Her’s the deal. Jennifer Livingston of WKBT-TV in LaCrosse received a private communique from a viewer criticizing her for her weighty look on TV. A message that her husband, who also anchors at the station, promptly posted on Facebook.
Ms. Livingston in turn addressed—or confronted — the situation publicly on WKBT’s air and compared the incident to America’s growing problem of bullying.
Well, I too have an opinion on the matter.
I’m sure a lot of you will probably disagree finding it to be totally incorrect.
First let’s agree that commercial television these days—almost any show, even news— falls into the category of infotainment or advertainment. So let’s not split hairs.
And every station wants a leg up on the competition because the higher the ratings, the more they can charge for ad spots. That’s what it’s really all about.
So like it or not, but when a face at the station changes for the worse (or in this case, the fatter), news directors get nervous. And it doesn’t just have to be in the weight category. The wrong wardrobe, hairstyle, makeup, shrill laughs, poor transitions, can set off alarms in the GM’s office.
So it’s important that any negative occurs after the talent’s initial hire because if a person with a weight problem say is hired, good luck reprimanding them later.
The cleanest way out of sticky situations like those are for management not to renew the individual’s contract.
Think I’m kidding?
That’s why stations pay big bucks to consultants. These guys not only advise about air talent, they do one-on-ones with staffers.
And some of those discussions can be brutal.
They may call for changes in matters of appearance that could include – wait for it – weight loss.
I had a discussion last week with an acquaintance who recently retired from a network affiliated management position in television and a former anchor who dreaded the “demeaning ball busting sessions with those f****** out of town consultants.”
Both spoke on conditions of anonymity.
The ex-manager’s take: “HIRE a chubby, shame on me. Let her put on the poundage AFTER the hire, shame on her.”