Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cleveland’s Best News Anchors

In the past, I’ve rated Cleveland’s morning news shows, weather forecasters, and the stations’ web sites. But it’s time to get down to business and talk about the best news anchors in town. It’s a short list, divided mostly between two stations, WKYC Channel 3, and WJW Fox 8. Viewers may think that news anchors are only as good as the copy they are given and their ability to read a teleprompter, but it is more that that. There has to be a certain “something” that an anchor has in order to keep viewers tuned in. After all, the news content is the virtually the same for every channel.

Image WKYC
Cleveland’s Best News Anchor - P.M.
Romona Robinson, WKYC Channel 3

I started writing this blog yesterday – in my head – as I was tuned in to the 6:00 PM news, watching Romona Robinson. I found myself wondering what must be going through her head, sitting up there doing the news all by herself, since Tim White left the station. In fact, it stuck in my mind so much I had a dream last night that Romona was complaining to me that she was worried she wasn’t doing very well. I’m here to tell her, and all my other readers, that Romona is doing a great job sitting in the big chair all by herself. Frankly, while I enjoyed Tim White, I always felt that Romona was the star of this newscast.

Romona delivers the news in a very deliberate, no-nonsense way. She maintains a professional demeanor, and even when a humorous moment breaks out, she still maintains her poise. But for the most part, Romona is all business while she is delivering the news, and her steady style can be calming even when the news isn’t all that good. She also isn’t one prone to overly editorialize about the news she’s delivering, a habit of which many other anchors suffer. When I turn on the evening newscasts, I want the news and I want it quick and to the point, and Romona fits that bill perfectly. While I do not know Romona, she seems to be a class act. And that’s the kind of personality a station should want in the anchor chair.

PM Runners Up
Bill Martin and Stacy Bell, WJW Fox 8

Bill Martin and Stacy Bell may actually have the best chemistry of any anchor team in town. They deliver the news in a crisp, yet light manner. Their best trait as team is their witty dialog between stories, with Stacy often looking at Bill with half condescension and the other half disdain, while Bill looks back at Stacy like she’s got a few screws loose. It’s almost like a married couple. But they know when it’s right to be serious and when it’s OK to take a jab at each other. Why didn’t I make them #1? It’s because viewers can’t always rely on one or both of them to be doing the news when they tune in to watch. It’s so bad that Bill Martin is often ribbed on-air by his co-anchors and letters from fans about his frequent absences. Of course, Stacy has missed her share of time as well. At first blush it sounds funny, but trust me, it really does annoy the viewers when they turn on their news and get stand-ins more than they get the leads. Still, when Bill and Stacy are both on the air, viewers are guaranteed a good dose of the news with some entertaining levity mixed in. It's a real treat.

Cleveland's Best News Anchors - A.M.
Wayne Dawson and Tracy McCool, WJW Fox 8

Despite the fact that they make sure that their on-air clothing matches each other, one may think that this is the biggest mismatch of anchors in town. Wayne Dawson sometimes seems too stuffy and Tracy McCool sometimes seems a little too cheerful. But, over the years, this has formed a perfect balance for the delivery of the morning news, with a fast pace that gets you up and gets you going. They seem very comfortable working together, and that can make even the most hurried morning rush seem a little more calming. Some of their best moments, though, are unscripted and impromptu. For example, in a perfect example of teamwork, in this video below, Wayne steps in to save the day when Tracy loses her “McCool” while reading a news story that is too funny for her to handle.

Tracy Loses her McCool On Air

AM Runner Up
Mark Nolan– WKYC Channel 3

Mark Nolan took over the morning anchor desk at WKYC Channel 3 a little over a year ago. The role fits him well, much better than his previous role of forecasting weather, where it seemed he couldn’t wait to be done with his segment. But Mark seems quite at ease having to sit still for a few hours weekday mornings to do the news segment from 5:00 – 7:00 AM, and he brought the spark back and some needed energy to the morning news on Channel 3. His co-anchor Abby Hamm, however, still seems a little stiff and isn’t quite the right balance for Nolan to make this a real winning team.

Honorable Mention
Ted Henry – WEWS Channel 5

Ted Henry has been on Cleveland TV news almost forever. Based on information from the WEWS web site , he’s been at the station over 36 years. Herein lies the problem. Ted has been around so long that he blends into the woodwork. It could be that he’s taken for granted, both by the stations and the Cleveland viewers. Still, Ted’s delivery of the news is reliable and comfortable. But the excitement of the Ted Henry/Dave Patterson days (video below) are long gone.

Missing in Action
Channel 19 has no standouts in the anchor category. The big problem is the tabloid style reporting of the station, which sucks any credibility out of any news stories they present. Even Walter Cronkite sitting at the anchor desk couldn’t be considered a contender.

Classic Video – Dave Patterson and Ted Henry

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Anonymous said...

As someone who worked inside several stations in the market ... I would easily flip-flop your #1 and #2 choices.

Yes, Romona is professional on the air, but she will not be trusted to do breaking news solo ... something Tim White could do.

Election nights will not be very strong either ... in fact I'm sure Romona will be paired up with someone for those nights.

Also, there's a concern in 3's newsroom, not over the quality of the newscasts, but producing the show so Romona doesn't "feel" alone.

That's turning people off ... because instead of putting together the best newscast, you're producing so your anchor's feelings aren't hurt. Considering Romona doesn't lift a finger to help the production of that newscast, it's turning people off.

As for Bill and Stacey, who they are on the air is who they are in real life.

They are the team ... easy to watch, lots of personality, yet strong and professional in a crisis.

All Things Cleveland said...

Thanks for the feedback! I was rating the anchors based on the impression they leave viewers, who (like me) really aren't privvy to any behind the scenes issues. But it's always intesting to hear what goes on behind all those cameras!

Bill and Stacy are great - but their absences are a real issue. I've watched the show enough to hear them read back viewer comments on the issue and when they rib each other on the air about it. There is a saying omething like that for every one person who complains about something, that means there are 15 more out there who feel the same way but remain silent, so the problem may be bigger than they think. Based on feedback that I got from other viewers about Bill and Stacy, the absence issue comes up first and foremost. But they are great together, no one disagrees woth that. (Maybe they should stop making cracks about it on the air?)

Micael said...

Love this list, while I try to avoid local news where I can on tv. Not bad choices here at all. I won't comment much on the ranking, but do believe Ramona and Mark Nolan are solid choices. Both in my opinion have that certain Cleveland quality about them that seems to come through and they skew to my demographic too, which doesn't hurt.

I was very disappointed to see Tim White go, he brought an outside professionalism/dimension to Cleveland area news that I haven't seen from anyone else.

Anonymous said...

Fox 8 News In The Morning is the best, and Wayne and Tracy are great to wake up to. I am a big fan of both of them.

Anonymous said...

Romona Robinson is by far, the best and most qualified anchor in the city.
There have been two elections and she's handled both of them solo with solid poise authority.
I worked with her at 43' years ago and she was loved by all...helped to write, edit and report.
No ego...and that's saying something in that business.

Anonymous said...

Fox 8 and Action 19 has the worst comment pages. There are so many racist remarks and I personally feel that the station should clean up these comments and not let the racist get away with what they say. I have stopped watching both of these stations and I hope others do until they can clean up this problem. The anchors on all stations need to put more into themselves in order to make viewers want to watch.

Anonymous said...

Great page and I love seeing the old Ted Henry ~ Dave Patterson video. I do like Denise Dufala but, as you stated, being associated with the tabloid news just sucks and credibility out of her career.

Anonymous said...

I am a former TV reporter (though not in this market) and I beg to differ with all the praise being heaped on Romona. She lost me years ago at "mister-meanor." Although I understand she's a super-nice person, I don't watch 3 because of her constant mispronunciations and unclear delivery (and/or writing)
I also beg to differ about Ch 19. Style aside, they get the job done and I feel David and Denise are the best anchor team in town by far.

king said...

Cleveland has the sexiest news anchors ,in the country!

Flatfoot said...

Sounds like you are Mr perfect