Friday, December 28, 2007

The Game That Never Was

With no bowl for Big Red this season, more than 550 Nebraska Cornhusker football fans turned out for the “Bowl Game That Never Happened” at Omaha’s D.J.’s Dugout on Dec. 27.

Orchestrated by 1620 the Zone’s Kevin Kugler, the computer-simulated game was played on all the screens at the sports bar, and most of the fans attending treated it as if it were a real bowl game. Live play-by-play calls were also part of the action.

Listeners to Kugler’s 2-6 p.m. weekday sports talk show chose Notre Dame as the team NU should face in the quasi-bowl game.

Final Score: Nebraska 43, Notre Dame 31.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lite 101.9 switches formats

Lite 101.9 FM changed to the Big O 101.9 at 3 p.m. Thursday. The new format consists of ’80s rock targeting 25 to 54-year-old adults.

“It’s the music that many adults grew up with in Omaha, like Bruce Springsteen, the Police, Eric Clapton and Tom Petty,” said Billy Shears, program director at the Big O.

The voice of the Big O is John O’Hurley (pictured) of Mr. J. Peterman and “Dancing with the Stars” fame.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Paul Aaron's Next Venture: Indoor Football

Pinnacle Sports founder Paul Aaron is the new executive director of the United Indoor Football league.

According to a press release, Aaron will officially take over with the league that features the Omaha Beef after the first of the year.

"Between now and then, I intend to use the time to familiarize myself with league operations and plan a schedule for meeting with interested parties who have expressed an interest in the UIF," he said.

Aaron said he was excited about the UIF opportunity because he could use his previous sports marketing and management experience in an new and exciting way.

"It is a very exciting opportunity because the owners are all successful individuals with both the commitment and the resources to take an already successful league to an even higher level of success."

In 1996, Aaron and business partner Dale Jensen founded Pinnacle SPorts Productions, LLC. Pinnacle was the broadcast rights holder for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln sports broadcasts including football, men's and women's basketball, volleyball and baseball. The Pinnacle Sports Network includes 68 radio stations in 16 states. Aaron sold Pinnacle Sports to Triple Crown Media Inc/Host Communications in September, 2006.

Aaron also has more that 28 years in the broadcast industry, primarily in upper management. Several stations he managed broadcast significant college and/or professional sports including Ohio State and Standford football, Sacramento Kings, Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Cavaliers. His current business interests include a long term consulting agreement with Host Communicaitons and various real estate activities in Omaha .

The UIF's biggest challenge - according to Aaron - is having enough time to follow up with inquiries for potential new teams.

"The UIF is widely regarded as a successful, solid league with many advantages other leagues do not currently offer. Meeting with those who have expressed an interest and making sure that all of the elements for their success are present and that their geographic location is compatible with the location of our existing teams is essential and the first order of business."

Saturday, December 8, 2007

'The Big Show' Auction Will Help Shooting Victims

KXSP (590 AM) afternoon sports talk show host Matt Perrault told listeners Friday that he was looking for a way to do his part to help the victims and families of Wednesday's mall shooting.

His idea - to auction off sports memorabilia - took off during Friday's show. Already, nearly three dozen items are available for on-line bid (courtesy of Omaha's during Monday's program.

The list includes a baseball autographed by New York Yankee pitcher (and former Nebraska player) Joba Chamberlain, two tickets to the Kansas City Chiefs' game against the Tennessee Titans, a hat signed by Nebraska's three Heisman Trophy winners and an opportunity to sit on press row during a Creighton men's basketball game.

One Letter Makes A Big Difference

As the Leavenworth Street ("Talk of Nebraska Politics") blog points out, even under tragic circumstances, CNN can't help but make a political statement.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Westroads Shooting: National Stories Of Note

CBS Marketwatch reporter Jon Friedman says the media should stop its identifying crazed fame-seekers, such as the gunman who killed eight people Wednesday in an Omaha mall before taking his own life.

"Don't release their names or photos," Friedman writes in his column. "By taking such a bold step, television, print and web executives could help society and maybe even save lives. Media do-gooders often point to the positive ways in which they help people to live better lives. Now, those in charge can accomplish something truly noteworthy by doing nothing at all, and it wouldn't cost a dime."

* * *

Editor & Publisher magazine reporter Joe Strupp writes that the Omaha World-Herald initially sent 10 staffers to the scene of Wednesday's shooting and eventually had 50 of its nearly 200-person newsroom on the story in some form.

Unfortunately, few were able to access any of the reporting the newspaper was trying to provide on its website and its afternoon edition had already gone to press.

"Thousands of people were simultaneously trying to get to," Colleen Schinker told Strupp. "The site never went down, but many people could not get to the site."

NRG Media Establishes Relief Fund For Victims

NRG Media is working with First National Bank to provide an outlet for people to help the families of the victims of Wednesday's shooting at the Von Maur store at the Westroads Mall.

NRG Media Promotions Director Julie Hansen said donations are being accepted in a variety of ways:

- At any Omaha-area First National Bank location

- By mail to: Westroads Victims Relief Fund, c/o First National Bank, 1620 Dodge Street, Omaha, NE 68102

- Through credit card or PayPal at the following NRG station websites:,,,, and

Hansen said 100 percent of the donated money will go to the families of the victims.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

ABC Photographer Dies In I-80 Crash

ABC News photojournalist Ralph Binder, 58, died Thursday morning in a one-vehicle rollover on eastbound Interstate 80 near Wood River, Neb.

Binder and ABC audio specialist Daniel Johnson were traveling in a 1996 Chevy Utility truck when Binder lost control of the truck on ice. The truck rolled over into the south ditch, according to the Nebraska State Patrol.

Binder was wearing a seat belt but was partially ejected from the truck. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Johnson, 49, was treated and released at St. Francis Medical Center in Grand Island. He was also wearing a seat belt, the State Patrol said.

Binder and Johnson were on their way to Omaha to cover Wednesday's shooting at Westroads Mall, according to a letter posted Thursday by ABC News President David Westin on the network's Web site.

Binder started at ABC News in 1974, working in the network's Washington bureau and most recently freelancing out of Denver. He was married to Joy Wolf, a freelance producer for ABC News, and was the father of two sons, ages 12 and 9.

More On's Problems

The problems the Omaha World-Herald's online portal,, has had in handling large amounts of visitor traffic have been well documented. But now, more than just Nebraskans are taking notice.

"Reflections of a Newsosaur" is a blog written by Silicon Valley CEO Alan D. Mutter. The former city editor of the Chicago Sun-Times later became the second-in-command editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. Today, he is a managing partner of Tapit Partners, a two-man, think-tank that helps business owners create successful companies.

In a post titled, "Flat-footed in Omaha," Mutter takes the paper to task for problems he says were not technical, but editorial.

"The poor coverage evidently was caused by a lack of contingency planning on the part of editors, web producers, reporters, photographers and all the other people who are responsible for rapidly, thoughtfully and accurately gathering the information and visual assets necessary to tell a story like this in the age of multimedia."

For more than 24 hours after Wednesday's shooting, access to has been sporadic. Subscribers attempting to access the on-line "E-Edition" have also encountered an error message, rather than the standard sign-in dialogue box.

Perhaps most telling are the comments logged by professional journalists around the country (who are not posting anonymously).

[Update at 5:23 p.m.] stripped its web content to a single page, containing a single story and the following message:

"We are sorry. is experiencing extremely high traffic.The site is still operational, but it may take some time for you to access it."

KFAB Interview: Hawkins Was Selling Drugs At School

A parent of a Papillion-LaVista South student and his daughter told KFAB Thursday morning that the Bellevue Police Department and Sarpy County Sherrif’s department did not act when presented with evidence that Robert Hawkins was selling drugs at school and threatening to harm them.

The student - “Mandy” (not her real name) – said she was an acquaintance of Hawkins and a close friend of Hawkins’ ex-girlfriend.

Mandy said she was threatened as recently as a month ago by Hawkins, who told her he was going to kill her and her family and burn their house down. Mandy said Hawkins accused her of stealing something from his car.

“I actually told him, ‘Yeah Robbie, I’d like to see you do that. I didn’t believe him,’ ” she said.

Mandy’s father, who was identified as “Bob” but said he has previously worked in law enforcement himself, was also part of the interview by Gary Sadlemyer and Scott Voorrhees. He said both law enforcement agencies ignored him because a Bellevue police officer’s own son was allegedly involved in the drug dealing at school.

“This guy (Hawkins) brings narcotics to Papio South every day and they're not doing anything,” Bob said. “The second time I went in there (to the police department), I told them I would give them until 4 p.m. Amazingly, I heard from a narcotics officer that day. But on our stake along, he could not go on without more proof.”

Perrault: KMTV Should Have Had Alternate Plan

Matt Perrault, while expressing compassion for the victims, said he was disappointed that KMTV-3 did not have an “alternate plan” to show Wednesday night’s Creighton-Xavier men’s basketball game. The KXSP (590 AM) afternoon sports radio host said he was inundated with messages from unhappy Bluejay fans who had hoped to watch the game on KMTV at 7 p.m.

“I was hoping for at least a split screen (broadcast) of the game,” Perrault said Thursday morning on “Todd and Tyler’s Radio Empire” on KEZO (92.3 FM)

KEZO, KMTV and KXSP are all owned by the Journal Broadcast Group.

Perrault said he will take time during “The Big Show” from 2-6 p.m. to talk about the shootings.

"There is a sports angle to this with Virginia Tech and how they dealt with it and how they moved on afterwards, how did they respond, how did the community respond," Perrault said.

Click here to listen to the segment in its entirety.

A poll on "The Bluejay Cafe," a message board for Creighton fans, was running 3-to-1 early Thursday morning in favor of KMTV showing the game.

The Front Pages

Above, from left: Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News.

Above, from left: Lincoln Journal Star, Kansas City Star

Above, from left: Omaha World-Herald, Diario de Pernambuco (Brazil)

Above, from left: North Platte Telegraph, New York Post.

All images above courtesy of The Newseum, except for the North Platte Telegraph.

How Omaha Media Fared When Put To The Test

Suddenly, that "snow event" forecast for Thursday, seemed insignificant. Even President George W. Bush's trip to Omaha earlier Wednesday - only the ninth time Bush has visited the city and eight more times than President Bill Clinton - was nearly forgotten. (Bush left town about a half-hour before the shootings.)

You didn't have to be at the Westroads Mall Wednesday afternoon to know something big was going down. Omaha Police cruisers, with lights flashing and sirens blaring, barreled down streets from every corner of the city to converge on what would turn out to be the largest one-day shooting massacre in the city's history.

Omaha media have covered mass-scale tragedy before - but not of this magnitude and on such a national stage. Only three people died in the Tornado of 1975, but the widespread, sweeping damage made it a mammoth undertaking for reporters in a time when news didn't travel nearly as fast.

More recently, the crash of a Seward school bus in West Omaha - one that took the lives of four people in October of 2001 - sparked massive, immediate media coverage. But on that Saturday afternoon, college football games took precedence over breaking news coverage.

Perhaps the closest thing to this tragedy was the bank robbery shooting deaths of five people in Norfolk, Neb., in September of 2002. But while that event attracted as much national attention, it did not get wall-to-wall coverage from Omaha media outlets.

The Early Going

The first dispatch by The Associated Press out of its Omaha bureau was headlined, "Man reportedly shot at Omaha mall; stores locked down" and it only hinted at the horror that was to come:

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Police have locked down a busy Omaha mall after at least one person was shot this afternoon.

That report, though, came nearly a half-hour after Omaha TV stations first interrupted regular programming with early reports of the shooting. What followed would be more than eight hours of uninterrupted TV coverage by the city's ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates.

WOWT was clearly the leader in breaking new (and accurate) information. The station recorded many "firsts" including: that the gunman had died of a self-inflicted gunshot (courtesy of investigative reporter Mike McKnight), that he was 19-year-old Sarpy County resident Robert Hawkins and that he had left behind several suicide notes. WOWT was also first on the scene of a Bellevue home with Maniko Barthelemy's interview with the woman who said she was letting him live there after he had been kicked out of his own home.

WOWT also took a rather somber approach in its coverage. Anchor Tracy Madden was overly subdued, then suddenly reverted to her standard delivery during the station's late-evening newscast. Reporter Brian Mastre took a contemplative approach to his delivery - which, combined with his across-the-street location for live shots - made it seem as if he was more distant from the event than he actually was.

KETV broke out its playbook that has consistently made it a must-watch station for breaking news. The ABC affiliate pulled out all the stops with multiple live shots and live streaming coverage on early on. When no new information was coming in hours later, the station trotted out reporter after reporter on set to share their own stories of what they saw and heard.

Of course there's no substitute for experience and KMTV's anchor team of Carol Wang and Carlo Cecchetto - who will have been on the job one year next month - came off as the outsiders they are when compared to their competitive anchor counterparts at WOWT and KETV. Their saving grace was veteran anchor Mary Williams, a Bellevue native who has worked at the station for more than 20 years.

KMTV's Cecchetto, though, offered one of the most compelling first-hand accounts by any media type, though, when he told viewers that he had been in the Von Maur store - at the customer service desk to pay a bill - just five minutes before the shootings.

"(It was) kind of eerie," Cecchetto said during a segment. "Just moments later he (Hawkins) was roughly at the same spot, shooting down at people on the second floor. Watching the video, I saw a lady wearing a turquoise sweater and blouse who was working at the counter who I paid my bill to and who was lovely and wonderful and cheerful and had that holiday spirit. A couple hours later, I see her outside in the cold, comforting herself, shaking and crying. It's a reminder of how violence can shake everything you know and throw it upside down."

Noticeably absent from KMTV's coverage was veteran reporter Joe Jordan, who broke the story earlier Wednesday of an expected showdown between US Senate candidate Mike Johanns and longtime Republican-now-registered Democrat Tony Raimondo, a Columbus, Neb., businessman. Jordan extensively covered the President's visit to Omaha, only to see most of his prepared report shelved in favor of shooting coverage.

World-Herald Left To Play Catch Up

Has the state's largest newspaper ever been so out of touch with a breaking news story? In a day when a website can keep a print outlet even with its electronic competitors, the Omaha World-Herald's web portal,, folded like a Kevin Cosgrove-coached Nebraska defense, buckling under the pressure of thousands of visitors. And it came as no surprise. The same thing has happened twice before in the past month: First, when Tom Osborne was hired and Steve Pederson fired as Nebraska's athletic director; And Sunday, when Bo Pelini was announced as the Huskers' new head coach. The newspaper also had the unfortunate timing of having gone to press with its afternoon edition at about the same time as the shooting was taking place.

There were lows on TV and radio, too. KETV's Todd Andrews practically gushed that he "grew up in Westroads Mall." KPTM's Amanda Mueller asked one of the station's reporter whether Hawkins - other than his depression, the loss of his job and the break-up of his girlfriend - had showed any signs that he might snap.

One station (KMTV) initially reported that police were looking for two suspects. More than one station initially reported that the suspect was "a black male." Both of these erroneous reports came as a result of reporting police scanner traffic - something the Poynter Institute decries.

The dreaded "shots rang out" cliche reared its ugly head several times, though not a single witness to the shooting described the gunfire they heard in that manner. Rather, many said they mistook the sound of the shots as balloons popping or the sound of construction.

Radio station KFAB, which had earlier pulled out all the stops in putting "all hands on deck" at the scene and on the air, interrupted coverage of the Nebraska men's basketball game later Wednesday night for a "report of a bomb at the Westroads Mall." Thankfully, afternoon talk show host Tom Becka quickly interceded to clarify that police were simply checking out a vehicle thought to belong to the shooter. Unfortunately, listeners were left to wonder what was going on thereafter, as the station decided to take audio from KETV's broadcast.

What Lies Ahead

So what's to come over the next few days and weeks and months? Already there is criticism that the media has given Hawkins the very attention he sought by going on his killing spree. A debate rages over gun control in the comments on one website and a 9:30 a.m. press conference is already set to release more details.

There will be the makeshift memorials, the identification of the victims and their stories, many more stories of heroics and tragedy. Questions are sure to come about the six minutes it took for police to respond. Or what involvement mall security had (or did not have). The release of calls to 911. Possibly even surveillance tape will be leaked, particularly since the shooter didn't live to stand trial. Even the Omaha World-Herald is expected to face questions about its front page story in Sunday's editions marking the 50th anniversary of Charles Starkweather's killings (He, too, was 19 at the time.) and whether it glorified a tragedy and served as a blueprint for Hawkins' massacre.

"Good Morning America," "The Today Show" and countless other network and cable news programs are sure to have interviews with those who were in the store when the tragedy unfolded. Someone will undoubtedly court an interview with the Von Maur pianist, who reportedly played on (unwittingly) after the first sound of gunshot. And what became of the mall Santa Claus during the shooting? Where and how did he take shelter?

And you can expect World-Herald columnist Mike Kelly to write something along the lines of "Omaha will no longer just be known as the home of the College World Series."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Westroads Shooting: Coverage Notes

KETV-7 and KMTV-3 benefited from having fixed "skycams" near the Westroads Mall, allowing them to give viewers an early bird's eye view of the scene.

KETV was first to feed video back from the scene (pictured at right).

At least two stations (KMTV and KETV) reported "police scanner" and "police radio" reports indicated that at least five people were shot. At about 2:15 p.m., KMTV reported that "two people were dead" and "two suspects were being sought."

The Journal Broadcast Group switched some of its stations to a simulcast of KMTV's audio around 2:20 p.m.

A KKAR (1290 AM) staffer identified as "Heather" was inside the mall at the time of the shooting. She filed a report for the station from the back of an ambulance, where she had been evacuated to after police arrived.

CNN began broadcasting live coverage, courtesy of KETV. Omaha native Dan Simon, (a former KPTM producer and current CNN correspondent based in San Francisco), said it was the "last place you would expect violence like this."

KPTM-42 was last to begin live coverage, which was eventually picked up by CNN (around 2:40 p.m.) and FOX News Channel.

MSNBC took WOWT's live coverage.

KETV broadcast still photos taken by "Todd Trimpe" of a man in a green vest being questioned by police. He was reportedly hiding under a nearby bus bench outside the mall. Trimpe also e-mailed the photos to other news outlets and KFAB morning talk show host Scott Voorhees.

WOWT reporter Mike McKnight was the first to report that the shooter had died of a "self-inflicted gunshot."

The Omaha World-Herald's web portal,, went down at 2:15 p.m. due to heavy visitor traffic. It resurfaced shortly after 5 p.m. with a story, a video and a link to a new "World-Herald blog" that contained a single posting.

WOWT-6 reporter Jason Joseph reported from Creighton University Medical Center that he had spoken to someone who was at the hospital, accompanying someone "who had been injured in a gunfight with police."

KMTV reporter Michelle Bandur reported at 3 p.m. that there may be "up to five more victims" inside the mall after several victims had been taken from the scene.

KFAB afternoon talk show host Tom Becka and producer Matt Tompkins went to the scene to join News Director Tom Stanton. KFAB occasionally took portions of KETV audio. Becka also filed live reports to MSNBC.

KKAR reporters Brian Barks and Terry Leahy were also on the scene.

Radio news coverage prior to the police press conference noticeably lagged behind that of their TV news counterparts.

Moments after anchor Carlo Cecchetto referenced "privacy concerns regarding HIPAA laws that authorities have to respect" KMTV broadcast a mug shot of "shooting victim" Jeffery Schaffart, a 34-year-old Omaha attorney, who was hospitalized in fair condition. (The station later explained it spoke with Schaffart before he was taken away by rescue squad.)

Nearly every news outlet broadcast a press conference outside the mall at 4:05 p.m. At that time, the death toll rose from two confirmed dead to nine - a figure which included the shooter. Police say "every available officer" was sent to the mall after the call to 911 of an "active shooter." The response time was six minutes.

WOWT's website headlined the incident as "The Mall Massacre."

At 4:23 p.m., KETV broadcast raw videotape of an interview with a woman who described herself as a "wrapper" at Von Maur. The woman revealed several victims' names, including that of her boss. The tape was then fast-forwarded to a point later in the interview.

KPTM's Taylor Wilson reported that the Von Maur pianist continued playing after the first couple of shots "rang out." Witnesses said they thought the sound of gunfire was actually construction.

WOWT was first to report (at 4:30 p.m.) that a 19-year-old Sarpy County man left a suicide note in a home in Bellevue that read, "I'm going out in style." According to the station, the man’s vehicle was found in the mall parking lot.

On Friday night, a grenade was found Friday night in the the northwest corner of the parking lot at Westroads Mall. The Omaha Police Bomb Squad Unit was called and safely removed the intact grenade.

WOWT began simulcasting its coverage on News On One (Cox Channel 1) at 4:30 p.m.

At 4:35 p.m., KETV reported on the suicide note without revealing specifics, saying only that the Sarpy County Sheriff's department was given the note by a woman around the time of the shooting and the information was passed along to Omaha police.

By 4:40 p.m., a Google news search indicated that more than 650 stories had been posted about the shooting.

The Lincoln Journal Star asked people who were in the mall at the time of the shooting to e-mail the newspaper.

One of the most compelling interviews was with a woman identified as "Teresa" who told WOWT reporter Brian Mastre that she worked at JcPenney. "I saw a guy run by with a huge gun. At first it didn't register. Then, there was a woman who had an awful look on her face with two little kids. She was practically dragging the one and pushing the stroller and saying 'he has a gun and he's shooting people.'" Teresa told Mastre that she got the woman and the two children to a safe area and used her store radio to warn others about the gunman.

Only KMTV (who subbed midday anchor Mary Williams for the vacationing Carol Wang) was without its normal main anchor team during wall-to-wall breaking news coverage that began shortly after 2 p.m. Wang later joined Cecchetto and Williams on the set. Cecchetto told viewers that five minutes before the gunman opened fire, he happened to be at the customer service desk on the third floor of Von Maur, paying a bill.

"Kind of eerie," Cecchetto said. "Just moments later he was roughly at the same spot, shooting down at people on the second floor. Watching the video, I saw a lady wearing a turquoise sweater and blouse who was working at the counter who I paid my bill to and who was lovely and wonderful and cheerful and had that holiday spirit. A couple hours later, I see her outside in the cold, comforting herself, shaking and crying. It's a reminder of how violence can shake everything you know and throw it upside down."

KMTV was also the only TV station to broadcast live (at 4:57 p.m.) a press conference at the Creighton University Medical Center. KPTM joined the news conference in progress. WOWT reporter Justin Joseph (identified as "Justin Jospeph" on the chyron) also reported on the press conference by phone.

At 5:01 p.m., Maniko Barthelemy reported by phone from outside the Bellevue home of the 19-year-old who was thought to have left the suicide note. WOWT anchor John Knicley also reported that the man was facing charges of "contributing to the delinquency of a minor."

Several stations revealed that Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey and Omaha Police Chief Thomas Warren were both out of town during Wednesday's shooting.

KMTV reporter Dave Roberts may have been the first reporter on the scene. Roberts told viewers he was driving to work on nearby I-680 when he heard the call of a shooting on the police radio. Roberts also reported that seven of the victims were found dead in the mall. Two others died enroute - or at - local hospitals.

At 5:16 p.m., KMTV reported that it received information from the Sarpy County Sheriff's Department regarding the suicide note referenced earlier by WOWT and KETV.

Four minutes later, KETV revealed the name of the shooter as "Robert A. Hawkins." A caller identified as "Shawn" said Hawkins "did a lot of things he shouldn't have done." "He was bouncing around jobs and got kicked out of Papillion-LaVista schools about two years ago," Shawn said.

More than an hour after Omaha Police revealed that the shooter used a rifle to commit the slayings, KETV's "breaking news" crawl read, "Don't know what type of gun was used."

KPTM was first to abandon wall-to-wall coverage of the incident.

Omaha bloggers were quick to weigh in on the tragedy, as well as on local message boards such as and

At 5:35 p.m. Barthelemy interviewed a woman identified as "Debra" who was identified as the "owner of the home of the shooter" (WOWT was not naming him at the time) and that she found out that the 19-year-old had lost his job earlier Wednesday. "Part of the note said he had snapped," Debra said. Barthelemy also reported that Omaha Police were set to arrive at the home with a search warrant. At 5:41 p.m., Knicely and co-anchor Tracy Madden identified the shooter as "Robert "Robbie" Hawkins."

At 5:45 p.m., KMTV had not yet made a decision to carry the Creighton-Xavier basketball game, which was scheduled to tipoff at 7:05 p.m. in Cincinnati.

Thirteen minutes after WOWT - and 28 minutes after KETV - KMTV reported the name of the shooter as "18-year-old Robert Hawkins."

Farrah Fazal of KETV began broadcasting live at Hawkins' home around 5:50 p.m. She also interviewed the woman WOWT identified as "Debra." Fazal reported that Hawkins had been fired from McDonald's, that Sarpy County Sheriff's deputies had blocked off the road to the house and that Omaha Police were not yet on the scene. She also said Debra said the suicide note read that Hawkins "would go out being famous." KETV also broadcast video of the home in Bellevue's Quail Creek neighborhood.

KMTV broadcast a statement from President Bush at 6 p.m., expressing his sympathy for the Omaha community. Coincidentally, Bush was in Omaha earlier in the day, visiting a South Omaha business and the home of prominent Omaha businessman Walter Scott.

Yahoo posted a slideshow of the incident, courtesy of Associated Press photographers.

KETV reporter Carol Kloss said approximately 100 people who were inside the mall at the time of the shooting were still being debriefed more than four hours later.

Omaha radio station KSRZ "Star 104.5 FM" announced that morning show co-hosts Glennboy and Glo will take listener calls to hear the stories of those affected by the tragedy. The station also invited its listeners to post messages on its community message board on the front page of its website.

At 6:30 p.m., KMTV reporter Devon Patton reported from outside Hawkins' home by phone just moments before the station established a live picture. Williams, a Bellevue native herself, was very familiar with the neighborhood and shared some background information on it with viewers. Patton said he learned Hawkins was a hunter and experienced shooter. A chyron accompanying his report noted that Hawkins was 19, not 18, as the station previously reported. Later, Patton introduced his taped interview with "Debra" (shot in the station's live truck) by telling viewers "we're going to give you that interview right now live."

Patton's interview revealed that it was "so out of character" for Hawkins to go to a mall. "He didn't go to malls," Debra said.

Several reporters - WOWT's Mastre and KETV's Brandi Peterson - were using the parking lot of the nearby Hampton Inn to file their live reports. Coincidentally, that motel became a gathering point family members of the victims to meet with grief counselors.

WOWT terminated its live simulcast on News on One at 6:38 p.m.

KMTV reporter Chriss Knight broadcast a live (phone) interview with Schaffart, the Omaha attorney at Koley Jessen, who was shot in the arm. reported that a viewer e-mailed the station the following: "I went to school for seven years with (Hawkins) and he seemed to be a suicidal kid. During school, he would talk about killing or something along those lines."

(Media Watch concluded its live blogging at 6:55 p.m.)

McWilliams' Unit Scheduled To Return

KETV meteorologist (and Army National Guard Lt.) Chuck McWilliams is scheduled to return to Omaha this afternoon along with other members of the National Guard's 755th Chemical Company. visitors have been able to follow Lt. McWilliams through his station blog, the "Lieutenant's Lounge."

Sunday, December 2, 2007

From The Notebook

Even though he has changed schools, former University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletic Director Steve Pederson still refers to himself in first person plural:

"We are thrilled to be back in Pittsburgh," Pederson said at his introduction Friday as Pittsburgh's new athletic director. "Leaving here five years ago was the hardest professional decision we had ever made. Coming back was the easiest decision we had ever made."

One reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review called Pederson the "good-luck charm" for the Panthers' upset of West Virginia Saturday night.

"New athletic director Steve Pederson -- is he a good-luck charm, or what? -- was standing on the sidelines for WVU's final, heart-stopping play, a 4th-and-17 from the Pitt 28 as the clock ticked down," wrote Joe Starkey.

* * *

KOZN (1620 AM) "Unsportsmanlike Conduct" co-host Kevin Kugler said the hiring of Bo Pelini as Nebraska head football coach is another step toward cutting ties with recruiting services like

"You first saw that in Tom Osborne's press conference when he was introduced as interim athletic director," Kugler said. "He puts no stock in these recruiting services and neither does Bo. That was something from the previous regime."

Locally, (also known as " reporter Sean Callahan files reports for several news outlets, including WOWT-6, KOLN/KGIN in Lincoln and KFAB.

* * *

KPTM-42 Sports Director J.J. Davis cracked up the press corps and much of the audience at Sunday's press conference when he asked Pelini if he felt like "the man" after getting the job.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Saturday's Ice Storm: Thursday Night Forecasts

Forecasts for Saturday's weather event changed from snow and ice to primarily an ice storm on Thursday's late-evening newscasts. Thursday was also the final night of the November "sweeps" - the Nielsen Media Research ratings period.

First, the official "Hazardous Weather Outlook" statement issued at 5:37 a.m. from the National Weather Service forecast office in Valley, Neb.:

Freezing rain or sleet will develop over the area after midnight, possibly beginning as a period of light snow. Glazing is expected by daybreak with significant ice accumulations possible by mid-Saturday morning. A winter storm is in effect from late tonight through Saturday evening.

Freezing rain or sleet should change to rain Saturday. This changeover should occur in the morning along and south of Interstate 80, and by early afternoon over the rest of the area. Additional glazing can be expected in the morning. The precipitation could change back to freezing rain or freezing drizzle Saturday night before changing to light snow or flurries early Sunday. At this time, freezing rain or sleet appear to be the main weather hazards from this system.

The exact path of the storm and the timing of the precipitation switch are still somewhat uncertain.

And the late-evening TV forecasts (in alphabetical order):

KETV Chief Meteorologist Bill Randby led off the newscast by emphasizing that there was still a whole day to "analyze, assess and prepare" for a blast of winter weather on Saturday. His initial forecast graphic emphasized freezing rain and rain.

"Noon to 6 will be rain but from 6 a.m. to noon it's that band of ice," Randby said, referring to a 75-mile wide band on his forecast map.

In his main weather segment, Randby said forecasts for a quarter to a half-inch of freezing rain on Saturday morning, followed by a quarter to half an inch of rain on top of that, has him worried.

"If that happens, that wouldn't be so bad," Randby said. "My worry is that somebody
- probably up here (pointing to an area in northeast Nebraska and northwest Iowa) - gets stuck in just freezing rain for the duration and has power outages and trees down and power lines down."

Randby said the stage is set for a "very nasty Saturday morning in Omaha," but then added, "if our computer models are true to what they're saying tonight, we'll be spared because we'll get above freezing in the afternoon. (We) shouldn't then have power line issues and trees coming down."

KMTV Chief Meteorologist Ryan McPike, whose forecast segment always leads off the late-evening newscast, emphasized that several weather systems will converge on the Midwest, putting the "First Warning Threat Tracker" in the orange, or highest level.

McPike said to expect frozen precipitation - snow or sleet, possibly changing to freezing rain, sometime after 4 or 5 a.m. Saturday morning - followed by rain around noon.

"Here's the setup: the storm track (is) very close to Omaha," he said. "It looks like it will be just south or right over the top of us."

More details on the forecast are posted on the station's weather blog.

KPTM Chief Meteorologist Tyson Pearsall told viewers in his main weather segment to expect a little bit of snow through the overnight hours in the Omaha metropolitan area, followed by freezing rain.

Pearsall said Omaha will receive its heaviest precipitation - in the form of freezing rain - between 6 a.m. and noon on Saturday.

"Yes, we could see some snow here in the Omaha metro, but the bigger concern right now is the ice," Pearsall said.

WOWT Chief Meteorologist Jim Flowers led off his main weather segment with a follow-up to the two computer forecast models he referred to in his forecast on Wednesday.

"Tonight, those same models are in much better agreement in terms of the type and amounts of precipitation," he said. "There could be a little bit of snow or ice pellets at the beginning, but the amounts are insignificant compared to the amounts of freezing rain and rain (that are) forecast."

Flowers said around 4 or 5 a.m., light snow, possibly mixed with ice pellets, will be falling in Omaha. But about an hour later, freezing rain takes over.

"Then the system begins lifting on to the northeast," Flowers said. "As it does so, we expect a changeover to rain by about 10 or 11 a.m. from Omaha on toward the south."

Flowers said the station's in-house weather computer model is forecasting about a third-of-an-inch of ice for Omaha.

Read more about the forecast on the station's weather blog.

Star 104.5 Radiothon Helps Nearly 2,000 Families

A planned two-day radiothon on KSRZ (104.5 FM) to provide holiday assistance to Metropolitan Omaha-area families wrapped up in less than 12 hours Thursday.

Star 104.5 morning personalities "Glennboy" and Glo Goodwin told listeners Friday morning that the station's efforts to help the Salvation Army assist those in need took only 11 hours and 38 minutes to match individuals and businesses with all 1,742 families that were up for adoption.

Star 104.5 Program Director J. Pat Miller said the station could not have been prouder of its biggest event of the year.

"It was an amazing sight to see businesses, individuals, volleyball teams, Girl Scout troops, bingo/poker clubs, etc., all call in to pick up a piece of the community," he said.

Saturday's Weather: The Latest Online Forecasts

Updating the online forecasts 24 hours before Saturday's expected weather event and 48 hours after we first checked them:

The Omaha TV station forecasts, alphabetized and in descending order:


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Saturday Snowfall: Wednesday Night Forecasts

Omaha TV forecasters widely speculated on the possibilities of a winter storm Saturday during their late evening newscasts Wednesday. According to the National Weather Service forecast office in Valley, Neb., the storm system will bring a mix of precipitation to the region beginning Friday night.

Here is the rest of the NWS advisory, issued at 5:30 a.m. Thursday:

The precipitation is expected to begin as freezing rain and sleet after midnight Friday and continue through early Sunday. Rain and freezing rain are most likely Saturday across Southeast Nebraska and Southwest iowa. A mix of snow and freezing rain is more likely north of Interstate 80, with the heaviest snowfall across far northeast Nebraska and West Central Iowa. The exact path and timing of the system are still somewhat uncertain. So it is too soon to forecast specific precipitation amounts and types for any one location.

In alphabetical order, here are summaries of each Omaha station's forecast Wednesday night (at either 9 or 10 p.m.):

KETVKETV Chief Meteorologist Bill Randby said the key is where a cold front from the north mixes in with moisture coming from the south.

"Do we just get a little bit of snow, then quickly change over to rain and not have an ice storm? Or is the ice storm in Tekamah or Sioux City? I feel pretty confident there is going to be an ice storm across part of eastern Nebraska and a good chunk of Iowa. And a very heavy snow - something on the order of a foot for some people - certainly up toward the Sioux Falls area (and) southern Minnesota."

Later, Randby told co-anchors Julie Cornell and Rob McCartney "if the colder air stays in here ... a historical thing that our computer models don't handle well, we could be talking about just a substantial icing event."

KMTVKMTV Chief Meteorologist Ryan McPike said moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and tropical moisture out of the southwest figure into the system, with the storm track appearing to be just south of Omaha.

"At the very least, we're going to see some type of wintery precipitation," McPike said. "It may start as a little frozen precipitation, go to rain Saturday afternoon and then maybe some light snow as the cold air works in behind this system."

McPike said it is still a bit early to forecast what type of precipitation, but "things are coming together."

"It looks like the track will be near us, or a little bit south which is favorable, especially south of us, for wintry weather," he said. "I don't think moisture is going to be a problem. Certainly the cold air is going to be in place. It just kind of depends how deep that cold air is as to what type of precipitation we see."

KPTMKPTM Chief Meteorologist Tyson Pearsall told viewers his forecast was an early indication of what was going to happen and that it would be updated over the next couple of days.

"(The) best chance for accumulating snow - possibly eight or more inches - as you start to make your way toward Northeastern Nebraska up around Sioux Falls, northwest Iowa, too, " Pearsall said. "Further off to the south, right here in the Metro, from Lincoln down toward Plattsmouth, a little bit of everything. Freezing rain a concern. Snowfall a concern. Sleet a concern, too. You can see the snow line of about four plus from just about Omaha north, then freezing rain becomes a big concern as we go across eastern, southeastern Nebraska and southwest Iowa, too."

Pearsall said one computer model puts "96 one-hundredths of an inch of precipitation - nearly the equivalent of one liquid inch of moisture" - on Omaha.

WOWTWOWT Chief Meteorologist Jim Flowers showed a graphic revealing information from two computer models, one keying in on ice and freezing rain, the other keying in on freezing rain that turns to rain.

"Looking at these rains, as far as freezing rain goes, both are giving us over half-an-inch of freezing rain before any potential changeover," Flowers said. "So that's the key we're looking at now as far as surface temperatures as we head into Saturday."

Flowers said somewhere in the pink area on his "Potential Ice Storm" graphic is looking at a fairly significant ice event. "It would tend to favor the northern half of the area, but we will of course keep you apprised as those models keep coming in over the next couple of days."

Want even more details? Read the station weather blogs:

Star 104.5 Adopt-A-Family Radiothon Underway

KSRZ (104.5 FM)'s annual "Star 104.5 Salvation Army Adopt-A-Family Radiothon" invites listeners to make a contribution to help Metro area families who couldn't otherwise afford gifts to make the holidays bright.

Last year, the two-day effort helped the Salvation Army assist more than 1,700 families.

The number to call to adopt a family is 898-6050.

A live webcam allows listeners to view the broadcast from the Salvation Army Headquarters. The station's website also features podcasts of families who are up for adoption during the radiothon.

Update at 1:15 p.m.:
More than 600 families had been adopted in the first five-and-a-half hours of the radiothon.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Saturday Snowfall: The Early Forecasts Online

The National Weather Service forecast office in Valley, Neb., provided the following information in its Wednesday morning (3:46 a.m.) forecast:

Friday night - Partly cloudy in the evening, then mostly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of snow after midnight. Lows around 17.

Saturday - Mostly cloudy with a 50 percent chance of light freezing rain and snow. Highs in the lower 30s.

Saturday night - Cloudy with a 50 percent chance of snow. Lows in the lower 20s.

Sunday - Mostly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of snow. Highs in the lower 30s.

Here are the extended (graphical format) forecasts from the four Omaha TV stations' websites (in alphabetical order) at 11 a.m. Wednesday:

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Voorhees' Topic: NU Fans Don't Want Black Head Coach

KFAB (1110 AM) morning talk show host Scott Voorhees baited listeners Tuesday with a topic that generated plenty of phone calls: There is talk that Nebraska football fans do not want Turner Gill to be the next head football coach because he is black.

"If you think I'm bringing this up just to get phone calls, you're wrong. You're absolutely wrong," Voorhees said.

(A portion of the segment is available via podcast here.)

KFAB's "Husker Insider" Sean Callahan of, disagreed with Voorhees, discounting a former player's assessment to Voorhees that Husker fans don't appreciate blacks unless they are playing for the team. Once their eligibility is used up, the former player told Voorhees, fans could care less about Husker players who are black.

Callahan also said there was good reason that Gill was passed over for the interim head coaching job when former Husker Coach Frank Solich was fired in 2003. Omaha World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel pointed out in his column in Tuesday's editions that Gill held a higher position — assistant head coach - than Bo Pelini, who was named interim head coach for one game.

"A lot of people don't know this, but Jim Rose filled me in that Pelini had it written into his contract that he would become interim coach if the head coach was fired," Callahan said.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Callahan Firing Coverage

Radio station KFAB posted this picture on its website Saturday morning. Bill Callahan waved to the cameras as he left his meeting Saturday morning with interim Athletic Director Tom Osborne.

Sean Callahan announced on WOWT-6 at 8:58 a.m. that Bill Callahan had been "terminated without cause" during the coach's meeting with Osborne. KOLN/KGIN in Lincoln began its coverage of the 9:30 a.m. press coverage at 9 a.m. At about the same time, the Lincoln Journal Star was reporting that LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini had been contacted by a search firm hired by Nebraska.

By 10 a.m., the Omaha World-Herald's online portal,, was no longer accessible, its server unable to handle the traffic load. Husker fan forums like and were also operating at record traffic levels.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Z-92's '92 Hours of Caring' Wraps Up Today

Nearly 5,000 pounds of food and more than $2,000 have been collected heading into the final hours of Z-92's "92 Hours of Caring Food Drive."

Since last Friday, the station has been providing listeners with live updates from the Baker's store at 156th and West Dodge Road. The collected food will be given to the Omaha Food Bank. Monetary donations are being accepted at all US Bank locations.

Monday, November 19, 2007

New Format Debuts Today For 93.3 FM

Omaha's newest country music station debuts today at 3 p.m. on 93.3 FM (formerly "Legendary American Country: US 93.3 FM")

According to a press release sent to Omaha-area advertisers, the new "Twister 93.3" is the newest incarnation of Clear Channel's "Country Combo" strategic positioning, designed to serve the 18-to-34-year-old listener.

"Twister is the first place to hear new country music from Cari (sic) Underwood, Keith Urban, Craig Morgan, Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, Sugarland, Brad Paisley and more," reads the release.

In the most recent Arbitron ratings, the former KHUS (93.3 FM) was listed near the bottom among all listeners, aged 12-and-older. Another Clear Channel country-formatted station, KXKT, ranked third among all listeners in the same ratings period (summer 2007). KHUS made its debut in October 2005.

Drew Bentley, Liz Adams, out at KGOR

KGOR Program Director Drew Bentley has been let go by the oldies station at 99.9 FM. In addition, KGOR on-air personality Liz Adams was also let go.

Another layoff: Tom Goodwin, program director of the Kat (KXKT 103.7 FM), was let go, too. Both the Kat and KGOR are owned
by Clear Channel.

Taylor Walet, general manager of Omaha's Clear Channel stations, has yet to return phone calls. However, sources at the station confirmed the layoffs.

More details to follow.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

KETV-HD Moving Down The Dial On Cox

KETV's HD channel on Cox Communications is on the move again. After debuting on Channel 809, it was removed from Cox completely in October 2006 during a dispute over retransmission rights.

When an agreement between Cox and KETV's parent company, Hearst-Argyle, was reached in September, KETV-HD returned on Channel 806. Now comes word that it will be moving again - to Channel 709 on Dec. 11.

Summer Miller Widhalm, public affairs manager for Cox Communications in Omaha, said the shift down the dial for KETV-HD is one of a number of channels moves being made.

"We are shifting all of our channels to make room for more HD and to group like channels together," she said.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

KIOS Hires News Director

Non-commercial radio station KIOS (91.5 FM) has hired a news director to beef up its offering. Katie Knapp, who comes here from a news anchor and reporter job at WGIL-AM in Galesburg, Ill., will lead KIOS’ local news at the top and bottom of the hour during morning and afternoon drive times beginning in January.

For now it will be Knapp running the show, but “eventually, we may have more reporters,” she said. “It’s a big job creating a news department from scratch, but also a very rewarding one … We’re beginning to lay the framework for the news department, with the plan to do local news both morning and afternoon, as well as long-form reports and features during those times.

“I envision our news department will be more issue-based...not so much what’s happening in general, but why, how, and what it means for Omaha residents.”

Knapp has already begun work at the station, recently posting a story/audio on covering former President Bill Clinton’s visit to Glenwood, Iowa.

The 'Buzz' Turns 1

“Omaha Buzz” – WOWT-6’s locally produced entertainment-driven show aimed at 20- and 30-somethings – celebrated its first year on the air recently. It airs each Wednesday at 8 p.m. on WOWT’s digital signal on channel 620.

The brightly colored, fast-paced show might seem a tad cheesy to the hipsters in town, but for club-hoppers and social butterflies, “Omaha Buzz” provides a look inside Omaha’s nightlife scene and all things entertaining.

“It’s your V.I.P. pass to Omaha,” said the show’s creator Vic Richards, who also handles promotions for WOWT. “We take you to new venues, local concerts, interviews with local bands, visiting bands, new bars/clubs, events, nightlife.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Imus Signs Deal With Omaha-Based Broadcaster

Don Imus and Rural Media Group have agreed to a five-year contract that will make "Imus in the Morning" available on Rural Media Group's RFD-TV and RFD-HD.

Rural Media Group owns RFD-TV, an Omaha-based satellite and cable channel dedicated to serving the needs and interests of rural America and agriculture.

According to stories published Wednesday, Imus' show will air live on weekdays from 5-8 a.m. CST. "Imus in the Evening," a rebroadcast of the morning program, will air in primetime on RFD-HD from 5-8 p.m. and will be featured on video-on-demand.

"Imus in the Morning" for radio will be broadcast on the radio from 5-9 a.m. by Citadel Talk WABC/New York and will be syndicated across the country by the ABC Radio Network.

RFD-TV is available on the DISH Network, DIRECTV, Mediacom, Charter, NRTC, Bresnan and NCTC cable systems. The corporate and national sales office is headquartered at 128th & West Dodge Road. Its studios and broadcast content originates from Nashville.

Christmas Music: Which Station Will Be Next?

Christmas Music JukeboxAt least one person is tracking which radio stations in the upper Midwest are making the switch to an all-Christmas music format.

Star 104.5 (KSRZ) re-branded itself as "Omaha's Christmas Music Station" last week. According to Upper Midwest Broadcasting, KSRZ is the only radio station in Nebraska to have "flipped" formats. At least four stations in Minnesota have plans to broadcast Christmas music.

According to the site's archive section of Christmas music stations, six stations in Nebraska made the programming switch last year, including four in Omaha.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Justice Defends Story On Callahan Resignation Request

KMTV-3 Sports Director Travis Justice reported Thursday that two separate sources close to the Nebraska football program say Nebraska football Coach Bill Callahan told his team before Thursday's practice that he was asked to resign.

"Both of the sources tell Action 3 News that coach Callahan told the team to play for themselves as the coaching staff will more than likely not be around next season," read a story posted on the station's website.

Justice defended his report Friday, which has resulted in a flurry of Internet message board postings and several spin-off stories by other media outlets.

"I got tipped off late last night, checked it out this morning, verified it and ran with it," Justice said on the "The Big Show" on KXSP (590 AM).

"People are really upset about me that I didn't say who asked him (Callahan) to resign," Justice said. "It may have been Tom Osborne. I don't know. I reported what was said at practice yesterday.

"To me, the big part of the story is that this is the first time that he has taken time with his players to say 'we're in dire straights right now.'"

The Associated Press' Eric Olson first asked Callahan during Monday's Big 12 coaches teleconference whether he had been asked to submit his resignation. The question drew a nine-second pause before Callahan sidestepped the question.

If Callahan is fired at the end of the season, his contract calls for Nebraska to pay him more than $3 million.

'Murder House' on NET

Fans of the C.S.I shows will want to tune into Nebraska Educational Television Nov. 16 (9 p.m.), Nov. 18 (1 and 9 p.m.) or Nov. 22 (9 p.m.) to see what goes on behind the scenes.

“Murder House,” a new documentary from NET, takes a look at the next generation of crime scene investigators and how they are being trained.

The doc focuses on a masters degree program in forensic sciences at Nebraska Wesleyan University where students work on a mock crime scene set at an actual house as part of their training.

During the making of the doc, investigators in Omaha were getting to work on the case of Jessica O’Grady, a young Omaha woman who had disappeared. The Douglas County C.S.I. team collected enough evidence from suspect Chris Edwards’ bedroom to conclude that O’Grady died in the room. They charged him with murdering O’Grady in May 2006.

Due to what jurors felt was overwhelming evidence, Edwards was later convicted of murder in the O’Grady case. It was the first murder conviction without a body in the history of Nebraska.

“Murder House” talks with lead C.S.I. member David Kofoed about the O’Grady case and offers fascinating insight and images into the case and how the investigators went about solving it.

Kofoed said in a recent interview that his staff at the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office provided several O’Grady crime scene photos, as well as aspects of Kofeod’s PowerPoint presentation that he offered in court during testimony to NET for the documentary. Adds Profiles of Local Bands

The Omaha World-Herald's online portal,, is now offering profiles of local bands.

The 24 bands listed link to a separate page featuring genre, a bio, band member information, photos, a discography and official website (when available).

The Monroes list their genre as "Tractor Punk."

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Some No Longer Using Rodriguez's Name

Peterson, Rodriguez mug shotsMore than 1,000 news stories appear in a Google search related to the flight to Mexico by Lexington teacher Kelsey Peterson and the 13-year-old boy, Fernando Rodriguez, she once taught.

Rodriguez's picture even moved on The Associated Press wire when he and Peterson first disappeared last week.

But now, The Associated Press and at least one local TV station, KETV-7, are no longer using Rodriguez's name, citing sexual abuse allegations in connection with Peterson's arrest. The change first came to light Tuesday when AP editors ordered Rodriguez's name be struck from subsequent stories, saying the most recent charges allege he was the victim of a sex crime.

In a report Wednesday night at 5, KETV reporter Farrah Fazal referred to Rodriguez as "the boy." However, stories archived on the station's website,, still include Rodriguez's name.

The AP first used Rodriguez's name in its initial stories, explaining that wire service "generally does not identify people who may be victims of sex crimes, but the boy’s name had been widely publicized as police searched for him."

More of the Name Game
Some Omaha news media outlets are naming the woman suspected of writing bad checks under an assumed name to cover cash taken from the Douglas County Treasurer's Office. The Omaha World-Herald is not, citing its policy of not identifying someone who is not yet charged with committing a crime.

Christmas Music Starts Thursday on Star 104.5

The first Omaha radio station to break format and go with Christmas music in 2007 will be Journal Broadcast Group-owned KSRZ, better known as "Star 104.5."

A countdown clock on the station's website reveals the switch from its usual "hot adult contemporary" format will be made Thursday morning.

Last year, Clear Channel-owned KGOR (99.9 FM) was the first Omaha station to play Christmas music regularly (beginning Nov. 23).

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

More On Rose's Exit

Be sure to pick up this week’s issue of the City Weekly newspaper (on streets Wednesday), as it includes more insight on Jim Rose’s announcement that he is no longer going to do the play-by-play calls for the Husker Sports Network.

Some highlights:

Kent “Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown!” Pavelka, who was the voice of the Huskers from 1983 to 1996, said Tuesday he was “really surprised that he (Rose) decided to leave. But I understand the pressures of that job and I just wish the best for him and his family.” Would Pavelka, who returned to do play-by-play of Husker basketball games in 2006, be interested in the Husker football play-by-play gig? “I’d love to do the games again,” Pavelka said. He added that he has not been approached by the Husker Sports Network regarding the football job.

– One local sports broadcaster who doesn’t want the job is KMTV-3 sports director and Big Sports 590 co-host Travis Justice. “The truth is, that’s the toughest job in the state,” Justice said Tuesday after hearing about Rose’s exit. “They’re either going to love you, or they’re going to hate you. And I think with the changes taking place, I think everybody was paranoid. If you were associated with Steve Pederson whatsoever, and align yourself with that side of the aisle, I think pressure was always going to be on you. If there’s one job I never want, that’s the job. You can’t keep them happy. You’re not a homer enough, you’re too much of a homer … .”

– Said one local broadcaster of Rose’s explanation for stepping down as play-by-play voice: “It’s one of the best spin jobs I’ve ever seen,” and that Rose’s speech was “self-righteous bullshit in the extreme.”

Look for more coverage in this week’s City Weekly.

Rose Steps Down From Play-By-Play Job

Nebraska football play-by-play radio announcer and KFAB morning show personality Jim Rose is stepping down from the microphone as the "Voice of the Huskers."

Rose made the announcement on KFAB Tuesday morning at 7:15.

"My decision is to give up the games. I just can't do this anymore," he said. "It's not that I don't love it. I just can't make the sacrifice anymore. It's not fair to me. It's not fair to my family. It's not fair to my friends."

Rose said his absence from the radio booth during Saturday's 76-39 drubbing of the Huskers by Kansas was the result of "some serious soul-searching" over the past couple of weeks.

"I began to have some health problems. Just some fatigue and disorientation," Rose said. "I think it comes from having a lot of demands. It's been that way for six years - long days."

Rose said he was overworked, having focused much of his attention on preparing for the football game, while ignoring his friends and family.

"It just got to the point several weeks ago where I began to get concerned," he said. "I was just going from one place to the next and didn't know where I was even going.

"I began to think long and hard what was going on in my life. It became pretty clear to me that I had become more of a thing than a person. (Being) the voice of the huskers is thrilling and exciting ... the people you meet and places you see. But I had forgotten who I was. I had totally lost touch with really important things in my life. I didn't know who my kids were. I hadn't talked to my wife, my mother or done anything (other than the broadcasts) that I had enjoyed the past six years."

Rose said he approached management at KFAB and Host Communications, the rights holder for Nebraska sports broadcasts, with his concerns last Thursday.

"I told them I wasn't ready to do the broadcast," Rose said. "I simply could not go on the air if I wasn't ready. It would have been a disservice to the listeners."

Rose said he firmly believes that this is a good decision for him and his family. He has been a radio broadcaster for 25 years. He said it had nothing to do with the Huskers' poor performance this season.

"It's nothing more than that. It's all about the people who are important to me," he said.

KFAB Program Director Gary Sadlemyer, who has also previously been part of Nebraska football broadcasts, said the play-by-play job had been a "labor of love" for Rose.

"He grew up in Lincoln and this was really a dream come true for him," Sadlemyer said.

Rose agreed.

"These six years have been the most rewarding six years of my life. I just loved doing it."

Prior to his announcement, Rose kidded with Sadlemyer about the rumors that filled Internet discussion boards after his absence from last Saturday's game.

The two best ones, Rose said, were (fellow KFAB personality) Tom Becka's assertion that Rose was clairvoyant and knew the Huskers would come up way short against the Jayhawks ... and another that Rose was attending the birth of his first grandchild.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Calvert Collins Headed To Vegas

Former KPTM reporter/anchor Calvert Collins will soon be joining the Eyewitness News Team at Las Vegas CBS affiliate KLAS.

According to a KLAS station memo, Collins will begin her new job Nov. 12.

The University of Missouri graduate was terminated in June after an MSNBC investigation linked her name to a list of reporters nationwide who made monetary contributions to political campaigns.

Collins said her father made the donation in her name to Jim Esch, who lost the Democratic House race to Republican incumbent Lee Terry in 2006. Several months before the MSNBC story, Collins posted a picture of her posing with Esch on her Facebook page.

WOWT Post-Game Video Causing Quite A Stir

Video shot by WOWT-6 as Nebraska Coach Bill Callahan and Defensive Coordinator Kevin Cosgrove walked off the field from Saturday's 76-39 loss to Kansas is creating a ruckus among some Husker fans.

"I don't want to start anything but look at this piece of video," said WOWT weekend sportscaster John Chapman during Sunday night's early and late-evening newscasts.

The video (available on WOWT's news clips on demand section) shows Callahan and Cosgrove walking toward the camera after the game. The next shot is that of Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne, who is seen watching the pair - and a host of players and staff members - walk past. The actual moment when Callahan and Cosgrove pass directly by Osborne is not shown.

The video led to a five-page thread on

Sadlemyer Says Rumors About Rose Are Untrue

KFAB (1110 AM) Program Director Gary Sadlemyer reiterated to listeners Monday that a personal matter kept Jim Rose from handling the radio broadcast for Saturday's Nebraska-Kansas football game in Lawrence, Kan.

Sadlemyer said rumors he has heard about "the real reason" for Rose's absence are not true.

"I can only tell you, it's B.S. It's out there. It's on Mars," Sadlemyer said. "I'm not going to go on the radio and tell you what it is.

"The rumors say it has something to do with something he said on the radio, or in an interview (with the Omaha City Weekly) are simply not true.

"There's nothing sinister. Nobody's injured. Nobody's dead. You're going to hear speculation that it's his marriage. It's not that."

Greg Sharpe, a Kansas-based sports talk show host, handled Saturday's call of the game for the Husker Sports Network. Sharpe also hosted Coach Bill Callahan's weekly TV program, which aired Sunday night.

How quickly did word spread that Rose wasn't calling the game? KFAB morning radio personality Scott Voorhees said he was asked about Rose's absence while attending a wedding in Kansas City.

Husker-related message boards heated up with all kinds of speculation about Rose's absence.

Sadlemyer said he expects Rose to return to the station Tuesday. He said Rose told him Sunday needed another day to "deal with this thing."

"Things come up," he said. "And a thing came up. That's all."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Mookie & Michelle's Food Challenge Ends Thursday

KQBWMookie & Michelle of 96.1 The Brew (KQBW) will spend much of Thursday tallying the food collected for the Omaha Food Bank as part of their "Food Challenge."

The office that brings in the most cans (by weight) will have Mookie & Michelle escort them to the opening night performance of “Spamalot” at the Orpheum Theater. Food will be weighed and calculated per person to level the playing field between small and large companies.

Companies will be turning in their cans from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at the Omaha Food Bank.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Justice Part of Chiefs' 'Nights of the Roundtable'

KMTV-3 Sports Director Travis Justice is part of this week's Kansas City Chiefs Miller Lite "Nights of the Roundtable."

The segment (which is plagued by audio problems) can be viewed on Chiefs TV on the team's homepage.

The program is hosted by Mitch Holtus, radio voice of the Chiefs. He is joined by Justice, former NFL veterans Danan Hughes and Richard Baldinger and Greg Sharpe, WIBW radio host in Topeka, Kan. The five are seen dining at Boudreaux's at Mission Farms.

Monday, October 29, 2007

'Big Red Zone Gameday' Wins Regional Emmy

KETV's "Big Red Zone Gameday" was awarded a Regional Emmy® Saturday night at the 21st Annual Heartland Regional Emmy® Awards and Silver Circle Presentations in Denver.

The honor came in the "Sportscast" category against two other nominees: "Susie Wargin ­ More than just a hairdo" (KUSA, Denver) and "Jesse Kurtz" (KKTV, Colorado Springs).

KETV had a total of seven entries in the competition, which was dominated by Denver market stations.

In the "Topical Documentary" category, NET Television won for "On the Frontline: Nebraskans at War in Iraq" (Mike Tobias, Producer/Reporter/Writer and Ray Meints, Videographer/Editor) and for "Crane Song" (Perry Stoner, Producer and Ralph Hammack, Videographer/Editor) while UNO Television won for its entry in the same category, "Madagascar ­Conservation vs Survival" (Gary Repair, Producer, B.J. Hutchemann, Script, Brian Shaffer, Editor/Graphics/Effects, Steve O'Gorman, Location Audio and Mark G. Dail, Chief Videographer).

Friday, October 26, 2007

Gottschalk Steps Down as World-Herald Publisher

Omaha World-Herald publisher John Gottschalk, 64, is stepping down as of Jan. 1, according to a report in the paper. The World-Herald made the announcement Friday morning.

Replacing Gottschalk will be Terry Kroeger, the company’s president who has been groomed for the position for the past several years.

Kroeger, 45, joined the World-Herald company in 1985. He became the publisher of the World-Herald-owned Stockton (Calif.) Register in 1994.

The move will end Gottschalk’s 18 years as publisher of the World-Herald and chief executive of the newspaper’s parent company. According to the World-Herald, Gottschalk will remain chairman of the Omaha World-Herald Company.

Who Should Anchor KETV Weekend Evening Newscasts?

Who would you rather see anchor KETV-7's weekend evening newscasts - Farrah Fazal or Suzanne Deyo?

That is the subject of a poll on the (creepy) NebraskaInfoWomen Yahoo! groups.

Fazal (whose name is misspelled "Fazzal" on the poll), is the station's current weekend evening news anchor. Deyo asked to be moved off the shift following the birth of her daughter a year ago this month.

The NebraskaInfoWomen group features more than a hundred different photo profiles of current and former Omaha and Lincoln TV anchor, reporter and weather personalities. Its description reads:

"Debate and admiration of Nebraska newsbabes before, during and after their stay in the Cornhusker State. News, Weather and Sports. It should go without saying, but treat the ladies with respect--after all, they're wives, daughters, sisters and mothers!"

Thursday, October 25, 2007

He's No 'Tokyo Rose'

Jim Rose, the play-by-play voice for the Nebraska Cornhusker football radio network, is often portrayed as a cheerleader for the NU program. His critics say he’s TOO pro-Huskers, too much of a homer, on the air when describing the action.

But Rose says he’s “never tried to pump sunshine into anything other than to try to look for positives.”

We caught up with Rose this week to see how hard it has been to keep a positive spin on the Husker program this season as the Big Red meltdown continues.

“I think my goal has been to not make it any worse,” Rose told the City Weekly. “We know what has happened, but my goal is not to denigrate the team, denigrate the players, denigrate the coaches in a way that was personal or sarcastic. Nobody wants to hear that out of me or anybody else.

“What I’ve tried to do is offer some positives. I think what people have noticed from me this year, or at least I hope so, is that if there isn’t a positive, I don’t say there is a positive. I say these guys are X, Y, Z, but I don’t say, ‘Oh, but you know what, we came CLOSE to making a tackle there.’ You haven’t heard that out of me.

“That insults the audience, that insults the credibility of the audience and I haven’t done it. You haven’t heard any false enthusiasm out of me this year. I think I have been enthusiastic when the team has done great things, I think I’ve been moderate when they haven’t. And that’s been my goal all along. That hasn’t changed; that’s always been my goal on the air from the very first game I did as a high school kid way back in the early 1980s.

“I never tried to create something that wasn’t there, positive or negative.

“Other people might say, ‘Well, Jim Rose was out there pumping the program and out there telling everyone how great it was. Well, what I was doing was being supportive of the program, and I think there’s a big difference.

“I’m not some sort of propaganda mister, some Tokyo Rose. I was a guy who was out there supporting it and trying to be positive because that’s what my job required.

“Can you imagine what kind of devastating effect it would have had on the network if I the play-by-play guy had been out there at booster groups or on the air saying, ‘You know, I’m not really sure about these guys; I just don’t know.’

“If I would have said that it would have had a devastating affect on our network’s ability to generate advertising, not to mention how inappropriate it would be. We’re a corporate partner with the University of Nebraska. We’re a partner with them. We support the program; we support the people in the program. If those people change we support the new people.

“Now, if it’s hard for people to understand that, then they just don’t have an imagination or they’ve never been in business.

“That doesn’t mean we lack credibility, or that I’m making up stuff, that doesn’t mean that I’m anything other than what I’m suppose to be. And I’ve never seen once a marketing strategy that involved negative publicity. I’ve never once believed that you can market something successfully by first extolling the negatives.

“People can draw their own conclusions, and I think most people understand the role I play. There are talk shows every day, there are fan forums every day, there are opinion pages in the newspaper every day where people can offer their opinion. It’s great. It’s a wonderful part of our industry. So it’s not like people don’t have a place to vent their opinions. We have it on our own network for three hours every night. We have a talk show where people can call in and say anything they want, as long as they don’t use any profanity or slander someone.

“They can criticize the program, they can celebrate the program, they can criticize people in the program, they can say what they want.

“So they don’t need it from me on Saturday. They can get it a lot of other places.”

We’ll have more of the Jim Rose interview in next week’s issue of the City Weekly.