He's a real nowhere man,
Sitting in his Nowhere Land,
Making all his nowhere plans
Doesn't have a point of view,
Knows not where he's going to,
Isn't he a bit like you and me?
-The Beatles (1966)
In the summer of 2010, Channel 10 news director Bill Pohovey had a problem.
Less than a year before he'd gone through a messy, highly-publicized professional divorce from his main anchor, Charles Perez.
After a newspaper revealed some salacious details about Perez's personal life, Pohovey demoted Perez - who is gay - to weekend anchor.
Perez filed a discrimination suit and Pohovey retaliated by canning him.
Perez's departure meant that co-anchor Laurie Jennings would have to fly solo and without a co-pilot on the station's 6 and 11pm newscasts.
But Jennings' appeal and grasp of complex issues was roughly akin to that of a cup of day-old cottage cheese.
Pohovey needed to fill the empty seat next to Jennings, and fast.
So, in June 2010, Pohovey promoted Calvin Hughes to co-anchor with Jennings.
For three and half years, Hughes had co-anchored the early morning and noon newscasts with Kristi Krueger.
Hughes joined WPLG in 2006 after bouncing around the country anchoring newscasts in Philadelphia, Atlanta and Dallas.
On the surface, Hughes seemed like an ideal choice. He was telegenic, had a great voice and a smooth delivery.
But it wasn't long before some - including myself - began questioning Pohovey's choice of Hughes.
Hughes had no Miami street creds. He'd never covered a story in South Florida.
In promoting Hughes, Pohovey had passed over some of Channel 10's more experienced reporters, including Michael Putney, who is, unarguably, South Florida's most experienced and respected newsman.
As Hughes settled in to his anchoring duties, it soon became evident that he was in over his head. Sure, he had great pipes and he looked good, but that was it.
And, it wasn't long before some in Miami's TV news circles started to notice. "[With Calvin] it's scratch the surface and you get more surface. He's an empty suit," one Miami TV news insider told me.
Watch Hughes for any length of time and it soon becomes evident that something is missing.
It's as if someone programmed a computer to produce the ideal anchorman and what you got was a newscaster who was attractive, well-spoken but not much else: It's Ron Burgundy meets Sarah Palin.
Last June, as Michael Putney was wrapping up a live report on Florida Governor Rick Scott, he made mention of the news that everyone in Florida was talking about that week: a poll had found that Scott was the least popular governor in America.
As the camera came back to Hughes, with a blank stare, he posed a question to Putney: "Michael, did I hear you correctly; Rick Scott is the least popular governor in the country?" If Hughes had bothered to pick up a newspaper that week, he would have known the answer to that question.
Just last Thursday on the 5:30pm newscast, as Channel 10 reporter Ross Palombo finished a report from Miami-Dade County Hall, he "tossed" back to Hughes in the studio. Hughes responded by saying, "Thanks for that report from City Hall."
Hughes made the same mistake again at 6pm, this time time thanking Glenna Milberg for "that report from City Hall."
Hughes has been at Channel 10 for over five years now. But, one wonders if this guy ever reads anything on his own...besides what pops up on the studio's teleprompter.
I wanted to know, so I emailed Hughes after the newscast and I asked him pointedly, "Do you know ANYTHING about this town or are you just sitting there reading words the producers have written for you?"
His response was as vapid and vanilla as the man himself, "Bill, Thanks for your feedback and watching Local 10!"
Channel 10's website says Hughes has worked "as an anchor/reporter in three of the nation's top ten media markets" for 20 years. But a search of the Internet and newspaper archives in those cities reveals nothing of Hughes' work other than reports on his arrivals and departures from various TV stations.
Hughes calls himself a "journalist," but I found no evidence that he's actually practiced the craft. He's left no footprints.
More recently, I found no evidence that Hughes ever travels south of the Broward county line where he lives and works.
In my email to Hughes I asked him if he'd ever visited the neighborhoods of Liberty City or Overtown or the people of Little Havana or Hialeah. He didn't respond.
But, there's a line in a June, 2002 Atlanta Journal-Constitution story that might provide a clue as to why Hughes doesn't get out much.
In a story on Hughes' move to an upscale suburb of Atlanta called Cascade, the paper quoted Hughes as saying, "[I]t's a chance to be around people who are very successful and don't view you as Calvin, a celebrity living in the neighborhood. I'm just a neighbor."
And that's pretty much it in a nutshell.
Hughes doesn't want to be bothered by meeting regular people in the town his station covers. And he certainly can't be bothered with mundane, everyday tasks like reading a newspaper.
Channel 10 frequently points out that Hughes traveled to Haiti to report on the aftermath of the devastating January, 2010 earthquake.
In a video posted on the station's website, Hughes says the earthquake was the most memorable story he's covered and that the experience taught him to be more appreciative of "friendships" and even "air conditioned buildings."
WTF?? You cover an earthquake that leaves over 200,000 people dead, 300,000 injured and one million homeless and the lesson you take away from the story is that you now appreciate air conditioning?
Question for Bill Pohovey: What were you thinking when you hired this guy?