Good Evening! I’m Kent Manahan


A New Jersey PBS anchor joins Channel Reports for a week

New Jersey ‘anchorwoman’ presents Channel Report

Cover of the Channel TVTimes
From the Channel TVTimes for 27 September to 3 October 1986

IT is lunchtime on a bright sunny day in Trenton, the capital of New Jersey, USA. In the leafy suburbs, Kent Manahan is arriving for work at the studios of the New Jersey Network. Through its headquarters here, and its studios in Newark and Absecon and via a series of transmitters over this densely populated state, the Network provides a six o’clock programme called The New Jersey Nightly News which is watched by millions of viewers.

Kent Manahan is the programme’s senior presenter (they call her an ‘anchorwoman’ in America) and a familiar face to virtually everyone in New Jersey. So it may seem odd to her to be in ‘Old Jersey’ presenting Channel Report to little over a hundred thousand people. But in other respects she may feel at home.

Over the years, Channel has had to watch the pennies; as the smallest of Britain’s fifteen independent stations it has never had the finance of the big companies with which it is often compared. Similarly, in New Jersey, Kent Manahan’s company is part of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) [sic – Service] which doesn’t carry commercials, but relies on a mixture of state funding and ‘pledges’ from sympathetic viewers. This makes their job precarious but the notion of PBS is increasingly attractive to American viewers after years of programmes interrupted every few minutes by the ‘ads.’

A woman and a man
Kent Manahan with Alastair Layzell – together they will present ‘Channel Report’

Although The New Jersey Nightly News occupies only thirty minutes every night, the PBS network as a whole carries mainly British material like Brideshead Revisited and long-running series like The Two Ronnies.

Kent devotes her mornings to her family (she has six children) which means that afternoons are particularly hectic. It takes her an hour to drive to work and between the time she arrives and the time she goes that evening, she might have to accompany a TV crew on an assignment, interview a politician in another part of the state via a microwave link, or add her voice to an item she has been preparing over several days. Later in the afternoon she rehearses the news scripts, does her own make-up, and is ready to go ‘on-air’ at six o’clock in what is always a ‘two-handed’ programme, presented jointly with another anchorperson.

A woman interviews a man
Kent Manahan interviews the Seigneur of St Ouen, Philip Malet de Carteret in New Jersey in March this year. See ‘One World, Two Families’ on October 3, at 6.30

We could not have produced Two Worlds, One Family (Friday, October 3, at 6.30) without the help of New Jersey’s PBS network. In March this year we took the Seigneur of St Ouen, Philip Malet de Carteret, to New Jersey to film a documentary about the family’s links with that state. Kent Manahan covered the visit and took the opportunity to remind her viewers that it was Philip’s ancestor, Sir George Carteret, who owned and named New Jersey and his cousin, Captain Philip Carteret who was the first Colonial Governor. It amused those people we met in New Jersey, as it amused us, that Sir George’s widow, Lady Elizabeth, sold New Jersey to twelve proprietors in the seventeenth century for just over three thousand pounds! Philip Malet de Carteret — a stockbroker by profession — thinks it was the worst sale of all time.

This week in Jersey, Kent Manahan will be exploring those historical ties in more depth. You’ll be able to see her reports in Channel Report which she will present jointly with Alastair Layzell. And in a few weeks, millions of viewers in New Jersey will see them too on The Nightly News.

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