The posts you see on www.CohenConnect.com are simply my thoughts on this world of ours. Very little is planned. It’s usually whatever I’m thinking about at a particular moment, maybe looking at it from near or watching it on the news from far. We may agree or disagree, or change each others’ minds. Your best chance at that is a comment in the box on the bottom of every post, and your best chance not to miss anything is to subscribe and get an email every time I post (on the bottom of every page).
I retagged this blog, “These are the times to remember” (Billy Joel lyrics pluralized), realizing that most of what I write is an important memory on my mind, important enough to write about, and maybe yours, that shouldn’t be forgotten. Here, we have a place and your two cents in the comments section can go a long way. (Plus, I update a lot there.)
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I’ve been an award-winning TV/Web news producer up and down the east coast, and also an elementary school teacher, spending years helping people get information as a journalist, and children get an education as their teacher.
You could say I successfully sold TV newscasts and web articles to the public for more than ten years, and sold lessons to their kids for eight more.
Now, I’ve decided I’m ready for a new challenge.
I’ve been writing for this blog for three years but I’m also taking a series of five courses that will lead to a certificate as an IT support professional.
Computer technology has helped me for years as a TV newscast producer, web producer, blogger and even elementary school teacher.
In fact, since I had a classroom website, my principal decided I should be the school’s electronic grade book manager. That meant assisting the other teachers when we transitioned from actual grade books on paper, to entering grades and attendance on the computer.
But of course, I couldn’t do any job without IT professionals, wherever I was working, to help whenever the computer got stubborn. (That’s my nice way of putting it.)
Philadelphia is a huge city with dozens of neighborhoods. There’s a lot more than the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and other historic areas and museums!
Now, I’m going full circle and learning what it takes to solve problems and get computers running. That way, I’ll be able to help people in any profession get their work done in the least stressful and time-consuming way possible.
I’m taking with me – from newsroom and classroom experience – how to prioritize, analyze areas of concern and determine the proper course of action.
In both fields, I figured out the results I wanted meant attention to detail, and going the extra mile by maintaining contact, following up and not leaving until the job was done right.
I’d been considering information technology, along with my interest in financial planning, while producing the website and Facebook pages at Fox‘s WTXF for 15 months and eight days. (That’s May 2, 2016 through Aug. 10, 2017, but who’s counting?)
Despite that last statement, I was a major part of the team that brought WTXF-Fox 29 closer to beating the highest rated station in the country (WPVI-6ABC) on social media. That was until my departure, halfway through the 3rd quarter of 2017. This is the evidence. The article links show performance in the top 5 markets. Just scroll down to Philadelphia, which is market #4. Then, I share commentary in the links after the 1st quarter of 2018.
- Better overall 2017-18 station share rankings vs. powerhouse WPVI while I worked at WTXF (source: Share Rocket):
1st quarter, 2017: WPVI 49.08, WTXF 33.48;
2nd quarter: WPVI 45.89, WTXF 38.57;
3rd quarter: WPVI 43.5, WTXF 39.09 (I worked half);
4th quarter: WPVI 44.01, WTXF 33.48 (noticeable decline without me);
1st quarter, 2018: WPVI 46.86, WTXF 30.77 (Fox 29 underperformed and its market share dropped).
- Better overall 2017-18 station engagement numbers vs. powerhouse WPVI while I worked at WTXF (source: Share Rocket):
1st quarter, 2017: WPVI 9.918 mil., WTXF 6.716 mil.;
2nd quarter: WPVI 7.703 mil., WTXF 6.534 mil.;
3rd quarter: WPVI 7.735 mil., WTXF 7.046 mil. (I worked half);
4th quarter: WPVI 7.848 mil., WTXF 5.957 mil. (noticeable decline without me);
1st quarter, 2018: WPVI 11.333 mil., WTXF 7.321 mil. (Fox 29 underperformed and its market share dropped).
Three other successes: I met several nice people, worked with some I’d worked with before, and learned a lot about the industry but also what large corporations had become, since I hadn’t worked for one in many years. I prefer when “The buck stops here,” as Harry Truman used to say. Things work better when decisions can be made in-house rather than relying on others in different cities.
Unfortunately, I had to write too many over-the-top articles on shootings, crashes and fires on a daily basis – and that’s when I was doing actual journalism. Otherwise, I had to search the competition, European tabloids and other places for feature stories and write them in nauseatingly emotional ways on Facebook so people couldn’t help but click, despite such little value.
But I’m happy the job got me back to the place I consider home.
I started out in the industry taking in video feeds at WSVN-Miami, the TV station closest to where I grew up. That was on April 4, 1994. Over three years, I worked my way up to writer and producer, and then moved on to WFSB-Connecticut, WCAU-Philadelphia and KYW-Philadelphia. I put together newscasts covering the most important stories of the day. I led teams collaborating on all the necessary jobs, and eventually discussing last-minute changes based on video, live shot, writing and other production needs.
Some of those stories were the O.J. Simpson trial, the Miami ValuJet crash, Elián González, President Clinton’s impeachment, JFK Jr.’s deadly plane crash, 9/11, a lot of elections, and many infamous hurricanes.
Family brought me back to Florida. I bought a condo on South Beach, and learned to produce websites for CBS’ WFOR-Miami, sister-station WBFS-Miami (UPN), and former sister-station WTVX-West Palm Beach (UPN/WB).
That was precisely before brushes and some hits from storms like Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne (2004), and Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Ophelia, Rita and Wilma (2005, the most active Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history). That season actually ended in January 2006 and the final six storms had the names of Greek letters – Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon and Zeta – because the original list of names ran out! Our website broke records as people around the world watched our
newscasts’ (actually, our around the clock, 24/7 coverage) live stream.
I was lucky, enjoying hard work at all hours (even one Yom Kippur afternoon, without eating, going in with the possibility my information could potentially save a life) and suffering no more damage than a cracked windshield from a tree branch at the station.
Then, I reinvented myself and used news producing skills to teach 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade elementary school classes, and perform extracurricular responsibilities like the school’s website for eight years. I’m proud of that and enjoyed much of it, but won’t do it again. (Click the links for all the details. I wrote a lot about this period of time.)
I missed the news writing and took a Digital Media Manager opportunity at WCYB in a foreign culture – the Tri-Cities of Tennessee and Virginia, “not the Bible Belt but the buckle” – where the experience and mountain scenes were great but the area seemed so small and spread out.
I wrote for the web with Lakana’s Content Management System. It’s CMSs that get the writing, pictures, links and more onto the web. I published articles and video, and publicized them on social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In fact, I decided to start this blog using WordPress.
My time at WCYB was when I realized how much newsgathering technology had changed since my last TV job. Also, the people coming out of college to be producers, reporters, photographers and editors (not to mention multimedia journalists, or MMJs, who drive out and do the last three, all by themselves!) were trained in everything AND young enough to be my kids! Luckily, experience counts for something, so we were able to complement each other.
It was probably the best job – being a department of one within the newsroom, and meeting with the other department heads including general manager daily – but Philadelphia called and I thought long, hard and returned.
So that’s my story.
I’m proud I’ve done pretty well and was fortunate enough to take time off when making important decisions. Very few people get a chance like that.
Again, be sure to subscribe on the side or bottom of every CohenConnect.com page, to get an email whenever I publish. You’ll see some old and new work – what I choose to read and write about, uncensored – and relive experiences from over the past few decades.
You can also read what I’ve been thinking about on my Twitter feed, @feedbaylenny. Click the link or see it on the side of or below blog posts, depending on whether you’re using a desktop, tablet or phone.
Saving the best for last: Besides work and other interests, I’m uncle to Preston, Logan, Betzalel, Noam and Tali; and dad to cats Casey and Frisky!
Enjoy, and feel free to comment on relevant topics. There are opportunities below each post.