The Communication Studio

Television News Talent Bank

Television News Research

Television News Research was a venture to provide a video library of newscasters to be used by local News Directors in order to identify and evaluate likely candidates for employment as on-air talent. Several of our top prospects were acquired for the NYC market within the year.

The Value Proposition

The Challenge

As Editorial and Technical Manager I supervised a small video editing staff in the creation of a national video "talent bank" of newscasters - cross-referenced by region & market, as well as rated ... by me. I "discovered" several news media stars.

  • My staff and I logged and libraried recordings of local news programs from the Top 90 Television Markets across the United States
  • We then edited representative examples of the individual newscaster's performance onto compilation tapes.
  • The tapes were organized and cross-referenced by appropriate criteria (a rudimentary form of tagging and content management).
  • In creating the compilation tapes, we also evaluated and rated the newscasters(more tagging), and produced News Bank guidebooks with relevant information.

The total task required technical expertise, the maintenance of rigorous standards, tight scheduling, and appropriate content strategy, timely product delivery and overall production quality control.

  • Our Library delivered more than 1000 "demo reels" of television news talent in the 300 top US TV markets directly to directors thoughout the nation.
  • Each demo featured 2.5 - 3.5 minutes of the newscaster's performance (intro, story, outro, banter)
  • The library was cross-referenced by relevant attributes (role, location, market size, sex, age ... plus the all-important value)

Drinking the Kool-Aid

Jonestown Bodies

Milk and Moscone

The video "sweeps" (when local tape studios recorded the raw news programs in each market area) were all done during the same 1-week period in late 1979.

As a result, the 1000+ lead feature stories that I edited .... and edited ... and re-edited ... all focused on the emerging shock and horror of the mass suicide at Jonestown.

Again, and again, and again...

... all except for the Bay Area. Due to technology limitations, the video sweeps there were made a little later, during the week in which Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone were assassinated in San Francisco.

Riots. The notorious "Twinkie Defense".

Interesting times... I had nightmares.


At the direction of their cult leader, the 900+ folks in the tragedy at Jonestown (including hundreds of children) dutifully imbibed poison-laced fruit drink.

Hence, the phrase: Drinking the Kool-Aid

The Upshot

The Television News Talent Bank package was purchased by major broadcast news organizations across the nation and resulted in more effective talent recruitment for those groups.

Computerized Talent Search using Virtual Video