Phoning It In at Channel 9

Local television has gotten more sophisticated over the years, even in mid-size markets such as Denver. But remnants of small-time cheesiness remain, and thank goodness, since they infuse the increasingly slick medium with much needed charm.

The anachronistic phone-in segments regularly featured on Channel 9's a.m. news block are an amusing example of this phenomenon. Many mornings, volunteers are shown sitting around a table waiting to answer questions on specific topics -- and they're often called on to pretend that someone else has dialed up even when the line is as dead as Alexander Graham Bell.

That's what happened during the May 27 broadcast, which featured a "Business Line 9" segment that urged viewers with questions about small businesses to lob queries at several on-hand experts. No one was taking advantage of this opportunity when the camera captured the assembled crew members just after 6 a.m., however. They were chatting among themselves, and one fella even had his arms crossed -- at least until someone off-camera told them to look busy. In an instant, all of them lunged for the phones and launched into pretend conversations. The folded-arms man really went the extra mile, saying something into the receiver and then pushing the hold button in order to take another faux call. That guy oughta be in pictures!

Sure, it was silly, but in a good way. If only more newscasts earned such an honest laugh. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts