Friday, May 30, 2008

Thompson Lands With Nelson

Former Omaha World-Herald Washington, D.C. bureau writer Jake Thompson will take over as the communications director for Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson beginning June 9.

Thompson was laid off from the Herald last month, along with photo assignment editor Craig Chandler, business reporter Mike Avok and graphic designer Sid Jablonski.

“Jake brings an extensive knowledge of Nebraska media, Washington, and Senator Nelson’s record and agenda to the position. Jake will have the same contact information currently assigned to me when he joins the staff,” David Di Martino, the current communications director, said in a press release issued on Friday.

“As for me, today (Friday, May 30) is my last day in this office,” Martino said. “I will be moving to a position in the private sector next month after taking some time off. I’ve truly enjoyed working for Senator Nelson and on behalf of the great state of Nebraska. Senator Nelson is a great person and a good friend and a wonderful public servant who has always done what he thinks is right for Nebraska. I feel honored to have had the opportunity to work with him over these past years. I will miss it. You all have been great to work with and I hope we have the opportunity to work together in the future. It will be hard to resist getting involved in Nebraska politics in some way after the last seven years with Senator Nelson.”

Michael Scott Out (Again)

Michael ScottFormer Omaha TV anchor Michael Scott is looking for a job for the third time in less than three years after being let go from Huntsville, Ala., station WAAY.

According to, a subscription-only service, Scott reportedly called an African American producer the “N” word.

Scott was the ABC affiliate's evening anchor and managing editor who had been at the station since July of 2007.

WAAY newsroom insiders say Scott had been issued several written and verbal warnings by management for his outlandish behavior over the past eight months. According to one station co-worker, Scott "told a female employee she needed to douche, berated a male reporter in the newsroom in front of other staff, and physically hit his co-anchor (Karen Adams) on and off air. Scott was relentless in his attack on her."

Richard Prince's "Journal-isms" column reports that the incident is but the latest censure of the N-word's use in a professional setting.

Scott is a 30-year veteran of the broadcast industry whose well-traveled career includes stops at KETV and KMTV in Omaha, Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver, Charlotte (for three months) and Kansas City.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Harry Pappas Forced Into Personal Bankruptcy

Harry PappasAccording to an Associated Press story, creditors have forced Harry Pappas into a personal bankruptcy filing -- an unusual move that threatens his efforts to save Pappas Telecasting Companies from financial disaster.

Pappas Telecasting owns Omaha TV stations KPTM and KXVO.

The court filings earlier this week could lead a judge to order the sale of personal property to pay off debt. In their Chapter 7 filing, creditors say Pappas and his wife, Stella, personally guaranteed $30 million of a $284 million loan that Pappas Telecasting secured in March 2006.

Creditors said the $284 million loan was based on an agreement that Pappas would sell enough of his television stations to repay $100 million of the debt. The rest would be paid on what the filing calls "a reasonable schedule."

Pappas Telecasting owes more than $5.8 million to its top 20 creditors. The biggest sum owed, $1.4 million, is to Fox Broadcasting.

Apparently, budget cuts have forced the public relations arm of Pappas Telecasting to shut down as well. The company's website press room has not had a press release posted since December of 2007.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Here's That Number Again

Strangely, Ernie Chambers didn't field many phone calls on his public access TV show on Cox Channel 22.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Former KMTV Anchor Gets Ready To Host 'The Mole'

The buzz is growing over Jon Kelley's new job hosting "The Mole."

Kelley is a former sports anchor at KMTV and running back at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who also co-authored a book (with former KPTM sports anchor Tom Zenner) "Breaking Into Broadcasting," a guide to landing one's first (or next) on-air job in television.

The Mole premiers Monday, June 2 at 9 p.m. CST.

According to ABC press materials, Kelley co-hosted "Extra's" one-hour weekend edition and was the show's primary correspondent for the daily show from 2001 through 2007. In December, he co-hosted ABC's "Holiday with the Stars" and just recently co-hosted ABC's "All-star Tribute to Movies" on Oscar Sunday. Kelley's diverse broadcast career has spanned over 15 years in news, sports and entertainment.

Before joining "Extra," Kelley served as the main anchor for the Fox Sports Network's "The National Sports Report," and the lead anchor for the weekly series, "Baseball Today." Prior to Fox, Kelley was the lead sports anchor on the NBC owned-and-operated station WMAQ-TV in Chicago.

During his eight years in Chicago, Kelley was widely regarded as one of the region's top sports anchors and directors, covering the World Championship Bulls in all six of the team's title seasons. In addition to his nightly sportscasts, Kelley hosted the number one rated "Sports Sunday," WMAQ-TV's half-hour, expanded sports highlights program. There he shared the anchor desk with some of the city's most dynamic sports and entertainment personalities, including NBA rebounding star Dennis Rodman and "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno. Kelley joined WMAQ-TV as a sports reporter and weekend anchor in April 1991.

While at WMAQ-TV, Kelley was part of a sports team that earned such prestigious awards the Chicago/Midwest Emmy award for producing and anchoring his hour-long special highlighting the Chicago Bulls' quest for a fifth championship. Kelley also received the Peter Lisagor Award for Sports Journalism and an Illinois Broadcasters Association Silver Dome Award for Best Sportscast.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Pappas Telecasting Files For Bankruptcy

From The Weekend Wires:

The largest privately-held commercial broadcast operator in the U.S., Pappas Telecasting Inc., filed for Chapter 11 Saturday with plans to sell its 30 TV stations under bankruptcy court protection.

Pappas cited "the extremely difficult business climate for television stations across the country" in papers filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del. The Fresno, Calif.-based company reported in court filings it has more than $536 million in debt and assets of $460 million.

Pappas-owned TV stations in the bankruptcy filing include KPTM-Fox 42 and KXVO-CW 11 in Omaha but not KHGI-NTV in Kearney.

Pappas blamed the "poor ratings of the CW Network" for some of the financial trouble that forced it into bankruptcy. CW Network targets people in the 18- to 34-year-old age bracket with shows like America's Next Top Model and Smallville. It is a property of Time Warner Inc. and CBS Corp. .

A spokeswoman for News Corp. (AU:NWS: news, chart, profile) , which owns Fox, declined to comment. News Corp. is the owner of Dow Jones & Co., publisher of Dow Jones Newswires. Spokesmen for Time Warner and CBS did not respond immediately to requests to comment on the bankruptcy filing.

News of Pappas' financial woes and the credit crisis made it tough for Pappas to find a buyer outside of bankruptcy, court documents say. In the weeks leading up to Saturday's filing, Pappas failed to come to terms with top lenders who are owed $303 million.

Banks led by Fortress Capital Corp. refused to finance an effort to continue to try to sell the company in bankruptcy court. Pappas decided to file for Chapter 11 protection "in an effort to accomplish an orderly sale of the stations as a going concern," court documents say.

Founder and Chief Executive Harry Pappas said he is offering $2 million in bankruptcy financing to fund operations while the company is in Chapter 11.

Analysts have said media and retail companies are among the most vulnerable businesses in the economic downturn, which was triggered by the U.S. housing market decline.

Advertising budgets in furniture, appliance, real estate and related sectors bore the immediate brunt of the housing market downturn, denting revenues at Pappas over the past year, court documents say.

Pappas also said the cost of converting from analog to digital TV broadcasting has weighed on its operating costs, which were already strained by higher energy prices. To gear up for new digital TV requirements, Pappas stations have had to operate duplicate transmission facilities, the company said.

According to a Pappas press release, KPTM, achieved revenue increases for the first quarter of 2008 of 27.9 percent over the same period in 2007, exclusive of any political advertising.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Catching Up With the Duff Man

Most Omahans will remember Dan Duffy for his run as an evening and late-night jock on Z-92 (KEZO 92.3 FM) back in the 1990s. But the radio veteran has been heard on several other stations, including Lincoln’s KFOR-AM and KTGL-FM, where he most recently was on the air.

Duffy, whose first on-air gig was in 1980, was recently a victim of budget cuts and is now working outside of the radio business for the first time since 1986.

We recently caught up with the Duff man, who is now working at First Data, last week for a “where are they now” update.

Can you give me a little history of your radio career? Where did you start?

“My first on air gig was in 1980 at KFOR/Lincoln at the age of 16. Never took radio seriously until my early 20s after working a series of dead end jobs and playing drums in numerous cover bands after high school. I hustled my tail off to gain experience,” Duffy said in an e-mail note.

“KOTD/Plattsmouth 1989-92. KYNN ’92-’95. Z-92 (nights) /KGOR/KTGL (part time). KMGN Flagstaff, Ariz. /KDKB in Phoenix/ WRQC/Minneapolis KILO in Colorado Springs/ KSRX San Antonio and most recently KTGL 92.9 the Eagle in Lincoln.

What’s the worst blooper you’ve had on the radio?

“A few curse words from listeners (before the Janet Jackson FCC situation) – never brought attention to it. It’s live radio, it happens. I left the phone pot up while talking with a buddy one time, it was a 6-7 minute conversation and all of Omaha was listening. Unbelievably, not one F-bomb was dropped. You would think two guys on the phone would eventually drop a swear word (but) it never happened. That was three in the morning.

Who is your favorite Nebraska broadcaster of all time? Who is your favorite broadcaster nationally of all time?

“I don’t really have a favorite but I sure enjoyed listening to Z-92/ KOIL/WOW when I was a long-haired kid in the late ’70s – Rod Meyer, Jimmy O’Neil, Chuck Yates, Joe Blood, Rick Setchell. I had a chance to work with Chuck, Joe and Rick many years later at Z along with Todd and Tyler. What an honor. As a kid growing up in the late ’70s, Yates, Blood, Setchell represented ‘FM rock radio’ in Omaha and had a big influence on me. I apologize if I'm leaving anyone out.

“On a national level, in the field of rock radio: Jim Ladd/KLOS is No. 1. Jim has been a fixture of L.A. radio for nearly 40 years at KMET/ KLOS. The perfect rock-jock. Jim still works nights at KLOS. Jim has a great ear for music ... passionate about rock. I had a chance to interview Jim while working nights in Minneapolis. At the time, circa 1997, a PD buddy of mine worked across town at KLSX and had access to the KLOS hotline. I grew some balls and called the hotline and immediately got a hold of Jim. The interview was great!”

What’s in your CD player right now?

“What’s a CD player? Lol! Gotta copy of the movie ‘Heat’ in my PC. Seriously, Steely Dan’s “AJA” album is never far away ..Black Crowes’ “Amorica” is in my car CD player.”