An interesting experiment in local TV was launched Monday with the debut of Jason DeRusha and Jamie Yuccas in the anchor chairs on the “WCCO Morning Show.”
For all the media attention DeRusha gets and generates for/about himself, this morning show gig may be the truest test of his popularity. The man is everywhere: Minnesota Monthly writer, contributor; Twitter: @DeRushaJ and @DeRushaEats; Jason DeRusha on Facebook; derusha.tumblr.com — and until recently he was also Mr. “Good Question.”
This new assignment is going to be a good litmus test of whether all these social platforms translate to ratings success. DeRusha recognizes what’s at stake, as he responded this way to my tweet saying that the pressure is on: “You’re telling me!”
WCCO-TV news director Mike Caputa told media he expects the station to do better than rating third among the four local morning shows. That is why DeRusha and Yuccas replaced morning-show anchors Mike Binkley and Angela Davis, who is married to a Strib colleague. Binkley and Davis, who were weekday morning anchors for five years, now co-anchor the Sunday evening newscasts and report during the week.
Monday Caputa told me that elevating DeRusha was partly about his social media profile “and the team that produces the show. But I think it is a good opportunity for him. He’s obviously a dynamic kind of guy.”
I asked Caputa how he thought the egos of DeRusha and Yuccas would wear together over time. “I would say she and Jason are both very talented and confident. Sometimes that works really well together,” said Caputa.
Sometimes it doesn’t (climbers have repeatedly not prospered in the WCCO newsroom).
DeRusha was asked about his reputation for having a big ego in my 2012 Q&A with him, although I personally find him humorously, even harmlessly, egotistical. Yuccas’ reputation for egotism has an edge as sharp as the blades used to cut her Kate Gosselin-inspired hairstyles. The most prominent buzz about her at WCCO has Yuccas allegedly ruminating over the prime-time anchor chair occupied by Amelia Santaniello, not Angela Davis’ former post.
“That is not true,” Yuccas told me Monday. “I have nothing but the utmost respect for Amelia. I interned under her and she was a great mentor and teacher, fantastic person and anchor.”
For morning viewers, who are extremely attuned to the chemistry between anchors, this may be invigorating TV.
Kessler the best — again
WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler is one of the best political reporters in the nation according to the Fix, a Washington Post blog. “The Fix asked for readers to name great political reporters they follow on Twitter,” reads a posting on WCCO’s website. “Kessler was named as one of the best.”
A March 2009 item by a member of the local MEdia called Kessler “the Twin Cities’ best political reporter.” I know talent. Nice to see the Fix playing catch-up.
Kaplans are back in town
Sam and Sylvia Kaplan have wrapped up their tenure in Morocco.
The now-former U.S. ambassador to Morocco and his wife were seen walking a dog along the parkway over the weekend. A staffer at the law offices of Kaplan, Strangis and Kaplan informed me Monday that the power couple have been back in Minneapolis a few weeks.
Cheers to Cheerios
NBC “Today Show” third-hour anchor Willie Geist didn’t sound surprised Monday about the racist comments on a General Mills Cheerios commercial featuring an interracial family. There were so many nasty comments, the comment feature was turned off.
In the comments section “on anything on the Web, you’re going to find ugliness and hatred; they’re some of the darkest places online,” he said.
Some people are just not going to enjoy seeing the 21st century.
C.J. can be reached at email@example.com and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count. Attachments are not opened.