Matt D. Jaquint

Matt D. Jaquint
'What we do is provide information for our local community'

January 10, 2017

"The world has changed," Matt Jaquint told Putnam Rotarians today.

"Back in the day," he continued, "news didn't happen until six o'clock. Now the world is just so fast. You've got to go live. People want to know things, even without all the details: 'Hey! There was a car accident. I don't know any of the details.'

"In the past, we never would have done that. We would wait until we had all the details and then report the story. But, now, people see the crash and put it on the iPhone.

"We had 200 million 'pages' last year.

"But our people are journalists," he said. "they are the ones who report the news that you're not going to get anywhere else.

"They are part of the local communities. They are here in Putnam County. They are here in Kanawha County, in Cabell County -- covering these stories.

Since July 2013, Matt Jaquint has been the General Manager at WSAZ-TV.

A native of Syracuse, New York, he had been Sales Manager for the local station before career stints in Indiana and Utah. But he wanted to come back to West Virginia.

The station once had three or four people in the traffic department, he told his Rotary audience. "Traffic is when the commercials would air," he explained. "You've got to line them up in spots. They were literally hand-written. Folks change their minds a lot, and it's a nightmare.

"We don't have a traffic department anymore. It's down in Tallahassee where people oversee 50 stations. Computers can work wonders."

WSAZ is owned by Gray Television which has 53 stations across the country.

Reporters once worked in teams. Now it's not unusual for a single person to handle camera, interview and editing.

"Most people don't want to talk on camera," said Jaquint. "I don't like to talk on camera myself. But good reporters get people comfortable."

"There are 210 TV markets in the whole country. They rank by number of households. New York is No. 1. We're No. 70.

"It's really a small world if you think about it. You get to know everybody pretty quickly."

As to local commentators: "If someone you like disappears, chances are they went to a bigger market. The viewers vote [by whom they watch], and we know who they like.

"If someone you don't like disappears -- chances are the viewers were right."

Viewer ratings are high for the station, he said. Despite high turnover in the broadcasting business, several of the staff at WSAZ have been there a long time.

The announcers are professional, and some of them enjoy a near-cult following.

"The only thing we really do at any of these TV stations across the country is the news. We don't make 'Wheel of Fortune' and 'Jeopardy.' We just buy them and hit the play button and they run.

"But we are always trying to be as local as possible."

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