AS WE START THE NEW YEAR, it might be a good time to look at the local small screen scene… where it is and where it’s going.
We can start with the recent news of WZMQ-TV adding veteran sportscaster Mike Ludlum to their daily newscasts. As you may recall, it was just about a year ago when Ludlum was relieved of his duties at TV6, after 30 some years of service, for admittedly inappropriate behavior.
With regular Facebook posts pertaining to local sports, Ludlum has kept his finger on the pulse of area athletes and their achievements, so he should have no problem regaining his standing in front of the camera. He’s well-known across the region, and, if Facebook comments are any indication, still well-liked and respected.
Ludlum’s new gig will represent a reunion of sorts with former TV6 and current WZMQ news anchor Sarah Blakely. They shared the desk for a time at TV6 until Blakely left, presumably due to the corporate vaccine mandate. Geez… all we need now is for segment contributor Karl Bohnak to go full-time at ZMQ and we’ve got WLUC 2.0.
But no, that’s not going to happen. On Wednesday night’s newscast, Bohnak appeared on set with Blakely, not to compare our unusual start to winter with others from the past, but rather to announce his candidacy for the 109th District State Representative post.
According to reports at the time, Bohnak was also part of the small exodus of TV6 employees who left, or were asked to leave, after refusing to get the shot. So, in addition to his concerns about the government’s approach to climate change, his candidacy might also be motivated by a difference in opinion about our nation’s reaction to the outbreak of Covid-19. Regardless, we won’t be seeing him on the tube again any time before the August primary… unless it’s in a campaign ad.
Back at TV6, Morning News host Pavlina Osta has announced she’ll be leaving the station in March to take a job with CBS 58 in Milwaukee. After an uneven start as an Early News anchor, Osta seemed to settle in with the more informal morning format.
She’s now just another in a long line of TV6 reporters who have used our small market station as a launching pad for a higher profile job somewhere else. But we’re not New York. If you can make it here, it’s no sure thing you can make it anywhere. Osta actually has a pretty impressive résumé. Now it’s just a matter of finding the task to match her talents.
More TV News
It may not have been front page news… or rather the lead story, but local stations WBKP-TV and WBUP-TV, as well as a few other media outlets under the same ownership, have been purchased by Morgan Murphy Media out of Madison, Wisconsin.
WBKP is an affiliate of The CW Plus, known mostly for syndicated type programming, with no local news. Sister station WBUP (ABC 10) is the area’s ABC affiliate. With studios in Ishpeming, WBUP offers network fare along with local news each weekday at 5:30, 6, and 11.
With four local stations doing daily live news programs, the battle for ad dollars is intense. If you subscribe to the belief that you have to spend money to make money, the new owners from southern Wisconsin will have to commit a few more bucks to make ABC 10 competitive in a very crowded market. Nothing against the local folks doing their best with limited resources, but ABC 10 has some serious improving to do before they put a scare into the likes of TV6, WZMQ, and WJMN.
Brian Burns, the well-established media company’s VP and Chief Operating Officer, says, “At WBUP, we’ve been spending the first few weeks trying to get to know the staff and community better. It’s fair to say, a lot of work needs to be done to bring it up to the standards we expect at Morgan Murphy Media and we’ll be working on that throughout the course of 2024.” Looking forward to that.
Something to Watch
And here’s a note about Public TV13. Sorry I didn’t mention it last week before Part 1, but Part 2 of Media Meet’s 2023 Year in Review will air on WNMU-TV tomorrow at 6:30 pm and Sunday at 2 pm. Both programs will be available on the Public TV13 website at https://wnmutv.nmu.edu/programs/media-meet.
Yours truly shares the stage with a well-seasoned crew including mediaBrew’s Walt Lindala, Elizabeth Peterson from TV6, the Mining Journal’s Lisa Bowers, and Media Meet’s very capable host, and former TV6er, Mike Settles. (Seen above.)
Singing for Snow
Speaking of Walt Lindala, in an effort to get some more white stuff, he’ll be teaming up with “Mark and Walt in the Morning” co-host Mark Evans playing the original “Heikki Lunta Snow Dance Song” at random times during their morning radio show until a significant snowfall hits the region.
According to Evans, “The original song is a tongue-in-cheek tune created by the staff at WMPL Radio in Hancock in 1970 when a major snowmobiling race in South Range was threatened by a lack of snow. The station created the song and played it regularly, which resulted in record-level snowfall in the Copper Country.”
Though I don’t mind a mild winter, I actually hope Heikki heeds the call here. A Tahquamenon area sled dog race has already been canceled, and I don’t want to see the U.P. 200 idled two years in a row. All other winter activities need more snow too.
No word on whether or not the two strapping lads will come out from behind the mic and help with snow removal.
“Mark and Walt in the Morning” airs weekdays from 5am to 10am on Sunny 101.9 WKQS-FM and streams live at www.sunny.fm.