WBBM-Channel 2 to hold contest for next traffic reporter
By Lewis Lazare Media & Marketing Columnist March 15, 2011 4:50PM
Left to right, Steve Bartelstein, Susan Carlson and Megan Glaros, of the WBBM Channel2 early morning news team.
Updated: May 10, 2011 8:54PM
Think you’ve got street cred? Then CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 wants to hear from you. The station said Tuesday it is launching a contest to anoint one lucky Chicagoan as the new traffic reporter to work alongside the WBBM early morning news team of Steve Bartelstein, Susan Carlson and meteorologist Megan Glaros.
The contest winner, who will be announced May 18 and begin the gig on May 23, will be handsomely rewarded for his or her ability to stand in front of a camera and clearly and concisely inform viewers about rush-hour traffic. Initially, the contest winner gets a three-month contract that pays $25,000. If all goes smoothly, the winner could parlay the tryout into a full-time job with a $100,000-a-year salary.
Some in the local TV business were quick to label the contest a gimmick, but Channel 2 executives just as quickly countered the criticism, saying they were eager to circumvent the all-too-familiar process of hiring on-air TV talent. That typically involves agents submitting videotapes of very media-savvy (read “slick”) clients.
Doing it a different way, WBBM hopes to discover a fresh star — a cab driver, perhaps, or a young adult who just happens to know rush hour traffic patterns backwards and forwards. If promising candidates don’t have much experience working in front of a camera, a WBBM spokeswoman said the station would gladly help polish their skills.
The road to victory in the Channel 2 contest won’t be easy. Applicants within the Channel 2 viewing area over the age of 21 must first enter online at www.traffictryouts.com. Applicants must also submit a 30-second video explaining why they should be selected.
Channel 2 management will review each video and select 75 semi-finalists for an on-screen audition. They will be asked to do an actual traffic report and take a written test about Chicago commuter routes.
A panel of media experts will evaluate the performance of the semi-finalists and narrow the list to 10 finalists who will each be featured on a WBBM early morning newscast. The public will be able to vote for their favorite candidate at the dedicated website www.traffictryouts.com
The evaluations of the finalists by Channel 2’s on-air morning news team, coupled with the public vote, will determine the contest winner.
The traffic tryout contest will have a dedicated sponsor, the Walter E. Smithe furniture company, which will be mentioned frequently as the contest unfolds.