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…
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.
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.