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Oprah glides through WFAA8 newscast, survives encounter with sports anchor Hansen

Oprah Winfrey co-anchors with incumbent Gloria Campos on Monday's "special edition" of WFAA8's 5 p.m. newscast. Photos: Ed Bark

Maybe they should hire her. But she might have to take a bit of a pay cut.

Yes, that indeed was Oprah Winfrey smoothly co-anchoring with Gloria Campos on Monday's "special edition" of Dallas-based WFAA8's 5 p.m. newscast. By her recollection, the "Queen of Talk" hadn't pulled this duty since December 1983, when she was with WLS-TV in Chicago.

Earlier Monday, "I went to the State Fair and ate my way through it," Winfrey said of her mid-morning taping of material for a future Oprah Winfrey Show, which serves as the ratings-challenged 5 p.m. newscast's lead-in program.

Winfrey never stumbled during her time-sharing with Campos. She also played make believe on another front, referring to "our Gary Cogill" while introducing his live report and "our website" in reference to wfaa.com.

What looked like a semi-throng gathered outside WFAA8's Victory Park studios to watch Winfrey's performance, which also included reading a stock market report, small-talking with weatherman Greg Fields and introducing stories by reporters Darla Miles (who's soon leaving for New York's WABC-TV), Gary Reaves and Debbie Denmon.

Split-screen smoothie: Winfrey with Cogill.

Winfrey later inserted an advertisement for herself. "Well, look out there at that crowd. It's only getting better and bigger," she told Campos.

"And they want to see you-know-who," Campos assured her.

You-know-who didn't venture outside during the 5 p.m. newscast. But she did have a close in-studio encounter with voluble sports anchor Dale Hansen, who usually doesn't appear on this edition.

Hansen ostensibly was there to plug his Friday night Texas-Oklahoma football special on WFAA8. But he instead may have given Winfrey the creeps, even though she gamely laughed along.

"Would you like to take this opportunity to apologize to America for introducing us to Dr. Phil?" Hansen asked her.

"No, I'm not," she said. "Aren't you proud of your boy from Texas?"

"No," said Dale, who then resorted to the kind of banter he usually reserves for jolly weathercaster Pete Delkus.

"This is my real hair," he informed Winfrey. "You can touch it if you like."

Which she actually did -- gingerly. (Point of reference: On a recent edition of Oprah, comedian Chris Rock dug his hands deep into the host's roots while promoting his documentary film Good Hair.)

A wound-up Hansen then wound things up by noting how excited his wife, Chris, was about his meeting Winfrey.

"Twenty-nine years. And this is my biggest highlight of my life, according to her," Hansen said before the shot clock finally ran out on him. Not even close proximity to Winfrey can keep Hansen from talking about himself. But he did have a good point about Dr. Phil.

Touching me, touching you: Winfrey fingers Hansen's waning locks.

Campos closed matters by showing Winfrey a clip from her 1986 interview on WFAA8's long-defunct Ed Busch Show. Winfrey dutifully looked horrified.

All in all, the newscast ran remarkably smoothly, with Winfrey to the manor born. You'd never know she hadn't anchored in nearly 26 years, although she's obviously had a little on-camera experience in the interim.

Could it be true that reading news copy is so easy that even a caveman can do it? Actually, Hansen's already proven that. Next question.