They Come and They Go

By: Jason Colthorp
By: Jason Colthorp

When familiar faces are suddenly gone from the TV without explanation, you want to know why.

There are 210 TV markets in America and Lansing is currently #114. That means we're small. Smaller than Flint-Saginaw (#68), but slightly bigger than Traverse City-Cadillac (#120). We're much smaller than Grand Rapids (#42) and tiny compared to Detroit (#11).

By being small, you have to expect new hires in Market... uhhh... looking, looking, oh yeah-- Market 114-- to be green. By green, I mean to not have much experience and in some cases none at all. The secret is starting to get out among college kids that if you don't love journalism don't get in it to make your million. Not gonna happen, to quote our favorite engineer.

Even the reporters, anchors and producers who are talented at what they do, end up getting out of the business because something more steady, better paying and much less stressful comes along at some point. Not to mention, so many stations and companies across the nation are cutting high-priced talent and paring down staffs because the money just isn't there anymore. When NBC needs to replace Matt Lauer in the next decade, it's not going to be as easy as it was when they found him, because there just aren't as many potential Matt Lauers out there anymore. Guys like Ryan Richert and Tony Tagliavia come to mind. Ryan worked here in the late 90's til about 2001. He was the classic good reporter. I thought he was the type of guy who would keep climbing from market to market and finally settle in a nice high-paying job. He married a reporter from Channel 6, went to California where they both got out of the business shortly after and he got into finance I think. Like I said, sharp guy. Tony is even smarter. Sharp as a tack and funny, Tony loved his local government stories. Knew more about the local townships in five minutes than I knew living here my whole life. True. Tony went on to Grand Rapids a few years ago and I thought for sure he'd end up in his native Madison, Wisconsin and settle there. He did-- but took a different job-- working for a school district, I think. Better hours, better money, less chance of being downsized.

I've really gone off on a tangent here. My point is, when you see a new reporter or meteorologist on the air in Lansing, 95% of the time they are light years away from working in Detroit, even Grand Rapids, and two good years away from getting a new job in a better market. Consider that when you send them an email. When you post something on the WILX News 10 Facebook page that says, "Where'd you find this guy? Dude, get him off the air-- NOW!" you should remember they are just getting their feet wet in this business and have to learn somewhere. And then thank your lucky stars you're not watching in Alpena (Market #208).

I bring this up because so many people on Facebook have asked what happened to Julie Fuson. She was our weekend meteorologist that left the station last month. It's not my place to talk about why she left, but I will say that I've never seen anyone get more derogatory emails and letters than her. People hating on her appearance, the way she talked, and anything else that apparently was fair game. I'm not going to sit here and say the media is off limits to criticism-- we're not. We're public figures that get critiqued by the public and for good reason-- if you don't like us, you change the channel and thus management has to make a change. That's the business we've chosen and having thick skin comes with the territory and the ones that don't have it aren't around very long.

Julie had very thick skin. You'd never know she was under constant attack from viewers. And to her credit she worked to improve every show. Don't worry, the negative emails didn't drive her off. She is originally from Florida and has always been working to get closer to home.

I just think it would be good to try and save this profession of ours by not driving out the ones with potential before they've had a chance to grow that thick skin. So, the next time you tune in and hate Hannah Saunders' outfit or think Fay Li made a mistake or just don't like the way Caroline Vandergriff talks and you have to send an email telling them so-- be nice. A little courtesy with your constructive criticism can make a huge difference. Maybe you could even tell them what you DO like about them as well. Especially since one day down the road they could be replacing the person who replaced Matt Lauer or Katie Couric.

As for the veterans like Tim, Andy, Darrin, David and myself, we're fair game. So, the next time you think I'm being an insensitive jerk-- fire away.


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