For years, when you thought of Charlotte TV production outside the realm of local TV news or NASCAR, there wasn't much going on that was being seen on a national level. That's changing, as production companies are lending their equipment and production skills to national programs.
Cable TV is the place to be for independent producers these days, because of simple supply and demand. While broadcast networks stay static, cable TV is still creating new channels, and programming is needed. It's a freelance world, and we're just living in it.
For example, Charlotte producer Tom Klipp is seeing some of his work on the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) cable network this month. He has produced four episodes of Warehouse Warriors for DIY, which began running last week. DIY is a sister network of Food Network and HGTV. Warehouse Warriors puts two teams in head-to-head competition to build a do-it-yourself project, which could range from a gazebo to a backyard swing set. The teams have eight hours to do it, and have no idea what the other team is building. Sounds like a scary afternoon looking for the right lugnut at Lowe's.
Klipp has also produced segments for NASCAR Garage and episodes of the very popular design show Trading Spaces on TLC. He was at WTVI for 16 years before starting his company in 1994.
Davidson-based Tentmakers Entertainment is also creating for cable. In fact, some Charlotte-area homes will be the stars in upcoming segments of the cable show Restore America on HGTV. It's a program that highlights America's architectural diversity. The show visits cities in each of the 50 states to showcase grassroots individual and neighborhood restorations. Charlotte was its latest stop, which worked well for producer Cecil Stokes, who moved here a couple of years ago. Tentmakers also produces Food Finds for the Food Network, and yes, Cheerwine was on that show. Stokes is a longtime Restore veteran, and convinced the show to include the QC in his list of cities.
"Charlotte can never have too much publicity. We live in a great city and the whole country should know," he says.
Not surprisingly, though, it was very tough to find that many authentic home restorations in this burg of new development and teardowns. Here's a list of the local homes you'll see. Restore America runs Monday nights at 10pm on HGTV.
May 20: The Crooks' residence in Mt. Mourne
May 27: Allen Brooks of Dilworth
June 3: The Norby residence in Eastover
June 10: Scott Wooley/Larry Dunegan residence in Chantilly
June 17: The Gay residence in Plaza-Midwood
June 24: The Chappell residence in Kings Mountain
Words that have been officially banned by the S.A.U.S. (Sportswriters Are Usually Short) Commission, which governs broadcast and print media writing in the cliche-ridden genre.
Among the most overused phrases these days: take their game to the next level, intensity, elevate, as in "that Kansas center can really elevate," and the NCAA hoops' latest, one and done. (duh).
Locally, WFNZ-AM has been cited for continued and tiresome overuse of the words suck and ass.
Raleigh's new cable news operation is on the air, and Charlotte's venture is just 10 weeks away from its own debut. Time Warner Cable's News 14 Carolina is serving some 450,000 subscribers in the Raleigh area, complete with website at www.news14.com. One local tie: morning anchor Claudine Chalfant hails from Concord.
Several News 14 staffers from Charlotte's newsroom went to Raleigh for several days before it went on the air to help with that launch and see the operation in action. That included marketing guru Shay Merritt, who told me, "They (Raleigh) set a high bar for us. It was exciting to see the reality of what we have to achieve in 10 weeks."
They say it isn't doable technically, but it would be interesting to see the Raleigh newscasts on the currently vacant Channel 14, at least until Charlotte goes on the air. That's still scheduled to happen in early June.
In the meantime, more hiring goes on to beef up staff to a projected 90 folks in the newsroom. Heather Childers, a Myers Park HS and UNCC grad, will be the morning anchor, and three meteorologists, Chris Phillips, Bob Child, and Tara Lane, have also been hired. News reporters Kraig Debro, Diana Rugg, and Kathleen Cochrane are also in the fold, and Jennifer Moxley (formerly of WBTV) will cover Rowan County. Keith Wilson will handle sports.
AND LEST WE FORGET. . .
Very impressive showings for Charlotte's WCNC-TV, WSOC-TV, and WFAE-FM in the regional Edward R. Murrow Awards announced recently. They are the highest honor for local broadcast stations, and the national winners will be announced in June. Charlotte competes in Region 8, made up of NC, SC, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia. WFAE won all five categories including "Overall Excellence" in large market radio for the region. WSOC-TV took one award for "Best Newscast" in the large market TV category for the region, but WCNC-TV was the big tamale, with six Murrows, including "Overall Excellence" and website. Wow.
Those puzzled by my "Heidi" reference in our last outing, in an item about the hoops programming snafu at WBTV in March, had better get with the program. Reader Steve C. tells me he bet co-workers a buck if they knew what it meant. He kept his dough. "Heidi" refers to the infamous NBC-TV screw-up in 1968 when the network switched from the Oakland-New York NFL game to the children's movie. What fans missed was a TD pass and a 2-yard fumble return on the ensuing kickoff, in which Oakland won the game. Don't say I never taught you anything. . . With WWWB's 10pm newscast now cancelled for lack of viewership, expect WCCB and WAXN to hustling to get those 21,000 or so WB viewers to tune elsewhere for news at 10. Should make the May ratings race between the just-this-close Fox18 and Action 64 news race one to watch.
CBS needs to shell out some dollars and quit letting some 14-year-old with a laptop do their college hoops graphics. Yikes, are they ever behind the curve in a TV genre that depends on hot graphics and lots of written info onscreen. One more lower third Masters graphic onscreen during close games (even the final) and I was going Jihad. "One shining moment," indeed. . .
Glad to see the Observer and Leader newspapers got on the bandwagon about reporting details of the new Time Warner Cable news operation recently. Sweet fancy Moses! If we're to toot our own horn, you read all about News 14 Carolina in this humble column last November.
Stay tuned. . .
Shannon Reichley is an executive producer of Talk2DIY on the DIY cable TV network and former news manager at WBTV. Feedback, story ideas, or leftover Peeps? E-mail at [email protected] *