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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, April 11, 2008

No More Local TV Sports? Really?

So which local TV station is talking about dropping sports from the TV news?

People have been called by a public opinion survery company and asked: How would you feel if your local news station got rid of sports on its newscasts?

If they call me, I'd tell them that TV sports news is one of the reasons I watch local TV news. And I'd suggest that the local TV stations cut the weather to give me more news -- but don't drop sports.

What station could be conducting the poll? Some thoughts:

Channel 5: A third-place newscast could do something radically different to try to attract viewers/ratings. (Like having two women as co-anchors.) They could promote having more news. On the other hand, Ch 5 has NBC's popular Sunday night NFL games and the Olympics, plus a big promotional investment in the High School Playbook preps coverage and Sunday night "Sports Rock" talk show.

Channel 9: Despite the ESPN-ABC marriage, the ABC network doesn't have a lot of high-profile sports after losing football bowl games to Fox and moving Monday Night Football to ESPN. Yes, you might watch college football on Saturday nights. But what will you be watching Sunday afternoon -- the NBA doubleheader on Ch 9, or the Masters on CBS? On the other hand, Ch 9 has the two most experienced sports reporters in town, Dennis Janson and gifted storyteller John Popovich, and the longest-running local TV sports show, Popo's "Sports of All Sorts" on Sunday night. (Remember that Ch 9 cut the sports staff last summer, when Lisa Cornwell was moved to the morning news.)

Channel 12: Maybe a budget cut/new philosophy of the new owners, Newport Television, which bought the Clear Channel TV stations last month? But Ch 12 has CBS' NFL games (including most of the Bengals games), NCAA basketball March Madness, the Masters, etc., plus the Bengals exhibition games, "Bengals Nation" programs and Sunday night "Sports Authority" show.

Channel 19: Could Ch 19 be thinking of dropping weekend "Sports Wrap" show to do more news? That would be a surprise, with Fox heavily invested in the NFL, weekly baseball, the World Series and All-Star game, but anything could happen.

If a TV station dropped sports, would you be unhappy and switch stations? Or would you like having more news and no sports?
And which station do you think could be considering pulling the plug on local sports?


at 4/11/2008 12:20 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

My guess would be something like the 10:00 news on My64 would drop it to test the waters. Then my guess would be 19 would drop its 2 minutes of sports within the nightly newscast but let the boys keep their weekend 15 or 30 minute shows to cover h.s. sports, football, NASCAR, etc.

at 4/11/2008 12:23 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I never watch the sports on the news, I know many do. The only thing that could come out of dropping sports is that they have more time to repeat the same two stories they've alraedy run into the ground the first 20 minutes.

at 4/11/2008 12:28 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

i really like the sports guys on Ch. 5. I say they drop the news and do 30 mins. or sports! oh, yeah, and :30 on weather. I think it's Ch.12 that's thinking of dropping it. (honest)

at 4/11/2008 12:40 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

are u kidding me? That's the only reason to watch local news. Between the crawl at the bottom of the screen, the non-breaking "breaking news" and the you-heard-it-here first BS, what else is there to get from local news? I would agree. Drop the weather because none of the local weather people really do their own forecasting and it's no more than reading an estimation of someone else's guess.

at 4/11/2008 12:40 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kiese - I would look to the station with the news director who actually cut sports out of his station in his old market - basically limiting all sports content to about one minute during the earlies.

at 4/11/2008 12:42 PM Blogger garbonzo said...

They should expand sports and reduce weather to the forecast only.

at 4/11/2008 12:49 PM Blogger N said...

I too watch the news to see the sports. At 6:00 pm you can watch channel 12 sports then 9 then 5, one after another.

at 4/11/2008 1:03 PM Blogger Hoot said...

Too much weather and not enough sports now. I just need the forecast, not all the other crap.

at 4/11/2008 1:27 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have heard that other markets have tried it. I once heard a story about how one in Phoenix did it and went from #1 to #4. Doubt it was COMPLETELY because of that, but how do you say your the most local station when you don't cover the thousands of local kids playing local sports?

at 4/11/2008 1:32 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

A little birdie told me it was Channel 9......

at 4/11/2008 1:48 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drop it all. Its nothing more than a ratings game anyway! Years ago they had news, weather, AND sports from 11 to 11:15pm each day and we survived just fine and we had no internet!

at 4/11/2008 2:18 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that local television coverage of professional sports is almost pointless. All of the local coverage I want I get from the Enquirer and certain blogs about town.

Amateur sports on the other hand (a little college and mostly high school) are what local television can and have thrive at covering. One of the few things I look forward to in the Fall is the Friday night football coverage put forth by our area stations. If I'm the newsroom director I cut out all highlights of Bengals and Reds and focus solely on college and high school.

at 4/11/2008 2:19 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not drop the whole thing. They sports is the only thing that doesn't appear on the multiple crawls verbatim of the news readers have already said.
Sports seems to be the only TRUE local info we get. I really don't care about what happens in New York, I can hear that on CNN or the nationals.

at 4/11/2008 2:32 PM Blogger SophiaZ123 said...

YOu gotta be kidding me? I SELDOM watch local news period because of their self promoting, repetitive BS.

I don't need somebody elsewhere in the newsroom to give me a story.

I don't need 10 reporters all over the tri state for SNOW SHOTS. Same with rain.

CUT the weather to 1 minute. Have MORE SPORTS and less news.

Also LOCAL NEWS should be LOCAL NEWS...not small stories from across the country.

It's all a joke but to get rid of SPORTS is shooting onself in the foot, one toe at a time.

Like most, LESS WEATHER!

LESS SNOW SCHOOL CLOSING, Church closing, Uncle Bob's garage (FREE ADS!) closing for days on end.

If they added more sports and cut back on weather and stopped the BLEED IT LEADS story crapola, and stuck to local news, I might tune back into the news regularly. Unless there is a specific story, I watch and channel surf between 12 and 9. Personally the Barbie talking heads on 5 do nothing for this house hold.

And I know I am showing my age but does anybody else remember the days of Tony Sands 60 second weather forecast? Drawing board and no 'high tech' stuff and he was right MUCH more often than the pricey, over hyped WE SAVED YOUR LIFE WITH OUR WEATHER FORECAST rubbish we are forced to endure today.

*Big sigh*

Ok..I feel better soapbox.


at 4/11/2008 3:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

12:28 anon: do you really believe Channel 12 would give up sports when The Voice of the Bengals sits on their anchor desk?


Next guess?

at 4/11/2008 3:11 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

It must be channel 9. They got rid of sportsrush when Lisa Cornwell got "moved" to the morning show making the "breakingnews Center" more important than sports. I miss hearing Popo's stories more frequently then just on his Sports of All Sorts show. Cincinnati is a local sports town. That is the major reason why people here watch local news over the national cable networks.

at 4/11/2008 3:11 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

About 2-3 years ago (or maybe a little longer), during Ch.12's newscasts, right before the first commercial break, they had the thing that said "you're watching Rob Braun, Kit Andrews, Tim Hedrick, etc." but during EVERY SINGLE ONE of those clips (during various newscasts, not just the 11p.m one), there was NO mention or picture of the sports person (and currently is not any mention).

Even on the weekend evenings, it just says "You're watching Paula Toti and John Gumm", with no mention of Tara Pachmeyer. make a long story short, ever since then, I have always wondered if Channel 12 news was going to get rid of sports.

at 4/11/2008 3:16 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keise, it's 9 News, WCPO that will be dropping sports and likely it's long time sports people.
The news director, Bob Morford, found a way to cut costs by dropping sports at his last station, KNXV-TV in Phoenix, a major-league sports town.
He hired a goofball named "Fouey" (pronounced FOOEY) for a commentary segment called "Fouey on Sports."
It was a hilarious disaster and the viewers voted the station the worst in the market.
Good luck, 9 News.

at 4/11/2008 3:32 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I doubt the network's sports offerings have anything to do with a station deciding whether or not to drop local sports. There's no correlation.

at 4/11/2008 4:29 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I can see WCPO doing it and say it's for the web. It's funny how sports is the one true local thing that these stations need. Hopefully 9 will lose their GM and News Director before they would ever drop sports. It's why I watch!!!!

at 4/11/2008 4:41 PM Blogger bmurdock said...

I agree with John... Less weather, more sports! That's what I like about 19's News they don't bore you with more weather info than we really need. Just give me the highs, the lows and the 5 day forcast and be done with it.

at 4/11/2008 5:31 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drop the sports; drop the news; I want an entire broadcast of weather! Oh baby, how about a minute by minute forecast, so I can "plan my day"!

You know what? I heard a radio broadcaster today say that it is extremely dangerous driving today--this was about 4PM.
Hey it's raining; it's 70 degrees; if this is dangerous, check yourself into a nursing home.

at 4/11/2008 10:38 PM Blogger JerBear said...

With all the depressing an negative news, and the weathermania, the sports part of the news is sometimes the only positive and normal part of a local newscast.

I am one of those people that only watch the news sometimes for the Sports.

Maybe there's not a lot of us, but I imagine there's more like us than the group who tunes in every night to see who was caught in the latest internet sex sting.

at 4/11/2008 10:43 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard that all four stations are dropping news, weather and sports and just airing static for 35 minutes. Derek said it would come to this.

at 4/11/2008 10:51 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

At this point, News 5 would attract more viewers if they re-aired newscasts from their halcyon with Norma and Jerry. Sad thing is people would actually watch. Even sadder is that people would beleive it's current news. Picture it: Anchor: "Mayor Tillery said today..." Viewer:"...when's that guy going to retire?"


at 4/11/2008 10:55 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uhhhhhh it would like sneezing loudly at a funeral. You don't do it.

The Cincinnati market is not like any other. People respect tradition. People expect the sports after their weather.

And if the sports is removed, what will be the replacement? More dribble? More out of town taped news packages?

Maybe 9 would go back to the original Al format. Death, destruction and dismemberment for 20 minutes, 90 second weathercast with lightbulbs and a gong and the quickest sportscast with Jack Moran. And some Harry's Carpet and King Kwik commercials.

Sorry.....I'd hate to be the phone operator at the station. Talk about NEGATIVE promotion.

Even Al knew....don't kill off sports, regardless if the sportscast sometimes was a minute or two.

at 4/11/2008 11:13 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as national sports, I get most of that online. But local sports need to be covered, too. And as others have already said, they run stories into the ground enough with the 30 minutes they have now.

at 4/11/2008 11:28 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

this site needs to be updated more often.

John, is it hard to log in for a few minutes from home to keep this site more relevant?? Most blogs are updated FREQUENTLY even on weekends and it makes for a more fun atmosphere to PARTICIPATE if we don't have to wait three days to see an update.

No offense or anything.

at 4/12/2008 5:52 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's sad when a News Director and General Manager have to use this venue to tell it's employees that they are cutting sports. I guess they do not have any balls and are scared to deal with even more confrontation.

at 4/12/2008 12:25 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off topic, but do you know if John Gumm is now permanent replacement for 12/morning meteorologist Steve Horstmeyer?


at 4/12/2008 1:34 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are there sports anchors and/or reporters who"s contracts are up soon if not already and are costing their station a lot of money? Those are the stations that Kiese should be looking into.

at 4/12/2008 2:21 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

While local colleges and high schools are obviously a big whomever commented that stations should get rid of Bengals and Reds are crazy!
Especially concerning the Bengals!
I am certain if you check the ratings for the Sunday sports shows, you will see that they are much better during football season. And I am pretty sure you are going to get better angles on the game from the stations here, then ESPN or NFL network. They don't have time to dissect the game, or cover certain angles.
Can you imagine a sportscast on an NFL Sunday that the Bengals played, but no coverage of it?
Talk about lack of credibility

at 4/12/2008 9:04 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in Columbus this week, and I swear the ABC affiliate, WSYX, 6 on Your Side, has done away with sports anchors. It was odd and uncomfortable.

I think it would be a shame to get rid of local sports, but it has already become the odd man out. Remember when you used to get the sports at 6:25? Now, it is 6:20 at best and if you don't have a dvr, you better not turn the channel.

As far as I'm concerned, WLWT could kill it because Broo is annoying as hell. If I hear him promote Sports Rock one more time, I may scream.

9 has the best talent, but 19 does the best job with sports.

at 4/13/2008 10:51 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

If any station were thinking of dropping sports, wouldn't it be the one with the new owner?

12's new owner may be testing the water to see what kind of overall changes they can make including sportscasts. That being said, 12 needs to do something about their lighting. Every woman on the air on 12 looks haggard and washed out.

at 4/13/2008 11:06 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd vote for Channel 9. They are looking at shifting resources to non broadcast oriented media, and the news director is no supporter of sports.Lisa Cornwell may have had the inside track on what is about to happen...
Watch for one of the stations experienced sportcasters to leave shortly.

at 4/13/2008 2:57 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

After walking thru their studio, I'm amazed you can see anything based on 12's lighting. What's with the Japanese Kimodo lighting balls? Why have they gone away from Kliegl or even softlights? With the current look (y'all need a new set and graphics AND LIGHTS!), it makes me think that if you just turned on the worklights, you'd get the same look. For a look, I'd go back to the newsroom/studio and drop "Local12" and go back to "EYEWITNESS 12 NEWS".

at 4/13/2008 2:59 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a station be bold and drop their crawl??? Why should I stay tuned for a story when the prompter copy is already typed in the crawl.

at 4/13/2008 8:53 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:52 That's a great point. The lighting on 12 is horrible.

at 4/14/2008 10:57 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Japanese Kimodo lights were probably 59-cents at Big Lots. That was perfect for Clear Channel's budget.

at 4/14/2008 1:20 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Channel 9 drops sports, will this be announced with a BREAKING NEWS or a DEVELOPING NEWS banner?

at 4/14/2008 1:55 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

keep sports and weather in and take out "don't waste your money" playing every last day or all the stupid little stories they put in there for fluff.

at 4/14/2008 6:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really like Ken Broo! He is my favorite sportscaster, no kidding...
No, I'm not related!

at 4/14/2008 7:31 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

For some reason

a) sports keeps showing up poorly in research so managers keep cutting it.

b) weather keeps showing up well in overnights when everyone says they get too much of it so managers keep promoting it.

Maybe people say they don't like sports because we get :30 of highlights and jocks too cautious of the media to give viewers any real solid sound bites. OR it's because we only see the pros and not enough stories about the local teams.

And maybe a lot of people are turned off by promotion around weather and hype that isn't a part of the actual forecast. Or maybe some people taking shots at weather here are just jealous that weather gets more air time than their live shot in front of the court house at 11pm when it's obviously CLOSED and there's no BREAKING NEWS going on.

I mean... I'm just sayin'.

at 4/15/2008 1:26 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's bad though when a weather person has to talk about weather that does not concern the cincinnati tri-state area only to fill time that could be used for sports.

at 4/16/2008 11:19 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up watching channel 12, but when the abc/cbs switch happened, I switched to channel 9 for news. I have been disappointed and aggravated with the broadcasts lately. Have you noticed the news is actually over at like 11:28, but it's scheduled until 11:35. Why is this? Keep the sports!!! Get rid of the filler news stories from somewhere we could care less about and keep on the local sports. I think this would be a very bad move for a station to kill sports.

I can't stand the "Breaking News Center". Why do they need a third "anchor" person? Isn't that the anchor's job - to deliver the breaking news? Stupid! Call John Matarese, because WCPO is wasting money!
-- Jill

at 4/16/2008 11:29 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with covering local sports beyond end of the season tournement winners and obvious stories is that you can't satisfy anyone when you go down that road. You have limited resources...and when you do a feature on one team, it turns into "You did something on that team...what about our eighth grade junior varsity lacrosse team?"

Nobody complains when the Bengals and Reds are covered...but god help you if you cover one team...or gender...or school district...or state...more than someone thinks you should. Then it turns into a whinefest.

at 4/18/2008 2:53 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...


Having worked with DJ and Popo years ago, I would be tremendously saddened if 9 cut sports. Surprised? NO... but saddened, yes.

However, the two of them are the deans of local sportscasters which means they are certainly the highest PAID sportscasters in the market. So the potential cost savings is HUGE.

But, John, have you considered the OTHER possibilities? #1 that the phone survey convinces the TV managers NOT to kill sports. Or #2 that this survey was conducted in Cincinnati for a station in ANOTHER market, so this very discussion doesn't get out to the market they are in.

Keep up the good work

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