The Akron Beacon Journal from Akron, Ohio on February 19, 1978 · Page 147
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The Akron Beacon Journal from Akron, Ohio · Page 147

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Akron, Ohio
Issue Date:
Sunday, February 19, 1978
Page:
Page 147
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i S . Sunday, February 19, 1978 Akron Beacon Journal 3 Casualties run high v pffWf4tf I among airmen One pretty face for another; Amanda Arnold replaced Mike Landess Faces keep changing in the Channel 3 newsroom. Why? By DICK SHIPPY Beacon Journal Staff Writer During recent years, viewers of VVKYC may have had the impression vhat watching Channel 3's 5:30 and 11 p.m. newscasts is very much like watching an old movie, "Dawn Patrol." That is, the casualty rate among airmen is high, there's not much left of the original squadron and replacements are being shot down almost as soon as they're brought in from training depots and sent into the air. The Red Baron in this Late, Late Show metaphor would have to be the ratings system, of course. It's no industry secret that news teams at WKYC and WJKW (Channel 8) have undergone periodic facelifts because the stations are chasing top rated WEWS (Channel 5) and its gaggle of giggling newsmen. IF THERE HAS BEEN an Errol Flynn figure in the "Dawn Patrol" operation at Channel 3, it would have to be Doug Adair. He has survived many scraps with the Red Baron. Adair joined WKYC in 1970, coming over from then-WJW when that station's evening newscasts were leading the Cleveland competition. It was hoped, or guessed, by Channel 3 that Adair would bring along some of his audience and make WKYC the top dog. It didn't quite work that way. WJW maintained Its preeminence briefly, then WEWS took over. In his years at WKYC, Adair has gone up, down and sideways. He has been co-anchorman, sole anchorman and has been sent off into the field, on special assignment, away from the mainstream of those evening newscasts. But he has never been grounded entirely. Sooner or later, Adair was back at the old stands at 5:30 and 11. In the meantime, the WKYC weather post has gone from Wally Kinnan to Russ Montgomery to Mona Scott to Bob Zappe, the current tenant. Kinnan was farmed out to weekends when Montgomery was brought in to handle weeknight forecasts. When Montgomery's option was not renewed, Mona Scott came in from Columbus. Now Mona has been banished to weekends with Accu-Weather. Zappe and his turtlenecks were imported from Phoenix. And in the meantime, WKYC sports has gone from Jim Graner to Don Schroe-der (in from Milwaukee following Graner's death) to Joe Castiglione, now holding the fort in wake of Schroeder's departure but not to hold it long. When he can work out his contractual obligations with a Minneapolis station, Tom Ryther will be taking over as the nightly Channel 3 sports man. PUBLIC AFFAIRS programming at WKYC usually has been Judged excellent and stable (Montage, Sunday Magazine, Dialogue, etc.). Why, then, the Instability of the news department? iff Wally Kinnan, Russ Montgomery, Mona Scott . . . victims of the battles Doug Adair ... old warrior Why can't you tell a Channel 3 newscast without a scorecard? Neal Van Ells, general manager of WKYC-TV since 1969, explains recent flight operations. The bottom lines are these: WKYC, an NBC-owned station (since 1965 when the network and Westinghouse swapped properties, KYW going to Philadelphia and WKYC coming to Cleveland), now has assumed local responsibility for news. And . . . Channel 3 is after a younger audience for its evening newscasts. TOR A NUMBER of years," Van Ells said, "NBC News was a separate division here and really was in control of the news. Technically, the news department didn't report to Van Ells but to a vice president in New York. That was changed last August. We started planning some changes. We were perceived by the average viewer as being NBC News. That hurt a perception of us as local news. "Upon returning news to station control, I wanted to establish our news as a local station operation. It had been my opinion for several years that we were shooting for an audience that didn't exist. "We were saying, in effect, 'Come over to us for the news,' and we were shooting over their heads because we were Just plain dull. "The first thing we did was do a little audience research and we found the one big thing we had was Doug Adair. He had the credibility factor. None of the other air people was being well-received. "We started making the changes." SO NOW CHANNEL 3 is clowning around with the weather, courtesy of Zappe, the leather coat and turtleneck swinger from Phoenix? "We knew the TV critics wouldn't like that," Van Ells said. "Zappe's approach to the weather is irreverent and flip. That's when the weather is routine, normal. When the weather situation is severe, as it has been recently, of course he's to be much more serious. "Frankly, we have been treating the weather like it's Armageddon. For years in New York I watched a guy, Tex An-toine, who was No. 1 with the weather because he was entertaining. (Yes, friends, the same funny guy Tex who was bounced from his station last year for an off-color joke which enraged listeners. ) "The audience which watched Kinnan and now is watching Dick Goddard is getting older and we want a younger audience." HOW ABOUT the practice of dropping one pretty face Mike Landess, say, an Arrow shirt ad whose option was not renewed and replacing it with another pretty face. Amanda Arnold, say, fetched See RATINGS, page 28 t " f Don Schroeder ... too low-key

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