Tag Archives: Lou Baxter

Deep Background for December 2012

Will Christmas-time be the “most wonderful time of the year” for Erie media?

I must say things seem to be looking that way. All indications show strength in advertising sales in all media, old and new. I am really enthusiastic at how the market has taken a huge leap forward with Lilly Broadcasting’s addition of news and first-run syndicated shows in HD, and it shows real commitment to the community with their November-long series of fundraisers for area charities.

You can even be positive that, although a headache for our friend Lou Baxter, the move of Nexstar’s Kim Thomas and Jill Perkins into politics makes more room for new talent and fresh ideas and enthusiasm.

Perhaps right now my greatest optimism is for what is coming out of the Erie Times-News newsroom. It seems that almost everyday were are getting a front page feature on the status of community assets that are critical for our region’s future. I couldn’t wait to read the pieces on the Warner Theater renovation and the Erie City Mission’s construction project, which were well written and comprehensive in their graphics and approach.

Solid, compelling content if promoted properly draws eyes and ears and translates to sales…always has, always will.

To the Grinches who think I sound like a naive cheerleader who shrills for the establishment; humbug. My heart aches every time a local cut-in is missed, or you go 10 hours listening to a station without hearing a jock, or the latest shipment from Butler is a few tons lighter than previously out of 12th Street. However, in a “its as good as it gets” reality, we celebrate when hard work, risk, and excellence are displayed.

Agree or disagree with me in this open forum with civility and cheer. Leave a comment below, send a tweet to @pressandtower, or email.

And be nice…it’s Christmas!

Thomas to leave Nexstar

Kim Thomas

Kim Thomas

WJET/WFXP News Director Lou Baxter tells P&T that he’s on the lookout for a new primary anchor to partner with Sean Lafferty. Kim Thomas will leave at the end of the month to join the office of State Senator-elect Sean Wiley.

Lou continues:

Kim has done a great job for us the past 6 years ago, having spent the last two of them on the anchor desk with Sean Lafferty. We wish her the best of luck. We have launched a nationwide search for her replacement. In the interim, Sean will solo.

Tapes and resumes to lbaxter@wjettv.com.

West Coast pipeline continues for JET/FOX with addition of Truong

The TV business casts a wide net, and in the past several years Erie’s TV newsrooms have been inhabited by journalists and meteorologists from across the country. It’s not a universal trend, since there are many Erie and western PA natives on-the-air. But WJET/WFXP has a new addition to their weather team, and she booked some major air miles to get here. News Director Lou Baxter explains in an e-mail to P&T:

Linh Truong

Meteorologist Jason Berry left us last month, and is now working for Weather Central, our weather graphics provider, in Madison, WI.   He is training TV station meteorologists around the country in the use of their weather graphic systems. His replacement will be Meteorologist Linh Truong.  She joins us off the air this week, and will likely make her debut on the air in a few weeks.

Linh is originally from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, but is coming to us from Sacramento, California.  She has two degrees from San Francisco State University; BA in Radio & TV, and a BS degree in Meteorology.  She has also completed all of the work necessary for her CBM designation. Linh previously worked as a meteorologist at a TV station in Redding, CA (KRCR~Ed.). She is a member of the AMS and the Asian American Journalists Association. We are excited to have her join our team. And we knew she’d be a great fit for Erie when she told us her favorite thing to do when not working….bowling!

Meanwhile, meteorologist Tom Atkins is currently away on company business, so meteorologist Amanda Gabeler is filling in for us. Amanda is from Rochester, NY and was formerly chief meteorologist at a station in Utica, NY. She will be with us until Tom returns.

Thanks to Lou for clearing up some of the confusion about the personnel changes on upper Peach.

The new JET 24 Action News

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After furious months of design, demolition, construction which included weeks of producing hours of news products literally out of a hallway, the new set and graphics for WJET/WFXP debuted on Thursday.

This is not just a tweak, but a complete overhaul of the multiple newscasts morning, noon and night at the Erie ABC and FOX affiliates. The new music package that accompanies this change is only the second time the music has changed since the launch of Action News over thirty years ago. The graphics for both news and weather are instantly noticeable and a huge improvement for the market. And with the help of a lighting designer that has worked at the network level, the set and its inhabitants are extremely well lit with new Brightline fixtures.

Kim Thomas to join Lafferty at JET anchor desk

The management team at Nexstar/Erie turned their sights within their Peach Street newsroom in seeking replacements for Selena Wiles at news anchor and Luke Simons on the weekday sports desk for WJET/WFXP. From their release tonight:

JET-TV VP/General Manager Tim Dunst and JET-TV/FOX 66 News Director Lou Baxter jointly announced Friday September 10,  the appointment of Kim Thomas as the new co-anchor of Action News 24.  Thomas will join veteran news anchor Sean Lafferty at the news desk at 5, 5:30, 6 and 11pm on JET-TV’s Action News 24.

Kim Thomas

Kim Thomas

Kim Thomas was selected from a field of prospective anchor candidates from around the country.   She will begin her new anchoring duties in the next few weeks.

Kim Thomas joined JET-TV as a reporter in November 2006 after working for a short time at the local CBS affiliate.  She is a graduate of Edinboro University.  In naming her to this critically important position, Dunst said, “It’s always great when you can promote from within, and in this case because of her proven news talent and experience in our community, Kim was clearly the right person for the anchor desk.”

Kim Thomas has been JET-TV and FOX 66’s Erie City Hall and Erie Police Department reporter, and has covered every major local story involving crime, government, and politics.  Twice, she has co-hosted the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon for the MDA, and has served the community as an Erie Ambassador.

“In Kim Thomas, we have found someone who was educated in the area, has worked in the area, and has made a conscious decision to make Erie her home.  She’s a working mom who knows the region and brings a very real life sensibility and passion to her coverage of the stories that matter most,” said Baxter.  “We are very excited about her new role and her decision to continue to be a long term member of our news team.”

Craig Smylie

Craig Smylie

Also joining the weeknight anchor team at JET-TV and FOX 66 will be newly named Sports Director, Craig Smylie.

Smylie has anchored weekend sports on both JET-TV and FOX 66 for the past three years, after beginning his career in Lima, Ohio.  Craig “Let’s Talk Sports” Smylie is a graduate of Ohio University and has proven to be a favorite among area sports fans, players and coaches.  Smylie will be the very capable captain of Erie’s most aggressive television sports team, the home of the very popular and long running Friday Night Lights.

Sean Lafferty

Sean Lafferty

Also announced today was the appointment of news anchor Sean Lafferty as Managing Editor of Action News 24 and FOX 66.  In his additional new role, Lafferty will assist in responsibility for editorial content and direction of the evening newscasts and long range planning and implementation of strategic news initiatives.  Lafferty has been with Action News 24 for more than 20 years, and recently renewed a long term commitment to continue as the anchor of Erie’s TV news leader.

I think this is an excellent move for Nexstar, stopping the “revolving door” effect that the stations have experienced lately by elevating personnel that want to be in Erie, and excel at reporting about our town.

Raychel Vendetti returns to Erie TV

Raychel Vendetti

Raychel Vendetti

Just in time for holiday vacation relief comes news of the return to Erie television of former WSEE morning anchor/producer Raychel Vendetti. You’ll remember that Raychel along with Jennifer Mobilia was a causality on the on-air talent side of the merger of the Lilly Broadcasting newsrooms of WSEE and WICU back in June 2009.

This time, Raychel will have to take the long route up Peach Street to the studios of WJET/WFXP, where she says she’ll be “very part-time.”

The truth is I was contacted by Lou Baxter and asked if I would be interested in joining their crew as a part time reporter. Its on a very occasional basis – like Brian Sheridan. I have agreed and will work when they need me. I am excited to be back in the industry part time while I continue to develop the media production company my partner and I started after WSEE’s layoff.

That new venture, the LINEAR_ production house seems to be keeping her busy, but it will be great to see the spunky McDowell and Penn State-Behrend grad back on the beat in this town that she so loves.

Sights and sounds from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Erie reveal

It has been an amazing week for Erie, and that inherently includes its media.

If a 15-year flood, the appearance of the vice-president, and fatal fires were not enough, local TV, radio, newspaper and new media reporters provided non-stop coverage of the story of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s build of a brand-new home in Erie for Clara Ward. Her story is well-documented, and the entire community is celebrating with her and her neighbors as they have seen their east Erie neighborhood tremendously impacted by 1,000 volunteers decending to not only build the Ward home, but to do beautification throughout.

I want to share photos, video, and audio of the moments surrounding when the Wards arrived at their home. I spoke with a few of the reporters on the scene, and without a doubt there was a tremendous feeling of excitement and awe at how the community came together this week. As Mike Gallegher said earlier, the story is not the house but the people.

Here’s some pictures, with video and audio to follow:

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The “Move That Bus!” moment: