August 1, 2008

INSIDE TV & RADIO <> Reporter at Rhode Island TV Station Takes Stand Against Sensationalism


An investigative reporter for the ABC affiliate in Providence, R.I., took a stand this week against sensationalism.

He quit.

Jim Hummel, the reporter behind the "You Paid for It" investigative segments on WLNE-TV for 13 years, tells The Providence Journal that "there comes a point where you have to take a stand."

Among the things that drove the 48-year-old Hummel to leave the station at the end of his contract was the mandate that he use words such as thugs and lowlifes to describe the subjects of his reports.

The station has posted a retrospective of his reports at, noting without elaboration that he had resigned.

But station management has told The Providence Journal that the broadcast style it is going for is "edgy" rather than sensational, as the station tries to battle out of third place.

For the record, there's no word on what Hummel thinks of TV's overuse of the term "breaking news."

CHANNEL SURFING: Eight-year-old Tony Capla is due to hit national TV this weekend with his imitation of a cow as the Milwaukee boy prepares for the Wisconsin State Fair's Moo-la-palooza competition. Among his stops is Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friend Sunday," which airs from 6 to 9 a.m. Another reported appearance on CBS' "Saturday Early Show" couldn't be confirmed. That show airs from 6 to 8 a.m. on Channel 58.

- CNN's Campbell Brown devotes an hour at 7 tonight to the nation's highways and bridges. Among scheduled guests for "Roads to Ruin: Why America Is Falling Apart" are California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

- NBC's "Today Show" originates from Beijing starting Monday to set the scene for Friday's beginning of the Olympics. Technically, it's a live broadcast. But it will have its usual delay on Milwaukee's Channel 4.

- Speaking of NBC News, it's hired the late Tim Russert's son, Luke Russert, as a "correspondent at large," according to The New York Times' TV Decoder blog. The younger Russert had an XM Satellite Radio sports show with his dad's pal James Carville.

- Neil Cavuto returns to Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network on Monday after being out for medical reasons since late June. He underwent surgery related to his multiple sclerosis.

- Dan Quayle's hometown newspaper, The Indianapolis Star, is shooting down talk that he'll be on the next round of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars." The newspaper quotes an aide to the former vice president as saying contact was made by the show, but Quayle's not interested.

THE PERILS OF LIVE RADIO: Jeff Wagner was trying to drum up some Brewers talk Thursday afternoon during a game-shortened version of his WTMJ-AM (620) radio show.

"It has been a very, very bad week for the Milwaukee Brewers," he said, noting that "the bottom has literally fallen out."

A minute or so later, he was saying, "It's not like the bottom has completely fallen out, but this has been an awful week."

Either the bottom has fallen out or it hasn't. (It probably has.)

Wagner shouldn't read this as a major criticism of his radio stylings. After all, it's not easy talking hour after hour, day after day into a live microphone.

But this one jumped out of the radio. Or fell out.

Reach Tim Cuprisin at (414) 224-2397 or [email protected]

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