Friday, January 23, 2015

WBTV fills last opening in weather department

WBTV (Channel 3) has filled its last forecasting opening with Leigh Brock, who got a month-long audition by filling in during December and the holidays.  

Leigh Brock
Most recently, Brock was spokeswoman for the American Red Cross in the Carolinas.

Late last year, two of WBTV's four meteorologists departed for other TV jobs: Kelly Franson to Seattle and Ashley Batey to Tampa.

Lyndsay Tapases was hired from the ABC affiliate in Roanoke, Va., for one of the openings and Brock now fills out the department. 

Brock grew up in Hendersonville. After graduating from UNC Chapel Hill, Brock went to small stations in Clarksburg, W.Va., and Allentown, Pa., before joining WFMY (Channel 2) in Greensboro in 2006. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Like Santa, WKQC-FM goes through the roof

Once again, WKQC-FM ("K" 104.7) got the Christmas magic.

Since 2003, the station has played nothing but Christmas songs in the weeks leading up to Christmas. And each year, its ranking shoots up among major Charlotte stations during that period.

In 2013, ratings surged a record 57 percent November to December. But last month, it saw its biggest jump ever, 64 percent month to month, according to rankings released Thursday by Nielsen.

WKQC jumped from a tie for fourth in November to No. 1 in Charlotte in December, attracting 10.5 percent of the radio audience. Double-digit percentages are all but unheard of in the city, which has about 20 stations competing for ears. Last December, WKQC attracted nearly 8 percent of the audience.

In other ratings news, WKKT-FM ("Kat" 96.9) tied at No. 3 with rival WSOC-FM (103.7) in the country radio race. News stations WBT-AM (1110) and WFAE-FM (90.7) were low in the ratings at Nos. 14 and 15, respectively.

Here are the rankings for December for all listeners as calculated by Nielsen and the percentage of listeners:

1. WKQC-FM ("K" 104.7), adult contemporary: 10.5%
2. WPEG-FM ("Power 98" 97.9), urban contemporary, 7% 
3. WKKT-FM ("Kat" 96.9), country, 6.4%
3. WSOC-FM (103.7)  country, 6.4%
5. WRFX-FM ("Fox" 99.7), classic rock, 6.1%
6. WOSF-FM ("Old School" 105.3), urban oldies , 5.4%
7. WBAV-FM ("V" 101.9) urban contemporary, 4.7%
8. WHQC-FM ("Channel" 96.1), pop, 4.4%
8. WLKO-FM ("Lake" 102.9), variety, 4.4%
8. WNKS-FM ("Kiss" 95.1), pop, 4.4%
8. WPZS-FM ("Praise" 100.9), gospel, 4.4%
12. WLNK-FM ("Link" 107.9), adult contemporary, 4% 
13. WEND-FM ("End" 106.5), alternative rock, 3.3%
14. WBT-AM (1110), news-talk, 2.9%
15. WFAE-FM (90.7), NPR news, 2.3%
16. WDAV-FM (89.9), classical, 1.2%
17. WFNZ-AM ("Fan" 610), sports talk, 1%
18. WMIT-FM ("Light" 106.9), inspiration, 0.5%
19. WNSC-FM (88.9), NPR, 0.3%
20. WBCN-AM (1660), CBS Sports, 0.2%
Read more here:

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Judge reverses ban on cameras in courtroom

Judge W. Robert Bell
After a three-month ban, news cameras will be allowed back in the Mecklenburg County Courthouse, senior resident Judge W. Robert Bell said Tuesday.

But Charlotte's news organizations will need to adhere to long-standing rules about when and where cameras can be used, Bell said, lifting a ban imposed in October by Superior Court Judge Richard Boner.

Boner imposed the order after photographers from five TV stations and the Charlotte Observer shot pictures of city attorney City Attorney Bob Hagemann who held an impromptu news conference in a courthouse hallway after a hearing about the regional airport commission. 

Photography is closely regulated in the courthouse to protect identities of witnesses, jurors and others. Photography in common areas of the building has long been banned.

Boner, who retired as senior resident judge at the end of December, left it to his successor to decide whether to allow cameras back in and under what circumstances. Bell summoned representatives of the news media to a meeting at the courthouse Tuesday morning. Attending were 23 representatives from the city's five major television stations, Time Warner Cable News, WFAE-FM (NPR, 90.7) and the Observer. 

Julie Szulczewski, news director for WSOC (Channel 9), said during the meeting that journalists were wrong to shoot in the hallway and stations had apologized to Boner for oversight. WSOC's Mark Becker, a 30-year veteran of Channel 9, said some of the journalists in the Hagemann case were assigned to other beats and were unfamiliar with courthouse protocols. 

Five months before the Hagemann incident, another violation brought a warning about camera rules. A WCNC (Channel 36) journalist shot and posted a cellphone picture outside the courtroom where Carolina Panther Greg Hardy had just appeared on a domestic-abuse charge. 

"This is like when the principal calls somebody to the office and says, 'Do you know the rules?'" Bell said. "I don't post them for my health."

Photography is a sensitive subject in the courthouse, Bell said. Jurors sometimes ask during a trial whether the defendant will know who they are.

Still, he said, he endorses open courtrooms "because the public has a right to know what's going on."

Since 1992, allowing photography during a trial in the county courthouse is left up to the presiding judge (photography is still banned in federal courthouses). No witnesses under 16 can be photographed under court rules, which also prohibit showing jurors or recording commercials or station promotions.

During the ban on cameras, only one trial was held that would typically attract television coverage, that of Demarcus Ivey, accused of murder during a 2009 robbery at Club Nikki's, a strip joint on Little Rock Road. Ivey's two-month capital trial, which featured an examination of security surveillance film of the shooting, ended in a deadlocked jury and a mistrial. It was covered by the Observer, but not by local television.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Union County mom, her invention land on "Steve Harvey"

Lily Winnail shows off her invention on an episode on "Steve Harvey" that will air Monday. (Genie LaVine/NBC)

A mom from Union County will be on "Steve Harvey” on Monday to show off her invention. Lily Winnail of Marvin will demonstrate the Padalily, decorative padding that goes around the handle of the baby seat to make it easier to carry.

A mother of four, Winnail says she came up with the product at a good time -- her husband had lost his job and they needed money. So far, Padalily has racked up $2 million in sales.  

Winnail will be on Harvey's segment about mom inventors. It will air 3 p.m. Monday on WBTV (Channel 3).
Winnail will be on Harvey's segment about mom inventors. It will air 3 p.m. Monday on WBTV (Channel 3).

Read more here:

Winnail will be on Harvey's segment about mom inventors. It will air 3 p.m. Monday on WBTV (Channel 3).

Friday, January 9, 2015

WCNC parts ways with long-time investigative reporter

Stuart Watson
Friday was Stuart Watson's last day at WCNC (Channel 36), fired after 16 years and some of the biggest scoops in Charlotte.

"There are people who are much better than I am who are facing the exact same thing because of what's called 'newsanomics' -- the profound upheaval in our business model," Watson said Friday night referring to the economic headwinds tearing nowadays through traditional media outlets. 

"I don't think this is personal, nor do I take it as personal."

Watson, who came to town in January 1999 from WRAL (Channel 5) in Raleigh, is the most senior personality to depart from the station since it was acquired by Gannett Broadcasting a year ago.

He was involved in dozens of high-profile stories in Charlotte, but the three with the most impact had a common thread -- money.

One was the story in 2013 that revealed that prominent pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church was building himself a mansion in Waxhaw valued on the tax rolls at $1.6 million. 

In 2008, acting on an anonymous tip mailed in by a viewer he's never talked to, Watson found that United Way CEO Gloria Pace King was making more than $1 million in pay and benefits. 

When United Way balked at his requests for executive committee minutes and other documents,  Watson put together a series of clips in which charity officials spoke of the importance of "transparency" to maintain the public trust.

He ran them back to back, officials saying 'Transparency,' one after another another. And then he had the last words:  "Except when you ask."

Donations plunged and Pace was replaced.

But his most important story came in 2004 when he revealed that the now-defunct Medicaid Dental Centers chain in North Carolina was providing unnecessary dental work on poor children for Medicaid payouts, including stainless steel crowns and root canals on baby teeth.

Nine dentists were disciplined and the centers ultimately settled with the government for $10 million.

On Friday, Watson said, he was at the Catholic Diocese doing a story on an employee who posted on his Facebook page that he planned to marry his gay partner of 11 years, then found himself suddenly without a job. 

"I hope they'll air that the first part of next week," said Watson.

After he returned to the station, he was called in and told that his contract, which is up in February, would not be renewed. "Different philosophies," he said. "That was the stated reason."

His termination didn't come entirely as a surprise, he said. There had been no talks with the station on a new contract to take effect after his present three-year deal expired. 

Watson won't be working the last month of his contract. "I am finished," he said. "That's what I'm told."

Watson has been a member of IRE, the news industry's trade group for investigative reporters and editors, since 1986 and has served on its board three terms.

He collected 10 regional Emmy Awards during his career and is nominated for five more at this year's ceremony later this month. He's also won two duPont-Columbia awards, three Peabodies, two National Headliner awards and an Edward R. Murrow award each year since 2011.

"I think the quantity of reporting was there, and the quality of the reporting was there," said Watson. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Rhode Island broadcaster new WFAE president

A Rhode Island public radio executive with a background in network TV news was named the new president Wednesday of WFAE-FM (90.7), Charlotte's NPR affiliate.

Before joining Rhode Island Public Radio eight years ago as general manager, Joe O'Connor was senior producer for NPR's "On Point," which is produced at WBUR-FM in Boston.
O'Connor has been a producer for CNN and spent 22 years at ABC News, working for "Good Morning America," "Nightline" and "PrimeTime Live."
He rose to be the senior producer in Washington for "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings," directing the network's capital coverage. 
"WFAE rightly boasts an outstanding brand of award-winning journalism that has become one of the most trusted sources for news in the Charlotte region," O'Connor said in a statement.
A graduate of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service with a masters degree in broadcast journalism from Boston University, O'Connor has collect five Emmys, two Columbia DuPont Awards and a Peabody Award during his career. One of his Emmys came for the acclaimed "Nightline" series "America in Black and White." 

He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard in 2004-2005 and brings a successful fund-raising background to the position.
O'Connor, 57, who starts his new duties Feb. 1,  succeeds the retiring Roger Sarow who has led WFAE for 26 years.
“Joe is a seasoned journalist who believes passionately that great reporting is the oxygen of democracy," Jon Buchan, chair of WFAE's board of directors, said in a statement.
"He understands that public radio – on air, on the station’s website, in its public forums – can foster the kind of important community dialogue that every city needs.”

Monday, January 5, 2015

Radio One's Charlotte stations get new leader

Mathilde Levesque
Mathilde ‘Til’ Levesque was named market manager for Radio One's Charlotte stations, WOSF-FM ("Old School" 105.1) and WPZS-FM ("Praise" 100.9).

Levesque comes to Charlotte after managing the seven Detroit stations owned by Clear Channel Radio, since renamed iHeartRadio. She has spent three decades in the radio industry, moving up from the sales department. She has also worked in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In Charlotte, she inherits an operation where both Radio One stations are consistently performing in the top 10 of local stations in overall rankings. In December, WOSF-FM narrowly passed WBAV-FM ("V" 101.9), often the No. 1 station in town.  Radio One's WOSF ranked No. 7 in share of overall listeners in Charlotte and WBAV, owned by Beasley Broadcasting, ranked No. 8.

Levesque, a native of Mamaroneck, N.Y., who was raised in suburban New York City and is a 1985 graduate of Providence College, succeeds Gary Weiss, who oversaw the Charlotte stations while based at Radio One's cluster in Raleigh, which he also led.

“Til has a history of coaching winners and creating some of the most successful urban media products in the industry,” Jeffrey Wilson, Radio One's regional vice president, said in a statement. “We are thrilled that she’s bringing that leadership, experience and creativity to our team in Charlotte.”