Wednesday, June 24, 2009

CBS' 'Early Show' needs major changes

My wife loves CBS' "The Early Show."
She is in the minority.
While the show's producers may tout it as the fastest growing early morning show, viewers are paying much more attention to NBC's "Today" and ABC's "Good Morning, America."
After being involved in media professionally since 1972, I have a few suggestions.
If CBS wants to do better in the ratings with their morning program they are going to have to do one thing. They must focus on the viewer instead of the hosts.
The absolute worst segment on network TV was aired in the midst of massive job layoffs around the country. What did "The Early Show" do? They sent the three hosts off on extravagant trips.
I realize the idea came from "Today's" segment on "Where in the World is Matt Lauer?" But the "Today" segment was based on a educational computer game, "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?"
CBS' version had no point, other than to say, "Look how special we are!"
I wanted to scream at the TV, "It's not about you!"
Another segment that illustrates the point was the mini version of "This is Your Life." Who were the subjects? The co-hosts, of course.
"It's not about you!"
Until recently, the bumpers around commercial breaks were all about -- you guessed it -- the hosts.
Who cares?
Now the bumpers seem to focus more on candid shots of their celebrity guests and that is an improvement.
I could mention the time Rodriquez insisted on quoting her banker as an authority when interviewing the head of the FDIC or some other real banking authority.
It's REALLY not about you, Maggie.
Recently Rodriquez and the other female host were "on assignment" which probably means someone decided to fix the show's network problems by tweaking the appearance of the women.
You know a show is in trouble when the substitute hosts do a much better job than the regular hosts.
It wouldn't hurt for the show to focus less on celebrity journalism. I really don't care about Jon and Kate and their eight kids. If I did, I would watch them on TLC.
When the show focuses on something newsworthy, it does a credible job.
While CBS has fallen from its height in TV news, it still has a few good reporters -- young and more mature reporters.
No one wants a morning show to be all hard news, but you should at least thing the hosts care about you. Harry Smith acts as if he cares about the viewers. I wish he could instill that in the producers and his co-hosts.
OUr local CBS affiliate, WTHI-TV, Terre Haute, does a wonderful job with local news, even in the morning.
They seem to care about the viewer much more than the "CBS Early Show" -- even when WTHI-TV completely misses a local cut away or the anchor hiccups through a news break.
Come think of it, I want to scream at here, "It's not about you." Maybe she belongs on the CBS "Early Show."