In TV news-speak, "without much fanfare" usually means no build-up and none of those embarrassing, sappy "Calvin-Knows-Miami" promos that will live on in perpetuity on YouTube long after Hughes is shipped back to the early morning show....or worse.
Now, I've got nothing against Hughes. He seems like a nice enough guy.
The kind guy who takes his kids to birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese or softball games on Saturdays.
But he just showed up in my living room one day with no notice....and no fanfare. He's got no chops. Where are his battle scars? Has he ever covered a drug war or a quadruple homicide? Where was he when we were up to our asses in dead bodies? Can't Channel 10 find a guy who's paid his dues on Miami's mean streets?
And let's talk about that delivery of his. Delivery that can best be described as somnambulant. This guy is the Mister Rogers of Miami TV news.
I can just hear the ABC honchos in New York calling Channel 10's news director. "Hey, Hughes is killing our ratings for Nightline and Kimmel. He's putting everyone to sleep!"
This is Miami! We work hard, play hard and drink hard.
We need an ass-kicker in the anchor chair. Not the host of a kids show.
Ass-kickers like Rick Sanchez and Sally Fitz.
Sally with her breathless, end-of-the world delivery and Rick "huffing and sweating, [racing] around town for his nightly Crime Check segment."
Rick's paid his dues. OK, so there was that embarrassing DUI thing a few years back, but we all make mistakes.
But Rick was an in-your-face anchor and Sally was many things but somnambulant was't one of them.
The Herald's Carl Hiaasen practically went into mourning when Sally and Rick split up. In a November 1993 Herald column Carl wrote:
Sally Fitz is leaving the air at the end of the year, and co--anchor Rick Sanchez is job-hunting in Los Angeles! It signals the close of a sensational era. Nightly news won't be the same without Rick and Sally.Congrats to Calvin Hughes. May you have a long run.
Ah, memories. It's impossible to open an atlas without thinking of Rick, squatting gravely over a vast map of Iraq while explaining the Gulf War.
And who could forget Sally's teaser line for a recent 10 o'clock feature: "Is the world really coming to an end? Stay tuned . . . " It turned out to be a minor story about cultists who believe in Armageddon, but I was already hooked.
Channel 7 is unabashed in its agenda. Viewers know to expect blood, raw gore and more. Rick and Sally aren't queasy about puddles of bodily fluid, close-ups of grieving relatives, or paramedics pounding the chests of lifeless victims. Other stations deliver the same pictures, but in smaller doses. Channel 7 mainlines the stuff.
Last spring, two friends from Montana came here for the first time. Feeling mischievous, I tuned the TV to Rick and Sally's cavalcade of gore. Jaws dropped. Gasps were emitted.
The first night, we clocked 17 minutes of murder-mayhem without commercial interruption. The second night, the streak ran to 19 minutes. My horrified visitors said they couldn't imagine living in such a dangerous place. As much as I like them, I was glad to hear it. The last thing Florida needs is more people.
Rick and Sally are a show-biz team, the Tracy and Hepburn of trauma TV. Replacing them will be almost impossible. The news stories might not change, but nobody else can deliver them with such a deft mix of revulsion, titillation and incredulity.
So maybe they do hype and tease. Maybe the world's not ending tonight. But when it does, I want to get the news from Rick and Sally themselves. Every lurid detail.
But in the meantime, does anyone know how to get a hold of Rick Sanchez?