The people who know me best know full well I wanna go into the business of broadcast journalism. Ever since I was young, I appreciated the aesthetics of how it worked – how to cover a story (and, to an extent, not cover it), how to make your product sound and look the best, and so on.
Which brings me to a certain factor of news presentation – the music package. Frank Gari invented the modern news package – linking together various themes suited for different parts of the broadcast (weather, sports, etc etc), and linking them all with a mnemonic. A signature. Creating a package always starts from one station that wants a good look – the best in the city. Gari started that with Cleveland’s WEWS. A certain slogan… “Catch 5”.
As the 80s went on, Gari made a name for himself creating great news imaging packages that, in fact, were so good, at least one or two stations in each market wanted a piece of him. In fact, one of his best known works started in Atlanta and, until recently, enjoyed an over 3 decade run of existence. Not on that same station, no… Atlanta moves too damn fast. But look further into the East Coast…
Maybe a bit too fast. Unfortunately, nobody in Savannah had enough foresight to record a full newscast from 1988. So, let’s look a little to the west, circa late 80s…
They wore that slogan like a feather on a cap. For the better part of a decade, those singers reminded you what you were watching.
[forgive the odd coloring]
And even when that choir was silenced at the turn of the millennium, the spirit remained.
Our Georgian friends weren’t too far behind either. They so much as used the original cuts up to last month.
Last month. Yes, last month. Something happened with Gari’s company last month. Acquisitions. It’s too much to explain to non-news junkies, so I’ll just be plain. There’s another company that does news music as well – Warner Chappell [no relation to Warner Bros Pictures]. WC bought out Gari. As a result, for whatever reason, Raycom, the company that owns WTOC and WAFB [which were owned by Aflac at the time of their Newschannel-isation], faced an iffy offer, since the whole of their station group used Gari themes [don’t count their cluster in Hawaii – they used some production music until mid-last year].
Cue a music group in Texas headed by a guy named Stephen Arnold. Suddenly, he made a better offer. That cluster in Hawaii – they switched to a new theme by Arnold long before this ever happened. But at the time I’m writing this, not counting a certain Cleveland cluster, all of their stations have music by Stephen Arnold. You’re asking yourself, “What about WAFB?” Well…
And WTOC? ….what about it?
It just goes to show you, in today’s world, brand recognition is no longer sacred.
Unless you’re WPVI. But that’s another story.
So, here’s to the legacy of Frank Gari, to the two stations that carried one of his longest running themes… and to that theme itself. Long live the king.