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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Eric Braate honored in 2018 HAIRRY Awards

KPRC 2 meteorologist Eric Braate is runner up for Texas in 2018 HAIRRY Awards: "The HAIRRY-Awards are the most prestigious awards in local news. Yes, Emmys are nice to have, but you haven’t made it until you’ve received a HAIRRY."

Everyone makes fun of me when I post about the TV news HAIRRY Awards, but then it is usually a popular post.

Can you beat the marketing department that gives the awards the url

It also gives us regular folks the chance to vicariously live through those TV stars with luxurious locs.

This year, Houston did not have a winner that made the cut, but we had a runner up which is good enough for me.

And the runner up is...

...KPRC 2 meteorologist Eric Braate!

It turns out I was the lucky one to break the news to Braate of the tremendous honor.

"Thanks for bringing this to my attention, this is too funny," Braate told "After forecasting weather for nearly two decades, I’m FINALLY! And, to be clear, the award is for having good HAIR, right? All I can say is that I’m honored and, in some strange way, I feel like my life is now complete."

I've been covering Braate's career for a decade on this blog. He joined channel 2 in 2007. Then left for mornings at sister-station WDIV in Detroit.

I would like to think he realized everything is better in Texas, and got back down here in 2012.

According to his bio, Braate landed his first TV job at WXVT Greenville, Mississippi. After earning his degree, he joined WJXT Jacksonville, Florida and then WITI Milwaukee before his first stint in H-Town.

The Texas winner of this year's hair raising award is KXAN Austin investigative reporter Josh Hinkle.

The Bayou City usually represents well.

KTRK abc13 anchor Erik Barajas took top hon-hairs in 2016. KHOU 11's Darby Douglas was the runner up that year. Former FOX 26 KRIV movie critic Jake Hamilton also won that year for Illinois.

In 2017, current WFAA anchor/reporter and former KTRK abc13 reporter Sonia Azad won for Texas.

Last year when I posted Azad's news, social media lit up with comments that "this is a sexist award." Little do people realize the HAIRRY Awards honor both sexes, just not at the same time.

Now excuse me.

All this good hair talk makes me feel like I should go put on a big hat.

Does anyone remember when punk rockers would use Elmer's Glue to style a mohawk? I just thought of this as I was typing. That could be a cool sweeps stunt this May! Any station looking to get that extra .1 can contact me and I will personally deliver my kids' glue container.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Texas public radio's storyteller from Brownsville, TX

A Texas Country Reporter feature piece on Dr. W. F. Strong of Brownsville, TX.

The professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is also a storyteller on public radio's the Texas Standard.

In Houston, you can hear the Texas Standard on News 88.7 KUHF weekdays at 10am.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Franco Pascali cardistry prodigy and magician to play iPic Houston

iPic Houston June 6th and 7th 2018: Franco Pascali 20-Year Old Cardistry Prodigy Performs

I don't know about you, but I am sweating a little (not just because of the heat and humidity) about how to keep my kids entertained once school gets out. Cue Mr. Alice Cooper.

Well, here is something that just came up and it totally ties into me waxing nostalgic about Magic Island on social media last week.

iPic Houston in the River Oaks District offered my family tickets to the upcoming Franco Pascali show. Uh...count me in! If you haven't heard of this up and coming magic phenom, keep reading.

Pascali has already sold out the rest of his US iPic theater tour with his last stop in Houston June 6th and 7th (two shows each night).

The 20-year old is considered a cardistry prodigy.

I didn't know there was an actual term for a person who performs card tricks! Get this...I just came up with a new term for myself...I write mediablogistry for you.

Seriously, the Houston Museum of Natural Science had a magic exhibit a number of years ago and on the media preview night, we saw some awesome card tricks. You couldn't believe what was happening, even right up close.

Here is more about Pascali's act.

Attendees watch in wonder as celebrated magician and cardist Franco Pascali performed mind-bending, impossible feats right before your eyes. One of the country’s fastest-rising magicians, Franco brings over a decade of experience to the iPic stage to bring an unprecedented entertainment experience to select audiences.

Tickets are $65 for iPic Gold Members (sign up to become a member today at and $75 for non-members. In addition, guests can purchase the limited-seating VIP After-Show Experience following the show of each night for an additional $25.

Visit here to purchase tickets and check out the video teaser.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Telemundo Houston travelling to Russia for World Cup 2018

Telemundo Houston KTMD lead sports anchor Ubaldo Martinez: "For a sportscaster, it's a dream come true."

Sitting in a Telemundo Houston KTMD conference room in front of giant World Cup banners, lead sports anchor Ubaldo Martinez appears to be very excited about this upcoming assignment.

As a young boy, you could find Martinez playing soccer on the streets or watching it on television. He says the sport is his passion.

That passion will be in full force as Martinez and his photographer head to Russia for nearly a month to cover the 2018 World Cup next month.

"I mean I've covered a lot of great sporting news here in Houston...especially last year with the Astros winning the World Series, but it doesn't get any better than covering the World Cup," Martinez told "Being able to go to a country like Russia and having that experience and exposure and just being there, for a sportscaster, it's a dream come true."

And that dream might be one with little sleep associated with it.

The KTMD Houston crew won't just park in Moscow for endless live shots, but will actually embed themselves with the various teams crisscrossing the very large country. Telemundo network reporters will offer coverage from other points.

Between June 13 and July 9th, the KTMD crew's coverage will take them to the cities of Rostov-on-Don, Samara and Saransk, all while reporting live to Houston and other Telemundo markets.

"The idea behind that is to be able to cover the different teams in different cities," Martinez told me. "Our focus is going to be the Latin American teams."

Jerry Vazquez, KTMD Vice President of News, says being embedded with the teams and coaches inside the NBC and FIFA (the Fédération Internationale de Football Association) compounds gives Martinez the inside scoop on the games.

"Ubaldo will live in the NBC/Telemundo bubble and the FIFA bubble for security reasons," Vazquez told "He will have to travel with a security guard and driver at all times and be in that bubble that no one can penetrate. It allows him to create relationships with the team that he's probably never covered before."

Martinez and KTMD management have been working long hours to plan this coverage. That even included getting a new set.

"I always say think of this as a Super Bowl," added Telemundo Houston Marketing Director JC Perez. "Every single day for an entire month."

"This is expected to be one of the best World Cups in the sense you have two of the best players in their prime," Martinez predicted. "Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) and Lionel Messi (Argentina) both have not yet won the World Cup with either one of their teams."

With the Dyanamo's Adolfo Machado playing for Panama, KTMD will be interviewing his fellow Houston players and coaches each night for extra analysis.

Beyond travelling to Russia for its team coverage, the station has also been working to position itself as the soccer station of Houston. That means covering everything from Major League Soccer (MLS) to high school teams.

Since many of the World Cup games will take place in daytime hours for our country, Telemundo is making sure you can catch the game wherever you happen to be during the action.

"I think in terms of local for the viewers, this will probably be one of the first World Cups that's engaged on all platforms," Vazquez added. "Every single one of [the games], you'll be able to watch on the go through the Telemundo Houston App."

Monday, May 14, 2018

Ken Hoffman #4 Houston Chronicle columnist?

A year later, CultureMap columnist Ken Hoffman is still tops with his former newspaper, the Houston Chronicle

Today, it has been a year since columnist Ken Hoffman left the Houston Chronicle for CultureMap.

I remember last year, I was on hiatus from this blog at the time, but that news got me back in the old blogger seat!

"While Culture Map obviously isn't as established as the Houston Chronicle, it can offer me different challenges and opportunities," Hoffman told at the time in 2017. "I have history with Culture Map's new owner David Gow and that played a big role in my decision to leave the Chronicle. I spent 22 years with the Chronicle. It was the best job I ever had. I hope the Chron appreciated me as much as I enjoyed working there. I feel a little cheated, actually. I didn't get to fulfill the employee's fantasy of telling my bosses to shove this job. I liked my bosses."

And clearly Hoffman's bosses liked him and still do.

Former journalist, turned PR pro Alan Bernstein, tweeted a few weeks ago that Hoffman is still listed on the Houston Chronicle website as its number four columnist a year after his departure!

Hoffman must still be able to pull in the page views for Hearst Houston, even in his absence.

Well, I had to go ask Hoffman about his unknown side gig.

"Of course I was surprised to read on Twitter that I'm the No. 4 columnist at the Houston Chronicle - especially since I left the Chronicle a year ago," he told "The best I ever did when I actually worked there was No. 12. Maybe I should ask for a raise now."

Hoffman was always number one in my book. When I started writing this blog, I pretty much was just channeling my inner Ken Hoffman. Ken, thank you for letting me rip you off all these years.

Read Hoffman over at

Saturday, May 12, 2018

WFAA 8 DFW reveals new #TEGNA graphics package

First TEGNA rolled out graphics to its smaller Texas stations. Then it debuted new KHOU 11 graphics a few weeks ago.

Now here is the big daddy of all Texas TEGNA...WFAA 8 in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Here is a look at its new graphics package.

From what I year, the station moved out of its Victory Park remote studio and moved back to the mother ship on Young Street.

You can hear morning anchor Ron Corning reference a refreshed Victory Park studio.

(thanks Eric)

Friday, May 11, 2018

Sindy Espinoza promoted at Telemundo Houston KTMD

10pm newscast producer Sindy Espinoza moves up to Executive Producer

Telemundo Houston KTMD has let me know that 10pm newscast producer Sindy Espinoza has been promoted to Executive Producer.

Espinoza joined KTMD over a year ago from WUNI-TV Boston where she was Assistant News Director/EP and also anchored.

"Her experience, leadership and understanding of KTMD's news brand make her the perfect candidate for her new role," said Jerry Vazquez Vice President of News for KTMD.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Is that Fox 26's Mike Iscovitz or Eddie Van Halen?

Gene Simmons recently said rock is dead. And as someone who loves the genre and is most likely listening to some version of the heavy music as I write each post for this very blog, I want to keep it alive.

It just so happens that someone in my blog's coverage area is doing just that.

Fox 26 KRIV morning meteorologist Mike Iscovitz has been shredding on the guitar for decades and even recently showing off his inner-Yngwie Malmsteen via Facebook! In his videos he's playing Dean and Gibson guitars.

Iscovitz Van Halen was nice enough to answer some of my questions about his riffing hobby.

Mike McGuff: What made you pick up the guitar now? Have you played in the past?

Mike Iscovitz: I started playing about 30 (yes thirty) years ago. I have fallen in and out of love with it over the years. There were times that I didn’t touch the guitar for months, then I would get interested again for a little while. Something clicked with me about a month ago and I told myself, “it’s now or never” and decided to pick my favorite guitar solos and learn them...especially the hard ones.

What is your favorite genre to play?

I have two musical loves: ‘70s classic rock and ‘80s “hair metal”.

Name some of your favorite bands?

Oh, man. My absolute favorites would be Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Deep Purple (from the classic rock genre) and Tesla, Poison and Guns N' Roses (from the ‘80s era).

Will you start or join a band?

I want to and I need to. Some people have long “bucket lists” filled with traveling the world or jumping out of airplanes, I just want to take care of my wife and three girls...and play in a band.

If you do, can I play the triangle?

Can we settle for the cowbell instead?


Anything else you want to add?

I want to share a story...a true story. When I was 29, I was jamming with a couple of guitar player colleagues. They had both been in bands (and one is currently an outlaw country artist).

Well, when I mentioned to the other guy, “Hey, I think I should get a band together,” he said...and I will always remember, “Nope. Too late. You had your chance and you blew it.”

Now, he was half kidding, but the crazy part is that I believed it. At 29, I was a successful meteorologist at Fox 26 and a married man and I thought I was essentially washed up. Looking back, how crazy was that to believe?

Well now, at 42, I feel like I’m still young! I love the fact that my daughters walk in the room when I’m playing and say, “Wow daddy, how do you do that!?”

I need to practice lots more and I have no illusions about my abilities, but I have potential to be a very mediocre player in a band that plays for free somewhere :)

Thanks Mike and rock on!

--- Interview End ---

I always wanted to play guitar, but sucked at the whole practicing part. Still, when I worked at KXXV Waco, anchor Carlo Cecchetto (now at CBS News 8 San Diego KFMB) and I talked about starting a TV News punk band. The name? IFB. Come one...that is lit as the kids say these days.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

89.3 KSBJ and 91.7 NGEN DJs live homeless for three days

Two Houston DJs And Two Precinct 1 Constables Spend Three Days Homeless On Streets of Houston - KSBJ/NGEN Radio & Star of Hope

91.7 NGEN Radio Morning DJ Ayana Mack and 89.3 KSBJ Morning DJ Carder Price

What to eat. Where to sleep. How to stay safe. For three days and two nights, 89.3 KSBJ Morning DJ Carder Price and 91.7 NGEN Radio Morning DJ Ayana Mack, along with two Precinct 1 constables, walked in the shoes of Houston’s homeless.

All they had to sustain them was $10, a bus pass, donated clothes and 2 tents. The group struggled to find meals, were kicked out of a restaurant, and became virtually invisible to people they encountered in downtown Houston. In most cases, the compassion they found came from the homeless.

The group knew their experience would in no way compare to what it is truly like to be homeless, but this joint effort with the Star of Hope and Precinct 1 was designed to raise awareness about how it feels to walk in their shoes and how to help through the Star of Hope. “It was hard. We could not even fathom doing this for a week, much less months or years,” says Carder Price, KSBJ Morning Show co-host. “And as desperate as we felt, there was a difference. We knew we were going home in three days.”

Captain Kevin Williams and Deputy Rachel Wyne from the Precinct 1 Constable’s Office shared in the experience to better serve the homeless population and to provide security. They say this experience has forever changed how they will interact with the homeless.

About KSBJ and NGEN radio

On the air for over 35 years, KSBJ is Houston’s leading listener-supported, non-profit, non-commercial contemporary Christian music radio station. The purpose of KSBJ is to be the Voice of Hope Connecting People to God, through Christian music, community outreach and events. KSBJ's sister station, NGEN radio, is an on-air and online entertainment experience for people who want Christian music with an edge. NGEN radio is designed to capture the energy of the “NOW” generation and power a world of good through connection and community outreach. Both listener supported radio stations, and a long-standing member of the ECFA, KSBJ Educational Foundation's ministry is managed by a group of volunteer men and women from across the Greater Houston area, who serve as members of its Board of Directors. The board members represent diverse denominations, backgrounds and professions to provide oversight, direction and accountability for the ministry. KSBJ can be heard on 89.3 FM (North/East of Downtown Houston) and 96.9 FM (South/West of Downtown Houston). NGEN radio can be heard on 91.7 FM (Houston), 89.5 FM (Bay City) and 89.3 HD-2 (Houston). For more information and additional frequencies, visit or

(This post was taken from a press release sent to me by KSBJ)

Monday, May 07, 2018

Rebecca Spera leaves KTRK abc13

Afternoon traffic anchor and reporter Rebecca Spera decides not to renew her abc13 KTRK contract

UPDATE MAY 8, 2018
Rebecca Spera announces she is the national spokesperson for blendSMART - a maker of makeup tools. She also told there will be more announcements coming.


Rebecca Spera has decided not to renew her contract with abc13 KTRK. See the other Houston TV reporter I wrote about leaving earlier today.

The afternoon traffic anchor and reporter has been on maternity leave and was scheduled to return to work this week. BTW, she named her new bundle of joy Dean.

It just so happened that Spera's channel 13 contract ran out while she was on leave. She was scheduled to return this week, but the mother of a two year old and two month old, realized her priorities lay elsewhere at this point in her life.

"When you work in TV news, it's a lot of hours, it's full dedication, and you have to be all in, and you have to love every second of it," Spera said. "And I had to take a second and sit back and look at my life and decide if I wanted that life for myself anymore. Did I want to work fixed hours that were long. Did I want to miss trick-or-treating? Did I want to miss dinner with my kids every night? And I didn't want to have to sign another long term contract where I didn't know what my life was going to be like in a couple of years."

It sounds like she might be working with channel 13 in a part-time manner in the future. Also, reading between the lines here, it also sounds like she might be working as a marketer/influencer.

If anyone in Houston TV is capable of making that transition, it's Spera.

Before becoming the station's traffic anchor, she was the host of Mirror/Mirror, a show focusing on beauty and fashion, on the Disney ABC Television Group station's shuttered Live Well Network. She seems to have built up quite a fan-base from that experience and forged relationships around town with businesses she covered.

Before Mirror/Mirror, Spera worked as a producer and contributor on KHOU 11's Great Day Houston with Deborah Duncan.

The New Jersey native earned a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Communications at La Salle University in Philadelphia.

Here is the goodbye message Spera posted on Facebook.

After a lot of thinking, soul-searching, and praying, I made the decision to not renew my TV contract with ABC13 and spend more time with my growing family. I'm so grateful for the nine + years I spent at the station and am incredibly thankful for all of my managers, coworkers, guests, and especially YOU the viewers. Telling your stories and sharing life and beauty tips with you for nearly a decade has been a privelege and an honor, and I truly couldn't be more grateful to you.

I do love working, but I wanted a career where I could make my own hours and be home more with my boys. What's next? I'll be announcing my plans this week at my new Facebook page, Rebecca Spera.

Thank you again for nearly a decade of wonderful memories!

Say goodbye and congratulations to Spera here.

- Scott Noll exits KHOU
- Natasha Barrett leaves KTRK 13
- Kevin Quinn resigns from KTRK abc13