The latest drama at WPIX is a doozy. In fact, it’s a rumor that’s been gathering steam. Now it’s official.
Scott Stanford is losing his co-anchor role with Tamsen Fadal. The station is bringing back John Muller, the former morning anchor, to team with Fadal at 5 and 10 p.m.
Muller was an original member of the PIX Morning News when it launched in 2000.
In a note sent to staffers tonight and obtained by Tuned In, news director Mark Effron says Stanford, who joined Channel 11 in September, will be the station’s lead sports anchor and host the weekly Sports Desk on Friday nights.
Effron told staffers that PIX will be increasing in-depth analysis and team coverage of sports in the newscasts.
Although Stanford wasn’t the first sportscaster to make the move to news anchoring, oddly he covered both within the same broadcast.
Stanford has several years of sports experience on WNBC and WWOR.
Muller’s second stint at WPIX follows his tenure at ABC as anchor on World News Now and America This Morning. He also was a fill-in news reader on Good Morning America.
Chalk up another ratings bonanza for WABC-TV. From morning to night, Channel 7 was the May sweeps leader of the pack. The station outdistanced the competition, either using households as the measuring stick, the key demo adults 25 to 54, or both.
The signature broadcast, Eyewitness News at 11 p.m. with Bill Ritter, Sade Baderwina, Lee Goldberg and Rob Powers, held a 44 percent advantage over the number two among households. WABC increased its lead to 47 percent with the key demo.
The gap was even more pronounced at 6 p.m. when the Ritter, Liz Cho, Goldberg and Powers team obliterated the competition. It was a 57 percent bulge in the households indicator. Channel 7 was equally strong in the key demo, registering better results than any two others newscasts combined.
Although not sustaining it for the entire month, WNBC did come out on top for a few Chuck Scarborough/Sibila Vargas 11 p.m. broadcasts. It was impressive considering where Channel 4 had been in the last few years. Continue reading →
The fate of WPIX’s news director is likely tied to next month’s pivotal ratings performance. Mark Effron got the position a year ago and, although he made several personnel moves, it’s no different than rearranging the Titanic chairs.
Channel 11 has been facing an ongoing battle for eyeballs. The numbers have remained poor, primarily at 10 p.m. with Effron ‘s biggest acquisition— when Scott Stanford was pulled away from sports for a full-time opportunity to co-anchor with Tamsen Fadal.
“There’s a growing feeling within Tribune that it’s not working at 5 and 10 [p.m.],” a PIX insider charges.
Morning is another problem area for WPIX, with no ground gained on WNYW’s powerhouse Good Day New York. The Rosanna Scotto/Greg Kelly led program typically beats some of the big boys….having better results than NBC’s Today show.
The May sweeps could bring potential sweeping change to the Tribune flagship. Sources tell Tuned In this is a final chance for on-air talent and behind-the-scenes staffers to fight for their jobs.
While the ratings remain subpar at WPIX, Tuned In has learned that consultant Vickie Burns has left the building.
She had been a major sounding board for news director Mark Effron since surfacing during tbe summer. Because of her strong programming resume, which included stints running newsrooms at WNBC and KNBC, and the poor ratings, Burns was always considered a wild card to attain a larger role at Channel 11.
While it’s not clear why Burns is out, one thing appears certain: the new GM Rich Graziano is feeling pressure to right the ship.
“Graziano inherited Effron,” a source says. “He has the option to go a different route at
The station is badly trailing WNYW in the morning and not doing much better at 10 p.m. WPIX has made slight inroads in the crowded 5 p.m. field.
Burns’ exit could, once again, place the spotlight on Effron. With his tenure now at one year, many speculate that he won’t survive the next ratings book in May.
“The problem is there’s a severe lack of confidence in Effron and his managers,” the source says “Everyday, the station is hindered by a weak leadership team. We’re always a step behind.”
Perhaps to help close that gap, last week, the station announced veteran investigative reporter Arnold Diaz joined WPIX.
The Dan Mannarino era is drawing to a close at WPIX. Sources confirm to Tuned In that Mannarino will be removed from his anchor chair in the coming weeks. Mannarino co-anchors the PIX Morning News early edition with Marysol Castro. Sources say Mannarino will stay on as a reporter at WPIX for the short term.
Mannarino joined WPIX as a reporter in September 2011. He got his first taste of anchoring on Channel 11 last June, teaming with Kaity Tong for the weekend broadcasts. However, that pairing was panned, and Mannarino was bounced from the newscasts after just three weekends.
The media have grabbed hold of the Governor Christie “Bridgegate” coverage, which took off after an incriminating email from of his aides. But one media outlet is facing its own internal turmoil due to an email.
WPIX morning executive producer Zev Shalev is facing harsh criticism from his underlings and higher ups.
Shalev, who joined Channel 11 in September, wrote an email last week to his morning group. In the email, which was obtained by Tuned In, Shalev sought story ideas from staffers for the February sweeps period. However, Shalev made it clear that everyone must participate or face consequences at their next review.
Needless to say, employees were upset. We’re hearing that many who received the email found the tone harassing and threatening. Here’s the entire message that Shalev sent:
Last year, I asked for sweeps submissions and got a total of 4! As I mentioned, content submissions and pitches will be a big part of performance management this year (so it will impact your salary increases).Can I please have fully-formed week-long pitches or special events from EVERYONE who works on the content for the show (writers/producers/reporters/anchors) by the end of Friday. Please submit at least 3. They need to be high quality, well thought out sweeps and stunts. Absolutely no exceptions.
It will be too late when we are assessing your performance in the near future. Continue reading →
WPIX, which has been in a morning ratings freefall opposite WNYW/Channel 5, will add news programming to the schedule.
Sources confirm to Tuned In that management is in the process of creating a daily, one-hour newscast at 11 a.m.
But don’t expect the late morning newscast to help promote PIX Morning News anchors Sukanya Krishnan and Kori Chambers. We’re told that Channel 11 is searching for anchors from outside of the station.
“You can only stretch a fiscal rubber band so far before it breaks,” the source said, adding, “You have to make money to spend money. You need to look no further than Eyewitness News [WABC].”
For those unable to wait for noon, the 11 a.m hour is a good alternative, although The View and The Price is Right are formidable foes.
There’s more movement at WPIX. The Tribune flagship will add weekend news shows from 6-9 a.m., also with talent not currently on the Channel 11 roster. Tuned In has learned that viewers can expect to see the daily and weekend changes by May.
Update: WPIX News Director Mark Effron tells Tuned In, “We’re looking at a whole number of options.”
WPIX VP and GM Eric Meyrowitz has been fired. Sources confirm to Tuned In that Meyrowitz’s last day at Channel 11 was Thursday. There had been rumblings that Meyrowitz would not have his contract renewed. A WPIX spokesperson refused to comment.
Larry Mendte is the latest casualty of the new WPIX regime. Tuned In has learned that Mendte is no longer with Channel 11 or Tribune. A well-placed source confirms that Mendte’s contract wasn’t renewed, but that the parting was amicable.
Astute viewers of the revamped 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts with Scott Stanford and Tamsen Fadal noticed that Mendte and his nightly commentaries have been conspicuous by their absence since earlier this month.
Mendte, a three-time Emmy winner for his PIX pieces, joined WPIX in February 2010. The commentaries originated from Channel 11, but aired on several other Tribune owned stations. Mendte’s departure is the latest purge by news director Mark Effron to eliminate the staff hired by former news director Bill Carey.
Mendte could be thought-provoking or controversial. He used his platform on multiple occasions pressing Congress to pass the 9/11 First Responders Health and Compensation Bill. When it passed six months later, Mendte was honored with several awards
In 2011, he made a historic trip to Libya. He was the only journalist to accompany former congressman Curt Weldon on a peace mission.
There was also anchoring at PIX for the veteran broadcaster. Mendte was part of the Hurricane Sandy coverage with Kaity Tong and Jodi Applegate. He was also on the air for 12 straight hours with Fadal as one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects was killed by police.
Despite the ray of hope of Scott Stanford set to become a full-time news anchor with Tamsen Fadal, WPIX is still the home of eggshells and awkwardness.
Since that mega announcement, Tuned In has learned that reporter Hilary Whittier was fired yesterday. But news director Mark Effron was forced to do a temporary about face. The station realized that she couldn’t be axed without alerting the unions, two in fact. Instead, she’ll report to the newsroom for the next 30 days, likely without being seen on the air.
“She’s a nice person, but too green for the streets of New York,” one source contends.
Whittier, as a multimedia journalist, is a rare commodity. She shoots her own pieces, except when doing a story live. We’re told that Whittier, with PIX since 2011, was to be fired because they don’t like her work or her personality.
There was another behind-the-scenes maneuver today. Morning news executive producer Howard Dorsey resigned. His departure had been rumored for several weeks as, sources say, this was not Dorsey’s decision. He started at Channel 11 in 2010. Senior executive producer Sharon von Zweiten is expected to fill the gap on an interim basis.
Effron has also decided to make WPIX the alternate news station for New York City. We’re told he discussed the issue last week, placing a moratorium on the use of stories outside of the five boroughs. An insider says the concentration of coverage will be Brooklyn and Queens, “as that’s where the meters are.”