As we put yet another year of local television news to bed, we can only ponder what we will wake up as the next year dawns. As is my tradition, I do the prognosticating for you -- so you can roll over and go back to sleep.
-- While doing a "Larry On The Job" segment, working at other people's livelihoods for a day, KDKA reporter Larry Richert will take over the responsibilities of a local television news reporter.
-- The location of the new WPXI headquarters, in Spring Hill, will force its news staff to do live, outdoor broadcasts from somewhere other than "Television Hill." This will lead to a heated standoff between Kimberly Easton and KDKA's Paul Martino for prime camera angles on the North Shore. I predict Easton takes Martino out in the first round.
-- As more and more people tune out local TV news to get their information elsewhere, WTAE will choose to adopt the "less" approach -- in the form of clothing. Wendy Bell's steady decline in news and clothing coverage has not gone unnoticed by this crack reporter. I therefore predict that the day will come -- sometime in mid-July -- when Wendy will just show up topless. This will work out for her, since on her now-defunct blog she had previously written about how difficult it is finding clothes for her allegedly flawed, rail-thin body. Not to fear, Wendy: Naked is the new power suit.
-- And speaking of defunct blogs, and the blogs we wish were defunct, WTAE's Web site, thepittsburghchannel.com, will stop publishing online blogs written by its "talent" pool, as this defeats the purpose of showcasing the "talent" in the first place. (The lone exception is Bob Mayo, who is actually talented -- and a reporter -- and so of course hosts his own blog, far, far away from the WTAE site.)
-- WPXI morning news anchor Bob Bruce will stay awake for the morning news, realize how awful it is, and pursue a career as a real-estate agent.
-- Mary Robb Jackson, Channel 2's queen of melodrama, will break down in tears after reporting about a bunch of baby ducklings who were rescued from a sewer. (She will cry even more after admitting on air that it is too late to do the same with local television news.) Afterward, Dr. Maria Simbra, KDKA's medical reporter, will narrate a canned segment from "independent" news source UPMC about how to deal with job burnout.
-- Someone at Channel 11 will realize that Kevin Benson has been working for WPXI since 1987, meaning that it is time to begin grooming him for the Dee Thompson "unnecessarily hazardous spot news" beat. His first assignment: a consumer report about which golf clubs are the best deal … delivered from atop Mount Washington while wielding a Big Bertha driver in an electrical storm.
-- KDKA political editor Jon Delano will do a feature on his favorite local bakery, where he always orders six bear claws and a half-dozen bear claws.
-- Despite KDKA's efforts to make certain that we provincial Pittsburghers don't confuse anchor (and CMU graduate!) Sonni Abatta with newcomer meteorologist Valerie Abati, hordes of viewers will continue to confuse the two (who are practically doppelgangers to our aging-demographic eyes). This will prompt station management to force Sonni to change her television surname to Skies. This move, of course, will prove even more confusing to local viewers, who will assume Sonni has been relegated to the weather department. The confusion will soon end, however, when Sonni is picked up by a bigger market and returns to her given last name. Local message boards will lament the loss of Abatta -- um, Skies -- for months, perhaps even years.
-- A viewer in Pitcairn will experience a seizure while watching the dizzying HDTV graphics on WPXI. The station will pay compensatory damages with a new, larger HDTV set, and pay for cable and related services for one full year. It will also promise to feature the viewer in an upcoming promotion.
Now that you know what to expect in 2008, you can get back under your covers. That's a wrap.