Sometime this month, several hundred aspiring television news anchors and reporters from across America will be launched into stardom or forgotten in oblivion, all in a dusky viewing room towering above Stemmons Freeway.
The Media-ERA Group, based in Dallas, is conducting its once a year blitz of 130 television markets. Company headhunters perused cities from Atlanta to Fargo, North Dakota, videotaping television news broadcasts. Their mission: To find ripe talent for the big time, namely, CBS and its five owned and operated news stations.
In May, The Media Associates merged with San Francisco-based ERA Research, forming the second largest television consulting firm in the nation.
So while the weatherman in Des Moines and the consumer reporter in Akron thought it was just another night, another show, their performance was being taped by a talent scout. Then it was taken back to Dallas, scrutinized, rated, classified, and fed into a computer.
The information is then used to fill the various personnel orders that come in from the five CBS news directors. For example, WBBM in Chicago calls Dallas and says it needs a black female reporter who can anchor weekends and specialize in business reports. Can the Group fill the bill?
The problem goes into the computer and twenty names are coughed out.