Did Cable News Kill the Local News Star?

1207232567My family is a Channel 10 family. We always had Providence’s NBC affiliate on during hurricanes, snowstorms, and election nights. I remember the thrill of the station’s meteorologist coming in to talk about the weather when I was in 5th grade. I was more saddened by the death of longtime anchor Doug White than I probably should have been.

Maybe I’m an anachronism, but I disagree with Emily Rooney’s assertion (via Margery Eagan’s column) that kids these days don’t attach themselves to TV personalities.

[V]iewers in their 20s and 30s don’t seem to care about TV news and sports personalities, or even TV news. Certainly they’re not into any trusted relationship, real or imagined.

I don’t think that’s true. Why then did the news of Bob Lobel and Joyce Kulhawik’s unceremonious dumping from WBZ spread like wildfire around local blogs yesterday? If it were only baby-boomers who cared about these drastic changes to the local news scene, why is the Globe’s piece reflecting on the media climate the second-most emailed item as of this writing on Boston.com?

I think Rooney gets to the heart of the matter with this statement.

TV stations “don’t want anybody to become a star and then start demanding money. They want everything to be generic and no (one broadcaster) to be the reason someone tunes in. They want the station to be the reason.”

Viewers in their 20s and 30s haven’t been allowed to form a relationship with TV anchors because stations haven’t let them. The Boston market has a high turnover rate, unlike my hometown station, which has kept many of the personalities who were on-air when I was a kid. Not only that, but the local news is just now catching up to the viewing habits of young adults.

The popularity of 10 o’clock newscasts has put local news on a young adult’s timetable, especially on FOX 25 where the lead-in is American Idol. (Having Maria Stephanos probably doesn’t hurt either.) We’ve hit a rough patch, but local media will find a way to appeal to younger viewers eventually. I hope they just do it before Al Kaprielian loses his job. A world without that guy is a world not fit to live in.