Friday, July 23, 2010

KIAH 39 dumps traditional newscasts

UPDATE 8/2010
Gary Jaffe is new KIAH 39 Imaginator for NewsFix

Oh the rumors were flying around the Houston TV media scene Thursday afternoon. Is 39 KIAH really getting rid of its newscast? Yes and no. The answer is actually on KIAH's own website.

I've blogged in the past how Tribune (the owner of KIAH 39) is not playing around with traditional newscasts anymore. On the TV company's upcoming makeover, Tribune Co.'s chief innovation officer Lee Abrams recently told the Chicago Tribune, "It's elevating us and escaping the grip of the 1970s television playbook that seems to be what every station in America is addicted to."

Now we know what Abrams was talking about thanks to this week's job posting on Channel 39's website. This is not your average, boring TV job listing that reads the same at every station. Take my word for it and read every line - I thought it was very clever:

Executive Producer and Imaginator (Full-Time Position) A radically different approach to local TV News is being planned and the new Tribune Company is looking for the right person to hire, lead, and implement a revolution in TV news. Experience in running a TV Newsroom is not necessary and might actually be detrimental, as this position requires someone with no traditional TV News baggage, because there's little tradition involved in this idea. We do want someone:

* With a fiery passion to help re-invent the 80's rooted, focus grouped, yuppie anchors and a news desk, super doppler ultra weather style
* Who can take the blueprint and pilot for a new concept and make it happen with guidance, ideas and interaction
* Who lives and breathes content
* That is in sync with the pulse of the streets, not the PC Journalism world
* Has well honed B.S. Radar
* Who understands and embraces new production technology
* Who thinks in stereo and lives in color
* Who knows that most local TV News sucks and wants to do something about it
* Can survive and prosper in a modern high brilliance standards rock n roll culture
* Gets "it"
* Excruciatingly high quality, imagination and execution standards

The creatively challenged, old school TV news types and anyone lost in the 80's really shouldn't apply. But if this thing excites you, talk to us. Shoot your resume, POV on TV News and anything else you think might help sell you as the right person to deliver the goods on our new idea for TV News. KIAH-TV is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Please list source of referral. No phone calls please. Send resumes to: KIAH-TV, HR Coordinator, 7700 Westpark Dr., Houston, TX 77063 or e-mail to:

I understand some KIAH 39 employees are a little anxious about this radical thinking. In fact the ones I heard from still are still unclear exactly what this all means for their jobs. Stay tuned.

So far KDAF 33 in Dallas does not have a job posting like this.

- Tribune stations like KIAH 39 and KDAF 33 are getting makeovers
- Cussing and insults mark TV station group ad campaigns

The Houston Chroncile's David Barron reports KIAH 39 will launch NewsFix which "discards on-camera anchors and reporters and focuses on natural sound and video to tell stories." READ MORE

UPDATE 8/2010
Gary Jaffe is new KIAH 39 Imaginator for NewsFix


  1. Just the News Please7/23/2010 08:18:00 AM

    I think what would be radical is to just tell us the news without all the gimmicks and sensationalism. Ch. 39 actually seemed to be the best at this so it's sad to hear they want to do something wacky.

  2. You really can't re-invent the wheel. The problem with Ch 39 is that they have no ratings and I don't think they ever will. Taking the tie off your male anchor and making your Female look like a model is just a gimmick. Modern TV news started with Huntley-Brinkley in 1956, it has not changed much since that basic two anchor format was started. You now have so many ways to get news. Doing a long form newscast every few hours might be the problem.


  4. I want to apply.

  5. It should be noted that Lee Abrams has no experience in running a TV Newsroom either and he's the one ultimately responsible for all the gimmicky crap you've seen on 39 for the past few of years.

  6. Lee Abrams should seek out OBAMA for a unemployment check. You see what happens when you give the wrong person too much power.

  7. Beginning of the end for 39...

  8. Mr. Michaels: We are about to launch a TV newscast in Houston that has no anchors, that has great pictures and great writing, but doesn't involve a set or a desk or anyone standing in the way of the picture. Now is it going to work? We're going to find out.

    Via WSJ

  9. A hint of things to come at all Tribune stations! The only trib newscast turning a profit is in L.A. so that one is pretty safe. San Diego is next to get the ax! No surprise about Houston, very poor newscast overall.

  10. HoochesCooches7/26/2010 07:45:00 PM

    A radio guy trying to reinvent teevee??? Randy Michaels was brought in as the "savior & idea generator" of LocalTV a now Tribune cooperated station group... he left & went to the Tribune and funny nothing has been heard from him in a while... he was the ClearChannel radio honcho that basically got fat off the "good" times and was nowhere to be seen when radio went flat.

    Problem with just about any indy news operation is they have little to no identity in the community... if they just spent time, effort & $$$ on promoting the main anchor then come up with this scrap job they have just set back any progress to make a face for their news operation.

    Sounds like a veiled attempt at using photogs to shoot & edit it all as nat/sound pieces. Shotgun news is what I call it. Go spray it and slap it together.

    Good shooters & editors can crank it out and likely enjoy the lack of reporter track, but some stories can't be sprayed down. A anchor needs to be on the desk for large scale story coverage i.e. hurricanes & flooding, large crime scenes/trials, in general live news coverage which is where local news/weather will still have a audience.

    I could see a local news block where stories could be expanded or several condensed in a nats "you make the news" block but a wholesale anchor/reporterless newscast?

    They'll likely scrap it and monkey grind into something else.

  11. Lee Abrams invented the album rock format of the 1970s and 1980s. Abrams turned boring bands like REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Asia, Boston, Journey and Styx into superstars. I would NOT watch his reinvented newscast.

  12. Every single person in that newsroom is looking for another job right now.

  13. And our deadline for finding that new job is October-ish.

  14. Newfix is the only way to not get the news you need a fix on.
    Its run by somewhat amateurs and it shows.
    It reminds me of the fast, at ya stuff in the 90s.
    Flash back huh? Nah..
    give me local news anyday.
    You can have this tailored to the teen and 20yr old all you want, but who pays the bills.. Mommy and Daddy, so suck up to us or you will be shut out


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