Friday, December 19, 2014

Discovery picks up Barrett-Jackson auction

Among the collector items to be offered in the Scottsdale auction is this four-cylinder,
1929 Indian 401 motorcycle from the Otis Chandler collection. Photo, Barrett-Jackson.
Chris Jacobs, from Velocity's "Overhaulin'," will be host of "Barrett-Jackson Live" when the automotive auction debuts on Discovery Channel and Velocity in January, the network announced Friday.

Barrett-Jackson's Scottsdale, Ariz., auction will be begin at 6 p.m. Jan. 13 on Discovery Channel and continue through the weekend on Velocity. 

Barrett-Jackson televised auctions date back to 1996 when they were first carried by Speedvision, which was later acquired by Fox and relaunched from Charlotte as Speed Channel. Fox Sports finished the contract with Barrett-Jackson when Speed Channel became Fox Sports 1, and Discovery picked up the contract beginning next year.

Others who will be on the telecast in January include Ray Evernham, host of Velocity's "Americarna;" Rick Debruhl, a former NASCAR pit reporter for ESPN; Mike Joy, who does Sprint Cup coverage for Fox Sports; Steve Magnante, automotive author; and Cristy Lee, co-host of Velocity's "All Girls Garage."

It's Jay Thomas night on 'David Letterman'

Jay Thomas, left, and David Letterman taking shots at the meatball atop the tree. Photo by John Filo/CBS.

It's the last time around for former Charlotte radio host Jay Thomas on David Letterman's Christmas show.

Friday night, Thomas will make his annual appearance on the show to tell a funny story about driving around with Clayton Moore, the actor who played "The Lone Ranger," and to throw footballs at a meatball on top of Letterman's Christmas tree.

Both are rituals on the Yule show and date back to 1998 when Thomas was on the show with Vinny Testaverde and they got to hurling footballs at the tree-topping meatball. Testaverde's skill was exceeded by Thomas'. You may remember Thomas as the hilarious DJ on the old Big Ways in the '70s who went on TV roles on "Mork and Mindy" and "Murphy Brown" and later found work on Sirius/XM radio. You probably don't remember that he also played quarterback in the day for Central Piedmont Community College.

Anyway, he's back tonight for the last time. Letterman retires next year. It's on at 11:35 p.m. on WBTV (Channel 3).

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

WBTV hires meteorologist from Roanoke

Lyndsay Tapases

WBTV (Channel 3) has hired Lyndsay Tapases for one of its forecasting openings. Tapases, who was at the ABC affiliate in Roanoke, Va., for four years, grew up in Westfield, Mass., and graduated from Penn State. 

At WBTV, she'll work with fellow Penn State alum Eric Thomas, Channel 3's chief meteorologist. Tapases will start the last week of December at WBTV, which recently lost Kelly Franson to the CBS affiliate in Seattle and Ashley Batey to the CBS affiliate in Tampa, Fla. 

Meanwhile, WJZY (Channel 46) has named Karen Koutsky news director beginning in January. Koutsky succeeds Geoff Roth, who returned to Fox’s Houston station in September after launching the news department at the Fox-owned station last January. 

Koutsky has been the news director at WGHP (Channel 8), the Fox affiliate in High Point and has worked as a TV news executive in Indianapolis, Toledo and Atlanta. In High Point, she worked under Karen Adams, who is now the general manager of WJZY.

"She’s a successful news manager in broadcast and digital media and the ideal person to lead our solid coverage of the Charlotte region,” Adams said in a statement.

"We have created strong news teams together in the past and we are both passionate about creating a news product with integrity and high journalism standards," Koutsky said in statement.

A graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, Koutsky will be responsible for taking the station's new news division to a higher level on its morning, evening and 10 p.m. newscasts. WJZY currently is running last in all time periods and the 10 p.m. news has lost more than 40 percent of its audience from year-ago levels when the station broadcast a newscast created by Channel 3. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Charleston paper, Servatius in nasty exchange

Chris Haire, editor of the alternative weekly Charleston City Paper, chronicled Tara Servatius' departure from the city for a new job in Greenville, S.C., as the end of a "dark chapter in Charleston radio history." 

Tara Servatius
And then he got nasty.

"Servatius' show was a tightly run snuff film where reasoned debate was strangled by the DJ, who jumped from one topic to the next, spouting off often-unhinged, World Net Daily-esque rants while engaging in the radio-world equivalent of shaking her fist for three or four hours straight at the contrails in the sky or whatever right-wing bugaboo crawled up her butt that day," Haire wrote on the paper's web site Friday.

Servatius, who wrote for the old Leader weekly and Creative Loafing while in Charlotte, also wrote for a time for the Charleston City Paper at Haire's invitation while working at WTMA-AM (1250) in Charleston. Haire's version is that she departed after recycling material.  

"Servatius and the City Paper parted ways after she submitted a column that was not only nearly identical in parts to a previous column published by Creative Loafing, but contained several factual inaccuracies," Haire wrote.

Not so, replies Servatius. In the acerbic tone known to those in Charlotte who followed her show on WBT-AM (1110), she wrote in on the forum below Haire's story: 

"I quit because you were six months behind in paying me after 'losing' my tax documents twice and you were even more deranged to work for than you are in print. I will miss the unmedicated insanity of the City Paper. Better than the mental ward at the local insane asylum before the ACLU set them all free."

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ratings for key Charlotte newscasts

Estimated total viewers reached by key weekday newscasts during the November sweeps and percentage change from last November as measured by Nielsen.
6 A.M.
6 P.M.
10 P.M.
11 P.M.
*No comparisons available.

Mark Washburn's analysis

November’s sweeps saw the entry of Fox affiliate WJZY (Channel 46) into the early morning and the 6 p.m. news races for the first time and showed how much work is left to do to become competitive for the news operation, which has been without a full-time news director since September when Geoff Roth returned to Fox’s Houston station.

Fox Charlotte's morning show, launched in August and the most polished of its daily newscasts, averaged fewer than 1,000 viewers at 6 a.m. Some infomercials get better numbers. Its 6 p.m. newscast, launched in July, attracts 1 percent of the region’s news audience watching the four local news channels at that hour. It has lost half the audience it had at 6 p.m. when it ran reruns of “Two-and-a-Half Men,” though that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been profitable – political advertisers in the pre-election cycle were buying commercials avidly in local newscasts regardless of the ratings. 

More concerning to Fox is that the Time Warner Cable News Channel attracts more viewers by nearly a third in the hours it goes head-to-head with WJZY newscasts, and Time Warner’s penetration in the city is only about 50 percent of households and does not go to many of the 22 counties that WJZY’s broadcast signal reaches. 

WJZY has been tinkering with its formula. It de-emphasized the anchor role at first, but has now teamed Anthony Flores with Barbara Pinson. It once ignored routine crime, a prime staple of Charlotte TV news, and now features it. On its 10 p.m. broadcast on Nov. 6, for example, all but two stories in the first 12 minutes were crime or public-safety related (including one that was billed as a “car-jacking gone wrong”).

WBTV crested 100,000 in average viewers in its 6 p.m. newscast in November, the first time I can ever remember it getting that many without days of severe weather driving ratings.

In the 25-54 age demographic that advertisers aim for, WSOC (Channel 9) and sister station WAXN (Channel 64) won all the key newscasts except for noon, when WBTV was No. 1. 

Lynn Good, Duke CEO, on "60 Minutes" Sunday

Duke Energy’s CEO Lynn Good is scheduled to appear on CBS’s “60 Minutes” Sunday to explain how the nation’s largest utility is dealing with the coal-ash disposal problem.

Lynn Good
Correspondent Lesley Stahl and a crew from the CBS news magazine were in Charlotte in September to interview Good and film two Duke plants with ash ponds in Gaston County, the decommissioned Riverbend plant and the Allen Steam Station, which uses modern emissions equipment to curb sulfur dioxide emissions.

In the interview, Good talks about how Duke’s 32 coal ash ponds built up over decades and defy any instant solution.

“I cannot immediately move 100 million tons of ash,” Good says. “It’s not a response that makes any sense. As much as I’d love to tell you there’s a simple solution, it’s one that requires study, it’s one that requires time to complete.”

Duke has announced plans to move ash at five plants in the Carolinas since a Feb. 2 spill into North Carolina’s Dan River.

Coal ash is a national problem with more than 1,000 ash ponds in the United States, some with heavy metals associated with cancer, like mercury and cadmium, that environmentalists fear can leach into soil and water supplies.

“60 Minutes” will air 7 p.m. Sunday on WBTV (Channel 3). 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Servatius, Coakley team for mornings in Greenville

Tara Servatius

 Two former WBT-AM (1110) talk show hosts have landed daily shows at Greenville, S.C., talk-news station WYRD-FM ("WORD" 106.3).

Vince Coakley and Tara Servatius, both of whom held the afternoon drive-time shift at WBT, will start Monday at the Greenville station. 

Servatius, a graduate of Charlotte Catholic High School and the UNC Chapel Hill journalism school, started her career writing for alternative weeklies in Charlotte as "Citizen Servatius." She joined WBT as late-night host in June 2007 and replaced Jeff Katz in the afternoon slot when he left in December 2008. 

Vince Coakley
Her contract wasn't renewed by WBT's parent company, Massachusetts-based Greater Media, in 2011, and Coakley took over the afternoon shift. Coakley, a Cincinnati native, is best known for his 18 years at WSOC (Channel 9) where he succeeded Bill Walker as prime anchor in 2005. He ran unsuccessfully as the Republican candidate for Congress in North Carolina's 12th District this fall. 

Coakley had been doing a Sunday afternoon show at WYRD after leaving WBT in 2012.

Beginning Monday, Servatius will do the morning show on WYRD and Coakley will follow her in the mid-mornings. Before the move to the Greenville station, Servatius had worked in Myrtle Beach and Charleston.

“We are energizing morning radio with the launch of these vibrant, live, and local talk shows,” Steve Sinicropi, market manager for Entercom Communications' Greenville radio cluster, said in a statement. "Both Tara and Vince will deliver fresh and thought-provoking commentary on the issues and news our community cares about most."

Monday, December 1, 2014

Who remembers "To Serve Man"?

Richard Keil as the maneating alien on "To Serve Man"
Or "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet?" Or "Time Enough at Last"?

Fans of the old "Twilight Zone" series remember them as some of the best episodes ever of the Rod Sterling science-fiction series that ran for five years on CBS beginning in 1959.

On Monday, the Syfy network announced it will air a "Twilight Zone" marathon beginning at 8 a.m. Dec. 31 and continuing through New Year's Day.

Syfy also announced it will air its original movie "Christmas Icetastrophe" at 9 p.m. Dec. 20 about an asteroid strike that threatens to freeze the planet during the holidays.

At AMC, there will be marathons of the network's popular "Breaking Bad" beginning at 10 a.m. Dec. 28, followed by a marathon of "The Walking Dead" beginning 9 a.m. Dec. 30.

At the National Geographic Channel, it will be nostalgia for the new year. An 18-hour marathon of its "'80s: Decade That Made Us" and "'90s: Last Great Decade?" will air beginning at 9 a.m. Dec. 31. And to start the year with a bummer, National Geo will air a marathon of "Locked Up Abroad" beginning at 9 a.m. Jan. 1.