Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Ch.7's Wiley needs anchor seasoning that Ch.4's Rodriguez received

By Alan Pergament

I've been on record before predicting that Channel 7's Desiree Wiley eventually will become a TV star and move to a bigger market.

But she isn't one now and it's a disservice to her and the audience to have her anchor the noon newscast so quickly.

But there she was anchoring at noon Monday morning when meteorologist Mike Randall, doing the weather outside, saw Wiley's mother in the crowd at the Erie County Fair and asked her to grade her daughter's performance.

Mom gave her a 8.5 out of 10, which qualified as a tough grade coming from a parent.

Wiley immediately stumbled reading copy as she apparently had trouble with the teleprompter or her script.

I'd give this year’s first runner-up in the Miss New York State competition a 5 out of 10. And that’s being generous, taking her inexperience into account and the fact that she was thrown into the role because Channel 7 needs someone there temporarily while it searches for a new morning anchor team. 

Wiley has a pleasing personality and a great camera presence but she doesn’t have a commanding voice and looked like she was getting on the job training.

I expect her to get much better. But she just isn't ready for this role a few years out of Buffalo State College.

In the old days of local television when Buffalo was a bigger market, Wiley would have had to perfect her style in Elmira or some other small market. These days, local TV hires anchors and reporters right out of college and hope they mature reasonably fast in front of our eyes.

It isn't easy, but Channel 4's Nalina Shapiro has showed recently that improvement can happen. I'd bet it will happen with Wiley as well. 

Wiley isn't the only one I saw anchor for the first time recently.

Channel 4’s Elysia Rodriguez, who arrived at the CBS affiliate several months ago, anchored a few weekend newscasts and appeared very comfortable doing so. I’d give her a grade of 8.5 and imagine she’d get an even higher grade from her relatives. She came here from a smaller market, Springfield, Mass., which no doubt helped her become comfortable behind the anchor desk.

Channel 2's experiment with "Secrets of the Unknown with Karyn Reece" continues to be a late-night hit. Last Sunday’s third installment had a 4.0 rating, which is better than most prime time programs on broadcast television get in the summer locally.  

Ch.7's Randall moving to weekends

By Alan Pergament

Channel 7 meteorologist Mike Randall, who is a member of the cast in "The Comedy of Errors" production at Shakespeare in Delaware Park, will soon be leaving the comedy of errors known as the station's morning program.

Randall confirmed Sunday that he is moving from "Good Morning" to weekends on Labor Day weekend and also will do features on two days a week.

"I think it is a great move for me," said Randall in a telephone interview Sunday. "I don't have to get up at 2 in the morning anymore and I get to do features."

Autumn Lewandowski, who has been doing weekends, is expected to move to the mornings for the station's revamped morning program. The station hasn't revealed its plans for the revamp.

Last week, Channel 7 released morning anchors Tiffany Lundberg and Cole Heath after a year because the station's low ratings in the mornings fell even further.

John Borsa, who had been co-anchoring weekends, is anchoring the mornings on a temporary basis, with Desiree Wiley also on board as a co-anchor and reporter and Rachel Elzufon as a roving reporter.

The morning hours haven't been easy for Randall during his Delaware Park run in "The Comedy of Errors" as he has had to go on the air some nights after two hours of sleep.

Randall is playing Angelo, a goldsmith, in the modern update of the Shakespeare play. He said he originally tried out using a British accent, before being told he should play the part with a New York accent.

"I'm doing it as a cross between Billy Fuccillo and Tony Soprano," said Randall. "It is really fun. It is like a party out there. The show is funny and goofy and it isn't as long as most Shakespeare productions. It's about two hours."

Randall has been told that one highlight comes during the curtain call.

"My wife said the best part is watching me dance," said Randall. "I never did learn to dance."

Randall, who celebrates his 31st year at Channel 7 on Aug. 29, saw his hours reduced a year ago to 32 weekly over five mornings and two noon newscasts when he signed a new deal last year. He now will work four days a week in his new weekend and features role.

His contract runs through December, 2015. However, if he does well in the research being done by the new station owner, E.W. Scripps, it wouldn't be shocking if his contract was extended. And all his years at the station may help him get good research grades 

CNN to air documentary on Wellsville member of Seal Team 6

By Alan Pergament

CNN is set to announce Friday that it will air a two-hour documentary film next month about a former member of Navy Seal Team 6 from Wellsville. 

The film, "Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story," will air at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. Sept 4. It is about a man, Christopher Beck, who served in the military for 20 years and later became a transgender individual known as Kristin Beck.

Beck appeared on "Anderson Cooper 360" in 2013, which led to the making of the film.

The CNN Films documentary has been screened at several film festivals, including ones in Toronto and Austin, Texas, but this will be the first time it will air on television.

 CNN sent an email identifying Beck as originally being from Wellsville. A publicist said Wellsville is mentioned in the film. CNN added that Beck was a member of the special counterterrorism unit "Seal Team 6," but was not in the group that killed Osama bin Laden.

A short trailer for the film available on You Tube describes Beck as a 20-year member of the service who retired in 2011. Here is a description of the film provided by CNN.

"Former U.S.  Navy SEAL Christopher Beck embarks on a new mission as Kristin Beck. Her search for the American ideals that she protected as an American hero take on new meaning as she lives her life
truthfully as a transgender woman.  For more than 20 years, Beck served as a member of the Navy's elite Special Forces on SEAL Team 1 as well as for the United States Special Warfare Development Group -- which many in the public refer to as SEAL Team Six. 

"Beck retired in 2011 with the rank of Senior Chief and continued high-level clearance work for the federal government while concealing her transgender identity throughout and after her service, knowing she would lose it all if anyone were to know her secret. 

"In 2013, approximately 18 months after her retirement from active service, Beck came out publicly on LinkedIn and on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360°, surprising many friends, colleagues, and family. This documentary was filmed when the truth was still fresh and emotional for those closest to Beck. 

"Through exclusive interviews with Beck's family and friends about her service, this film explores their reactions to her coming out and includes exclusive footage of Beck in training and in combat during active service.

"While many around her have been supportive, some in the public have expressed more bigotry than she ever expected. After a lifetime of public service, Beck has learned that her fight for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness did not end on the battlefield."


WGR's Buscaglia moves from sideline to press box

By Alan Pergament 

When I saw all the tweets that Joe Buscaglia, WGR's Buffalo Bills beat reporter, was sending during the preseason opener with the New York Giants Sunday, I tweeted a message to him asking if he was no longer the sideline reporter during radio broadcasts.

I assumed he couldn't tweet that often on the sideline.

He never answered on Twitter.

But multiple sources have confirmed that WGR is going without a sideline reporter for the first time in recent memory as John Murphy calls play-by-play of the game and Mark Kelso does analysis.

Buscaglia will be in the press box again Friday when the Bills visit the Carolina Panthers in their second preseason game and I expect he will tweet away.

He is expected to go to all the games to be part of the pregame show and halftime intermission and perhaps do post-game interviews.

The idea apparently is to increase Joe B's online content and not clutter the game broadcast with a third participant.

The move is somewhat understandable considering all the restrictions that sideline reporters have to operate under National Football League guidelines.

The sideline also could possibly be the worst seat in the house for a reporter to see what is actually going on, except for when players come to the sideline injured. Joe B sees the game much more clearly when he looks at the "All-22"  game film that he uses to do his extremely interesting weekly analysis and grading of how every Bill plays in a game.

The TV networks continue to use sideline reporters, usually women, to fill the announcers in on injuries and add occasional observations. 

Once in a while, a reporter on the TV sidelines can provide useful information but most of the time the information isn't very valuable and it can even be a little distracting.

The pace of the NFL game these days also argues against sideline reporters. With plays getting off much faster as coaches follow Philadelphia Eagles Coach Chip Kelly's philosophy, there often just isn't  enough time to hear from the sideline reporter.

I would expect if WGR learns that it is missing something by not having a sideline reporter, Joe B will eventually leave his press box seat this season and get back on the sideline.

Ray Bentley will do play-by-play and Steve Tasker will do analysis of the Bills game with Carolina Friday carried by Channel 7. Mike Catalana, a Rochester broadcaster, will be the sideline reporter. Yes, the Bills still feel they need one on local TV productions of preseason games.

CBS, which stopped using sideline reporters on most NFL games in 2006, has added Tracy Wolfson to its No.1 announcing team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms and reportedly plans to use three sideline reporters this season.  It occasionally used sideline reporters last season, with Allie LaForce working at least one Bills game. She is a former Miss Teen USA.

Summertime when the leaving is easy to figure out

By Alan Pergament

Normally, I don't pay much attention to the July sweeps because the ratings come in the summer when viewing patterns are different because children are off from school and many people go on vacation.

And I'm told that they don't mean much to advertisers, either.

But the household numbers this July help explain why Channel 7 let go morning co-anchors Cole Heath and Tiffany Lundberg Tuesday and why Channel 4 released News Director Joe Schlaerth two weeks ago near the end of the sweeps when results were pretty much decided.

Heath, Lundberg and Schlaerth all were on shaky ground already because of the results of the May sweeps or demographics, but July pretty much explains why they didn't survive.

The household numbers (the demographics haven't arrived) certainly tell the story for Heath and Lundberg, who arrived at Channel 7 a year ago after the station's morning team of first Patrick Taney and then Ginger Geoffery left. Taney went to work in Rochester, Geoffery took a job outside of television.

Heath and Lundbery arrived when the station was in third place in the morning and left with "Good Morning" deeper in the basement.

The 5 a.m. hour of the program had a .7 rating, which was a 50 percent decline from the low rating the station had a year ago. The 6 a.m. hour had a 1.5 rating, a 29 percent decline from a year ago.

To further illustrate the rejection of Channel 7's "Good Morning," ABC's "Good Morning America" (3.1 rating) that follows it doubled its rating and moved back into second place behind NBC's "Today" (6.5) as CBS' morning show (2.7) surprisingly took a 34 percent hit from a year ago.

Part of the CBS decline can be attributed to the decline in Channel 4's 6 a.m. hour of "Wake Up!," a program that Schlaerth was trying to fix by bringing in a new anchor team of Jordan Williams and Teresa Weakley and meteorologist Todd Santos.

After some early success, "Wake Up!" has fallen significantly behind Channel 2's first-place "Daybreak" co-anchored by John Beard and Melissa Holmes. At 6 a.m., "Daybreak" had the same 5.4 rating it had a year ago while "Wake Up!" dropped 24 percent to a 3.5.

The early evening news ratings saw Channel 2 widen its lead over Channel 4 at 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and found the two stations in a dead heat at 6 p.m, when Channel 4 won the household competition in May for the first time in six sweeps but lost in key demographics. The 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. results weren't a good sign for Schlaerth, either.

Channel 4 won at 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. in July in households as it has done for years. However, in May, Channel 2 was a demographic winner at 11 p.m. 

Channel 7, meanwhile, continued its slide in the first sweeps period under its new owner E.W. Scripps Co.

The morning isn't Channel 7's only problem, but it could be the most important because it starts the day off on the wrong foot.

The station's 5 p.m. through 6:30 p.m. newscast block also is struggling badly, with the anemic .7 lead-in it gets from Queen Latifah's talk show at 4 p.m. a significant part of the problem. This fall, Channel 7 is putting a new judge program, "Hot Bench," in the key 4 p.m. news lead-in slot.

At 5 p.m., Channel 7 gets only a 2.2 rating, which grows to a still low 2.7 at 5:30 p.m. and a 3.6 at 6 p.m. It gets a 3.8 rating at 11 p.m., which is still half of the rating that first-place Channel 4 receives. Once again, part of the problem is its lead-in. ABC's 10 p.m. summer programs get the weakest ratings in the market.

In short, Channel 7 not only isn't have a "Good Morning," but it isn't having a good evening, either.

Scripps clearly has a lot on its plate to try and fix things.


Morning co-anchors Heath, Lundberg exit Channel 7

By Alan Pergament

The Channel 7 morning team of co-anchors Cole Heath and Tiffany Lundberg exited the ABC affiliate this morning after a year on the job.

"The company has decided to go in a different direction and they are no longer at the station," General Manager Mike Nurse confirmed.

The departure of the anchors isn't a surprise since "Good Morning" has been a ratings disaster and hit rock bottom during the July sweeps.

At 5 a.m., Channel 7 didn't even hit a 1 rating and received about 20 percent of first place Channel 2's audience and about 35 percent of Channel 4's audience.

At 6 a.m., Channel 7 had a 1.5 rating, which was slightly less than 30 percent of first place Channel 2's audience and slightly more than 40 percent of Channel 4's audience. 

Of course, the anchors with West Coast roots -- Heath is originally from Arizona and Lundberg is originally from California -- took over a morning program that was deep in third place when they started and now is even deeper in the basement.

Nurse said John Borsa will temporarily anchor the mornings, with Desiree Wiley either co-anchoring or being a reporter. Mike Randall also will continue doing weather on the program.

"We are in the process of working with E.W. Scripps (the station's new owner) to develop a new morning program," said Nurse.



New digital channels give Lucy some love this week

By Alan Pergament

Remember a few Sundays ago when I wrote about all the digital channels available free-over-the-air now?

Well, a movie channel and a classic TV channel are delivering the same message this week: "Here’s Lucy!!!!"

WNYO's sub-channel GetTV and WBXZ's sub-channel COZI TV are both celebrating the late Lucille Ball a few days before and after the start of Lucyfest in Jamestown.

COZI, the classic TV channel on Channel 56.1 that is owned by NBC Universal, announced Monday that it will begin carrying episodes of “Here's Lucy” starting at 4 p.m. next Monday.

In that Emmy-nominated series, Ball played Lucy Carter, and her two real-life children, Desi Jr. and Lucie, co-starred.

A press release announcing the return of the series notes that COZI is a partner in the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival that runs from Wednesday through Sunday in Ball's hometown of Jamestown.

It adds that episodes of "Here's Lucy" will be screened at the festival on Saturday and that "visitors can stop by the COZI TV lounge at the Jamestown Gateway Train Station to sign up to receive free 'Here's Lucy' memorabilia."

 The channel also plans a Labor Day marathon of "Here's Lucy" on Monday, September 1.

 Meanwhile, GetTV, which airs classic movies on Channel 49.2, is focusing Wednesday on Lucy's movie career.

It will air several of Ball's movies that premiered from 1947-51. The movie festival stars at 11:05 a.m. with "The Fuller Brush Girl" with Eddie Albert.

GetTV follows that "Girl" with "Her Husband's Affairs" with Franchot Tone, "Miss Grant Takes Richmond” with William Holden, and "The Magic Carpet" with John Agar.

You deserve some free memorabilia if you remember Franchot Tone and John Agar.

"The Magic Carpet" was Ball's last film before moving to television to play Lucy Ricardo in "I Love Lucy."

Channel 4 is advertising for a new news director to replace Joe Schlaerth and the copy sure makes it sound likes the station is looking to change its dull image.

Here's what the ad says, in slightly edited form:

"Do you think working in TV news is more exciting that ever? Do you wake-up 'jazzed' because you are creating the future of electronic journalism? Does planning coverage on multiple platforms get your creative juices flowing? If your answer to all the above is a big, fat YES!, then News 4 Buffalo may be the place for you.

 "We're looking for a News Director to be a partner with our tremendous staff of journalists. If you love investigative journalism, you'll do plenty of that here; if you're passionate about covering some of the wildest weather anywhere, we’ve got  that too, and if  guiding a team of award-winning pros is right up your  alley, then WIVB News 4 is right where you belong.

"We're not looking for the same old thing. We want a person who's not afraid to shake it up and spends part of each day looking for that next "big thing." We have all the tools you'll need, and the mix of seasoned journalists and fresh, new talent that make coming to work fun."

Fun? Wow. According to numerous sources, it wasn't so much fun to work there under Schlaerth.


ESPN2 to repeat "Outside the Lines" program on Jim Kelly today

By Alan Pergament

If you missed Sunday's moving  "Outside the Lines" program on Jim Kelly's battle with cancer and haven't seen it online, be advised that ESPN2 is repeating it this afternoon.

A publicist for the sports network said it will air at 5:30 this afternoon on ESPN2, where "OTL" recently moved.

The program, which is beautifully and dramatically shot, also features interviews with former Bills greats Bruce Smith and Steve Tasker, as well as with Scott Berchtold of the Bills media relations department.

Of course, Western New Yorkers have followed Kelly's story closely for months. But "OTL" provides an extended understanding of the medical treatment the Bills' Hall of Fame quarterback has undergone.

Bills preseason opener gets exceptional local rating

By Alan Pergament

It was only a preseason game -- the first of five this year -- but the Buffalo Bills' 17-13 loss to the New York Giants on NBC's "Sunday Night Football" almost had a regular season rating.

The game had a 26.5 rating on Channel 2, which is in the range of some of the low-rated regular season games in years past. The Bills regular season games typically get local ratings in the range of the high 20s and low 30s until they fall out of the playoff race.

To compare interest in the Hall of Fame game further, the 2013 preseason opener against Indianapolis a year ago had a 15.7 rating. This Sunday's game peaked with a 30.4 local rating in the first quarter and finished with a 22.5 rating.

There are multiple reasons for the high rating. The attention given to Andre Reed's Hall of Fame induction Saturday night, the halftime piece on Jim Kelly, the anxiety over the the sale of the team, the Giants as an opponent, and the high hopes that this edition of the Bills team has of breaking a 14-year playoff drought.

NBC won the night nationally in prime time with a 5.8 overnight rating in the top 56 TV markets, but the website Media Insights reports the rating was 13 percent lower than the rating for the 2013 Hall of Fame game between Dallas and Miami. 

Channel 2's one-hour pregame show also did very well. It had a 12.2 rating, which would make it the highest-rated prime time show of the week other than the game.


Clearing up some mysteries about NBC's Bills coverage

By Alan Pergament

Some additional words about my Sunday night tweets during the Buffalo Bills' 17-13 loss to the New York Giants in the preseason opener because some times you need more than 140 characters to explain things. Note: Some of the wording and punctuation of the original tweets has been refined:

Tweet: Why did NBC switch so quickly from the coin flip and Jim Kelly to show the coaches?

Additional comment (AC): It was supposed to be an emotional moment and instead NBC switched to showing Bills Coach Doug Marrone and Giants Coach Tom Coughlin, who we could see on the sidelines for 60 minutes. It also would have been nice to see who actually won the coin toss.  

Tweet: When Cris Collinsworth says the Bills have good looking athletes I hope he isn't talking about their looks.

AC: I'm sure he was talking about their talent, but it still sounded funny.

Tweet after reading all the tweets from WGR's Joe Buscaglia: You no longer the sideline reporter?

AC: Never heard back from Joe B, who was a little busy tweeting throughout the game. So busy that I doubted he was being a sideline reporter. Anyone listen to the radio broadcast? 

NBC piece on Kelly tonight adds to a moving weekend

By Alan Pergament

If you are finished wiping away the tears from Saturday night's televised Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies for Buffalo Bills great Andre Reed or this morning's "Outside the Lines" piece on Hall of Famer Jim Kelly on ESPN, be warned that you should keep the Kleenex handy.

I'm sure many Bills fans were tearing up Saturday when the Canton, Ohio crowd gave Kelly a prolonged ovation when he was introduced with all the Hall of Famers.

And the tears surely flowed this morning during the 30-minute "OTL" piece that included Reed's praise of Kelly's toughness during his speech, provided an extended understanding of the medical treatment Kelly has undergone and concluded with teammates Bruce Smith and Steve Tasker, and Scott Berchtold of the Bills media relations department explaining what Kelly means to Western New York.

Smith's voice cracked as he attempted to hold back tears talking about what Kelly has had to go through. I expect Smith did a better job at containing the tears than many Bills fans watching were able to do this morning.  

And the tears probably will continue tonight.

NBC sent me the five-minute piece on Kelly that will run during halftime of the Bills preseason opener with the New York Giants at 8 tonight on Channel 2. It also may hit a viewer in the gut.

The interview by Josh Elliott, who left "Good Morning America" in April to join NBC Sports, starts off with footage at Kelly's football camp three weeks ago and also focuses on many of the same scenes and themes of the "OTL" piece, "Kelly Tough," that is being repeated all day on ESPN's "SportsCenter."

There is footage of Kelly while he was in the hospital and after he left the hospital after his final chemotherapy and radiation treatment. There are shots of former Miami Dolphins great Dan Marino visiting Kelly in the hospital. There is the moment during Kelly's 2002 induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he talked about his hero, his son Hunter.

It is all very moving.

Elliott introduces the discussion of Hunter, who died in 2005, with a poignant line: "Being told you have cancer should be the worst thing anyone ever says to you. Not so for Jim Kelly." 

The story then proceeds to follow Kelly to the 17th Annual Hunter's Hope Symposium last week, another event that he was determined to attend despite all he is going through.

The piece balances the pain experienced by Kelly and his loved ones with some optimism at the end that could make some Bills fans smile.

Bills fans should keep their tissues ready when Kelly explains that he isn't afraid of dying but he has a lot to live for at age 54.

He hopes to walk his two daughters down the aisle and make a difference with Hunter's Hope.

And, he concludes with a smile that masks his pain, "making sure the Bills reach the Super Bowl -- (and) win one!"




« Older Entries

About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

@StillTalkinTV |