It’s official, the WB30 Newscast has been cancelled. Thursday night’s 6 and 10 PM broadcasts were replaced by an unscheduled home improvement show, and, unless it gets re-written, the station’s Wikpedia entry already reports that the broadcast has “been axed.” Also, the latest controversy seems to have stirred things up over at the fake Tom McGee Myspace Page (not really work safe, folks). Late Thursday afternoon, according to this entry at LiveJournal, the news operation was shut down. There are full details in this morning’s Gazette.
It’s not too hard to figure out what to make of the latest developments. I’d been hearing rumors for some time that the Portsmouth faction of WHCP was undermining the efforts to establish a successful newscast and move the station to Charleston. Evidently there’s a lot of resentment there over the move. The physical ejection of lead anchor Tom McGee on Tuesday was an indication that the end was near. McGee’s story is that he was standing up for the reporters that he helped the station recruit in a dispute over health insurance and parking. It looks like McGee may have been the hero of this piece. WHCP hasn’t made a public statement yet, and as of Thursday night their website still had the 6 and 10 PM newscasts listed on their schedule, along with several other programs that weren’t on Thursday evening. The internal memo that was posted on an industry message board blamed “recent events within the organization as well as the apparent unwillingness of the advertiser community to support our news products.”
And so, the newscast is done and I’m betting that lawsuits will start flying in all directions. With so many lawyers on the Charleston end of the equation, things don’t look good for WHCP. I’m also guessing that the station won’t be moving to the West Side, after all. I hope I’m wrong in that assumption. If you could manage to sit through the newscasts, it was obvious from the poor quality of the commercials that WHCP didn’t have a sales staff that could sell advertising here in Charleston. A local newscast should be a cash cow for a TV station, but all that WHCP could manage were really awful commercials for businesses in Portsmouth and Ironton, promos for RCW wrestling and public service announcements. They really should have hired experienced ad sales reps before they started the newscast. A move to Charleston might have forced them to produce better work.
It’s too bad this didn’t work out. Even with the relative inexperience of the news crew, it was nice to have an alternative to the slick, professional newscasts that the other local stations air. Plus it’s hard to beat the sheer entertainment value of watching reporter Mike Karr’s stammering, “deer-caught-in-the-headlights” reaction every time one of the anchors asked him a question. Plus, it would have been nice if the news division managed to drag the technical quality of the station up from the sad levels that they are now.
The bottom line is that we nearly lost the Duchess Bakery for nothing! Reportedly, the investors from Charleston are going to take another shot at local TV, maybe with a more willing partner, this time. It’d be sweet if they can make it happen quickly, and then hijack the new CW Network away from WHCP. Maybe if that happens, Charleston area viewers can watch those surviving WB and UPN shows in stereo, with a decent broadcast signal, for the first time.