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Channel 4's Duncan Leaving for No.4 Market

It looks like Channel 4 is going to have to play another round of musical chairs shortly.

According to sources, reporter-anchor Jericka Duncan is leaving the CBS affiliate to take a job at KYW-TV in Philadelphia, a CBS owned-and-operated station in the No.4 market in the country. Her last day at Channel 4 is scheduled to be in mid-August.

In recent station moves, Duncan was named to replace Michele McClintick as the anchor of Weekend Wake Up after McClintick moved to nights. At most, Duncan’s move to the weekends will last about a month before she leaves for the City of Brotherly Love.

Duncan has been impressive in reporting, anchor and even sports roles since joining Channel 4 three years ago from WETM in Elmira.

* Mylous Hairston, the Channel 4 anchor who is president of the local chapter of the union that represents anchors and reporters at the station, said last week it’s a surprise that local stations are hiring 20something reporters straight out of college.

He notes that Buffalo used to be a market that required on-air personnel to work three-to-five years in a small market (like Duncan did) in Elmira or Erie, Pa.

“Buffalo has become a starting market as opposed to a mid-market,” said Hairston. “It’s a sign of the times. The company is looking to hire the least experienced.”

It wouldn’t be so bad if veteran reporters and anchors could mentor the new hires. But that’s become increasingly difficult to do since the veterans have so much more to do now that they don’t have the time to mentor.

The young reporters at Channel 4 get a respectable salary when hired. The minimum reporting salary at the station is $34,000, said Hairston.

* This morning, Steve Carell told Meredith Vieira on “Today” that he wants his departure from NBC’s “The Office” next May to be “a little subdued” and “not an enormous send-off.”

Not likely. NBC undoubtedly will milk it for everything it can. Carell’s departure from one of the network’s few popular series after one more season puts more pressure on one of its new fall shows to become a hit.

Can the show survive the loss of paper company boss Michael Scott, the lead character played by Carell?

That’s a tough question. A big name star would help, but what big star would want to deal with the comparisons to Carell? The reaction to Carell’s replacment surely won’t be subdued.


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Leno Comeback Isn't a Hit on Channel 2

Leftovers after a long holiday weekend:

* Several national blogs and a few newspapers have noted that Jay Leno’s ratings for “The Tonight Show” are now lower than Conan O’Brien’s were.

Which got me wondering: How is Leno doing in Western New York?

Sure enough, O’Brien’s ratings last June when he premiered were higher than Leno’s this June on Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate. The margin was .1 of one percent with O’Brien averaging a 4.2 and Leno a 4.1.

O’Brien’s figures should come with an asterisk since his premiere week in June of 2009 saw a spike in the ratings that inflated the average slightly.

But still it is clear that the ratings for Leno’s comeback so far haven’t been worth the upheaval it caused. And it makes one wonder – again – if NBC should have stuck with O’Brien. That’s always been my view.

By the way, Letterman beat Leno here with a 4.4 rating average on Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate.

* Lia Lando has had an impressive three days as anchor of the news on Channel 4 at 5:30 p.m. and on CW-23 at 10 p.m. She is a soft-spoken anchor who articulates the copy she reads very well.

However, it is unclear if she wants Lisa Flynn’s old job permanently. Lando, a mother of two who lives in Rochester, may just be here until the July sweeps are over or until the summer ends. The July sweeps are the least important of the four sweeps periods during the year.

If Channel 4 starts running an intro into the newscasts featuring Lando, then viewers will know she may be here longer. Right now, it starts those newscasts with a cold opening without the traditional introduction of the anchors.

* The Emmy Award nominations arrive Thursday with cable TV again expected to take the bulk of the nominations. The one network show that deserves several nominations is NBC’s “Friday Night Lights,” which annually is ignored in the big categories. I’ve seen the entire current season (which previously played on DirecTV) and it gets better every week. It airs weekly on Friday nights on Channel 2.

Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, who play the most loving married couple on TV, deserve nominations along with Zach Gilford. Chandler plays a high school football coach, Britton plays a high school principal and Gilford plays the former quarterback who has moved to Chicago to pursue an art career.

* Proud father Irv Weinstein sent along an email that reports his daughter, Beth Krom, is running for a congressional seat in California. But all my California readers probably know that. A two-term mayor of Irvine, Calif., Krom is a Democrat running against a Republican incumbent, John Campbell. Campbell is best known for being co-sponsor of the so-called “Birther Bill” that would require future presidential candidates to submit proof of United States citizenship. In other words, he isn’t one of President Obama’s biggest fans.


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HBO's "Lily Dale" Is Deadly at Times

Is Lily Dale the real deal? God only knows.

I’ve never been to Lily Dale. I suspect that after tonight’s HBO documentary, “No One Dies in Lily Dale,” many more people will be traveling 60 miles south of Buffalo to try and connect with dead loved ones.

And just as many people will resolve never to get near the place.

“No One” – which premieres at 9 tonight and runs throughout the month — is an intriguing but slightly dull look at the 131 year-old spiritual community. It is unlikely to change anyone’s mind on whether the place is loaded with mediums that connect with the dead or is just one big fraud.

One thing is clear: If someone is really hurting and has lost a loved one painfully and prematurely, he or she will consider traveling for hours to visit Lily Dale to seek reassuring answers and comfort from one of the area’s 40 mediums. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

The film features a Chicago police officer desperate for answers after tragically losing his teen-age son to a senseless act of violence. He finds the answers and seems satisfied that Lily Dale is the real deal.

“He (the medium) said some things that make me believe,” said the police officer.

The film offers a good balance by also focusing on some more skeptical visitors who wonder if they are talking to charlatans.

I have no idea. But I will say some of the mediums dress and speak so oddly that they would qualify as extras in paranormal movies.

I suppose we’ve been spoiled by TV dramas and think all mediums should look like Jennifer Love Hewitt (“Ghost Whisperer”) or Patricia Arquette (“Medium”).

Maybe in their next lives it will be true of the Lily Dale mediums.

The stories of how the Lily Dale mediums became mediums are interesting enough and the overhead shots of the area are spectacularly beautiful and more colorful than some of the outfits worn by the mediiums.

My favorite in the film is straight-talking visiting medium Michelle Whitedove (above), who arrives late to give the film some much-needed energy.

She’s needed because after awhile the 90-minute film drags. I’ve had walks in the park that were more exciting.

But don’t let me keep you from visiting “No One Dies.” In 15 minutes, a viewer should get the message and know if he or she wants to continue hearing it get beaten to death.

Rating: 2 and a half stars out of 4

* Channel 4 weekend anchor Mylous Hairston added the Sunday sports duties again to his newscast. He did a solid job showing highlights of Wimbledon and other sports in an extended sports segment on a holiday weekend with a minimal amount of local news.
However, having news anchors do the sports makes a viewer question how much Channel 4 values sports when it doesn’t feel it needs a specialist to anchor that portion of the newscast. Channel 2 has the largest sports staff in the market and is the only station that always assigns someone in sports to anchor the sports segment. At least I can’t remember a time recently that a sports anchor didn’t anchor the sports segment.
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LeBron Speculation Is Beyond Silly

This is what I’m thinking:

* Is there anything sillier than all the TV speculation about where Cleveland Cavaliers free agent LeBron James is going to land?

The truth is nobody really knows what James is thinking — and that may include James.

If you’re to believe all the experts wasting TV time and energy predicting the future, James is either going to stay in his hometown of Cleveland or become a Chicago Bull. Or a New York Knick. Or a Los Angeles Clipper. Or a member of the Miami Heat.

I caught the midnight special on MSG Thursday morning to see New York Knicks announcer and Knick legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier act as a recruiter for James, saying the benefits of playing in New York and Madison Square Garden are priceless. We’re talking multi-millions in endorsements.

On the other hand, all the speculation on all the ESPNs is worthless until James makes up his mind.

The same goes true for the speculation about the other prized free agents — Miami’s Dwyane Wade, Toronto’s Chris Bosh and Phoenix’s Amare Stoudemire (who as of late Friday night was supposed to be heading to the Knicks).

Sure, the free agent sweepstakes is news and deserves some time on the SportsCenters of the world. But not this much time.
* The United States’ elimination loss to Ghana in extra time a week ago in the World Cup had an impressive 7.4 rating on Channel 7, the ABC affiliate. That’s as good as many NBA finals games featuring the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics received here.

The low overall ratings here didn’t show that Buffalonians didn’t care about the World Cup. It showed that they didn’t care when the U.S. wasn’t playing. Additionally, Canada’s coverage here gave viewers a second option to ESPN and ABC.

* NBC’s Ted Robinson is a terrific play-by-play man at Wimbledon but I much prefer the enthusiasm of Dick Enberg, who has worked the Big W for ESPN.

* Is It Live or Memorex? Sometimes, you couldn’t tell when Wimbledon matches were on ESPN or NBC because they rarely showed a graphic telling viewers they were watching “prerecorded matches.” NBC gave a pretty good hint Friday afternoon in the men’s semifinals when it broke for a commercial when Tomas Berdych and Novak Djokovic were at 6-6 in a set and ready to start a tiebreaker. If the match had been live, there wouldn’t have been a break for a commercial.

With all the upsets at Wimbleon, NBC has to be thrilled that ratings draws Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal made it to the ladies final today and the men’s final Sunday, respectively. However, Serena dispatched Vera Zvonareva in straight sets so quickly this morning that NBC has hours to fill before it signs off at 2 p.m.

* NBC’s has run constant promos during Wimbledon featuring Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth that reminded viewers that Sunday Night is football night on the network. Duh. They ran so often they almost seemed more like a warning than a promo. Can’t the network just let us enjoy the summer before reminding us football is around the corner?


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Scary News of What Might Have Been

Mylous Hairston and Lorey Schultz reporting for their own station, Channel 4, and for Channel 7?

John Borsa and Patrick Taney reporting for their own station, Channel 7, and Channel 4?

It could have happened if the owner of Channel 4, LIN TV, was serious about a proposal it made months ago during negotiations with AFTRA, which represents Channel 4′s anchors and reporters.

That’s the word from Hairston, speaking as president of the local chapter of AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists).

Hairston doesn’t know how serious LIN TV was about having Channel 4 share news personnel with Channel 7 or if the company was just trotting out a scary worst-case scenario. But today he confirmed a longstanding rumor that such a proposal was made in negotiations.

“How serious the company was I can’t say,” said Hairston. “It was something that was brought up at the bargaining table. Whether the company had any talks with Channel 7 I don’t know.”

The proposal in a market the size of Buffalo is a horrifying to broadcast veterans and it should be just as scary to viewers. Long-term, the proposal suggests that it might have eventually resulted in the elimination of Channel 7′s news department.

“It certainly was a possibility when you consider how (Channel 7) has streamlined the news department,” said Hairston.

“You would be losing a voice,” added Hairston. “It would be just a horrible idea in terms of hurting the quality and diversity of news coverage.”

He noted that something similar happened in Syracuse and is being considered in other markets in these tough economic times.

LIN and the local AFTRA never made a deal. The union contract expired almost two years ago. Several months ago, Hairston said the company implemented what it called “its last, best and final offer.”

That’s when substitute anchors lost an extra performance fee for anchoring and night differentials were eliminated, Hairston said. In addition, the company dropped the sportscaster and weathercaster classifications in the contract so anyone can do those jobs. That’s why viewers have recently seen Hairston and Jericka Duncan do sportscasts on some weekend nights they were anchoring.

The subject of AFTRA’s inability to get a deal became news again because LIN is in negotiations with NABET, (National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians) the union that covers behind-the-scenes personnel such as photographers, producers, directors and technicians.

Hairston said that one of the big stumbling blocks in AFTRA’s negotiation with LIN was the company’s proposal that all on-air staffers learn how to shoot and edit stories. He explained that shooting and editing are under NABET jurisdiction.

“We couldn’t negotiate something we don’t have jurisdiction over,” claimed Hairston.

The company apparently hasn’t given up on the issue. This week, AFTRA members were asked to volunteer to learn how to shoot and edit. Hairston said the timing — with NABET negotiations scheduled in mid-July – was suspicious.

Hairston took the issue to Facebook this week, undoubtedly confusing anyone who doesn’t work at Channel 4 or who isn’t in the TV news business. So I asked for an explanation.

“Our position is why should anyone volunteer to do something that is the exclusive jurisdiction of another union?” said Hairston. He said that AFTRA acknowledged the “changing tide of the industry” and tried to find a way to compromise with the company without hurting the quality of the news. In addition to shooting and editing its own stories, reporters are also being asked to produce work on the web.

“There’s only so much you can do before quality goes South,” said Hairston. “It would be reflected on the air and viewers would notice.”

Viewers already should notice that stations are putting reporters on the air only a few weeks after they graduate from college partly because, you guessed it, they have learned how to shoot and edit their own stories.

* On another note, Hairston confirmed his new schedule has him reporting two nights and one day a week. He had been working three days in addition to anchoring on weekends.

“Would I prefer dayside?” he asked. “Absolutely. It is what it is.”


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Flynn's First Goodbye Is Most Moving

Taking a look at the headlines:

The Goodbye Girl: Of Channel 4 anchor Lisa Flynn’s twin goodbyes on her 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts Wednesday, I was more moved by the first one.

Perhaps because Flynn started crying at the end of the 5:30 p.m. newscast on Channel 4 as she talked about calling an end to her 24-year news career to raise her seven-year-old son, I almost started crying, too. OK, I admit it. I’m a hardened newsman but even I shed a few tears.

At the end of the 10 p.m. newscast on Lisa’s goodbye on WNLO-TV, her cute son Thomas held a cake (which amusingly almost dropped) as the on-air and behind-the-scenes staff surrounded Flynn.

It was a nice touch. It also made it seem more like a celebration than a reason to cry. Good luck to a great lady and solid journalist.

* Up to the Minute Speculation: If former Rochester TV anchor Lia Lando doesn’t want Flynn’s job, here’s another intriguing possibility. Emily Smith, a former WBEN-AM reporter who currently is an anchor on CBS’ overnight program “Up to the Minute,” certainly should be considered if she were interested in coming back home. Smith was back on WBEN in February talking with an anchor about how differently New York City residents deal with the snow than they do in Buffalo.

Lando, a mother of two, seems like the early favorite for the job if she wants it. Tonight is her first night on the newscasts.

Hairy Information: You know a blog is growing when readers respond to some queries and point out on-air mistakes.

After a blog in which I wondered whether Channel 7 reporter Jason Greunauer made history by starting his career sporting a goatee, Mark Twain responded: “I think I remembered Stefan Mychajliw sporting a goatee on the air at some point at Channel 7 or at Channel 2. And remember the weather guy that pre-dated Don Paul at 4? Something McNally. He had a full-blown beard.” Mike Randall (OK, it wasn’t exactly Twain) was referring to Lou McNally.

Another reader, Buffalo State College communications professor Nanette Tramont noted that Channel 2 anchor Maryalice Demler misspoke Wednesday and “referred to Elizabeth Edwards’ new cancer regime instead of regimen.”

I’m counting on sharp viewers (and readers) to point out amusing and not-so-amusing on-air errors if they attach their names to the emails. I can’t see everything.

Sex and the City, Part 3: Back when the Batavia woman , Suzanne M. Corona, was charged with adultery and held an impromptu press conference after a court appearance, I wrote that any lawyer would have told her to keep quiet. After that, she turned up on 97 Rock talking about the case.

Sure enough, she was back in court Wednesday with a lawyer who did all the talking for her when they met the media. Smart move. Finally.

Clever Opening: Channel 4 has come up with a new idea that wasn’t “borrowed” from Channel 2. It opens newscasts now with 4 stories you don’t want to miss on 4.

Extended Runway: I see Lifetime is extending “Project Runway” by 30 minutes to 90 minutes. In other words, it will seem longer than the latest “Sex and the City” movie and that didn’t seem possible.

Buffalo’s Sportsman of the Month: Jeff Glor, the Western New York native who is a rising star at CBS News, did a piece Wednesday night on LeBron James, the NBA’s most sought-after free agent. A little while ago before the World Cup, Glor did a piece on American soccer star Landon Donovan.

Supreme Joke: Elena Kagan faced some very serious questions at the confirmation hearings for her Supreme Court seat. But she had one line that would have made Jerry Seinfeld, Alan King and Billy Crystal proud. Asked where she was on Christmas Day, Kagan replied: “Like all Jews, probably at a Chinese restaurant.”

That’s all folks!


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Channel 2's Bailey Is Impressive

In honor of Larry King’s decision to end his CNN show this fall, here are some King-like opinions:

* Channel 2 anchor-reporter Marissa Bailey does impressive work no matter where the station uses her.

She reminds me why I shouldn’t be too critical when young people begin working in this market.

I wasn’t overly impressed when a nervous Bailey began hosting a weekend edition of Channel 2’s morning program “Daybreak.” But in a few months, she was smooth on the air.

Bailey no longer anchors the weekend “Daybreak” but, if anything, that has helped her career. She has shown her versatility and seems so comfortable on the air now that I can see her being snapped up by a bigger market if that’s what she wants.

* It looks like local TV news is going to soon look like YNN when it comes to reporters. Both Channel 4 (Nalina Shapiro) and Channel 7 (Jason Greunauer) have put reporters on the air a month after they graduated from college. One veteran reporter recently told me that the stations are so concerned about saving money on salaries that in a year or so local TV news “will look like a college station.”

* When King announced his fall exit from his nightly CNN show Tuesday night, CNN began running a crawl of comments from celebrities celebrating his 25-year run on the cable news channel. The funniest came from Jimmy Kimmel, who accused the 76-year-old of playing a joke on the audience.

* Speaking of Kimmel, since leaving the Buffalo News I stay up a lot later than I used to and catch his ABC late-night act more often. His show certainly is a lot more fun than Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show.” One of his more amusing bits lately is World Cup highlights, which usually illustrate how dull soccer can be.

And late last week, he and Tom Cruise did a high-wire act in search of fresh eggs for a recipe that Cruise supposedly was going to make. They went on the roof of the building where Kimmel’s show is taped and took a ride on a zip line across Hollywood Boulevard and back to get some eggs from a guy on the street. Funny – and scary – stuff. But, hey, we learned on “Entourage” last Sunday that Cruise likes to do his own stunts.

* The zip line bit certainly was funnier than anything in Cruise’s latest movie, “Knight and Day.” The poor opening weekend box office for the film is even more alarming when you consider that Cruise and co-star Cameron Diaz seemed to be everywhere promoting it. When I saw them during a bit on ESPN’s “Sportscenter,” I wrongly assumed it was a Disney film since Disney owns ESPN. However, it’s a 20th Century Fox film.

Some sports notes:

* “Oh, my” ESPN play-by-play man Dick Enberg keeps rolling along. His call Tuesday when Venus Williams was upset at Wimbledon was a reminder of how strong his enthusiasm level remains. “My, oh my,” said Enberg after the shocker ended. Of course, “oh, my” is his signature expression.

* Channel 2’s Ed Kilgore must not pay attention much to tennis. He said on Tuesday that he expected Venus would stay around to root on her sister Serena at Wimbledon. Actually, Venus had to stay until today anyway because the sisters were trying to defend their 2009 title in doubles. They were upset today in three sets in another Wimbledon shocker.

* MSG, the Sabres channel, also carries the New York Knicks games here. The Knicks games have been pretty tough to watch for several years. But tonight, Knick fans may stay up for midnight madness when MSG carries a special on the team’s free agency efforts to land LeBron James or some other big name.


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Channel 4 Staffers Playing Musical Chairs

Anchors and reporters at Channel 4 soon will be playing musical chairs.

According to sources, anchor-reporter Michele McClintick will be moving shortly to become a reporter on the CBS affiliate’s popular morning show “Wake Up.”

McClintick just came off maternity leave so she undoubtedly is used to waking up early these days.

Jericka Duncan, who has been the “Wake Up” reporter, will take McClintick’s old job as anchor of “Weekend Wake Up” in addition to working three nights a week.

And 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. weekend anchor Mylous Hairston moves from being a dayside reporter on the other three days to working nights.

It is unclear if the staffers are happy with the changes at a station that also loses retiring anchor Lisa Flynn on Wednesday and is known for its stability.

* It is looking more and more like the local stations will replace veteran reporters by hiring young no-names who come cheap. But you’d expect the stations will at least allow them to use their names.

Which brings us to the most amusing moment of last weekend: Channel 7 had a newcomer anchor its sports report Saturday. He wasn’t even introduced before he gave the report. On Sunday, the station identified him as Jason Greunauer before he gave another sports report.

Greunauer may have made local TV news history when he began his local career. He’s the first anchor-reporter I remember that started sporting a goatee. (If you know otherwise, email me.)

Greunauer, who previously had done news reports for Channel 7, hasn’t yet made it on the station’s website so his resume isn’t available.
But according to sources, he doesn’t have much of a resume anyway. He’s from Lancaster and graduated from Syracuse University last month. In other words, he’s getting the kind of on-the-job training that used to happen at YNN, Elmira or Erie, Pa. He’s a little raw on the air now but has a promising future.

* I loved the promo for FX’s “Rescue Me” that features the Jay-Z song “Empire State of Mind” with the memorable “New York” lyrics. But I didn’t love the first four episodes sent for review as much. The destructive behavior of alcoholic lead character Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) is getting very, very old.

In fact, practically everything about the dark episodes seems like it has been done to death – including the scenes dealing with death. The show returns at 10 tonight on the basic cable channel that runs shows that break normal language standards.

There is almost as much symbolism about heaven and hell as there was in “Lost” and there’s even a “Lost” reference eventually. Like “Lost,” “Rescue Me” also has announced its end date. The final 19 episodes have been filmed, with 10 airing this summer and the final nine in the summer of 2011.

Things improve noticeably in the third episode, when Peter Gallagher (“The O.C.”) pops up as an irreverent priest (now there’s an unusual phrase) who Tommy turns to eventually for guidance as he is overwhelmed by his own demons and the troubles of his wife and an alcoholic daughter. There also is one humorous scene in that episode about all of the celebrities who are humanitarians that is priceless. In other words, don’t give up on Tommy or “Rescue Me” just yet. Rating: 3 stars out of 4

* After “Rescue Me,” FX premieres a new comedy, “Louie,” at 11 p.m. It stars standup comedian Louis C.K., who previously starred in a failed HBO comedy, “Lucky Louie.”

This “Louie” fits in nicely with the “Rescue Me” attitude. “Louie” is a hybrid of “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” that unfortunately isn’t nearly as funny as either of them.

The star even has a more pessimistic attitude about humanity that “Curb’s” Larry David. Recently divorced, Louie is always looking for the dark side.

“I know too much to have any optimism,” says Louie.

The opener at 11 p.m. tonight is an amiable introduction to Louie, a 42-year-old father of two who is clueless about dating after 14 years of marriage.

Next week’s episode opens with a funny, but offensive scene in which Louie and his friends get a lesson on the origin of the word “faggot” from the gay member of the poker group. Eventually, there’s a bigger lesson in that scene that may get people besides Louie to think about the power of offensive words.

Unlike Louie, I have a little optimism that this unlovable loser will improve and grow on viewers. 2 and a half stars

* I’m not surprised by the poor opening weekend box office for the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz movie “Knight and Day.” As I said in last week’s blog, it’s not much of a movie. When I saw it, the audience didn’t have any reaction at all on opening night after it ended. I suspect it is getting lousy word of mouth despite some surprising decent reviews.

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Flynn Explains Why She Is Leaving Channel 4

At the end of the 10 O’Clock News on CW-23 last Thursday, anchor Lisa Flynn (above with her seven-year-old son Thomas and husband Tom) announced something that stilltalkintv revealed weeks ago.

One of the inspirations for this blog is leaving WIVB-TV Channel 4 and its sister station, WNLO-TV.

“I got one email,” said Flynn in an interview Sunday night. “It is a good lesson. People do not hang in for the lottery numbers and the goodbye. Even Tom missed it.”

Flynn’s reason for leaving is simple: “To spend time with my son before his childhood slips away. It is completely my decision.”

“I can’t have at all at once,” added Flynn. “I could have it all but I couldn’t be good at everything and Thomas suffered as a result of the time commitment my career required.”

Flynn’s last newscast will be Wednesday night. She is preparing a two-minute goodbye piece dealing with the stories she has covered in her 20 years on local TV news – 14 years at Channel 4 and six years before that at Channel 7.

“When I tell people I worked at Channel 7, most people have no recollection,” said Flynn.

Starting Thursday, Flynn will be replaced at least temporarily at 5:30 p.m. weekdays on Channel 4 and at 10 p.m. on WNLO by a former Rochester TV anchor, Lia Lando. Lando was impressive when she anchored the weekend morning shows while Michele McClintick was on maternity leave. She is a Syracuse University graduate and has run her own public relations and marketing firm.

Lando is now believed to be the favorite for the job if she wants it. That has to be a blow to morning anchor Melissa Holmes, who sources said lobbied for the job. However, Lando has two young kids and commutes from Rochester and it isn’t clear if she would want a full-time job.

In a memo to the staff last Friday, Channel 4 News Director Joe Schlaerth said the station is conducting a national and internal search for Flynn’s replacement.

Flynn, 46, said she considered working part-time as a reporter but ultimately decided against even doing that.

“This business is still all-consuming,” said Flynn. “And even working two days a week I would still on my days off figuring out stories and trying to set up stories. And I need to focus on Thomas now. I would be miserable also going back to the street as a reporter.”

Of course, many people feel the message of the women’s movement has matured over the years to mean women shouldn’t feel obligated to “have it all” by working and raising a family. It should be their choice if money isn’t an issue and Flynn has made hers after years of thinking about it.

Flynn said that since Thomas went to kindergarten she has been confiding to Channel 4 anchor Jacquie Walker about the difficulties of balancing work and family. She said Walker told her she was able to do it because her husband stepped up and could work at home.

“My family dynamic is completely different,” said Flynn.

Her husband, attorney Thomas H. Burton, is a quadriplegic who has helped out as much as he can.

“It makes it much harder for him to pick up the slack,” said Flynn. “Tom really carried the bulk of this the last few years. I dumped bedtime on him. He wouldn’t get home until 7 p.m. because of work, then he had to get himself fed, Thomas showered and in bed and Tom does physical therapy four or five nights a week. And he never complained about it.”

She said that the reaction from her co-workers about her departure was a combination of “shock and sadness.”

“Several people have asked me to reconsider,” said Flynn. “Not one said you are making a mistake. They all have been supportive and understanding.”

She said her father, Wally Flynn, initially wanted her to keep working.

“My father is beside himself upset,” said Flynn, “because he won’t see his daughter on TV anymore.”

“Tom had a heart-to-heart with him and said ‘she’s doing this for your grandson.’ So he did come around.”


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Sports on the Air: NHL Awards Were a Bad Joke

This is what I’m thinking:

* The NHL Awards from Las Vegas Wednesday were a pathetic, cheap attempt by the league to use musical acts like the Goo Goo Dolls and celebrity presenters to enhance the entertainment value of the telecast.

The celebrity presenters made a bad joke out of the two awards given to the Buffalo Sabres.

Presenter Mark Wahlberg said that Tie Domi was named rookie of the year instead of Tyler Myers and presenter Jamie Kennedy mispronounced the name of the goalie trophy (Vezina) won by Ryan Miller. Kennedy’s “mistake” seemed part of a painful comic bit with co-presenter D. B. Sweeney. If Wahlberg was trying to be funny, it didn’t play that way.

There was one amusing filmed piece about two Anaheim Ducks, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan, who played for gold medal winning Team Canada and silver medal winning Team USA, respectively, in the Vancouver Olympics. The joke was that Bobby Ryan has been paying for USA’s loss all season long, even being nicknamed Silver by Getzlaf.

It was a funny bit. Otherwise, the NHL would have been better off playing it straight and giving the ceremonies a touch of class.

* I haven’t been a big fan of British play-by-play man Ian Darke during the World Cup because of his low enthusiasm level. But he had a strong game when the United States beat Algeria and raised his enthusiasm on Landon Donovan’s goal in the 91st minute so high that one wonders if ESPN officials asked him to amp the energy level. He also noted that even Hollywood wouldn’t have written a script like that.

I still would have preferred having Mike Tirico or Chris Fowler doing play-by-play and Alexi Lalas doing game analysis. Lalas is ESPN’s star of the Cup, balancing praise and criticism and not giving in to the hype about what the U.S. win would mean to soccer’s future in the States.

On Jim Rome’s radio show Friday heard locally on WGR-AM, Lalas said that even if the U.S. won the World Cup, it wouldn’t mean soccer would be viewed as a major sport in the country. He said that still would take some time.

* The historic Wimbledon fifth set that American John Isner won over France’s Nicolas Mahut, 70-68, cried out for somebody to tell ESPN announcers Hannah Storm, Patrick McEnroe and Brad Gilbert to shut up once in a while and allow some dead air. They never stopped talking about all the history being made amid mountains of statistics.

In his post-match interview, Mahut called it the greatest match ever.

Not really. It was the longest match ever, but the play validated every complaint there is about grass court tennis.

It wasn’t serve-and-volley tennis. It was serve and stay on the baseline tennis. Neither Isner or Mahut went to the net much, which undoubtedly prolonged the match.

I was a little confused when watching the match on ESPN because the time difference between England and the East Coast in the States was only a few hours. Turns out I was watching a replay and didn’t immediately realize it. Viewers should realize if the word “live” isn’t in the corner of the screen, then it isn’t live.

NBC’s Wimbledon coverage often can be confusing when it comes to “live” and tape-delayed. The network carries tennis from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. However, there are no matches on Sunday at Wimbledon so that coverage will certainly be taped.

From Monday through Wednesday, NBC carries a combination of live and taped coverage from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The coverage of the ladies semifinals at noon Thursday and the men’s semifinals at noon Friday also will combine live and taped matches.

The ladies final at 9 a.m. July 3 and the men’s final at 9 a.m. on July 4 during “Breakfast at Wimbledon will be live as usual .

* The best way to watch the NBA draft is to save close to four hours and DVR it to watch later to hear the opinions about the selection of players a viewer is interested in.

ESPN analyst Jay Bilas has apparently never seen a player he doesn’t like or doesn’t think will make it in the NBA. He was effusive in his praise of former Syracuse star Wesley Johnson, who will finally get to play with former SU guard Jonny Flynn in Minnesota. Johnson sat out a year in Syracuse and never played with Flynn there.

ESPN host Stuart Scott called Flynn “Nostradamus” because the former Niagara Falls star predicted weeks ago that Johnson would land with the T-Wolves after they qualified for the fourth pick.

Bilas also praised former Traditional star Lazar Hayward after he was selected with the last pick of the first round by the Washington Wizards (he was traded to Minnesota Friday). And host Stuart Scott amusingly noted that Hayward – who played at the Big East’s Marquette – was offered a scholarship at Syracuse “for rowing.”

The New York Knicks’ pick of former Syracuse star Andy Rautins early in the second round was a surprise only to those who hadn’t seen Rautins play in his senior season. Bilas called Rautins a player with NBA shooting skills, but questioned his defense and tendency to commit turnovers. Johnson probably will be a future NBA star, but Rautins was the Orange’s best all-around player and leader last season.


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