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Rowlett will stay in the game

Tracy Rowlett, flanked by anchor Doug Dunbar and wife, Jill, signed off CBS11's 10 p.m. newscasts in early March. Now he's signed up for an additional two years, taking him to July 2010. Photo: Ed Bark

D-FW's Walter Cronkite, a k a CBS11's Tracy Rowlett, is forestalling his planned July retirement and re-upping for two more years.

"This is an exciting time at CBS11," he said in a statement released Friday morning. "And I'm looking forward to being here when the station emerges as number one in the market."

That could take a good deal of time. CBS11 emerged from the November "sweeps" as No. 2 in total homes in the key 10 p.m. ratings race and also at 6 p.m. But it ran last among four stations at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. CBS11 has even further to go among advertiser-preferred 25-to-54-year-olds, where it ranks no better than third in any of those four news slots.

Still, the station came out of the Belo8-dominated sweeps with some momentum, particularly against badly slumping NBC5. As of January, Rowlett will anchor only the station's 5 p.m. newscasts as well as contribute his weekly Sunday night "Perspectives" pieces. But his principal value to the station may be as a behind-the-scenes producer of special reports for the station.

"His talent, skills and knowledge are invaluable to us," president and general manager Steve Mauldin said. "And his influence on our on-air product is enormous. We are very fortunate to have him."

Rowlett joined CBS11 in 1999 after 25 years as a mainstay anchor at Belo8.