After looking at the results of the November ratings period, I have some advice for the local network affiliates.
The general managers of the stations should feel free to ignore it, as I expect they will.
But here is my Top 10 list of things to consider as I play general manager for the day.
- Channel 2 Should Move Its Midday News to Noon: It is time. Noon is one of the few places that Channel 4 News dominates because it is only in a two-way battle with Channel 7. Channel 2 runs its midday news at 11 a.m., where it gets half the viewership of Channel 4’s news at noon. Channel 2 runs it there because for decades it didn’t feel it could compete at noon. With Channel 7 weakened and Channel 4 vulnerable, now is the time for Channel 2 to take a risk and move the news to noon. It might not take too long for Channel 2 to be competitive there if it can find something to run at 11 a.m. as a plausible lead-in.
- Channel 2 Should Abandon 10 at 10 ASAP:I know I’ve been beating a dead horse and writing about how spectacularly stupid the format is that presents news in reverse order of its importance. But November provided more concrete evidence of the stupidity. “10 at 10” on WNYO is the only Channel 2 newscast that had an audience decline from a year ago. It would even be better if Channel 2 convinced Sinclair, which owns WNYO and Fox affiliate WUTV, that now is the time to allow it to air the news on the Fox affiliate at 10 p.m. The stronger station would help make Channel 2 more competitive with Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock News, which is on a stronger sister station WNLO-TV.
- Channel 2 Should Start a 10 P.M. News on Weekends: Channel 4 owns 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday as the only game in town. It might take some convincing and a big check written to Sinclair. However, a weekend version of the 10 p.m. news now makes sense for Channel 2 even if it has to air on WNYO because of Fox’s college and pro football schedule on WUTV. Channel 2 could have especially used a 10 p.m. weekend newscast during the NFL season since its Sunday newscast on Channel 2 often doesn’t air until midnight because of NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
- Channel 2 Should Name Jodi Johnston’s Replacement Soon: The “Daybreak” franchise will need to heavily promote the new female co-anchor because Channel 4 is likely to heavily promote its new morning co-anchor Jordan Williams. The hiring of Williams will enable Channel 4 to get some sampling in the morning, which Channel 2 would want to minimize.
- Channel 2 Should Give Up on the Healthy Zone: Shockingly, the land of beef on weck, the chicken wing and Ted’s hot dogs isn’t buying “The Healthy Zone.” It didn’t even average a 1 rating at 2 p.m. I love the idea of the well-meaning show, but people don’t need a 30-minute daily diet of guilt when all they want is to experience a guilty pleasure once in a while.
- Channel 4 Should Hire a Third Sports Person:I feel sorry for Lauren Brill, the new sportscaster that Channel 4 News Director Joe Schlaerth hired to face a tough audience of viewers who think they know everything about sports. Schlaerth isn’t about to admit he made a mistake and Brill is a hard worker who deserves time to grow. But she needs to do so in the background as a third sports staffer rather than subject viewers to her on-the-job training. Channel 4 needs a third on-air sports staffer anyway — Channel 2 has four — so why not hire one and reduce the pressure on Brill.
- 7. Channel 4 Should Bring Mike Cejka Back to “Wake Up!” Whatever the reason was that made Schlaerth replace Cejka with young attractive meteorologist Amelia Segal, it hasn’t worked. Bring Cejka back and then morning viewers will be reminded that Channel 4 has some veterans on its staff.
- 8. Channel 4 Should Hire Some Fashion Consultants: My friends probably will laugh at this one because I’m not exactly Don Draper in the wardrobe department. But even I can see how much help some of the younger station staffers need dressing themselves for TV success. I’m not naming names, though my readers probably will in the comment section.
- 9. Channel 7 Should Move “General Hospital” to 3 p.m.: It might need ABC’s approval. But the veteran soap is the one afternoon program on Channel 7 that gets a decent-sized audience. The move might even get Katie Couric’s popular national talk show a local audience at 4 p.m. This is a no-brainer as is dropping Ricki Lake’s talk show, which gets anemic “Healthy Zone”-type ratings at 3 p.m.
- Channel 7 News Should Hire Some People: I had to laugh at a statement made by a Buffalo News reporter in a story last week about Channel 7’s new news director Polly Van Duren wanting “to restore the legacy of Channel 7 – one person at a time.” The only way she has a chance of doing that is if the hedge fund managing company that owns the station allows her to hire about five new on-air staffers at a time. Channel 7 News is so short-staffed that Van Duren’s predecessor used to have to shoot stories on weekends because he didn’t have staffers to do it. Of all my suggestions, I’m betting this one has the least chance of being accepted. firstname.lastname@example.org