In his two decades as a nightly on-air commentator at Baltimore's WJZ-TV, Olesker watched as the station tumbled from pre-eminence as one of the country's top-rated local affiliates-where the on-air news personalities included the two top-ranked anchors in the country, plus a young woman named Oprah Winfrey-to inglorious runner-up in its own market.
Tonight at Six offers a personal look at many of those public news personalities. But it's also a story about the decline of all TV news: how commercial considerations, short-sighted management, and the constant pressure of ratings forced the dumbing-down of local news programs around the country. It's the true story of how television stations purporting to cover the stories of huge metropolitan areas-their governors, mayors, city and county councils, school systems, police, criminal courts, neighborhoods, and more-quietly attempt this with no more than a handful of reporters.
How do they do it? As Olesker explains, they don't.
"While this account eviscerates three Baltimore network affiliates, the sad truth is that they are no worse-and no better-than all local TV news operations. Olesker paints a high-definition picture of the façade beneath the façade."
Ira R. Allen
Former UPI Reporter and White House Correspondent