Wednesday, August 1, 2007

City Weekly Media Notes Returns

When Sean Weide “retired” from writing his City Weekly Media Watch column and blog a couple of weeks ago, one local message board was abuzz with speculation and questions.

Why was Weide leaving – did he get canned? Who will take his place? What about the daily blog? Who is going to tell us when the latest TV anchor is pregnant? Does Travis Justice still drive a Miata? And what’s going on with that new radio station at 107.7 FM?

Weide didn’t get canned. The column and blog will continue as of today. Haven’t heard anything on the local TV baby patrol. I’m pretty sure Justice still drives that Mazda Miata (but it’s black, not pink). And when will the new format at 107.7 launch? Soon, I’m told. Me? I’m the one who is going to keep the Media Watch torch lit. After all, I covered the local broadcast scene for many years as a columnist at the Omaha World-Herald.

With Weide as an ongoing consultant and columnist at large, you can continue to turn to the City Weekly for your fix on local media news – from TV to radio to print. And beginning later this week, the daily blog will be back. Stay tuned to OmahaCityWeekly.com for more details on that. And if you have a tip, send me a note at jimminge@omahacityweekly.com.

Now, let the media orgy begin.

A New Deal
Todd Brandt and Mike Tyler, Z-92’s prized morning duo, signed a new four-year contract last week. They are being represented by Paul Anderson, a Seattle-based agent who also counts Danny Bonaduce and Ryan Seacrest as clients.

On the air in Omaha at rock station Z-92 since 1993, Todd and Tyler have consistently hosted the No. 1-rated show for the past several years. Last November, T&T went into syndication in two markets: Springfield, Mo. (KZRQ 106.7 FM) and Wichita, Kan. (KICT 95.1 FM).

With syndication came the need to renegotiate new contracts, the details of which are being kept under wraps by all parties involved. But because everyone likes numbers, here’s a guess: Considering that Todd and Tyler are responsible for about $400,000 in advertising revenue each month on Z-92, and since they are now producing their show in three cities, and since they have been No. 1 with adults 25 to 54 for numerous ratings periods, my guess is $1 million between the two annually. That guesstimate was derived by adding base salary, bonuses based on ratings and stock options with the Milwaukee-based Journal Broadcast Group, which owns Z-92. But it’s just a guess, mind you.

The only thing Anderson would say was that Todd and Tyler are “very happy with Journal. And their syndication will continue to expand … I think Journal’s plan is to do it sooner than … sooner than later.

“There are also going to … there’s also some exciting elements that will be revealed later this year about their expanding partnership with Journal.”

As for the next market to syndicate Todd and Tyler? No comment.

T&T Break Out
I sat in the studio last week with the duo and had a chance to catch up with them in their “Jock Lounge” after the show. I hadn’t seen the morning hosts since they went syndicated, and like many new morning shows, it took some time to build audiences in new markets Wichita and Springfield.

“They had no idea who we were,” Tyler said.

About three months prior to going syndicated longtime T&T listeners could hear some of the changes, such as a noticeable absence of Omaha news and fodder.

“We eliminated a lot of local talk ahead of time, and no one really noticed it.” Tyler said. “Then we went on the air and said it, and there was a little listener backlash, some but not much. And now our ratings (in Omaha) are higher than they were a year ago.

“I think it’s a better show now. I think it’s a funnier show now. When you get stuck on car accident dead baby sh** that you always here on the local news. And we get stuck in that rut every once and a while, a local horror story that we’d have to address and it became, eh, kind of a downer. Not that we don’t want to address serious subjects; but we also want to do more of a national thing, more of a regional thing.”

Added Todd: “We don’t have to be completely generic, because it’s still a regional show.”

What does that mean for such people as Husker fans? It means the duo won’t be bashing the state’s beloved college football team as they often did with much zeal in the past.

“If you’re a Husker fan, and you quit listening to us, we’ve stopped bagging on your team a little bit, so come on back,” Todd said.

“A lot of people miss that,” Tyler said. “And I’ll kind of miss it, but it got old for us because it became like a whining. And you have to remember that for every non-Husker fan, there are 30 Husker fans. And a lot of those Husker fans didn’t like it.”

Last week, Todd and Tyler visited Wichita for the first time since being syndicated there. In radio market size, Wichita ranks 98th. Omaha, meanwhile, is ranked 72nd while Springfield comes in at 142nd.

Lincoln, by the way, is ranked 174th, and Des Moines is 92nd.

Gaining More Pull
The added audience power has given Todd and Tyler more leverage when it comes to booking national guests on the show.

“The guests are better,” said T&T producer Big P, who replaced former producer Jeremy Campbell around the same time as they announced their syndication deal.

“We’re making inroads with booking agents and publicists,” Big P said. “If you can give them three cities and say their combined possible listenership is the same as a market size 38, it’s a lot easier.”

As for why Campbell was replaced, Tyler said: “That didn’t coincide with the syndication, that was just a move that was made here at the station. Jeremy moved on, and Puss is simulated into that job now.”

Big P interned at Z-92 in 2000 and has hung around since, filling in wherever needed. Before taking the producing reins for the T&T show, Big P handled overnight duties at the station.

Newsreader Craig Evans and sports reporter Travis Justice remain part of the Todd and Tyler show. Justice has been on the show for several years. In addition, he is the sports director at KMTV-3 and sports talk show host on Big Sports 590, both of which are owned by Journal.

Now under the umbrella moniker of the “Todd and Tyler Radio Empire,” the show goes back to local from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., after the program has signed off in Wichita and Springfield. It’s during this time that T&T discuss Omaha issues and news.

The Journal Broadcast Group, which owns and operates 36 radio stations and nine television stations in 12 states, owns the stations in Wichita and Springfield that are carrying T&T. But that doesn’t mean that the show will be exclusive to Journal-owned stations, the jocks said.

“We’re hiring outside help to help syndicate the show, along with our head of syndication, Tom Land,” Tyler said. “This is not just going to be a three-market deal. We’re looking to get as many possible – and that includes east and west.”

As to whether or not they can still keep their popularity intact after 14 years on the air in Omaha, T&T said it’s all about challenging yourself.

“That’s why we wanted to go with syndication. We were growing weary of being local because we had big plans for ourselves, which included either syndication or moving,” Tyler said.

“Another reason the show has lasted 14 years – it’s not the same. We don’t do bits, got rid of the street stuff. The bottom line – everyday things change because there’s always new stories to talk about.”

As far as people who read the Omaha World-Herald know, Todd and Tyler don’t even exist. The duo has made their ire for the state’s largest daily quite clear, especially after the paper ignored such happenings as T&T being syndicated or signing new contracts.

“Us signing that contract would have been entertainment front-page news in any city that we lived in except this one,” Tyler said.

“They go out of their way … when we got our faces inducted onto the Faces of the Ballroom Floor at the Press Club – they mention every other one of those, and they didn’t have a sentence devoted to us,” Todd added.

“So we wear that as a badge of honor that those pricks will go out of their way just to ignore us.”

KETV Is King Of Blogging

There are many local members of the media who blog on a regular basis, but KETV has to be the blogging king.

On the station's Web site, KETV.com, there are blogs from anchor Julie Cornell, sports reporter Matt Schick, weekend meteorologists John Campbell and Roger Schwartz, as well as Chuck McWilliams, who is blogging from Iraq where he is serving as a lieutenant in the Army National Guard.

And then there is "Elictia's Baby Watch," blog written by KETV morning co-anchor Elictia Hammond, who is 8-months pregnant with twins.

A post from last week:

Well, I had my doctors appointment yesterday and it's official, it'sa week to week event at this point. I'm meeting with both doctors each week now, one at the beginning and one at the end.

My cervix has continued to thin so God only knows how much longer the two little bundles will be held in. My high-risk doc says both of the babies look really good and both weigh almost 4 lbs as of yesterday. (that's cool) I, on the other hand, have tipped the scale at a whopping 161.


Senators Get Morganized
Longtime Omaha radio jock Roger W. “You’ve been Morganized!” Morgan made the front page of the Wall Street Journal on July 13. Morgan is in the center of a brouhaha in the Virgin Islands, where he now resides.

Omahans might remember Morgan from his days making KOIL-AM one of the hottest Top 40 radio stations in the 1960s and 70s. He’s also had a run on KGOR (99.9 FM) playing the oldies he first spun on KOIL before moving in 2003 to the Virgin Islands, which include St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John in an unincorporated territory of about 110,000 people.

Morgan started as the morning host on WYAC-FM, then became the station’s general manager and president. Now, with FCC approval, he hopes to purchase the station.

But after a little free speech on the radio station, it seems a few Virgin Island senators are asking the FCC to block Morgan’s purchase of WYAC.

A few months ago, Morgan’s 9 a.m.-noon show, “Free Speech,” led an unsuccessful recall effort of four St. Croix senators after they voted themselves a 31 percent pay increase. At least one senator has accused Morgan of trying to overthrow the Virgin Islands. And another has suggested that Morgan is a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

“Senators here are everyday citizens, as likely to be seen at the supermarket as on TV,” the Wall Street Journal piece said. “Most everyone seems to know one of them. There are 15 senators in the Virgin Islands Legislature.”

Local callers to the “Free Speech” show “gripe about everything from driving on the left side of the road to chatty bank tellers. Local politics, and the characters in office, are a frequent topic. But because Mr. Morgan and many of his callers are mainlanders (identified by their lack of an island accent) the nagging tone of ‘Free Speech’ offends some listeners.”

I caught up with Morgan this week and the jocular on-air personality was as upbeat as ever. Mostly, he’s excited to finalize the sale of WYAC and become the owner of his first radio station.

“I made the decision to buy the station at about the same time I became general manager and president of the company,” Morgan said. “I didn’t have the ability to put up the $300,000 that I negotiated as a price, so I borrowed the funds from a supporter who agreed to let me manage the station and then, to buy it when I was able. What I didn’t anticipate was that he would ask me to finalize the purchase so soon after he purchased the station. I really wasn’t prepared to buy it so quickly, but was able to come up with the money.”

Usually, buying a radio station like this is a fairly straightforward deal, Morgan said, especially considering Morgan’s 50-plus years in the radio business.

“The issue of opposition to the senators came about at just about the same time as the final approval for the purchase was to come down from the FCC,” Morgan said. “The senators, four of them, are absolutely focused on blocking the sale.”

The Daily News, the Virgin Islands’ largest newspaper, recently voted WYAC “Best in the Virgin Islands,” and Morgan was named “Best Radio Personality.”

So, how do the Virgin Islands compare to the Big O?

“You gotta’ be kidding!” Morgan said. “I’ll always consider Omaha home, although it was one of a number of homes I had over the years.

“Omaha was a very special place to me and nothing could ever replace the memories I have of the great times on KOIL back in the late ’60s and early ’70s.”

Morgan, who has children and grandchildren in Omaha, says he gets back as often as he can.

“I had some of the best friends I ever made in Omaha,” Morgan said.

Knight Gets Rolling

Chriss Knight, who joined KMTV-3 in June, is one of the new faces on Omaha TV.

According to her station bio, Knight previously was a reporter/fill-in anchor for two years at KLKN-TV, the ABC affiliate station in Lincoln.

She won a Nebraska AP award while there for her 10-part series that raised awareness on the need for volunteers at the Heartland Big Brothers/Big Sisters Organization.

Another New TV Face
Kristi Andersen, who replaced Mike Sigmond at KETV-7, has been on the air since July. It’s not her first run here – she worked in Omaha briefly after attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Andersen took over as KETV’s ConsumerWatch reporter after spending the previous five years at a Michigan station where she was an anchor and reporter.

According to her KETV bio, Andersen has won awards from both the Michigan and Nebraska Associated Press and the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.

Muñoz Back On Oct. 1
Jose Muñoz, longtime popular morning host on Spanish-speaking Omaha station KBBX 97.7 FM, will return to the airwaves on Oct. 1 when he debuts on La Bonita (1180 AM) as the station’s morning host.

“He’s terrific. He was extremely instrumental in building that Spanish radio station (KBBX),” said Jim McKernan general manager of La Bonita.

“He’s like a rock star in the Mexican community.”

New Newspaper Debuts
The Prairie Fire newspaper debuted recently. You can find free copies around town, and at PrairieFireNewspaper.com on the Web.

“We are Prairie Fire newspaper. We are the progressive voice of the Great Plains,” it says at the Web site. “Our goal is to engage our readership with thoughtful, bipartisan discourse on public policy matters complemented by compelling analyses and critiques of the arts and humanities.

“Our newspaper will be neither reactionary nor radical, nor will it ascribe to a particular political philosophy or creed. Instead, we will provide our readers with thoughtful discussion and civilized dialogue, in hopes of bringing forth the products of progressive thought, which have the potential to enrich our daily lives. Progressive thought has brought us unicameralism, public power, natural resources districts, progressive taxation, center pivot irrigation, public broadcasting, jazz, the Nebraska State Capitol, free public education and universal suffrage. It has the power to continue to enhance our lives today.”

W. Don Nelson is listed as the publisher, with Rod Hutt acting as managing editor.

World-Herald Names New Board Member
Larry King, executive editor of the Omaha World-Herald, was elected last week to the board of directors of the Omaha World-Herald Co.

According to a story in the World-Herald, King, 58, joined the newspaper as a reporter in 1975 and has been executive editor since 1998.

Ingram Making Omaha Appearance
Nationally syndicated talk-show host Laura Ingram (8-11 a.m. weekdays on KKAR 1290 AM) will be in Omaha in September to make an appearance. Stay tuned for more details.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Somehow having Todd n Tyler mentioned in the same story as Laura Ingram doesn't seem right!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, TnT have talent.

Anonymous said...

I worked with TnT a while back when they first arrived. Hopefully they've lightened up a bit..because they were two of the most arrogant jackasses I've ever met, even back then.

But alas, they don't have much to compete against with...so I guess 500k per year means they really don't care.

Still better than Otis and Diver though.

Anonymous said...

Todd & Tyler who? They have a radio show?

Heywood Jablowme said...

“Us signing that contract would have been entertainment front-page news in any city that we lived in except this one,” Tyler said.



How full of themselves are these guys???? Just one reason I stopped lestening to these juveniles. And yes, I USED to be one of their biggest fans.

Anonymous said...

Wow, busting into such markets as Wichita and Springfield! Now that's the big time. Can Ottumwa, Iowa, and Vermillion, S.D., be far behind? Doesn't the WH know front-page news when they see it?

Anonymous said...

They have Journal by the balls. If Journal gave a crap about their organization, they would quit sucking up to two of their employees and invest that money into their other radio stations who are all sucking wind since they bought KM3rd. They might as well rename Journal Omaha as TnT Omaha. Justice would not be sports anchor still on 3rd or have his own sports show if it weren't because he's on the untouchable list of TnT buddies.

If Journal would have invested more money to hang on to 2 anchors (rather than firing them) who actually were part of the community rather than achor desk figures who are using Omaha as a springboard for bigger markets.

heywood jablowme said...

what about Billings, MT or Boise, ID????

Heywood Jablowme said...

I guess I am no sure, but do T and T make fun of us on this blog that don't like them?

Anonymous said...

Who is this "Toad & Taylor" that some people talk about?

Anonymous said...

TnT Rock!! Go guys go!

Brian said...

@ 6:40 AM - yes...I wish they would "go", too. :-p

Anonymous said...

Boy that Laura Ingram is hot!!!!

Anonymous said...

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