Tough universe

wendy saltzman 11.11.09

Face time: Wendy Saltzman, WGCL

By Russ Jamieson

Whew.  That’ll teach me to doze off during CSI:NY.

I’ve lived in Atlanta forever.  I’m an ex-WAGA reporter, ex-CNN freelance correspondent.  I’ve learned to expect certain things from my local news.

I woke up from my nap to see WGCL’s 11pm newscast… which I probably hadn’t watched in years.  It felt as if I’d awakened in a parallel universe.

Dagmar opened the show… lotsa rain. Weather. Then a live shot remote local story on its impact… then back to the set and I saw that Lou Dobbs was on the exit ramp… fine. Ok. Then I think they went to a break… and they came back with the Wendy Saltzman Show.

Wendy Saltzman B-Block:  They take their truck (laden with 3 hidden cameras) to 10 local auto shops/oil change businesses. Funny business ensues. Wendy harasses various owners, mechanics… asking the “Tough Questions.”  They have their own mechanic expert… and he says most of the stuff done was either done badly or needlessly. Five stations ripped them off… 5 stations did ok.  Decent story, but low hanging “investigative” fruit.

They go to the break…


Old-school rock: Saltzman in Springtime

Wendy Saltzman C-Block: Wendy again… and they are throwin’ around the “Tough Questions” shtick in all the lead-ins (tiresome). Wendy finds the Fulton Co. School board has been paying a lot more than the general public on a multi-million dollar contract for all sorts of stuff…paper, crayons, printers. The funny stuff here was Wendy chasing down the boardmembers and them dodging her. Amusing… Ok, semi-amusing.

Afterward it dawned on me… hadn’t I seen this before?  Turns out I’d read about it on this very site… in June!  WGCL had foisted on its viewers a five-month-old investigation.  At least the episode of CSI:NY wasn’t a re-run.

Wendy Saltzman D-Block: Wendy…. Again?? Where is everybody?? This time (more Tough Questions… even more tiresome) Grady Hospital has bad and broken down ambulances. Ok, serious stuff… life and death… maybe. But this is less of a story and more of a pitch for folo-up stories. More to come.

Then it’s the End of The Show!!

I checked back on my Tivo… from 11:13 ’till 11:33 it was All Wendy… All the Time? Did a bomb go off in the newsroom?? I know they are outsourcing Sports… but none… no Sports, nothing… no other reporters.

Bamm… Letterman.

It was the strangest newscast I have seen since I left Topeka, Kansas (1980).

Adding to the intrigue…  I’d known WXIA had been experimenting with reformatting its 11pm news, devoting the back-half of a newscast to one concept.  Interesting… WXIA had one of those newscasts last night at 11.  Like WGCL, WXIA had devoted the last 15 or 20 minutes to one concept.  WXIA had been promoting it since late last week.

Coincidence?  I’d say WGCL is counterprogramming WXIA.  If I worked at WXIA, I think I’d be flattered.  If I worked at WGCL, I might ask:  If my name isn’t Wendy Saltzman (or Dagmar), can I still get on TV, please… with a fresher story produced sometime since Independence Day?

Jamieson is honcho / founder at Broadcast Solutions.

This entry was posted in saltzman wendy, WGCL, 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.

10 thoughts on “Tough universe

  1. Mitch

    That’s what you get for watching the most unwatchable, high-school feeling newscast anywhere in these lower 48 states. I guess you will think twice and next time turn the channel, just like the rest of Atlanta does every night.

  2. Clear News

    I think what you saw was a special for GCL’s Tough Questions push for sweeps… I too caught the newscast and was a little surprised there was not a clear definition to let the viewers know the news was over and this is a special report/ program. To mitch I am not sure why you think GCL offers a high school feeling as far as production and execution I think GCL has cleaner shows and pkgs compared to the top two stations in town. And not to forget XIA I will go out on a limb and say they have the best photography staff in town even though Ellen treats them like dirt. I guess if clean shows and well told stories are high school feeling newscasts then I would rather watch H.S. tv than channel 2’s jumpcut off the shoulder and overexposed liveshots any day.

  3. honestabe

    This is not a new phenom in this market.

    On Friday’s nights all the stations title out their last quarter hour as part of a ratings strategy under the guide of covering HS football.

    The station that really does look like a HS production is wxia. They don’t cover news they look and feel like a Grady HS production.

  4. Jim

    Trademarked…wow, and I thought it had hit bottom when Adam Murphy actually introduced himself to a person getting out of a car by actually saying, something like “I’m here to ask some tough questions.”

    ONE MORE TIME WGCL, I don’t care how many questions you ask, it’s how many you get ANSWERED!

    Looking at the auto package:
    Little info on how to check to see if you were really ripped off, the name of the five “good” shop saved for the web (very uncool), and they missed the fact that you can’t always tell if brake fluid is contaminated by looking— water will kill a brake system, and you can only tell that by testing the fluid, which they dismissed as unnecessary.
    My questions: How do I choose a good shop? What do I do if I think I’ve been ripped off? Is it a good idea to get a second opinion? What are the warning signs that you’re about to get ripped off?

    The school package I missed, but it seems that was already asked, and answered, a long time ago.

    The Grady story should have had less drama and more info. Compare Grady’s system to other county run medical units. Is the breakdown rate higher or lower than Gwinnett, Forsyth, or Cherokee? Might even get Rural Metro (a very large nationwide provider) to analyze the data and tell us whether there is a problem. Seems to me the allegations by the whistleblower should have been substantiated before this went to air.

  5. Virgil records

    You have been off the air for 20 years.
    Let’s review your old 3/4 tapes with your stories to see if you have any “cred.”
    Let’s not.
    The late Virgil Dominic

  6. mosquechild


    What don’t you understand? We did a newscast followed by a 15 minute special highlighting our tough questions.

    High school production you say? Have you been watching 11alive? They’re closer to grade school.

    At this point there are two stations doing the daily, heavy duty investigative journalism – wsb and wgcl, waga might come in thrid but they only do their stories for the ratings period.

    Show me 5 stories wxia has done all year long that reflects true, fresh, digging journalistic stories. The clock is ticking.

    1. Mitch

      Wow, you cant even post on a blog without typing “tough questions.” When you guys go out to eat, do you ask the waiter — let me ask you a tough question, does the salad have cucumber in it?
      You guys remind me of when my next door neighbor got his first frisbee, and all he could do for a week is talk about his frisbee. He must have said the word frisbee 100 times an hour, so much so that I just had to tune him out (I bet that sounds familiar to you). Just because you repeat the words “tough questions” doesn’t mean you are actually doing it. Your reporters are absolutely embarrassed by having to repeat that over and over as if the audience is learning the letter T while watching Sesame Street.


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