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This just in: A night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Fri., April 27)

TV reporters are just like the rest of us in at least one respect. They have to eat.

And so the poor souls at NBC5 -- and now CBS11, too -- slog on through their "urgent" newscasts' three basic food groups -- car wrecks, crime scenes, fires. Assume the position or hit the road, they're told. Do the masters' bidding or we'll hire a replacement from Geraldo Rivera Tech.

"We begin with a savage attack," CBS11 anchor Karen Borta said at the top of Friday's 10 p.m. newscast, warmly welcoming viewers to what eventually added up to a collection of 12 crime stories, two vehicular manglings and a pair of live visits to a refinery fire in Wynnewood, OK.

NBC5, having a hard time keeping up these days, countered with 10 crime stories, a diesel tanker accident and explosion in Houston, two viewing area fires and three live looks at that burning Oklahoma refinery.

Both stations led their newscasts with a "Road Rage" stabbing story, even though it had happened eight days earlier. A Garland man showed off his head wounds -- "I got a big knot here," he told NBC 5 -- while his girlfriend recounted how she had written down the perpetrator's license number in lipstick. As of Friday police were still searching for crum-bum Terry Reeves.

In contrast, Fox4 gave the incident brief mention nine minutes deep into its 9 p.m. newscast. Belo8 didn't cover it at all.

CBS11's second story of the night -- dubbed "Breaking News in Fort Worth" -- found reporter Carol Cavazos standing live next to a crumpled car. The accident sent three people to the hospital, but all "came out OK," she said.

Maybe something like this makes the front page in Pisspot, Idaho, but in Dallas-Fort Worth? Yeah, but that wreckage sure did look purdy on the teevee, even if Cavazos may have cried herself to sleep that night. She's otherwise been a solid reporter. But that was then.

NBC5, meanwhile, had learned of an investigation involving developers and possibly at least one member of the Dallas City Council.

"We are live at Dallas City Hall right now," said anchor Jane McGarry while viewers were treated to an overhead shot from Chopper 5. No more specifics were given. Are they kidding with this crap?

Fox4 logged in with two interesting, in-depth stories.

Jason Overstreet reported from Southlake, where one of the toughest non-smoking laws in the country soon will make it illegal to puff in heavily trafficked public parks. And veteran medical correspondent John Hammarley told viewers about an apparently fraudulent Web site that promises to provide free prescription medicines after a $199 upfront payment. He brought the story home via the sad tale of a bilked elderly man who recently lost his wife.

Fox4 was a day late, though, on a story about a woman who was called an insulting name on a receipt from a Famous Footwear store. NBC5's wily Mistress of the Dark, Susan Risdon, had that one Thursday night after anchor Mike Snyder teed up the "nasty surprise."

Belo8 mostly stayed away from crime and tragedy, but not from overall dullness. Friday's newscast was mostly punchless, with lengthy stories on a high school "clothes crackdown" (Janet St. James) and airline cockpit safety (Byron Harris) failing to generate any real electricity.

A brief story on "lip balm addiction" prompted weatherman Pete Delkus and anchor Gloria Campus to wax on about their favorite products.

The newscast then collapsed in a heap with a closing story on the auction of the hearse used to transport President Kennedy from Parkland hospital to Air Force One.

"It runs nice and the radio works," Campos said prospective buyers are being told. All concerned then tried to bat that around a bit before a merciful but very awkward segue to ABC's Nightline.

Not to be outdone, CBS11 weathercaster Kristine Kahanek rolled up the sidewalks by telling viewers she'd given the wrong weekend for Canton's Trade Days. Anchor Doug Dunbar then bizarrely plugged his April 30th birthday, sticking his tongue out, rubbing his hands and saying in a high-pitched voice, "Hoping for presents."

Late Show with David Letterman couldn't come soon enough.