Life is a progress, and not a station.– Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you want to make enemies, try to change something.– Woodrow Wilson
Things were so simple before the big Miami TV switcheroo of January 1989. We (WCIX Channel 6) were an independent station, with a low-rated 10PM newscast. Channel 4 (WTVJ) had been a CBS affiliate for four decades. Channel 10 (WPLG) was ABC’s South Florida home, and ditto for Channel 7 (WSVN) and NBC.
But then NBC rocked the boat by buying WTVJ Channel 4, the long-time CBS affiliate. Everyone just assumed CBS would turn around and buy Channel 7, since it was losing its NBC programming. But NO! WSVN owner Ed Ansin played hardball with the big boys, potentially leaving CBS without a home in South Florida… unless it bit the bullet and bought our low-rated, signal-challenged station. (See more on that HERE.) With the sale becoming official, WSVN looked like it was the big loser, destined to scramble for cheap, crappy programming, and destined to sink into the depths of South Florida ratings hell. At least that’s what conventional wisdom would have had us believe.
No one ever told Ed Ansin, GM Bob Leider, and news director Joel Cheatwood about conventional wisdom! While the rest of us thought Channel 7 was about to bury itself, the boys in North Bay Village were dreaming and scheming, thinking so outside-the-box that the box practically burst. If WSVN had to become an independent station… well, why can’t it be the number one indie station in the country? So promised GM Leider, as you’ll see in the following video clips from 1988. Damn if he wasn’t right.
This was before Penny Daniels and Sally Fitz had become hyperbolic; before Rick Sanchez became a lead anchor; when folks such as Bud Fraga and Marianne Murciano still did news the old-fashioned way. This was before Channel 7’s Inside Story further blurred the lines between journalism, infotainment, and tabloid trash. You will hear Carmel Cafiero say “I will miss NBC”, but that sentiment would not be echoed by the station’s brain trust. Their creative, inventive, provocative, compelling, sleazy, salacious approach to news not only changed WSVN forever, but this market as well. This ain’t the 80s anymore. Roll over Wayne Fariss, and tell Richard Whitcomb the news!
(Also see our previous entry about WSVN here.)