Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The New WOWO News Director is WHO?

We managed to dodge the great Mayan apocalypse. We sidestepped the “blizzard of 2012” but it looks as if Fort Wayne is going to suffer a direct hit. 

This morning,, the radio industry’s premier news conduit featured this headline and story:

WOWO Names Kayla Blakeslee News Director

Yes, Fort Wayne, the woman who once used the word “guys” 12 times in a five minute newscast; who believes that Berry Street intersects with Wayne, who's idea of "out there" includes Fairfield Avenue and who once convicted a man of murder even before a jury was selected…..has been named “news director” of WOWO 1190 (and now on 92.3fm). 

Back in the day, news directors were powerful people in the radio business. As an equal to the program director, sales manager, office manager, director of engineering, the news director hired and fired talent, prepared budgets, set the tone for on air presentation and was usually a seasoned market veteran. Reading the story from, you’ll note that Ryan Wrecker, identified as WOWO’s program director, appears to be Kayla’s boss. Mr. Wrecker is quoted as saying: 

"KAYLA has emerged as an afternoon leader by generating stories, anchoring newscasts and managing traffic for our television partners at 21 ALIVE," WOWO PD RYAN WRECKER said. "Her dedication to the station and community -- and as a respected member of the FT. WAYNE community -- has already created a solid working foundation on which to build on."

Sounds like that quote came directly from her annual employee review, perhaps written by the last WOWO News Director, Dave Wheaton, who now does something like sort the mail at a TV station, that according to his bartender.  

So, before we all get our bowels in an uproar about a giggly, inexperienced market outsider taking over the position once held by the likes of Victor Locke, Jerry Hoffman, Glenn Richards, Dugan Fry, Curt Miller and others, keep in mind that Kayla’s promotion basically means that she gets to open the press releases, organize news feeds and gets to work when other news people are sick, too hung-over, or just don’t feel like coming to work. She will not set station policy, nor will she hire and fire, compile and present budgets to the GM and the Maven is pretty sure this title is in lieu of a pay raise. That’s just how the industry is moving. No word on whether Kayla’s voice will continue to be heard on commercials on other Fed Med stations. 

On a related note, Mr. Wrecker, while singing the praises of his new news director might also want to, himself, become familiar with the names of certain outlaying communities, understand that snow plows can not combat high winds, and that in Indiana a road named 400 S is pronounced “400 South”, not “400 S”.  Rookie mistake. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sorry, Kayla, It's Wasn't Your Fault

In an afternoon Tweet, the Maven chastised WOWO's Kayla Blakeslee for reporting that "Joseph Kast  had been found guilty of murder by a unanimous vote." As anyone with a 4th grade education knows, in criminal proceedings in the State of Indiana, as well as other jurisdictions, a verdict to convict has to be unanimous. There are no "split decisions". What I did not realize at the time was that Kayla's only error was reading shoddy, ineffective and patently poor copy written by WOWO's "news partner", Indiana's Newscenter, also known to some as 21Alive. My apologies to Kayla. 

By reading the story, it's clear that the INC news writer has no grasp of the basics of the court system, and reporting on a unanimous vote for conviction is not only redundant, it's foolish. If this were a school board or City Council meeting, the number of votes to win or lose would be appropriate. 

Considering the state of the broadcast industry in general, and our little 'burg in particular, we should probably consider ourselves fortunate to have a couple of stations still attempting to provide some level of news coverage, sub par as it is. 

For our friends at INC, the State of Indiana's website has some great resources for journalists, and TV news writers, as well

Indiana Rules of Court
Jury Rules

Including Amendments Received Through January 1, 2011

(a)    In all criminal cases, if the defendant is charged with: murder, a Class A, B, or C felony, including any enhancement(s), the jury shall consist of twelve (12) persons, unless the parties and the court agree to a lesser number of jurors. If the defendant is charged with any other crime, the jury shall consist of six (6) persons. The court shall determine the number of alternate jurors to be seated. The verdict shall be unanimous. (emphasis added)
(b)    In all civil cases, the jury shall consist of six (6) persons, unless the parties agree to a lesser number of jurors before the jury is selected. The verdict shall be unanimous, unless the parties stipulate before the verdict is announced that a verdict or finding of a stated majority of the jurors shall be taken as the verdict or finding of the jury. The number of alternate jurors shall be governed by Trial Rule 47(B).

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lessons Learned The Hard Way

Pat Miller is returning to his former perch, 3-6pm, afternoons on WOWO 1190 (and now on 92-3 fm) in January, closing a chapter in what has been called the greatest radio meltdown in Fort Wayne history. 

Kudo's to Fort Wayne's legendary blogger, AWB for digging out this story. You can find his work at

Now, if you are waiting for the Maven to gloat, you are in for a giant disappointment. While Mr. Miller's return is to be celebrated by his many fans and supporters, the damage to WOWO has been done, both in terms of financial loss and tarnished image and credibility. Mr. Miller will work hard, as he always does and will treat his callers and listeners with respect, compassion and tolerance. The true test of Pat Miller's successful return, however, will be the return of his loyal advertisers. Those were the businesses who's ad dollars seemed to evaporate after WOWO's failed Operations Manager Gregg Hacksaw Henson kicked Mr. Miller to the curb, took over his time slot and verbally urinated on WOWO's loyal audience. The Maven is sure that Mr. Miller is up for the challenge and we wish him well. 

Kudos to South Bend's Casey Hendrickson who has managed to keep WOWO afternoons afloat during this long and painful saga. Casey is very talented and would make a worthy fill-in for Mr. Miller's absences and should be considered for another slot on WOWO, as well. The Maven will sleep a little better at night knowing that Gary Snyder will never come back.

And while many will celebrate the triumphant return of Pat Miller, one must also take a moment to mourn the twelve WOWO/FedMed employees who lost their jobs either directly or indirectly as a result of Gregg Henson's malfeasance, and gross negligence in taking an iconic Fort Wayne radio station and reducing it to what many have called a laughing stock of the radio dial. 

Many dedicated people are working hard to 'right the ship' and their efforts are being seen and appreciated. The only question ..... is it too little, too late? 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

One Of The Good Guys......

While it was ignored by local media, Federated Media's Rob Kelley was released by the company over a week ago. Holding the title of Operations Manager, many inside the broadcast industry, locally and nationally, credit Kelley with the programming prowess that made Country-formatted K105 Federated Media's most successful radio property in terms of ratings and revenue. 

FedMed's wholesale jettisoning of staff, talented and otherwise, does little to quell the persistent rumor that the group of stations is for sale and the folks calling the shots in Elkhart are making their bottom line a little more attractive to prospective buyers. 

It is interesting to note that K105's website still carries a banner ad linking to a personal endorsement arrangement with K105's Kelley and Bussick Orthodontics. One has to wonder......with the loss of Rob Kelley, does Rob get to keep his teeth or does K105 get them back? 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Another One Bites The Dust...

The Maven has received more than a few emails and tweets asking why nothing has been written about the reported demise of Dave Wheaton, once a fixture in WOWO's "rip and read", "cut and paste", giggle-filled, mistake and gaffe-prone newsroom. 

As the TV pundits like to say, "the fact of the matter is" ...... The Maven really doesn't care. While the item was released in the Twitter feed associated with this blog, Wheaton's departure reportedly has not officially been announced by the company. Why publicize one's failure's? The loss of Mr. Wheaton is of little consequence or significance to the Maven personally, and to Fort Wayne in general. After the easily provoked, cry-baby former Operations Manager, and failed afternoon talk host, Gregg Henson blocked the Maven, and others, from the station's Facebook page, Twitter feed, and made those dandy death threats (on air and in social media), the Maven, like many, has changed listening patterns, leaving WOWO as an information choice only of last resort. 

We don't need to review and rehash the history of the good intentions, grandiose plans and clever schemes that were designed to restore WOWO's relevancy and credibility in the media marketplace less than two years ago. It's really not necessary to recount the comedy of errors, catastrophic failures and media blunders that have led to the firing of over 15 people from Federated Media. Today, WOWO suffers from far less credibility and relevance than before. Seeing a once revered Fort Wayne institution implode and crumble is not at all enjoyable. 

So, please let this blog posting serve as your personal notification that, Dave Wheaton has left the building. He has apparently been scrubbed from the website, has not been heard on the air, and both insiders and outsiders at 2915 Maples Road say he's gone. So, the Maven, like you, will take that as a "yes", and the bumbling newscasts based heavily on the Urban Dictionary for substance have now ended.

So, who's in charge now? Kylie Havens? 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Social Media Informality vs Neglegence

As Social Media revolutionizes the distribution of news and information, all of the benefits of speed are creating some unwanted side effects. Whether those side effects are worth worrying about seems to be a point of contention.

A close friend of the Maven recently posted what appeared to be a spelling/grammar faux pas by a CNN anchorette/reporter on his Facebook page. While the reporter took advantage of Social Media's informality by using the word "waaayyy", she immediately followed it with the improper use of the word "to" instead of the correct "too". 
Our friend received a castigating email for being "waaayyy" too concerned about proper spelling, grammar and accepted journalistic style within the Social Media arena. Our friend, in his response email held his own, pointing out that while "waaayyy" could be dismissed under the new doctrine of informality, the "to/too" could not when reporting news or opinion for CNN, also noting that on CNN's other platforms, including TV, this would not be acceptable.

An isolated incident? No. USA Today also suffers from spelling issues on Social Media, however this instance is not a case of being "informal", this is a textbook case of stupidity and a lack of quality control. With no grumpy editors looking over their shoulders, Social Media "journalists" are free to write what they want with no editorial controls. Again, this would never be tolerated in their print product. 

The old yarn of "Speed, Accuracy, Truth.....pick any two" applies well to Social Media and the News. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

News Sentinel Loses Sight Of Site

The Maven is beginning to believe that spelling and grammar are as optional in the newspaper business as they appear to be in our public schools. I'm sure the new site for Erin's House will be quite a sight. Someone should also be flogged and throttled for the misspelled headline, too.

An otherwise well written story about a unique and honorable organization.......and no one caught this? Or no one at the News Sentinel cares?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fire the Headline Writer

You folks at the Journal Gazette are making this too damn easy. 

An "armed" gun store?  I would hope that the gun store was "armed", that's what they sell. 

While your cranky editor will call "bullshit" and say the the headline is "technically" correct (which it is), it is also ambiguous and confusing, much like your editorials. 

Might a headline like "Gun Store Armed Robbery" confuse the reader less? But maybe the Journal likes to keep their readers baffled and confused. Nice work. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Journal Gazette = Big Tease

The locally-owned morning newspaper likes to portray itself as a trusted community resource, full of important and timely information, excellent journalism, an aggressive watchdog for the readers they serve. 


The Journal Gazette is nothing more than an over-dressed, chain-smoking hooker, sitting at the end of the bar, making promises she won't deliver. But she will gladly take our money. 

Today's "Best Bets" section, viewed on line, purports to offer a list of community activities and events for their audience. As you can tell, the Journal offers nothing but cut and paste information about City and County offices being closed for the holiday. Even habitual TV viewers have the intelligence to tell that this information has been procured from some master calendar somewhere at 600 West Main. No effort, apparently, was made to research any worthwhile activities going on today, or even rewrite the closing information to match style. The Maven recognizes that this is Fort Wayne, but, this is embarrassing. Best not share this with the Convention and Visitor's Bureau for distribution in their materials. "Fort Wayne, Where Absolutely Nothing Is Going On". 

The message is clear, according the the Journal Gazette, there is nothing going on in our town today, so, please go about your business, boring as it may be. 

(updated 1:16pm 11/12)

Here's how the News Sentinel does it:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lazy Media, Chapter 6

Before the Maven get's accused of bashing the poor, helpless souls at WOWO, let me state that all media does this. WOWO just happens to provide a wonderful, textbook example of "PR Journalism". 

Other than "breaking news" and the run-of-the-mill traffic accidents and such, most "news" we are treated to usually consists of regurgitated press releases or "media handouts". Fort Wayne sees very little "enterprise" reporting where a reporter actually sniffs out a story and reports on it. The now-retired Mike Dooley of the News Sentinel and, to a lesser extent, Frank Gray of the Journal Gazette are the only two reporters who do actual reporting that is not in response or reaction to an existing story or event. Think about this the next time one of the "blow-dried" TV news anchors stares into the camera and proudly states "as we were the first to report"...... sure, pal.

Below is a portion of a Press Release from The City of Fort Wayne's web site proudly crowing about our beautiful Martin Luther King bridge. The second screen capture is how WOWO, and most other media in our town handle such a news story. Check the links out to the content of each and count and compare the paragraphs; note they all start and end with the same words. While some media may polish or rewrite such PR offerings, many, like what WOWO has done here, simply cut and paste the copy while adding their logo as if it were original reporting. 

Here's a portion of the City's screen capture:
The complete webpage is here:

And here's a portion of WOWO's screen capture. 
The complete webpage is here:

While WOWO does share news "resources" with the AP, Indiana's NewsCenter and the Journal Gazette, you will notice that WOWO gives no credit to the City. It's just cut and paste. 

Seems ironic that school children might be tossed into terminal detention ... for something Fort Wayne "journalists" do every day.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fined $10-Grand For Telling the Truth

The next WBNI/WBOI pledge drive may seem to have a little more urgency to it, this Notice Of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture from the Federal Communications Commission may have something to do with it. 
The Feds have found that WBNI 94.1 and their parent North East Indiana Public Radio failed to "retain all required documentation for the Public Inspection File", a requirement of the FCC. This file is maintained, usually, at the station's main studio and/of business office and contains many documents pertaining to the operation of the station, including the station license. Apparently the recent license renewal application for WBNI asked a question regarding placing certain specified documents in said Public File. Well, WBNI had not been doing this and answered the question with a truthful "no", setting in motion a bureaucratic flurry resulting in a nasty letter and a $10,000 fine

If you read the entire document you may notice that WBNI is referred to as a commercial station. While WBNI does not accept regular advertising and mimics the underwriting standards of their sister station WBOI 89.1 (which is a non-commercial allocation), WBNI has not ever asked to be reclassified as a non-commercial station, probably because North East Indiana Public Broadcasting, if they ever chose to, could sell the 94.1 license to a commercial broadcaster for a lot more money. 

At any rate, kudos to WBNI for telling the cost them a healthy $10,000.

You can read the entire FCC notification here:  

Monday, October 22, 2012

WOWO's Cut and Paste Journalism

A few days ago, we took Indiana's NewsCenter to task for a cock n' bull story about a $4.2 million dollar budget shortfall at IPFW. We were perplexed that the journalist writing the story did not bother to ask IPFW officials WHY there was such a large miscalculation of the budget.

Well, in the new era of "cut and paste" journalism, WOWO, 1190 (and now on 92.3 FM) presents the same story, and, of course, does not ask the WHY question, either.

WOWO will be quick to note that they have some kind of interlocking relationship with INC, but it would be  helpful if that relationship would be noted somewhere in the news story, so that listeners weren't left with the impressions that they were just common thieves.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Forget Something?

Anyone who has taken a journalism course knows the building blocks of an effective, informative news story. Who, what, where, why and how. Remember?

 As I read an Indiana's NewsCenter story about a $4.2 million budget shortfall at IFPW, something seemed to be missing. Upon a second reading, it was clear. The writer of the story had neglected one of those building blocks, namely, the “why”. Why is there a $4.2 million dollar budget gap? The INC writer goes into detail in describing IPFW’s valiant effort to narrow the budget divide, but nowhere in the story are we told how this trusted institution could be so far off in their budgeting. INC quotes the school’s Vice Chancellor of Financial Affairs, but apparently never felt it necessary to ask the “why” question and the Vice Chancellor didn’t feel a need to explain why.

So, why does IPFW have to cut expenses? Over optimistic enrollment forecasts? Budgetary malfeasance? Only those operating IPFW know for sure, and Indiana’s NewCenter sure isn't asking.

Monday, October 15, 2012

If WFWA Doesn’t Do It….

In the late 1990’s when Conservative politicians first wanted to remove Federal funding for public broadcasting, a smart slogan writer coined the positioning statement “If PBS won’t do it, who will?” The point was that PBS, thanks to federal tax dollars, was in a unique position to produce programming that would otherwise not be successful in the arena of commercial broadcasting. Back then, with very few other media outlets available, the statement made sense.

According to the Indiana Debate Commission, here's where Hoosiers can find tonight's Indiana Senatorial Debate:

Reflecting on that old PBS positioning statement, the Maven is curious as to why WFWA TV 39 has chosen not to carry tonight’s Indiana Senatorial debate live, instead, delaying it and pushing it back to October 26th. One would think that WFWA would want to be at the forefront of fact finding in an effort to help educate the great, ignorant masses that flock to their digital beacon of truth and enlightenment. Uh, guess not. If WFWA won’t do it…apparently, others will.

Observant readers will note that WPTA, aka Indiana’s NewCenter is not carrying the great debate live on their air, either. They are, however, “streaming” the event, in real time, giving viewers a chance to see it on their laptops, tablets and smart phones, without having to wait until October 26th.

Something to keep in mind during the next pledge drive….

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Maven's Mailbag...

Yes, I get feedback. Boy, do I get feedback. Most of it is courteous, some of it unkind, but it's always appreciated. 

Today, I'd like to answer a couple of Tweets that piled up during my absence this past week. There is nothing more refreshing than returning home to Fort Wayne following a grueling client photo shoot in a sunny and sandy location complete with tasty margaritas and surfeit of tanned, glistening scenery on constant parade. I love expense accounts. 

Our first Tweet comes from Zach. Zach, as you can see from his Tweet, is concerned because he, like the Maven, is a former employee of Federated Media, operator of a number of radio stations in town. Apparently, some of young Zach's friends believe him to be masquerading as the FW Media Maven. 

To put your friend's minds at ease, Zach, let me state for the record that I am not you, and you are not me. While we both did work at 2915 Maples Road, more than 35 years separated us. When I drew a paycheck there, US 27 was a 2-lane road, only 2 house trailers (pre-fab buildings) were attached to the brick 1380 transmitter building and only 2 stations operated form there, 1380 and 97.3. I worked with names like Elliot, Latz, Maurer, and some new guy named Spangler. The rock 'n roll was on 1380, the Bonneville beautiful music was on 97.3. Dark ages to most in the business now. 
Hope that helps, Zach. Good luck in the future. 

Our second Tweet comes from Dave Wheaton. Dave's question poses a quandary because the Maven can not discern if the question is literal or rhetorical. 

Why don't I use my real name on the blog that I write? Actually, I don't use any name at all. If you want a name, I'll give you one, but it's not one you would recognize. I would ask you, Dave, as a powerful and influential member of the media, what do you and your newsroom-mates at WOWO really care about what some blowhard blogger has to say about your news operations performance? Unless, of course, there is some truth in my critiques? Either way, it's nice to have you along as a reader on Twitter and the blog.

Contact the FW Media Maven at or on Twitter, of course.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Too Much Time On Their Hands

After firing 12 employees recently, one would think that the remaining workers at the Federated Media stations would be rather busy little bees. Guess not. Seems that four FedMed employees are able to take time from their busy broadcast day to enjoy the time-wasting activity of responding to snarky and cryptic Tweets from the Maven. 

During the rein of Gregg 'hacksaw' Henson, Fed Med employees were forbidden from responding to any public criticism, preferring to let management handle those issues, if at all. For all his warts and foibles, Henson had it right. His point was to never stoop to respond to any criticism, because it just might be coming from your biggest competitor, a cranky advertiser....or some high school kid with too much time on his hands and a bad acne problem. That policy has either changed, or the management at Federated Media has totally no idea what their overworked, and marginally paid, employees are doing on company time. 

One more thing, what the hell is a 'Heather Cruise"? Never heard of her. With the 100,000 listeners she claims, she should be a household easily recognizable as Preparation H. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Case of the Illegible Ineligible Player

There was a time when newspapers where celebrated as a standard for grammar and spelling. Those days, apparently, have come and gone.

In a story published today, the Journal Gazette’s sports editor Greg Jones tells us the Warsaw High School soccer team will have to forfeit seven games for using a player that was not eligible to play. However, Mr. Jones, most likely a product of public education, confuses the word “ineligible” with similar, yet totally unrelated word “illegible”. 

For those of you who may have been classmates of Mr. Jones, “ineligible” is defined as: not eligible: as
a : not qualified for an office or position
b : not permitted under football rules to catch a forward pass<an ineligible receiver>

illegible” is defined as: not legible : INDECIPHERABLE <illegible writing>

I’m sure that eliminating all those editors and fact checkers seemed like a good idea at the time.

Monday, October 1, 2012

WOWO News Written by Meth-Heads?

The good news is, someone at WOWO has figured out how to make their on-line stories big enough to be read without the aid of an electron microscope.

The bad news is, the news writing is still crap. Too cute, too informal, too ... crappy.

While the general premise of the story is sound, the good news/bad news vehicle is old and tired....just like the Maven.

The one question that sticks in the Maven's craw is this: while most reasonable people will agree that it is GOOD news that no one was injured in the it really BAD news that the police stopped someone for making, or preparing to make, meth? Since when did the media cheer for the bad guys? Wouldn't this be a good news/good news story? Oh, that's right, it has to be cute or no one will listen....either that or WOWO's news copy is written by meth-heads .... and that could explain a lot. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

First the NFL Replacement Refs, now INC Screws Packer Fans

The Maven and his lovely dinning companion were nestled comfortably in a cozy booth at a favorite restaurant/bar eagerly anticipating the Saints/Packers game Sunday afternoon.

All was going swimmingly until the barmaid had difficulty finding the game on TV. A quick scan of MyFox Fort Wayne's usual hiding places on Comcast cable revealed a Bare Minerals infomercial on both Comcast 18 and 252. But the screen guide indicated the Saints/Packers game on the Fox network. Hmm.

As time passed, the audio from the infomercial went up, then down, then away, then back to full volume. The video remained on the infomercial. 
Then, with a minute or two left in the first quarter, and the game tied at 7, viola! The NFL on Fox appeared and the disgusting Bare Minerals infomercial was vanquished to annoy us on another day!

One has to wonder if the error would have been corrected earlier if the station personnel (probably just the one person in the building at the time) had not taken time to Tweet about the screw up, rather than fix it immediately. Hey, at least they acknowledged the error (whether it was, in deed technical, or just someone busy doing something else and neglecting something as unimportant as a measly football game, we will never know). A screen crawl might have been a nice touch....but it that might have been asking too much of the poor flunky running multiple TV stations in multiple cities from the Butler Road bunker.

It's clear that INC, the current Fox affiliate, does not take their affiliation seriously and only holds the affiliation so that another Fort Wayne station can not get their grubby little hands on it. And brickbats also to Comcast for moving MyFox Fort Wayne around on their line up. With MyFox Fort Wayne on Comcast 18, where the hell did the put the Weather Channel? Well, that's a search for another day.....

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

There Will Be One Less…

In a town where there are, at best, only a handful of credible, likeable and trustworthy TV anchors and presenters, we will now have one less.

The AWB blog, is reporting that INC’s Ryan Elijah will be leaving the friendly confines of Butler Road for an evening anchor position at the Fox owned and operated station in Orlando. Elijah previously had worked as sports anchor at a Jacksonville, FL TV station before his return to Fort Wayne to anchor a morning newscast.

In a sea of self importance and faux authority, Ryan Elijah never allowed his “position” to cloud his genuine interest is the people and the stories he covered. Many of us, who watch Fort Wayne media, literally and figuratively, are losing one of the good ones.

AWB's story can be found here:  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

NBC's "Boobs" Take the Heat Off The Journal Gazette

9/12 Update:
Not really sure if it was planned or not, but the Journal did feature a nice "follow up" this morning about how people remembered the 9/11 attacks on the front page of the paper. While the skeptical among us may use the familiar phrase of  "a day late and a dollar short", the Journal recovered from yesterday's affair nicely. One of our friends, who called the publisher's office yesterday to complain reached a rather rude gentleman who asked "how did you get this number", to which our friend replied: "it's printed in the paper". "Oh" was his response. I guess they ivory tower isn't used to taking reader's phone calls. 

Original post:
Fort Wayne's "progressive" newspaper, the Journal Gazette, did not print one word or picture about 9/11 on their front page this morning. Social media types caught this insult and after a number of calls to the publisher's office, the JG felt compelled to tweet a message to their followers that their 9/11 coverage could be found on page 3A inside the paper. Then, magically around 10:30am the JG website was revised to direct readers to their 9/11 stories. While the Maven was amazed that nearly every newspaper in the country found space on page one for 9/11, the Journal, ever the contrarian, stuffed their 9/11 stories inside. At least they avoided placing them deeper inside with the auto repair, pest exterminator and handjob parlor ads as they did with the Pearl Harbor observance stories last year. How nice. 

But, the Journal really owes a debt of gratitude to the  NBC Today Show. Why? Well NBC found an even better way to trivialize this day of quiet reflection and memory. 

As has been the tradition, the nation pauses for a moment of silence at around 8:46am, the time the first hijacked airliner struck the north tower of the World Trade Center. Every major news network showed images of the President and First lady with head bowed appropriately. Other images showed a silent New York Stock Exchange trading floor, still, other images showed a Marine standing at attention. 

Then, there was NBC......who chose to ignore those somber scenes and instead,  proudly aired an interview with “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” star Kris Jenner, who talked about the new season of the reality show, and proudly showed off  her brand spanking new breast implants. Hooters vs heroes. Must be an NBC thing.

Real class, to say the least. Just another example of how far journalism has fallen from the ivory towers of truth and enlightenment to the gutter of filth and lowest common denominator. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fire the Proofreaders....Oh, We Already Did That

There was a time when the daily newspaper was held up to children and adults as an example of correct spelling and good grammar.  Those days have apparently passed us by, as illustrated in a Sunday Journal Gazette article written by the usually dependable Dan Stockman.

In discussing the issue of Roundabouts planned in our fair city, an expert on the subject commented about the public's aversion to them:

Note the use of the word "complains" as opposed to the correct word "complaints".

Rather than trying to influence the outcomes of local political elections, as evidenced by their recent smear of announced mayoral candidate Mitch Harper, the publisher of the Journal Gazette might want to focus the attention of her managers and editors upon the quality of the product they publish. That reputation used to be worth defending. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Agenda - Politics of Publishing

It didn't take long for a Republican to step up and announce his intentions to seek the office of Fort Wayne Mayor before the phone rang at Tracy Warner's desk at the Journal Gazette. The voice at the other end of the line must have heard the rumor and now Tracy was tasked with beginning the painstaking process of destroying the character of this upstart candidate in order to protect his newspaper's political interests. How dare someone challenge the long held agenda of the Journal Gazette ownership by wishing to unseat a perfectly good Democrat who has enjoyed a prosperous and well-oiled, symbiotic relationship with the paper and it's "community involved" ownership? Say what you want about media ownership - private vs corporate. Both have their negatives, and locally owned erudite "do-gooders" are a prime example.
Here's Mr. Warner's "work":

Make no mistake, Mitch Harper is a big boy and an experienced politician. He can take care of himself. The rub is that Mitch, unlike Tom Henry, will not have the advantage of a loyal media ally on his bench. Sure, the News Sentinel is often referred to as "the Republican" paper, but their corporate ownership, hidden away somewhere in the hills of West Virginia, are more concerned with lineage and readership rather than supporting local candidates who share their political philosophy. Activists they are not.
So, the first salvo has been hurled. Mitch will, and should ignore the barb, and we voters and the few who still subscribe to the local papers, will be in for another round of negative campaigning spearheaded by local millionaires who diddle and daddle with politics from their ivory towers overlooking the Courthouse Green.....which, you will recall, was built because daddy's office view of our stately Courthouse was blocked by a few old buildings.  The joys of owning a newspaper. 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Nicely Played

Just when you thought Fort Wayne radio had hit the bottom of creativity and imagination, this comes along.

At first blush, this would appear to be a kind, compassionate and generous offer to the recently fired employees of Federated Media. At a time when the economy is questionable, it would seem that the Oasis Radio Group was in a position to give the ex-FedMed employees a ray of hope.

In truth, this is not what it seems. In reality, it's a well done publicity stunt offering Oasis Radio Group an opportunity to stick their thumb in the eye of a competitor and their former employees. Most, if not all,  of the ex FedMed employees signed employment contracts when they were hired (a standard practice) which include non compete clauses. There is little chance that FedMed would ever waive those clauses, and an even more remote chance that any of the ex FedMed employees would risk a long, expensive court battle to take a position with Oasis.

The non compete is a pesky little piece of legalese generally stating that if the employee leaves the employer, for any reason, the employee agrees (is forced to agree) to not work for a "competing" media facility for a specified time (usually a year) within the same "market area". Crafty lawyers have had marginal success challenging non competes by simply having the new employer specify a slightly different job title (air talent vs, disc jockey. or music director vs programming coordinator). Not to be out done, those contracts, for some time now, contain an additional "trade secrets" clause stating that the employee, in the course of their regular duties, would have access to inside information that could damage the employer if the employee were to become employed by a competitor. Courts have, time and time again, upheld both the non compete and trade secret provisions. 

So you may admire Oasis Radio Group, but not for the reason you think. They deserve to be applauded for having the business sense of taking advantage of a competitor's weaknesses and using that to enhance their image. That's how the game is played. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

WOWO/FedMed's Big Hatchet Job

The unceremonious dumping of Gregg Henson and his assistant, Brian whats-his-name, was not unexpected. FedMed needed someone to blame for killing what little credibility the iconic WOWO once had. At this point, the Maven was sure the bleeding would stop and attention would be turned to WOWO's turd of a newsroom with all it's warts and foibles. A quick fix there would begin to repair the damage to both audience and advertisers. The announcement of Mr. Zimmerman taking the programming reins was also welcomed by current and former FedMed staffers. The road to recovery was clear.

Not so fast. On Monday, according to a reputable local blogger, social media, media reports and our own insider(s) on Maples Road, 12 Federated Media employees were escorted off the property with only what they could carry in a cardboard box. Among the casualties were Chief Operating Officer Mark DePrez, highly regarded WMEE mid day talent Zack Skyler and Production Wizard Steve Brelsford. Other casualties included DePrez's wife who reportedly held some sort of sales position, assorted other sales people and some part timers. A News~Sentinel story reports that WOWO/FedMed has no plans to fill the vacant positions.

What does all this mean? Are some of these dismissals the direct result of the hiring and firing of Gregg Henson? Probably not. Are some of these firings the result to poor hiring decisions and the resulting fall out? Maybe. The Maven believes that the folks in Elkhart who call the shots are tired of losing money running radio stations that, according to many industry analysts, no one will be listening to in 20 years. This may be Federated Media/Pathfinder Communicaitons/Fallen Timbers/Talking Stick, etc's one and only chance to preserve some of Grandpa Jack Dille's fortune for the current generation to spend foolishly. What we're seeing may be a purging of "excess" costs (generated by those 12 poor souls tossed over the side), and a further pruning of expenses in an effort to make the financials look even more attractive to a large radio ownership group(s).

While many people in Fort Wayne like to bitch and moan about the present state of local radio, just wait until the likes of WOWO, K105, the Bear and others are swallowed up by a large corporate operator who will pipe in programming from a far away central location with advertising sales handled via a call center backed up by a corporate website. That's how it works these days, and one has to assume, local radio's days are numbered in Fort Wayne. It's just a matter of time.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

WOWO Gets A Woody!

Well, the antagonistic, in-your-face angle didn't work, so now WOWO tries again. 

According to the industry-respected, WOWO's new Operations Manager is Bill "Woody" Zimmerman, replacing the recently bounced Gregg ‘Hacksaw’ Henson. According to the story, "Market Manager Jim Allgeier said, "Woody's sense of urgency, organizational skills, attention to detail and work ethic make him uniquely qualified to take on the complex job of programming a News/Talk station." The article goes on to mention that Mr. Zimmerman is a local, and has held numerous positions within Federated Media so he should be accustomed to dealing with the quirks and expectations of the company and the attached executive egos that come with the territory.

A couple of ex-FedMed employees are viewing this development in a very positive way, telling the Maven that if anyone can help rescue the damaged credibility and reputation of this iconic media institution, Woody is the guy. The Maven will wait and see.

The first thing Mr. Zimmerman can do is to clean up the newsroom operation. It’s an embarrassment and has done just as much to trash the WOWO good name as Mr. Henson did while threatening listeners by name on the air. The news writing is sophomoric, childish, and at times, inaccurate and confused. The presentation sounds like high school kids trying to be cute.

Woody has his work cut out for him and we wish him well, it's a tall order. The Maven hopes that the “sense of urgency” is real, and not just another positioning statement. WOWO could use the help, not more slogans and fixes.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hacksaw Henson Leaves WOWO....

According to numerous reports, Gregg Henson, Program Manager for WOWO 1190 has left the building. Word is that Friday was his last day. His assistant, Brian somebody, apparently was also released. 

Gregg Henson's short stint as a WOWO talk show host began with the rather abrupt dumping of the highly popular Pat Miller, and culminated with Henson's removal from the air in early June after reportedly threatening the lives of five listeners on air and in social media, by name after they complained about Pat Miller's departure. Advertisers, who are the only voice that media will listen to, reportedly either cancelled their advertising, or asked to have their ad dollars placed with other FedMed properties. Henson also contacted the Maven, and others, with instructions to never listen to WOWO nor to comment publicly about the station, or he "would unleash the lawyers". The Maven's attorney was not amused. 

At any rate, now that Fort Wayne's long radio nightmare is over, a few troubling questions still remain. 

First, why was this hot-headed, vengeance driven troublemaker hired in the first place? This is not the radio industry of the 60's and 70's when all that station managers had to rely on was a nicely edited tape and a reasonably clear resume with a minimum of Liquid Paper dribbles on it's face. This is the age of technology, and if someone, anyone within Federated Media would have bothered to Google Mr. Henson's name, could they not have avoided this costly journey down a path from which their credibility may not easily recover? One must remember, the industry geniuses at 2915 Maples Road operate in mysterious ways. 

Another question: How long until WOWO's news operation undergoes an overhaul to restore credibility to it's content and presentation? Currently it's a newsroom run by a publicity-seeking cellphone abuser presiding over newscasts written using the Urban Dictionary as a guide, delivered by seemingly bright, perky and clueless females who are more concerned with Justin Bieber's inseam measurement than with who the Premier of Israel is. It was a very telling moment on Friday when the confused newscaster-ette said "WOWO news this hour is brought to you by ............ er one". Hey, it's the truth.

And the last question, who's voice will we hear on Monday at 3pm? You might be surprised. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

WOWO News Convicts Another Person of Murder

The media tends to over use the word "allegedly" in order to protect itself from legal complications. Now, one would assume the journalistic geniuses at WOWO would, at least, use the word once in their news copy.

No, not likely. Please notice that they have apparently already found this citizen guilty of murder without even a trial. Here's the headline:

Then there's the headline of the copy. Note the copy is correct.

And the hits (on their credibility) just keep on coming.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

As Heard On The Radio

Painful news copy from our friends at WOWO 1190 (and now on 92-3 FM). The Maven believes that the font/text is so small because they are hoping no one will notice the poor writing.

Here we go:

#1: We get the message that police were called. The second reference is an insult to readers/listeners who you just told that police were called. 

#2: WTF is this? "The guys from 5-0". What's a "5-0"? Please don't tell me this is an Hawaii 5-0 reference? No one would be that stupid to place a reference to a ficticious law enforcement agency portrayed on a TV show within a news story. Must be an inside joke at the station. 

#3: "the chase was on". Gee, cliche much?

#4: What is it with WOWO's fetish with using the word "guys" in every news story? It sounds like a writing crutch with the only redeeming value to the audience as, perhaps, the basis for a fun drinking game. If you hear "guys", down an ice cold Milwaukee's Best. 

#5: "still in the wind", a phrase that I use every day to describe losing my car keys. Cutesy overload. Cut it out. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

WOWO Getting Closer....

Casey Hendrickson is this week's guest host on WOWO's afternoon show. And from what the Maven heard, Casey had a great day. Of course, it helps that Casey is the morning man on a FedMed sister station in the South Bend market, but he did the best, to date, of any of the others trying out for the position. 
Mr. Hendrickson sounded engaging and conversational, treated callers with respect, and did his homework about the hot topics of the day.
If WOWO decides to hire Mr. Hendrickson for the gig, it's a wise move. Obviously they will have someone who they believe will do a good job, plus, since he's already a FedMed employee there's a cost-savings to them as well. Thanks to technology, there is no reason why Casey can't conclude his South Bend morning show, take a long lunch, and then go back into the same studio and perform on WOWO in the afternoon, all for a cost far less than hiring another full time employee. Smart move. 
In spite of Gregg "the hacksaw" Henson's admonishment to me to not listen to "his g*d-damn radio station" .... I think I'll be back tomorrow. 
Casey Hendrickson just might be the one to lead WOWO afternoons back to respectable numbers and revenue. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Obligatory WOWO News Slam

You know the drill. Cutesy news copy delivered by a voice only a Junior High School speech teacher could love. 

A closer look:

#1: Columbia City, not Columia City. You may not pronounce the "B", but most of us who live in the area do. 

#2: "a ton of stuff". The only thing worse in news writing than using excessive descriptive adjectives is to use deceptively excessive descriptive adjectives. It's a physical imposibility for a passenger car to carry a ton, or 2,000 pounds, of anything without dragging ground. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Class Act

When the Maven first got wind of Jeannette Hendrix Rinard's impending departure from the morning show on WAJI 95.1, it seemed like a scenario that we see all too often in radio these days. A popular station jettisoning talented, long time personnel based up on the whims of spineless General managers fueled by the cold and uncaring calculations of some non-radio bean counter at some far off corporate headquarters.  
Upon further investigation, this is not the case. After a quarter century in the business, the last 16 at WAJI 95.1, Ms Rinard's departure is of her own choosing and is the beginning of a career she will certainly love. Beginning next school year "Jnet", as her radio friends call her, will become  an Interactive Media Instuctor at the Four County Area Vocational Cooperative and will afford her more time with her family and more opportunities to serve her community.. 
Her tearful goodbye to her listeners and co-host Dirk Rowley, was one of the most genuine and touching moments the Maven has ever heard on the radio in a very long time. Kudos to WAJI 95.1 management for allowing Jeannette to complete her last show with the same amount of dignity and class that she has always projected. 
Best wishes, will be missed. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Just Plain Lousy

The Maven's last critique of a WOWO News copy/webpage offering was met with so much, uh, attention, the Maven thought they would pick a random story from the weekend and try again.
While the headline "Man Hits House with Truck, Runs Away" does grab one's attention, the visual of a man holding a truck in his hands and banging the side of a house, does seem, uh, less than plausible.

You can follow along, if you desire:

#1: Folks. Now, the Maven realizes that WOWO's high-priced consultant has been encouraging the WOWO News staff to write in a "personalized, intimate, and relaxed" manner ( I can't recall the exact wording of the email critique I saw, but that's pretty close). However, the word "folks" is overused to the point of distraction. Stop it.

#2: They. Who is they? The police, the neighbors? Identify who "they" are.

#3: Guy. See point  #1. Your consultant, sitting in that sunny locale and composing programming critiques for his many radio station clients from the well-appointed confines of his 31 foot sailboat would not be happy to know that you have also turned that word into an irritant. Please Google the phrase "fingernails on a chalkboard" for more enlightenment. 

#4: Cops. Please. While your coworkers and friends at the bar and the nearby Starbucks may refer to them as "cops", they are law enforcement officers who put their lives in danger everyday to protect your privileged asses so that your may sit in an air conditioned news room and search through the Urban Dictionary to find cutesy words to "spice up" your news copy. Stop it. Show some respect.

#5: "alcohol had something to do with this". Tell me, did alcohol drive the truck, hit the house, call the police, or write this insipid news story? Tell me, I'm dying to know. 

#6: Isn't there supposed to be some "relate-able" graphic to go in this box? Draw me a graphic. Doesn't someone in your office have an advanced art degree?

Yes, there is one more glaring error. Did you spot it? 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

They Just Don't Care

The Maven takes a lot of crap about being a crotchety nit-picker. But when garbage news copy like this is published on the web and read on the air, I make no excuses. This is like shooting fish in a barrel.

While I could probably find a few more issues with this copy, I stopped at use in piling on, right?

From what I can gather from the article, there were a couple of shootings early this morning that left one person dead and a couple more injured.

The complete (if you want to call it that) article can be found, errors and all, here:

Follow along with me:

#1: It's an update, ok, fine. Then you tell me, again, it's an update. Sloppy. The second "Updated" is redundant.
#2: This copy appears to be written for the ear, but I'm looking at it with my eyes. And once again, you infer that it's an update. Stop updating me and tell me the story......
#3: "out at the Eden Green....." Hello, Kayla Blakeslee! This one has your fingerprints all over it. The Eden Green complex sits dead (sorry about the pun) in the center of the city of Fort Wayne. "Out at...." would refer to an area outside of the city, or, at the least, far removed from the downtown area. No one on the WOWO news staff is from Fort Wayne, so, it makes sense that you are all confused.
#4: This sentence is so flatulently verbose, it should be removed. Police always welcome information from the public, so the words "police are now asking...." are unnecessary.

#5: "shooting erupted...". No, volcanoes erupt, shootings "happen". And for God's sake don't say "shots rang out".
#6: "the first one..." The word "one" is redundant and in unnecessary to tell the story.
#7: "half past two...". The only person in the world that uses the phase "half past two" is your grandmother, and even she is embarrassed by your writing. What's wrong with two thirty?
#8: "in the second shooting..." Try "other" shooting. You have described one, this is the other.
#9: The word "intersection" is misspelled twice, in two different ways. "intersecton" and "inersection". Spell check would have nailed this. Why do you have such little regard for your audience?
#10: "two shootings..." yes, mentioned that. It's redundant, again.
#11: Verbose and painful to read.

The Maven wonders when English and Grammar became optional courses in high school and college.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Indiana's News Center Grammar Checker Broken

Here's the latest assault on the English language, perpetrated by the dedicated journalists and bastions of credibility out on Butler Road. Apparently the rules for singular and plural have not been loaded in their computers.

Indiana News Center needs to come clean and admit that their news stories are out-sourced, and written in a third world country.

The bigger crime is that no one knows, or cares about things like this. 

But, if INC would screw up a Bob Rohrman car ad (which they do regularly) all Hell would break loose.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Handicapping The WOWO Afternoon Auditions

For the past few weeks listeners and the remaining "post Henson meltdown" advertisers have gotten to sample the talents of three men who seek to fill the dearly departed Pat Miller's shoes at WOWO 1190 (and now on 92.3 FM). Say what you want to about Mr. Miller, but he delivered a loyal audience, loyal advertisers, and program that you could listen to while you drove the kids to Little League practice. But radio carpetbaggers from out of town thought they knew better.
Now, Zach Bonahoom, Matt Kelty and Gary Snyder can do nothing but sit back and wait.

The wheels turn slowly out there at 2915 Maples Road.  As you read this, the management of WOWO 1190 (and now on 92.3 FM) are comparing notes, running reports, creating Excel spreadsheets and Access databases to tabulate, formulate and eventually decide who will fill the coveted air chair from 3 until 6 each afternoon at the once-great WOWO. Or, in typical FedMed style, they'll pull out the dart board and take a stab at it. What is known, for sure, is that you can bet they tell the home office Mishawaka that they used the former, not latter process to make their choice.

While no one has asked, the Maven would like to offer some guidance for those poor souls tasked with filling this Fort Wayne Radio void.
The be fair, any good talk show host should be judged by the same yardstick. Having hired and fired a few talk show "hosts" in my time, the Maven offers these categories:

  1. Personality - does the host have one?
  2. Preparation - does the host sound like they are prepared?
  3. Believability - does the host sound believable or are they "just making stuff up"?
  4. Audience Engagement - does the host actively involve the audience, as opposed to talking at them or ignoring them?
  5. Execution - is their "dead air"? Does the host hit "breaks" at the right time and keep the show on time?
  6. Interviewing skills - does the host actively interview guests with thoughtful questions? Does the most ask the guest to illustrate or defend a controversial point?
  7. Sustainable Content - can this host produce engaging content week after week?

How did they do? While no one embarrassed themselves, it's clear that the choice should be a fairly easy one. But, then, again, remember who we're dealing with here.

Zach Bonahoom was a breath of fresh air. His energy was good, he sounded happy to be on the radio. High marks for personality and preparation. Zach engaged his audience and seemed believable in his presentation. I did not hear dead air, the breaks seemed to run on time and the news (ick) was on time. Zach did ok with his interviews, and like the other hosts, this is always a place for improvement. The few missteps were minimized by Zach's positive energy and presentation. As for sustainability, Zach was smart to balance guests with callers to give listeners variety and a chance to interact with guests. For never hosting a radio talk show, Zach Bonahoom did very well.

The second contender was former Mayoral candidate and grand jury star Matt Kelty. Matt seemed to also have good energy in his delivery, but, at times, seemed a little tentative with his presentation. To be fair, Mr. Kelty would probably have been alittle more at ease presenting architectural models to an audience of school board members, but did present in a conversational manner. Mr. Kelty did confuse most of his audience with by branding his program "High Energy Radio" (a service marked slogan owned by a large radio chain). The next day the name had morphed into "High Energy State" with an incomprehensible slogan about uploading, downloading, sideloading, etc. Matt sounded prepared when he interviewed his guests, but had the nagging issue of interrupting them as well as finishing their sentences for them. That's a rookie mistake that any good program director could help fix. Matt had a couple of dead air episodes, but it's not clear they were his fault or if the blame could be laid at the computerized audio system WOWO uses. That's the one that plays 4 audio sources on the air at the same time, usually on weekends when no one is within 20 miles of the place. Another lingering question is the sustainability of Mr. Kelty in this position. While he did have knowledgeable guests, they all seemed to be of the same, general tone and topic which the audience might not see as interesting and engaging. The Maven recommends that Mr. Kelty keep his day job.

Last on the list is the current 9pm-12midnight WOWO talk show host and political chameleon Gary Snyder who also holds down a full time afternoon job at a small AM radio station in Marion, Indiana. Mr. Snyder previously hosted a time-brokered talk show on WGL 1250 on Saturday mornings. Time-brokered means that the host basically "rents" the air time from the station, often reselling the commercials within the show to advertisers and pocketing the proceeds. The free market at work! Hearing Mr. Snyder on the WOWO facilities was a definite improvement over the prehistoric studio audio from WGL Gary's style has always been a cross between speaking and hollering with a nice Hoosier twang thrown in for good measure. Gary always sounds prepared as evidenced by his meticulous work of lining up politically connected guests, many with national reputations. It's a shame, thought, that Gary does not "interview" his guests, he merely turns the station over to them to espouse their platform, hawk their book, or just ramble. Mr. Snyder also failed to question them on their points, and never once, would allow callers the opportunity to ask questions of his guests. After the guests would depart, Gary would talk with callers about the interview, and did little to engage the callers, sometimes finding himself with nothing to say but to thank the caller for their call. The Maven respects Mr. Snyder for holding down two jobs, especially in this economy.  

My money is on Zach Bonahoom. He's politically connected, has access to timely, local guests, savvy enough to interview them without annoying them, and his interaction with callers was genuine and believable. And, Zach offers a younger voice and perspective that WOWO continues to say they want as they attempt to make talk radio relevant and expand and grow a younger audience to replace their older and less appreciated/desirable older listeners.