Tuned In Journal

PBS explores the 'Faces of America'

Monday, 08 February 2010 07:01 PM Written by

Comedian Stephen Colbert and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.   Credit: Joseph Sinnott / PASADENA, Calif. -- Last month after a press conference for PBS's "Faces of America" (8 p.m. Wednesday beginning tomorrow and running through March 3, WQED) a few reporters approached host Henry Louis Gates Jr., to ask about that beer summit last summer between the Harvard professor/TV host, the cop who arrested him for entering his own home and President Barack Obama.

Join the conversation:

'Frontline' explores the dangers of 'Flying Cheap'

Sunday, 07 February 2010 07:01 PM Written by

PBS's If you fly with any regularity out of Pittsburgh International, odds are that you've flown on a regional carrier, the smaller planes that nowadays are more often jets but still could be a propeller-driven "prop plane."

Join the conversation:

Dave, Oprah and Jay: 'Late Show' Super Bowl promo

Sunday, 07 February 2010 05:09 PM Written by

Join the conversation:

Snowpocalypse! coverage

Saturday, 06 February 2010 02:07 AM Written by

The timing of this snowstorm could not be better as far as local TV stations are concerned: It came right at the start of February sweeps, drawing viewers with a Pavlovian predictability to their TV sets. Not only will stations get viewers to tune in now, it gives the stations special coverage they can brag about later ("When the storm of the century hit Pittsburgh, only Channel X News brought you blah blah blah.")

Channel 11 used the strom to unveil a new radar system called, laughably, "Storm Tracker Doppler 11 Radar." Seriously, that mouthful of mumbo jumbo is what they call it. When I first heard about it, I thought it was a joke, a parody of TV news promotion excesses. Nope. It comes with "1 million watts of power," as the station's meteorologists kept reminding viewers over and over again during the Friday evening newscasts. Wake me when it's a 1.21 gigawatts and Doc Brown is the meteorologist. Then I'll be impressed.

A viewer from Penn Hills e-mailed this observation Friday night: "Channel 11 has reached the height of irritation and annoyance this evening with their constant mentioning of their ‘brand new powerful radar' which appears to differ little from their former system or those of the other channels.  Why must we be reminded almost every other minute, even within other reporters' stories, that they have introduced this radar?  Ridiculous overplay of a new toy."

I can't disagree with that sentiment.

My favorite early moment of TV news insanity came Friday night when WPXI's Jodine Costanzo ran alongside a car as it tried to drive up a hill in the snow. She shouted at the driver, "What's it like to drive in this weather?"

Saturday morning all three stations were on the air at 6 a.m. WTAE seemed most interested in capitalizing on the storm, bringing in two meteorologists (Stephen Cropper and Demetrius Ivory), weekday morning anchor Mike Clark and weekday traffic reporter Scott Stiller.

WPXI anchor Danielle Nottingham finally got a shot at some real breaking news (she's been off on several past breaking news weekends) and KDKA sent Harold Hayes and Trina Orlando out into the white stuff for reports on road conditions. But WTAE really seemed to have the best morning report with the most live shots and staffers calling in to discuss conditions in their neighborhoods.

Of course, Channel 4 also didn't know when to quit, pre-empting ABC's "Good Morning America" at 7 a.m. Saturday to the dismay of viewers with a broader, less parochial worldview.

The next phase should be viewer backlash as people start to complain about never-ending coverage, like they have no choice but to watch. That's when it's time to turn off the TV and go sledding.

Join the conversation:

Locally made 'Munhall' making the rounds

Thursday, 04 February 2010 07:01 PM Written by

George Wendt and Tim Brady star in In an era when anyone with a digital video camera can make a pilot episode of a proposed television series locally and relatively inexpensively, I'm generally loathe to report on such independently made pilots. Odds are any pilot won't go anywhere let alone one made outside the studio/network system. But for every rule there are exceptions, like "The Magic Woods" in 2001 and now "Munhall."

Join the conversation:

NBC comedies return

Thursday, 04 February 2010 06:01 AM Written by

Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, Jane Krakowski and Jan Hooks star in tonight's I've heard a fair bit of grumbling in the past month about too many reruns of NBC's Thursday night comedy lineup. Some of these can be chalked up to impatience and short memories (I've explained the math on why there are pre-emptions and reruns before) but when NBC does an "Office" clip show, as the network did last month, I can understand why fans' tempers fray.

Join the conversation:

When viewer hyperventilation trumps TV news hype

Wednesday, 03 February 2010 07:01 PM Written by

I hear from viewers all the time who are upset and harrumphing about how local TV news done them wrong. Often their complaints are real and warranted. But not always.

This week, I received this complaint from a viewer:

During "The Good Wife" KDKA news teased something like, "there are flurries now, find out what it will mean for your morning commute...." Then, a few minutes later when the newscast starts, given the "dramatic," non-story weather outside, the anchors toss almost immediately neaer the top of the show to meteriologist Jeff Verszyla to ask him what's going on weatherwise right now and he says (almost embarrassed to have been asked), "not much" and when asked what the "flurries" now mean for the morning commute informs it won't accumulate and won't be a problem for the morning commute.

All our local TV news operations treat us like idiots when it comes to weather. ...  Here, they try to make news of the weather and scare us into watching their show even when the weather is not a story, not dramatic. Heck, it's mild out tonight.  Pathetic.  Insulting to one's intelligence.

I hope you call them all, all the local TV news operations, on this.

Join the conversation:

'Lost': Beginning of the end

Tuesday, 02 February 2010 04:00 PM Written by

Jack (Matthew Fox) on The last "Lost" season premiere aired tonight (spoilers ahead for any West Coast viewers) and it started out with Jack (Matthew Fox) back on the plane, seemingly having forgotten the bomb blast. Scenes from the pilot were revisited but slightly changed. Instead of the flight attendant giving Jack two bottles of alcohol, she gives him one. (H/T Vikki)

Join the conversation: