Monday, November 20

Boom Goes The Dynamite: Why Bad Newscasts Are Fun

I'm not going to call out anyone specifically in Jacksonville. I know one newscaster I watch misspeaks more than any mainstream newscaster I've seen, but I grew up in Milwaukee's market, ranked #35, and then moved to KC, ranked #33. Jacksonville just broke into the top 50, so it makes sense that the newscasters would be more like I would have seen while traveling to places like Norfolk, Harrisburg, Grand Rapids, Birmingham, Greensboro, Albuquerque, Louisville, New Orleans, or Memphis. Newscasters who were dynamic and precise went to bigger markets from Milwaukee. It's a minor league kind of thing, with the stars often leaving markets like MKE for Chicago.

Sometimes, newscasters hang around, even if there's no real chance to be the lead anchor, rather than transferring to a smaller market and trying to start over. Back in Milwaukee, there was John Drilling and Bill Taylor. Good guys who couldn't read the script as well as others, so they were always kind of the associate pastor rather than numero uno head honcho. When Drilling was reading the news, I'd start saying he was rumbling, stumbling, and bumbling.

I wouldn't assume someone who comes from Minneapolis and ends up here is really taking a demotion, even if dropping in market. It's cold in Minnesota. Besides, there's always someone breathing down your back in a big market. When I did a search on an employment website, for example, there were over 350 news anchors available in Milwaukee, whereas Jax has just under 300. And there are over 1,300 in Minneapolis and Atlanta, so that's like four times the competition. You probably can't have too many Freudian slips in those markets.

Actually, I wish we had more independent newscasts in Jacksonville. Maybe there's something on cable access, but I don't get cable. I can still remember Channel 18 news in Milwaukee with Liz Talbot and Duane Gay. It was wonderfully amateur, though Duane eventually made it to one of the networks in town. I don't remember if Channel 18 even had reporters, but they did have Marlon McGhee as a weatherman. My favorite part was when the background graphics didn't match the story being read, and it happened more often than you might imagine. The next fun newscast in Milwaukee was when CBS came back into the market after Fox bought the local affiliate. CBS 58 was just slightly better than the independent channel news, but what was really awesome was that the entire first year of broadcasts had the wrong year at the end. I deciphered the Roman numerals one day, and found it was either 100 or 1000 years off. I suppose that means there's no actual copyright on these broadcasts, but I'm not really sure. Another fun time was when the CBS news truck went through the ice on Big Muskego Lake while filming a piece on ice safety, akin to a Jax reporter having to get saved from a riptide while filming a story about riptide safety, except the van cost $250,000. And it was a woman driver, so it was quite the joke.

All this is leading to the worst sportscast of all time. If you haven't seen it or have forgotten about how bad it was, take a look. If you ever feel bad about how poorly you've done on the job or in a public speaking situation, it should also help you.

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