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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Oct. 28-30) -- Rangers, Cowboys both get the bird

First it was the Cardinals. Then the Eagles. Both angry birds took big poops on our sports psyches. One of the worst pro sports weekends in D-FW history -- if not the worst -- thudded to an end Sunday night with Philadelphia's manhandling of the Dallas Cowed Boys.

Friday of course brought an end to a World Series that the Texas Rangers had in hand and then blew with that Game 6 giveaway. Misery loves company, though, and both debacles had plenty of it.

Fox's Game 7 of the Series, a 6-2 Cards win, ran from 7:06 to 10:22 p.m. and averaged 1,707,073 viewers. The peak crowd of 1,889,974 came between 8:30 and 8:45 p.m. Both levels were well short of Game 6, which set all-time Ranger highs with an average of 2,072,875 viewers and a peak audience of 2,499,643.

Still, Game 7 of Rangers-Cards easily outdrew NBC's Sunday Night Football presentation of a 34-7 Eagles rout of the Cowboys, who were never in the game. One of the team's biggest stinkers ever on a national prime-time stage averaged 1,158,371 viewers with a high of 1,469,980 between 7:45 to 8 p.m. A shrunken crowd of 839,988 stuck around for the closing minutes, capped by Al Michael's unanimous judgment that "it's all Philadelphia from start to finish. Total domination. A blowout."

Sunday's second most-watched pro pigskin encounter, the Steelers vs. the Patriots on CBS, drew 447,091 viewers. Fox's 7:30 p.m. premiere of its latest Sunday night cartoon entry, Allen Gregory, had 121,934 viewers after falling sharply from the 230,319 viewers it inherited from The Simpsons.

Opposite Game 7 of the World Series Friday, NBC chose to go ahead with its planned premiere of Grimm, which had been delayed a week to run closer to Halloween. The ratings were very grim 'n' scary. Just 40,645 viewers were on hand. The 7 p.m. season premiere of NBC's Chuck did only slightly better with 54,193 viewers.

In Friday's local news derby results, the 10 p.m. numbers again were flattened by competition from the World Series. WFAA8 won the three-way competition, but with just 101,612 viewers on the second night of the four-week November "sweeps" ratings competition. WFAA8 likewise was tops 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. Its 6 p.m. 4 the Championship sports special also won its time slot. In the three-way battle of regular newscasts, CBS11 came up a winner in both Nielsen measurements.

PROGRAMMING NOTE -- TXA21's expanded one-hour The Fan Sports Show launches on Halloween night at 7 p.m. Gina Miller, the regular anchor, won't be back until late January from maternity leave. So the program will be helmed until then by "members of the CBS11/TXA21 sports team as well as possibly an occasional guest host," says director of communications Lori Conrad.

Also contributing is CBS radio's 105.3 FM "The Fan," whose on-air personalities will make regular appearances.

NBC5 hires Harrisburg's Ben Russell as full-time reporter


Ben Russell, who has spent the last five years at CBS affiliate WHP-TV in Harrisburg, PA, is joining Fort Worth-based NBC5 as a general assignment reporter. He's scheduled to make his on-air debut on Halloween, but presumably not in a costume.

NBC5 news director Susan Tully, in an email to station staffers, said that "when it comes to dynamic live shots, Ben had one of the best resume tapes I've seen in a while. He reports on the late news (at WHP) and finds a way to make a story, even a 'non-visual nothing is happening behind me story,' become good live television."

Tully also noted that Harrisburg is a bigger TV market than some might think it is, ranking No. 39 ahead of Las Vegas, Oklahoma City and Austin for example.

Russell is a West Virginia University graduate who earlier worked at WDTV-TV in Bridgeport, WV.

Judging from his 9 minute, 49 second resume tape, which he's posted on youtube, he's clearly a show-and-tell reporter with a fondness for illustrative props. The opening visual on the tape is Russell overhand-tossing a brick through a front windshield to demonstrate the lethal force of that same object being thrown from an overpass by teen "pranksters." And yes, it's a pretty effective way to communicate while also possibly doubling as Russell's pitch for a spot in the Texas Rangers' bullpen.

Here's the resume tape that got Russell hired by NBC5.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Oct. 27) -- euphoria interruptus, with more than two million viewers on receiving end


Suit him up Friday? Nolan Ryan does not believe what he just saw. Photo: Ed Bark
One of the most dramatic World Series games ever gave the Texas Rangers an all-time ratings high and their lowest moment on a national stage.

Game 6, in which Texas blew two-run leads in both the 9th and 10th innings, ended with the St. Louis Cardinals' David Freese punching his team's ticket to Game 7 with a walk-off 11th inning home run.

On the plus side, Fox now has the first seven-game Series since 2002. Hello revenues. And excitable Fox4, which prematurely tweeted a championship-clinching Rangers victory Thursday night, has both egg and an s-eating grin on its face. That's because Friday's ratings will be off the charts in D-FW -- and on Fox4.

OK, back to the scene of the crime. Rangers-Cards averaged 2,072,875 viewers locally Thursday for a four-hour, 32-minute marathon that ran from 7:07 to 11:39 p.m. It's the first time Texas has ever reached or exceeded the 2 million mark for an entire game. And the peak crowd of 2,499,643 between 10:45 and 11 p.m. likewise is a new Rangers record, topping Game 5's high point of 2,045,778 viewers.

Thursday's top draw opposite the Rangers, CBS' 7 p.m. episode of The Big Bang Theory, drew 277,738 viewers on opening night of the four-week November "sweeps" ratings period.

WFAA8's 10 p.m. newscast is listed as a "Road to the Championship" special in the preliminary Nielsen report. But the station says it in fact ended up running a regular newscast after the World Series ran past 10:35 p.m.

On the three-way late night news scorecard, CBS11 had the most total viewers for its late edition -- 81,289 -- while the Peacock was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds (45,140), the main advertiser target audience for news programming. WFAA8 tied for second in total viewers and finished third with 25-to-54-year-olds.

In the half-hour portion opposite late night newscasts, Rangers-Cards averaged 2,316,742 total viewers, with 1,245,850 in the 25-to-54 age range.

Thursday's other local news derby results gave NBC5 a narrow win at 6 a.m. in total viewers while Fox4 edged the Peacock in the 25-to-54 demographic.

The Peacock otherwise flew in the face of its network's overall dismal performance by running the table at both 5 and 6 p.m. It was a three-way news race in the latter slot, with Fox4 opting for another yoo rah-rah/Go Rangers "4 the Championship" edition.

Cheerleading Fox4 makes ass of self, tweets Rangers win before Cards rally in 9th and eventually win (updated)

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Yearning to be first in a post it/promote it age, Fox4 just couldn't help itself Thursday night.

Its cheerleading coverage of the Texas Rangers, with both the ALCS and World Series carried on Fox, reached the point of no return when the Dallas-based station tweeted a Rangers' World Series victory during the 9th inning of Game 6 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Of course it turned out otherwise. Texas blew two-run leads in both the 9th and 10th innings enroute to a crushing 10-9 loss on David Freese's walkoff home run in the 11th inning. Game 7 will be Friday.

Adult news operations aren't supposed to behave this way. But Fox4, led by the histrionics of longtime anchor Clarice Tinsley, had set itself up for this kind of embarrassment for the past two weeks. Of course the station is going to pour on the coverage when it's the official home of both post-season attractions. But the incessant yoo rah rah home team boosterism has become increasingly childish, laying the groundwork for what happened Thursday night.

Still, this is the No. 5 market in the country, not Terrytown. And whatever its allegiance to the Rangers, Fox4 should know better than to tweet an outcome before it in fact happens. The station instead struck out big-time. And its on-air post-game coverage of course made no mention of its major league gaffe.

The station fessed up, to a degree, with an unattributed staff posting Friday morning on the Fox4 Facebook page. Here's the verbatim explanation:

"Can we really post anything w/o addressing the premature iPhone app alert last night? Looks like our web writer pre-wrote an iPhone app alert during the 9th while doing other things (cutting web video/pictures) & accidentally sent it out. Only those with the Fox 4 app on their iPhone or iPad received this."

However it went down, D-FW now has its very own "Dewey Defeats Truman" faux pas.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Oct. 24) -- Rangers hit new peak high while tying Sunday night numbers


Folk hero Mike Napoli belts decisive 2-run double. Photo: Ed Bark

Late game heroics by Mike Napoli powered a 4-2 Texas Rangers win over the St. Louis Cardinals while sending the team past the 2 million mark for the first time in its long and mostly inglorious history.

Game 5 on Fox, which ran from 7:09 to to 10:40 p.m., topped out at 2,045,778 D-FW viewers in its closing segment (Nielsen measures in 15-minute increments). The Rangers had never exceeded 2 million viewers until that point. Overall the game averaged 1,673,203 viewers, tying Sunday's Game 4 for the most-watched in the history of the North Texas 9.

The Series now relocates to Antartica, a k a St. Louis, where Wednesday's forecast calls for rain, strong winds and temperatures in the 40s by the time the teams take the field. If they do. One more win by Texas gives the team its first World Series championship. Given those stakes, Wednesday's game should hit at least a 2 million viewer average, barring a blowout by the Cards or rain delays that send it into the very wee hours. And if there's a Game 7, a 2.5 million average just might be achievable.

Monday's most-watched prime-time attraction opposite the World Series, a new 9 p.m. episode of ABC's Castle, had 264,190 viewers. ESPN's defense-dominated Monday Night Football game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens languished with just 108,386 viewers.

NBC's 9 p.m. rerun of Prime Suspect was the night's least-watched program on the five major broadcast networks, drawing a sub-puny 27,096 viewers in a North Texas market of 6.77 million.

The 10 p.m. local newscasts, airing opposite Fox's climactic moments of the Series, were hard-pressed to find viewers. WFAA8 "won" with just 115,160 viewers while third-place NBC5 had possibly its lowest turnout ever -- 40,645 viewers. WFAA8 nipped NBC5 for first place with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

The four-way local news derby competitions all went to Fox4, which easily ran the table at 6 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m. The station's 6 p.m. World Series cheerleader edition had a nice-sized 223,545 total viewers. WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen's 6:30 p.m. World Series special was no match for the Fox network's warmup act. It drew 487,735 viewers to Hansen's 81,289.

Blessed with both the Rangers-Detroit Tigers ALCS and now the World Series, Fox4 is basking in the best prolonged ratings run in its history. The station rubbed it in with Sunday's Dallas Cowboys-St. Louis Rams game, which also averaged well over one million viewers locally.

Former WFAA8 anchor Macie Jepson lands in Cleveland


Ex-WFAA8 anchor Macie Jepson, laid off by the Dallas-based station in August of 2008, at last has found a new TV home.

Cleveland's WEWS-TV announced Monday that Jepson will be the ABC affiliate's new Good Morning Cleveland co-anchor. She's scheduled to join the 4:30 to 7 a.m. waker-upper in late November, WEWS says. Jepson previously worked in Cleveland from 1994-'99 as an anchor-reporter for the city's Fox station, WJW-TV.

"Many viewers already know Macie, and her knowledge of the people, places and things that matter to Northeast Ohioans will be advantageous to everyone who engages with NewsChannel5 in the morning on-air, online and through our social media platforms," WEWS news director Jill Manuel said laboriously in a publicity release.

Jepson had been with WFAA8 for eight years and was co-anchoring the ABC affiliate's 5 p.m. newscasts when the layoff ax swung.

Another WFAA8 emigre, Chris Flanagan, also is joining WEWS, as a featured nighttime news anchor. But it won't be a reunion. Jepson was dropped by WFAA8 before Flanagan was hired in March of 2009 to co-anchor Daybreak. That didn't work out, and he was transferred earlier this year to Good Morning Texas to while away his days at WFAA8.

AND BABY MAKES THREE (THE SEQUEL) -- CBS11 sports anchor-reporter Gina Miller and her husband Jim are first-time parents of a baby girl. Jordan Neale was born Monday evening, weighing in at 6 pounds, 10 ounces, the station reports.

As previously posted, CBS11 reporter Jay Gormley and his wife, Robin, had a baby boy, Daniel Patrick, last Thursday. He's likewise their first child.

First a Navy graduation, then a trip to home sweet home -- Racine, WI

As noted in an earlier post, stepson Carl Morgan graduated from Navy boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois Friday.

Carl, already an E3, set up this website back in Sept. 2006. He is the only son of my lovely wife, Madeline Bark. After the stirring festivities, Carl had a few hours of liberty before heading off to the Navy base in Meridian, Mississippi to begin the next phase of his training. Relatively early the next morning, Madeline and I headed west on I-94 for a many-splendored visit to Uncle Barky's nearby birthplace, the "Belle City" of Racine, WI. She had never been there, which is the case with most native Dallasites.

What would a trip to Racine be, though, without a visit to the Mars Cheese Castle in neighboring Kenosha? Or to Apple Holler in Racine County, which also is on the way to the big city (population 82,196 at last count)? Following are the pictures to prove it, as well as other shots from within Racine itself.


Main event: Carl and mom moments after graduation. Photos: Ed Bark


Dairyland's Taj Mahal: It's hard to miss the Mars Cheese Castle sign.


The men who stare at goats included me through a camera lens.


This is Apple Holler's version of The Milky Way.


Go Pack Go! Go Pack Go! Us Wisconsinites are a simple folk.


Still standing: Uncle Barky's childhood home at 1216 Schiller St. Also still standing: the concrete factory wall that served as our backyard fence and all-purpose rubber baseball returner.


Kringles are made only in Racine. And this is the undisputed mecca.


A beautiful and bright fall day had just one drawback. Timeless Kewpee's was closed for the week of Oct. 16-22. And we were there on the 22nd. Oh well. All the more reason to return someday.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed.-Sun., Oct. 19-23) -- Rangers stick a spur in Cowboys


The kid's in the picture: Derek Holland exits to tumultuous 9th inning ovation after pitching the game of his life. Photo: Ed Bark

Crunch the numbers, crunch all competing programming. Fox4 had a heaven-sent Sunday, courtesy of its network's back-to-back telecasts of the Dallas Cowboys' much-needed 34-7 win over the hapless St. Louis Rams and the Texas Rangers' must-win Game 4 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Rangers prevailed, not only with a 4-0 win but in a ratings battle against Jerry's ruling class.

Rangers-Cards, which ran from 7:06 to 10:14 p.m., drew the biggest World Series crowd to date, averaging 1,673,203 D-FW viewers with a peak of 1,937,393 between 9:30 and 9:45 p.m.

Cowboys-Rams (3:17 to 6:19 p.m.) had 1,273,531 viewers, peaking at 1,388,691 between 6 and 6:15 p.m. So that's an exceedingly rare blowout of the Cowboys matched only by last fall's Game 4 of the Series vs. an earlier same-day Cowboys home loss to Jacksonville.

Let's look at the Nielsen numbers for Games 1 through 3 of the World Series:

Game 1 (Wed., Oct. 19 from 7:06 to 10:13 p.m.) -- 1,381,916 viewers with a peak of 1,571,591 for the closing minutes. The Cardinals won 3-2.

Game 2 (Thurs., Oct. 20 from 7:06 to 10:11 p.m.) -- 1,368,368 viewers with a peak of 1,822,233 for the closing minutes. The Rangers won 2-1.

Game 3 (Sat., Oct. 22 from 7:06 to 11:10 p.m.) -- 1,273,531 with a peak of 1,551,260 between 9:15 and 9:30 p.m. The Cardinals won 16-7.

OK, how do these first four games compare to Games 1-4 in October, 2010, when the Rangers made their first-ever trip to the World Series and squared off against the ultimately victorious San Francisco Giants? Here's a look back, with a reminder that there's been a little ratings deflation since then. Each Nielsen rating point now is worth 67,741 viewers compared to 69,257 last fall.

Game 1 (Wed., Oct. 27) -- 1,419,769 viewers. The Giants won 11-7.
Game 2 (Thurs., Oct. 28) -- 1,239,700 viewers. The Giants won 9-0.
Game 3 (Sat., Oct. 30) -- 1,205,072 viewers. The Rangers won 4-2.
Game 4 (Sun., Oct. 31) -- 1,288,180 viewers. The Giants won 4-0. (The Cowboys' home loss to Jacksonville earlier that day drew an average of 907,276 viewers. It made them 1-6 for the season.)

So even with each rating point counting for less, this year's World Series is doing better than last year's. And the numbers likely are only going to get better as the drama ratchets up in a Series now tied at 2 games apiece heading into Monday night's Game 5.

In other ratings news, Sunday's premiere of ABC's Once Upon A Time drew just 155,804 viewers in the 7 p.m. hour opposite Game 4 of the Series and a portion of NBC's mismatched Sunday Night Football game between the New Orleans Saints and sub-woeful Indianapolis Colts (Final score: 62-7).

Friday's World Series-less Nielsens again were paced by CBS' Blue Bloods, the night's biggest draw with 291,286 viewers.

Here are the local news derby results from Wednesday through Friday:

Wednesday -- WFAA8 won a downsized three-way race at 10 p.m. in total viewers, but NBC5 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 and the Peacock tied for first at 6 a.m. in total viewers, with Fox4 as usual dominating the 25-to-54 demographic. Fox4 swept the 6 p.m. competitions with its locally produced World Series-themed newscast. At 5 p.m., NBC5 and WFAA8 shared the gold in total viewers and were joined by Fox4 in a three-way first-place tie with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Thursday -- WFAA8 ran the table at 10 p.m. in another downsized race. The 6 a.m. spoils were split between NBC5 in total viewers and Fox4 with 25-to-54-year-olds. Fox4 swept both the 5 and 6 p.m. competitions.

Friday -- CBS11 was tops at 10 p.m. in total viewers while the Peacock finished first with 25-to-54-year-olds. Fox4 then took control, sweeping the 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. slots and adding a 5 p.m. win among 25-to-54-year-olds. Fox4 and NBC5 shared the 5 p.m. lead in total viewers.

Katie's D-FW carrier will be WFAA8

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Katie Couric's new daytime talker has home in D-FW. ABC photos

Dallas-based WFAA8 has bit on Katie, the new daytime talk show that will return Katie Couric to chatty mode after her problematic reign as anchor of the CBS Evening News.

In a publicity release, Disney-ABC Domestic Television said that Katie has been cleared in over 60 percent of the country. WFAA8 is listed among the stations that recently signed on. The ABC affiliate almost certainly will schedule Katie at 4 p.m. weekdays when it premieres next September. That spot currently is occupied by Dr. Oz, with a 3 p.m. lead-in from Anderson Cooper's Anderson.

"To have garnered such exceptional clearances in this short period of time is attributable to the enduring strength of the Katie Couric brand and her wide-ranging appeal as one of the brightest, most talented and most dynamic personalities in the business," Disney-ABC Domestic president Janice Marinelli cooed in the publicity release.

Couric's brand has not been a particularly big seller in D-FW, where the CBS Evening News and Today seldom won their time slots during her tenures with those programs. Katie will air on all of ABC's owned-and-operated stations. And of the eight other stations announced as carriers Monday, only Seattle's KING-TV is not affiliated with ABC. It flies the NBC flag.

WFAA8 is owned by Dallas-based Belo Corp. Katie's executive producer will be her old Today boss, Jeff Zucker, who went on to become chairman of NBC Universal before being pushed out when Comcast took control earlier this year.

CBS11 goes to Garvin for early morning anchor


Seven months after letting Scott Sams go, D-FW-based CBS11's lengthy search for his early morning replacement has ended in-house.

Keith Garvin joined incumbent Lisa Pineiro Monday (Oct. 24th) as co-anchor of the 4:30 to 7 a.m. program.

Garvin originally was hired in fall 2009 to co-anchor sister station TXA21's "First In Prime" 7 to 9 p.m. newscasts, which are giving way to a locally produced sports program hosted by Gina Miller. America's Funniest Home Videos already is occupying the 8 p.m. hour.

Garvin, who was raised in the Bryan-College Station area, joined CBS/TXA21 from NBC-owned WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., where he worked for three years. He also has been a correspondent and substitute anchor for ABC News after beginning his TV news career at KOLO-TV in Reno, Nevada. Garvin is a graduate of the University of Nevada's Don Reynolds School of Journalism.

Leading into the virtually unwatched CBS Early Show, CBS11's waker-upper long has been a fourth place finisher in the D-FW Nielsen ratings. Pineiro will mark her first anniversary with the program on Friday, Oct. 28th. Sams, now with Dallas' KRLD-AM radio, spent four years on CBS11's early morning shift before the station decided not to renew his contract.

AND BABY MAKES THREE -- Veteran CBS11 reporter Jay Gormley and his wife, Robin, are first-time parents. Their son, Daniel Patrick Gormley, was born Thursday night (Oct. 20th), weighing in at 7 pounds, 7 ounces.

Rangers vs. Cardinals: here's how it looks

ballparkarlingtonuse missouri-busch-stadium

Fox wanted the Yankees against the Phillies. Or absent that, the Yankees vs. anybody.

But what the network wants most of all is a seven-game World Series. There hasn't been one since 2002, when the Angels beat the Giants. And from a drama and a revenue standpoint, that's when things really rev up -- even if it's the Fresno Flashers facing the Youngstown Vindicators.

Instead Fox will have the Texas Rangers in their second consecutive World Series vs. the tradition-rich St. Louis Cardinals, in their 18th. And this one has an excellent chance to go the full distance.

Beware, though. The Cards will be much tougher to beat than the Milwaukee Brewers would have been. Uncle Barky's native state nine was error-prone and well-stocked with goofballs. And rookie manager Ron Roenicke would have been in his first World Series ever after piloting the Brew Crew to the National League Central Division title.

Here are some other talking points as the Rangers and Cards prepare for Game 1 of the Series, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. (central) on Fox.

DAMN THAT ALL-STAR GAME -- It at first seemed really cool to have baseball's mid-summer showcase mean something. Since 2003, the winning league has been awarded home field advantage in the World Series. And in each of the Rangers' two appearances, the American League has been on the short end of that stick.

I'd still be OK with this idea if baseball restricted the All-Star roster size and didn't require at least one representative from each team. Steve Swisher, All-Star? Yeah, he once was, because that's the best the crummy Chicago Cubs could offer in 1976.

Even worse, the modern-day All-Star game is reduced to a battle of scrubs and high-powered relievers during the key closing innings. It's long been impossible, for instance, to envision a scenario in which starter Ted Williams hit a walk-off home run to win the 1941 All-Star game for the American League. Or in which starter Stan Musial hit a 12th inning home run to win the 1955 game for the National League. Why? Because both storied Hall of Famers would have been out of the game long before then under the current approach. When the stakes are this high, the All-Star game should be played for keeps, with rosters at maximum strength and key starters staying on the field.

The old system alternated home field advantage between the two Leagues. That's a little antiquated, too. But it at least would have given the Rangers an even shake during the team's first two World Series appearances.

WIN AT LEAST ONE OF YOUR FIRST TWO ROAD GAMES -- Maybe the Giants would have beaten the Rangers anyway had the World Series started in Texas instead of San Francisco. Instead the Rangers got down 2-0 and never really recovered, losing the Series in five games. Would Texas have won both games had the Series started in Arlington? Perhaps not. But I definitely think they would have won at least one. And under the 2-3-2 system, just a single win in San Francisco would have returned the Series to Texas for a 6th and possibly 7th game.

The Rangers can't afford to replicate last fall and go down 2-0 to the Cardinals before heading home. If that happens again, their chances are very slim. Making pitchers hit in the National League park doesn't help the Rangers either. St. Louis has been doing it all year while the Rangers have very limited experience in inter-league regular season road games.

It's another reason why the Brewers would have been an appreciably easier opponent. Miller Park has a retractable roof, and Major League Baseball officials, not the team, make the decision on whether it will be open or closed. Milwaukee has scheduled lows of 42 and 40 on Wednesday and Thursday. Which means the roof would have been closed, negating the weather element and greatly helping the Rangers.

ACES IN HAND -- The Rangers' opening game starter, C. J. Wilson, again has been pretty awful in the post-season. The Cardinals' Chris Carpenter pitched a complete game 1-0 shutout on the road in the deciding fifth game against the vaunted Phillies. I hope that Wilson somehow will be at his best when just about everybody is betting against him. Because that's what he's facing Wednesday night, when a Rangers win would give the team a super boost.

THE LA RUSSA FACTOR -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is widely considered a baseball genius, and doesn't dispute that assessment. This will be his sixth World Series, three with the Oakland Athletics and now three with the Cards. The guy knows what buttons to push. He's baseball's equivalent of zen master Phil Jackson. But Jackson's Lakers didn't fare so well against the Dallas Mavericks in their post-season face-off this year. And La Russa has lost three of the five World Series in which he's managed. So maybe Washington will find a way to teach him a few things. No one is a bigger cheerleader for his team than "Wash." No manager is less demonstrative or more inscrutable than La Russa. Their matchup should be fascinating.

WHO'S GOT THE BETTER OFFENSE? -- The Rangers are a top-to-bottom scoring machine -- at home. On the road they can get a little weak-kneed. Their 14 runs for the three ALCS road games in Detroit fell short of the 15 runs they piled up in the clinching Game 6 win at home.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals put up 30 runs in their three road games against Milwaukee, reaching double digits twice in 12-6 and 12-3 poundings of the Brew Crew at Miller Park. And they have the game's most formidable presence in Albert Pujols.

The Rangers' Nelson Cruz, who slugged a record six home runs in the ALCS, can't possibly stay that hot in the World Series. Or can he? Texas certainly has plenty of guys to pick up the slack, but they'll have to find a way to pound the ball in cold weather conditions against the formidable Cards.

BULLPEN VS. BULLPEN -- Both teams run the risk of wearing these guys out. Whoever wins, these are going to be lo-o-o-ng games. And a war of attrition perhaps favors the Rangers.

PREDICTION -- Although the above talking points seem to weigh against this, I'm going to pick the Rangers to win in seven games because I just can't bear to pick against them. Texas doesn't want to become the Buffalo Bills, getting to the promised land and then losing time and again. So now is the time to bring the first ever World Series championship to North Texas. The Cardinals already have 10 titles, the most for any National League team. They've won enough.

Now how about your thoughts, baseball fans. I'm sure there are other bases to cover.

Colbert credits WFAA8 with "elaborate and nefarious conspiracy" to block his latest "Super PAC" ad (But it's all good in the end)

Don't mess with Stephen Colbert or he'll provide you with a wealth of free publicity.

And so it came to pass Monday night on Comedy Central, when The Colbert Report included a segment in which the host harangued and chided Dallas-based WFAA8 for supposedly refusing to air his "Super PAC" ad calling for an immediate end to the NBA lockout.

"Well, WFAA, you have (bleeped f-word) with the wrong people," Colbert declared after also ragging on Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who during a recent appearance on Colbert Report said he couldn't talk about the lockout because it would violate the league's gag order.

Colbert went on to charge WFAA8 with an "elaborate, nefarious conspiracy" to muzzle his Super PAC, but added that he might really be the one behind any such plot. Whatever the case, Colbert challenged "the crack news team at WFAA" to investigate. He then named early morning anchor Ron Corning (currently being heavily promoted by the station), weatherman Greg Fields and traffic reporter Alexa Conomos as just the ones to dig into this pressing issue.

WFAA8 vice president of product development Dave Muscari said in a telephone interview Tuesday that the Colbert ad arrived last Wednesday just a few hours before it was earmarked for the station's noon newscast. PAC ads, whatever their origin, first have to be checked for content and proper disclaimers, he said.

The ad was approved, but didn't air on the noon news because of a "clerical error," Muscari said. "It came in late, they had to review it. No malice aforethought. Human error."

The Super Pac spot eventually was shown within the Tuesday, Oct. 18th edition of ABC's Good Morning America, which is exactly where Colbert said it should be re-positioned during his Monday night bit. "So they actually came out ahead" with a more visible slot than the noon news, Muscari said. "The reality of this 'event' is far less eventful."

Colbert also found time to mention the multiple Peabodys and other major awards WFAA8 has won over the years. So that's another bonus for the station beyond the nationally televised jokes at its expense.

Here's the complete clip from Monday night's Colbert Report. But be patient. It takes him a while to get around to WFAA8's role in all of this. Expect more of the same on Tuesday night's show.

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Sport Report - NBA Lockout & Colbert Super PAC's Ad
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Oct. 14-16) -- World Series bound Rangers vs. going nowhere Cowboys


Rangers manager Ron Washington hoists another one. Photo: Ed Bark

Well, it was pretty close. But you know how these things go. So no, the Texas Rangers' Saturday night clinching of the ALCS did not outdraw the Dallas Cowboys' latest Sunday clunker.

Fox had both games, giving Dallas-based Fox4 a weekend windfall that might have tempted rival stations to simply close shop and save on electricity.

The Cowboys' 20-16 loss at New England, in which they again couldn't hold a late-game lead, ran from 3:15 to 6:21 p.m. Sunday. It averaged 1,422,561 D-FW viewers with a peak crowd of 1,686,751 from 5:45 to 6 p.m.

The Rangers' 15-5 pummeling of Detroit -- 7:08 to 10:40 p.m. -- averaged 1,212,564 viewers with a peak crowd of 1,517,398 for the closing minutes. It was the first of this fall's post-season games to average more than one million viewers.

The Cowboys also outdrew the Rangers among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds. But the peak ratings were closer in this key demographic, with the Cowboys reaching a high point of 765,350 viewers while the Rangers hung tough with 704,506.

Saturday's second most-watched sports attraction, Oklahoma State's afternoon whipping of Texas on ABC, averaged 338,705 total viewers. Sunday's runner-up to the Cowboys was Fox's preceding Eagles win over the Redskins, which had 440,317 viewers.

Sunday's re-scheduled two-hour edition of Fox's The X Factor drew 311,609 viewers in finishing a close overall second in prime-time to NBC's Bears-Vikings game (331,931 viewers).

Friday's prime-time Nielsens again were paced by CBS' Blue Bloods, which outdrew all programming day or night with 318,383 total viewers.

In Friday's local news derby results, CBS11 won comfortably at 10 p.m. in total viewers but NBC5 had a sizable win with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 swept both the 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. competitions while adding a 6 p.m. gold in the 25-to-54 demographic. WFAA8 was tops at 6 p.m. in total viewers.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Oct. 13) -- deflating loss, deflated numbers for Rangers


Tigers starter Justin Verlander exits to earned ovation. Photo: Ed Bark

Some things just aren't debatable, even though Rangers manager Ron Washington still disagrees that he left wobbling starter C.J. Wilson in too long.

He's wrong and you could see it coming. Wilson served up a back-breaking two-run homer to Delmon Young in the 6th inning, giving the Tigers a 6-2 lead. The end result was a 7-5 Detroit victory that easily could have been otherwise. So there'll be a Game 6 back in Arlington after Thursday's Game 5 registered the lowest ratings of the ALCS series. An average of 636,765 D-FW viewers tuned into the Fox telecast, which ran from 3:22 to 6:43 p.m. The previous low was 704,506 viewers for Game 1.

Game 5 had a higher peak audience, though, with 934,826 viewers watching a ninth inning Rangers rally fall short. Game 1 still has the smallest peak crowd -- 873,859 viewers.

In the prime-time Nielsens, Fox's The X Factor and CBS' comedies and crime drama fought for ratings supremacy from 7 to 9 p.m.

CBS' new episode of The Big Bang Theory edged X Factor from 7 to 7:30 p.m. by a score of 392,898 viewers to 372,576. The second half-hour of X Factor then nipped a Big Bang rerun before the closing hour solidly outdrew CBS' runner-up Person of Interest (365,801 to 264,190).

CBS' The Mentalist then topped the 9 p.m. field.

X Factor reigned with advertiser-favored 18-to-49-year-olds, though, winning its entire two-hour segment before ABC's Private Practice ran first at 9 p.m. in this key demographic.

ABC's 7 p.m. lead-off hitter, Charlie's Angels, again was Thursday's lowest-scoring prime-time show among 18-to-49-year-olds. And that includes CW's The Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle. Halo, it must be going. And Angels almost certainly will be history by the time of the November "sweeps."

In local news derby results, WFAA8 ran the table at 10 p.m. by winning 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. before its evening editions again were rubbed out by baseball. WFAA8 swept the 6 p.m. Nielsens in a three-way race. At 5 p.m., NBC5 and CBS11 tied for first in total viewers, with the Peacock alone in first with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Oct. 12) -- rain-delayed Rangers again reign in prime-time



Rightfielder Nelson Cruz uncorks Texas Rangers' throw of the century before catcher Mike Napoli braces himself for a collision with Detroit Tigers hefty bag Miguel Cabrera. Yer out!!! Photos: Ed Bark

Day day go away. Wednesday's Game 4 of the Rangers-Tigers ALCS replicated Monday's Game 2 by leaking well into prime-time. In this latest case, Fox ended up preempting a scheduled two-hour edition of The X Factor.

Fox4 of course didn't mind in the least. Texas' 7-3 extra inning win over Detroit, in a rain-delayed nail-biter that ran from 5:32 to 9:32 p.m., fell just short of the one million mark with an overall average of 955,148 D-FW viewers. A peak crowd of 1,388,691 watched between 9:15 to 9:30 p.m., when Nelson Cruz cemented the win with a three-run homer after earlier keeping the game tied 3-3 with an eighth-inning throw that cut down Miguel Cabrera at the plate.

Both the average and peak audiences for Game 4 were this fall's best post-season numbers so far for the Rangers. Tuesday's Game 3, which began in prime-time, had the previous high of 948,375 viewers overall while Game 2 had held the peak audience record of 1,341,272.

Opposite the Rangers, ABC's Modern Family was the most-watched attraction with 311,609 viewers. It also topped all non-Rangers programming among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds.

ABC's new Revenge stayed strong in the 9 p.m. hour, whipping competing CBS and NBC cop dramas -- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Law & Order: SVU -- in both ratings measurements.

Fox4's 10 p.m. news, devoted mostly to the Rangers win, profited from baseball's ratings afterglow. The station easily won in total viewers, with 379,350, while also topping rival local newscasts among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

In other local news derby results, Fox4 likewise swept the 6 a.m. Nielsens before taking the early evening off in deference to the Rangers. At 6 p.m., the downsized three-way competition was topped by WFAA8 in both measurements. NBC5 won at 5 p.m. in total viewers and share the lead with WFAA8 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Oct. 11) -- Rangers near the million mark while otherwise thrown for a loss


Closer "Papa Grande" gets off after 5-2 Tiger win. Photo: Ed Bark

Game 3 of the Texas Rangers-Detroit Tigers ALCS hit a high point to date on the ratings scorecard while otherwise resulting in the North Texas 9's first loss in the best-of-seven portal to the World Series.

Detroit won 5-2 while 948,375 D-FW viewers tuned to Fox Tuesday night for a game that ran from 7:06 to 10:14 p.m. The audience peaked between 8:45 and 9 p.m., when 1,104,178 watched.

Nothing else came close, including the two-episode premiere of Tim Allen's Last Man Standing on ABC. Episode 1 drew just 139,546 viewers from 7 to 7:30 p.m., beating only the first half-hour of NBC's The Biggest Loser (97,547 viewers). The second half-hour of Last Man Standing inched up to 148,353 viewers, also beating only Loser.

CBS' NCIS had 365,801 viewers in the 7 p.m. hour, making it the night's most-watched non-baseball attraction. ABC's Dancing with the Stars results show and Body of Proof were tops from 8 to 10 p.m. in the non-sports field. TXA21's 7 p.m. local newscast, in its death rattle before being replaced later this month with a sports hour, had nothing to show but "hashmarks" (no measurable audience).

And now for Tuesday's local news derby results. WFAA8 swept a downsized three-way 10 p.m. race, winning in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the prime advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 and NBC5 tied for the total viewers gold at 6 a.m., with Fox4 as usual controlling the 25-to-54 demographic.

A locally produced Fox4 baseball warmup show ran the table at 6 p.m. The 5 p.m. firsts were split between NBC5 in total viewers and Fox4 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Swaggering with Fox4

"The Most Watched News Team In Texas" wants you to know it.

A straight-ahead, 30-second promo by Fox4 is all about dominance. The Dallas-based station touts itself as "the best" in all aspects of news coverage. It then adds that "North Texans" agree because they've made Fox4 No. 1 in the D-FW Nielsen ratings at "morning, evening and nighttime."

That's true to a point, but only if "North Texans" are seen through a 25-to-54-year-old prism.

All four of the market's major TV news providers agree that this is the main advertiser target audience for news programming. And on that scorecard, Fox4 is the reigning champ (based on the May "sweeps" ratings results) at 6 a.m. and 5, 6 and 9 p.m.

But Its only news competition at 9 p.m. is little CW33. That's like a 350-pound NFL lineman blocking a first-grader. And at 10 p.m., which technically could be considered latenight instead of "nighttime," Fox4 ran a close third at 10 p.m. in May's final results among 25-to-54-year-olds.

In the total viewer newscast competitions, Fox4 placed first in May at 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. It otherwise finished third third at 5 and 6 p.m. and fourth at 10 p.m.

Still, Fox4 can flaunt audience demographics that are the envy of its rivals. And with the November "sweeps" coming soon, the station is in strong position to repeat all of the 25-to-54 wins it logged last May.

Here's the promo, which commendably features a sampling of street reporters as well as anchors. It may not be entirely factual, but it's in the ballpark as Fox4 prepares to air a World Series that it fervently hopes will include the Texas Rangers. That would mean more ratings money in the bank -- from viewers of all ages.

Corning 'n' Hansen: Take 2 in WFAA8's big push to make Daybreak a gamer

WFAA8's selling of early morning co-anchor Ron Corning has reached stage 2 with a new 30-second spot featuring the eager kid and his wizened mentor, sports anchor Dale Hansen.

There's a major fictional component, though. Hansen says at one point that he's having his "morning coffee," which Corning quickly amends to "Corning coffee" during a bit shot in the ABC station's Victory Park studios. Hansen doesn't do mornings, at least not within the confines of his workplace. He's strictly a P.M. arrival and a late night departure. Cock-a-doodle-do? His body clock doesn't have a clue.

Otherwise this ad is a momentum-building improvement on the opener, which had a cigar-puffing Hansen telling the Daybreak newbie to self-promote himself. It ended a bit badly, with the cops chasing a paint-coated Corning.

"I'm taking your advice," he tells Hansen at the start of their second ad. "I'm getting my name out there. I'm going to own the mornings."

As in "Corning coffee," the "Corning commute" and a nice little kicker from Hansen that leaves the kid a little puzzled.

So is it working? Well, WFAA8's early morning ratings seem to have perked up just a bit since the campaign began toward the end of September. Last week, the station inched into second place on Monday, Thursday and Friday. And its third place finishes haven't been as distant lately, even though the Oct. 10th Nielsens showed WFAA8 running just barely ahead of fourth-place CBS11. By the way, it still doesn't have a permanent male co-anchor after letting Scott Sams go in late March.

Some readers have wondered whether Corning's Daybreak anchor partner, Cynthia Izaguirre, might be getting a little jealous or worried about her longevity. They forget that "Izzy" got her own full-blown ad campaign in the spring of 2008. Chris Flanagan is the guy who never received anything resembling a promotional push from WFAA8 during his time beside Izaguirre. Treated as a generic invisible man before being pushed out early last spring, Flanagan is now taking his talents to Cleveland, where he'll be a featured nighttime news anchor.

Corning is far quicker with a quip than Flanagan could ever hope to be. And WFAA8's new comedy ads on his behalf underscore the station's latter day belief that personality is as important as content in the early morning environment.

This can be a fine line. But D-FW's dominant early morning station, Fox4, certainly isn't winning on the sole strength of news blips, repeated reporter standups and constant weather/traffic updates. Middle-aged co-anchor Tim Ryan, dean of the dawn patrol, knows how to mess around in the company of what's been a series of younger female desk partners. The station continues to be the best at finding a reasonably happy medium between slap-happy and being taken seriously.

WFAA8 hopes to take some pages from Fox4's joke book and sell a more youthful exuberance in the bargain. Corning is now the point man in that effort, with Izzy his oftentimes too giggly sidekick. Can she keep up with him without seeming to try w-a-a-y too hard? We'll see. One thing seems certain, though. That Corning kid's got moxie, as Hansen would say. He's starting to earn his spots -- and here's the latest:

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Oct. 10) -- Rangers Cruz into prime-time, soar past the million mark


Nelson Cruz gets an unexpected mini-shower before pouncing on home plate after his game-winning grand slam. "That's a new one," Fox analyst Terry Francona said of the waterworks. Photo: Ed Bark

Deprived of some plum prime-time exposure after Sunday's rainout, the Texas Rangers retaliated Monday by extending Game 2 of their ALCS series into what became a glorious night.

Nelson Cruz's walk-off grand slam, which gave Texas a 7-3 win over the Detroit Tigers in Game 2, capped a marathon 11-inning game that ran from 3:20 to 7:45 p.m. on Fox. The closing 15-minute segment was witnessed by 1,341,272 D-FW viewers, giving Dallas-based Fox4 a massive ratings boost before its network's dinosaur-driven Terra Nova began almost an hour past its scheduled start.

The game averaged 772,247 viewers overall after beginning with just 325,157 in its initial mid-afternoon segment. The prime-time portion of Game 2 -- 7 to 7:45 p.m. -- drew 1,246,434 viewers, many of whom were just getting home from work and activating their picture boxes.

ESPN's Monday Night Football game between the Lions and Bears, with a smidgen of it airing opposite the Rangers, had a smaller than usual 345,479 viewers. On the four major broadcast networks, CBS' Two and a Half Men again led all comers with 406,466 viewers after the Rangers had subsided.

NBC again ran out of the money all night with its fourth place lineup of The Sing-Off and a Prime Suspect repeat in place of its canceled The Playboy Club.

In Monday's local news derby results, WFAA8 capitalized on another strong lead-in from ABC's Castle to win at 10 p.m. in total viewers. But Fox4 won with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. A big dose of Rangers excitement and delayed starts for both Terra Nova and House certainly didn't hurt.

Fox4 also swept the 6 a.m. Nielsens before its early evening newscasts yielded to baseball. CBS11 won a downsized three-way 6 p.m. competition in total viewers, with WFAA8 tops among 25-to-54-year-olds. The 5 p.m. golds were split between NBC5 in total viewers and WFAA8 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

The Rangers and Tigers are scheduled to play Tuesday's Game 3 in prime-time on Fox.

Toasting the late Bert Lozano during a Sunday celebration of his life


Former Dallas police chief/mayoral candidate David Kunkle and his wife, Sarah Dodd (formerly a CBS11 reporter), were among the attendees at Sunday's memorial for Bert Lozano. Photo: Ed Bark

Former WFAA8 reporter Bert Lozano's life and good times were fondly remembered early Sunday afternoon at "A Celebration" of the way he was and the many lives he touched.

Lozano died on August 30th at age 42 after suffering a heart attack. Funeral services were held early last month in his hometown of Mission, Texas. But Sunday's memorial in the downtown TXCN building afforded hundreds more a chance to say goodbye in an upbeat manner that belied the gloomy weather outside.

Mimosas and cookies were served, with organizer Chris Heinbaugh noting that Lozano would have wanted a festive atmosphere to prevail. Still, his voice broke on several occasions as he remembered his close friend and onetime WFAA8 colleague.

"Losing a part of our family is very, very hard," said Heinbaugh, who later became Dallas mayor Tom Leppert's chief of staff.

WFAA8 reporter Rebecca Lopez, who was among five speakers at the noontime memorial, remembered Lozano arriving at the station in 2004 and being "really excited about working with Gloria Campos, who of course is the diva of news in Dallas. And of course, Bert loved divas."

Campos could not attend because of previous family commitments, she said on a Facebook page publicizing the memorial. But Heinbaugh credited Campos and Lopez with securing the TXCN building. Another veteran WFAA staffer, production manager Jerry Cadigan, arranged the audio and sound for several slide shows.

Among other attendees were WFAA8 investigative reporter Brett Shipp, Fox4 reporter Saul Garza, former WFAA8 reporter Brad Hawkins and David Duitch, who hired Lozano while he was WFAA8's news director and now holds that post at Dallas-based CW33. Former Dallas police chief David Kunkle and his wife, Sarah Dodd, who used to anchor and report for CBS11, also were on hand, as were Lozano's parents, his brother, Rick, and his nephew, Orlando.

Lozano left WFAA8 in 2007 to join the Dallas offices of the Weber Shandwick public relations firm. One of his co-workers at the firm, Denny Shields, joined Lopez in noting that Lozano loved to sing on a moment's notice, whether at work or at play.

"He was so very special, and had a way of lighting up the place," Lopez said.

"Oh my God, it was a life well-lived," said Shields.

Garza and Lozano worked together at KRGV-TV in the Rio Grande Valley before eventually making their ways to Dallas.

"He also took my wife and I to our first drag show," Garza noted.

That brought another big laugh amid the occasional tears for Lozano, whose on-air reporting career in Dallas included the time a horn-tooting streaker ran past him while he did a live shot in 2006 from the site of a grass fire near Lake Lewisville. The video received heavy exposure nationally, and of course was replayed near the end of Sunday's celebration.

In life and in death, Lozano wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Oct. 7-9) -- hangin' with the Rangers through two hours worth of rain delays

D-FW viewers showed admirable resilience Saturday night, keeping the ratings amazingly high through a rain-drenched nearly five-hour game that ended at 12:04 a.m. Sunday on Fox.

The Rangers' Game 1 ALCS home win over Detroit averaged 704,506 viewers despite two rain delays totaling two hours (8:42 to 9:23 p.m. and 9:26 to 10:45 p.m.). A peak audience of 873,859 watched between 8:30 and 8:45 p.m., according to the 15-minute increments measured by Nielsen. A great majority of those viewers -- 724,829 -- returned for the post-midnight final pitch.

Overall ratings obviously were hurt by the interruptions, particularly during the second one. The smallest audience for the entire night came between 10:30 and 10:45 p.m., when 501,283 viewers were on hand. And Game 1 against the Tigers fell well short of last fall's ALCS opener against the New York Yankees, which averaged 928,044 viewers on TBS despite the Rangers blowing a 5-1 eighth inning lead. That game had a peak audience of 1,115,038, marking the first time a Rangers game had ever surpassed the one million mark.

Ran or no rain, Saturday night's Dallas Stars-Chicago Blackhawks regular season faceoff on TXA21 drew just 20,322 viewers opposite Rangers-Tigers. Yow, even CW33's 9 p.m. local newscast beat it -- with 27,096 viewers. Friday's Stars season opener, also against the Blackhawks, had 33,871 viewers on Fox Sports Southwest.

NBC's Sunday Night Football game between the Packers and the Falcons got a free pass after the Yankees and Tigers were rained out. It was the second most-watched pro pigskin game of the day with 467,413 viewers. CBS' late afternoon attraction, the Patriots against the Jets, topped it with an average of 508,058 viewers.

Friday's prime-time ratings were paced by CBS, which ran the table in total viewers with A Gifted Man, CSI:NY and Blue Bloods, the night's high scorer with 298,060 viewers. But BB again had hardly any advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-old viewers, falling to fourth place at 9 p.m. with just 19,219.

In Friday's local news derby results, CBS11 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers while NBC5 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Otherwise it was all Fox4, with the station sweeping the 6 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m. competitions.

"I hear the viewers here in Dallas-Fort Worth are flipping over the great Friday night lineup on WFAA-TV, Channel 8"

The late Anne Francis looks as though she's on automatic pilot at this point. Still, the stars from TV's days of yore regularly did customized promos for the network affiliates carrying their programs.

In this 1965 spot, Francis and Honey West co-star John Ericson talk up WFAA8's Friday night ABC lineup before encouraging viewers to stay tuned for the late news with Bob Gooding, Dale Milford and Woody Van Dyke.

Woody Van Dyke? Yes, he was the sports guy a couple of years before Verne Lundquist came along.

Here's the video.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Oct. 4) -- Rangers clinch, get ready for prime-time


Afternoon delight. But relatively few saw Texas clinch. Photo: Ed Bark

Good bye -- and good riddance -- to those daytime TBS games. The Texas Rangers now will mostly hit the prime-time stage for their ALCS series on Fox against either the Yankees or Tigers.

The North Texas 9 closed out the Tampa Bay Rays in comparative obscurity Tuesday afternoon. A total of 386,124 D-FW viewers were on hand for the closing 15 minutes of the 4-3 win, giving the Rangers a 3-1 series victory after their ignominious 9-0 opening game loss.

Game 4, which ended just before 4 p.m., averaged a fairly skimpy 257,416 viewers overall. Game 1, also played in daylight hours on TBS, had an identical average. Those were the two lowest totals, with Saturday's Game 2 on TNT drawing the biggest crowd (433, 542 viewers). Fox should be able to at least double those numbers with its higher-profile Rangers games.

A number of prime-time attractions had more viewers than Tuesday's Rangers clincher. CBS' NCIS as usual led all programs with 467,413 viewers. But the new season's darling continues to be Fox's New Girl, which again improved significantly on its Glee lead-in and easily beat all network programs in the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic.

In contrast, NBC's lineup of The Biggest Loser and Parenthood again ran fourth throughout the night in both audience measurements while ABC's sagging Dancing with the Stars took a pair of bronzes from 7 to 9 p.m.

ABC's Body of Proof swept the 9 p.m. Nielsens, with CBS' new Unforgettable second in total viewers and Fox4's local newscast taking the silver with 18-to-49-year-olds.

In the four-way local news derby results, WFAA8 ran first at 10 p.m. in total viewers and tied for the lead with Fox4 among 25-to-54-year-olds (the main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Fox4 and NBC5 shared the 6 a.m. top spot in total viewers, with Fox4 as usual ruling the 25-to-54 demographic. WFAA8, which perked up on Monday to outpoint the Peacock, fell back to a distant third in both measurements. CBS11 remained the doormat.

CBS11 registered its lone win at 6 p.m., where it led in total viewers. Fox4 otherwise controlled the early evening races, running the table at 5 p.m. and adding a 6 p.m. gold with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon, Oct. 3) -- Rangers build slowly to big number, bigger win

Again exiled to a weekday late afternoon start, the Texas Rangers' stirring Game 3 win over Tampa Bay Monday began almost invisibly on TBS before building to a smash hit.

Still, the game fell shy of Saturday's crowd, in large part no doubt because Game 2 began at 6 p.m. on a more accessible weekend night.

Game 3, which ran from 4 until 7:59 p.m., had just 108,386 D-FW viewers for its first 15-minute increment. But by the closing quarter hour, which ended with a 4-3 win on a double play grounder, the audience had grand-slammed its way to 677,410 viewers. Overall it averaged 406,446 viewers, shy of Saturday's 433,542 on TNT.

The Rangers handily beat NFL football, though, with Monday night's lackluster Colts-Buccaneers matchup drawing just 182,901 viewers on ESPN. Game 3 also dominated the 7 to 8 p.m. prime-time hour, with 636,765 viewers. Runner-up Terra Nova on Fox had 277,738 viewers.

Fox's season premiere of House followed at 8 p.m. with a nice-sized 298,060 viewers. But that still fell short of CBS' competing winning combo of Two and a Half Men (440,317 viewers) and Mike & Molly (311,609).

ABC's Castle and CBS' Hawaii Five-0 tied for the 9 p.m. lead with 284,512 viewers apiece. The third episode of NBC's punchless The Playboy Club finished a distant fourth in the broadcast network universe with a piddling 67,741 viewers.

ABC's flagging Dancing with the Stars ran an overall third in total viewers from 7 to 9 p.m. while taking an even bigger drubbing with advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds. It was so bad that even The CW's new Hart of Dixie came fairly close to beating Dancing's second hour while NBC's ratings-starved The Sing-Off also made gains in this key demographic.

CBS' over-praised 2 Broke Girls showed serious signs of tune-out at 7:30 p.m., digging a ratings valley in both audience measurements between How I Met Your Mother and Two and a Half Men. It easily was CBS' least-watched show of the night.

And now for the local news derby results.

CBS11 narrowly topped the 10 p.m. field in total viewers, holding off WFAA8 after both stations were on an equal playing field in terms of network audience lead-ins. WFAA8 in turn edged CBS11 for the top spot among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 otherwise had a big day, sweeping the 6 a.m ratings while also winning at 5 and 6 p.m. in the 25-to-54 demographic. In total viewers, Fox4 tied NBC5 for first place at 5 p.m. and shared the 6 p.m. gold in that measurement with CBS11.

Also of note: WFAA8 is starting to show some signs of life at 6 a.m. The ABC station tied NBC5 for second in total viewers and beat the Peacock among 25-to-54-year-olds.

NBC5 reporters Ashanti Blaize and Susy Solis out after four years at the Fort Worth-based station; new co-anchor for 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts comes directly from Turner Sports (updated and updated again)

Ashanti-Blaize-2011 solis_640x480

Ashanti Blaize and Susy Solis in their NBC5 website photos.

Two four-year veterans at Fort Worth-based NBC5, anchor-reporter Ashanti Blaize and reporter Susy Solis, will be leaving the station this month as part of an ongoing station shakeup.

Both joined the NBC-owned station in October 2007. They confirmed via email responses that their tenures are soon ending. NBC5 news director Susan Tully later verified other changes in a Monday evening phone call to unclebarky.com. They include the hiring of Marc Fein from Turner Sports, who will begin co-anchoring NBC5's weekday 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts later this month, Tully said.

Fein, 43, joined Turner Sports in 2004 and has had a variety of studio and field reporter roles. He's been an occasional substitute host for Ernie Johnson on TNT's Inside the NBA and also has been an anchor for NBA TV, which is managed by Turner Sports and the NBA.

Before moving to Turner Sports, he worked from 2002-'04 at Dallas-based Fox4, where his duties included hosting the Dallas Cowboys pre-game show. He also was a weekend sports anchor and weekday sports reporter for Fox4.

"Yes, he's transitioning from sports to news," Tully said. Fein, who's already in training at NBC5, will co-anchor the 5 p.m. news with Jane McGarry and the 6 p.m. edition with Meredith Land. Brian Curtis and Kristi Nelson remain as co-anchors of the station's 4 p.m. weekday newscasts, with Curtis and Land continuing on 10 p.m. editions.

Blaize, a regular weekend anchor who also reports and substitute anchors on other newscasts, will have her last day at NBC5 on Thursday, Oct. 13th. Solis, a general assignments reporter, will be leaving after the Oct. 14th workday.

Blaize and Solis initially declined to comment on what they might be doing next or the circumstances of their departures.

But Blaize later sent an additional comment via email, saying, "I wasn't cut from KXAS. I chose not to sign another contract."

She also took the opportunity to say goodbye.

"It's been a wonderful run here in D-FW for the last four years," Blaize said. "I've grown so much personally and professionally. I thank the viewers for watching, and my competitors for the camaraderie and for always keeping me on my toes, and NBC5 for giving me a great opportunity."

Blaize joined NBC5 from KLAS-TV in Las Vegas. She has a masters degree in communications from the University of Miami.

Solis arrived at NBC5 from KTSM-TV in El Paso. She is a graduate from the University of Texas at El Paso, where she also majored in communications.

Tully also confirmed that Annie Potasznik, who joined NBC5 in early 2009, is "no longer with us." She had been reporting the "Around Town" segment at the end of Saturday's late night newscast as well as contributing to the station's 5.2 digital channel.
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New NBC5 hires Marc Fein and Ray Villeda.

On the hiring front, Tully said that NBC5 also has picked up reporter Ray Villeda, who started this week. He arrived from WFSB-TV in Hartford, Conn.

"I've been hiring like crazy," Tully said, noting that two more full-time reporters and a backpack "video journalist" will soon be announced as NBC5 reporters. "I want to make it very clear. We are hiring reporters . . . Got a lot of activity here. It's fun."

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Sept. 30-Oct. 2) -- Cowboys gets Lions share of sports audience over first two Rangers post-season games


Romo's 3rd INT leads to Lions' winning TD Sunday. Photo: Ed Bark

The Dallas Cowboys fed themselves to the Lions Sunday while the Texas Rangers averted a no-win situation against the Rays by taking Saturday's second game of the best of five playoff series.

The Cowboys of course had far more D-FW viewers for their record-setting collapse after leading 27-3 in the second half. But the North Texas 9 had respectable numbers Saturday night on TNT. Here's the scoresheet.

Cowboys-Lions, which ran from noon to 3:30 p..m. on Fox, averaged 1,300,672 viewers, with a peak audience of 1,646,106 for the implement-throwing final 15 minutes. Even worse, Fox's A-team announcers, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, screwed up the down count in the closing seconds, giving some inattentive fans false hope that Dallas had one last chance to fling it downfield in search of a Hail Mary winning TD.

Sunday's debacle was the third most-watched game of the season, with noon start times usually deflating the audience a bit. The No. 1 draw is still the prime-time season opener against the Jets, which had 1,648,317 viewers on the grand stage of NBC's Sunday Night Football.

The Rangers' Game 2 win over Tampa Bay, which ran from 6 to 9:35 p.m. on TNT, averaged 433,542 viewers in beating all competing Saturday night programming. Friday's Game 1 (4 to 7:09 p.m. on TBS), a deflating 9-0 Rangers loss, had a comparatively scant 257,416 viewers.

NBC's Sunday night Ravens-Jets matchup drew a bigger crowd than either Rangers game, with 480,961 viewers. And CBS' mid-afternoon/early evening Packers-Broncos game also matched the Rangers' second playoff game with an average of 419,994 viewers.

Sunday night's second episode of ABC's new Pan Am dipped to 203,223 viewers to run third in the 9 p.m. hour behind football and a mix of CBS' The Good Wife and CSI: Miami, both of which were delayed by a football over-run. Andy Rooney's farewell as a regular commentator on 60 Minutes, drew 304,835 viewers in the program's closing 15-minute segment.

Pan Am edged up to second place among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, beating CBS in the 9 to 10 p.m. slot.

In Friday night's Nielsens, CBS' second episode of A Gifted Man won in total viewers among broadcast networks. But it only had 94,837 of 'em from 7 to 8 p.m. despite competing against comedy repeats on both ABC and NBC. Fox's Kitchen Nightmares won the hour among 18-to-49-year-olds, with Gifted Man sliding to third. CBS' 9 p.m. episode of Blue Bloods was the most-watched broadcast show of the night with 277,738 total viewers.

Friday's four-way local news derby competitions went like this: CBS11 won in total viewers at 10 p.m. but NBC5 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

The Peacock added a 6 a.m. win in total viewers, with Fox4 prevailing as usual in the 25-to-54 demographic.

CBS11 took the total viewers gold at 6 p.m.; Fox4 had the most 25-to-54-year-olds at that hour while sweeping the 5 p.m. competitions.

Denmon returns to weekend anchoring at WFAA8 while her discrimination lawsuit continues to divide the Dallas-based station


Debbie Denmon during Saturday's early evening news. Photo: Ed Bark

Smiling on the outside, WFAA8 anchor Debbie Denmon has resumed anchoring the station's weekend newscasts after missing the latter half of September.

As previously reported on unclebarky.com, Denmon is suing the Dallas-based ABC affiliate, claiming she has been discriminated against because of her weight. Readers have flooded the story with comments, the great majority of them pro-Denmon to date.

Denmon has been unavailable for comment, and WFAA8 management likewise has had nothing to say. News director Michael Valentine, whom Denmon claims has blocked her path to a weekday anchor slot because of her plus-size stature, has not responded to emails asking for a response or an official station statement.

WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin likewise has ignored requests for comment and how apparently is out of town. An automated email reply last Thursday said that Devlin will be out of the office from Sept. 29th until Oct. 17th.

"I will have limited access to email and will attempt to reply," his return message said. "I will be checking messages on a regular basis."

Sources at WFAA8 say that more than 20 witnesses were called by Denmon's legal representatives in advance of what would have to be mandatory arbitration if it reaches that point. WFAA8 employees are contractually bound to settle any discrimination suit via arbitration rather than in a courtroom before a judge and jury.

"It's been difficult for her," one WFAA8 source said. Not that it's been a bed of roses for either station management or the witnesses called, among them longtime sports anchor Dale Hansen. Denmon's representatives are seeking to use Hansen as a prime example of an on-air personality who has never been penalized because of his weight. On the contrary, he regularly jokes about being an old, fat, bald guy during sports segments, although those comments may well be off limits while the Denmon case is pending.

Denmon has been with WFAA8 since October 2000. The station previously was charged with discrimination by former anchor Scott Sams, whose attorney claimed he was dropped by the station in 2004 "because of his religion, his age and the fact that he's a white guy." An arbitrator awarded Sams $683,771 in January 2007, with WFAA8 attorneys saying it was just four percent of what he originally asked for. Both sides claimed victory.

Sams eventually became CBS11's weekday early morning co-anchor, but was dropped earlier this year after a four-year stay. He now is a co-anchor on KRLD radio's (1080 AM) morning drive program.