Friday, August 31, 2007

Yeah... that was fast...

The grand experiment in Dallas, Texas is over, rather suddenly, five months after it began.

I'm referring to the hiring of former KCTV5 News Director Regent Ducas by CBS11. Ducas was "fired" Friday evening; General Manager Steve Mauldin said that Ducas had left to “pursue other interests.”

So, less than a half a year of being hired to turn around a moribund newsroom and news operation, Regent Ducas is left looking for a new newsroom to lead, or destroy as some might believe.

I’m somewhat torn by the whole thing. First, I think Steve Mauldin deserves a fair amount of blame for the experiment. He knew what he was getting in Regent Ducas, hell; it’s why he brought Ducas in the first place. Mauldin gave every indication of wanting to re-energize CBS11, until it came to actually going through with it.

Five months is hardly enough time to engineer a complete brand overhaul, especially when there’s another station in the same market that already has that style covered (in Dallas, NBC5 is considered the “crime station”). Mauldin also put the kibosh on the “First Five Minutes” branding that Ducas implemented. Again, a move that has been successful in Kansas City, how could you not expect Ducas to try it in Dallas?

It is also fair to argue that two book ratings periods, one major and one minor are also not enough time to gauge the success of a new brand. The counter argument is quite simple; Dallas is one of the Nielsen People Meter markets. Every morning, Dallas stations receive a detailed report of TV watching from the previous night, down to the exact number of households and demos watching the nightly programs. In that sense, every single night is a “book” night for Dallas stations, so Ducas has been in a permanent ratings book since his arrival.

I understand Regent Ducas is, at best, a polarizing figure, especially within the CBS11 newsroom where reports indicate staffers were… pleased to hear of his departure. Having worked with Regent for more than two years, I can honestly say, he’s the toughest news director you could possibly ever work for, but there’s also a lot to be learned from that kind of an attitude.

Would Regent’s style have worked in Dallas? Perhaps. The style was not working in Kansas City, until the major Perverted Justice sweeps series in February of 2002. That was the splash that finally built a core audience for KCTV5, but few remember that KCTV5 did not win February ’02, but it laid the foundation for winning books in the future.

As one of my co-workers said, “Once a news director, always a news director.” For better or worse, I imagine we’ll be hearing about a new job for Regent Ducas in the not-to-distant future.

2 comments:

mbieke said...

I'm surprised he didn't last longer than this. Even if everybody hated him, it seems like they'd stick with the experiment for at least a year...

andrea said...

When your station is already getting horrible ratings... I don't think you're as willing to plunge even deeper. More important though may be which station actually won the last book. After 5 straight years of being on top, NBC lost out to WFAA - a station that focuses more on in-depth reporting. One can only hope the crime, crime, crime reporting will slow down a bit!

(and yes... people meters change the market, but sweeps months are still watched very closely).

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