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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Nov. 26) -- pratfall for Dancing with the Stars finale

@unclebarkycom on Twitter
ABC’s 2,768th edition of Dancing with the Stars came to a halt Tuesday night, with Glee co-star Amber Riley the latest Mirror Ball belle.

The D-FW ratings were lackluster, with DWTS averaging 291,153 viewers from 8 to 10 p.m. The lower-rated first hour, which drew 269,849 viewers, was beaten by both NBC’s The Voice (312,457 viewers) and CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles (284,052 viewers). CBS’ Person of Interest then topped the 9 p.m. ratings with a night’s best 376,369 viewers.

The Voice likewise ran first among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds from 8 to 9 p.m. . DTWS also was beaten by Fox’s New Girl from 8 to 8:30 p.m. while tying with NCIS: Los Angeles for the full hour. The 9 to 10 p.m. portion of DWTS regrouped to finish first in this key demographic.

CBS’ annual Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer reprise reigned in total viewers from 7 to 8 p.m. with 241,444. But ‘Dolph dipped to third among 18-to-49-year-olds, with Fox’s comedy combo of Dads/Brooklyn Nine Nine taking the top spot and ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D running second.

In Tuesday’s local news derby results, CBS11 edged WFAA8 for the most viewers at 10 p.m. while WFAA8 cruised with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 remained in full control at 6 a.m. with another doubleheader win and also swept the 5 p.m. Nielsens.

The 6 p.m. firsts went to CBS11 in total viewers and Fox4 in the 25-to-54 measurement.

The November “sweeps” ratings period ends on Wednesday. We’ll have full local news results sometime after Thanksgiving.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Nov. 25) -- NBC/ABC again split prime-time spoils

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Monday night’s potent pair of talent competition shows again won/lost their time slots from 7 to 9 p.m.

ABC’s Dancing with the Stars drew 362,166 D-FW viewers to whip NBC’s competing two-hour chunk of The Voice (312,457). But the Peacock reigned among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds during those two hours, by a score of 149,808 viewers to Dancing’s 87,931. DWTS also was beaten in its first hour by Fox’s new Almost Human, which had 100,958 viewers in the 18-to-49 age range.

NBC’s The Blacklist again swept the 9 p.m. hour -- among the Big Four broadcast networks -- with 319,559 total viewers and 104,214 in the 18-to-49 demographic. But the 9 to 10 p.m. portion of ESPN’s Monday Night Football (49ers vs. Redskins) had the most 18-to-49-year-olds in that hour (130,268).

CBS had another dismal Monday, running fourth from 7 to 10 p.m. in both ratings measurements.

Over on KTXD-TV (Ch. 47), the locally produced The Broadcast at last showed a pulse. For the first time in recent memory, the program had a measurable total viewers audience in each 15-minute increment from 9 to 11 a.m. Its overall average of 15,623 total viewers was good enough to outpoint TXA21’s 9 a.m. airing of Dr. Phil (7,811 viewers) and Fox4’s syndicated Bethenny (11,361 viewers from 11 a.m. to noon).

The Broadcast also had a bigger audience than CW33’s locally produced Nightcap, which barely registered from 9 to 10 p.m. with 3,551 total viewers. As previously posted, Nightcap will be replaced at some point early next year by an anchor-less, newsreel-style newscast called NewsFix. It currently airs in Houston on CW33’s Tribune-owned sister station, KIAH-TV (CW39).

In Monday’s four-way local news derby competitions, Fox4 ran the table at 6 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. WFAA8 did likewise at 10 p.m.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Nov. 22-24) -- Cowboys and Kennedy (plus some D-FW TV news notes)

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A frigid day, a late-starting game and more down-to-the-wire 4th quarter drama from the Dallas Cowboys were perfect combinations for Fox Sunday.

The Cowboys’ 24-21 buzzer-beating win on the New York Giants’ home field averaged 1,448,665 D-FW viewers from 3:25 to 6:40 p.m. It marked the first of Fox’s seven telecasts this season to draw a bigger crowd than any of NBC’s three Sunday Night Football Cowboys games. This one surpassed the 1,327,943 viewers for the New Orleans Saints’ Nov. 10th 49-17 demolition of Dallas.

The audience dwindled to well below one million viewers by the time that one ended. But Cowboys-Giants drew its peak crowd -- 1,718,515 viewers -- for the final minutes of action. Remarkably, that’s more than twice the 809,548 viewers who hung in for the closing minutes of Cowboys-Saints.

Through 11 regular season games, the most-watched Cowboys matchup is still the Sept. 8th prime-time opener against the Giants, which averaged 1,542,061 viewers on NBC.

Sunday’s other marquee attraction, NBC’s overtime showdown between Tom Brady’s victorious New England Patriots and Peyton Manning’s lead-blowing Denver Broncos, stretched all the way to 11:22 p.m. A total of 660,421 viewers stuck around for the final minutes, with game averaging an identical 660,421 viewers overall.

That was easily enough to cream ABC’s competing American Music Awards, which averaged 319,559 viewers. The AMAs also were beaten from 8 to 9 p.m. by AMC’s The Walking Dead (347,964 viewers with an eye-popping 231,226 of them in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 age range).

CBS’ top prime-time attraction, a “Red John”-infused episode of The Mentalist, drew 305,356 viewers from 9 to 10 p.m.

Saturday’s college football parade had two big winners, even though Texas teams lost to out-of-staters in both of them.

CBS’ “Johnny Football”-spiked A&M game against dominant LSU averaged 404,774 viewers on CBS. Oklahoma State’s prime-time destruction of previously unbeaten Baylor (on ABC) then drew the same number of viewers. In each case, audiences tailed off as the games dragged on. Oklahoma State-Baylor peaked at 504,192 viewers from 8:30 to 8:45 p.m. LSU-A&M hit the same high from 5:45 to 6 p.m. (with the Nielsen numbers rounded off to the nearest one-tenth of a point in both cases).

Friday was marked by the city of Dallas’ noon commemoration of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination. It was carried live on Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8, CBS11 and KTXD (Ch. 47). Here are the total viewer numbers from noon to 1 p.m.:

WFAA8 -- 120,722
NBC5/CBS11 -- 106,520 each
Fox4 -- 56,810
KTXD -- 7,101

WFAA8’s subsequent commercial-free special on its live coverage 50 years ago then averaged 142,026 viewers from 1 to 3 p.m. That easily more than doubled the station’s audience for Katie from 3 to 4 p.m. (56,810 viewers) and the 4 p.m. local newscast (49,709).

KTXD’s live commemoration ceremony coverage was part of a 12-hour JFK tribute, with former WFAA8/CBS11 anchor Tracy Rowlett serving as the principal anchor alongside Iola Johnson, Troy Dungan, John Sparks and others. The final hour, from 6 to 7 p.m. as part of the regularly scheduled Texas Daily program, drew 28,405 viewers to lead all KTXD programming Friday.

In prime-time, NBC’s two-hour network JFK special drew 170,431 viewers in the 8 to 10 p.m. slot. The first hour, which had a significantly larger audience, nipped ABC’s competing Shark Tank by a score of 198,836 viewers to 191,735. But CBS’ Hawaii Five-0 won from 8 to 9 p.m. with 220,140 viewers before the network’s Blue Bloods had the biggest audience in the 9 p.m. hour (also 220,140 viewers).

Shark Tank again had prime-time’s biggest audience in the 18-to-49 demographic.

Friday’s four-way local news derby results were paced by WFAA8. The station won at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. Fox4 as usual swept the 6 a.m. competitions.


Armageddon failed to materialize Monday morning (Nov. 25th) after dire warnings all around.

“We do have some ice, some ice in Stephenville,” WFAA8’s chief weathercaster, Pete Delkus, said rather wistfully. He also talked up “rain with a few pallets of sleet” in the more immediate Dallas area.

Rival stations made do with their regular early morning forecasters rather than call in featured nighttime guys to, in a sense, “big-foot” the coverage. WFAA8 kept a.m. weather guy Greg Fields around to serve as Delkus’ wingman. He’s long been perfectly capable of carrying the ball on his own. But perception-wise, WFAA8 made it seem as though Fields wasn’t up to the task by bringing Delkus in -- in severe weather shirtsleeves, of course.


The University of North Texas Libraries in Denton will be housing three decades of vintage KXAS-TV news film after a donation from the station announced Monday.

Thousands of film reels from the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s are included. KXAS originally signed on as WBAP-TV in 1948 and “soon after began broadcasting news by splicing together film shot daily by station photographers,” according to a publicity release.

“ ‘The Texas News’ was a pioneering newscast format developed by a few WBAP staffers in the 1940s and early ‘50s,” says NBC5 vice president of programming Brian Hocker. “The film in this collection was at the heart of the original television news programs of the day created specifically for North Texans.”

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

CW33's Nightcap to be supplanted by NewsFix


Charlie Behrens anchored Friday’s JFK-themed Nightcap. Photo: Ed Bark

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Uncertainty coated with chaos has long been the norm at Dallas-based CW33. So here we go again.

According to several sources, staffers were informed last week that Nightcap, the station’s 9 p.m. comedy-infused “Different Kind of News,” will soon cease to exist. It will be replaced by NewsFix, which currently is in full view on Houston’s KIAH-TV (CW39).

NewsFix is an anchor-less, newsreel form of news presentation in which an off-camera narrator leads viewers along. It requires fewer staffers, although those still employed at Tribune-owned CW33 are hoping this won’t be another major purge.

“Exactly who is staying and who, if anyone, is going, remains to be seen,” said a staffer.

As part of the transition, KIAH producer and former reporter Steve Simon will be joining CW33 as the station’s new news director. Denise Killian, no longer with CW33, was the latest to cling to that position. Joe Young, who had been KDAF-TV’s (Ch. 33) general manager since 1995, retired last month. His successor is Roger Bare, who is doubling as KIAH’s general manager.

There’s no definite timetable for the onset of NewsFix, which will be produced in CW33 studios while also continuing to share material with KIAH. But sources expect the switch-over by spring of next year at the latest.

Friday’s uncommonly sober edition of Nightcap, on the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, was anchored by Charlie Behrens with an assist from meteorologist Kevin Roth, who joined the station in early October.

Nightcap had its CW33 premiere on Nov. 1, 2012 after about half of the station’s news staff was cut loose. It was hosted by Spencer Harlan, Danielle Vollmar and Amanda Salinas.

Salinas, who remains with the program for now, was the lone holdover from CW33’s previous and somewhat more traditional newscast. The other three featured personalities, all of whom have either left or been laid off, were co-anchor Walt Maciborski, meteorologist Rebecca Miller and sports anchor Dave Crome.

Nightcap has been severely ratings-challenged since the outset. The Thursday, Nov. 21st edition drew just 11,363 D-FW viewers, with 6,188 within the advertiser-prized 18-to-49 age range. In sharp contrast, Fox4’s competing 9 p.m. newscast had 269,849 viewers with 123,755 in the 18-to-49 demographic.

(For the Houston angle on this story, here’s a link to blogger Mike McGuff’s post.)

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Nov. 21) -- bad weather high for Fox4's 9 p.m. news

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Local TV newscasts and their advertisers are head over heels in love with the threat of bad weather. Even better is bad weather itself.

On Thursday night, the threat phase kicked in and kicked up the ratings for Fox4’s 9 p.m. local newscast. All it took were warnings about frigid temps -- and maybe even some freezing drizzle -- for Friday’s 50th anniversary JFK assassination commemoration. Check out these numbers.

From 8 to 9 p.m., a new episode of Fox’s Glee drew 127,823 D-FW viewers to run fourth in its time slot behind ABC, CBS and the NFL Network’s New Orleans Saints-Atlanta Falcons game.

Fox4’s news then trampolined to 269,850 viewers to outdraw all competing programming at 9 p.m. I’m no mathematician, but hand-held calculator technology says that’s more than twice the crowd for the preceding Glee.

The 9 p.m. news likewise dominated among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, drawing 123,755 viewers in this moneymaking demographic. NFL Network ran second in that hour with 100,958 viewers in the 18-to-49 range while ABC’s Scandal came in third (71,647). It’s maybe a little too cold today for management to throw an ice cream social at Fox4. But perhaps free popcorn for all? Sorry.

In other prime-time results, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory as usual had Thursday’s biggest crowd in both ratings measurements. Its followup act, The Millers, likewise was a two-time winner but with only about half the overall crowd for Big Bang. ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy then ran No. 1 across the board in the 8 p.m. hour.

Meanwhile at KTXD-TV (Ch. 47), the station is still experiencing pretty much mass viewer rejection after ending its affiliation with the ME-TV network on Halloween.

Its biggest draws Thursday were 3 to 5 p.m. reruns of Fantasy Island and Charlie’s Angels, each with 7,101 total viewers. ME-TV’s menu, which had a wealth of old Westerns during daytime hours, typically drew three or four times that number.

On the homegrown front, Ch. 47 again had “hashmarks” (no measurable audience) for both its 9 to 11 a.m. edition of The Broadcast and the 6 p.m. hour of The Texas Daily. The 9:30 p.m. repeat of Texas Daily inched up to 1,420 viewers. Don’t blame the messenger.

Here are Thursday’s four-way local news derby results:

WFAA8 had the most total viewers at 10 p.m., but Fox4 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 as usual swept the 6 a.m. competitions and added 5 and 6 p.m. wins in the 25-to-54 demographic.

NBC5 and CBS11 respectively ran first at 5 and 6 p.m. in total viewers.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Nov. 20) -- pendulum swings from Modern Family to The Middle

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This may be a first in D-FW.

ABC’s The Middle, not Modern Family, drew the network’s biggest audience Wednesday night.

The under-recognized, Patricia Heaton-headed sitcom led off the night with 205,938 viewers while Modern Family had 191,735 at 8 p.m. Both offered new episodes.

The Middle’s Thanksgiving show still couldn’t beat CBS’ competing Survivor: Blood and Water, which had 284,052 viewers for its first half-hour. But that wasn’t the case among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds. The Middle led Survivor in that key measurement by a score of 94,444 viewers to 74,904 while again also outdrawing Modern Family (68,391).

CBS led in total viewers from 8 to 10 p.m. with Criminal Minds (the night’s biggest overall haul with 347,964) and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (305,356).

The 18-to-49 golds in those hours went to Criminal Minds and Fox4’s 9 p.m. local newscast.

The Dallas Mavericks’ come-from-behind 123-120 score-athon win over Houston had 92,317 total viewers for ESPN’s national telecast and 71,013 for the homegrown presentation on Fox Sports Southwest.

In Wednesday’s local news derby results, CBS11 had the most total viewers at 10 p.m. while WFAA8 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Fox4 notched another pair of 6 a.m. wins; CBS11 ran first in total viewers at 6 p.m., with Fox4 and WFAA8 sharing the 25-to-54 golds.

NBC5 and WFAA8 split the total viewer spoils at 5 p.m., but WFAA8 was alone on top with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

CBS11 tabs Ken Molestina as weekend co-anchor/weekday reporter


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CBS11’s newest hire is anchor/reporter Ken Molestina, who will be joining the D-FW station on Monday, Jan. 6th.

Molestina, currently with WUSA-TV in Washington, D.C., will co-anchor weekends with Sharrie Williams and also report three days a week, CBS11 director of communications Lori Conrad confirmed in an email Thursday.

“Ken is very talented and versatile,” CBS11/TXA21 president and general manager Gary Schneider said in a companion publicity release. “His experience in news gathering, reporting and anchoring is very solid. We think our viewers will make a strong connection with him.”

Molestina, a board member with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, is a University of Florida grad who previously anchored and reported for KVIA-TV in El Paso. During his stint there, from 2007-2010, he was a volunteer firefighter for the West Valley Fire Department.

“I’m just absolutely ecstatic and thrilled to be returning to Texas,” Molestina said by telephone Thursday. “I really couldn’t be any happier.”

Molestina also is co-producer of a new documentary film, The Long Island Railroad Massacre: 20 Years Later. It’s set for a Dec. 4th premiere on the Investigation Discovery network.

Sources from outside CBS11 say that Dallas-based Fox4 also talked to Molestina before he decided to go with CBS11.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Nov. 19) -- CBS again in prime crime form

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ABC pumped up the back half of its Tuesday prime-time ratings with a visually arresting David Blaine special but CBS’ trio of crime hours again swept the total viewer Nielsens.

Lead-off hitter NCIS again led the way with the night’s biggest haul, drawing 561,003 D-FW viewers in the 7 p.m. hour. NCIS: Los Angeles won from 8 to 9 p.m. with 397,673 viewers before Person of Interest mopped up with a time slot-winning 362,166 viewers.

ABC’s David Blaine: Real or Magic drew 184,634 viewers from 8:30 to 10 p.m. That was good enough to out-point all non-CBS programming except the second half-hour of NBC’s The Voice, which had 248,546 viewers.

NCIS likewise won its time slot among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds before rival networks took charge. The Voice ran first in this key demographic from 8 to 9 p.m. before the closing hour of Blaine’s Real or Magic controlled the 9 p.m. hour.

In Tuesday’s local news derby Nielsens, CBS11 had the most total viewers at 10 p.m. but WFAA8 dominated among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

At 6 a.m., Fox4 remained on its yellow brick road to an easy November “sweeps” win by again placing first in both ratings measurements.

CBS11 had the most viewers at 6 p.m. while Fox4 and WFAA8 tied for the top spot among 25-to-54-year-olds.

The 5 p.m. golds went to WFAA8 in total viewers and Fox4 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Ups/downs in D-FW television's Monday night JFK coverage


Fox4’s Richard Ray reports live Monday night. Photos: Ed Bark

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Are there any new angles anymore as Dallas prepares to commemorate the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination?

Probably not, but there are many side stories still worth re-telling well. In that context you’re in good hands with D-FW television’s best JFK historian. Without question that’s Fox4 reporter and weekend anchor Richard Ray, now a 30-year veteran at the station.

Three of the market’s four major TV news providers had full-length JFK anniversary pieces on their late night newscasts Monday. NBC5 opted out and went Kennedy free, which in some ways might be considered a public service amid the avalanche of national and local coverage. You make the call.

Ray, doing a live standup from Dealey Plaza on Fox4’s 9 p.m. news, recounted the history of the famed Abraham Zapruder film. He did this at length and in depth. There were no wasted seconds and a number of surprising facts, even for those of us who thought we’d heard and seen it all.

“The most studied home movie ever,” in the words of Sixth Floor Museum curator Gary Mack, had been unseen by the public in the 12 years since Time, Inc. purchased all rights to it from Zapruder. The resultant still pictures, printed in Life magazine, omitted the shocking footage of the President’s head exploding from a third fatal shot. But in 1975, a photo-optics technician named Robert Groden secretly made a bootleg copy of the original “before the film degraded.”

Ray interviewed both Groden and Geraldo Rivera, whose Good Night America program on ABC became the first to show the full Zapruder film after Groden provided it.

Groden since has written 14 books on the assassination and sets up shop “virtually every weekend” at Dealey Plaza, Ray told viewers. The city of Dallas keeps trying to evict him, but Groden keeps winning in court and lately has followed suit by suing the city.

Rivera told Ray of Time’s threatened lawsuits if Good Night America dared to show the Zapruder film. But that never happened. “They kind of lost their nerve, I think, and backed out,” said Rivera, who has come to believe over the years that Lee Harvey Oswald in fact was the lone shooter on the day of Nov. 22, 1963. Groden still believes the opposite. Believe this. Ray knows his way around JFK assassination lore far better than any other current D-FW television reporter.

WFAA8’s assassination story -- “The President and the QB” -- was by sports anchor/reporter Joe Trahan. He interviewed Dallas Cowboys legend Roger Staubach about his ties to JFK during his days as Navy’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback.

Kennedy, who served in the Navy, met twice with the football team during his presidency, Staubach recalled. “He became pretty close to our team, relatively speaking.”

Staubach wasn’t all that forthcoming on camera, relatively speaking. But the connection is interesting. And Trahan also served up a tasty tidbit on the Nov. 29, 1963 cover of Life magazine. Initial plans called for an action shot of Staubach. But only a handful of such covers were test-printed before that edition of Life became a commemoration of JFK with his picture on the cover instead of Staubach’s.


CBS11’s Joel Thomas theatrically slumps over a pay phone after running up to it to replicate how reporters reacted minutes after shots were fired on the presidential motorcade in Dealey Plaza.

CBS11 reporter Joel Thomas took show-and-tell to the point of absurdity during his story on how television news came of age 50 years ago.

“It is the moment wall to wall coverage was born,” he told viewers. True enough. Unfortunately, Thomas couldn’t resist injecting himself by sprinting to a pay phone in a ham-handed effort to replay what it must have been like for reporters on the scene in Dealey Plaza. Charitably put, he looked ridiculous and will be lucky not to wind up on The Daily Show.

Thomas also interviewed longtime newscast producer John Sparks (in a high school band at the JFK breakfast in Fort Worth that day); former KTVT-TV operations manager Phil Crow and ex-WFAA8 assignments editor Bert Shipp, who deservedly was honored with a career achievement award earlier this month at the Lone Star Emmys.

Bert, whose son, Brett, is a longtime investigative reporter with WFAA8, is not in the best of health these days and has trouble enunciating. Bless him, it happens to most of us. But Thomas, although well-intended in this case, probably should have left Bert out of this particular story, at least in terms of an on-camera interview. It served neither party particularly well.

As the 50th anniversary nears, we’ll try to keep further tabs on how D-FW’s late night newscasts handle the run-up. For his efforts on Monday, Fox4’s Ray gets the biggest thumbs up. His story can be seen here.

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Host comings and goings on CW33's Eye Opener

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CW33’s syndicated early morning Eye Opener recently has lost a co-host and gained one.

Out is Sean Dowling, who left in mid-October. In is Alex Wehrley, a former 2009 Miss Wisconsin USA.

Dowling, in an Oct. 18th post on his Facebook page, said he had “enjoyed over 2 years of laughs, good times and genuine fun waking up with you all, and I’m leaving on a high note . . . My life has taken me in another direction. This hasn’t been a job, it’s been a blast!” He’s offering no further details for now.

Wehrley, a University of Wisconsin-Madison grad, earlier worked as a morning anchor in Rockford, Ill. at WREX-TV before joining Oklahoma City’s KSBI-TV in 2012 as the host of Oklahoma Live!. Her Eye Opener bio describes Wehrley as a “down to earth Midwestern girl” whose beauty pageant days are behind her. “Don’t let the makeup and high heels fool you,” prospective viewers are assured. “You’ll frequently find Alex barefoot on a yoga mat or boating at her family lake house.”

(Full disclosure: Your friendly content provider likewise is a UW-Madison alum and “down to earth” Wisconsinite who once reigned as his hometown Racine’s Mr. Junior Achievement without wearing makeup or high heels. Honest.)

Eye Opener airs from 5 to 8 a.m. weekdays and is produced out of CW33’s Dallas studios. The comedy-infused news program also is shown on Tribune-owned TV stations in Houston, Philadelphia, Miami and several other markets. Holdover hosts Oliver Tull and Nerissa Knight remain with the program.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Nov. 18) -- another split decision between The Voice & DWTS

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Nearing the end of another cycle, ABC’s Dancing with the Stars is showing it still has legs.

Monday’s latest two-hour chunk averaged 312,457 D-FW viewers to beat all competing programming in the 7 to 9 p.m. slot. The first hour of NBC’s The Voice provided the most resistance, drawing 284,052 viewers from 8 to 9 p.m. after a preceding recap had 163,330 viewers.

Fox’s second episode of Almost Human lured 170,431 viewers in the 7 p.m. hour to beat both The Voice recap and CBS’ How I Met Your Mother (163,330 viewers). But CBS’ 2 Broke Girls took the silver from 7:30 to 8 p.m. with 184,634 viewers in competition among the Big Four broadcast networks.

Hour 2 of The Voice topped the 9 to 10 p.m. ratings with 333,761 viewers while ABC’s competing Castle ran a solid second with 269,849. ESPN’s down-to-the-wire Monday Night Football game between the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots averaged 298,255 viewers and beat everything in sight with its concluding 10 to 10:30 p.m. segment.

But Monday Night Football was the night’s overall kingpin among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, pulling in an average of 175,862 from start to stop. In the Big Four broadcast network terrain, the winners in this key demographic were the first half-hour of Almost Human, 2 Broke Girls and The Voice.

Here are Monday’s local news derby results:

NBC5, capitalizing on its bountiful 9:45 to 10 p.m. lead-in from The Voice, cruised to a rare pair of 10 p.m. wins in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Fox4 as usual swept the 6 a.m. competitions and also notched a 5 p.m. first in the 25-to-54 demographic.

CBS11 had the most total viewers at both 5 and 6 p.m. WFAA8 scored its lone win by nipping Fox4 at 6 p.m. in the 25-to-54 measurement.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

WFAA8 reporter Steve Stoler leaving after 11 years for Plano public relations post (updated)


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Another veteran WFAA8 reporter is leaving the station.

Sources confirm that Steve Stoler, who joined WFAA8 in December 2002, has decided to take a position as director of media relations for the City of Plano. Collin County, where Plano is located, has been Stoler’s primary beat for the last decade.

Stoler’s last day at WFAA8 will be December 6th. He is scheduled to begin his new job three days later.

WFAA8 news director Carolyn Mungo later confirmed Stoler’s departure and he then sent an extended reflection on his 34 years in television news and the “exciting new opportunity” awaiting him. Rival station Fox4, where Stoler worked for 17 years before joining WFAA8, initially informed its news staff via email of his decision to leave WFAA8.

Stoler cut his TV news teeth in 1980 at Macon, Georgia’s WCWB-TV (now WMGT-TV).

“We used to say WCWB stood for ‘We Can’t, We’re Broke.’ Or “Why Compete, We’re Beat,’ “ Stoler recalled.

While at WCWB, Stoler said he submitted to a “few things I’m not particularly proud of.” This included picking a viewer’s name from a barrel as part of a contest he hosted.

“That person had 41 minutes to call in and claim their prize,” Stoler said. “The prizes were embarrassing. I gave away gift certificates for dentures and glass ashtrays. WCWB also featured live professional wrestling every Wednesday. It may have been the worst television station in the country. But it was a great place to start a career.”

He’s survived worse, including Hodgin’s disease in 1997 while with Fox4 in D-FW. It resulted in a series of reports on his treatments titled “The Cancer Chronicles,” produced by former Fox4 medical reporter John Hammarley.

“My goal was simple,” Stoler said. “I wanted anyone who thought they could have cancer to get checked . . . But I never expected the outpouring of love and support I received from our viewers. It touched me in a way no other story did.”

During his long reporting career, Stoler also has covered stories ranging from “Baby Jessica” (who was trapped for more than two days in a tiny Midland, TX well); the San Francisco earthquake during the 1989 World Series; and the lengthy Branch Davidian standoff in Waco.

“It’s been a wonderful ride!” Stoler said. “Thank you, North Texas! I am blessed to live in such a great community. It has been a privilege to work as a journalist in the place I proudly call home.”

As previously posted, WFAA8 also is losing seasoned reporter Monika Diaz next month. The station’s new owner, Gannett Company, is expected to officially take control of WFAA8 before the end of this year. Dallas-based Belo Corporation has run the station since 1950.

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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Nov. 15-17) -- Cowboys' bye week passes baton to Broncos-Chiefs

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The Dallas Cowboys’ annual bye week meant there were no million sellers over the weekend. That doesn’t mean the NFL went unwatched, though.

The marquee Sunday Night Football game on NBC between the Denver Broncos and no longer undefeated Kansas City Chiefs stretched all the way until 11:08 p.m. D-FW audiences dwindled as the game went on and Broncos’ QB Peyton Manning remained upright all night in the face of the Chiefs’ supposedly lethal pass rush. Still, the game averaged 639,117 viewers with a high of 795,346 between 8:30 and 8:45 p.m.

Fox’s featured NFL matchup, New Orleans vs. San Francisco, drew a very nice-sized 518,395 viewers following Fox’s noon-starting Eagles-Redskins game (383,471 viewers).

Sunday night’s premiere of Fox’s futuristic Almost Human came in second from 7 to 8 p.m. with 269,849 viewers. It also beat non-football programming in that hour among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds with 120,498 of ‘em. But AMC’s latest new episode of The Walking Dead lead all un-NFL programming Sunday night with 276,951 total viewers and 188,889 in the 18-to-49 demographic.

Fox also had a big Saturday with a pair of high octane college football games. Baylor’s stomping of Texas Tech in Jerry’s Palace paced the nighttime numbers with 333,761 total viewers. Oklahoma State’s preceding rout of Texas, also on Fox, averaged 198,836 viewers to dominate the afternoon ratings.

It was business as usual in Friday’s prime-time ratings. CBS’ Blue Bloods again had the most total viewers (241,444) while ABC’s Shark Tank reigned with 18-to-49-year-olds (61,877).

Here are Friday’s local news derby numbers, with eight weekdays left to be counted before the November “sweeps” ratings period ends on Thanksgiving eve.

CBS11 won at 10 p.m. for the fourth straight weekday in total viewers, but Fox4 had the most 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

It continued to be no contest at 6 a.m., with Fox4 rolling to another pair of twin wins. The station also had the most 25-to-54-year-olds at 5 p.m.

NBC5 led in total viewers at 5 p.m. The 6 p.m. golds went to CBS11 in total viewers and WFAA8 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

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Just who was that mustachioed man?

Will-Ferrell-Anchorman DSCN4094

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Yeah, it surprised me, too. I didn’t know that Ron Burgundy once anchored at KTVT-TV, now better known as CBS11.

A new 30-second station promo uses black-and-white still shots to salute the “innovators who led the way” back when KTVT was D-FW’s pre-eminent independent station.

The spot includes the above shot of a Burgundy lookalike, who’s seated next to a woman co-anchor who was cropped out for the purposes of this little dispatch. But really, who is this guy?

CBS11 director of communications Lori Conrad as usual was very helpful. She asked around and found out it’s John Whitson in a picture from the early 1970s. Your friendly content provider then did some further Internet research and along the way discovered that Whitson married his co-anchor at KTVT, Kathleen Krebbs, in 1981. She went on to become a “senior lecturer” at the University of North Texas and still goes by the name Kathleen Krebbs Whitson.

But is Whitson’s future wife the woman seated next to him in the promo? Or had the station hired someone else to join him by 1981? Conrad again came through after asking some of KTVT’s long-termers. Yes, the noon news duo in the promo indeed is Whitson and Krebbs. And so what started out as a Ron Burgundy mess-around yielded a nice little side story. In large part because I can’t think of any other instance in the D-FW market where co-anchors ended up being husband and wife. Can you?

Meanwhile, here’s the promo, which has two still shots of Whitson and Krebbs. The second one comes a split-second before the current anchor team of Doug Dunbar and Karen Borta pops in.

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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Nov. 14) -- Bang, pow

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CBS’ The Big Bang Theory again towered over all prime-time programming Thursday before the rest of the network’s prime-time lineup sagged and kept sagging.

Big Bang opened the night with 504,192 D-FW viewers. That’s nearly twice the audience of any other Thursday night attraction. ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and CBS’ post-Bang sitcom, The Millers, were the runners-up with 255,647 viewers each.

The Millers won its 7:30 to 8 p.m. slot before Grey’s took the 8 p.m. hour. At 9 p.m., ABC’s Scandal nipped CBS’ competing Elementary for the top spot.

Big Bang likewise had Thursday’s biggest haul among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds. The second half-hour of Fox’s The X Factor then won from 7:30 to 8 p.m. before Grey’s ran first in the 8 p.m. hour. Scandal and Fox4’s 9 p.m. local newscast tied for the most 18-to-49-year-olds at 9 p.m.

ABC’s first-year Once Upon A Time in Wonderland continued to struggle, particularly in the 18-to-49 demographic. It ran fifth at 7 p.m., with CW’s The Vampire Diaries slipping into third place for the full hour.

In Thursday’s local news derby results, CBS11 had the most total viewers at 10 p.m. and Fox4 took the gold among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 again romped with twin wins at 6 a.m., with a particularly dominant showing in the 25-to-54 measurement.

The 6 p.m. firsts went to CBS11 in total viewers and WFAA8 among 25-to-54-year-olds. At 5 p.m., NBC5 led in total viewers while Fox4 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds.

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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Nov. 13) -- CBS cleans up

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Wednesday’s prime-time hours again belonged to CBS, with the network’s Survivor: Blood and Water, Criminal Minds and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation encountering just one minor bump in the road.

Survivor won at 7 p.m. in total D-FW viewers (241,442) before Criminal Minds (312,457) and CSI (276,951) likewise controlled the 8 to 10 p.m. terrain.

Among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, only ABC’s 8 p.m. episode of Modern Family poked through with a narrow win over the first half-hour of Criminal Minds. Otherwise it was all CBS, although CSI barely outdrew Fox4 9 p.m. local newscast in this key demographic.

In Wednesday’s four-way local news derby numbers, CBS11 had the most total viewers at 10 p.m. while WFAA8 won among 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Fox4 continued to dominate at 6 a.m. by again running the table; the station added 5 and 6 p.m. wins in the 25-to-54 measurement.

The total viewers golds at 5 and 6 p.m. respectively went to NBC5 and CBS11.

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CBS11/TXA21 add Guy Rawlings to sports staffs


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Guy Rawlings, no relation to the longstanding baseball glove, is the newest addition to the CBS11/TXA21 sports staff.

His first day will be Monday, Nov. 25th, according to a publicity release. Besides reporting, Rawlings will anchor Friday and Saturday sportscasts on CBS11. The primary host of TXA21’s weeknightly The Fan will be veteran incumbent sports staffer Bill Jones.

“Guy’s passion for sports is evident in everything he does,” says CBS11/TXA21 president and general manager Gary Schneider. “He will be a great fit with our already strong sports team.”

Rawlings most recently worked at WGCL-TV in Atlanta, where he spent less than a year as a 5 and 11 p.m. newscast co-anchor. But the CBS station exercised an “early out” option on his contract in November of 2012, according to a statement from its owner, Meredith Corporation.

The University of Florida grad also has been on the staffs of TV stations in Orlando, FL, Baltimore, MD, Charleston, SC, Jacksonville, FL, Miramar, FL and Gainesville, FL, where his television career began.

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WFAA8 reporter Monika Diaz leaving station, heading home


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Prominent WFAA8 street reporter Monika Diaz will be ending a six-year career with the Dallas-based station after deciding not to renew her contract.

Her last day is Dec. 3rd, news director Carolyn Mungo confirmed.

“It was not an easy decision,” said Diaz, who has opted to return home to Miami to help care for her stepfather. He has a rare brain disorder, Supranuclear Palsy, she said. “I want to be there for my mother and my family at this time.”

Diaz joined WFAA8 in December 2007 from KXTD-TV in Sacramento, CA. She is a graduate of Florida State University.

“Right now, I don’t know what the future holds,” she said. “But I do know that I love what I do. I’m exploring other opportunities.”

Diaz praised the staff at WFAA8, who have “challenged and motivated me to do my very best. The hardest part of leaving is not being able to see the people I work with every day.”

She also thanked “the people who have shared their stories with me. I have met some of you on the best days of your life. Sometimes I’ve met you in the darkest of times. I hope I have made you proud during the good and the bad -- treated your story with fairness, objectivity and heart.”

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Fiona Gorostiza leaving Fox4 after five-year stint as weathercaster, early morning feature reporter (updated)


Fox4’s Fiona Gorostiza, hired as a weathercaster before becoming an out-and-about feature reporter on the No. 1-rated Good Day program, will be leaving the station after her contract expires in December.

A source close to the situation, speaking under the condition of anonymity, said that Gorostiza was “offered a very nice contract,” but declined.

Fox4 management hasn’t issued an official statement, but a station spokeswoman later confirmed her departure.

Gorostiza, via a Facebook message, said, “When and if I can comment, I will be happy to. But at the moment I am unable to. I will miss all the great peeps I’ve crossed paths with here.”

Gorostiza joined the Dallas-based station in December of 2008, filling a vacancy left by Maria Sotolongo. It was a quantum leap for Gorostiza from KMIR-TV in Palm Springs, CA, the country’s 144th largest TV market. Dallas-Fort Worth is ranked No. 5.

She lately has specialized in on-the-scene “Fun with Fiona” participatory reports, including dispatches on fly-boarding, sky-diving and indoor hunting. Gorostiza also was lead vocalist with the station’s “Good Daze Band” and very energetically auditioned for Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance when the show held tryouts in Dallas. Here’s the video on that one.

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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Nov. 12) -- frigid night/toasty ratings for CBS

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CBS’ unstoppable NCIS led the network to another prime-time sweep in total D-FW viewers Tuesday.

It also pulled out a 7 p.m. win among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds before rival stations took the remaining top spots in this key demographic.

NCIS’ haul of 461,585 total viewers easily was the night’s biggest. And its 91,188 viewers within the 18-to-49 age range were enough to outdraw Fox’s runner-up comedy combo of Dads (84,674) and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (74,904).

CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles (305,356) and Person of Interest (291,153) had the most total viewers from 8 to 10 p.m. But the 18-to-49 crowns were won by NBC’s The Voice and Fox4’s 9 p.m. local newscast.

Two homegrown WFAA8 productions had decided ups and downs Tuesday. The station’s Good Morning Texas tied the third hour of NBC’s Today for first place in total viewers at 9 a.m. and won outright with both 18-to-49-year-olds and 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming. But WFAA8’s still fledgling 4 p.m. local newscast ran a distant fourth in all three measurements.

CBS11’s competing 4 p.m. local newscast in contrast finished first in these three main ratings food groups.

Here are Tuesday’s four-way local news derby results:

CBS11 had the most total viewers at 10 p.m. but WFAA8 again won among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Fox4 notched another 6 a.m. sweep and also had the most 25-to-54-year-olds at 6 p.m.

CBS11 ran first at 6 p.m. in total viewers and added a 5 p.m. win in the 25-to-54 demographic. NBC5 had the most total viewers at 5 p.m.

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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Nov. 11) -- Peacock punch

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NBC’s The Voice hit another pair of ratings high notes Monday night before The Blacklist won one, lost one.

In another face-off with ABC’s Dancing with the Stars from 7 to 9 p.m., The Voice won by a score of 355,065 D-FW viewers to 284,052. The Voice also set the pace in those hours among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds.

NBC’s The Blacklist had the most total viewers at 9 p.m., with 298,255 in a fairly close competition with ABC’s Castle (262,748). But Fox4’s 9 p.m. local newscast narrowly led with 18-to-49-year-olds, drawing 94,444 to Blacklist’s 91,188 while Castle ran a close third (87,931). That left CBS’ 9 p.m. attraction, Hostages, on a respirator with just 22,797 viewers in this key demographic.

CBS stations, including CBS11 in D-FW, have been accustomed to potent network drama lead-ins on most weeknights. But Hostages is anything but, particularly compared to last season’s incumbent, Hawaii Five-0. And on this latest Monday night, CBS11’s 10 p.m. newscast paid the price with fourth-place finishes in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Here are Monday’s overall local news derby results:

WFAA8, riding high at 10 p.m. in the ongoing November “sweeps” ratings period, chalked up two more wins in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds.

Fox4, likewise in charge of the 6 a.m. competitions, again ran the table with twin wins.

NBC5 rose up to sweep the 6 p.m. Nielsens. At 5 p.m., the Peacock and WFAA8 tied for the most total viewers while Fox4 wore the 25-to-54 crown.

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Locally made City of Hate falls short as passion play


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The title is juicy but the one-hour documentary film within tends to be overly dry and at times almost painfully earnest.

City of Hate: Dallas and the Assassination is anything but a flamethrower. Screened earlier this fall at the Dallas VideoFest, it gets a KERA13 berth on Wednesday, Nov. 13th at 10 p.m. (central).

Former KDFW/WFAA-TV anchor-reporter Quin Mathews is the writer, editor and director. As a 13-year-old, he also was among those at Love Field when Air Force One touched down on Nov. 22, 1963 with President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy aboard.

“Many people said Dallas had cultivated a hostile environment against the President or that the city was responsible for his death,” Mathews says in his opening narration. “What was the atmosphere of Dallas in 1963? And how did Dallas live with the accusations it was a city of hate?”

Mathews, who also appeared last week in National Geographic Channel’s JFK: The Final Hours, clearly made City of Hate on a low budget via his Dallas-based Quin Mathews Films. Its “talking head” approach is cost-efficient to be sure. But some of the film’s subjects, particularly Lucy Crow Billingsley (daughter of the late kingpin real estate developer Trammell Crow) and Southern Methodist University anthropologist Caroline Brettell are allowed to prattle on way too long.

Brettell’s prolonged discourse on Dallas as a current-day melting pot is delivered near film’s end. It’s a grinding way to pull down the curtain.

Mathews’ best interview is with the still feisty Bruce Alger, a conservative Republican congressman who in 1960 organized a protest against then Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson during his campaign stop in Dallas. Alger reportedly carried a sign that said “LBJ Sold Out to Yankee Socialists.”

Johnson later told reporters that he and his wife, Lady Bird, were “hissed at and spat upon.” But Alger, now 95, pointedly blames the media for erroneous reporting. “Nobody spat on anybody,” he insists.

Future Dallas mayor Wes Wise, then a reporter with KDFW-TV, says that prior to the Kennedys’ visit to Dallas, “A lot of things were going on that just didn’t seem quite right.”

Famed NBC anchor Chet Huntley put it much more vividly on the night of the Kennedy assassination during a brief commentary that City of Hate doesn’t use but should have. He said in part, “There are pockets of hatred in our country, areas and communities where the disease is permitted or encouraged or given status by people who can and do encourage others.” He didn’t specifically name Dallas. He didn’t really have to.

The new book Dallas 1963 by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis is far more detailed and instructive on the city’s power-broking cast of conservative characters. In one segment, recently excerpted by The Dallas Observer, the authors detail Dallas Morning News publisher Ted Dealey’s open animosity toward the Kennedy administration. It reached a boiling point at a Washington, D.C. luncheon in which Dealey told the President, ”The general opinion of the grassroots thinking in this country is that you and your administration are weak sisters. Particularly this is true in Texas right now. We need a man on horseback to lead this nation -- and many people in Texas and the Southwest think that you are riding Caroline’s tricycle.”

Dealey was sharply denounced by many of his fellow Texas newspaper publishers. But the book notes that The Dallas Morning News printed the complete text of his statement to Kennedy, as well as Dealey’s version of what happened.

City of Hate makes no mention at all of The Dallas Morning News. Tellingly perhaps, the newspaper also isn’t listed among the sources used by Mathews in his making of the film. But the defunct Dallas Times Herald is.

Mathews, who waved to the Kennedys on that fateful day in the company of his father and brother, recalls the immediate shame he felt. “At home, I told my parents I couldn’t bear to live in Dallas anymore. We had to move.”

Howard Weiner, also a boy on Nov. 22, 1963, likewise saw the Kennedys first-hand before being asked to lower his school’s flag to half-mast. He tells Mathews: “One of the other kids in front of me said something to the effect that the President probably deserved to die, but he sort of wished it hadn’t happened here.”

Some of the letters sent to the office of Dallas mayor Earle Cabell were sympathetic in tone. Many others weren’t. Mathews’ film excerpts a few of them, including the “City of Hate” characterization on the part of one writer. Another letter was even sharper in tone: “Dallas, Texas, the stinking cesspool of America. Damn you.”

But City of Hate completely ignores how the Dallas TV series and its Southfork Ranch replaced Dealey Plaza as the area’s No. 1 tourist attraction during the original show’s long run on CBS. The Dallas Cowboys also gave the world another reason to see the city in a different light. But the impact of the Cowboys also goes unmentioned, with anthropologist Brettell instead given the opportunity to go on and on -- and on.

The omissions don’t make City of Hate a terrible film, just an incomplete and rather tame one. At best it adds to the historical record in its own small way amid this month’s ongoing cavalcade of 50th anniversary assassination attractions.


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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Nov. 8-10) -- Cowboys torn up, tuned out

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Other teams the Dallas Cowboys couldn’t have beaten last night:

Poly Tech Pollyannas
Southwestern Idaho Potato Skins
Willie and the Poor Boys
Dagnabbit State Gripers
The Peter Dinklages

Cowboys games generally build audiences for the fourth quarter dramatics. But the New Orleans Saints’ 49-17 demolition of Dallas on NBC’s Sunday Night Football went in the opposite direction.

The overall D-FW audience of 1,327,943 still ranked third highest among the Cowboys’ 10 regular season games (behind only the previous two SNF square-offs against the Giants and Redskins). But the crowd steadily drooped in the closing hour, from 1,271,133 in the 9:45 to 10 p.m. increment to 1,157,512 to 987,081 to 809,548 for a game that mercifully ended at 10:43 p.m.

CBS’ Denver Broncos-San Diego Chargers game ranked second highest on Sunday’s NFL charts with an overall average of 532,598 viewers while Fox’s noon-starting Philadelphia Eagles-Green Bay Packers matchup had 383,470.

Saturday’s college football parade was led by CBS’ Alabama-LSU game, which had 312,457 viewers. Earlier on CBS, Texas A&M vs. Mississippi State came in second with an average of 262,748 viewers. Texas and West Virginia on Fox drew 198,836 viewers, with the crowd swelling to 333,761 for the overtime period.

NBC’s prime-time Miss Universe pageant was no match with 92,3317 viewers from 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday.

CBS swept Friday’s prime-time ratings in total viewers with a lineup of Undercover Boss, Hawaii Five-0 and Blue Bloods. Undercover Boss held serve at 7 p.m. among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, but the 8 to 10 p.m. firsts went to ABC’s Shark Tank and Fox4’s 9 p.m. local newscast.

Here are Friday’s four-way local news derby results:

CBS11 had the most total viewers at 10 p.m. while Fox4 was tops among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 ran the table at 6 a.m. and added 5 and 6 p.m. wins in the 25-to-54 demographic. CBS11 had the most total viewers at both 5 and 6 p.m.

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Late WFAA8 news director Marty Haag to have station's newsroom dedicated in his name

81jB-gJM7tL._SL500_AA300_ HaagMarty

The late Marty Haag, who died in January 2004, played a major role in putting WFAA8 on both the local and national news maps.

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Revered, feared and soon to be enshrined at D-FW’s WFAA-TV (Ch. 8), the late Marty Haag left lasting imprints on all who worked for and with him.

On Monday, Nov. 11th, the station’s news room will be dedicated in his memory. Haag ran that shop, with both an iron fist and a velvet glove, from 1973 to 1989. At that point he became senior vice president/news of the Belo Broadcast Division before retiring in October of 2000. Haag received a career achievement Peabody Award in the following year and died of a stroke on January 2004 at the age of 69.

WFAA, via vice president of product development Dave Muscari, has declined to provide any further details or a statement from management until Monday’s ceremony.

“Until we present this to the station, I don’t want to send a ton of information out about it,” Muscari said in an email response. Followup efforts were futile, with Muscari further clarifying, “It is not appropriate to talk about this publicly until we tell employees. That happens on Monday morning. Sorry if you don’t agree.”

Whatever occurs on Monday will be only a month or so before Belo officially turns over the keys to WFAA and its 19 other TV stations to Gannett Company. In late September, Belo shareholders approved the deal.

Haag and the late Dave Lane, who long served as WFAA’s general manager, personified Belo throughout the station’s emergence from a struggling, ratings-impaired ABC affiliate to a juggernaut that first began rolling when Haag teamed Tracy Rowlett and Iola Johnson as anchors in August 1975. He’d been a street reporter and she became the first black woman to anchor a TV newscast in this market. The ratings soon roared.

Both Haag and Lane genuinely enjoyed jousting with The Dallas Morning News’ television critic. And in retrospect, I was fortunate to be on the receiving end, whether being cursed or grudgingly praised.

Haag worked at the national level, both with NBC and CBS, before joining WFAA. He in turn groomed a wealth of future network reporters and anchors, including current CBS Evening News standard-bearer Scott Pelley.

“Everything that I learned from Marty Haag and (former assignments editor) Bert Shipp at WFAA are lessons I employ at the Evening News every day,” Pelley said in a 2011 interview with unclebarky.com. “WFAA was the greatest training ground possible for a young correspondent. The tradition of news under Marty Haag were the highest that you will ever see. And that informed everything we did at WFAA.”

Haag took pride in the roster of WFAA news staffers that he helped to groom for the Big Leagues (which in reality aren’t so big anymore). But he always bristled at those who dismissed local newscasts as circus acts.

“They take such a condescending point of view,” he once said. “They call it ‘local’ as if we all had bib overalls. I think most of those people who criticize really aren’t aware of what’s happening. They see only Los Angeles and New York television. I’m not excited about New York or Los Angeles television either.”

Haag’s WFAA hires also include three current mainstays -- Gloria Campos, John McCaa and Dale Hansen. All quickly responded when asked to share their thoughts on their old boss. Rowlett, Johnson, weathercaster Troy Dungan and anchor/reporter Renay San Miguel likewise were fully cooperative. Let’s first hear from the Old Guard via excerpts from the responses they sent:


Iola Johnson and Tracy Rowlett in September 2012. Photo: Ed Bark


“Marty Haag was arguably the finest news mind of his time. He was brilliant and blessed to work for a company that not only allowed him great autonomy, but also opened the purse strings, permitting him to freely use his genius to build an unparalleled news powerhouse.

“Our long and often contentious relationship was tempered by our mutual respect for each other’s talent. Before his death, I dare say, we even became friends!

“In the beginning, I believed that Marty felt that he was stuck with me. At the end of the staff meeting introducing him as the new news director, WFAA management signed me to a new two-year contract. Fearing that I would be swept out in the mass firings that inevitably follow such a change, I gladly signed for what they were offering. To his credit, Marty had the good sense to keep me while he built his dynasty. I was still a rookie when he took the reins at Channel 8, so I honed my skills watching a master at work. It was a privilege to have known and worked for him.”


“WFAA was third in the market when Marty took over, and he started cleaning house. In 1974, Byron Harris, Doug Fox and I (‘The Oklahoma Mafia’) were brought in to set a new pace for TV news at a time when television generally got its news from newspapers and police scanners. He gave us a free hand and supported us when station management would sometimes back away from controversy and threats of legal action.

“Marty’s greatest strength, in my opinion, was an almost uncanny ability to spot raw talent. Then he would leave them alone to get the job done. WFAA became a near network farm club and the station became the No. 1 ABC affiliate in the country, thanks largely to Marty’s leadership.”


“Marty was the guy responsible for getting me to WFAA. I knew him when he was assistant news director at WCBS-TV and I was the weather guy at WCAU-TV in Philadelphia. We talked over several years until he had an opening at a time when I could get free. Marty hired people he could trust and then left them alone. He told me when I arrived, ‘If you do your job well, the only time you will see me is socially.’ And that’s what happened. He was a remarkable newsman and a good friend.”


“Marty Haag rescued me from my layoff in June 1991. I had just been let go by a small, independent San Francisco TV station, along with the rest of our tiny, understaffed newsroom. I had only five years of TV news experience, so I didn’t think I stood much of a chance of getting on at Channel 8. But Marty told me later that he liked the fact I spent the first six years of my journalism career reporting for my hometown newspaper, learning from the proverbial ink-stained wretches. No other news director had ever taken that into consideration.

“The last time I spoke to Marty was when I was asked to emcee the Dallas Press Club Katie Awards in late 2002. That was a big night for me for two reasons. I got to interview Walter Cronkite, the club’s Lifetime Achievement winner. And I got to thank Marty for helping to make everything that had happened for me possible. He didn’t just give me a job. He allowed me to work in a unique TV newsroom culture that he established -- one that valued journalism and the viewers’ intelligence.”

Veteran anchors and Haag hires John McCaa, Gloria Campos.


“We still miss him, perhaps even more now than when he first left us.

“When I came to Texas in 1984, I had job offers at WWL in New Orleans and WFAA. I told my news director at WOWT in Omaha, Steve Murphy, about being in a bit of a dilemma at having to choose between two stations with reputations for doing exceptional journalism. Being a fellow Creighton graduate, he told me, ‘Well, usually Jesuit-educated folks like you and me try to support our own (WWL at the time was owned by Loyola University -- a Jesuit school), but Marty Haag’s reputation stretches coast to coast. And that sounds like a great opportunity to me.’

“Steve wasn’t wrong. Marty could be demanding. But each time it was because he wanted to raise the bar and improve the story. His ideas and input always made you better and made for a better story. In what would now be considered a newsroom luxury, at news time we stood around three monitors in the newsroom and watched our stories together. The good pieces got lots of applause, the so-so stories . . . well, not so much. If yours was one of those so-so pieces, believe me, one look from Marty told you that tomorrow you needed to show some improvement. The great stories got a ‘nice job’ or thumbs up sign from him -- and on rare, rare occasions, a short note on yellow paper.

“In an age when we are compelled to do far more for more newscasts with far less, I miss the excellence he expected from each of us. But because of him, we should never stop trying.”


“Marty Haag hired me to be a general assignments reporter in 1984. He definitely was a tough boss with high expectations. And I grew to love working for him and to love him. He became like a second father to me.

“We’d get together every now and then for lunch after he retired. I think I helped him stay connected to the news organization he helped build. He taught me so much. After 9-11, when it seemed like our whole world was falling apart, he told me, ‘The best antidote to fear is information.’

“He once sent me a hand-written note, that I still have and will treasure forever. It means more to me than any award. In it he says, ‘Girl, you have come a long, long way. And I thank you for letting me come along for the ride. Love, Marty.’

“I am so very proud to say I worked for Marty Haag. And proud that the station has chosen to honor him in this way.”


“Maybe the scariest news director I ever worked for -- and by far the best.

“It is an absolute honor to say I worked for Marty Haag.

“He demanded greatness because he expected it. Not enough people do that anymore.”

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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Nov. 7) -- a coming out party for Fox Sports 1

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This is how you get some traction as a fledgling sports network -- at least in the D-FW viewing area.

Fox Sports 1, which launched on Aug. 17th in place of the Speed channel, attracted its first significant attention Thursday night as TV’s venue for the Baylor-Oklahoma football game.

The unbeaten, No. 6-ranked Bears’ 41-12 thrashing of the No. 10 Sooners averaged 191,735 D-FW viewers on Fox Sports 1. And that’s big business for a network that had “hashmarks” (no measurable audience) for the majority of its broadcast day.

Although it started early at 6 p.m., Baylor-Oklahoma had more viewers than any of Fox’s prime-time attractions Thursday. It also outdrew the likes of ABC’s Scandal and NBC’s Parenthood and The Michael J. Fox Show.

Thursday’s other big Top 10 college football game, Stanford’s upset win over previously unbeaten Oregon, averaged 92,317 viewers on ESPN.

The night’s biggest draw, as usual, was CBS’ 7 p.m. episode of The Big Bang Theory. It had 440,281 viewers.

In Thursday’s local news derby results, WFAA8 swept the 10 p.m. competitions in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 ran the table at 6 a.m. while WFAA8 added 5 and 6 p.m. firsts in the 25-to-54 demographic.

NBC5 had the most total viewers at 5 p.m. The Peacock, WFAA8 and CBS11 tied for the top spot in that measurement at 6 p.m.

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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues.-Wed., Nov. 5-6) -- ABC struts with big twang

Country music’s annual biggest hoedown gave ABC a big start-to-finish mow-down in Wednesday’s prime-time Nielsens.

Again winningly hosted by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley, the three-hour Country Music Association awards averaged 426,078 D-FW viewers to beat all competing programs from 7 to 10 p.m. The CMAs also ran the table among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds.

CBS’ regular lineup of Survivor: Blood and Water, Criminal Minds and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation offered the strongest resistance with a string of second place finishes in total viewers. Survivor had the highest count with 312,457 in the 7 p.m. hour.

Survivor and Criminal Minds also ran second with 18-to-49-year-olds before Fox4’s local newscast edged CSI for the 9 p.m. runner-up spot.

Fox’s The X Factor ran a distant third in total viewers from 7 to 9 p.m. Among 18-to-49-year-olds, X Factor slipped to fourth place from 7 to 8 p.m. behind NBC’s Revolution.

CBS enjoyed Tuesday’s overall prime-time riches, running the table in total viewers with a lineup of NCIS (454,483), NCIS: Los Angeles (340,862) and Person of Interest (326,660). But in the 18-to-49-year-old demographic, the winners were NBC’s The Biggest Loser and ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (which tied for first at 7 p.m.) and NBC’s The Voice (which won outright from 8 to 10 p.m.).

Here are the local news derby results on Days 4 and 5 of the ongoing November “sweeps.”

Tuesday -- CBS11 had the most total viewers at 10 p.m. while WFAA8 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 again swept the 6 a.m. competitions and added 5 and 6 p.m. wins in the 25-to-54 measurement. WFAA8 had the most total viewers at 5 p.m. and CBS11 took the top spot at 6 p.m.

Wednesday -- WFAA8 spring-boarded off a big lead-in from the CMAs to score a pair of dominating 10 p.m. wins.

WFAA8 and Fox4 tied for first in total viewers at 6 a.m., with Fox4 the outright winner with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Fox4 swept the 5 p.m. Nielsens while the 6 p.m. firsts went to CBS11 in total viewers and WFAA8 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Nov. 4) -- dancing/singing domination

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ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, which usually hoofs and puffs behind NBC’s The Voice, eked out a rare win in their latest Monday night showdown.

DWTS averaged 340,862 D-FW viewers from 7 to 9 p.m., with The Voice right behind (333,761) in the same time slot for its first live shows of the new season.

But The Voice as always dominated among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds, racking up 159,578 of ‘em to Dancing’s 94,444. The 7 to 8 p.m. portion of DWTS also slipped behind CBS’ How I Met Your Mother and 2 Broke Girls.

Fox’s 8 p.m. return of Sleepy Hollow, already renewed for a second season, had a tough night with fifth place finishes in both audiences measurements. Besides NBC, ABC and CBS, it also lagged behind ESPN’s Monday Night Football, which had a game-long average of 312,457 total viewers and 162,835 in the key 18-to-49 demographic. The 7:30 to 9 p.m. portion of MNF, in which the Green Bay Packers lost their Mr. Everything, Aaron Rodgers, to injury, trailed The Voice by a small margin among 18-to-49-year-olds.

NBC’s freshman phenom, The Blacklist, remained strong at 9 p.m., beating ABC’s competing Castle in total viewers by a score of 326,660 to 291,153. Blacklist also outdrew the 9 to 10 p.m. slice of football in total viewers and won among 18-to-49-year-olds in competition among the Big Four broadcast networks. But Monday Night Football was the top overall draw from 9 to 10 p.m. in the 18-to-49 measurement.

Here are the four-way local news derby results for Day 3 of the November “sweeps.”

WFAA8 swept the 10 p.m. Nielsens in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 remained in charge at 6 a.m. with twin wins while CBS11 swept the 6 p.m. competitions.

NBC5 had the most total viewers at 5 p.m.; Fox4 and CBS11 tied for the top spot with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Nov. 1-3) -- Cowboys rally to win & stay above one mil mark

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Sunday’s Nielsen ratings, delayed until late Monday afternoon by the daylight savings changeover, showed the Dallas Cowboys inching past the one million viewers mark while also barely surviving a visit from the doormat Minnesota Vikings.

The noon-starting game, which ran until 3:09 p.m. on Fox, averaged 1,050,992 D-FW viewers, with a peak audience of 1,292,437 for the Cowboys’ closing minute rally. As always, nothing else came close. Pity ABC’s competing New York City Marathon coverage for instance. It had 2,841viewers Sunday afternoon.

ESPN’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway, which started its engines opposite the second half of Cowboys-Vikings, built to a peak audience of 92,317 viewers from 5:30 to 5:45 p.m. while averaging 71,013 for the entire race.

NBC’s Sunday Night Football, with the Houston Texans blowing a big lead to the visiting Indianapolis Colts, drew 553,901 viewers to dominate the prime-time Nielsens. CBS’ Sunday afternoon/evening NFL game, the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, finished just behind with an average of 525,496 viewers.

Friday’s prime-time ratings again were led by CBS’ 9 p.m. episode of Blue Bloods in total viewers and ABC’s 8 p.m. hour of Shark Tank among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds.

KTXD-TV (Ch. 47), in its second full day of an abrupt dropping of ME-TV network programming, was greeted with “hashmarks” (no measurable audience) all the way from 6:30 a.m. until noon. A pair of noon to 1 p.m. Community repeats then barely registered a pulse with 710 viewers. By 6 p.m., the station’s locally produced The Texas Daily had moved up to 7,101 viewers.

Here are Friday’s four-way local news derby results for the second day of the November “sweeps” ratings period:

WFAA8 and CBS11 tied for first in total viewers at 10 p.m., but WFAA8 had the edge with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 comfortably ran the table at 6 a.m. NBC5 and CBS11 shared the 6 p.m. gold in total viewers while WFAA8 was tops among 25-to-54-year-olds.

The 5 p.m. firsts went to NBC5 in total viewers and Fox4 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

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Picture this: some first looks at NBC5's and Telemundo 39's new sets

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Fort Worth-based NBC5 has waited a long time for this. And now the day is near.

On Nov. 3rd, following NBC’s Sunday Night Football, the station will originate its first newscast from The Studios at DFW.

As previously posted, this will mark an end to NBC5’s lifelong residency at 3900 Barnett St., which the station has occupied since its 1948 sign-on. Telemundo 39 and other NBC Universal-owned properties also will be making the move to the spanking new, 75,000 square foot facility. The new address is 4805 Amon Carter Boulevard, located five minutes from the south entrance to DFW International Airport.

Brian Hocker, vice president of programming and research, sent the first pictures of the new news sets Friday afternoon. Here’s a look at some of them, with all photos courtesy of NBC5.

This is the main anchor desk and surroundings for NBC5 newscasts.


NBC5 meteorologists will reside at “The Weather Experts” desk.


Newsmakers will bob and weave in a separate interview room.


Telemundo 39 newscasts will be in HD for the first time.

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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Oct. 31) -- X Factor crossed off most viewers' list on 1st day of sweeps

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Times have changed -- and dramatically so -- for onetime TV kingpin Simon Cowell.

Fox’s The X Factor, created, produced and judged by Cowell, hit its low of lows in D-FW Thursday night on Day 1 of the November “sweeps.”

Halloween festivities helped to keep many viewers away from their TV sets. But X Factor nonetheless had an easier road opposite CBS’ rerun of The Big Bang Theory, which led from 7 to 7:30 p.m. with a bit more than half its usual audience (269,849 viewers) before a new episode of The Millers drew 198,836 viewers.

ABC ran second from 7 to 8 p.m. with its annual repeat of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (120,722 viewers), with NBC’s SNL Halloween (113,621) a close third. That left X Factor with a skimpy 78,114 viewers for its “Meet the Top 12” special edition.

X Factor fared even worse with advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, dropping to fifth place behind The CW’s The Vampire Diaries. And this was all after substantial promotion during Fox’s World Series telecasts.

ABC’s Grey’’s Anatomy had the most total viewers in the 8 p.m. hour before a new episode of CBS’ Elementary ran first from 9 to 10 p.m. Grey’s also won comfortably among 18-to-49-year-olds, with Elementary, ABC’s Scandal and NBC’s Parenthood tying for the top spot at 9 p.m.

In local news derby results, Day 1 of the sweeps brought twin 10 p.m. wins for WFAA8 in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 again ran the table at 6 a.m. while CBS11 was tops in total viewers at 6 p.m. and had the most 25-to-54-year-olds at 5 p.m.

Thursday’s other golds went to NBC5 with the most total viewers at 5 p.m. and Fox4, a 6 p.m. winner among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net