WCCO Survivor

Surviving the News in the Hometown Team's Summer of Self-Love

 

ADDED SHAMELESSNESS BONUS

On July 18 Don Shelby gives out a 900 number so viewers can vote on the fate of a Big Brother houseguest. Notes the civic-minded anchor: "It costs about a buck to vote, but it's free to see who wins next Thursday night here on WCCO, Channel 4." Shelby and weatherman Paul Douglas then take turns making cash-register sound effects ("Ka-ching!").

 

 

Immunity Challenge #7

 

If anyone mocks the franchise,
mock 'em back

 

THE RESULT

On July 5, to commemorate the premiere of Big Brother, the Hometown Team runs a lengthy profile of Twin Cities contestant/noted virgin Brittany Petros, as well as an update on the latest Survivor banishment. Of course, the most important cultural phenomenon of the summer isn't without some critics. So Don Shelby delivers a short piece on the self-explanatory Web site survivorsucks.com.

 

SHAMELESSNESS BONUS

Shelby calls survivorsucks.com's creators "another group of people who have too much time on their hands." Co-anchor Randi Kaye chimes in with a pithy dis: "I think we should ship those people off to their own island."

 

 

Immunity Challenge #8

 

Enhance coverage of underperforming reality show by pairing it with
the franchise

 

THE RESULT

As the summer wears on, the Hometown Team begins packaging Survivor and Big Brother in back-to-back news stories. The evolving quest for triple synergy is fully realized during six and a half minutes on July 26. After a "Dimension" piece by reporter Darcy Pohland on the cultural meaning of Survivor (conclusion: It's not like reality, but also it is!), anchor Don Shelby discusses the fine points of Survivor strategy. Contending that "you can't be totally cruel or arrogant or devious or manipulative," Shelby predicts doom for Richard Hatch--who, as it happens, turns out to be the ultimate "Survivor." In a slyly crafted segue, Randi Kaye reports on an ex-island denizen who is "considering" posing nude in Playboy for half a million dollars--the same bounty, Kaye notes by way of transition, as the Big Brother payout. And, eureka, the Hometown Team serves up a piece on Jean Jordan, an ex-stripper from Minneapolis who has just been banished from the Big Brother house.

 

SHAMELESSNESS BONUS

In a happy-talk lead-in to the weather report, Shelby refers to meteorologist Paul Douglas as "one of the all-time survivors in the world of television." Douglas then teases viewers by suggesting that the South Pacific typhoon season could add "a surprise ending" to Survivor. He fails to mention that Survivor's cast and crew had their wrap party two months earlier.

 

ADDED SHAMELESSNESS BONUS

In the course of a single broadcast, the Hometown Team makes its case for the "fame" status of both Big Brother and Survivor contestants by showing footage of their appearances on two other oft-pimped CBS shows, The Late Show With David Letterman and The Early Show.

Immunity Challenge #9

 

Dedicate a newscast to a show that
40 million people just watched

 

THE RESULT

By the time the much-ballyhooed Survivor finale airs on August 23, tie-ins to the show are old hat. But tonight WCCO redefines blockbuster coverage, as co-anchors Amelia Santaniello and Don Shelby race through six minutes of non-Survivor headlines before turning the Hometown Team loose on the only story that matters. "Our eyes were glued to the set," Santaniello declares as she recaps events of the finale, complete with highlight-reel footage of CBS's three previous hours of entertainment programming. That leads into a segment about local Survivor fans gathered at Flashbaxx nightclub in the Mall of America, where 'CCO's sister radio station, the Point (104.1 FM) sponsored a party. Back in the studio, Shelby plugs WCCO's online Survivor poll, then declares he is "sickened" by the triumph of Richard Hatch. Reporter David Schechter hypes Survivor 2 with a piece about Twin Cities residents who have auditioned for the January sequel. Then reporter Cathy Wurzer is couch-side with a Survivor-obsessed family who watch "the climactic finish" during an "Island-themed party" at their St. Louis Park home. In all, the Hometown Team devotes nine full minutes to the franchise.

SHAMELESSNESS BONUS

In his piece about the auditions for Survivor 2, Schechter asks one of the 800 national finalists how it feels to be "like, a total celebrity." Wurzer's story, meanwhile, touts the "shared memories" benefit of Survivor-watching as a family activity. (As it turns out, Wurzer's dispatch is one of her last for WCCO. A few weeks later, she leaves the Hometown Team for a morning gig at Minnesota Public Radio.)

 

ADDED SHAMELESSNESS BONUS

Shelby and weatherman Paul Douglas seamlessly work in additional Survivor references in their happy-talk segment. Douglas denies Shelby's accusation that he rooted for the Survivor winner. Shelby says he is "saddened by the idea that manipulation wins."

 

 

Immunity Challenge #10

 

Work themes of Big Brother, masturbation, and CBS into a positive story

 

THE RESULT

All summer the Hometown Team has been running hard with the story of "Jordan," the Minneapolis-based stripper of Big Brother fame. On July 20, following an interview with one of the contestant's fellow exotic dancers, WCCO scoops the competition with exclusive home-video footage of Jean Jordan back when she was president of her high school class. Afterward anchor Dennis Douda opines that Jordan will probably soon surface on The Late Show With David Letterman. Co-anchor Randi Kaye confirms Douda's bold prognostication the following week, with breaking news that Jordan has agreed to appear. But it takes the Hometown Team's varsity anchor to land an exclusive interview. In a rare display of her reporting chops, Amelia Santaniello sits face-to-face with Jordan, eliciting her response to a clip of the show's naughtiest moment: Jordan, floating in a swimming pool, asking her housemates, "Would you guys masturbate here?" Santaniello deems Jordan "comfortable with her sexuality" after Jordan declares herself "totally not a slut."

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