Sheinelle Jones, a co-host of the third hour (9-10 a.m.) of NBC’s “Today,” says her buzzword is ‘authenticity.’
She further says she learned about authenticity during her tenure at Channel 29 where she spent several years as co-host of “Good Day Philadelphia” and gives specific credit for that lesson to her fellow anchor there, Mike Jerrick.
“’Good Day’ was a major part of my career,” Jones says by telephone from New York on the day before she’ll return to Philadelphia to accept the Gold Medal, a prestigious award conferred by the Philadelphia Public Relations Association to people who advance the image of Philadelphia.
“Every day I would sit next to Mike and saw how he would respond to each story or segment as was appropriate. He could be lighthearted and joking one minute. Then, some somber news, usually a breaking story, would come across the desk, and he would easily and sincerely change mood and tone to match that of the story.
“Mike’s change was not some studied turnabout. It was a sign of his authenticity and sensitivity. He was moved by the news, and he knew instinctively how to make the transition from a possibly funny moment to a serious one.
“I saw this. It affected me. I not only saw the human side of it but how it affects communication. If you are authentic, the viewer will go with you. I realized the best approach is to be yourself and to be attuned to the story at hand.
“I took this approach with me to ‘Today.’
“When I first got there, I thought about being on national television, on a national newscast, and how I should be. I felt that I had to button up a little and not be as free as I was with Mike on ‘Good Day.’
“I quickly realized that wouldn’t work for me and wasn’t the best for the show or the viewer. I couldn’t go backwards. Being my true self, and in the here and now of a story, was the right path. I immediately went back to being the authentic me. That felt right. That felt comfortable. I know well I can’t hide myself behind a veil.”
Jones has been at “Today” since 2014. She has been on the team of “3rd Hour Today” since 2019.
When she’s not on the air, Sheinelle says she prefers to shed the trappings of celebrity and tend to her family, her husband, Uche Ojeh, who she married while at “Good Day” in 2007 and her children, Kayin, age 13, and twins Uche and Clara, age 10.
“One benefit of working early in the day is I get to go home and spend significant time with my children. These days, that means a lot of soccer and that Saturdays will never be my own.
“Since COVID, I developed the habit of picking the children up from school every day. I take them to various activities, including playdates. Everyone is busy, and I like the combination of work, marriage, and mommihood. I feel that my life runs at 100 percent, and it’s all fulfilling.
“I’ve also come to a point, in my mid-40s, where I’m consciously taking some care of myself. I make sure my family is OK while I give some attention to me and make sure I take care of my health and reserve some time for me.”
In addition to PPRA’s Gold Medal, Jones recently received a Grace Award, named for comedian Gracie Allen, given for stories that are important to women. It was for producing a television show, “Stories We Tell: The Fertility Secret” and was about women who have trouble conceiving children.
“I am a news person. I report the news. I never thought of producing, especially something involved as a documentary. The subject, what women do in order to have children, called to me. I do not have this to deal with, but I knew several women that did and realized it was an important issue in general and to African-American women in particular.
“The documentary tells the story of five women and what they endure. Producing it took a lot of work, but it taught me something – if you have an idea, go for it.
“I went for this passionately. It was story I knew needed to be told. The Gracie affirms that.”
The Gold Medal also means a lot to Jones.
“Philadelphia is an important place in my life. I was born here. I was married here. I had my children here. My father lives here. My career matured here. I am grateful the city did not forget me, and I never forget what this city means to me, how it shaped me, including professionally during those days with Mike.
“One thing about Philadelphians in general – they are authentic. A Philadelphian doesn’t look at anyone as a celebrity. If a Philadelphia has something to say to you, he or she will come right up and say it. I appreciate that. It’s part of me. So is Philadelphia.”
Phillies fans need more Larry
Scott Franzke needs Larry Andersen.
So do Philadelphia Phillies fans who follow games on radio.
Franzke and Andersen as a combination continue the tradition of lively chatter and interesting commentary that characterized the team’s conversational approach to play-by-play and analysis that was begun by Byram Saam and Bill Campbell and famously practiced by their replacements, Harry Kalas and Rich Ashburn.
When on the air with Andersen, Franzke is light and funny. He calls a sharp, descriptive game, but he sounds as if he’s having fun, and you know he loves his badinage with Andersen.
Listening to Franzke with one of the former Phillies players who rotate on the mike because of Andersen voluntarily reduced schedule, you’d think he had no personality at all or any clue about how to keep his broadcast bouncing buoyantly along.
The tone of the shows Franzke does with Michael Bourn, Kevin Stocker, Erik Kratz, and Chad Durbin is workaday. It has no sparkle. The conversation sounds more forced as if the announcers are struggling to find something to say.
Television play-by-play has become a dull affair since the passings of Kalas in 2009 and Ashburn in 2007. The radio team of Franzke and Anderson always made up for the smart badinage missing from the bland television commentary. Their radio broadcasts exuded life, humor, and camaraderie. Especially because Franzke and Andersen were a sharp, critical pair who taught key factor of baseball as they bounced jokes, mild insults, astute observations, and entertaining stories off of each other.
Time may see that kind of rapport develop with Bourn, Stocker, Kratz, and Durbin, but so far Franzke seems ordinary and diminished when he doesn’t Anderson to wrangle or conspire with.
This surprises me. I always thought “bright” would always be “bright.
No such luck.
Even when Franzke tries to take the lead and engage with his mikemates in conversation, it doesn’t work. The former baseball players accompanying him have to work on being more varied, flexible, and funny. Their knowledge of the game is undisputable. They just have to learn how to impart it better or more entertainingly.
Their general simplicity of presentation affects Franzke. There are times when I’ve wondered ‘who’s at the mike?’ because of how much verve is missing from Franzke’s tone and delivery when working with anyone but Andersen.
Bad award shows
I have to face it. Award shows are doomed.
I am a fan of such shows and have been willing to accept that sometimes they might be dry and boring. I took the attitude I was an interloper at a private industry ceremony, and all went swimmingly.
Now award shows try too hard to entertain above all else. If only the effort was handled with wit, intelligence, or even competence!Last week’s Tony show might be the worst I’ve even seen. In the same year the Oscar broadcast was definitely the worst.
It’s harder to take when the Tonys fail as a program. After all, they celebrate excellence in live entertainment, nothing less than the art, craft, and ingenuity of putting on a show.
This year’s ceremony lacked the one thing the theater depends on, wit. The opening number had none of the style or cleverness of the years when Neil Patrick Harris was the show’s host, and you kept going to YouTube to see his routine one more time.
Ariana DeBose has a lot of talent and was generally praised for her performance as Tony moderator.
I disagree. I thought she was without the theatrical polish hosts such as Harris and Hugh Jackman brought to the role and without the class and elegance with which some distant hosts, such as Angela Lansbury, endowed it.
I admired DeBose’s pluck, but every time she came on, the word that popped into my head was “amateur.” It was a good thing DeBose is generally likeable because she never grabbed command of any scene or situation.
The best part of the Tony broadcast was the scenes from the various nominated musicals, some for Best Musical and some for Best Revival of a Musical. By seeing them, you understand how “Paradise Square’s” Joaquina Kalukango triumphed over more familiar performers to earn the 2022 award for Best Actress in a musical. It was also fun seeing Billy Crystal extend his opening number from “Mr. Saturday Night” to contain a riff about scat singing in Yiddish.
Highlights were fewer than instances when camera choices spoiled dance numbers of failed to put key performers in proper focus. Worst of all was the fruity overwriting describing what different artists involved in a show do. It was a wonder the presenters could deliver such drivel with a straight face and sincerity. I know my eyes rolled as each new category was so clumsily defined.
At least producers had the sense to choose Chita Rivera, a bona fide Broadway legend, hand out the ultimate award of any Tony ceremony, Best Musical (“A Strange Loop”). It made up for the categories deliberately not covered on the primetime broadcast because producers have deemed them too uninteresting to hold viewer attention.
Next up are the 2022 Emmy Awards, which will air at 8 p.m. September 12, on NBC (Channel 10). Nominations to be culled from 171 dramas and 118 comedies began being submitted last week. In about three weeks, we’ll know the results of that process.Let’s hope the Emmy show brings televised award ceremonies back to standards.
Neal Zoren’s television column appears every Monday.
Source: Berkshire mont