‘Silver Fish Handcatch!’: Detroit Anchor Uses Twitter To Engage TV Audience

By Kevin Eck 

While many TV stations use social media like facebook or twitter to connect with their viewers, Detroit anchor Stephen Clark may have found a way to translate those clicks and tweets into viewership.

In the video above, the anchor for the Detroit ABC affiliate WXYZ tells the story of his ongoing twitter conversation called #backchannel.  He relates how his eyes were opened to the power of twitter when a social media guru who goes by the name of @charliecurve threw down a challenge by tweeting, “I’ll bet if we can get 100 people to retweet this, @sclarkwxyz will close the 11pm news by saying “Silver Fish Handcatch!”  The phrase comes from an Old Spice commercial where the pitchman finishes a spot by catching a silver fish and saying, “silver fish handcatch!”


Much to Clark’s surprise, the tweet got the 100 retweets and opened Clark up to a wellspring of stories from the community that might have previously been overlooked.  Most importantly for WXYZ, Clark’s twitter conversations are changing the dynamic of how a TV station relates to its viewership.

The #backchannel draws thousands of uniques every month, according to Chip Mahaney, senior director of local digital operations for E. W. Scripps told NewsLab. “It is a lively robust and significant conversation that wouldn’t have been built without the newscast, and they’ve leveraged that conversation into real world connections.  “I think it has grown their audience,” Mahaney said.