It’s all about me vol. 4

The life of a general assignment TV reporter can rewarding.  It can also be nasty, brutish and unpredictable.  There are several ways to avoid its perils.  You can become an anchor.  You can take a pay cut and find a smaller market.  You can find another line of work.  Or you can get a gig.  The gig, or franchise, gives the reporter a specialty:  Health reporter, investigative reporter, political reporter.  Those gigs all have their own perils and pressures, but they take the assignment desk somewhat out of the equation.  That’s always a good thing.

For five years, I had the best job in the world.  Feature reporters are rare cats.  News directors are loathe to devote resources to features when research shows that audiences want hard news. But for awhile, my boss overlooked his loathing and let it happen anyway.   With photographers Rodney Hall and Mike Daly, and editor / producer Andi Larner, I got to dredge up and produce whatever features I could find.  The whackier, the better.

One day I walked into the news director’s office and was told that the feature gig was toast; report back to the assignment desk.  It was ugly.  I never regained my footing, though I dragged out my career as a TV reporter for another seven years.

At WXIA, Marc Pickard has gone through something similar.  He no longer exclusively does “Earthwatch” stories.  He now also answers to the desk as a very capable, very skilled general assignment reporter.  If the transition has pained him, it hasn’t shown on the air.   Meantime, backpack reporter Julie Wolfe has begun a feature gig of sorts for WXIA’s morning shows.  Her stories aren’t whacky.  She’s more into poignance.  It puts her on a high-wire, though.  Don’t get too used to it, kid.

This post has been updated to correct information about Marc Pickard’s Earthwatch franchise.

This entry was posted in LAF, WAGA, 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.

15 thoughts on “It’s all about me vol. 4

  1. Brian

    Mr. LAF,
    I’m 26, but can remember Leroy Powell segments as some of my favorite things in the world (i know i had to be around 8). Is there a collection of Leroy Powell segments anywhere on the net. I found a couple on YouTube in the past. And what was managements opinion of Leroy? And what was Leroy’s opinion of himself?

  2. Jay

    Hilarious! Thanks for making me laugh. Is is true that viewers actually like doom and gloom better than good old feature stories?

  3. LBJ

    LAF, your segments were the only thing worth watching for the past decade on Atlanta TV. Your wit may have gone over the heads of many of fine citizens, but it was sublime. The only thing that came close was watching Carol Sbarge suffer through her former Saturday morning gig with a female meterologist named Rose. When Rose told her “Mexican Forecast” to Carol (Chili today, hot tamale), it was obvious Carol wanted to choke the living crap out of her.

  4. live apt fire Post author

    Leroy Powell was a humble genius. When I arrived at WAGA in 1986, management loved him. He was a humorist and a commentator, and excelled at both. He was also a pretty decent TV storyteller, though it was very personality-based. He fell slowly out of favor as a result of audience research, and he eventually left; rumor was that he declined a contract that offered him a pay cut. During one of the few conversations I’d ever had with my ND about my feature franchise, he called me “an urbane Leroy Powell.” I took it as both a compliment and a warning about my future.

  5. Merri Williams

    LOL! Thanks for a *great* reminder of how much I enjoyed your segments on the air! It’s a shame there’s nothing like this on now. One of the many reasons that I no longer watch local news.

  6. Nancy Albert (Dr. Bukk)

    Doug, Austin emailed this to me today and I was so excited to see this again! I loved the Zappa reference in your excellent interviews of the hygienists, as I’ve been humming the song for 25 years.
    Please give me the link on YouTube so I can link your video to my stuff.

  7. scott hedeen

    The hardest thing in a transformation from feature to hard news must be when the reporter has to go from “funny” to “serious”.

    Credibility issues bounce all over the place. Imagine reporting live from a multiple fatal bus crash on I 75… and someone at home watching says, “Look! It’s the reporter with the funny teeth”. Neutering, to say the least.

    Ah…the mid-90’s… as far as tv photography…alot of wide eye use…and black and white for no reason at all. *swoon*

  8. live apt fire Post author

    @ Nancy Albert: Double-click any Youtube video on this blog and it’ll take you to Youtube’s site. Nice to hear from you, Nancy. Too few people get my occasional musical references. Anybody who names a set of teeth “the Eleanor Roosevelt” has an excellent sense of irony. BTW, Dr. Bukk is also designing legit cosmetic teeth these days, in addition to her “cowcatchers” and such.

  9. scott hedeen

    hmmm Zappa. I’m more a Mother’s fan… after 1972…. i see Zappa’s music like i see my own…. i shot my creative load after 1998.

    anyway… i often wonder what happened to the people i shot stories with 15 years ago.

    If anyone has ever produced a true story about something or someone… you, as a journalist, identify…mind mold with these people. Evil… angelic… the primary subject of yr story becomes you. You may hate this person… you may love this person… but as a storyteller… you see it from all sides. With this, I never became close with anyone i did a story on… i wanted to… but i couldn’t . I had to move on. TV news stripped me of my personal longings of friendship…and replaced them with… “Hi… give me a nat sot I can use.” I accepted that stance whole heartily. I just wonder… where are the people i won awards for…. contact me… the plaques and statues are yours.

    [[ Btw, FZ was brilliant until the day he died too young in 1993. – LAF ]]

  10. scott hedeen

    reading back over… yeh. i think Zappa’s death was way too soon. I’d like to have heard what his take on current music trends would’ve been. True enuff LAF.

  11. Jonny

    Doug, your feature reports were THE BEST! I specifically remember when you went to a hunting show and got a pic of you with a fake prize buck in full hunter gear. You tried to give a pic as a gift to Amanda Davis and she tossed it or ripped it or something. Kinda bitchy, eh?

    But when you stopped doing the wacky stories (so true about the “if it bleeds, it leads” thing, I stopped watching Fox 5. Honestly, it was the only good reason I had for watching. Russ is good, but it’s still only local news.

    Miss your reports, Doug!


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