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WISE TV? More like WDUM

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader

2005-03-21


Years ago, my parents had bank accounts at Lincoln National Bank. It was about a mile from our house, and they liked the fact it was so close.

Well, Lincoln National became Norwest for a while, then became Wells Fargo. Who knows what it will be in a couple years?

Anyway, I used to joke with my mother about these types of mergers. I said, “someday, everything will be owned by one person, maybe Bill Gates, maybe Donald Trump.” It would be one bank, one store, one auto maker, one movie studio, and so on. You’d do your banking at GatesBank, drive a GatesMobile, and see a movie at the GatesPlex made by Gates Century Fox. We’d all be shopping at GatesMart.

I guess now you can add television stations to the list.

The backlash against the merger of WISE and WPTA was immediate. Fort Wayne may be the dumbest city in the U.S., but most of its citizens are smart enough to know this merger was a bad idea. It also gives us an upfront glimpse of what mergers really mean. Who cares if Chase and Bank One merge? This one hit us where we live, literally.

I wonder what the reaction would have been if the merger had been between WPTA and WANE? WISE may have suffered from low ratings, but its viewers seemed to have a sentimental attachment to the station; perhaps of its use of homegrown talent, perhaps because the station backed local causes.

I’m not able to watch the 5, 6 or 11 p.m. news, so the merger doesn’t really affect me, but in a way it does. It’s the end of an era. Of the weather people in town, Greg Shoup seemed more right than his other colleagues; he accurately predicted a snowstorm that forced me to work my first 14-hour day in my life in order to get the next issue of the paper I worked for out on time. I’ll never forget Kent Hormann screaming, “the Komets win the cup! The Komets win the cup!” when I watched my videotape of the final Turner Cup playoff game in 1993 broadcast locally by WKJG. Of the three stations in town, WKJG/WISE seemed like the most real, the most local, and the most old school in the best way.

But now what? I’ve not seen it myself, but apparently the newscasts on “both” stations are nearly identical, complete with the same video footage. What’s the point? Why not just clone Linda Jackson and Melissa Long while they’re at it? Why not do “Survivor Fort Wayne: Anchorwoman Showdown”? It might be hilarious, and may bring in the viewers both stations are going to need, from the feedback I’ve seen so far.

And if WANE is paying attention, now is the time to really put out quality newscasts. From what I’ve seen, people vow to watch WANE, not necessarily because they have to, but because they see no real alternative in town. And if WANE is smart, they will deliver the quality local viewers expected (and got) from WISE, and not just sit back and relax. This merger was a wake-up call for everyone: viewers, staffers and on-air personalities.

GatesTV? TrumpTelevision? It’s already here, but under a different name. And even if we didn’t lose a job because of the merger, we all got fired.

Especially the viewers.

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