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John Kiesewetter on the world of local and national TV

Senior Entertainment Reporter John Kiesewetter has been covering TV and media issues for 20 years. After joining the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1975 as a summer intern, he worked as a county government and suburban reporter; assistant city editor and suburban editor; and features editor supervising the Life section. He has a B.S. in journalism from Ohio University.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Back on the blog

Sorry to be away from the blog this week, but it’s been crazy. My best friend, retired Memphis TV critic Tom Walter, died of cancer and I took a few days off to fly down to Memphis for his funeral. The best thing I can say about him is that he was a great friend – always there when you needed to talk, always could make me laugh. I hope all of you are lucky enough to have such a treasured friendship in life… I never understood what the phrase “hole in my heart” meant until I contemplated never hearing Tom's voice ever again. So my word to you: Take a minute tonight, or this weekend, and call a friend, just to hear his/her voice, and cherish every minute.
Sorry to get sappy today, but, hey, it's my blog.

Now down to business...
While I was gone, all hell broke loose…. The highlights:

FCC probes Ch 9
The FCC is probing allegations that WCPO-TV (Channel 9), and 76 other stations, broadcast video news releases in newscasts without crediting the sources. The accusations first surfaced in April in “Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed,” a 10-month study by the Center for Media and Democracy, a Wisconsin non-profit which serves as a watchdog for the public relations industry. I’m scrambling to nail this all down now for a Sunday story, which will be posted on our website Sunday… but here is the website to see Ch. 9 video:
To the right of that page are links to the full "Fake News" report, executive summary, etc.

Ch 5 drops Top 5 at 11
Yes,WLWT-TV (Ch 5) has bagged the viewer-voted "Top 5 (stories) at 11." Here’s the word from News Director Brennan Donnellan:
"Effective Friday, August 18th, we will no longer be presenting Your Top 5 at 11 p.m. Your Top 5 at 5 p.m. has been one of our most successful recent initiatives, and I’m proud of our ratings growth at 5 p.m. We will continue to present your Top 5 at 5, and we will increase our efforts to make this popular feature even stronger.
"At 11 p.m., it has been less popular. The primary reason involves Internet news site usage, which drops off sharply after 4 p.m. That’s true of every news site; most people access Internet news at work. While up to 150 people have been voting in our Top 5 at 5 poll, the number has been considerably lower at 11 p.m. Also, viewers have told us they are more interested a digest of night time and daytime news at night. They have less curiosity about how others voted, and more of a need for straight news and weather updates before going to bed.”

So you folks can help me out here with math: The 150 people determining the top story at 5 p.m. represents less than 2% of 1 ratings point (8,802 TV homes) here? Is that right?

Ch 64 news
Also trying to finish my story for Monday's paper about Channel 12's newscast on Channel 64. I hear that some folks already are confused about all the numbers -- "Local 12 at 10 on My 64." It will be intersting to see what kind of ratings it does, particularly after Ch 64 dumps WB shows on Sept. 5 for 5-nights-a-week soap operas. (We'll have a link Monday with story on website to the MyNetworkTV show previews.) That's a great lead-in, huh? And how much will Ch 12's 11 p.m. ratings drop because people can catch the branded "Local 12 news" an hour earlier?

I'm sure you all have opinions about that too. So post your comments, and I'll read them from home this weekend.

Sorry, gotta go. Way behind in my work this week.
Remember to call a friend this weekend.


at 8/18/2006 3:57 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

the top 5 vote totals, for what it's worth--150 votes is little less than half the number of households we use for nielsen overnights. that's usually around 365-375.

at 8/18/2006 4:35 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any news on Time Warner airing the CW this fall?

at 8/18/2006 8:54 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

That 150 must have been one of their better nights

An employee of the news dept at Channel 5 told me earlier in the week that one night last week they had a grand total of 8 calls for the top 5 at 11. Eight calls from a market of over a million people.

at 8/18/2006 8:58 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I noticed that WKRC was running test patterns for the CW on 12.2 last night. Anyone know the date to air?

at 8/18/2006 9:14 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, Sorry to hear about your friend. We're all getting to that age where we are losing people close to us. I felt the same way last year when Dick Von Hoene passed and there have been others.

On the up side, I hope your time in Memphis included a stop at Rendevous Ribs.

For some reason, I hate talking on the phone these days, so consider this my call to an old friend. Key word:old.

at 8/18/2006 9:57 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kiese, late again.

Fake news is aka VNR's. They come from many sources. (Drug companies, supplement companies, advocacy groups, cosmetic companies, etc.) Seems WCPO may be on the hook for Carol Williams Health Living segments.

I've heard about this for many months, where have you been? You should read the Dean's site on occasion.

Following is a cut and paste from Cincinnati Beacon............

Open Letter to WCPO Concerning VNRs
Friday, April 14, 2006

Posted by The Dean of Cincinnati

Dear Mr. Morford:

Recently, WCPO was called to task for airing Video News Releases, without telling viewers that the segments were produced by corporations for commercial purposes.

As you may be aware, Democracy Now! has reported that KCBS in Los Angeles has agreed to stop broadcasting material from these deceptive VNRs (also known as “Fake TV News").

California TV Station To Stop Using VNRs
In an update on a story we have been tracking, a major California television station has announced it will no longer use material from video news releases in any news reports. Last week the Center for Media and Democracy revealed at least 77 TV stations around the country have been caught airing corporate-sponsored propaganda disguised as news releases in the past 10 months. One of these stations was KCBS, Channel 2 in Los Angeles. On January 27 the station aired an edited video news release promoting the child-safe Internet search engine for the company NetTrekker. The station used part of the script and video provided by the company without revealing its source. On Wednesday the management at KCBS announced it was barring the use of video news releases.

Can we expect a similar policy to come from WCPO? Why or why not?

We are eager to study your response.


The Dean of Cincinnati

at 8/18/2006 10:43 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any aspiring investigative journalist looking for a juicy Cincinnati connection to fake news and staged news... Check out Dr. Lisa Mannix of in West Chester.

Check out for whom she conducts drug trials and compare her appearances on TV advocating a particular treatment regimen...... I'm pretty sure she was on most local TV in the early spring talking about migraines. Google her for more info.

Bottom line. Ask many questions while watching the "helping you"
"the children are in danger" "the newest threat to your health" "what corporate marketing people want you to be afraid of" segments....

at 8/19/2006 1:49 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kiese was NOT late in reporting the FCC investigation. THAT was just announced this week. The advocacy group's complaint was made public months ago. So, this is timely reporting.

As for News 5's admission that they only get 150 votes for the "popular" Top 5 at 5 -- you gotta be kidding me!!! I did not realize things were so bad over there.

As for the first responder, I'm not sure if you're defending Kiese's math or News 5 -- but you can't compare 150 voters to a scientifically selected Nielsen audience. Anyone can vote on the Top 5 - and it sounds like its probably mostly 5's competition based on some of the selections that make it to air. Not everyone can be in a Nielsen household.

at 8/19/2006 11:04 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

"An employee of the news dept at Channel 5 told me earlier in the week that one night last week they had a grand total of 8 calls for the top 5 at 11. Eight calls from a market of over a million people.

Must be one who doesn't work there, since this is incorrect (Calls?)

at 8/19/2006 11:08 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, rip on Top 5 all you want, but WLWT didn't win anything in May, but won the demos in July at 5.

So, frankly, who cares how many vote?

at 8/20/2006 12:47 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that the Reds and WLW have announced that Steve Stewart is's time to bring back Dan Hoard!

He and Marty would sound perfect and Dan does have a following in Cincinnati. (Maybe his wife could come back and work for one of the stations too)

at 8/20/2006 1:07 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't necessarily know that its true whether 5 won any "demos" in July or not. For regular people, that's not an easy fact to research. I keep seeing references to 5 winning men, which I understand is not the audience most advertisers want anyway. I do know from seeing a few ratings reports that 5 may start off strong when Judge Judy ends, but audience drops like a stone within minutes. And it does matter how many people vote when a news director tries to attribute the Top 5 to popularity when clearly the News 5 audience isn't buying into it and actively taking part.

at 8/20/2006 2:51 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

WLWT won all -- yes ALL -- key demos at 5pm in July. Adults, Women, Men -- ALL.

You're entitled to opinions, but not facts.

The fact is WLWT is now Cincinnati's #1 5pm newscast.

at 8/20/2006 3:35 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what's more troubling that WLWT tried something as goofy as letting the "masses" pick the nightly news lineup, or that "up to 150 people have been voting at...5...the number has been considerably lower at 11 p.m." according to the ND. I cannot fathom any station that thinks of itself as a respectable news organization allowing its lineup to be detemined by less than 1/100 of one percent of the population. What a joke!

at 8/20/2006 3:38 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The CW doesn't have a home on Time Warner yet. I guess you'll have to subscribe to DirecTV to see it. Somebody needs to ask the cable people what's up with that. Kiese?

at 8/20/2006 3:39 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

WCPO introduces "Fake News at 5"...The new generation of news! Oh wait, isn't 12's lame-o tag line?

at 8/20/2006 4:30 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I cannot fathom any station that thinks of itself as a respectable news organization allowing its lineup to be detemined by less than 1/100 of one percent of the population. What a joke!"

Most stations have far fewer than that determining the lineup, and many of them have no more real "knowledge" of what's news than the public.

at 8/20/2006 7:50 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact is WLWT is now Cincinnati's #1 5pm newscast.

Based on everything written, that statement is a lie. WLWT is NOT Cincinnati's number one newscast. It might be in break-out audience segments, but WCPO is Cincinnati's #1 5pm newscast. Where can we find any valid information about demos other than your anonymous post????

at 8/20/2006 7:54 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, to be the number one newscast you have to have the most *viewers*

But that's just channel 5 making unsubstantiated claims like undisputed weather leader and official school closing station, neither of which is true or provable

at 8/20/2006 9:04 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

As opposed to 12 being "The Weather Authority"?

at 8/20/2006 10:14 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to work in TV for the "fake news", everyone uses VNR's. If only the FCC regulated promos...Channel 5 would be fined millions. One example: Undisputed Weather Leader...what a joke.

at 8/20/2006 10:26 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

couple of points about the debate over who's number one..
first, i wouldn't describe a newscast as number one just because it has the best demos.

BUT as for what the demos mean... well, go talk to your sales department. they ain't selling the household numbers and anyone who's been in this business for more than a book or two should know that.

the only numbers that matter are 18-49 and 25-54 women. winning men is just a bonus.

and i'm almost ashamed to point this out, since the poster who says he doesn't work in TV almost certainly does--but if you're really wondering how to find out what the demos are, call the station, ask to talk to sales, tell 'em you want to buy some spots and ask for the demos for the 5pm.

if that's too much trouble, maybe keise would be so kind as to settle it once and for all. a phone call to 5 ought to cover it. if they really won the ND will want to crow about it.

at 8/21/2006 6:32 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

So glad to see News 5 killed "Top 5 at 11." I have been wathcing News 5 since the anchor team was Sheri Norton, Rick Taylor, Tony Sands and Zip Rzeppa. "Top 5 at 11" came the closest to driving me away of anything I have seen over the past 25 years. Really cheapened the product to the level of Access Hollywood. Made me think of Richard Dawson, "survey said..." About three more days and we were off to find another newscast.

at 8/21/2006 9:53 AM Anonymous JeffDavis said...

Where are YOUR priorities? Why are you watching any newscast at 11:00 pm when GSN is running "Match Game 75?" Are you "ready to match the stars?" Who can forget big time 70s stars like David Doyle, JoAnne Pflug, and Elaine Joyce along with the regulars Brett Somers, Richard Dawson, and Charles Nelson Reilly?

Get it together people! The contestatnts could win as much as $500!!!

at 8/21/2006 2:13 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff, you kill me! Wait...a promotion: Win 5 on 5. You guess the top 5 stories for 11 and see if you win 5 big smackers!

As for 11 O'Clock...GSN is the best alternative. More chuckles than watching 5's newscast....and GSN's running a 30+ year old rerun!

Maybe 5 should pull the plug on the 11 oclocker and air reruns of Paul Dixon and Bob Braun. You'd have a higher rating! Praise AVCO!
(Hand over your heart lady!)

at 8/22/2006 12:56 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe keise would be so kind as to settle it once and for all. a phone call to 5 ought to cover it.

I would certainly trust Kiese not to spin the numbers more than 5's news director. After all - wasn't it him in the paper saying how successful the top 5 was and that it was going to be sticking around for a long long time??

In fact, I think it went something like this:

It's too early to tell if viewers voting for Channel 5's "top five" stories at 11 p.m. have boosted ratings, as it did in May for the 5 p.m. news. But Brennan Donnellan, WLWT-TV news director, says he'll stick with it for a long time.

"It has forced our newsroom to look at certain stories from a different perspective. It's good for the viewers, and it's good for us as journalists," Donnellan says.

Some nights Channel 5 has cut short "breaking news" reports so anchors Sandra Ali and Sheree Paolello can dwell on viewers' picks. "We knew those stories probably had more overall community impact than a shooting or car accident," he says.

I guess if the Top 5 was good for viewers, 5 followed its own history and canned it.

at 8/22/2006 10:04 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some nights Channel 5 has cut short "breaking news" reports so anchors Sandra Ali and Sheree Paolello can dwell on viewers' picks. "We knew those stories probably had more overall community impact than a shooting or car accident," he says.

i'm not quite sure what mr. donnellon is thinking because to say that the anchors "dwell on viewer's picks" because of "overall community impact"...why weren't they doing this before? remember when they showed a live video feed of a police car chase in houston texas a few weeks ago? mr. donnellon where was the community impact there? and to the anchors-- was there community impact there or were you following the lead of mr. donnellon? he should be careful what statements he makes because what few viewers he has are not stupid. whew! channel 5 has some serious serious problems across the board!!

at 8/22/2006 5:46 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

i would rather watch the simpsons at 11 then any local newscast. I quit watching local news all togeather.

at 8/23/2006 1:31 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed how poorly TV 5 has tanked at 11? What happened to Tom Sussi? He's been reduced to a second-string GA reporter. Looks like somebody gave him The Bone!

at 8/23/2006 2:51 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah at 11 michael mooley is now the lead reporter. Is it just me or does it seem that mooley does all his reports right out on 5's balcony.

at 8/23/2006 3:47 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think that's where they do their live shots if they're not at a (story) relevant location...on the roof of that building. all of the reporters have been their for all of the newscasts. during the 5pm shows if they're up there, you can sometimes see the P&G headquarters in the background.

at 8/24/2006 12:54 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

on a really clear day, you can see 5's ratings sliding down the side of the hill

at 8/29/2006 4:04 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey John!
Any ideas or updates regarding the new Radio One radio station (100.3 Norwood/Cincinnati)that's supposed to be "on-air" around Labor Day?
According to information distributed by sister stations WIZF and WDBZ,in early summer during concerts & events, we should be getting close to the debut of the new (most likely urban format) station.

at 4/03/2007 11:48 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...


In what will go down as the worst opening day roster placement in Cincinnati history, mayor Mark Mallory explains what went wrong on the mound, "Anyone who's ever played ball with me knows that I'm a catcher not a pitcher."

Says Mallory, "I've caught my whole career and to all of a sudden thrust me onto the rubber and make me pitch was asking for a bad release."

Reds owner Bob Castellini says he thought Mallory pitched from time to time, "Earlier I thought I heard him pitching from behind closed doors."

Fans, too, scratched their heads wondering whether or not Mallory could straighten it out. Says Butch from Grant county, "There wasn't much straight about that whole situation."

"Ah, well," sighed Mallory as he tuned into Dancing with the Stars, "at least my tie and that pull-over jacket matched."

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