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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., July 30) -- Olympics show no signs of flaming out

NBC's prime-time Olympics coverage again squashed all competing programming Monday night, weighing in with an average of 684,184 D-FW viewers from 7 to 11 p.m.

Over on Fox Sports Southwest, the Texas Rangers' 15-8 drubbing at the hands of the Angels drew 121,934 viewers. Ratings for ESPN, which also had the game, weren't immediately available. But judging from previous ratings data, they'll likely be lower than the FSS home-grown telecast. Even without "Cookie Talk" anymore.

The most-watched competing prime-time programs on ABC, CBS or Fox were repeats of CBS' Mike & Molly and Hawaii Five-O, each with 88,063 viewers. Among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, the Olympics amassed 307,421 viewers. CBS' 2 Broke Girls was the top rival broadcast network draw with 38,428 viewers in this key demographic.

In Monday's local news derby results, NBC basked in a comfy Olympics halo effect, sweeping the 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. competitions in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

The Peacock added a 5 p.m. win among 25-to-54-year-olds while tying WFAA8 for first at that hour in total viewers.

The downsized three-way 10 p.m. competition went to CBS11 in total viewers and Fox4 in the 25-to-54 measurement.

Bob Goosmann, Chase Williams latest to leave CW33

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Former CW33 staffers Chase Williams and Bob Goosmann
Veteran meteorologist Bob Goosmann and comparative newcomer Chase Williams are putting Dallas-based CW33 behind them.

Goosmann confirmed via email that he'll be working in real estate, with a home base of Mansfield/Arlington.

Williams, hired as a sports anchor/reporter, will be setting sail after joining CW33 a little more than a year ago from Fox affiliate KJTV-TV in Lubbock. Williams, a Grand Prairie native, so far has not returned a phone call and Facebook message asking for comment. Sources say he'll be moving to Omaha, Nebraska to take a sports-related position.

Goosmann joined KDAF-TV (Ch. 33) eight years ago, before it became a CW station. He previously worked at KTVT-TV (now billed as CBS11) for 10 years.

In January of 2009, Goosmann was supplanted as CW33's featured forecaster by Rebecca Miller, who earlier had been dropped from NBC5's early morning team after a long run.

"You and I both know of the changes in our industry over the years," Goosmann said in an email reply. "And for personal reasons, mainly dealing with my family, I chose not to pursue a full-time meteorologist position outside of the area. Instead I chose to get into the real estate business . . . Business is good, and getting better. I was working seven days a week between the two jobs and that was beginning to take a toll on me."

Goosmann emphasized that "weather is in my blood and always will be. I hope that I can freelance on occasion at any station in the Metroplex that may need someone on short notice. I'm pretty sure I'm familiar with the area!"

***In a harbinger of what could be coming at CW33, Monday's 9 p.m. newscast went anchor-less after both Walt Maciborski and Amanda Salinas called in sick. Reporter Catherine Bilkey also served as an off-camera narrator at times while meteorologist Miller noted before her closing forecast, "Well, I feel kinda by myself out here."

She then signed off the newscast by herself, urging viewers to watch again Tuesday because "you never know what you're gonna get when you tune in."

Sources close to the situation say that Maciborski and Salinas in fact were sick. But the newscast went pretty seamlessly without them, a fact that may not be lost on the station's cost-hacking Tribune parent company. Said one staffer who requested anonymity, "We bet Walt and Amanda never call in sick again!"

Said another: "I think some incarnation of this will be our future."

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., July 27-29) -- Olympics tower over all


Viewing again carrying a torch for the Summer Games. Photo: Ed Bark

D-FW's Summer Olympics viewership isn't high enough to rank among the 20 top-scoring TV markets. But that's small comfort to competing programming, including the Texas Rangers.

Friday night's opening ceremonies from London averaged 894,181 D-FW viewers on NBC, with only the Yu Darvish-powered Rangers' loss to the White Sox drawing anything resembling a crowd. The game averaged 216,771 viewers on TXA21, a modest total compared to most Rangers outings this season.

Of the Olympics viewers Friday, 387,478 were in the advertiser-prized 18-to-49 age range. That's a decent but by no means great percentage.

Saturday's prime-time Olympics coverage, marking the first full day of competition, dropped to 663,862 total viewers before Sunday's popped back up to 819,666. The Saturday and Sunday night Rangers games, both on Fox Sports Southwest, respectively averaged 135,482 and 149,030 viewers to rank second in the prime-time Nielsens.

The overall top-rated TV market for the first three nights of the London Olympics is Salt Lake City, with San Diego close behind. D-FW, the No. 5 market, did not make the top 20 list on any of the three nights, at least in percentages of viewers watching. Then again, neither did the only four markets with more available viewers than D-FW -- New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. Austin is the only Texas city in the top 20 -- placing 16th after the initial three nights.

NBC says that the national average of 35.8 million viewers for the first three nights is the highest in history for any Summer Olympics. The 1996 Atlanta games currently are running second.

In Friday's local news derby results, Fox4 swept the 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. competitions in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

CBS11 ran first at 10 p.m. in total viewers while Fox4 took the 25-to-54 gold in a downsized three-way race. Both winning totals were sharply deflated by competing Olympics opening ceremonies coverage, which ran from 6:30 to 11 p.m.

NBC5 won at 6 p.m. in total viewers, but Fox4 again was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Dombeck says goodbye, ends 12-year tenture as NBC5's early morning traffic cop


Tammy Dombeck and her final traffic report for NBC5. Photo: Ed Bark

D-FW's dean of early morning traffic reporters. "Gridlock Buster" Tammy Dombeck, brought a halt to her days at NBC5 Friday morning.

As previously reported, the 12-year veteran and her station reached an impasse in new contract negotiations, prompting management to let her go. It was the same story with wake-up anchor Brendan Higgins in January 2010. He recently began co-anchoring rival CBS11's early morning newscasts.

"She's great at what she does and she has a heckuva smile that she brings us every morning," co-anchor Deborah Ferguson said before Dombeck took her final turn in front of a traffic map at 6:56 a.m. Friday.

"She is heading on to greener pastures," added newcomer Mark Hayes.

Dombeck in fact didn't want to leave the station. A standard non-compete clause in her contract will now keep her off the air for a minimum of six months before she can appear on the air with a rival D-FW station.

NBC5 showed a montage of Dombeck's career at NBC5 before she joined Ferguson, Hayes and meteorologist Samantha Davies at the anchor desk.

"It was no an easy decision. You all know that," she told them. "But I just want to thank the viewers so much for your graciousness and your loyalty."

She then blew a kiss to "Daddy Dombeck," currently recovering in an area hospital.

Dombeck also noted that "you're going to have a whole new team here soon. Gosh, I mean, it's going to be awesome. I might not be up watchin'."

That brought laughs all around, even though Dombeck and Davies might well have been crying on the inside.

Davies, who's been filling in for the sacked Jennifer Lopez since March, learned recently that she will not get the full-time early morning job. NBC5 instead has hired veteran meteorologist Rick Mitchell of Oklahoma City's KOCO-TV. His first day at the station will be August 22nd, but the station says he'll make his on-air debut at a later date.

Beginning Monday, Andi Parker will be doing NBC5's traffic reports as an interim replacement. The station has used her before on a part-time basis. Vice president of programming Brian Hocker said that a permanent traffic reporter hasn't been hired yet.

Dombeck closed out her dozen years at NBC5 by telling viewers, "I'm definitely not gonna say goodbye. I'll just say, 'We'll see you later.' " Then it was quickly on to NBC's Today show, which is in London for the Olympics.

NBC5 at least gave Dombeck a chance to say goodbye. Earlier this month, another 12-year D-FW television veteran, WFAA8 anchor Debbie Denmon, was simply called in by management and told that her contract wasn't being renewed. She was out the door within the hour. Denmon previously had lost a discrimination suit against the station. Call it payback.

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Fox4 sports anchor Mike Doocy (right) and photo-journalist Chris Hanks outside the "Cadillac Ranch" in Amarillo. Dinner was at the Lizard Lounge in Tucumcari, NM. Photos from Doocy's Twitter page.

Veteran Fox4 sports anchor Mike Doocy and his wingman, photo-journalist Chris Hanks, began their cost-cutting road trip to Cowboys camp in Oxnard, CA Thursday.

Doocy then talked up a few of the first-day highlights Friday morning during a phone interview on Good Day.

Their initial destination, Tucumcari, NM, is briefly mentioned in the Linda Ronstadt song "Willin,' " It's also home base for the Lizard Lounge, where every Thursday is karaoke night. But Doocy said they were too pooped to participate. So after an economy dinner, the boys retired to their undisclosed lodging for the night. Doocy noted that a complimentary breakfast aided the effort to save his Dallas-based station a few bucks during their projected 22 hours of driving to Oxnard. The scheduled Friday night stop will be in Flagstaff, AZ before they hit the backstretch to Cowboys camp on a nearly 1,500-mile jaunt.

As previously detailed, Doocy and Hayes have hit the road in a Fox4 company car after management balked at the expense of plane and rental car costs. His competitors are flying as usual, with WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen joking about Doocy's mode of travel on Wednesday's newscasts. In the comments section on unclebarky.com, Hansen also noted that he'll be paying for Doocy's drinks -- "like I always do."

This will be his 19th Cowboys camp, Doocy noted on Friday's Good Day. He's never taken this kind of long and winding road before, but obviously is making the best of it. You do what you have to do to survive in the ever-challenging TV business. And unlike Dombeck and Denmon, at least Doocy still has a job.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., July 26) -- all quiet on the pre-Olympics/Yu tube front

The ratings mostly slept in Thursday, gearing up for Friday's big sports doubleheader -- NBC's coverage of the Olympics' opening ceremony and another Yu-fueled Texas Rangers game on TXA21.

Thursday's top overall TV attraction, CBS11's syndicated Wheel of Fortune, drew 237,094 D-FW viewers at 6:30 p.m. CBS Big Bang Theory repeat then ranked as prime-time's No. 1 bestseller with 196,449 viewers.

Another CBS entry, Big Brother 14, easily led all Thursday programming in the advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-old demographic, with haul of 105,676.

In contrast, the premiere of CBS' 3, another looking for love "reality" concoction, came up DOA at 9 p.m. with just 54,193 total viewers, 22,416 of the 18-to-49 persuasion. That plunked 3, whose number may already be up, into fourth place among the Big Four broadcast networks.

In 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 likewise ran the table at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. WFAA8 had the most total viewers at 6 p.m. while tying for the top spot with Fox4 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., July 25) -- more riches for Rangers

NBC's Olympics telecasts likely will be ruling prime-time from Friday's opening ceremonies through mid-August. But the Texas Rangers got in one last lick Wednesday with their last pre-Summer Games game.

Texas' 5-3 home win over Boston on Fox Sports Southwest topped all of Wednesday's TV fare with 270,964 D-FW viewers. The Rangers also had the most advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds -- 105,676.

Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast and CBS11's syndicated Wheel of Fortune placed second in total viewers (203,223 apiece) while Fox4's 10 p.m. news was the runner-up with 18-to-49-year-olds (80,058).

NBC's 9 p.m. Jimmy Fallon special had just 88,063 total viewers, losing half the audience from NBC's preceding America's Got Talent (176,127 viewers). It fared a bit better with 18-to-49-year-olds, running third in its time slot behind the Rangers and Fox4's news.

In Wednesday's four-way local news derby results, CBS11 took the 10 p.m. gold in total viewers, but Fox4 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 ran the table at both 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. while WFAA8 did likewise at 6 p.m.

Drive, they said: Fox4 sports anchor Mike Doocy won't be flying high to Cowboys training camp


Mike Doocy will travel by land to Cowboys training camp. Photo: Ed Bark

At least he's not having to hitchhike. Well, that's not in the game plan anyway.

While his competitors leave on jet planes this weekend for Dallas Cowboys training camp, veteran Fox4 sports anchor Mike Doocy will be a ground trooper.

Playing along, Good Day co-anchor Lauren Przybyl asked him during a live segment Wednesday, "I hear you're driving. Is that true?"

"You waste an opportunity by actually flying over all these states on the way to California," Doocy replied. "Let's drive through and get a little feel for the nation . . . It's all about America. It's all about loving America. That's why we're driving to Cowboys training camp."

Not quite. Doocy's a good and loyal soldier who will have to stand by this story. In reality, sources close to the situation say that Fox4 management didn't want to spring for two round trip plane tickets (for Doocy and his photographer) plus a rental car for the planned two-week stay in Oxnard, CA. Budgets are tight, even when the Cowboys are at stake and Fox4 carries the majority of their regular season games.

So it was strongly suggested that Doocy and his designated photo-journalist drive the nearly 1,500 miles from Dallas to Oxnard, where the first full practice is scheduled for Monday after owner Jerry Jones' annual state-of-the-team speech on the day before.

They'll be making stops in New Mexico and Arizona during the three-day jaunt, Doocy said on Good Day. And their mode of transportation will be a Fox4 company vehicle, not the longhorn-adorned pink convertible the station is using to illustrate the trip.

Doocy estimated it will take 22 hours driving time, and he plans to regularly update his travels via Twitter and Facebook. Since it's a company vehicle, Fox4 won't have to pay mileage. Lodging enroute is likely to fall somewhere in the vicinity of Best Western and Motel 6. And maybe the boys can split Whataburger value meals for lunch and dinner unless management orders them to pack sandwiches and drinks in a cooler before taking off.

Still, these things have a way of working out. And although Doocy will be kidded mercilessly at training camp, he'll at least have an out-of-body experience that could be a promotional plus as well.

It's completely safe to say, though, that WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen wouldn't be caught dead driving all the way to Oxnard. And if station management tried to mandate such a trip, his response would go something like "You &*%#@* cheap bastards can kiss my *^#@!% ass all the way into next week if you think I'm gonna take a **%#*@!% road trip all the way to the &*%^#@ Cowboys training camp. Have I made myself *^$@& clear?

And then he'd really let 'em have it.

Meanwhile, we wish safe travels for Doocy and his Fox4 photographer. "Break a leg," as they say for good luck in show biz. Or in this case, "Blow a tire."

Send ol' Uncle Barky a postcard, too, if you would. But don't try to pad that particular item on any expense account you might have. 'Cause that definitely would be a fireable offense.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., July 24) -- Rangers, Fox4 9 p.m. news are heaviest hitters

The Rangers' bats again were mostly silent in Tuesday's 2-1 home loss to the Red Sox. Still, they out-scored almost everyone in the D-FW Nielsen ratings.

The 9 to 10 p.m. portion of the game ran into strong opposition from Fox4's local newscast, though. They tied for first during that hour with 284,512 viewers apiece while the Rangers prevailed by a small margin with advertiser-favored 18-to-49-year-olds.

Fox4's news featured a live media conference by Dallas police chief David Brown in connection with the fatal police shooting of a 31-year-old South Dallas man with a long arrest record. An angry crowd earlier had gathered at the scene, prompting Fox4, NBC5 and WFAA8 to preempt their 6:30 p.m. entertainment rag mags for continuous live coverage while CBS11 went to the early stages of Wheel of Fortune before bailing out and resuming its live news reports.

The full Rangers game, which stretched until 10:30 p.m., averaged 270,964 total viewers, making it Tuesday's second most-watched TV attraction behind Fox4's one-hour 9 p.m. news.

NBC's 7 to 9 p.m. edition of America's Got Talent also scored well with 250,642 viewers to rank as the day's No. 3 ratings draw. The Peacock's Love in the Wild then plunged to 81,289 viewers.

In the four-way local news derby results, WFAA8 ranked first at 10 p.m. in total viewers while Fox4 won among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

WFAA8 nipped Fox4 by a sub-smidgen in total viewers at 6 a.m., with the two stations tying for first in the 25-to-54 demographic.

The 5 and 6 p.m. crowns also were split. At the later hour, NBC5 had the most total viewers while Fox4 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds. The 5 p.m. wins went to Fox4 in total viewers and WFAA8 in the 25-to-54 measurement.

Museum of Broadcasting? No, KTXD's impending oldies/goodies local newscast


Tracy Rowlett and Troy Dungan in Feb. 2011 reunion on CBS11. Photos: Ed Bark

If they build it, will the baby boomers come?

Dallas-based KTXD-TV, a ME-TV venue for "classic" reruns, hopes that a retro daily local newscast will be a perfect fit. And The Texas Daily, due sometime in September, has most of its older familiar faces in place as the premiere date nears. Among them: Tracy Rowlett, Troy Dungan, Scott Murray, John Criswell, Midge Hill and Suzie Humphreys. They're among the dozen contributors who have committed to show up at least once a week for a Monday-Friday 8 a.m. newscast titled The Texas Daily.

"We're trying to aim an hour's worth of news and comments at the older demographic, the baby boomers," said Phil Hurley, executive vice president and COO of London Broadcasting, Inc., owner of KTXD. "It's the forgotten demo, but our research tells us there's a real appetite for it. It's a concept that I've been kicking around for probably 10 years . . . I'm half broadcaster and half entrepreneur. This is something we have a passion to do."

D magazine's FrontBurner blog initially posted what it termed a news release on KTXD's plans. But Hurley said it wasn't intended for publication, terming it "just a synopsis" given to a Texas Daily contributor who also works for D.

KTXD plans to wait until late August to officially announce the specifics of The Texas Daily and its full list of contributors. "We've still got contracts to sign. We're still designing the show," Hurley said.

Still, he confirmed that former WFAA8 anchor Jeff Brady has agreed to "kind of drive the car" while rotating "pundits" such as Rowlett, Criswell, Dungan (who won't be doing weather) and Murray (who won't be doing sports) hash over the local, national and international news of the day.

"We're not going to do the cop shop news, which is so prevalent today," Hurley said in a telephone interview. And the sports/weather segments will be very basic, lasting from 30 to 60 seconds each. Much of the news footage will come from CNN, of which KXTD is an affiliate. But Hurley said the station also will "have one or two shooting crews here so that we can get some content locally."

Texas Daily will be presented in high-definition, he said. A separate locally produced lifestyles program also is in the planning stages.

Eleven of the 12 contributors named in the Texas Daily synopsis worked at one point or another for WFAA8, with former NBC5 sports anchor Murray the lone exception so far. Besides the aforementioned, the other contributors are Gary Cogill, Jolene DeVito, Rebecca Rodriguez, Robert Riggs, Phyllis Watson and John Sparks.

Hurley said there are contractual offers out to five other potential contributors. All of them would be earning small fractions of their previous salaries, but it's not exactly heavy lifting.

"We're not requiring them to work every day. A lot of these folks are retired," Hurley said. "They'll be in and out of here in a couple of hours. And you know what's another big point? No night work."

Rowlett, WFAA8's mainstay news anchor for a quarter-century before he jumped to CBS11 in 1999, said he initially had reservations about joining KTXD. But he decided to sign on after Dungan (WFAA8's longtime main weathercaster until his 2007 retirement) likewise agreed to be a part of Texas Daily.

"Yes, Troy and I will be together again for a program a week, possibly two," Rowlett said in an email response. "We both thought that would be something worth trying. I like the folks at London."

Dungan, in a separate response, said he had a "few small issues" with the contract sent by KTXD, but "it is likely I will get together with them. I'm not sure how to describe what I'll be doing. It will be more of a co-hosting sort of a news talk hour as I understand things. Could we see Tracy and Troy -- together again? Heck, I would watch that."

DeVito, who anchored and reported for both WFAA8 and the companion Texas Cable News channel, said she's still primarily a broadcast talent coach who works with sportscasters and pro athletes.

"I didn't think there would be any project that would interest me and fit in my life," said DeVito, who also has two pre-teen children. "I was wrong on both counts. The Texas Daily is a unique opportunity to reunite with old friends and debate the news of the day. Heck, if you told me, 'Hey, Gary Cogill and Tracy Rowlett are down at Starbucks right now, chewing the fat, and they want you to come' -- I'd be there in a second. In this case, we'll just have TV cameras there, too , , , I'm looking forward to bringing my 40-something suburban mother of two perspective to the conversation."


Hurley & Lauren Jones strike 2007 poses for Fox's Anchorwoman.

Besides KTXD, Hurley and London Broadcasting president Jerry London preside over four other Texas TV stations in Tyler-Longview, Beaumont-Port Arthur, Corpus Christi and Waco-Temple-Bryan.

The former Southwestern Bell Telephone executive was running KYTX-TV in Tyler when he agreed to hire former wrestling villainess Lauren Jones for the purposes of the 2007 summertime Fox "comedy/reality" series Anchorwoman. It was canceled after back-to-back opening night episodes bombed in the national Nielsens. KYTX also accommodated Stormy the Weather Dog at the time. The adopted mutt remains with the station but no longer appears on newscasts.

Hurley agrees that Texas Daily is a polar opposite of Anchorwoman, but has no apologies. It helped put the small station in a better ratings position, he said, with KYTX (still owned by London Broadcasting) now No. 2 instead of 4 in the newscast ratings.

"It worked for me," he said. "And to this day, I always get a big laugh out of all the uproar. Now I look at all the different folks who've done different things who now proclaim themselves anchors. I think it's hilarious."

London Broadcasting bought KTXD, formerly religious station KTAQ, after it went into bankruptcy. The changeover was finalized in January, with station headquarters relocated to offices at Arapaho and the Dallas North Tollway. KTXD took over space formerly occupied by Frost Bank, "and we turned the lobby into a studio," Hurley said.

ME-TV (Memorable Entertainment Television) has an old-time TV series menu of former network hits ranging from Perry Mason to The Beverly Hillbillies.

"We're trying to develop a news product that mirrors which mirrors the audience for ME-TV," Hurley said. And with D-FW's KFWD-TV soon switching from similar entertainment repeats to Spanish language Mundo Fox, "more advertising dollars and viewers will be coming in our direction," he said.

Almost all broadcast and cable networks bow to Madison Avenue's dictum that 18-to-49-year-olds viewers reign supreme in terms of maximizing advertising revenues. But Hurley insists that commercial sales for KTXD have been solid in the early going, with ample room for growth among those advertisers who still tailor their products to viewers north of 50 years old.

In that respect, Texas Daily will share common ground with the three network evening newscasts, all of which subsist on a steady diet of commercials for pain remedies, senior-aimed fountains of youth and products meant to stop leakage.

"We're not taking a poke at anybody," Hurley said of the established local newscasts on broadcast rivals Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8, CBS11 and CW33. "We're just doing something with a different style and content, and with some proven players."

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., July 23) -- Rangers score on two fronts

Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN two-timed the Rangers-Red Sox game Monday night, with the homegrown numbers far superior.

FSS also gave viewers and tweeters more to chew on when analyst Tom Grieve announced the on-air end of his "Cookie Talk" segments. They'll now be exiled to the FSS website, meaning that Flora Flour of Flower Mound might want to reconsider sending her chocolate pecan, double-frosted sugar cookies up to the booth if they're not even going to drop her name on teevee anymore.

Grieve said that the volume of sweets has gotten a bit out of hand, prompting the switch. That's no doubt not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But whatever. Jim "Knoxie" Knox's oft-aggravating in-game fan segments for now are still part of FSS telecasts.

The game itself, which stretched to 10:12 p.m., averaged 209,998 D-FW viewers on FSS and another 94,837 on ESPN. That's a grand total of 304,835 viewers for Texas' 9-1 victory. And that again easily was enough to top all of Monday's TV attractions.

Fox's 7 p.m. hour of Hell's Kitchen ranked No. 2 in prime-time with a pretty sturdy 189,675 viewers.

Fox4's 6 p.m. U.S. Senate debate between Republicans David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz had just 67,741 viewers to rank fourth in that hour opposite a mix of local newscasts and syndicated programming on NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11. The latter station's Wheel of Fortune almost tripled the debate crowd with 196,449 viewers.

Rangers-Red Sox also ruled the roost among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds. Hell's Kitchen ran second overall in prime-time in this key demographic.

ABC's two-hour season premiere of Bachelor Pad had a lackluster 81,289 total viewers before the network's Big Brother knockoff, Glass House, registered as prime-time's least-watched attraction among the Big Four broadcast networks with 33,871 viewers.

Fox4 had a big day in the four-way local news derby results, sweeping the 10 p.m., 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. competitions in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

But Dewhurst-Cruz kept the station from potentially achieving a very rare double grand slam. Instead the downsized three-way 6 p.m. local news wars went to WFAA8 in total viewers and NBC5 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., July 20-22) -- Rangers lose two of three to Angels but otherwise make clean sweep

Seen on three different venues over the weekend, the Texas Rangers again swung from the fences in the D-FW Nielsens while their offense ran hot and cold.

Each of the three road games against the Angels was the most-watched TV attraction of the day, led by Saturday afternoon/evening's 9-2 win on Fox. It averaged a robust 318,383 viewers while also dominating among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds.

Sunday night's game on ESPN, a 7-4 Rangers loss, drew 264,190 viewers while Friday night's 6-1 Angels win on TXA21 had a crowd of 257,416. Both games likewise dominated in the 18-to-49 demographic.

Fox Sports Southwest, which reclaims the Rangers Monday night in their return home against Boston, also has prospered all season with first-place Texas. Even the highly dramatic final minutes of the British Open Sunday afternoon amounted to a missed short putt. Ernie Els' improbable win over a cratering Adam Scott peaked at 155,804 viewers from 12:15 to 12:30 p.m. on ESPN. The overall average audience was just half that size.

Sunday night's annual Teen Choice Awards on Fox averaged 121,934 total viewers in the 7 to 9 p.m. slot. ABC's competing Bachelorette finale won that time period with 189,675 viewers while also prevailing with 18-to-49-year-olds among non-Ranger attractions.

In Friday's local news derby results, CBS11 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 did likewise at 6 a.m.

WFAA8 notched both wins at 5 p.m. and added a 6 p.m. first in total viewers. The ABC affiliate tied with Fox4 for the 25-to-54 lead at 6 p.m.

R.I.P. Eddie Barker: Aug. 18, 1927 to July 23, 2012 (updated Monday, 3:45 p.m.)


My name will always come up short of him -- in every way.

Dallas-Fort Worth television legend Eddie Barker, first to report the death of President John F. Kennedy and present at the creation of KRLD-TV (Channel 4), died Monday morning at the age of 84.

He never really got out of the broadcasting business, hosting a daily talk show on KPLT-AM (1490) in Paris, TX until late in his life. And as news director at Channel 4 (now KDFW/Fox4), he also hired Judy Jordan, who became the "First Lady" of D-FW television news after Barker made her an anchor.

Most accounts initially credited Dan Rather, as did the reporter himself, for being the first to report on television that Kennedy had died during that horrific Nov. 22, 1963 day in Dallas. But transcripts and tapes later showed that Barker's KRLD report from the Dallas Trade Mart came first at 1:11 p.m. that day. Walter Cronkite then haltingly broke the news to the nation five minutes later while both men stressed that it had yet to be officially confirmed. The authorized announcement to the nation came at 1:33 p.m. Barker had received the news from a trusted doctor at Parkland Hospital, where Kennedy had been taken.

"I don't think it's a question of being proud of being first, or regretting that I had such news," Barker told me in an interview tied to the 40th anniversary of the assassination. "I always thought of it as, 'Here's a story. I'm a reporter and we're trying to get news of what happened.' It was a helluva thing to have to tell people, and you had to have some dignity in how you said it. It's kind of a strange thing to be remembered for."

The late Cronkite, a longtime friend of Barker's, wrote the Foreword to his 2006 book, Eddie Barker's Notebook: Stories That Made the News (and some better ones that didn't!). Written in tandem with John Mark Dempsey, it came 36 years after Barker was let go as Channel 4 news director in 1972. He was just 45 years old, but new management decided that a change was needed.

Cronkite wrote that Barker "has fire in the belly -- a five-alarmer burning in his gut. When a good story breaks, Eddie becomes inspired. He leaves no stone unturned until he or members of his staff have mined the territory for every nugget of information. He remains doggedly at the story until his highly developed news sense tells him there is nothing left uncovered."

Jordan, among several old contemporaries interviewed by Dempsey for the book, said that "if Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in America, Eddie Barker was the most trusted man in Dallas."

In comments Monday to unclebarky.com, Jordan said "there will always be a special place in my heart for my mentor and benefactor. Mr. Barker brought his instincts for truth-seeking to every undertaking, and taught me and many others invaluable professional and life lessons."

Jordan noted that a modeling job at Neiman-Marcus became available at around the same time the "girl Friday/gofer" job was offered by the KRLD TV and radio stations. But Barker gradually moved her from behind an off-camera desk to on-camera work as a reporter and then as D-FW's first woman news anchor.

"Working around men who wore makeup and could type faster than any girl was an irresistible novelty," Jordan said Monday. "I am so glad I chose as I did, and that Mr. Barker then chose me. I hope the Barker family can find comfort in the many wonderful stories and memories he left behind."

In his book, Barker wrote: "Looking back, I guess I was guilty of doing what I'm always cussing everyone else out for doing, putting an attractive face on TV. But Judy got better and better as a reporter and as an anchor. People really liked her. And you can't overestimate the importance of that in television."

Barker was born on August 18, 1927 as the only child of Edmund Asa Barker Sr. and the former Nannie Mae Meek. His birthplace is the Harlandale section of San Antonio, 102 Kirkwood Street, according to his book. He was delivered at home during the heart of the Great Depression.

Barker's first broadcasting job was as an announcer at San Antonio's KMAC radio. He was still in high school at the time, and had to quit his job at the drugstore. In November of 1949 he joined KRLD on the eve of its sign-on -- Dec. 3, 1949. He ended up anchoring the fledgling station's evening newscasts while also hosting a game show called Ring the Bell for Charity. "A truly terrible show," Barker wrote in his book.

He also met and interviewed a number of Hollywood stars and other notables passing through Dallas. Humphrey Bogart, Jayne Mansfield, Steve Allen, Audie Murphy and Rudy Vallee all made favorable impressions on him. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz did not.

"I have to say I didn't like them at all," he said of the couple's first visit to Channel 4 in the 1950s. "Very difficult to interview. They were terribly demanding about this or that camera angle. They really played the 'stars.' I thought she was pretty funny on TV up until then, but
that killed it for me."

Eddie Barker and Dan Rather during a very sobering November, 1963.

His relationship with Rather blew hot and cold over the years after they teamed to cover the Kennedy assassination and its aftermath. KRLD was a CBS affiliate station, meaning that Rather and his crew used its studios to file their reports. They clashed in no uncertain terms after Rather told Barker he had heard that some elementary school students in University Park had cheered the president's death as they were let out of class.

Barker said in his book that he checked the story out and told Rather that the kids were merely cheering the fact that they had gotten out of school early. But in Barker's account, Rather went with the "city of hate" angle anyway, prompting the infuriated news director to boot Rather and 30-odd CBS cameramen, editors and producers out of KRLD studios.

Channel 4 then did its own story on the matter before "fences got mended" and Rather was invited back the next day.

Barker ended up inducting Rather into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2003.

"I've always said there are two Dan Rathers," he wrote in his book. "One you are proud to call your friend, and the other who achieves his goals at any cost. And I have known them both . . . I've got to say I still really like him, warts and all."

Post-Channel 4, Barker remained closely involved with the Radio-Television News Director's Association, managing the exhibits for the organization's annual conventions. He also was RTNDA president in 1967.

In a 1995 interview, Barker commented on the technological advances of TV news in the years after the Kennedy assassination, during which there were no live cameras in place along the president's parade route.

"We were in no way positioned to cover an event as these people are today," he said. "I sit and look and just kind of marvel at the flexibility they have."

Still, he wondered whether the instant news to which viewers are now accustomed is always a better way to go.

"There are time when I've felt that maybe we had a little better control over what was said. Because in our day, I think the message was more important to some of us than the medium."

But mistakes were made back then, too, including early erroneous reports that vice president Lyndon Johnson had suffered a heart attack while riding in the fateful presidential motorcade. No era is perfect, as Barker would readily admit. But he was there at the creation -- and lived for a good long time to re-tell the tales.

Eddie Barker is survived by his wife, Jane Barker, and five children, including my former Dallas Morning News colleague, Leslie Barker Garcia. Funeral services are pending.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., July 19) -- address is CBS

A CBS mix of repeats and Big Big Brother 14 controlled Thursday's prime-time numbers in total viewers and likewise almost ran the table with advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds.

The Big Bang Theory set the pace with 243,868 D-FW viewers while also ranking as the night's high scorer in the 18-to-49 realm -- 96,069. The network's only slip-up was Person of Interest, which ran a close third at 9 p.m. among 18-to-49-year-olds. Fox4's local newscast and ABC's Rookie Blue tied for first.

In the four-way local news derby faceoffs, WFAA8 ran first at 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 swept the 6 a.m. competitions and added 5 and 6 p.m. wins with 25-to-54-year-olds. WFAA8 had the most total viewers at those two hours.

CBS11 hires new early morning traffic stopper, shifts incumbent Frosini to reporter role

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CBS11 newcomer Whitney Drolen and holdover Teresa Frosini

CBS11 continued its early morning news makeover Thursday by naming Whitney Drolen as the new traffic "anchor" while shifting incumbent Teresa Frosini to the D-FW station's reporting staff.

The swap begins the week of August 6th, CBS11 director of communications Lori Conrad says.

Drolen's hire apparently rules out any possibility of soon-to-be-former NBC5 "Gridlock Buster" Tammy Bombeck relocating to CBS11 in that capacity. Dombeck's last day at NBC5, after they reached a contract renewal stalemate, will be Friday of next week. A six-month "non-compete" clause will then prohibit the veteran traffic stopper from being on-air in the D-FW market until February at the earliest.

Drolen joins CBS11 from CBS-owned stations KCBS and KCAL in Los Angeles, where she's lately been doing traffic updates. She began her TV career at little WVVA-TV in Bluefield, W. VA., moved to Pittsburgh's WTAE-TV and then relocated to Southern California in 2006. Her employers since then also have included E! Entertainment Television, Fox Movie Channel and Comcast.

"I love the Dallas-Fort Worth area, so for me, this is a dream come true," Drolen says in a CBS11 publicity release. "I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to work at CBS11 and to become a Texan."

CBS11/TXA21 president and general manager Gary Schneider praised Drolen as "intelligent, energetic and extremely excited to come to North Texas."

Frosini, CBS11's traffic maestro since May 2006, will become a reporter specializing in lighter news. The station says her beats will include entertainment news, "special news reports" and her ongoing "Texans With Character" profiles.

"I am excited to have the opportunity to move into the genre where my passion lies," she says, also noting her love for the early morning shift she'll be leaving.

CBS11, long a distant number four in the early morning ratings race, introduced a new anchor team of former NBC5 early riser Brendan Higgins and Adrienne Bankert on June 25th. With Drolen's hiring, only meteorologist Garry Seith remains in place.

Drolen's official resume reel, which she posted on youtube, is eclectic to say the least. And also typical of these times in local TV news. Here it is:

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., July 18) -- Talent, Big Brother set pace on sluggish summer night

NBC's 8 p.m. hour of America's Got Talent ranked as Wednesday's top prime-time draw, but Madison Avenue's desired segment of the human species sided with CBS' Big Brother 14.

Talent pulled in 169,353 D-FW viewers while BB had the most advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds -- 86,462.

Neither show had to face the potent first-place Texas Rangers, who lost a comparatively little-seen afternoon game to the Oakland A's on a walk-off home run. Rangers-A's averaged 115,160 total viewers on Fox Sports Southwest, with 41,630 in the 18-to-49 domain.

In local news derby results, WFAA8 topped the 10 p.m. field in total viewers while tying Fox4 for first place among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 swept the 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. competitions and tied WFAA8 for No. 1 at 6 p.m. in the 25-to-54 demographic. WFAA8 took the 6 p.m. gold in total viewers.

Anchor Debbie Denmon leaves WFAA8 (updated 3:30 p.m. Wednesday with new comments from Denmon and a no comment from WFAA)


Anchor Debbie Denmon, who joined WFAA8 in October, 2000, announced on her Facebook page Wednesday that she's leaving the Dallas-based station after a turbulent tenure marked by a discrimination suit that she lost last year.

She said the station did not renew her contract. "So effective immediately, today is my last day with the station," Denmon said. "God closes one door and will surely open another!"

The station quickly removed her bio Wednesday from its website, wfaa.com. Vice president of program development Dave Muscari later said via email: "As you know we are fiercely protective of our employees' privacy. Thus we do not comment on personnel issues."

Reached by telephone Wednesday afternoon, Denmon said, "I actually feel a sense of relief, but I promised my attorney that I would a wait a bit to give a full interview. I'm fine. They basically called me in this morning and said they were not going to renew my contract."

Denmon is represented by Dallas attorney Michael Coles, who currently is out of town, she said.

Recently hired WFAA8 news director Carolyn Mungo called her in late Wednesday morning to deliver the news that her contract would not be renewed when it expires in October, Denmon said. The station is paying her in absentia for the roughly 90 days remaining on the contract, she said.

Denmon also confirmed that "it's standard in Belo contracts to have a non-compete" in signed contracts. "And yes, I do have one."

Depending on the station, such clauses generally prohibit a former employee from being on the air in the same TV market for six months after they depart. WFAA8 is owned by Dallas-based Belo Corp., whose headquarters are across the street in downtown Dallas from WFAA8 studios and The Dallas Morning News, also a Belo property.

As reported previously on unclebarky.com, Denmon charged the ABC affiliate with discrimination against her in regards to promotion opportunities. An arbitrator ruled against her in November of last year. Denmon, who earlier had co-anchored WFAA8's Daybreak program, had applied to be a co-anchor on the station's 5 p.m. weekday newscasts. Shelly Slater instead got the position.

Reacting to the arbitrator's ruling at the time, WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin said in a statement the station is "grateful that the arbitrator's decision was based on the clear facts of the case, and on the merits of the legal claims."

"We made legitimate business decisions based on performance," Devlin continued. "And at the end of the day, the arbitrator confirmed that there was nothing wrong with our doing so. We have always stood by our decision, and we are glad we fought this to the end and obtained complete vindication of any wrongdoing,"

Roughly 20 WFAA8 employees, including longtime WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen, were called in to testify before the arbitrator eventually ruled against Denmon. A clause in WFAA8 contracts mandates that any claims of discrimination be resolved in binding arbitration rather than in a courtroom.

Denmon had contended that her plus-sized figure in part had kept her from being promoted ahead of other WFAA8 anchors with less tenure at the station.

She most recently had co-anchored WFAA8's evening and late night weekend newscasts. She began doing so in February 2010.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., July 17) -- another win/win for Rangers

The first-place Texas Rangers returned to action Tuesday, and their late-starting 6-1 win at Oakland again emerged as D-FW 's most-watched nighttime TV attraction.

Stretching until 11:49 p.m. on Fox Sports Southwest, the game averaged 189,675 viewers in edging NBC's 7 to 9 p.m. edition of America's Got Talent (176,127).

Among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds, the Rangers settled for a solid second place tie with Talent. Fox's Hell's Kitchen topped the field in this key demographic with 92,867 viewers in the 7 p.m. hour.

WFAA8's one-hour Belo Debate between Republican U.S. Senate candidates David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz had 81,289 total viewers in the 7 p.m. slot, with just 9,607 of them 18-to-49-year-olds. It respectively ranked fourth and fifth in those measurements opposite broadcast network programming on CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW.

That doesn't detract, however, from what came off as a model way to present a debate. Dewhurst and Cruz sat within "Pass the Peas" distance of one another while otherwise pulling out their knives. Moderator Brad Watson, host of WFAA8's Sunday morning Inside Politics program, savvily kept the combatants on topic, knowing when to interject and when to let them have at it. Dallas Morning News political reporter Gromer Jeffers, a regular on Inside Politics, served as Watson's very capable Robin. Networks and local stations around the country could learn from this.

Tuesday night also yielded a guest appearance by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on ABC's following 8 p.m. half-hour of Trust Us With Your Life, an improv variation on the network's previous Whose Line Is It Anyway?. The Belo Debate was a comparative blockbuster, with just 20,322 total viewers watching Cuban laugh it up while being twitted. That ranked it fifth in a five-horse broadcast network field, with the same ranking among 18-to-49-year-olds.

In Tuesday's local news derby proceedings, WFAA8 called the tune at 10 p.m. in total viewers but Fox4 and NBC5 shared first place with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 ran the table at both 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. and added a 6 p.m. win in the 25-to-54 demographic. WFAA8 had the most total viewers at that time.

Of note at 6 a.m. was WFAA8's second straight weekday in the ratings doldrums. So much so that the largely dormant CBS11's waker upper rose up to claim third place from 6 to 7 a.m. (as well as from 5 to 6 a.m.) in the key 25-to-54 demographic. That hasn't happened in a good long while, giving CBS11's new anchor team of Brendan Higgins and Adrienne Bankert at least a ray of hope for one day at least.

A post-NBC5 McGarry blooms anew while putting her station behind her

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Ex-NBC5 anchor Jane McGarry with a Campisi's pizza while also feted with a new hot dog in her name. Photos from McGarry's Facebook page

Free at last.

It's both ironic and sad that former NBC5 anchor Jane McGarry has regained her First Amendment rights only after ending a 30-year tenure with a media company.

Well, to a point. Reached by telephone Tuesday morning, McGarry continued to pleasantly but firmly state that "for the time being" her widely circulated exit statements on both NBC5's website and her Facebook page will have to speak for themselves. She also declined to discuss any future possibilities beyond life at the station she joined in 1982 before admittedly driving while intoxicated on an early morning in early May.

Meanwhile, McGarry is newly enabled to go a little nuts on her Facebook and Twitter pages after being completely silenced for more than two months. The old Jane had been a frequent poster on those two sites. The post-NBC5 Jane is pedal to the metal.

"How you like my hot dog? she asked Tuesday during a fusillade of tweets. "Try one Friday at the first Go Texan Cowtown Chowdown with Food Trucks. Mmmm:)"

A companion post on her now very busy Facebook page notes that the "Tarzan Me Jane" dog in her honor comes with "grilled onions, chili, cheddar cheese, chopped green onion, tomato, jalapeno & sour cream. 'We do not Cheetah on these toppings."

McGarry earlier had asked for her Facebook friends' input, noting that "a foot (sic) truck wants to name a hot dog after me." She said the choices were the aforementioned "Tarzan Me Jane" plus "Just Jane" (basic mustard, ketchup, relish) and "Texas Jane" (add jalapenos).

As of this writing she has 603 comments. Holy freakin' foot long!

McGarry also asked for tips on the "3 most important things a kid needs for his college dorm room." She received 275 comments. And her tout and picture of a plumbago plant that "LOVES the Texas heat" has received 117 comments to date.

The official nbcdfw.com website can only dream about such traffic. Even its trumpeted "Dez Bryant Accused of Assaulting His Mother" story, complete with mug shot, has gotten just eight comments as of this writing.

The l-o-o-o-o-ve also continues to pour in as McGarry lunches with pals, posts pictures and gets on with her life. One such Facebook valentine comes from Prince Morkan Vladeslas Dcc, who included a picture of the "main fountain of Savannah" with the notation "We were there in April. As is (sic) flows and cleanses, let a new start, do the same for you."

Another Facebook friend asked the basic Topic A question of McGarry: "Are you going back to KXAS? If not, where are you going?"

"I don't know the answer to where right now, but I'll keep you posted," she replied. "Thanks for asking."

Well, it won't be back to KXAS, a k a NBC5. That chapter is closed, liberating McGarry in the process. Some of this love and outright adulation will die down in time. But at this very moment, McGarry remains a big star within her Facebook and Twitter communities.

Unshackled in large part, she's tripping the light fandango while her former NBC5 colleagues remain wary of saying anything that might get them in trouble with both local and corporate management.

Anchors and reporters at both NBC5 and rival D-FW television stations increasingly feel compelled to operate under the same constraints. Not all of them, but their numbers are increasing. Big Brother is watching, and media companies are among the worst offenders. Put your head down, do your job and keep your mouth shut when it comes to "personnel matters." And in today's media world, personnel matters cover a wide spectrum.

One more thing. McGarry fully owned up -- on her Facebook page-- to driving while intoxicated. She vowed it would never happen again. It was her first criminal offense of any kind. Her station then almost simultaneously "supported" the 56-year-old anchor's "decision" to "resign."

Do you think for a minute that the New York Knicks will part ways with newly acquired guard Jason Kidd after he smashed his car into a telephone pole and was arrested on a DWI charge?

Do you really think the Dallas Cowboys will waive Bryant off the team after his latest incident?

Athletes time and again are given chances to redeem themselves. So are movie stars, politicians, etc., etc. I'm not saying that McGarry is Joan of Arc. Nor was she a trailblazing anchor. She assumed the position, capably did her job for 30 years at NBC5, got older, got downsized to lower profile newscasts and in the end got dismissed.

It's already been surmised in these spaces that McGarry's transgression gave NBC5 management a convenient reason to part ways with an aging, still comparatively high-salaried anchor who perhaps would have been let go in a year or two anyway. Readers of course are free to think otherwise.

Meanwhile, McGarry appears to have re-calibrated herself and moved on. Cripes, even her Facebook picture and post on lunch at Campisi's got 95 comments.

By the way, not one of these Facebook comments -- on any of the aforementioned subjects -- is from a current on-camera NBC5 employee. Um, you think that's coincidental?

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., July 16) -- Fox4, WFAA8 split local news spoils

Absent a potent Texas Rangers game, the summertime prime-time ratings sputtered Monday, with Fox's Hell's Kitchen and ABC's The Bachelorette ranking as top draws with modest totals of 189,675 D-FW viewers each.

Both bowed to CBS11's still rolling Wheel of Fortune, which led all programming with 257,416 viewers in the 6:30 p.m. access slot.

Among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, Hell's Kitchen set Monday's pace with 99,271.

The local news derby results were dominated by two stations.

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

Fox4 ran the table at both 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. while WFAA8 did the same at 6 p.m.

NBC5 names KOCO vet Rick Mitchell as new early morning meteorologist (updated Mon., 4:30 p.m.)

NBC 5_KXAS_Rick Mitchell_head shot 2012

Veteran meteorologist Rick Mitchell, the lead weathercaster at Oklahoma City's KOCO-TV since 1994, has been tabbed by Fort Worth-based NBC5 as its new early morning forecaster.

Mitchell replaces Jennifer Lopez, whose contract wasn't renewed last March after a four-year stay with NBC5.

The 1987 University of Nebraska grad, with a bachelor of science degree in meteorology, will join the station on Aug. 22nd, but his official first day on the air hasn't yet been announced. Mitchell previously worked at WOI-TV in Des Moines. KOCO is an ABC affiliate.

"It's a surprisingly great hire," said a source familiar with Mitchell's work. "Rick is a really nice guy and a great team player. Plus, he knows his weather."

NBC5's Monday afternoon announcement of Mitchell's hiring had no information on the status of incumbent Samantha Davies, who had been filling in for Lopez on the station's early morning shift. But vice president of programming Brian Hocker said in a subsequent email reply that Davies "will remain on the AMs and we have to figure out duties/shifts because of the 11 a.m. newscast and how that plays into it."

Before subbing for Lopez, Davies had been working the 4:30 to 5 a.m. "First Weather" segment while also filling in at other times throughout the day and night. She additionally does some segments on upcoming area events such as last week's "Taste of Dallas" at Fair Park.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., July 13-15) -- Rangers make TXA21 the weekend's big winner

TXA21's visionary investment in Friday night Texas Rangers games paid off handsomely with the weekend's most-watched TV attraction.

The 3-2 win at Seattle averaged 298,060 D-FW viewers, with 118,486 of them in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 age range. No other Friday through Sunday program came close to matching that.

The Rangers' 7-0 loss on Fox Sports Southwest Saturday night emerged as that day's most-watched program with 182,901 total viewers while also leading the way with 18-to-49-year-olds.

But Sunday afternoon's 4-0 Texas win fell a bit short in both ratings measurements. Its 189,675 total viewers ranked second to ABC's prime-time episode of Secret Millionaire (196,449 viewers). And AMC's Season 5 premiere of Breaking Bad, along with CBS' Big Brother, tied for the lead in 18-to-49-year-olds (89,664) while the Rangers had 83,260.

We've been charting the Rangers' robust ratings all season. And a publicity release from FSS says that the games leading up to the All-Star game break were drawing 83 percent more viewers than last season's average. FSS says that's the biggest year-to-year growth in Major League Baseball.

The Rangers also are taking substantial chunks of audience away from the Big Four broadcast networks' summer landfills. It'll be interesting to see how they fare against NBC's Summer Olympics telecasts, which begin on Friday, July 27th with the opening ceremonies from London. It sets up an almost two-and-a-half week period in which live/taped sports, either the Olympics or the Rangers, may well finish one-two on each night they're in competition with each other. Sorry about that, Bachelor Pad.

In Friday's local news derby results, CBS11 ended a lengthy summertime drought by tying for first in total viewers at 10 p.m. with WFAA8. It was the station's first win since June 28th in the four major four-way competitions.

Fox4 and NBC5 tied for the top spot at 10 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. The Peacock and Fox4 split the 6 a.m. golds, with NBC5 running first with 25-to-54-year-olds while Fox4 had the most total viewers.

Fox4 ran the table at 5 p.m. and added a 6 p.m. win in the 25-to-54 demographic. CBS11 made it a cake and ice cream day with a 6 p.m. victory in total viewers.

A dark cloud continued to hover around CBS11's early morning news, however. CW33's Eye Opener again ran fourth among 25-to-54-year-olds in both the 5 and 6 a.m. hours, pushing CBS11 into fifth place. The 7 a.m. repeat hour of Eye Opener then spanked the CBS network's morning show by a wider margin in this key demographic.

Dallas, we hardly knew ye

TNT's Dallas has showcased more charter cast members in its ongoing first season than the original did in its last season.

Check out this tease and opening credits from the 1990-91 swan song, when holdovers Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Ken Kercheval shared "In Alphabetical Order" cast billing with the likes of Kimberly Foster, Sasha Mitchell, Cathy Podewell, Barbara Stock and Sheree J. Wilson, who went on to co-star in Walker, Texas Ranger.

Besides Hagman, Duffy and Kecheval, the revived Dallas has included first-year regulars Linda Gray, Charlene Tilton and Steve Kanaly during its first six episodes. Four more hours remain, with Season 2 already green-lighted with a 15-episode order.
Ed Bark

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., July 12) -- Big Brother gives CBS a lift

CBS' 14th edition premiere of Big Brother gave the network a nice summertime splash Thursday.

It comfortably won the 8 p.m. slot in both total D-FW viewers (128,708) and advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds (73,669).

For CBS, that's an uncommonly high percentage of viewers in the TV universe's key audience demographic. In contrast, the network's 9 p.m. repeat of Person of Interest had a bigger overall audience (142,256), but only 40,645 of those viewers were in the 18-to-49 age range.

CBS' pair of Big Bang Theory reruns won the 7 p.m. hour in both ratings measurements while NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams had the most 18-to-49-year-olds at 9 p.m.

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

NBC5 had paper thin wins at 6 a.m. in both major food groups. The 5 and 6 p.m. spoils were split between WFAA8, which topped the total viewer Nielsens, and Fox4, the winner at both hours among 25-to-54-year-olds.

CBS11's severe hot weather drought continued. The station hasn't finished first in any of the four major four-way newscast competitions since a 10 p.m. win in total viewers on Thursday, June 28th.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., July 11) -- Talent wins out in head-to-head with Dallas

Wednesday night's Episode 6 of TNT's Dallas failed to defend its home turf, losing an 8 p.m. matchup with NBC's America's Got Talent.

Talent drew 203,223 D-FW viewers to 176,127 for the Ewings. And among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, the score was 102,474 to 67,248, again in favor of Talent.

No worries for the local production community, though, Dallas already has been picked up for a Season 2. And Talent and Dallas ranked one-two in total viewers among all of Wednesday's prime-time attractions. Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast nipped Dallas for the No. 2 spot overall in the key 18-to-49 demographic.

In local news derby results, WFAA8 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers but Fox4 prevailed with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 ran the table at 6 a.m. while WFAA8 swept the 6 p.m. competitions. The 5 p.m. golds went to WFAA8 in total viewers and Fox4 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

CBS11's four principal newscasts again went without a win in what's starting to look like a long parched summer for the station. But the 5 to 7 a.m. portion of its early morning news did manage to edge CW33's Eye Opener for fourth place among 25-to-54-year-olds.

WFAA8's Alexa Conomos has third child and first baby girl

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Congratulations to WFAA8 Daybreak personality Alexa Conomos, who became a mom for the third time Wednesday morning.

The new arrival is a girl, Athanasia Annick, who weighed in at 7 pounds, 7 ounces according to a tweet from Daybreak colleague Ron Corning, who also supplied the newborn's picture.

Alexa and her husband, Bradley, also have two sons, Alexei Britton and first-born Alexandros Luka, who will be five years old this month. Alexei turned three last month.

Ed Bark

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., July 2 - Tues., July 10) -- National League dominates, as does the All-Star game itself

The National League ran up the score early while baseball's annual All-Star game did likewise against all competing programming Tuesday night.

Running from 7:18 to 10:17 p.m. on Fox, the NL's 8-0 blowout of the AL averaged 426,768 total viewers, with 208,150 of them in the advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-old range.

A closer game likely would have meant an audience approaching a half-million, though. The final full 15-minute increment of the game, from 10 to 10:15 p.m., fell to 304,835 total viewers, with 131,294 in the 18-to-49 demographic. The audience steadily declined from 9 p.m. until the final out.

Tuesday's most-watched competing prime-time program, CBS' NCIS repeat, averaged 189,675 viewers in the 7 p.m. hour. ABC's premiere of the unscripted NY Med had 128,708 viewers from 9 to 10 p.m.

In chronological order, we now go to the weekday local news derby results.

Monday, July 2 -- NBC5 swept the 10 p.m. competitions, winning in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

The Peacock and Fox tied for first at 6 a.m. in total viewers while WFAA8 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Fox4 ran the table at 5 p.m. and added a 6 p.m. win with 25-to-54-year-olds. WFAA8 won at 6 p.m. in total viewers.

Tuesday, July 3 -- WFAA8 had a big day, sweeping the 6 a.m. and 6 and 10 p.m. races. Fox4 took both of the 5 p.m. golds.

Wednesday, July 4 -- All four stations took holiday knees, which means the newscast numbers essentially don't count. But WFAA8 had the biggest prime-time audience with a locally produced 9 p.m. Fair Park fireworks special that drew 155,804 viewers. TNT aired a new episode of Dallas at 8 p.m. after a preceding "marathon" of repeats. It recorded the smallest D-FW audience to date -- 128,708 total viewers.

Thursday, July 5 -- WFAA8 ran the table at both 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. while adding a 6 p.m. win in total viewers. NBC5 ran first at 5 p.m. in total viewers, with Fox4 taking the 5 and 6 p.m. golds in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Friday, July 6 -- WFAA8 again swept the 10 p.m. proceedings while Fox4 and NBC5 tied for first at 6 a.m. in both measurements. WFAA8 was a close third in each of the early morning tussles and won in total viewers at both 5 and 6 p.m. The 25-to-54 golds at those hours respectively went to Fox4 and NBC5.

Monday, July 9 -- The 10 p.m. firsts were split between WFAA8 in total viewers and Fox4 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

WFAA8 ran first at 6 a.m. in total viewers while NBC5 topped the 25-to-54 charts. Fox4 and WFAA8 tied for first at 5 p.m. in total viewers but WFAA8 otherwise swept the early evening races.

Tuesday, July 10 -- WFAA8 dominated a downsized three-way 10 p.m. competition with runaway wins in both ratings measurements. Fox4 answered with twin wins at 6 a.m.

WFAA8 won at both 5 and 6 p.m. in total viewers. Fox took the 25-to-54 gold at 5 p.m. while tying WFAA8 for the top spot at 6 p.m.

For those keeping score, this entire period came and went without CBS11 recording a single win in the four major local news face-offs. Even worse, the station's remodeled early news program lost as often as not in the 25-to-54 demographic to CW33's comedy-infused Eye Opener.

The Tuesday, July 10th results were pretty typical, with Eye Openerrunning fourth ahead of CBS11 in both the 5 and 6 a.m. hours.

Post-vacation catchup: starring David Duitch, Shelly Slater, Lisa Pineiro

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In the news: Lisa Pineiro, David Duitch and Shelly Slater.

David Duitch is returning to the Belo mothership and cutting ties with Dallas-based CW33 after four oft-turbulent years as the Tribune-owned station's news director.

The former WFAA8 news director is the new editor of dallasnews.com, where he'll "join" current managing editor Robert Wilonsky, according to a memorandum announcing the hire. He's scheduled to start in late July.

Both WFAA8 and The Dallas Morning News are run by Belo, where synergy still runs strong despite a split in which the newspaper is a subsidiary of A.H. Belo Corporation while the TV station is run by Belo Corp.

Several sources say the key to Duitch's hiring is Dallas Morning News publisher and chief executive officer James M. Moroney III, who formerly worked for WFAA8 and also was president of the Belo Television Group. Moroney and Duitch have remained close friends.

Sources close to the situation also say that Tribune Corp. has a prospective buyer, which might make endangered species of the local newscasts at Tribune-owned stations such as CW33.

Duitch became CW33's news director in July of 2008. In that capacity he led the station on a rollercoaster ride of hires and fires, virtually erasing the news staff he inherited while mandating a heavy mix of sex stories and Facebook tie-ins for the featured 9 p.m. local newscasts. The station even had a designated sex correspondent, Shana Franklin, who since has departed the station.

Ratings for the 9 p.m. newscasts have continued to decline despite multiple re-inventions during Duitch's tenure. His replacement, at least on an interim basis, will be assistant news director Denise Killian, who was hired in March from NBC affiliate KWQC in the Quad Cities.

Duitch, as does Wilonsky, has a strong personality that could either make or break their relationship at dallasnews.com. While at CW33, he both alienated some staffers while winning over others. In the wake of his decision to leave CW33, both sides made their feelings known.

"I am happy for him, but very sad," CW33 reporter Giselle Phelps said on her Facebook page. "I owe David a lot in my career. He believed in my talent and moved me from cold Buffalo to market #5 in Dallas. He also knew I had what it took to make it as a regular reporter and not a one-man band."

Others were less supportive.

"I have been told not to comment on the departure of my former boss from CW33," ex-station staffer Russell Thompson said on his Facebook page. "But I just can't resist! What goes around comes around! You got what you deserved! I hope the folks at the DMN know what they are getting into!"

A current staffer termed Duitch's departure "the happiest announcement I've ever heard here."

Duitch was WFAA8's news director from 2000 to 2005 before serving as the head of Belo Corp.'s Washington bureau from 2005 to 2008. The official Belo announcement of his re-hiring says that Duitch will "lead the teams responsible for breaking news coverage and for daily production of the Web site, and will work closely with the owners of all our digital platforms. One of his primary missions will be to enhance our video offerings."

Belo says that the impending team of Duitch and Wilonsky, who recently left The Dallas Observer to become dallasnews.com's managing editor, "gives us a powerful blend of energy, local awareness and deep technical knowledge."

***Former CBS11 early morning co-anchor Lisa Pineiro, who was dropped by the station in May, is hoping to rebound quickly with KTTV-TV, the Fox-owned station in Los Angeles. She's auditioning on the station's early morning newscasts this week, and you can take a look live if you'd like by going here on Thursday or Friday. Remember, though, there's a two-hour time difference. So the early AM show gets a later start in D-FW.

***WFAA8 anchor Shelly Slater, who became a first-time mom in the summer of 2010, is expecting again.

Slater, in an email response, said her due date is Jan. 4th. "Things happen in 3's around here! Cynthia (Izaguirre), Alex (Conomos), now me."

Izaguirre, the Daybreak co-anchor, is newly returned from maternity leave after having twins. Conomos, the early morning traffic reporter, filled in for Izaguirre while awaiting her own delivery of a third child. She's due very shortly.

WFAA8's maternity merry-go-around has meant a constant shuffling of on-air talent. Slater is due to officially replace Gloria Campos as 6 p.m. co-anchor in September, with Campos still co-helming 10 p.m. newscasts with John McCaa. But Slater's pregnancy could bring Campos back for a return visit just in time for the February "sweeps" ratings period.

Anchor Jane McGarry out at NBC5 after pleading no contest and apologizing for driving while intoxicated (updated July 11)


After more than two months off the air following an arrest for allegedly driving while intoxicated, NBC5 anchor Jane McGarry resigned Tuesday with the "support" of her boss.

McGarry, who joined the Fort Worth-based station in 1982, earlier apologized on her Facebook page for "my irresponsible behavior" on the early morning of Sunday, May 6th.

According to her Facebook post, McGarry pleaded no contest to a Class B misdemeanor charge and is "grateful that the police did their job and no one was hurt."

"Blood alcohol tests showed my blood alcohol level was .11, which is over the legal limit, and therefore I should not have been driving," McGarry said. The legal limit in Texas is .08 percent.

McGarry said she had paid a fine of $1,200, is on probation for 18 months and "will participate in at least 40 hours of community service. I am deeply sorry for making such a terrible mistake and pledge it will never happen again."

The veteran anchor also thanked her Facebook friends for "all your kindness. You have touched my heart."

NBC Universal-owned NBC5 handled McGarry's exit in typical corporate fashion in announcing Tuesday afternoon that she is immediately a past tense anchor at the Fort Worth-based station.

"We support Jane's decision and truly thank her for her many contributions to NBC5 throughout her long and distinguished career," station president and general manager Tom Ehlmann said in a statement. "We wish her the very best."

McGarry's official statement on the station's nbcdfw.com website went like this: "I want to thank the people of North Texas for inviting me into their homes for 30 wonderful years. In today's world, 30 years is a long time to stay in any one job. I leave grateful for the wonderful career I have had at NBC5 and am looking forward with anticipation to the next phase of my professional life."

Veteran WFAA8 anchor Gloria Campos, a survivor in her own right, terms it "a sad day in DFW TV news to see a long, distinguished career come to such an unceremonious end. Jane's a consummate professional and a formidable competitor. Her contributions to NBC5 won't soon be forgotten. She has many friends and fans here who no doubt will offer all the support she will need to sustain her through this transition."

McGarry's "decision" to resign obviously was not hers entirely. But after being taken off the 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts, she was deemed expendable as a middle-aged 56-year-old anchor who earlier had to take a salary cut to remain with the station as a 5 p.m. news co-anchor while soloing on the virtually invisible 6:30 p.m. Nonstop Nightly newscast on digital channel 5.2.

It's fair to say that McGarry's appreciably younger 6 and 10 p.m. heir, Meredith Land, likely would have received different treatment from station management had she committed the same infraction without any previous criminal record. But McGarry, who received a stay of execution after her longtime anchor partner, Mike Snyder, was let go, had been on the downside of her long NBC5 career for the past several years. The drunken driving arrest, and McGarry's admission of guilt, made it easy for management to cut her loose. The NBC Universal brass no doubt weighed in as well.

Interestingly, a former NBC5 nightside reporter, Jay Gray, escaped the ax from NBC News after he was arrested for drunk driving early on the morning of December 12, 2011. He had been attending a Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants football-watching party at the home of since convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky's attorney. Gray and other reporters at the party reportedly were angling for an interview with Sandusky while the liquor flowed freely.

Gray, who worked for NBC5 until the early 2000s, registered a .182 blood alcohol content according to the official police report. He waived a preliminary hearing in January and continues to report for NBC News. NBC5 anchor Brian Curtis recently introduced a Gray report during one of the station's local newscasts.

McGarry and Snyder, promotionally trumpeted as "JAM" during their heyday at NBC5, were the station's signature anchors through most of the 1990s and almost a decade into the new millenium. But times and ownerships change, with meteorologist David Finfrock now the lone throwback to the station's "Action News" days of yore.

Snyder was dropped from the weeknight 10 p.m. newscasts in July 2009 in favor of Curtis and McGarry gave way to Land in February 2010. During an interview with unclebarky.com at that time, McGarry typically looked on the bright side as the door on her NBC5 career began to close.

"For me this is the beginning of something new. And I'm not B.S.'ing you in any way," she said. "I know some people are going to say, 'Oh, she got the boot and she's just saying this stuff.' That's not the case. I don't know what I will be able to do or accomplish. But to the best of my abilities I hope to make this last third of my life the most interesting and the most fun. I mean, I've got the Stones on my Ipod, but I've also got rap . . . I don't do well with boredom. Trust me. It's not my strong point. I've gotta live every minute of every day. I'm a big enjoyment, fun person."

As of this writing, McGarry's biography remains on NBC5's website, but likely not for long. And her latest Facebook page post is an upbeat one: "OK, it's possible that I could eat a whole pie tonight :)"

It's right above the one from Steve Cosgrove, who laments, "A sad day in local TV news......very sad....."

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., June 29-July 1) -- live sports again run up scores

Led by Texas Rangers games and NBC's Sunday night Summer Olympics trials, athletes in action again topped Nielsen's weekend D-FW scoreboard.

In an intriguing Sunday night battle, the closing 8 to 9:15 portion of the Rangers-A's game had 325,157 viewers on Fox Sports Southwest, out-kicking that portion of NBC's Olympic trials (291,286 viewers).

But the Rangers' overall game average of 270,964 viewers ranked second Sunday night to the 8 to 10 p.m. portion of the trials (304,835 viewers). NBC's trials (and tribulations) beat the Rangers in every 15-segment from 8:15 to 9:15 p.m. among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds. It was a tie from 8 to 8:15 p.m.

On Sunday afternoon, ESPN's telecast of the European soccer cup final between victorious Spain and Italy averaged 176,127 total viewers in beating all competing programming. Soccer also carried the afternoon with 18-to-49-year-olds.

Saturday night's Rangers-A's game on Fox was a dominant force throughout, averaging 291,286 total viewers while crushing all of the day's programming in the 18-to-49 demographic.

On Friday night, TXA21's Rangers-A's game had 257,416 viewers in easily outdrawing all of that day's programming. The game also topped the 18-to-49 ratings. NBC's 8 to 10 p.m. portion of the Olympic trials took the silver with 155,804 total viewers while also placing second for the day with 18-to-49-yer-olds.

In Friday's local news derby results, NBC5 ran first at 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 won at 6 a.m. in total viewers, but the Peacock had the edge with 25-to-54-year-olds. In the less-watched 5 to 6 a.m. hour, CW33's Eye Opener pulled off a first by placing first with 25-to-54-year-olds ahead of runner-up NBC5. Eye Opener slipped to fourth place in the 6 a.m. hour, but still easily beat CBS11.

WFAA8 ran the table at 5 p.m.; the 6 p.m. golds went to WFAA8 in total viewers and Fox4 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Dallas doing Dallas again a major "woo hoo" for Film Commission director Janis Burklund


Dallas Film Commission director Janis Burklund and Larry Hagman at recent marketing brunch at Spago in Beverly Hills. Photo: Leslie Rosenthal

Dallas Film Commission director Janis Burklund is accustomed to adversity when it comes to enticing and keeping network TV productions in North Texas.

But setbacks are in her distant rear view mirror after landing the big one Friday. TNT's decision to renew Dallas for a second season -- while upping its episode order from 10 to 15 -- is a gusher for the area film community and the Dallas economy.

"Although the Fourth of July is coming, it sort of feels more like Christmas to me," Burklund said in email comments sent to unclebarky.com. "Working with the Dallas production team has been a dream. And I don't expect to wake up in the second season and find that the first was only a dream either!."

The decision to both green-light Dallas and keep filming the series in its namesake city pretty much makes up for all that might have been had other network drama series been successful.

At one point in 2010, Fox's The Good Guys and Lone Star, and NBC's The Chase all were filming simultaneously in the Dallas area. But cancellation notices came quickly, particularly in the case of Lone Star, which lasted just two episodes.

ABC's legal drama The Deep End, also filmed in North Texas, likewise met a quick demise. And the network's GCB (short for Good Christian Bitches) opted to film in Los Angeles after shooting the pilot in Dallas. It's also been canceled.

A proposed Dallas feature film, with John Travolta initially signed to play J.R. Ewing, also was off and on for years before falling apart. It makes the success of TNT's Dallas a long-awaited bonanza.

"We've truly enjoyed a real partnership with the producers and I have believed in this project since reading the initial pilot script," Burklund said. "That's not something I can say about other Dallas scripts I've read through the years. (Co-executive producer/head writer) Cynthia Cidre has done a terrific job of blending what was great about the original series in with the new."

Burklund also said that her bosses within the city's Office of Economic Development "have supported the efforts to land and keep this show here. They've truly 'gotten it' like never before . . . The city could not afford to purchase anywhere near this type of advertising. Being a character itself in the show is not something you can just buy."

Burklund vividly recalls the night that Cidre and co-executive producer Michael Robin became city of Dallas converts.

"We walked out of dinner the first night of the 'scout,' and the city skyline was glimmering in front of us as we walked towards the car," Burklund said. "Cynthia and Mike stopped in their tracks, and Mike stretched his arms in the air, hands far apart and said, 'This is our show!' I know that sounds corny, but it's true."

Burklund estimated that another 15 episodes shot on location in and around the city "will likely amount to approximately $18 million in direct spending and an economic impact somewhere north of $40 million. It's very rewarding to know that at least some of our cast and crew will be able to stay home to work for a while, and we're doing everything we can to help make that a long while."

Dallas, which airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. (central), will hit the halfway mark of its first season on July 4th. TNT will repeat the first four episodes from 4 to 8 p.m. on that day before No. 5 premieres.