the PSIP, aka program and system information protocol. This is how they send the channel information to your program guide and identify themselves as 2.1 or 2.2. BTW, in television, you can’t send an analog and digital signal on the same frequency at the same time. WSB elected to use channel 39 for digital since it will perform very well for mobile television on your cellphone. Once analog is gone, they will no longer use the 54-60 Mhz frequencies for analog channel 2. The really low frequencies just below the FM band at 88 Mhz are very susceptible to interference with DTV. That’s another story for only the geekiest of folks…just like me.

    I suspect some brilliant consultant has recommended dropping channel number and branding by the network affiliation. Our government has “encouraged” stations that use their current analog channel number for identification to keep using that same number after the digital transition. They don’t care if you drop the number but they don’t want you to ID yourself as your new digital number. LAF is correct on getting credit from Nielsen with channel, network and program title.

  7. daryll

    WPVI uses the theme “Move Closer to Your World”, originally created in 1972 by the late Al Ham. Some cell phone providers in the NE offer it as a ringtone for a small fee. Google the title and you’ll see how revered “MCTYW” really is. WSB used this theme from 72-78.

  8. Chas

    WGCL has used CBS Atlanta at least twice before, maybe this time it’ll stick. I think viewers just call wgcl the one with the big boob lady. I think Action News sounds really old school, like Ron Burgundy’s mustache.
    I too wanted to hear about the polish crisis.


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