This is the final part of our five-part series, Building Viewership with News Topicals. Read Part 4 here.
Across the country, millions of people watch the entertainment programming TV stations provide during the day and at night. So it makes sense for stations to promote their newscasts topically within all that programming in the hopes viewers will stay and watch the next newscast.
For years, this was the only means stations had to recruit news viewers with the news of the day, unless stations bought time on other media, like radio, print or cable.
Then came Facebook.
Facebook provides stations with another — and much more mobile — screen to reach potential news viewers.
Harvey Leonard, Ed Harding, Maria Stephanos and Mike Lynch.
When you want to know what someone’s really like, ask the people they work with.
Your co-workers probably know you better than your wife and kids. Because, after all, you probably spend more time at work than at home.
That’s the creative behind these new image spots for the main anchor team from WCVB, Hearst’s ABC affiliate in Boston.
And they work. No hollow claims, no research-driven buzz words, only the observations of co-workers in their own words makes these spots, and the people in them, believable, real, and genuine.
Russ Nelligan, WCVB’s creative services director, says when anchors have been on the job long enough, it’s easy to assume everyone knows who they are.
“WCVB is blessed with people who have been reporting in Boston many years. We decided to take a step back and ‘introduce’ our anchor team to the viewers. We thought that having their co-workers drive the narrative was effective, in part because they really appreciate each other’s strengths.”
I was able to talk to Nelligan on the phone at length about these spots and I was struck by how well he knew the members of his main anchor team, anchors Maria Stephanos and Ed Harding, Chief Meteorologist Harvey Leonard, and Mike Lynch, WCVB’s spots director and anchor.
There’s an old adage about sales — a good salesman know his product, and you can tell that Nelligan knows his front-line people well. The only way that happens is to be around them in the newsroom.
“They are smart people and they are very genuine,” says Nelligan.
“You don’t have to be around Maria too long before you realize what an exceptional human being she is. She is the kind of person who you meet and all she does is ask about you. As a result, she just has this way of drawing people out.”
When talking about co-anchor Ed Harding, Nelligan says he’s been in the market a long time and is hard working. “Ed is just like this Energizer Bunny.”
Chief Meteorologist Harvey Leonard has been forecasting the weather in Boston and New England for 40 years. Nelligan says Leonard still gets excited when it’s about to snow.
“He is just really into it, but is so worried that people are depending on my forecast and I have got to get it right. The other meteorologists in town have just the utmost respect.”
According to Nelligan, Mike Lynch is an institution in Boston when it comes to covering the major pro sports teams, but “has carved out a niche covering high school sports for more than 30 years.”
Getting used to picking up and moving and living in locations all over the country can be an occupational hazard when you work in local TV. When opportunity knocks, it’s often in a different town, a different state with a different culture.
Jason Holloway gets that. Born and raised in Abilene, Texas, Holloway “did everything for every TV station in town.”
He was working in TV while he was in school at Abilene Christian University studying broadcast journalism.
He’s been an actor, an announcer, a news producer, executive producer, sports anchor and reporter, a photographer, a promotions manager, and assistant creative director.
From Abilene, Holloway went up to Tulsa, Okla., which has more similarities than differences than Abilene and probably felt like home.
From Tulsa, he went to St. Louis, where he was hired as a photojournalist to help oversee a station’s transition to non-linear editing. (Yes, Virginia, there was a time when video editing was not done by computer.)
By the time he left KMOV in St. Louis for the snows of Boston, he was the promotion manager.
And after two years as assistant creative services in Boston at the Hearst’s ABC affiliate, WCVB, Holloway is headed back to the south, but still with Hearst.
He’s the new creative services director at WVTM, the NBC affiliate in Birmingham, Ala., some 1,200 miles almost due south.
Holloway says he and his wife are looking forward to warmer — and less snowy — weather and after the past couple winters Boston’s had, you can’t blame them.
He can jettison his snow tires and snow shovel for sure. And he’s a lot closer to home in Abilene.
Asked if he was a little nervous about his first job as the marketing boss, Holloway quickly said no.
He mentioned his new general manager, Hank Price, and Russ Nelligan, the CSD at WCVB, as two mentors he can count on to get it right.
After talking with Holloway, and now seeing his vast and varied TV background, this is a guy we all might want to keep an eye on.