NBC5 fall down, go boom

* Did you see this: News producers, writers and editors at NBC-owned WMAQ-Ch. 5 were told Wednesday they must reapply for new multi-faceted positions.

Wow.  Sucks for them.


I’M a news producer at NBC-owned WMAQ-Ch.5!

So I guess I’m out of a job, at least until I can prove my worth enough to be rehired.

homelessWe all knew this was coming.  The overhaul was first dropped on our corporate brothers at WNBC in New York, making everyone very, very sad.  Think about it.  If someone tells you your job no longer exists and you have to apply for a new job that might play to your strengths or might make you obsolete, with no guarantee of maintaining your salary, you might be slightly upset, too.

I did not attend the meeting where this was announced.  The e-mail we received didn’t suggest that this meeting was mandatory or even strongly recommended.  I figured it would be a casual “Hey, so we have some changes coming and we’ll let you know more later” meeting.  Instead it was THE meeting – the one where we all find out we’re out of a job.

I am not panicking.

First, I have no idea what the different jobs available will be.  (So far as I know, no one does.)  Second, I am freaking awesome.  With all humility, I believe I’m the best writer in this newsroom.  If I need to edit, I have more than a year and a half of daily editing experience to fall back on, not to mention all the video projects I crank out at home.  I am young and I love technology.  I have uncanny news sense and I am incredibly handsome.  Who wouldn’t want to hire me?

snowmageddonNot only do I continue to rock faces off every morning with my newscast, I also draw 5,000 hits a month to this blog.  My on-air stunts are major YouTube hits – 20,000+ for my weather rant.  10,000+ for Snowmageddon in just over a week.  What’s more, Snowmageddon has been featured on the G4 cable network and as I learned yesterday, it’s linked somewhere on npr.org.  NPR!  Show me anything else this station has produced that has been deemed worthy of notice by National Public Radio.

Hell, I even shot 90% of the video for our ghost hunt and used my camcorder to capture breaking news video of a high rise fire across the street from my apartment.

I am a one-man television wrecking crew.  If anything, I should be carried around on a throne made from melted -down Emmys.

But until I am rehired by the good people at NBC Chicago, I guess I’m a free agent.  And I’m willing to field offers.  (ben.bowman@nbcuni.com)

What will this mean for the blog?  It may vanish.  I don’t know if the new job will allow me time to crank out something this awesome during my newly-crammed work day.  Something tells me the push will be for multiple stories spread across the vast, barely navigable wasteland of NBCChicago.com.  But if you’re anything like me, you want all your awesomeness in one easy location.  More thean 300 daily readers agree.

There’s really only one way to be sure we can save the blog.  Leave a comment below so I can print them out and hand them to our hiring overlords.  Faced with The Will of The People, I’m guessing they’ll carve out a special Blog Czar position for me. 

Or maybe they’ll just laugh at me, tell me to shut up and lock me in an editing suite where I’ll be forced to cut video of snowplows and write things like, “The Chicago area saw a blast of snow overnight.  Driving is sure to be treacherous this morningzzzzZZZZZZZZZ…”

nbcI also recognize that even if I survive the Peacock Holocaust, this is all part of a rapidly changing economy.  NBC cannot program its primetime lineup to save its life.  How many hours does Howie Mandel deserve on national television?  A remake of Knight Rider?  This network is in a tailspin.  If primetime were more profitable, we may not be seeing these changes.  But our parent company is also a mess.  GE is on the verge of losing its AAA credit rating, whatever the hell that means.  This network, this company and this profession needs to scramble to find new money… and fast.

But as my coworkers and I stare into the abyss of unemployment, we recognize we are not alone.   This economy is laying waste to the American dream.  There’s the 93-year-old man who froze to death in my home state because a penny-pinching utility company cut his power.  People everywhere are looking for a little mental stability as the ground shifts beneath them.  And when all hope is lost, an entire family may choose a gun over endurance.

For God’s sake, the Post Office is talking about eliminating a delivery day.  Even those of us who save our money and invest in the country’s businesses are feeling the heat, crushed by a war we didn’t want, mortgages other people couldn’t afford and get-rich-quick schemes shady investors couldn’t pass up.

The bill has come due on a decade of excess, and we all have to pay.

hemingway2While I trust that my employer will see the value of retaining me, I know there’s a chance I could be let go.  And I worry about my coworkers.  In the Tribune article referenced at the top, our leader asks rhetorically if some of us will be Hemingways.  Considering how Hemingway met his end, I sincerely hope not.

* (Deep breath.)

* If there’s any hope for this country to turn around, it must come from President Obama.  What’s he up to now?  Oh, just trying to walk through a window.  He’s already able to walk on water, so it’s kinda surprising he had trouble with that.

* A ray of sunshine for my coworkers who aren’t rehired: nearly half of all Americans want to live somewhere else.  Considering we’ve had a week of temperatures in the teens, I can’t imagine why.  (Shakes fist at Chicago sky.)

* Speaking of Obama and our cold weather, the new President scoffs at Washington, D.C. for canceling school after a little snow.  Gee, Mr. President.  You sound a lot like a certain former news producer from Chicago talking about how weak it is to get in a tizzy over a little snowfall…

thinmintgraphicbig* Our economic troubles mean fewer Thin Mints in every box.  How can anyone even afford to let their kid be in Girl Scouts these days?  Shouldn’t they be out corn detasseling to raise money for the family?

* Boys with unpopular names are more likely to break the law.  So those idiot parents who named their son Adolf Hitler?  Yeah, that kid’s gonna grow up to murder somebody.

* Normally, I hate PETA’s ridiculous bids for attention.  But occasionally they use sex to try and sell us on vegetarianism.  They did with this Super Bowl ad and NBC shot it down.  I have watched this ad and enjoyed the scantily-clad women.  But so they don’t feel like they’ve won, I’m going to go to Texas de Brazil tonight to eat at least 16 different mammals.

lingerie-football* Props to Chicagoist for alerting me to the fact that Chicago has a lingerie football team.  (Insert “tight end” joke here.)

* Today, our Lego-haired Dictator will get one last hurrah before the Senate throws him out on his butt.  It’s a real shame he didn’t participate in the actual trial, because I suspect there was a chance he would have acted like this guy and smeared feces on his lawyer before throwing it at the jury.

22 responses to “NBC5 fall down, go boom

  1. I love your blog! I read it every day, first thing when I get to work. It is funny, witty, and brings to my attention stories I would otherwise not see. I hope they let you keep your job and your blog!

  2. What?!
    Ben’s Breakfast blog is must -see, must- read, must laugh blog!
    It cannot go away!

    I need to read/ hear his original, snarky remarks. And I need dish on the anchors.

    Ben the Blog Czar! I like it.

  3. heather widner

    save ben and the blog!

  4. As Congress and our country debate what to do to stimulate our economy it’s unfortunate nobody seems willing to tackle the enormous disparity that exists in this country of how our financial and credit institutions keep us a country divided. I am talking about the practice of charging deplorably high interest rates to those borrowers who can least afford them and giving disgracfully low interest rates to those who least need them.

    Millions of Americans every month are paying interest rates in excess of 30% on consumer credit. They are paying upwards to 20% on auto loans. Overage fees and late payment fees often take the effective interest rates in excess of 50%. These outrageous lender rates are being collected every month from hard working middle and low income Americans. They are NOT being assessed to those with higher incomes.

    The lender rationale for these rates and fees are couched in banker terms like “credit worthiness”. I am not going to get into an explanation or even an arguement over the justification, thats not my point here. I can even agree there is purpose and justification for rate disparity, however it has reached a level well beyond that which is justifiable. Remember even the Bible calls usuary a sin.

    Lets do a little math and make some simple assumptions to get some kind of a picture of the magnitude of this. Assume the average middle and low income American is carrying $5,000 in consumer credit and they are paying 30% in interest and fees. That amounts to $1,500 per year. If instead they were paying 10% (which seems still profitable for lenders who are borrowning money at rates below 5%) they would be paying $500 per year, resulting in a savings of $1000 per year. Lets further assume we have 50 million American households in this boat. That’s right… we are talking about $50 billion a year, which doesn’t seem a whole lot considering the financials just received $700 billion handout form the government.

    That $1000 back in the hands of those middle and low income consumers would have a huge impact on the family and an equally large impact on the economy and it would not cost the American taxpayer one dime. You would think even those on the far right would embrace the concept.

    Its time for this country to re-enact usuary laws. Lets save our economy and immediately set a 15% usuary cap. Lets bring some morality back to the banking and credit industry. They have raped and pillaged America long enough.

    We on the internet set the stage of change that has brought us President Obama. I ask all of you to take my challenged to re-post, email, copy and paste, rewrite or whatever you can to spread this message until the mainstream media and politicians start talking about this.

  5. Hey Ben-

    I’m an avid fan/reader of this blog. But, more importantly, I’m young, super-hip, and have so much disposable income that I store it in large aluminum buckets. For three out of the last four months in a row, I won ComScore’s “Desirable Internet Consumer of the Month Award”.

    I’m too handsome to watch local news on the television, so I rely on this blog to keep me current on all the Illinoise. Please, NBC, keep Ben around.


  6. Dear NBC Overlords-

    Do not fire Ben Bowman. Ben Bowman is awesome-ness incarnate. Ben Bowman saved me from a burning barge on a frozen river. Ben Bowman cured my dandruff, my athlete’s foot, my psoriasis, and he once kissed a small papercut I incurred whilst opening his fan mail.
    Ben Bowman should be knighted by the British Empire. Ben Bowman should be named a saint – don’t wait until he’s dead, or converts to Catholicism. Ben Bowman is better than a Dollar Store special on dozens of day-old packzis. If you fire Ben Bowman, then you’ll be losing the one good thing to happen to TV journalism since I was a producer.

    Yours truly, madly, deeply-

    Rob (not the anchor)

  7. Waking up before the arse crack of dawn is not fun, but the morning news stories and blog supplied by Ben make it easier to get through the day.

    Thanks to him, I’ve learned too much about Rob Elgas’ eyebrow(s), but too much info is better than none at all (The More You Know *shooting star*).

    Ben is sexy, sarcastic, and in need of a date (*cough*my friend is single*cough*and very interested*cough*)….. Please don’t take this blog away!

  8. To Whom it May Concern,
    The first thing I do when I get up in the morning (4:30am) is turn on Ben’s program. The first thing I do when I hop on my pc @ work is read Ben’s blog. To let this fine, intelligent young man walk away from your employment would be a big mistake. Someday when the rest of the world realizes his pure genius you’ll be kicking yourself. If you insist on changing any personal on the 4:30am newscast NBC5 will have one less viewer. I ask you….Do The Right Thing….bow to the will of the people.

  9. I’m not young and hip, I’m getting old and kinda cranky, but I love the blog, I love the 4:30 AM news!! Please keep it the way it is!

  10. Keep this Ben’s blog please. It’s awesome.

  11. Ben and the blog need to stay! Without it NBC will have a lot of depressed viewers! It’s the first thing that we all read to get our day going

    Besides, Ben needs us to help him find a date! :-)

    Ben and the blog are a must for NBC!

  12. Team Ben!

  13. I don’t get to read the blog until the evening, but, I look forward to it everyday! It is one of the best things on the internet and I love it!

    I hope you get to stick around Ben!

  14. noooooooooo! i love this blog – it’s hilarious – and tell all my friends to read it, even if ben does hate on jimmy buffett.

    please don’t stop posting!

  15. Ben, I am addicted to your blog, and I can’t face the day without my morning Andy Avalos fix. (By the way, I am a magazine editor employed by a newspaper company…and we know that the only business more precarious than magazines right now is the newspaper business, so I feel your pain…)

    Please, NBC, promote Ben to Vice President of Blog Operations! You won’t be sorry.

  16. The blog must be saved. Without the amazing writing skills of the handsome and talented Ben Bowman, how would anyone be able to have fun at 4:30 AM? How would I be able to enjoy my breakfast without the quick wit of the Breakfast Blog? I don’t know a time in my life when I have had to face this, and I do not look to face it any time soon.

    If Ben is fired, I would have no reason to watch the 4:30 AM broadcast. Well, Rob would have to be fired too, but I definitely wouldn’t like it as much without Ben.

  17. Please keep Ben’s blog going. He’s funny, articluate and has the pulse of Chicago. One of the most fun and interesting Chicago blogs out there.

    Too bad there is no RSS fee available.

  18. Keep Ben and the blog! The combination of news and humor can’t be beat!

  19. As for my comment on this, I can clearly hear the NBC Chimes in my head. And I have even wrote a three word jingle especially for this blog topic.

    Now, close your eyes and imagine that instead of the chimes you hear these words sung in tune with the NBC chimes “You got screwed”

    This three word NBC jingle could even proceed any political story.

  20. and oh, for michael phelps the jingle would be “BONG BONG BONG”

  21. We would like to use your picture of “Snowmageddon” on our school newspaper. Is the picture yours?

  22. It was created for NBC Chicago. As long as you credit us, that’s fine.

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