Thursday, January 19, 2017

Rucks Russell leaves KHOU 11

After a decade plus, KHOU 11 reporter Rucks Russell leaves TV for new chapter

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Reporter Rucks Russell has worked at KHOU 11 so long, that at the time of his Houston arrival, I wasn't even blogging that seriously about the comings and goings of TV reporters!

Good thing Isiah "Factor" Carey wrote a post about Russell's arrival back in 2006.

Tonight we learn that Russell is leaving the TV news world for something just as high-profile in its own way. According to a tweet, Russell reveals he will be the new Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee in Washington DC.

According to his bio, Russell also worked in Raleigh, N.C., Richmond, Va., Washington, D.C., Orlando, Fla., and Roanoke, Va.

He received his bachelor's degree in journalism from Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. He also studied abroad in Besancon, France.

KHOU reporter Grace White gave Russell a big cookie send off.

(Thanks Taylor)

KHOU 11 is first Houston TV station to use drone

Drone 11 debuted on KHOU during this weeks's Houston flood coverage

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In today's world orange is the new black, energy drinks are the new soft drinks and drones are the new TV news choppers?

Well, I wouldn't go that far, but drones are hot right now and it's no surprise that they are finding their way into TV news coverage.

Enter Drone 11.

KHOU 11 introduced the latest tool in its news-gathering arsenal yesterday during the latest flood event.

"Drone photography is a wonderful new way to enhance our storytelling capabilities and KHOU is very proud to be the first television station in Houston to deploy a drone in the newsgathering process," KHOU 11 President & General Manager Susan McEldoon told

So now anytime there is a situation that calls for it, the station tells me its staff of trained photojournalists can utilize Drone 11.

"We identified a number of individuals that had the interest and skill in learning," McEldoon told me. "We provided in-station training and they all had to take the FAA test to become licensed. Once licensed we conducted “hands-on” training for them to learn how to operate the drone."

I'm sure the channel 11 staff can handle Drone 11 better than my son and I can fly consumer grade ones! We both need that training!

McEldoon adds that all of the TEGNA stations are or will be using drones in the future.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New KPRC building moves channel 2 into 21st century

MIKEMCGUFF.COM EXCLUSIVE: As the first new TV station to be built in Houston since the 1990s, KPRC is building for the future of TV and employee happiness - get your first look

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Dave Strickland and Jerry Martin in new KPRC 2 newsroom SEE MORE PHOTOS

As I followed KPRC 2 VP/General Manager Jerry Martin through the hallways of the Graham Media Group station's future home, it became apparent that he has paid close attention to every little detail.

"Yeah, it's taken up a lot of extra time every day," Martin told "So there's a lot on the general manager to get it done and get it done on time, on budget, etc. So it's my baby, yeah."

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Still required to wear hardhats, the tour of Martin, news director Dave Strickland and myself encountered busy construction workers in practically every nook and cranny of the building site.

A representative from DPR Construction told me it has around 100 staffers working on the new 65,000 square foot station, being built directly behind KPRC's soon-to-be old building in the former parking lot. The current station has been there since the early 1970s.

"It was a great building, and I'm not trying to say anything about the architecture or this building, but it just doesn't lend itself to 2016 broadcasting," Martin admitted. "So, normally I think what would've happened is we would've just rehabbed this building, done a serious rehab. And we looked at that. But at the end of the day, we ended up with, a better building, but not a great building. And when we looked at building one in our own parking lot and we did the math on it, the difference between rehabbing this one the correct way and a new building, it wasn't too much of a difference."

And 2016 broadcasting means lots of computer servers and thousands of cable runs. The new building keeps all of that in mind, plus growth for KPRC's digital strategies with two control rooms and studios.

Then there is the employee morale factor.

The current KPRC newsroom looks like a bunker. That's because it was the home of the NBC affiliate's newscasts from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. As a result there could be no windows. Once the news set was moved back to its own studio, the news department now lives in a big gray room with fluorescent lighting. A few artifacts from the old set remain. One employee joked to me it was hard to tell when Hurricane Ike was actually hitting the building with its Brutalist architecture fortress motif.

"In our present newsroom, you wouldn't know if you're working the midnight shift or if you're working at four o'clock in the afternoon," Martin said. "So, I think for employee morale, it'll be a big deal."

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The new KPRC newsroom will be all about light and have an open concept feel similar to what you would think of an internet company. But like those dot com companies, I'm doubting there will be a foosball table and beer pong area...after all it is still a news operation! And forget about fluorescent lighting - the new station is all LED.

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Balcony (inside view) SEE MORE PHOTOS

Part of the little details that Martin pointed out to me were an upstairs balcony in the sales department where all employees can get sun light and fresh air. It's an idea Martin had from living in a condo with a big balcony.

"It's a good option for people on both floors, second floor or first floor to get outside, but not be in an enclosed space where, if it rains or happens to rain, you're not going to get rained on at all," Martin explained.

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Old and new buildings with tower SEE MORE PHOTOS

That balcony has a covered walkway jutting out of it for employees coming to/leaving work from the parking lot. Then it donned on me. How many TV stations have I ever been to that have covered employee walkways? Not many.

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The central area SEE MORE PHOTOS

Next, what Martin calls, "the wow factor." The central part of the building could be called the Times Square of KPRC where all department wings come together in a lounge area enclosed by a grand staircase. Not only is this interior part the center of the station's universe, but much like Times Square, it also has some dazzle. A giant illuminated seven foot KPRC 2 logo will adorn the wall. Martin says employees can work, meet and socialize here.

KPRC management hopes the openness and flow of the new building will lead to collaboration between employees, because unlike the current building, someone from one department could actually run into someone from another. They realized the benefit of department-wide collaboration during the station's annual Habitat for Humanity community building project.

"You end up talking and working with people that you don't necessarily see on a day-to-day basis," KPRC news director Dave Strickland told "And it's really nice, and I think that's what makes this place so unique."

Bottom line, beyond the need for technical upgrades, station management thinks the new building will help keep good employees and attract new ones. Especially as KPRC 2 has steadily moved up in the TV ratings over the last years and has good momentum going forward.

"It's a competitive business, and I think if people are considering Houston as a place to work in the TV business, that's an advantage that we're gonna have," Martin told me. "And we think we have an advantage as it is because we have a very solid management team. And we've got continuity going back now that we didn't have when I got here. We've got much better communication throughout the building, and I think this will just enhance that when we get there."

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As the station opens a new chapter with its new building, it closes another as it will demolish the long-time current building. It's location will become the parking lot. I'm told the iconic KPRC tower that decorates the I-69/Highway 59 corridor will remain. A tall vertical KPRC sign will cover the front left side of the new gray and black building.

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The new studio SEE MORE PHOTOS

March is the projected time for the first wave of staffers to move into the new building. Houston TV viewers will probably actually see a newscast from the new station in April. Martin told there will be a brand new set too. Don't ask me for details on how that will look since the studio is still under construction. There wasn't even a hint of a set in the room yet.

Meanwhile, excited KPRC employees will have to wait for their move-in day and continue parking in temporary lots. Minor discomfort aside, staffers still work interrupted in their current building and then get a chance to work in the first new television station built in Houston since FOX moved KRIV to its new studio in the 1990s.

"The statement that Graham's making and that Emily [Barr] (President & Chief Executive Officer of Graham Media Group) was making is Houston is a very important part of our station group," Martin added. "And that they're investing in the future, and they believe in broadcasting."

- FULL COVERAGE: New KPRC 2 studio building for 2017
- KPRC 2 to get a new station, plus secret of current building
- KPRC 2 new studio construction begins


KPRC channel 2 and AM were originally on Post Oak near where the Williams Tower stands today. Former 950 KPRC employee, Jim Bell, told me the old spot was actually across the street by the lake where Hidalgo and Richmond sit today.

Bill Bremer sent me this photo.

Gary Griffin of Retronuvo Media adds that KPRC's original building was a Quonset hut down Loop 610 West behind what is now the giant Houston Community College (HCC) building. That was back when the call letters were KLEE-TV.

Monday, January 16, 2017

PICS: FOX 26 KRIV debuts new set 2017

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It's a new set for 2017 for FOX 26 KRIV. As I wrote last month, FOX 26 started construction at the end of 2016 and temporarily moved its newscast to its newsroom set.

The new set debuted this morning at 4am.

Here are some facts about the new set sent to me by FOX Television Stations:

· KRIV’s 5,568 square foot main studio underwent a transformation and now features the latest technology for dynamic storytelling and engagement with our viewers. Our team is removed from the traditional anchor desk and positioned at a 360 degree anchor station in the set’s center. From there, our standing-only anchors will be dispatched to multi-purpose venues which include more than 26 monitors, including a larger than life video wall. The new set represents the intersection of broadcast and social media platforms with touchscreens and a social media monitor allowing us to engage with our social audience on air as well as on-line platforms.

· As the “Gulf Coast Weather Authority,” Fox 26 now has the latest in state-of-the-art weather technology for the most comprehensive view of weather in the Houston area, which experiences severe weather, including hurricanes. Our meteorologists can engage socially with real time and impact weather conditions and can display video and photos from our Fox 26 social media users almost immediately. Our state-of-the-art Max graphics and hyper-local Foxrad display of radar can pinpoint the most severe weather and track storms minute by minute. Our new complete weather 3D interactive images of Houston will be used for the forecast maps and can be localized to individual towns, which will give us a hyper-local edge.

· Finally, our new Fox 26 set using energy-efficient LEDs has a variety of lighting patterns which change depending on the time of day such as morning and evening newscasts. It also has a unique glass-enclosed green room located right in the studio. The set, created by the Devlin Design Group and the Fox 26 team, is modern and bold and creates a new experience for our viewers.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

“Houston In Black And White” to air on Houston Public Media TV 8 #HouBW

TV special to explore issues facing black and white communities in Houston

HOUSTON – (Jan. 9, 2017) – Houston Public Media is exploring the issues that face black and white communities in Houston during a 60-minute TV special, “Houston In Black And White,” that airs on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 16 at 9 p.m. on TV 8. The show will explore who we are, how we arrived here and what we can do to move forward into a future of healing, equality and growth. Click here for a preview.

Co-hosts Ernie Manouse, arts and culture senior producer for Houston Public Media, and Eddie Robinson, News 88.7 “Morning Edition” news anchor, guide in-depth discussions with four civil rights activists and thinkers from Houston on topics ranging from racism and Affirmative Action to police and the media. The show opens with a message from Mayor Sylvester Turner. The panelists on the show include:

· Natalie Arceneaux, business consultant and conservative talk show host, C+A Global Group

· Andrew Hamilton, Ph.D, associate dean, University of Houston Bonner Leaders Program

· Deric Muhammad, Houston-based author and activist

· Rev. Hannah Terry, associate pastor, Fondren Apartment Ministry

“Several months ago Eddie and I both met individually with people from our own racial groups and asked them the same set of questions to create topic starters for a bigger conversation with our four special guests,” said Manouse, who also served as the show’s producer. “The purpose of this program is to discuss what often divides our communities, in order to get a better understanding of how we see these differences and how much we truly have in common.”

He adds that the hope is that it will spur a much needed conversation out in the community and give us all an opportunity to move forward with a more positive understanding of each other.

“‘Houston In Black And White’ exposes the experiences of individuals from different races and ethnicities and allows them to take part in a much needed dialogue,” said Robinson. “We examine why some people think racism in Houston is getting better, why some think it’s getting worse, why some think it’s widespread, why some think it’s invisible and why many of them think, on some level, it’s actually the norm.”

Houston Public Media will host a live Twitter chat during the special with the hosts and panelists to talk about the show and answer viewer questions. The community is invited to join the conversation using the hashtag #HouBW.

“Houston In Black And White” is part of Houston Public Media’s DiverseCity project (#DiverseCity), a yearlong multi-media initiative looking at what Houston’s diversity means for the city. Stay tuned to for all Houston Public Media stories and content related to this initiative.

(This post was taken from a press release sent to me by Houston Public Media KUHT/KUHF)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Houston Loves Dave Ward Facebook filter #HOULovesDW

Your support and ‘welcome home” wishes will mean so much to Dave Ward

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In honor of Dave Ward's homecoming from the hospital, Crime Stoppers of Houston has setup a #HOULovesDW Facebook filter allowing his friends to change their profile picture in support.

Your support and ‘welcome home” wishes will mean so much to him. Changing your profile photo is easy - just follow these steps:

1. Click HERE -
2. Click “Connect to Facebook”
3. Choose the photo you want to use
4. Click “Allow Post on Facebook”
5. Then click “Share on Facebook” or choose to share a custom message about your photo and tag @Dave Ward’s Houston
6. Make that photo your profile picture!

To follow Dave Ward after he leaves KTRK abc13, like Dave Ward's Houston.

RELATED: A celebration of Dave Ward's 50 years on KTRK channel 13

Dave Ward returns home from hospital

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After heart surgery in December, KTRK abc13 anchor Dave Ward has announced he has left the hospital. He posted to his Dave Ward's Houston Facebook account Wednesday.

Good afternoon, friends. I am so pleased that today I will be discharged from the hospital after a very long stay. Laura is on her way to pick me up and I am so happy to be back home with my family. And even happier that I’ll get to sleep in my own bed tonight. My doctors are confident that I’ll make a 100% recovery, plus some, and that I’ll be stronger than ever! Laura is already preparing some of my favorite meals to celebrate. Between her incredible Cajun cooking, and me continuing to work hard at my cardiac therapy, I know I’ll be back to normal in no time. I can’t thank each of you enough for your on-going thoughts and prayers, they have meant the absolute world to me.

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT: Add the Houston Loves Dave Ward Facebook filter to your profile #HOULovesDW

RELATED: A celebration of Dave Ward's 50 years on KTRK channel 13

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

VIDEO: KHOU 11 and KTRK abc13's dueling morning promos

KHOU 11 and KTRK abc13 have unleashed some new morning promos that have hit the Internet over the last few months. As they say, mornings are the new nights in the TV news biz.

ABC13 AM Routine :30 from ABC13 on Vimeo.

Travis Aggie Pride Weather Image :30 from ABC13 on Vimeo.

KATHAMFAST30KTRK KTRK 16x9 HighRes from ABC13 on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Natasha Barrett is having a baby

KTRK abc13 weekend anchor Natasha Barrett announces pregnancy

Looks like I missed a Houston TV anchor baby announcement made during the holidays.

KTRK abc13 weekend anchor Natasha Barrett posted the big news on Facebook right before Christmas.

On this Christmas Eve, I'm sharing some very exciting news of my own...our special delivery arrives in the spring!

The associated image shows a cartoon image of Barrett and her husband, Scott, holding mugs that say "Mom" and "Dad." The top of the image says, "The best gifts don't come from under the tree."

In case you missed it, KPRC 2 weekend morning anchor Sofia Ojeda returned to your Houston television screens last weekend after having a baby at the end of 2016.

Last week, Fox 26 repoter/fill-in anchor Kaitlin Monte announced she is expecting.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Bob Slovak and Tom Tynan hit 30

A big congrats goes out to Bob Slovak and Tom Tynan

In December, we had some Houston broadcasters hit 30 years in the business! Congratulations to KTRK abc13 sports weekend anchor Bob Slovak and Home Show Radio's Tom Tynan!