Tag Archives: Rich Graziano

WPIX Pulling the Plug on the 6:30 News

blackmon300It was an experiment that never took off. The anchors didn’t gel and the ratings plummeted from its start in early January.

Now, Tuned In has learned, Channel 11 is turning its back on the 6:30 p.m. broadcast within the next few weeks. Interim GM Greg Easterly made the announcement to staffers.

The future of Kaity Tong and Brenda Blackmon (left) is uncertain, although sources say Blackmon is done at PIX. It’s believed the former WWOR anchor has a one-year contract. She was respected within the newsroom but the cancellation didn’t surprise many at the station.

Tong, a WPIX lifer, may return to the weekend anchor slot.

“How do you compete against network news? They could have cancelled it after two months,” a PIX insider says.

While there was no mention of layoffs, the fate of 6:30 p.m. Executive Producer and former meteorologist Chris Knowles is up in the air.

“Every newscast, talent and manager are being looked at,” a source tells Tuned In. “Hard to see how others survive when ratings aren’t there for any show.”

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Graziano Out, Easterly in at WPIX; Is Waldman Next?

richgrazianowpixAnother victim in the WPIX carousel. President and GM Rich Graziano is out. As the newscasts have struggled to find viewers, especially on the new 6:30 p.m. broadcast, Graziano becomes the latest member of Tribune management to face the fire. Tribune says in a statement that Graziano “decided to leave,” although multiple sources confirm that he was fired. Staffers saw him carrying boxes out of the office at 3 a.m. Tuesday.

Graziano takes the high road in his departure letter, as he ends a 17-year association with the media company.

“Here in NY we have accomplished much at WPIX. I’m very proud of and thankful for the leadership team and all of the staff that is so dedicated and passionate about PIX 11.”

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Shakeup Could Be in the Works at WPIX

AmyThe noose is tightening for management at WPIX. It’s only three months since the Tribune flagship added a 6:30 evening newscast. But it’s not too soon to realize it’s a disaster. The ratings for the Kaity Tong/Brenda Blackmon 30-minute broadcast, aside from the first week curiosity, are in the tank. Channel 11 performed better with Craig Ferguson‘s poorly received Celebrity Name Game in syndication, previously holding down the slot.

Multiple sources confirm to Tuned In that executives are upset with the PIX direction led by news director Amy Waldman (above) and GM Rich Graziano, who promoted her once Mark Effron was shown the door.

“Graziano was honest about why he greenlighted Waldman- her market knowledge” an insider admits. “But knowing how many live trucks your competition has does not make a news director. Now Graziano is tied to dismal ratings, low morale, and an unimpressive news director.”

Insiders say that Waldman, who took on the high profile positiion last April, will not survive beyond the May sweeps. But Graziano’s days could be numbered as well for orchestrating the creation of the 6:30 p.m. newscast.

Another indication that he may be on the hot seat, Tuned In has learned that Bart Feder, Tribune’s SVP of News will lead the search for Waldman’s replacement–not Graziano.

All of the backdoor maneuvering comes as Tribune is reportedly up for sale. What that could mean for WPIX remains a mystery.

Update from Feder:
“I am absolutely not engaged in a search for a new news director at WPIX, nor is anyone else. Amy Waldman is our news director. Period.” 

WPIX Adds 6:30 p.m. Newscast to Schedule

WPIX151206220111You can call Kaity Tong (left) a WPIX survivor. She weathered the storm when she was relegated to weekends five years ago.

Now the 23-year PIX veteran is ready to start anew. She’ll co-anchor a new 6:30 p.m. weeknight broadcast starting next month. Another familiar face to viewers, Brenda Blackmon, is coming on board to join Tong on the 30-minute newscast.

Blackmon spent 23 years at WWOR until Fox canceled its 10 p.m. broadcast in 2013, which she anchored for many years with Harry Martin.

blackmon300“Brenda is one of the most recognizable and talented journalists in the market, and we are thrilled to pair New York news icons Brenda and Kaity at the anchor desk of PIX11’s newest newscast,” WPIX President/GM Rich Graziano said in a statement.

Tong has been a fan favorite during her time at PIX, especially since dealing with the station adversity. She responded to numerous congratulatory tweets. In one saying, “Cannot WAIT to sit beside Brenda.”

Tamsen Fadal and John Muller hold down the fort from 5-6:30 p.m., before returning after dinner break for the 10 p.m.

Channel 11 will have the only local option opposite the network’s big three newscasts.

We’re not sure what this means for the Craig Ferguson-hosted game show, Celebrity Name Game, currently occupying the 6:30 p.m. slot.

WPIX Set to Promote Amy Waldman to News Director, Expand Evening Newscast

AmyThe ratings are improving at WPIX, but the internal strife is still present. Part of the problem, no one is officially steering the ship in the newsroom.

Tribune hadn’t named a successor to Mark Effron, who was bounced in October. But that is about to change. Amy Waldman (left), the station’s managing editor, who has primarily handled the day-to-day operations since Effron’s departure, will be the Channel 11 news director, Tuned In has learned.

VP/GM Rich Graziano addressed staffers in two separate meetings this week to announce the hire of new Senior VP of News, Bart Feder, a New York veteran, replacing Katherine Green.

Graziano was asked in the first meeting about the elephant in the room, the lack of a news director. He told the group that Vickie Burns is back in the building, but not in a managerial role. Graziano said Burns is a consultant, who will guide and mentor Waldman, who just needs some “tweaking.”

Burns ran newsrooms at WNBC and KNBC.

While not specifically addressing a promotion for Waldman, Graziano told employees that he’s stopped taking phone calls from people applying for the news director position.

 

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Mark Effron Officially to ‘Step Down’ at WPIX in October

PIX11_LogoThere was confusion surrounding the story reported exclusively here last week that Mark Effron was fired as WPIX news director.

Despite the station saying he would return this week following the death of his father and mourning period to the position he’s held since April 2013, GM Rich Graziano confirmed in an email to the staff, and obtained by Tuned In, Effron “has decided to step down.”

He will remain in place until October 31.

“Mark has been instrumental in charting our course through a period of transition as we began repositioning the station with a greater emphasis on news,” Graziano writes.

Given what Tuned In reported last week, it would appear that Tribune’s plan was to fire Effron when he returned from sitting shiva.

However, that backfired.

Not only did some staffers likely find out (including this reporter) before Effron, the firing was handled in a classless way while he was grieving.

So Channel 11 may have planned his exit for this week, but instead of risking the public relations nightmare, it would appear that is why he is being eased out.

In Effron’s note to employees, short-term plans were mentioned.

“When Larry Wert talked to me early last year about joining WPIX as VP/News Director, I made clear my intention to view it as a two-year mission.”

But, even extending through October, Effron only logs 18 months on the job.

Effron says he’ll explore teaching and consulting, which will allow him more time to spend with his family.

“I’ll be here for a while, helping Rich, steering the ship, and paving the way,” Effron writes.

There is no mention of who will replace Effron.

Marysol Castro Out, Dan Mannarino Uncertain, as WPIX Cuts Early Morning Newscast

WPIX140605055949We barely had time to take a deep breath since the night time changes at PIX, bouncing Scott Stanford to sports and rolling out the red carpet for John Muller (more in a moment), when another salvo struck.

The PIX (early) Morning News was upended today, right before our eyes. Marysol Castro, who rejoined Channel 11 in September, anchored for the final time today. Tuned In confirmed it from multiple sources and she alluded to her dismissal in the closing seconds with on-air partner Dan Mannarino.

“Hey dude, it was nice knowing you,” Castro told Mannarino.

“It was fun,” he replied.

As for Mannarino, his status is a bit muddy. He’s been part of numerous rumors for months. But we’ve learned on good authority that Mannarino is taking some time off to decide on his future. Another definite, if Mannarino returns it won’t be behind the anchor desk.

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Channel 7 Wins Another Sweeps; WPIX Finds Its Own Silver Lining

Eyewitness News TeamChalk 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

Use of Social Media on Local News ‘Detrimental to the Journalistic Profession’

Grymes MacedoTelevision news has always been about garnering the ratings. That’s what news directors and GMs liked. Now, it’s not only about sales revenue and the Nielsen numbers. Today there’s a definite realignment with social media. At the same time, there’s also evidence  of “dumbing down” the broadcasts.

If you’re up early on the weekend, for example, you may have noticed a different look on WCBS-TV.

With Cindy Hsu, a solid pro, moved to weekend nights, Channel 2 is opting for style at the desk.

Teaming anchor Andrea Grymes (above left) and recent hire Diane Macedo (above right) has the feel of girls “playing TV.”

Thankfully, the initial giggles and smiles have eased. That isn’t the type of chemistry essential in New York. Altoona, maybe, but not NYC.

Grymes is a decent enough reporter, but lacks in the substance department, especially when placed behind the desk. As for Macedo, her stock is apparently rising with management as an occasional fill-in anchor at other times.

Rolland Smith logged nearly 40 years in local news, including many in New York a generation ago at the aforementioned WCBS. He says change is not always for the better.

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Major WPIX Overhaul Could Be on the Way

Tamsen ScottThe 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.

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