Denver News Channels Unveil ‘Pool Coverage’ System

It’s no secret that the news resources of local television affiliates are stretched thin. Layoffs have hit every station, and the Fox31/WB2 “marketing agreement” looks to be the future of local news. But it was still surprising to see the details that Pete Webb of Webb PR shared of a new “pool coverage” system that Fox31, 9News, KMGH7, CBS4 and Univision are implementing.

Starting today, the five stations will pool coverage of up to three events per day. The pool is on a rotating basis with each station responsible one day a week. The assignment desks will join a conference call each morning at 8:30 a.m. to determine which events will be covered by a pool representative, and the resulting raw video will be sent to all stations at 3 p.m. According to Webb, the arrangement “is intended for newsworthy events that all the stations would customarily cover on their own, such as gubernatorial news conferences, the Mayor’s State of the City, product launches, events.”

Says Webb, “My fervent hope is that we’ll see more enterprise reporting, now that crews are being freed up, but I’m not holding out much hope. More likely, viewers will see more of the same, with identical footage on each broadcast. That doesn’t reward creativity, enterprise, or just good old fashioned newsgathering, and it doesn’t reward the viewer.”

KMGH Declines to Renew Steve Saunders’ Contract

KMGH/Channel 7 won’t renew longtime Denver news reporter and anchor Steve Saunders’ contract, and his last day will be Aug. 15. Saunders, the son of former Rocky Mountain News media critic Dusty Saunders and the widower of Emmy-award-winning Denver television news producer Pam Saunders, spent the past decade at KMGH, and was at KWGN/Channel 2 for eight years prior to that. Joanne Ostrow at the Denver Post has the details.

KWGN/Channel 2 Rebrands Itself ‘The Deuce’

Bad news for Microsoft. The best case study it had that a business could create a logo using nothing more than PowerPoint is going away. KWGN/Channel 2 is rebranding itself “The Deuce,” and a new logo will presumably follow. While Michael Roberts at Westword examines the scatological implications of the new brand, we’d rather use this opportunity to again make fun of GM Dennis Leonard for his claim that he discovered John Mayer, Maroon 5 and Five for Fighting.

Bjorkman’s 15 Minutes Not Quite Up

Ernie Bjorkman may have had a bigger audience in the past month as a vet tech than he had in his final six months as an anchor with KWGN/Channel 2. First, the New York Times profiled him as the face of what is happening to experienced (i.e. old and expensive) anchors, then 20/20 jumped on the bandwagon. Now, he will be appearing on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” (with Ted Danson) this Wednesday (3 p.m. on KUSA/Channel 9). So what does Bjorkman think of all this? He tells the Denver Post’s Bill Husted, “Getting fired has landed me more publicity than anything I’ve ever done in 26 years in Denver.”

Ernie Bjorkman to Cat: ‘Turn Your Head and Cough’

Here at the Denver PR Blog, we are committed to covering Ernie Bjorkman the way Penny Parker covers Wendy Aiello Trista and Ryan (seriously, Penny, we wish them the best but their 15 minutes of fame was up four-and-a-half years ago. Let it go). So in that spirit, we offer you the following “Ernie Update” sponsored by Andrew Hudson’s Jobs List, Denver’s leading purveyor of marketing-related jobs:

Ernie is headed to his mountain home in South Fork to become a veterinary technician.

Post: Ernie Bjorkman, 25 Other Staffers Let Go at CW2

The details of the CW2 layoffs are starting to emerge, and Joanne Ostrow at the Denver Post reports that more than 25 staffers are being let go. Anchor Ernie Bjorkman, a fixture of Denver television news for 26 years, is the highest-profile employee to be let go, although he will remain on the air for the next three months.

UPDATE: And, gracious to the end, Fox 31’s Dennis Leonard (yes, the guy who discovered John Mayer, Maroon 5 and Five for Fighting) has wasted no time marginalizing Ernie Bjorkman. Here is Ernie’s CW2 bio prior to the layoff announcement, and here is the new-and-improved version.

CW2 News Staff Gets Foxed; Layoffs ‘Significant’

We noted last month that the Fox31/CW2 news “marketing agreement” would likely result in layoffs, and today we have learned those layoffs will be “significant.” A CW2 official confirmed that news director Carl Bilek was among those notified today they are being let go, but the official refused to discuss whether any on-air personalities have been affected. Mark Harden at the DBJ has the details.

Expect Layoffs As Part of the Fox31, CW2 Deal

The consolidation continues. Fox31 and CW2 today announced a “marketing agreement” effective Oct. 1 that will have the two stations sharing news, sales, operations and engineering services. CW2 also will relocate from its Greenwood Village headquarters to the Fox31 building downtown. Fox31 GM Dennis Leonard confirmed what everyone already knew: layoffs are coming. Said Leonard: “(We are) evaluating how things will change, (including) evaluating the talent and people we have on both sides.” 

Interestingly, neither Fox31 or CW2 has the news on its Web site yet, but you can see the coverage here: Denver Post, Denver Business Journal, 9News, MediaWeek, Westword.

2008 Regional Emmy Award Winners

KUSA/Channel 9 was the big winner at the 2008 Regional Emmy Award ceremony this weekend. Among the individual awards:

  • KUSA/Channel 9’s Nelson Garcia, winner of the journalistic enterprise trophy
  • KUSA/Channel 9, winner of the overall station excellence and interactivity award
  • KUSA/Channel 9’s Adam Schrager, winner of the award for general assignment reporting
  • KMGH/Channel 7’s Anne Trujillo, winner for best news anchor
  • KMGH/Channel 7’s Mike Landess, winner for his report on prostate cancer 
  • KMGH/Channel 7’s Tony Kovaleski, winner for his investigative report on the Denver Jail
  • KCNC/Channel 4’s Brian Maas, winner for his investigative report on airplane de-icing
  • KCNC/Channel 4’s Vic Lombardi, named as best sports anchor
  • KDVR/Channel 31’s Sari Padorr, winner for her serious news features

And congratulations to the four inductees of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Silver Circle for 25 years of service: KWGN/Channel 2 anchor Ernie Bjorkman, KCNC/Channel 4 reporter Suzanne McCarroll, KUSA/Channel 9 anchor Ward Lucas and KRMA/Channel 6 PBS president and GM James Morgese.