Photog’s comments too `Mad’ for WXXA

Aug 20, 2001  •  Post A Comment

A former news photographer is trying to syndicate his minute-long commentaries to TV stations after his own station decided to drop them out of fear of offending advertisers.
Wayne Perry, who was a news photographer at Clear Channel Communications-owned Fox affiliate WXXA-TV, Albany, N.Y., also created and licensed a weekly in-your-face commentary to the station called “Wayne Perry’s Mad Minute.” In January, the segment began airing each Monday on WXXA’s 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. newscasts. On Aug. 7, the station stopped airing the commentaries because in one segment he talks about fast-food companies such as McDonald’s and Burger King. That segment, which was supposed to air Aug. 6, never ran.
“The general manager said it was hilarious, but we can’t air it because [he said] `I don’t think Burger King and McDonald’s has a sense of humor,”’ Mr. Perry said. “He said, `If I run this I’m afraid they won’t advertise on our station.”’
Mr. Perry was once a crime reporter at the station and received an Emmy nomination in 1998 for his series on kids and guns. He has been doing commentaries as a side business and hopes to syndicate them to other stations.
In one commentary he attacks the medical profession for not focusing enough on women’s issues. He has also done pieces about real heroes in society, such as police officers, firefighters and moms. But he got in trouble with Clear Channel’s top brass for a commentary on televangelists because he used video of Kenneth Copeland, a TV preacher whose shows air on WXXA.
“I believe it’s wrong to make millions off of God,” Mr. Perry said.
Mr. Perry no longer works for the station in any capacity.
WXXA General Manager David D’Antuono was unavailable for comment last week, but WXXA News Director Dave Brown said Mr. Perry quit his job as a cameraman on Aug. 2 because he did not want to work a different schedule of hours. Mr. Brown said the fact that the station decided not to air any more of his commentaries is unrelated to his photographer job because the station paid a weekly licensing fee for the commentaries.
“Wayne operates a side business and he’s a vendor, and that’s a separate issue,” Mr. Brown said. “As a vendor, we had asked him about changes to one of the commentaries, and he didn’t want to do that. I wouldn’t allow any vendor to dictate what they want. It’s a syndicated product, and we weren’t happy with it and we didn’t air it.”
Mr. Brown said the station tried to coax Mr. Perry into making changes to the “Mad Minute” commentaries and Mr. Perry resisted, and “that’s what changed the relationship.”
On Aug. 10, Mr. Perry and about 20 viewers showed up in front of the station to protest the cancellation of the commentaries. He was also on local talk radio stations, which are also owned by Clear Channel. He is now working to get on Fox News Channel’s “O’Reilly Factor” and also plans to syndicate his edgy “Mad Minute” segments to other stations.
“We were trying to take issues of everyday things that everyday people talk about,” Mr. Perry said of his commentaries. “I get 200 e-mails a week, which is a lot for a little station.”