Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

The Little Newscast That Couldn’t

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.


  1. Nunna YoBizness

    All I can say is I appreciate your candor about how “you think” things went. It was a trying time for all those involved, and I actually think you are an a$$ to give WHCP so much crap for what has transpired.

    They have only been the WB television network for 9 years. They have had UPN since 2000. Since the UPN is a secondary affliate, they are able to place those shows where they want. Contrary to popular believe, the WB (as their primary) affliate requires their shows to be in Prime time, and wherever else they deem necesssary!

    The station never officially announced that they were moving to Charleston, they announced they were opening another office in Charleston. The station has been solid in portsmouth since it’s inception. I am truly one of the biggest WB fans around the tri-state area. I think all the people who whine about the station are ridiculous. be happy someone is actually bringing you the WB shows and hop off WHCP’s back about it!

    So the News was stopped. What you all didn’t seem to catch up on was the fact that they TRIED to keep going after Tom McGee threatened the STATION MANAGER with violence. They actually put on two days worth of it, and in my opinion it was their two best newscasts.

    I am appaulled at all the people who are actually backing Tom McGee on this. He (as the charleston Daily Gazette points out in most every article they publish) is a convicted DUI king. This doesn’t maybe apprear to all of you out there that maybe he might also have a problem personality? Give me a break.

    Those employees at the Charleston WHCP were whining over not having insurance in today’s society, where even at the best jobs you have to get your own insurance. And parking???? WHINING ABOUT PARKING??? are you kidding me? Do you know where the WHCP Charleston office was located? There was no Parking except for meters in that area to begin with!

    And cram it about the signal. only adelphia and Charter have digital feeds, and when there is an issue, its not WHCP’s fault, it is normally charter or adelphia’s fault but they aren’t taking the blame. Here recently Adelphia and Charter have been so bad on their feeds there is nothing but gliches all the way through entire programs.

    Please don’t pick on commercials or commercial quaility. WSAZ, WOWK, WVAH, and WCHS all have the same thing going on. And if you didn’t like the commercials they were airing, do something about it. Become a salesperson yourself and try to sell airtime for a guy who was given the title “Bad Boy of Charleston” and fight all the negative press via letters and word of mouth and articles in well respected Newspapers.

    Families lives ruined…..Scott Roberts says, well thank you for bringing that up. At least Tom mcGee had the decency to implode before all the WHCP employees lost their jobs.

    Say what you will about Mike Karr stammering and shit, but I have seen a lot of the newscasters stammer over the years and he was only on for 4 months. He is a really standup guy and you should be ashamed of smashing him on here. Do you even know him? Glass houses I tell you, Want a ROCK?

    And just an aside, where are you getting the “more willing” partner issue? Last I saw, there were no ongoing advertisers for the newscast in Charleston for its businesses with the exception of Mark Hunt. But I am sure if you did a poll on local business in Charleston you would find the same thing the poor sales people at WHCP found, Charleston’s local business community wasn’t going to sponsor it. And if they say they were, why didn’t they? Sales goes two ways, you can call it or you can get called on for it.

  2. Saksophony

    Thank you nunna yobizness for your misspelled and grammatically incorrect rant. It obviously must be really hard to produce a quality newscast in Charleston. I guess because Charleston is so far off the beaten path it would be too much to expect a newscast without a constant, audible, electric hum; and static on the screen throughout.

    Its also a good thing that companies don’t provide health insurance. Maybe Tom Mcghee can get a job at Wal Mart now, it probably has better benefits. We definitely shouldn’t set the bar to high when it comes to benefits that business’s pay out, it might cause poverty to decline. God forbid somebody who went to college for a journalism degree would expect to have any health insurance at their full-time job!

  3. Anonymous

    Tom McGhee is a jackass. He is rude and dishonest.

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