Archive for December 2008

Sleigh Full of Ratings

December 24, 2008

Santa Claus is a Live 5 Fan!

He’s brought us a sleigh full of ratings, just in time for Christmas! Thank you Santa!

Once again, we have the most watched newscasts in every time period. At 11:00 weeknights, we have more viewers than both of our competitors combined.  More viewers means more than bragging rights. It means our sales department has a more valuable product (our newscasts and entertainment programs) to sell to advertisers.

Our Live 5 elves worked extra hard in November to put on the best newscasts in the Charleston market, hands down.  Our reporters, photographers and editors came up with inventive unique stories to tell that brought more viewers to TV sets in November than any other TV station in the Lowcountry.  Our Engineers made sure our broadcasts were colorful and crystal clear in high definition. Our producing team was short handed all fall, but rallied to work extra days without losing enthusiasm or passion for the creative process. 

November brought lots of breaking news and bad weather to our area: two important coverage areas Live 5 News dominates.  When we have big news and big weather, we win big.

We won big on the historic election night, November 4, too.  According to the numbers, twice as many people watched our election night coverage as WCBD, and three times as many as WCIV’s audience that night. When Barack Obama accepted the nomination, we carried his speech live on Live 5 News from Chicago. We didn’t hand the broadcast over to our network.

We know it, our viewers know it, and its great to have the validation in black and white. Our competitors see the ratings in red (the loss column) and green (with envy!)

Our 7:00pm newscast underwent a behind the scenes overhaul this fall. It paid off in a strong performance, attracting many more viewer’s than WCIV’s solid newscast at 7:00.  Now, if we could just buy a vowel or two from Pat and Vanna, we could turn the tables on ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ which is the most watched program in the time period. Watch out ‘Wheel!’

In November, Ann McGill and Bill Burr, old friends but a new team in the morning, brought our morning newscast to new highs after a rocky summer.

Debi Chard and Bill Sharpe, Charleston’s top news team for generations, took over our 5pm newscast last month, and their partnership solidifies our powerhouse 2 hour block of news each afternoon.

For every face you see on TV, there are many more behind the scenes in every department at WCSC dedicated to putting on the best TV in the Lowcountry, every day. Even on holidays!  I thank them for all they do to keep us on top!

We thank you for making Live 5 News the Lowcountry’s News Leader for another year!

Keep watching Live 5 News!

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The News Knows No Holiday

December 24, 2008

Its almost noon on Christmas Eve, and we’ve already had a bank robbery in North  Charleston.

The news knows no holiday. That’s why we are here, every morning, noon, and night: to make sure the people who count on us have the information they need, even on Christmas, New Year’s, and the 4th of July!

We have all of our newscasts today, no pre-emptions for sports or network specials. But only about a third of us are working today. All of our news managers, and many producers, anchors and reporters are off celebrating the holiday.

So they can be off, those left behind are doing double and triple duty to make sure all of our newscasts get on TV. That’s why you’ll see Debi Chard anchoring almost every newscast this afternoon and evening. Weekend anchor Anthony Miller will be filling in tonight on Live 5 and Fox24 News at 10:00 tonight, and through the holiday weekend.

This morning, reporter Niocle Johnson brought in a loaf of Amish Friendship bread to share with everyone. We gobbled it up at our morning editorial meeting.

Bill Walsh and Chad Watson swapped shifts today. Bill was back on the air at 5am, after doing the weather last night at 11pm.  Chad will do the weather again, bright and early Christmas morning, and weather elf Brad Miller will jingle the weather bell for the next four days so Bill can have his time off.

In our newscenter, all of our producers are pulling extra duty so their colleagues can have sometime off, as are photographers and editors.

Sports guy Bob Behanian will be reporting the news tonight, and anchoring it tomorrow.  News gal Tracey Amick will be anchoring some newscasts over the extended holiday weekend, and crime dog Harve Jacobs will be filling in under the bright lights, too.

Like all businesses who have to operate during the holidays, we try to schedule everyone’s time off equally and fairly. Some people get more time off at Thanksgiving, others get their time at Christmas and New Year’s.

No one likes it, but its part of what we do when we sign on for a career in the news business. I’m lucky to work around a group of talented professionals who carry the torch loud and proud for Live 5 News, every day….holiday or not!

Keep watching Live 5 News!

Day of 1,000 Toys

December 15, 2008

Never underestimate the power of television.

Today we’ve collected 1000 toys for families in need this holiday season through WCSC’s Debi’s Kids program in conjunction with the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree drive.

On Friday we began asking our viewers to drop off a new toy at our studio between 5am and 8pm today. First thing this morning when we went on the air, a dedicated viewer was waiting for our Sheldon Dutes to make the first donation in the moving truck in our parking lot.

By noon, the donations were building. We have been adding to the total all day and are well on track to exceed our goal.

This afternoon a mother told our Raphael James that she and her family received gifts from the Debi’s Kids program a few years ago. Now that she’s in a position to share, she and her family decided to bring by a couple of toys for families in need this Christmas.

Times are tough, but people are always willing to help their neighbors…even if they don’t know their names.

Thanks to everyone who contributed today, and throughout the campaign over the last month.

Keep watching Live5 News!

Breaking the Big Stories

December 3, 2008

Nothing makes a news director more proud than when his or her team rallies together to break a big story.

All day today we’ve been breaking new developments in the soap opera of former State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel’s release from federal prison after serving about six months on drug charges.

You break big stories with the help of strong sources and strong reporters, and not just the faces you see on TV.

A few weeks ago we received a tip that Ravenel was due to be released from the Big House in time for the holidays. Our source told us December 4.  Last night, Alex Caban, one of our producers began the digging that lead to us breaking the story today on live5news.com and Live5 News at Noon. Early this morning Assistant News Director Darryl Huger began investigating and learned that Ravenel had been released from a Georgia Pen to a half way house in Atlanta.  Weekend Anchor Anthony Miller picked up the story mid-morning Wednesday and began contacting his sources in Charleston and elsewhere. By mid-afternoon, Darryl received a tip from one of his sources that Ravenel was in fact in North Charleston, at a half way house here in his hometown.

By 5pm, reporter Hatzel Vela and photojournalist Chris O’Rourke were staking out the address in North Charleston waiting for Ravenel’s return. Vela approached a resident of the home who confirmed the former State Treasurer had moved into the half way house and was living there.  Hatzel reported back to the newsroom in time for Anthony Miller to break the news of Ravenel’s return to Charleston during our 6pm newscast.

Reporter’s instincts, strong sources, and teamwork. That’s the secret to breaking big stories.

Keep watching, Live5 News!

It’s Tough to Cover Clemson from Charleston

December 1, 2008

4.5 hours away, its tough for us to cover the Clemson Tigers.

Not only does it take man/womanpower, but gasoline, satellite time, and other travel expenses. For a big game like last weekend, its important for us to be there.  But in tough economic times, we have a budget to maintain, just like every business and every family. 

Our Live5 News crew, sports director Andy Pruitt, satellite truck guru Matt Gladwell, and photojournalist Scott Garrand got home in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Now it’s Monday, and we need to go back up state again to cover the expected announcement of Coach Dabo Swinney being named the Tigers’ head coach.

So how do we maintain the coverage our viewers expect? and stay on budget? We rely on the power of the Raycom News Network!

You’ve heard us talk about the RNN in our newscasts. Raycom Media, WCSC’s parent company, also owns TV stations in Columbia and Myrtle Beach, WIS and WMBF respectively.  Both are NBC affiliates. In Charleston, we are a CBS affiliate.

In years past, we relied our network affiliated stations to share news coverage resources. We still do in many parts of the nation and world. Much of our coverage from Washington, New York, and around the world comes from CBS and its affiliates.

But here in the Carolinas, its more important for us to share resources with our Raycom sister stations, not just in the markets I’ve mentioned, but also in Wilmington, Charlotte, and Savannah, GA. What’s good for their coverage, is often times good for our coverage.

Sharing resources with our sister stations comes in handy, especially on a day like today when we have to go back to Clemson less than 48 hours after coming home from there. It helps us work more efficiently and do more with our news gathering resources.

Our Kevin Bilodeaux is rendez-vousing (excuse my French) with another sports reproter from WIS in Clemson this afternoon. WIS is sending their satellite truck to the Swinney news conference at Death Valley so we in Charleston, and our station in Myrtle Beach don’t have to send our own satellite trucks.  Everybody on the ground in Clemson will help each other shooting video and interviews, editing, and doing live shots for each of the South Carolina stations. Back in the newsroom, our producers are talking to producers at WIS and WMBF to coordinate what time our respective stations will get to have a live shot from Clemson.  Columbia is providing the satellite truck, the biggest part of the equation, so they get first dibs on the satellite, then us, then Myrtle Beach.

Before the Raycom News Network, we would have sent our own satellite truck to Clemson, along with Kevin, and our own photographer. Our sister stations in Columbia and Myrtle Beach would have had to do the same if they wanted to same level of coverage we are producing today as a team.

Team Raycom will have more people covering the Swinney announcement today than the individual stations from other markets in the state who don’t have the powerful partnership we Raycom stations do.

We employ this same strategy with most big stories (and hurricanes!) that affect our region.

Now you know!

Keep watching Live5 News!