By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Forgive the folks at KTVT-TV Channel 11 if they feel more job pressure than we do right now. There, it seems, corporate is getting quite involved. The local CBS news affiliate, which has been stockpiling talent but that still alternates between third and fourth place in the evening news ratings, has a new general manager: Steve Mauldin, who actually headed the station in the late '80s when it was an independent but who most recently turned around a CBS station in Miami.
No one is exactly sure what this means for KTVT, which has hired a lot of good, mid- and high-priced talent (Tracy Rowlett, Robert Riggs, Mary Stewart, news director John Miller, several others) in an attempt to take the ratings lead from KXAS-TV Channel 5 and the quality banner from WFAA-TV Channel 8. A year or so ago, Buzz asked lead anchor Rowlett if CBS would continue to hire and nurture good people even though the ratings, while improving, aren't up enough. "So far [Mr. Handsome Buzz], the network has been completely supportive," Rowlett said.
Now, though, you'll understand if station employees are concerned that Mauldin replacing former GM Brian Jones means that he must do what he did in Miami: take a ratings cellar-dweller and quickly whip it into shape, Nielsen numbers-wise. "They [CBS] want higher ratings right now," says an off-air staffer. "That's why he's here. That's the fear."
How did Mauldin--who did not return phone calls Tuesday--succeed in Miami? Well, one smooth move he made was to hire a sexy young DJ he saw on the cover of Miami Metro magazine and make her the station's entertainment/lifestyles reporter. Buzz endorses the hiring plan, but, really, does this sound like a man who will co-exist easily with an investigative reporter like Riggs? Perhaps. And perhaps Buzz will land Jennifer Connelly soon. Let's all keep hope alive.