Tag Archives: Gray Broadcasting

Creativity, Flexibility Drive Best News Topicals

This is Part 4 of our five-part series, Building Viewership with News Topicals. Read Part 3 here.

News topicals can take many forms.

Some creative services directors and topical writer/producers say recording the main news anchor sitting behind the anchor desk works best for their station.

Others see value in shooting their news anchor in the newsroom, cinéma vérité style.
And other stations try to feature real people and sound bites, along with reporter teases from the field.

Read On

Local TV’s Support For Flood Victims Growing

TV stations all across the country, either in conjunction with their broadcast group owners, or on their own, are conducting fundraisers to help victims in Texas and Louisiana deal with devastating flooding due to Hurricane Harvey.

At many of the Scripps-owned TV stations, some of which have already been mentioned in earlier columns, Scripps employees assembled phone banks at many stations while waters were still rising.

“As journalists, we often tell the stories of people involved in tragic events like this,” said Sean McLaughlin, Scripps vice president of news.

“Today, we have the opportunity to lead an effort to help those who have lost everything. We can use our company’s reach, spanning from coast to coast, to raise money to ease the burden on the storm’s victims. It is who we are at Scripps.”

KNXV in Phoenix raised $185,000 during its phone bank over two days. That included a $50,000 donation from the Healthy Sprouts Community Foundation.

WXYZ and WMYD in Detroit coordinated a two-day telethon and raised more than $138,000.

At WPTV in West Palm Beach, Fla., the station raised more than $66,000 with its two-day phone bank.

WCPO in Cincinnati raised $100,000 over two days of afternoon-into-evening phone banks.

And in Tulsa, Okla., KJRH raised $16,000 with its Monday phone bank.

In Baltimore at Hearst’s NBC affiliate, WBAL, American Red Cross volunteers have been staffing the phone banks since Monday evening. Donations have eclipsed $260,000, as the phones continue to ring.

“There’s no shortage of adjectives to describe the pictures we’re seeing out of Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey,” said Dan Joerres, WBAL’s general manager.

“As powerful as they are, those images don’t even begin to tell the story of the heartache felt by the tens of thousands of people who now have nowhere to live. The phones have been ringing off the hook, as the response from people throughout Maryland has been incredible.”

In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, KCRG, Gray’s ABC affiliate, held a two-hour telethon with the Greater Iowa chapter of the American Red Cross, collecting $46,015. The total includes a $10,000 match from University of Iowa Community Credit Union.

“We went through our own devastating flood here in Eastern Iowa back in 2008,” said Thom Spritz, KCRG’s general manager. “Harvey hits home for so many people in our area.”

Another Gray station, NBC affiliate WEAU Eau Claire, Wis., created a PSA Toolkit that was sent to all the Gray stations so they can quickly get localized announcements on air.

In Boston, WCVB, Hearst’s ABC affiliate, raised more than $500,000, and counting with its RELIEF FUND 5: Help for Houston telethon during yesterday’s day-long fundraising event.

“When our community rallies to support a worthy cause, the results are always amazing,” said Bill Fine, WCVB’s general manager.

“And this time to raise more than a half million dollars in just hours to provide help for Houston is simply awe inspiring.”

In Corpus Christi, Texas, where Hurricane Harvey made landfall, Cordillera Communications’ KRIS, the NBC affiliate, announced a fundraising with the Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group to leverage all donor contributions to benefit residents in the seven Texas counties surrounding Corpus Christi.

To speed donations and relief efforts, KRIS and Cordillera will match the first $50,000 donated.

Other Cordillera TV stations nationwide will assist in communicating and promoting this relief fund effort.

Homeless Coverage Leads WSAW To 2 Murrow Awards

WSAW, Gray Television’s CBS affiliate in Wausau, Wis., received two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards in the small television market category for its region.

Other states in WSAW’s region include Minnesota, North and South Dakota.

The Radio Television Digital News Association has been honoring outstanding achievements in electronic journalism with the Murrow Awards since 1971.

The following projects were recognized:

WSAW, Hard News
Homeless in the Hallways

The story examined the state of homelessness for a rising number of area families, including the Carver’s, who bravely shared their story in hopes of smashing the stereotype of what it means to be homeless.

WSAW, News Series
Opiate Oppression

The series focused on Wausau being named a top 25 city for prescription abuse, the lack of treatment options, how addiction changes brain chemistry, the scope of the problem for law enforcement and how hospital funding can sometimes depend on how addicts answer surveys.

Animation Livens Up Local Commercials At KKCO

ca_word_0When most people think about “animation,” they think cartoons and Walt Disney.

But when local TV advertisers in Grand Junction, Colo., think animation, they think KKCO, and the talented animation team of producers Arn McConnell and Corey Devore.

“There have been many spots that they’ve produced in the last few years that really have broken the mold of the typical local commercial production,” said Brian Wiley, production manager for KKCO, Gray’s NBC affiliate in Grand Junction.

“I am so lucky to have them on my team.”

Arn McConnell

Arn McConnell

Cory Devore

Cory Devore

Arn McConnell spent 16 years as an animator in New York City before moving back to Colorado to work at KKCO in 2000 where he brought his unique talents to local TV commercial production forthe station’s clients.

“We use animations to create illusions that otherwise would be impossible to create,” said McConnell.

Read On

KNOE Reporters Fall Into Flood Waters: Video and Back Story

knoeEarlier this week, I wrote a story profiling the efforts of KNOE, the Gray-owned CBS affiliate in Monroe, in covering the devastating flooding there, where more than 24 inches of rain fell in just a few days last week.

And subsequently, I did an article about KNOE holding a telethon to raise money to help flood victims and another on how much they were able to collect and donate to the American Red Cross there.

In the course of writing the original story, I learned about an incident where 3 people from KNOE were out in a flooded neighborhood when the pirogue they were sitting in capsized, throwing all three of them into the flood waters.

Aaron Cantrell, Danielle Beckford and Nicole Cross After capturing what residents in Double K Estates are dealing with following historic flooding - our boat CAPSIZED. We were completely submerged in flood water. In a matter of minutes, we went from covering the story to being a part of it. But, I count it all joy - just a small price to pay to expose what the people here and in so many other parts of the ArkLaMiss are facing. So thankful for all of you who are stepping in to help out. Nicole Cross

Aaron Cantrell, Danielle Beckford and Nicole Cross
After capturing what residents in Double K Estates are dealing with following historic flooding – our boat CAPSIZED. We were completely submerged in flood water. In a matter of minutes, we went from covering the story to being a part of it. But, I count it all joy – just a small price to pay to expose what the people here and in so many other parts of the ArkLaMiss are facing. So thankful for all of you who are stepping in to help out.
Nicole Cross

Dr. Nicole Cross

Dr. Nicole Cross

Although I did mention that in the original story, I was curious about that and so I contacted Dr. Nicole Cross to ask about falling off the boat.

(Yes, yet another fascinating angle to this story is that Dr. Cross, before she was a journalist and anchor on the morning and noon news on KNOE, ran a successful psychotherapy practice providing mental health counseling).

Danielle Beckford

Danielle Beckford

Cross says neither she nor Danielle Beckford, the producer of Good Morning ArkLaMiss, were supposed to be working that day.

Both were there in the neighborhood to witness first-hand what was going on in their community and to supplement the footage that Aaron Cantrell, KNOE’s general assignment reporter, was collecting.

Aaron Cantrell

Aaron Cantrell

All three were shooting b-roll and standups (or sit downs) with their iPhones. All of the video in the story was shot via their iPhones.

“We had the wherewithal to know not to bring the station camera,” said Cross.

“We didn’t want to risk the big cameras out there, but we didn’t consider risking our own iPhones. It’s so funny, we were more concerned about the cameras than our own selves.”

The three were in a Monroe trailer park community being pulled around in a pirogue by one of the residents wearing hip waders.

“It was the three of us on the boat,” said Cross, “and he was guiding us in. We shot some video there, taped some standups, and then we were making our way out. I don’t know what happened. Our boat was just so small and rickety, something happened, I don’t know if one repositioned or was it me waving at residents, something made us uneven and before we knew it we were in the water, and I went all the way in, hair, everything, and we all were trying to hold the iPhones up.”

She laughed at the thought of it all.

“After we fell in, we’re like OK, we’re going to be OK, and after that, we just stood up and continued on. We were in shock. And can’t believe that just happened, and I said ‘well, we don’t need the boat any more’.”

Cross said they had “no intention of sharing this story but it just kind of circulated and I shared the picture that we took afterwards.”

Cross said there were other residents who witnessed them falling into the flood waters.

“When I posted the picture, (on Facebook), two people who were there commented, and said ‘oh, they didn’t freak out, they’re so professional’.”

Cross edited together this video specifically for Market Share, using the standups they recorded after falling into the water, and including the actual video of them going into water, none of which has been seen anywhere other than inside KNOE.

“The video is pretty hilarious. It’s just in the moment.”

After falling into the water, Cross continued on, soaking wet, to one of the shelters where she was scheduled to meet some Facebook friends who were donating items for victims.

“I had to quickly dry off, blow dry my hair and get to the shelter. I was there in the shelter, put my shirt in the dryer, and my jeans were still wet, nobody knew about that, and we just delivered items to the victims at the shelter.”

Cross said Cantrell, KNOE’s general assignment reporter, had to go to a local firehouse to cover a breaking news story about a fire. When he got there, the fire chief took one look at him and asked him why he was so wet.

“So nothing stopped. We just went on,” said Cross.

Elliot Toole Retiring After 49 Years In TV

The top-rated TV shows in the ’60s were Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In and the original Hawaii Five-O.


Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, and the first Woodstock concert took place.

A gallon of gas would have set you back 35 cents.

Fashion? We were groovy, baby.

fashion 2Yours truly graduated from high school in 1969.

And in 1966, Elliot Toole started his TV career at WESH in Orlando, Fla., and in 1969, he moved to the CBS affiliate in Tallahassee, WCTV, now owned by Gray, where he spent the past 46 years as a commercial producer/editor.

“Through the years,” says Elliot, “I have directed live news programs, public affairs programs, Romper Room, 23 years of the Bobby Bowden Show including “Great Moments with Burt Reynolds”, musical programs, parades, countless promotions and commercials both in-studio and on location. [I’ve] produced live basketball games for the metro conference, met a lot of interesting people and for the most part, had a great time. I might have had to work for a living.”

I asked Elliot how TV has changed in that time.

“Quality of video has certainly improved through the years. There was still a lot of black and white around when I started and certainly no high definition or 3D. I have seen TV go from film to video tape to digital media.

“The influence of computers has changed the way we edit and increased our ability to use effects. Building a video presentation is less “hands on” than it was 46 years ago.

“Computers have also changed the way we record and store our product. The Internet has changed the business of a television station by making it an electronic newspaper in addition to broadcasting news and entertainment.

“A lot of (probably most) local stations have gone from being an independent locally-owned business to being a part of a national corporation.”

His advice for the young and foolhardy considering a career in TV?

“Get a good, well-rounded education because television touches on all walks of life and the more understanding a person has of many different vocations and avocations, the better presentation one can make of the situation at hand. Understand computers better than I do.”

Retirement plans?

“I studied music at Florida State University. I still play the trombone and lead a big band called Tallahassee Swing. I hope to increase my opportunities in music, travel with my wife Bonnie and find new interests I haven’t even thought of yet.”

Here are just a couple of commercials he has produced over the years. Amazingly, Toole says he stopped keeping copies of any of his work, so he has no demo reel, nothing.

I got these examples and the story idea from Michael Karmanos, WCTV’s creative services director.

Congrats to Elliot and thanks for your service.

Read On

KOLO Reno Turns Small Businesses Into Big Businesses

koloReno, Nevada, was hit hard by the recession, according to Laura Newman, general sales manager of KOLO, the Gray-owned ABC affiliate there. So her sales staff came up with a campaign to entice small businesses to advertise on television.

Proud to be Local is an entry-level plan for small businesses so they can afford to start doing TV,” says Newman. To date, more than 25 businesses have signed up for the program. She calls that “a major success.”

One of the businesses to get on board the Proud to be Local program is Maccabee Arms, a firearms store and training facility owned by Sharon Oren, a veteran of the Israeli special forces.

“The people at the station were great to work with, very professional,” says Oren.
“And the campaign brought people into the store that wouldn’t have come before.”

Oren says he plans to continue advertising on television.

“The most important part of the Proud to be Local campaign,” says Newman, “is that we’re not selling these businesses underutilized time periods, but tailoring the time to make the businesses more successful.”

Proud to be Local combines an entry-level TV schedule with rotating Internet ads.
KOLO did in-station group presentations for potential new clients as well as selling the campaign on the street.

To see the Proud to be Local landing page on the station’s website, click here.

The Proud to be Local campaign was named one of four finalists by the NAB at its annual meeting last month of the Small Market Television Exchange (SMTE) in San Antonio, Texas.

The SMTE is the only meeting for small market group executives and station broadcasters in DMAs 75 and above. It focuses on innovative ways to attract emerging and non-traditional advertisers, suggestions to enhance a station’s position in the local marketplace and tips on turning good ideas into revenue-generating plans.

All this week, I’ll be profiling each of the finalists, talking to the local sales executives, show their promos and examples from their campaign.

To see an article about how a station in Midland, Texas, found money in the city’s trash, click here.