These memories from 2004 won't fade from my mind anytime soon:
SUDDEN DEPARTURES: The out-of-the-blue resignations of news directors C.J. Beutien (WTOL-TV, Channel 11) and Lou Hebert (WNWO-TV, Channel 24) were equally stunning.
Beutien had been at the CBS affiliate for nearly 11 years, and it was No. 1 in total viewers throughout his tenure. Hebert resigned a day after a photo from Playboy appeared on the NBC affiliate's 6 p.m. newscast.
CHEST-BEATING: WTVG-TV, Channel 13, unveiled "Live Doppler 13,000" and soon launched the mother of all (nauseating) promotional campaigns. A case could be made that the saturation of weather promos resulted in a net loss of viewers for WTVG. That said, there's no disputing that the ABC-owned station has the best radar system in the market.
GREAT STRIDES: In terms of respectability, WNWO took a giant step forward in '04. It won the Regional Emmy for best daily newscast, which was a first, and it was the only station to cover every visit by the presidential and vice presidential candidates in the weeks leading up to the election. General manager Rick Lipps deserves credit for trying to change the mind-set at the station, which is a perennial No. 3 in the news race.
COMPETITIVE MOVES: WUPW-TV, Channel 36, became the first station in the market with a weekday 4 p.m. newscast. WTVG was the first station in four years to offer a morning newscast seven days a week. WNWO followed the lead of WTVG by expanding its morning newscast to two hours, which prompted WTOL to announce that it is doing the same starting next month.
BRANDING: A few years ago WNWO marketed itself as "Your Most Local News Station" -- which, on a scale of 1 to 10 for awkwardness, was a 10. But the station's new branding -- "Toledo's weather station" -- warrants a 9 when reporters mention it in a news story. Try saying this without rolling your eyes: Reporting live from the scene of a triple murder, this is Scoop Jones for Toledo's weather station. Is it just me, or is WTVG's "Action News" branding a bit stale?
CAREER CHANGES: Former news anchor Ryan Serber, who had a lime-size brain tumor removed in 2003, quit his reporting job at WUPW for a position in advertising sales at WNWO. Jim Taylor, who holds the longevity record (11 years) for morning news anchors in Toledo, quit WTOL to pursue a degree in nuclear medicine.
STABILITY: WTVG news anchor Lee Conklin signed a six-year contract; WTOL's Chrys Peterson and WTVG's Diane Larson agreed to five-year deals.
PARTING THOUGHTS: Considering that it led the market with $5.7 million in election-related advertising, it's hard to believe that WTOL ran infomercials during prime time on the first three Saturdays in December. Nice guys don't always finish last: Gary Shores and Harvey J. Steele, hosts of the WKKO-FM (99.9) morning show, have been No. 1 for 10 consecutive ratings periods. It was good to see WRQN-FM (93.5) switch to an all-Christmas music format, providing listeners with an alternative to WRVF-FM (101.5).
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