AH, SURVIVOR 2. Last summer, when WCCO-TV (Channel 4) unabashedly turned its daily newscasts into billboards for the fabulous entertainment programming aired by parent network CBS, news director Ted Canova defended the station's orgiastic excesses on the grounds that Survivor was an important "pop culture" phenomenon. It was, we were to believe, just a happy accident that the show happened to air on CBS. (Off Beat will resist noting that Canova's claim rang somewhat hollow given the Hometown Team's devotion to CBS's Big Brother, which was decidedly not a hit.) Now, like a bleary-eyed Hank Williams stumbling into church after a three-day bender, Canova appears to have seen the light. In a candid exchange on the station's chat room on January 30, two days after Survivor 2 debuted, Canova fielded questions from viewers critical of WCCO's original Survivor sellout and--stop the presses!--vowed not to commit the same "tonnage" of coverage to the sequel. "I think I am burned out on using news time to promote entertainment," he tapped out in response to one questioner. "There are plenty of commercials on the air, and plenty of 'free' ads that Survivor is getting." When another chatter asked about the ever-eroding line between entertainment and news, Canova replied: "I think it's too blurry. I met with my news staff earlier this month to say we will try and make the line more clear, that we will spend less time pitching entertainment shows and more time on real news."
Sorry About That, Ken
"FOR THE FINAL time, KDWB turns off the power." That's what FM 101.3 listeners heard a station VP pronounce on Friday, January 26. Tune in Monday morning, he concluded, for "a historic announcement." And indeed, at 4:00 p.m. Friday KDWB commenced a "DJ-free weekend," with interns running the show. It was a stunt, of course--a ploy to lure folks back for a promotion in which the station pays some lucky listeners' power-company bills. But when the KARE-TV (Channel 11) newsroom got wind of the ostensible impending doomsday, a reporter and cameraman were dispatched. They smelled something fishy and didn't run with the story--but no one told KARE-11 meteorologist Ken Barlow. Barlow, you see, does double-Doppler-duty for KDWB on weekday mornings and afternoons. Having heard the initial scuttlebutt, he phoned the station wondering what was up with his moonlighting gig--and was summarily told by an intern that he'd have to wait till Monday like everybody else. At which point, sources later told Off Beat, he threw a "hissy fit." Barlow, who didn't get to the bottom of the power play until late the next day, confirms the sequence of events. "It was actually more of a tizzy," he clarifies with a laugh. "I guess it would have been funny, had I known about it." Explains KDWB program director Rob Morris, who let Barlow in on the gag when the weatherman finally tracked him down on Saturday: "Unfortunately I forgot he was a person who didn't know. I just figured he would call the station on Friday when he found out about it." Of course, Barlow points out, that's exactly what he did--only all the DJs had gone home. "It was really odd, but I'm over it," he reflects. "My tizzy days are over--at least for this week."