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Q&A: Feb. 2

Question: Why do local TV stations always have to look outside of the DFW area to bring in a new anchor or reporter? Why can't they just recruit from within the area? I bet they would have more ratings if it was someone picked locally. Yes, I know Cynthia (Izaguirre) at Ch. 8 and the new girl at Fox4 (Lauren Przybyl) are locals. But for some reason they lack something to connect to. Is it really that hard to read off a TelePrompTer, because Jane (McGarry) at Ch. 5 and Gloria Campos at Ch. 8 can't seem to read anything in front of them.
Martha Sotelo

Answer: Non-compete clauses are still a major reason why stations are reluctant to hire a well-known personality from a rival station. Usually they have to stay off the air in D-FW for at least six months and sometimes longer.

Shrinking budgets also play a key role in how much a station is willing to pay established "talent" with built-in market name recognition. The days of pirating star players like the late Chip Moody (who went from Ch. 5 to Ch. 4) and John Criswell (Ch. 8 to Ch. 4) are probably over and out.

CW33 recently has hired several local reporters with little or no previous experience in television. They include Dan X. McGraw and Holly Yan, who were laid off by The Dallas Morning News, and Candice Crawford, who also still hosts the Dallas Cowboys' weekend Special Edition show.

Stations generally prefer to hire someone with at least a minimal previous Texas connection when they're looking outside the D-FW market. Then they can lean on the "coming back home" angle and beat it to death in the early going. But the days of paying big bucks for incoming talent apparently are over. And high-priced incumbent anchors with big salaries are staring pay cuts in the face when their contracts are up for renewal.

Question: When I first began watching shows in HD I was amazed at the clarity of the picture. There was some discussion at the time about how much close-ups revealed of the facial imperfections of television personalities. I've noticed recently, however, that on many newscasts, some of the personalities seem to be out of focus. In the case of Diane Sawyer, she appears to be broadcasting through a haze. Are my ancient eyes failing me or do some of the networks add filters to protect their news anchors?
Danny Kunsch

Answer: Sawyer and her ABC colleague, Barbara Walters, long have been shot through "gauze," so to speak. Even in the pre-HD days. It's definitely meant to camouflage their wrinkles, although sometimes these efforts are way too transparent. You can only smear so much Vaseline on a camera lens before it becomes counter-productive.

Question: What's the future for Fringe?
Danny Kunsch

Answer: Fringe's ratings are modest at best, but I'd say it's a pretty good bet to return for a third season. It's chances likely are better than Fox's Lie to Me. The network probably will pick one or the other for renewal, and Fringe seems to have the inside track.

Question: If WFAA, WBAP or WOAI decided to change their call letters, would they be required to choose "K' call letters? If a station east of the Mississippi currently has "K," would they also need to change to "W?"
Roberto R. Alaniz

Answer: There's next to no chance that any of them would change call-letters after having their W's grandfathered in. However, if that happened, they apparently would have to conform to geography and switch from W to K -- or vice-versa.

In the case of WFAA, here's a little history lesson emailed by station spokesman Dave Muscari:

"In 1949, Texas oilman Tom Potter's KBTV, Channel 8, on Harry Hines Blvd., became the first television station located in Dallas. The building remains operational today as the home of Dallas' public television station KERA, Ch. 13. In May of 1950, KBTV was acquired by Belo from Potter Television and the call letters changed to WFAA -- which symbolized Working For All Alike -- a phrase made popular years earlier by WFAA radio.

"To this day, WFAA remains one of only a handful of stations west of the Mississippi River broadcasting with call letters beginning with 'W' rather than the traditional 'K.' For a lot of stations, their local identity is wrapped up in their call-letters. It would be hard to imagine my old station in Atlanta, WSB (Welcome South, Brother) ever changing their call-letters."