WUPW-TV, Channel 36, wants to take its relationship with freelance reporter Dave Bondy to the next level. In other words, it wants him to sign a contract.
Bondy, while happy with the relationship, is reluctant to commit. He admits to having a wandering eye for other jobs. He's not quite ready to settle down.
“The station is great. Everyone gets along, and I love working here,” said Bondy, who has worked at the Fox affiliate on virtually a full-time basis since early June. “But I want to leave myself open for any other jobs that may be out there.”
With his Detroit-based agent spearheading a nationwide job search, Bondy said he has applied at more than 100 stations during the past six months. He has had five in-person interviews but has yet to receive an offer. (Bondy, 27, has nearly four years of experience, with stops in Evansville, Ind., and Wilmington, N.C.) These are not the best of times to be looking for a job in television news. The sluggish economy has forced stations into a belt-tightening mode, meaning positions that once were open may now be frozen.
Dave Bondy: Job search.
With each rejection, Bondy may be closer to signing a contract with WUPW. In doing so, he would receive all of the benefits that go along with being a full-time employee -- such as paid vacations, sick days, and health insurance. For now, though, he's content working on a day-to-day basis. He commutes from his home in Westland, Mich., which is about 50 miles from Toledo.
Freelancing gives Bondy the freedom he needs to conduct an extensive job search, and it gives WUPW the opportunity to temporarily fill the position with an experienced reporter. An added bonus for WUPW: It saves on the cost of providing benefits -- which, for a full-time reporter, is estimated to be about $8,000 per year.
“I haven't found a tape [from applicants] that I like, but I certainly am looking,” WUPW news director Jose Suarez said. “I'm thrilled with the job Dave is doing.”
Two other local stations -- WNWO-TV, Channel 24, and WTVG-TV, Channel 13 -- are using freelancers to temporarily fill positions. The daily rate for freelancers in the Toledo market is about $100 for reporters and between $150 and $200 for anchors.
WNWO has relied heavily on news anchor Dao Vu for weekend shifts. Vu, who lives in Toledo, is a former anchor at WNWO's sister station in Traverse City, Mich.
WTVG went the freelance route last week, as former WNWO news anchor Lissa Guyton was brought in as a reporter for two days. With two reporting positions open, it's likely that she will work more days in the coming weeks. Guyton, the director of Equine Business Development at the University of Findlay, said: “I really enjoy my job at the university. I have no plans to get back into TV full-time.”
Former WNWO anchor Angela Atalla works regularly as a freelancer for Detroit's ABC affiliate, WXYZ. Most of her freelance work has been as a reporter, but she has anchored the station's weekend newscasts.
FOCUSED: If you haven't seen Jody Zink as a reporter on WTOL-TV, Channel 11, recently, news director C.J. Beutien can explain -- at her request, Zink is working full-time as a photographer. Previously, she split time between the duties.
SPLIT DECISION: What is the morning radio show of choice for listeners age 12 to 24? According to Abitron's spring survey, males clearly prefer WIOT-FM (104.7) -- its audience share is more than twice that of WVKS-FM (92.5) -- while females give a slight edge to WVKS over WJUC-FM (107.3).
NATIONAL EXPOSURE: Anchor openings at WTOL and Lima's WLIO-TV were each listed as “job of the day” recently on a Web site devoted to television news. WTOL seeks a weekend anchor/ reporter; WLIO needs a solo anchor for its 11 p.m. newscast.