|Jean Jadhon: The Real Betty Boop?|
Read my buddy Ralph Berrier Jr.'s thorough story in a local daily here. (Note: This is a corrected spelling of Ralph's name. He's going to have to change it if I have any more trouble with it.)
The finger-pointing can begin now, especially considering that most of WDBJ's losses were among older viewers and the decline immediately followed the retirement of long-time anchor Keith Humphry and the firing of former producer Amy Morris (a Roanoke native), who wound up with a better job at WABC in New York. I think there's a good bit more to it than that, though.
Humphry was replaced by a 24-year-old anchor, Chris Hurst, who is, quite frankly, appealing and appears to me to be competent. He's easy to like and that is important in TV.
My instinct is to lay this at the feet of a team too young for its former audience and, with Jean Jadhon co-anchoring at 6 p.m., not very serious. Jadhon's annoying Betty Boop posing and chasing of non-stories mortifies professional news people throughout the market--especially the news women--but WDBJ General Manager Jeff Marks insists she is enormously popular. I don't know who she's popular with, unless my 85-year-old former mother-in-law counts as about 20,000 viewers. She loves Jadhon. Says she's "cute." What we all need is a cute anchor telling us about a bloody wreck on U.S. 220 and segueing with a squeal into a story of her own about a doggie that makes the old people in the group home happy.
Marks insists this is a burp in a market adjustment that has been going on for a while (I think he's probably right), but it must still be embarrassing to lose the lead and to lose it to a Lynchburg station, the one that has most often been a distant third in this market.
WDBJ still has the best--by far--television reporter in the market in Joe Dashiell, the best sports team and the top weather team, anchored by the ever-popular Robin Reed, who was a staple annually in The Roanoker Magazine's Sexiest Roanoker competition for years and is still a fixture in the region's elementary schools. (I don't know what that says about aging, but Reed does it well.)
Time will tell who ultimately has the most viewers--as totals continue to decline dramatically for all the stations.