Monday, October 5, 2009

JB & Sandy on TV in the Mornings

KEYE TV May Have a Winner!!!

Perhaps I should drink more coffee. I am not a morning person. I don’t talk in the mornings, and I generally don’t want people talking to me.

That said, the new KEYE TV (CBS) morning show featuring JB & Sandy et al of Mix 94.7 FM with Kelly Sifka back at the TV station handling weather and traffic just might work. Monday, (October 5, 2009) was the first morning. JB & Sandy (J.B. Hager and Sandy McIlree) didn’t make a big deal out of it. They just did their thing. They made it look easy doing radio on TV. Besides, they wouldn’t want to give up their radio identity for their new TV friends.

The discussion was topical: David Letter reactions, the Austin City Limits Festival, and audience involvement with nominations for the worst intersections in Austin. It moved. All five people involved in the on-the-air performance participated. Their observations were fun, but not over-the-top. It looked easy. Can they keep up this level of energy and creativity five a week, month after month.

Let me tell you, it wasn’t as easy as it looked. I know there was much planning and extensive rehearsals to make this thing work. Think about it. The radio station still had to play its own commercials that would not air on the TV station. (I really don’t know what was going on during the TV breaks. I TiVoed the KEYE broadcast as I’m not normally available at 6 a.m. See the first paragraph.) Back at KEYE, it was clear that they knew what content would be covered during the hour-long broadcast (6 a.m. to 7 a.m.) They had video and graphics to fit the topics.

Much of the video was looped, however. I don’t like that, but they did have matching video and not just merely a group of people sitting around in a studio. The use of graphics was clean. Sifka got a minute and a half for weather and traffic.

My only major criticism is that two of the TV breaks were really, really, really long, probably to cover whatever the radio station was doing in the mean time. The first break didn’t hit until nine minutes into the show. After weather and traffic there was a four-minute-:30-second break—4:30!!! That 4:30 contained multiple commercials and promotional spots, making it seem even longer. The break at the bottom of the hour was shorter, only four minutes. Yaaaahhh! Normally, breaks that long would create a punch-out opportunity, but this a morning show. People were coming and going all of the time anyway. During the break, the commuters can get in their cars and continue listening.

The other concern is this: What happens if there is major spot news in the morning. What about a bad ice storm bringing the city to a sliding halt or a flood washing cars down creeks? Those things have happened in the morning, both KEYE and Mix 94.7 would have to cope. We both have contingency plans in place for when there is breaking news and/or life threatening news,” said Amy Villarreal, KEYE president and general manager.

You gotta hand it to Amy. She keeps throwing ideas against the wall, hoping something will stick. This new morning show just might stick.

© Jim McNabb, 2009


Anonymous said...

A couple of observations about the KEYE morning show feature JB and Sandy:

1. Use a full-screen shot of the studio broadcast.

2. JB needs to dump the hat, or get better lighting, on his face.

3. Station management needs to pray a lot that this morning show grabs viewers. I don't think it will.

Anonymous said...

The kindest thing I can say is this... it sucked. Maybe if I closed my eyes and just listened, it would not have been so bad. But that would be radio, not TV... Oh wait, that's what THIS IS! It's radio on TV. I'm sorry. Forgive me. That said, I could not watch for more than about 7 or 8 minutes before saying goodbye. Even at it's worst, at least Michelle and Fred were watchable and you got the info you needed to start your day. I give them credit for trying, but I just don't get it. I'll be watching KXAN and KVUE depending on what I see when I tune in. Thanks!

Anonymous said...


KEYE will figure out within a year that JB & Sandy won't spark any jump in Nielsen ratings for the station.

Nothing against JB & Sandy. They're great on the radio, but their show won't click on TV, UNLESS they have relevant guests on the phone or in the studio who offer broad topical appeal.

Cerebus Capital Management CEO John Snow proudly describes Cerebus' top management as "carpenters" who fix up underperforming companies and rebuilds them. If Cerebus is serious about fixing KEYE, it'll have to offer a morning show with appeal and depth, something that the radio show lacks when it comes to TV.

KEYE general manager Amy Villarreal is responsible for improving the station's revenue stream and containing costs. Frankly, though, Amy needs to be very candid with Cerebus and Nexstar, and tell them that this low-cost approach to filling the morning air waves won't boost revenues; it'll only cut costs.

Sure, cutting costs helps keep revenue in a company's pocket, but it does nothing in the long run to provide agressive revenue growth.

KEYE needs to take a bold approach, not a conservative, money saving route.

Anonymous said...

I've gotta agree with Jim on this one. I was expecting a low-budget production consisting of just static camera shots, but the addition of the graphics and b-roll helped out immensely. The segments were interesting -- except for the worst intersections bit. That one dragged on and kinda fell flat. Also, the camera in Sandy's face is waaaaaay too close. That took some getting used to. All in all though, a nice effort. Considering KEYE's morning newscast often got hashmarks, there's really nowhere to go but up.

Anonymous said...

JB & Sandy spend too much time talking about one subject on their show. On this morning's show, for example, they went on and on about David Letterman.

It's okay to talk about Letterman, but how about keeping a topic -- any topic -- down to ten minutes or less, and then move on to another subject. Don't bore the viewers with too much of one subject.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Jim, enough of KEYE. How about another subject today.

In need of diversification to broaden its revenue base, LIN TV, the owner of KXAN-TV, has acquired Austin-based Red McCombs Media, an online advertising and media services company.

The purchase expands LIN TV’s local multi-platform offerings by providing national advertising and enhanced services, including targeted display, rich media, video advertising, custom-built vertical channels, search engine marketing, search engine optimization, and mobile marketing.

To put it simply, the acquisition gives LIN a new area in which to make additional dough.

The purchase cost LIN $7.9 million, paid with $1.2 million in cash, $2.2 million in an unsecured note and the rest in Class A common stock.

This acquisition is a prime example of the many different opportunities that exist for TV broadcast companies to expand their revenue base and save their news operations from further horrendous budget cuts in the future.

Anonymous said...

KEYE needs to establish some banter between weatherman Kelly Slifka and JB & Sandy. As it is now, Slifka is isolated from the radio show.

Establishing some friendly banter -- no politics, no religion, no other hot-button issues -- can help cement the relationship between the show and weather.

It would also help the morning show if KEYE had the money to send a live truck out on the street to get live comments from regular people to whatever interesting topics JB & Sandy would like to ask listeners, or in this case, people on the street (a coffee shop or some other public establishment). One of the members of the JB & Sandy show should go out in the field with the truck to ask questions.

The Hypervigilant Observer said...


Here's another observation on KEYE's new "We Are Austin."

They have been running the SAME newscrawl... for the past TWO days.

How can you trust a "news" operation that doesn't even change the lowly daily newscrawl!!!

Lex Wadelski
Austin, texas

NewsMcNabb said...

Editor's Note: I'm told that the crawl problem was an equipment problem, and it has now been fixed.


Anonymous said...


Sandy of JB & Sandy says he's going to to take a 50,000-volt hit from a taser on Friday's show. I'll have to tune in for this 6:45 a.m. demonstration.

Sandy will have to sign a waiver. I hope it comes through it okay.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission offered its opinion about tasers years ago:

Jim, we're counting on you writing about this, to offer your thoughts about this electrifying event.

Anonymous said...

Someone other than Sandy needs to be in charge of the button or switch that puts live phone interviews on the air on KEYE during the JB & Sandy Show. Since Sandy forgets to hit the button or switch, why not put that responsbility in the hands of the radio station producer?

I'm glad to hear that the plug has been pulled on Sandy's plans to be tasered on the show this morning. If anything had gone wrong -- even with a waiver signed by Sandy -- both the radio station and KEYE could have shared some liability and it wouldn't have played well on TV. There's nothing enjoyable about watching anyone get tasered.

Both KEYE and the radio station should explore other ideas for giving the show a different look each day. For example, have a listener or viewer participate in a segment of the show once every couple of weeks. Have an on-the-air contest to pick the lucky viewer or listener.

Invite listeners and viewers to send in by e-mail photos that show the "weird" side of Austin and then put a few of them on the air. Since the radio listeners can't see a photo, ask the person whose photo you pick to be with you on the phone on the air to talk about their picture. Make sure this segment is brief.

Anonymous said...

Come on! Buy a small video camera to shoot on-the-street interviews with people for use in the JB & Sandy show.

Stop using audio only of on-the-street interviews, when you're on KEYE.

Make full use of the visual that KEYE provides.