Thursday, December 03, 2009

Blame It On Jay: Low Leno Ratings Hit Local News, Plus: Reporting the Econ Story; Who's On Top? Also: Axe Falls On Politicals & The Quote Of The Day 

Don't blame it all on Jay Leno, but the sacking Wednesday of KOB-TV news director Jamie Ioos comes only days after the November ratings hit the streets showing the NBC affiliate's flagship 10 p.m. newscast skidding into third place. November was Leno's first full month on the air with his new 9 p.m. show which is the lead in for newscasts coast-to-coast on NBC stations like KOB. Jay is not faring well and several industry insiders here tell us the weak lead in is hurting local NBC news broadcasts and KOB's is one of them. But a KOB insider says Leno was not the only reason for ousting the news chief:

Management was unhappy with direction of newsroom and is looking for a more aggressive approach with more breaking news and more cut-ins.

Ioos, a 20 year TV news veteran, took the helm at KOB-TV in July 2008. We don't think she'll be watching any Jay Leno shows as she ponders her next move.

Now to those 10 p.m news ratings. CBS Affiliate KRQE-TV holds down the top spot again at 10 p.m. and by a big margin. It scored a 9.3 rating compared to ABC affiliate KOAT-TV's 6.6. KOB-TV which has fought for second place the past several cycles fell to a 4.9. (A 9.3 rating means 9.3 percent of homes in the viewing area that own televisions were tuned to KRQE.)

While execs at ABC and CBS were hoping NBC's decision to drop dramas and go with Leno would drive viewers to them, it's not that simple. The audience is drifting away from NBC alright, but many of them are going to their DVR's, not the rival stations.


All three major ABQ stations have trimmed their sails in recent years, cutting employees and hiring what are known as "one man bands." That's a reporter who shoots video and writes the story, eliminating the need for a cameraman.

Advertising is slow, but apparently enough to avoid more layoffs. The stations make a lot of money during big election years, so they are holding on for 2010. The Governor's race as well as two of the three congressional races will be the large advertisers. The stations are already getting some coin from GOP Guv candidate Doug Turner who came with a very early TV buy last month.


And while we're on the TV beat, how about some straight shooting news writing on the wicked economic downturn in New Mexico? You won't find much in the printed, dead-tree press, but TV news is rising to the occasion. A recent sample:

Richard Berry takes over as mayor in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. All the earlier talk about New Mexico avoiding the worst of the recession seems to have evaporated along with thousands of jobs and hundreds of shut-down businesses.

That's the truth that hits you right between the eyes, some good old fashioned journalism laden with the drama and passion the big economic story deserves.

All three ABQ TV stations have excelled in their economic coverage, showing the struggles of everyday New Mexicans, providing advice and not shying away from reality. For example, KOAT has been running special "Project Economy" features for months.

In contrast, the diffidence of the press--in the papers and on-line--to the human dimensions of what is happening here (with a few notable exceptions--mainly the New Mexican) has been startling. Maybe if the press would stop bitching about blogs and how journalism is allegedly going away and instead gave us some real economic journalism, they might keep some of the eyeballs they're losing. Meanwhile, to see what's happening on the economy front with your own eyeballs, tune in to local TV news, or, we humbly assert, to this little ol' blog.


The inevitable has begun, but it's still kind of historic to see any state worker actually let go because of financial reasons. Big Bill axed 59 political employees Wednesday as the state comes to grips with an immense budget deficit. One of my insiders says six of them are at NM Expo at the state fairgrounds. (The New Mex has another that is not without controversy).They and the other 52 are out as of January 8. The Guv's office says letting the 59 go, creating a total of 106 vacant "exempt" positions will save about $8.3 million a year. He has been widely criticized for packing the state payroll with politicals and now the day of reckoning has come. (Don't you know the Guv rues not being in that Commerce Secretary position in D.C. that he lost?)

What stands out here is that they axe 59, saving six months in salaries, but it looks like a grain of sand. The deficit for this year and next is in the hundreds of millions--and probably growing as we speak. Hold on state employees, it's going to be a bumpy ride.


Big Bill cut the ribbon on the Hewlett-Packard Rio Rancho customer service center Wednesday, saying he considered it the "most significant economic development achievement" of his time in office. Not to dump on call center jobs, but this is what passes as Richardson's economic legacy? Boy, that won't take much space in the history books.

HP is a fine company, the jobs are welcome and they are wished continued success here and elsewhere. But it will take years for taxpayers to recoup the millions and millions in cash and tax incentives spent to lure the company here. HP says "a majority" of the jobs will pay over $40,000 a year. In other words, half of them probably won't. And that's a far cry from the high-paying jobs we got with Intel and other tech companies. But in this new era, a governor terms call center jobs the cat's meow.

New Mexico's next governor will no doubt have their hands full attracting jobs, but if Big Bill is saying this is his premier economic achievement, the bar has been set pretty low.


Not all stocks are on the comeback trail in the recent surge on Wall Street. First Community Bank, with a significant presence here, has a stock price that is falling off the cliff. Shares in the troubled bank--besieged by commercial loan issues--were trading this week for a measly 44 cents a share. The stock traded for as much as $20 a share in early 2007.

Some locals appear to be taking some big hits from this decline. Leonard Delayo, Jr., a former ABQ School Board president and a member of the First State board, bought $50,000 worth of the company stock at $6.69 a share in June of '08. Those shares are now worth $3300.

Bank President Michael Stanford purchased 40,700 shares for $302,808 at the same time as Delayo. At this week's price Stanford's investment is now valued at about $18,000, a jolting loss of some 94 percent.

The bank's hard times is not good news for dozens of organizations in ABQ that have benefited from the bank's philanthropy, which we have to say is pretty stand-out stuff. The problem is all those bank loans that are becoming charity cases as the Great Recession rolls on.


ake our advice: Don't get in the way of Allen Weh. First the GOP Guv nominee came with this quote back in July:

When I get to Santa Fe, I’m going to take a baseball bat, and we’re going to clean that place out.

Now the 67 year old retired Marine colonel and former NM GOP party chairman comes with round two:

There is not a better job than commanding an infantry, because you get to go shoot things.

Baseball bats, shooting things and then there was the recent news that Weh's campaign bus was completely destroyed in a fire at its storage site.

So if you see a guy in a rented Volkswagen Beetle Bus speeding past you on the freeway, holding a baseball hat in one hand, a shotgun in another and promising to clean up Santa Fe, don't be alarmed. You're not in the Twilight Zone. It's just another New Mexico political campaign.

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