Well, it seemed kinda promising.
A click on a website, an announcement of a new weekday morning newscast "focus[ing] on the news, traffic, sports, people, business, and weather focused primarily on Orange County" (there's a lot of focus, y'see), a looped video of some alleged plain ol' folks in the Orange Circle speaking scripted, poorly acted lines into a camera—"I'm tired of waking up to LA news! I want news from people who know Orange County! Why can't anyone tell me what's happening where I live?"—and then, Nancy Aziz, co-anchor of the new Daybreak OC morning news show on KDOC, steps in:
"You asked for it, Orange County!" Aziz threatens.
"We are delivering," warns her fellow anchor, Pete Weitzner—mic in left hand, jacket flung over his right shoulder like he's doing Really Important Stuff. We remember Weitzner from his days at the Orange County Newschannel, the Register-birthed attempt at an OC-centric, CNN-style 24-hour cable news station that lasted from 1990 till 2001. Six years after OCN's demise, Weitzner is still stiffer than a week-old corpse—unless he's half-asleep, which would explain the amateurish quality of the operation. Watch him as he jabs his finger at you:
"It's not LA news. It's your news, Orange County." Yay.
Daybreak OC debuted on KDOC—the station that made Wally George an icon—on Sept. 10, a two-hour (6 to 8 a.m.) weekday block of news and info that's designed to suck eyeballs away from The Today Show and Good Day LA.
We DVRed the Sept. 18 and 19 shows and found it to be positively ROTFL. Good luck, Daybreak—you'll need it. Some highlights:
-The layout of their broadcast is hard to look at, unless you've got a TV screen that's larger than 50 inches. A CalTrans traffic-camera feed is set up in the upper-right corner, but it's impossible to tell what freeway you're ogling. Every so often, Weitzner blows it up to deliver the traffic report, when he insists we're looking at the southbound 57—even though the screen says northbound. He and Aziz both do this throughout the show.
-There's congestion at the 405 and 710, Weitzner warns, a spot that's "somewhere near Seal Beach." Try about 10 miles from Seal Beach—and the Orange County line. (We briefly tuned in to Daybreak during its debut week, when they had a guy whose job was to do the traffic report. He's since mysteriously disappeared. Funding problems already?)
-The text and eternally annoying news crawls are rife with spelling errors—made all the more obvious, since Daybreak is broadcast in high definition. "Asphault" we can let slide, but screwing up Irvine as "Irivine"?
-Weitzner reads a story about methamphetamine hearings in Washington, D.C., but the video shown is of the Phil Spector trial. Wait—doesn't the Spector extravaganza qualify as "LA news"?
-More local Orange County news: A sinkhole is threatening to swallow up a house. In Florida. And a rabid fox bit a teenage boy on the leg. In Texas. Just so viewers are fully informed of these potential threats to the quality of OC life, the stories are broadcast five times apiece within Daybreak's two-hour timespan.
-Best Story Ever: La Palma just got named the 16th best town in America by CNN Money.com, and Daybreak is all over it—with a report worthy of The Daily Show, minus the wildly guffawing audience. "So, what's in La Palma for visitors?" asks overly giddy field reporter Julie Koch. "Nice schools. A Carl's Jr. Quiet neighborhoods. And this—the La Palma Car Wash. La Palma also claims some excellent lawns." (Cut to a montage of impeccably manicured La Palma front yards.) Beautiful.
-O.J. O.J. O.J. O.J. O.J. His murdered ex-wife Nicole is buried in OC, but neither Weitzner nor Aziz mentions that.
-On the news crawl, where there had been news blurbs, there are now KDOC promos: "It's a Kelsey Grammer Love Fest tonight!"
-There's a half-assed effort to report on the Edwin Chemerinsky fracas, and Daybreak airs an audio-only interview segment with the UC Irvine law school dean-to-be, as his photo is shown. The ID at the bottom of the screen: "Voice of Chancellor Michael Drake."
-Weitzner's favorite story on the Sept. 29 broadcast is clearly this one, which he delivered in a bizarre, slightly breathless pitch—the only time the man ever really came alive: "No Goldilocks, but three black bears trying to take a nap in a New Jersey hammock. Check it out!" Weitzner salivates, as the wild animals romp away. "Only in New Jersey!" (Huh?) An hour later, as the bear story is about to be repeated for the fifth time that morning, Weitzner introduces it with "You don't want to miss this story!"
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Uh, yeah, you do, as well as the rest of Daybreak OC. It took four months of planning to come up with this?
But maybe we caught the show too early, when they were still figuring out how to plug things in. So we checked again Oct. 2 and saw they had ditched the fugly, illegible, multipaneled Windows look, so now you have to stare at a larger Weitzner head. The crawl is gone, too, but the screwups are still plentiful. Weitzner teased video of the Angels pep rally, then had to backtrack when it wasn't ready to roll. (And when it finally did, the graphics called the team's home "Anaheim Stadium"—it's "Angel Stadium.") Aziz garbled both John Lackey's and Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett's names. One of the local news stories included a blurb about tree-sitting protestors . . . at UC Berkeley. Rideshare Week was billed as a "Top Story." And the capper: A mere seven minutes into the broadcast, Weitzner gave us a Britney Spears teaser.