I have a story in the new issue on a couple newspaper veterans making fresh–and, according to their managers, very successful–starts in local television. The story is about Ted Nesi, who covers politics and business at WPRI Providence (mostly on the website, with a little on air time as well), and Charlie LeDuff, who writes an online column and does both investigative and offbeat commentary on WJBK Detroit.
I knew LeDuff’s work when he was a national correspondent for the New York Times. He had a Sunday column called Bending Elbows that seemed like just about the most plum assignment in the world: Check out some old dive bar, talk to the people who hang out there (and speak with the ghosts, if it’s one of those places), and paint a picture of the place for readers. Bending Elbows went perfectly with a Sunday morning bacon-egg-and cheese, a large coffee, and a hangover.
LeDuff stands out on air because of what he’s not: a polished reporter with made-for-television diction, coiffed hair, and bleached teeth. It works at the Fox O&O, which believes in trying some non-traditional stuff, which GM Jeff Murri spoke about when I profiled him earlier this month.
News Director Dana Hahn says viewers in DMA No. 11 seem to like Charlie. One email seemed to sum it up perfectly. It read something to the effect of, Who is this guy? Please don’t make him change–he’s a real person who represents the community.
Nesi, meanwhile, has developed a following among the business leaders and political kingmakers in Providence; GM Jay Howell calls them the “influencers” in DMA No. 53. It may be tough to quantify Nesi’s value to the station, but Howell says WPRI.com–which features “Nesi’s Notes” prominently on the home page–saw total visits climb 20-30% in March. “Ted is definitely a part of that,” says Howell.
Sharpening the station’s business coverage may also put WPRI in position to get that first call from one of the market’s influencers with a story tip, says Howell.