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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., April 27-29) -- Mavs heart-crusher is top weekend attraction

Kevin Durant's clank/swish buzzer beater in Saturday night's Game 1 of the Dallas Mavericks-Oklahoma City Thunder playoff series drove a dagger into both the defending champs and all other weekend attractions.

Most D-FW fans chose to watch the late-starting matchup on ESPN, which had a big edge over the homegrown/homer telecast on TXA21.

ESPN's presentation for a national audience averaged 264,190 viewers locally, with a peak crowd of 359,027 between 11 and 11:15 p.m. TXA21 drew 115,160 viewers, peaking at 189,675 during those same 15 minutes.

That's an average total audience on the two channels of 379,350, which was good enough to beat the earlier starting Texas Rangers-Tampa Rays game on Fox Sports Southwest (257,416 viewers).

The biggest TV crowd for Rangers-Rays came during ESPN's Sunday night series finale, which beat all competing broadcast network programming with 298,060 viewers. Among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, baseball outdrew everything except CBS' 7 p.m. episode of The Amazing Race.

Friday's Rangers game on TXA21 averaged 264,190 viewers. Only CBS' 9 p.m. episode of Blue Bloods had a bigger audience with 284,512 viewers. The 9 to 10 p.m. portion of Rangers-Rays was right behind with 277,738 viewers.

Baseball thumped Blue Bloods among 18-to-49-year-olds, but still finished second from 9 to 10 p.m. behind ABC's 20/20.

In Friday's local news derby results -- the second weeknight of the May "sweeps" -- WFAA8 had a doubleheader win at 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 likewise swept the 6 a.m. Nielsens while Fox4 ran the table at 5 p.m. The 6 p.m. spoils were split between WFAA8 in total viewers and Fox4 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

WFAA8's decidedly different David Schechter (and that's a good thing)


David Schechter captured in picture from his Facebook page.

David Schecter is distinctly different. Not in a loose cannon way, but in a way that prompts me to say, "Why can't more TV reporters be this way?"

He's been at Dallas-based WFAA8 since September 2006. And his Clark Kent-ish appearance, previously noted in these spaces, does not mask an ability to leap over tall buildings in a single bound after emerging from a phone booth.

But Schechter does know how to report on the fly while also showing a knack for settling in with a subject for a nicely tuned feature.

His instincts aren't always fool-proof. His illustrative uses of Barbie dolls back in 2008 were painful to behold. Perhaps he was foolishly trying to one-up colleague Brad Watson's doll-athon during the 2006 Texas gubernatorial campaign.

Far more often than not, though, Schechter stands out in a good way. His November 2010 story, on a mourning Hunt County dog named Spot , had an instant classic feel to it. He's a stylist with substance, a guy who really tries to bring something different to the table without over-turning it.

Schechter also has a personal blog called Sheckmo.com, to which he contributes sporadically. I hadn't seen it until he tweeted this week: "Fighting my way through a news funk." He included a companion link to Sheckmo, in which his short blog post began, "It happens two or three times a year. A sinking feeling that has a way of sneaking up on me. What is it? The sense that a good story will never come along again."

That's an eye-catcher. And also uncommonly introspective. So I tweeted back, "I know the feeling at times, David. Can you arrange a big WFAA personnel shift & then leak it to me? JUST kidding!!!"

Schechter played along with this reply: "We are getting a Chip Moody avatar. But you didn't hear it here."

He referred to the late WFAA8 anchor who also previously worked at KDFW-TV and KXAS-TV before fighting a long losing battle with Hodgkins Disease. Moody died in late December of 2001, well before Schechter arrived at WFAA8. So he has a sense of history as well as a sharp wit. And believe me, Moody would have appreciated the reference.

Schechter's Sheckmo post underscored the very real insecurities that grip many a reporter or anchor, both at the local and national level. It reminded me of the time a veteran actor told me of the time he witnessed Jimmy Stewart sobbing after he had completed work on another picture. What was wrong? Stewart said he feared that this was it, that no one would ever want him again for another role. Stewart was in the prime of his career at the time, but he wasn't at all kidding.

Schechter wrote that his own sinking feeling "happened again last week and I spent my lunch time shuffling around downtown Dallas like a zombie. To me there is nothing more exciting in the world than chasing down a big story . . . But when a high ends there's nowhere to go but down. As many times as I've been around the block, somehow it still surprises me that after every great feast there's still a famine. A time when my story coffers are empty and I wonder if they'll ever fill up again."

But in the end, "another challenging story has always come along," Schechter wrote. "When I felt that old funk come on last week, it helped to trust in that truth. I tried to relax into the uncertainty. Then, after some anxious hours I plopped down on my desk, brushed off a dusty idea, made a few calls, held the thing up to the light and realized -- there might be something interesting here."

All of which makes him one of the more interesting and insightful reporters in this market. A guy who knows how to mess around and when to settle in. A guy whom I've never met personally but feel as though I know.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., April 26) -- "sweeps" start, with everyone feeling a draft

The NFL draft on ESPN squared off against all-new episodes on the broadcast networks Thursday during night one of the May "sweeps" ratings period.

And the annual meat market beat everything in its path -- except CBS' The Big Bang Theory -- among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds.

Idol peaked between 7:45 and 8 p.m., when McKinney's Hollie Cavanaugh dodged yet another "Bottom Two" bullet in making it to the show's Final Five. It had 147,306 viewers in the 18-to-49 range during those 15 minutes while averaging 131,294 for the full hour.

But the draft gave Idol a big chill, pulling in 153,710 viewers in the 18-to-49 range between 7:45 and 8 p.m. while logging 137,699 for the full hour.

Big Bang beat both the draft and Idol from 7 to 7:30 p.m. with 137,699 viewers in the 18-to-49 demographic. The runners-up had 121,687 viewers each before both of them walloped CBS' plunging Rules of Engagement (just 54,439 viewers in the motherlode demographic from 7:30 to 8 p.m.).

The draft's entire three-and-a-half hours averaged 118,485 viewers of the 18-to-49 persuasion.

Idol and CBS' 8 p.m. episode of Person of Interest were Thursday's overall biggest draws with 338,705 total viewers apiece. The draft averaged a nice-sized 209,997 between 7 and 10:30 p.m., with a peak draw of 284,512 between 7:30 to 7:45 p.m. That's when the Dallas Cowboys moved up from the No. 14 to No. 6 position to spoil all prognostications from a massive array of draft "experts."

Over on Fox Sports Southwest, the Dallas Mavericks' afterthought final regular season game at Atlanta drew a piddling 60,967 faithful opposite the draft.

NBC's special live episode of 30 Rock ran sixth in total viewers from 7:30 to 8 p.m. with just 74,515. It improved to a third place tie with Rules of Engagement among 18-to-49-year-olds, beating The CW's Vampire Diaries and ABC's Missing while losing to Idol and the NFL draft.

NBC's 9 p.m. episode of Awake was the least-watched attraction on the Big Four networks, with a scant 47,419 total viewers. NBC5's following 10 p.m. newscast more than doubled that total but still couldn't pull out of a fourth place hole.

Aided by The Mentalist (257,416 viewers), defending February "sweeps" champ CBS11 won comfortably at 10 p.m. in total viewers. CBS11 added a 10 p.m. first among 25-to-54-year-olds, edging Fox4 in this main advertiser target audience for news programming.

The 6 a.m. golds were split between NBC5 in total viewers and Fox4 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

WFAA8 ran the table at 6 p.m. The 5 p.m. spoils went to Fox4 and NBC5 in total viewers and Fox4 outright with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., April 25) -- Rangers-Yanks fall shy of Idol

A Yu Darvish start Wednesday night probably would have been too much for American Idol to handle.

But the Texas Rangers instead had Scott Feldman and an assembly line of relievers, with a 7-3 win against the big-draw Yankees not quite enough to top the night's Nielsens.

Rangers-Yankees on Fox Sports Southwest overall averaged another very nice-sized crowd of 352,253 D-FW viewers, with 298,060 in the 7 to 9 p.m. slot directly opposite Fox's Idol (365,801 viewers). CBS' 7 p.m. hour of Survivor likewise edged that portion of the Rangers game, by a score of 243,868 to 237,094.

But Rangers-Yanks easily had larger peak crowds than anything else Wednesday, swelling to 474,187 viewers between both 9:15 and 9:30 p.m. and 9:45 to 10 p.m.

Among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, the Rangers beat everything except Idol -- including Survivor.

In local news derby results, the last before Thursday's start of the May "sweeps" ratings period, WFAA8 rolled up a pair of 10 p.m. wins in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 reasserted itself with a sweep of the 6 a.m. competitions while also placing first at 5 and 6 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds. CBS11 had the most total viewers at 6 p.m. and NBC5 and WFAA8 tied for the top spot in that measurement at 5 p.m.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., April 24) -- Yu tube all the way

Yu Darvish's mastery of the New York Yankees mesmerized D-FW viewers in the Rangers' 2-0 win Tuesday night.

The Fox Sports Southwest presentation, which ran from shortly after 7 p.m. to 9:49 p.m., out-scored all competing programming in both total viewers and advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds.

The only asterisk: CBS' hit lineup of crime dramas, including NCIS, was in repeats. But Yu and the Rangers otherwise whipped live results shows for two potent reality competition hours -- ABC's Dancing with the Stars and NBC's The Voice. The only other network repeat in Tuesday's mix was Fox's 8:30 p.m. episode of New Girl, which followed an 8 p.m. newbie.

Rangers-Yanks overall averaged 386,124 total viewers, with peak crowds of 440,317 in both the 9 to 9:15 and 9:15 to 9:30 segments. The biggest competing draw, Dancing at 8 p.m., had 331,931 viewers while The Voice drew 257,416 at the same hour.

Baseball also shellacked both shows in the key 18-to-49 demographic, with an average of 150,508 viewers in this age range. Fox's new 7 p.m. hour of Glee was second-best for the night with 124,890 while The Voice took the bronze with 121,687.

Yu tube likewise dominated the 9 p.m. hour, even though FSS's post-game show took up the majority of the 9:45 to 10 p.m. segment.

These are enormous numbers for the now 14-4 Rangers and of course a windfall for FSS, too. In contrast it's a headache for D-FW's broadcast network stations, with the TV season's climactic May "sweeps" ratings period beginning this Thursday.

Also of brief note: the 8 p.m. premiere of The CW's critically praised L.A. Complex drama series arrived DOA in D-FW, with a scant 27,096 total viewers and just 12,809 in the 18-to-49 age range.

In Tuesday's local news derby results, WFAA8 nipped CBS11 at 10 p.m. in total viewers, but Fox4 ran a comfy first among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main target audience for news programming.

Fox4 also took the 6 a.m. competition in total viewers while WFAA8 continued to run strong in the 25-to-54 demographic with its third first-place finish in the last four weekdays.

Fox4 won at 5 and 6 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds; the respective golds in total viewers went to NBC5 and WFAA8.

Deion and Pilar the latest celebs in local TV glare


NBC5 touted a "Sanders Family Fight." Image from nbcdfw.com

D-FW television stations predictably have been all over the Deion and Pilar Sanders mess since he live-tweeted Monday night that she had assaulted him at home with their two sons present.

It's their business to be in your business, except when it concerns questionable activities at their own stations. Then it's usually quiet time. End of oft-preached mini-sermon.

Deion willfully put himself in the center ring via his Twitter dispatches before Pilar tearfully proclaimed her innocence to reporters the following day with her attorney present.

NBC5's reliably intrepid Ellen Goldberg did the best job of advancing this sorry but juicy story Tuesday while CBS11's Jay Gormley took a different tack in an interesting piece on how impulsive social media outbursts increasingly are used against one or both parties in divorce cases.

Their reports are below.

View more videos at: http://nbcdfw.com.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., April 23) -- Rangers bow to Yanks and heavy hitters on ABC/NBC

The Texas Rangers' 7-4 home loss to the Yankees apparently encouraged some potential viewers to try other pursuits Monday night.

An early 6 p.m. start -- and a dual presentation on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN -- combined to give the Rangers an overall and still nice-sized D-FW crowd of 304,835. That fell just a bit short of the 318,383 viewers tuned to NBC's The Voice from 7 to 9 p.m. and a lot short of the 406,446 who watched ABC's Dancing with the Stars during those two hours.

Tuesday night's scheduled Yu Darvish start against the pin-stripers might well put the Rangers back into the No. 1 slot again. Depending on how well he does. So far he's been a ratings magnet.

Fox came in fourth Monday with new episodes of Bones (209,997 viewers) and House (142,256 viewers) while CBS lagged behind from 7 to 9 p.m. with a quartet of sitcom repeats.

Among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, The Voice dominated from start to finish while Rangers-Yankees finished second ahead of Dancing.

The game ended at 8:58 p.m., giving ABC's "confidential" look behind the scenes of Dancing a sweep of the 9 p.m. Nielsens in both ratings measurements. It was billed as a news special under the 20/20 banner, for which ABC should be ashamed but isn't.

In Monday's local news derby results, WFAA8 rolled to comfortable wins at 10 p.m. in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

The 6 a.m. firsts went to NBC5 in total viewers and WFAA8 among 25-to-54-year-olds. With the May "sweeps" starting Thursday, WFAA8 is putting itself in position to possibly pull off an upset win in the key 25-to-54 demographic despite a makeshift lineup in deference to co-anchor Cynthia Izaguirre's maternity leave. She's not due back until sometime in July.

CBS11 won at 6 p.m. in total viewers while Fox4 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds. The 5 p.m. firsts were split between NBC5 in total viewers and WFAA8 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Weather women are all over the map in D-FW

Samantha-Davies-2012 21

NBC5's Samantha Davies and Fox4 fill-in Krista Villarreal

D-FW weather women lately are doing more than their fair shares of filling in.

The latest is Krista Villarreal, who began working the Saturday a.m. shift at Fox4 last week while the station continues to interview replacements for Fiona Gorostiza, who will become a full-time entertainment/lifestyles reporter under the provisions of her new contract.

"Just on loan to Fox4 for a bit," she said on her Twitter page.

Villarreal is no stranger to this. The former NBC5 meteorologist, who remains at KRLD radio (1080 AM), has also pinch-hit for CBS11, TXA21 and CW33 in the past three and a half years. She returned to D-FW in December 2008 after working at Pittsburgh's WPXI-TV. That's the same station that deployed former CBS11 forecaster Julie Bologna as its full-time forecaster before she left the station last July and returned to North Texas with her family.

Bologna, who subsequently interviewed for a position at Fox4, lately has been filling in on weekend mornings at WFAA8 as part of a personality scrambled triggered by Daybreak co-anchor Cynthia Izaguirre's maternity leave.

The station's regular weekend weathercaster, Colleen Coyle, is doing weekday morning traffic reporting on Daybreak while incumbent Alexa Conomos slides over to the anchor desk to join Ron Corning.

Over at NBC5, full-time staffer Samantha Davies continues to do the weather reports on the station's early morning weekday editions in place of Jennifer Lopez, who left the Peacock in March after almost four years. NBC5 is still interviewing replacements for Lopez, although Davies also is a candidate.

Gorostiza filled in for meteorologist Ron Jackson on Fox4's Saturday and Sunday 9 and 10 p.m. editions. Charitably put, she appeared to be bubblier than usual, prompting a round of station gossip and some comments from viewers. On her Twitter page, the fun-loving Gorostiza noted in an April 21st post that she was "in for Ron Jackson tonight on weather duty --- hee hee hee --- duty."

She repeated the same Tweet on April 22nd. Enough said.

***In another area personnel shift, former CW33 anchor Tom Crespo has become news director and the principal anchor at KTEN-TV, the NBC station in Denison.

His boss -- again --- is Anthony Maisel, who hired Crespo when he was news director at CW33 and then hired him again when he became news director at KXII-TV in Sherman. Maisel recently left KXII to become the general manager at KTEN.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., April 20-22) -- Rangers still a hit machine

The Texas Rangers' rainout-altered series at Detroit reigned over competing programming over the weekend, with Saturday's day-night doubleheader ranking as D-FW's top ratings draw while the Sunday afternoon game ranked below only two CBS prime-timers.

Saturday afternoon's makeup game, on Fox Sports Southwest, averaged 189,675 viewers before a night game on TXA21 (the station's regular Friday nighter was rained out) swelled to 230,314 viewers. That made them the two most-watched attractions of the entire broadcast day, with CBS11's 10 p.m. newscast ranking third with 155,804 viewers.

The Sunday afternoon extra innings win by Texas, on FSS, drew 250,642 viewers, dominating its time slot but falling short of CBS' 7 to 9 p.m. duo of The Amazing Race and The Good Wife (304,835 viewers each). The Rangers had a higher peak crowd, though, with 372,576 viewers between 3 and 3:30 p.m.

Fox's two-hour 25th anniversary special from 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday, drew just 128,708 viewers. That used to be considered a pretty big TV crowd for the Rangers, but not anymore.

Sunday's second episode of CBS' NYC 22 replicated the performance of the first by winning its 9 p.m. slot in total viewers but falling to fourth among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds. The network's most-watched Friday night show, a 9 p.m. episode of Blue Bloods. followed the same path with a win in total viewers and another out-of-the-money finish in the 18-to-49 demographic.

In Friday's local news derby results, WFAA8 won 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 swept the 6 a.m. Nielsens, with WFAA8's onrushing Daybreak registering a pair of close second place finishes.

CBS11 won at 6 p.m. in total viewers while WFAA8 had the edge with 25-to-54-year-olds. At 5 p.m., WFAA8 won in total viewers and shared the 25-to-54 gold with Fox4.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., April 19) -- Yu tube vs. Idol

Yu Darvish-fueled Texas Rangers games already have outdrawn some of network TV's heaviest hitters this spring, including ABC's Dancing with the Stars, NBC's The Voice and new episodes of CBS' potent Monday night sitcom lineup.

But could his third start Thursday night -- in Detroit against the Tigers -- knock off even Fox's American Idol in head-to-head competition?

No and yes.

Idol won in total D-FW viewers, drawing 304,835 with its 7 to 8 p.m. results edition while the Rangers had 270,964 viewers during that hour with Yu still in the early stages of a 10-3 Rangers win. (McKinney's Hollie Cavanaugh again survived a Bottom 2 scare, and now is among the show's six finalists.)

But Rangers-Tigers hit a home run among among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, routing Idol from 7 to 8 p.m. by a score of 134,497 to 99,271. Simply put, the Rangers and Fox Sports Southwest have never had it this good during the beginning of the regular season. And starting Monday night, they get the New York Yankees at Rangers Ballpark for three games.

Thursday night's nine-inning Rangers-Tigers marathon, which stretched to 9:51 p.m., averaged 291,286 total viewers overall, with a peak crowd of 413,220 between 9 and 9:15 p.m. On Rangers nights, FSS is giving rival networks a severe case of SOS.

NBC had another tough night Thursday. Its biggest draw, a new episode of The Office, had 115,160 total viewers from 8 to 8:30 p.m. That's well less than half the overall audience average for the Rangers game.

CBS punted with reruns, save for a new episode of Rules of Engagement at 7:30 p.m. Still, all of its programming easily beat NBC's all-new lineup in total viewers.

In local news derby results, WFAA8 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers while Fox4 took the gold among 25-to-54-year-olds, the favored advertiser target audience for news programming.

The tables were turned at 6 a.m., with Fox4 tops in total viewers and WFAA8 winning with 25-to-54-year-olds.

WFAA8 enjoyed a big day in the early evening, running the ratings table at both 5 and 6 p.m.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues.-Wed., April 17-18) -- rockin' with the Rangers & talent competitions

Fox Sports Southwest still has a tiger by the tail with the Texas Rangers, whose 2-game sweep at Fenway Park again paid off handsomely in the D-FW Nielsens.

Tuesday's 18-3 demolition of the Red Sox averaged 257,416 viewers while Wednesday night's 6-3 win was right behind with 250,642 despite both games' early 6 p.m.-ish start times.

Those are big numbers for early season baseball, and in league with the usual heavy hitters on rival networks.

On Tuesday night, CBS' NCIS led all attractions with 352,253 viewers while ABC's Dancing with the Stars results show (325,157) and NBC's The Voice eviction hour (277,738) averaged the second- and third-largest overall audiences. However, Texas-Boston tied Dancing for the most total viewers in head-to-head competition between 8 and 9 p.m.

Fox's New Girl, which ran just behind the Rangers in overall total viewers, again was Tuesday's heavyweight among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds. And nothing else was really all that close.

In Wednesday's Nielsens, the Rangers ran third overall in total viewers behind Fox's two-hour American Idol (338,705) and ABC's Modern Family (264,190).

The Dallas Mavericks' virtual must-win home against Houston -- which the Mavs won -- averaged 135,482 total viewers. But in the game's closing 9:45 to 10 p.m. segment, the hoopsters outdrew all competing programming with 284,512 viewers.

Here are the local news derby results.


WFAA8 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers while tying CBS11 for the top spot with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 rung up a 6 a.m. win in total viewers, but WFAA8 topped the 25-to-54 Nielsens.

WFAA8 added a 6 p.m. sweep while sharing the 5 p.m. firsts in both ratings measurements with Fox4.


WFAA8 continued its recent strong run at 10 p.m. with a comfortable doubleheader win.

NBC5 was tops at 6 a.m. in total viewers, with Fox4 prevailing in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Fox4 shared the 5 and 6 p.m. golds among 25-to-54-year-olds with WFAA8. In the total viewer results at those hours, Fox4 had the edge at 5 p.m. while CBS11 nipped WFAA8 at 6 p.m.

Congressional candidate and former NBC5 reporter Grant Stinchfield buys ad time on his old station to attack his old station


Grant Stinchfield in campaign website photo with wife Amy Vanderoef of WFAA8's Good Morning Texas and their son, Wyatt.

Former NBC5 reporter Grant Stinchfield is not only running for Congress but lately against the Fort Worth-based TV station where he spent seven years before resigning a year ago.

Stinchfield, a conservative who's challenging Republican incumbent Kenny Marchant for the 24th District seat, is accusing NBC5 of squelching stories to protect special interests. His vehicle is a new 30-second ad running on this week's Wednesday and Thursday editions of NBC5's 4 p.m. newscast.

Appearing against a plain white backdrop, Stinchfield says for openers, "I used to bring you the news nearly every night, but here's what you didn't know. Too many times NBC refused to let me tell the stories you needed to hear. Was it liberal bias or simply the fear of losing ad dollars? I believe it was both."

Stinchfield, who initially left NBC5 to take ownership of a KWIK Kar Auto Lube and Repair business in Irving, says he won't be "censored" once he gets to Washington.

"NBC may not have approved this message, but I do," he says.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Stinchfield said, "I think they could choose not to air it, but they're airing it."

The ad indeed did air during the first half of Wednesday's one-hour edition.

Asked about Stinchfield's allegations, NBC5 issued a statement late Wednesday afternoon. "We consistently maintain the highest news standards and policies, and always demand fair and balanced reporting from all of our journalists," it said. "Mr. Stinchfield is a legally qualified candidate for federal office, and we are, therefore, obligated under federal law to air his ad. However, his allegations related to NBC5 are simply not true."

NBC5 vice president of programming Brian Hocker said the station would have no further comment on the matter.

Stinchfield, who is married to Amy Vanderoef, co-host of WFAA8's weekday Good Morning Texas program, offered some specifics during Wednesday's earlier telephone interview.

While a reporter at NBC5, Stinchfield said, he received a tip that General Motors was going to buy a suite at the new Cowboys Stadium.

It was shortly after the government bailout of the auto giant, so "I made a phone call to GM headquarters," Stinchfield said. "And 20 minutes later, I was hauled into the manager's office and told, 'You will never make a phone call on that story again.' Whether or not they ever bought that suite, I have no idea."

Stinchfield said that he was told to drop that particular story in the presence of a "whole bunch of them (news room managers) that were involved. My guess is that GM called NBC headquarters in New York and then the word got passed down." NBC Universal is the parent company of Fort Worth-based NBC5.

On another occasion, Stinchfield said he "wanted to do a story on unions and their impact on American Airlines. And it never made it past the story pitch level. They simply told me no one would be interested."

Stinchfield has aggressively campaigned against Marchant as well, with headlines on his official campaign website ranging from "Kenny Marchant Absent from the Community" to "Kenny Marchant's Fake Endorsements."

Whether going after his opponent or his old station, "I'm not fooling around," Stinchfield said in the telephone interview. "It goes to the whole heart of this campaign. I am so tired of the nonsense, whether it's at the local level or in Washington. And we have to put transparency over secrecy."

Below is Stinchfield's latest campaign ad.

Fox4 gets a leg up with at least one more scheduled Cowboys game than the last two seasons

dallas-cowboys com.mylocaltv.kdfw_0

The newly released 2012 Dallas Cowboys TV schedule is being received warmly over at Fox4.

For the first time in the past three seasons, the ostensible home of "America's Team" is getting 10 games instead of nine. And last year, that number shrank to eight after NBC's Sunday Night Football used its "flex" option to cherry-pick the regular season finale against the New York Giants.

That could happen again this season if the season-ending game at Washington, scheduled for a noon start on Fox4, ends up being "meaningful" for either team. NBC likely would snatch it in that case. But whatever happens, Fox4 will get at least one more 2012 regular season game this season. And from a revenue and visibility standpoint, that's pure gold.

Dallas ended up 8-8 last season, again failing to make the playoffs. Still, NBC likely would take its full complement of three prime-time Cowboys games if the team finished 0-16 and lost all of its pre-season games as well. Why? They're ratings magnets, nationally and locally.

As Sunday Night Football play-by-play man Al Michaels told unclebarky.com last summer, "There are only two teams in all of sports that I can think of that engender love and hate to that extreme."

Namely, the Cowboys and the New York Yankees, Michaels specified. So are the Cowboys the Howard Cosell of the NFL? "You're exactly right," he said, pitching in with an impression of his old Monday Night Football booth mate. "The Dallas Cowboys are the Howard Cosell of Sunday Night Football."

NBC will have the Cowboys to kick off the season, on Wed., Sept. 5th at the Giants. The unprecedented Wednesday night curtain-raising is to avoid preempting President Obama's acceptance speech at the following night's Democratic National Convention. Dallas also will light up Sunday Night Football on Nov. 4th at Atlanta and Dec. 2nd in a home game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Fox4 is scheduled to get four of the last six regular season Cowboys games, though, including the annual Thanksgiving Day home game, this time against the Redskins.

The difference maker for Fox4 this season is the absence of a Cowboys game on the NFL Network. So that's at least one more regular season game in the bank for this season, no matter what NBC's future plans are for the Dec. 30th closer.

If everything goes right for Fox4, Dallas somehow will have clinched a post-season berth before then while the Redskins again have already been eliminated. NBC and Sunday Night Football then likely would turn elsewhere, robbing other local stations in the process.

Here's the Cowboys' regular season TV schedule:

Wed., Sept. 5 -- at NY Giants (NBC)
Sun., Sept. 16 -- at Seattle (Fox)
Sun. Sept. 23 -- Tampa Bay (Fox)
Mon., Oct. 1 -- Chicago (ESPN)
Sun., Oct. 7 -- Bye week
Sun., Oct. 14 -- at Baltimore (Fox)
Sun., Oct. 21 -- at Carolina (Fox)
Sun., Oct. 28 -- NY Giants (Fox)
Sun., Nov. 4 -- at Atlanta (NBC)
Sun., Nov. 11 -- at Philadelphia (Fox)
Sun., Nov. 18 -- Cleveland (CBS)
Thurs., Nov. 22 -- Washington (Fox)
Sun., Dec. 2 -- Philadelphia (NBC)
Sun., Dec. 9 -- at Cincinnati (Fox)
Sun., Dec. 16 -- Pittsburgh (CBS)
Sun., Dec. 23 -- New Orleans (Fox)
Sun., Dec. 30 -- at Washington (Fox)

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., April 16) -- big day for WFAA8 news

It seemed like old times Monday for WFAA8's local newscasts, which came close to an exceedingly rare double grand slam in the four major four-way competitions.

Buoyed by boffo ratings for a new episode of ABC's Castle, WFAA8 won comfortably at 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. The ABC affiliate also swept the 5 and 6 p.m. faceoffs and tied Fox4 for first place at 6 a.m. with 25-to-54-year-olds.

WFAA8's only loss came in the early morning total viewers measurement, where Fox4 nipped NBC5 for first place with WFAA8 a close third and CBS11 again at the bottom of a ratings quarry.

In Monday's prime-time tallies, two-hour editions of ABC's Dancing with the Stars and NBC's The Voice again traded first-place finishes from 7 to 9 p.m. Dancing won in total D-FW viewers (392,808) while The Voice hummed along with 18-to-49-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for non-news attractions. CBS' resurgent How I Met Your Mother beat the first half-hour of Dancing in this key demographic, but couldn't quite top The Voice.

Castle cruised at 9 p.m. with 318,383 total viewers while likewise rolling to an easy win among 18-to-49-year-olds. After a 7 to 9 p.m. lineup of new comedy episodes, CBS punted with a Hawaii Five-0 repeat at 9 p.m. It ran third in total viewers and fourth with 18-to-49-year-olds; Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast took the silver in both measurements.

On Fox Sports Southwest, the Mavericks' triple overtime loss at Utah stretched until 11:30 p.m. In its final 15 minutes, the game had a peak total viewers audience of 216,771.

Nerissa Knight gets a new TV day job


Add Nerissa Knight and subtract Mia Gradney from Tribune-produced Eye Opener, the ever-changing early morning program originating entirely from CW33's Dallas studios.

Beginning Wednesday (April 18), Knight will be the full-time anchor of Eye Opener's "Need to Know" segments. The former CBS11/TXA21 anchor-reporter, dropped by the stations in December 2010 after three years, had been doing freelance reporting for CW33 and lately was filling in as one of the program's hosts.

Knight's hiring was confirmed independently. Eye Opener's executive producer, Justin Allen, has not returned an email asking for comment. And Knight declined to comment.

Eye Opener has made a number of personnel changes since the new version launched on Nov. 1 of last year after changing venues from Chicago. Two of the original hosts, Ellen Fox and Douglas Caballero, are no longer with the program. Nor are traffic reporter Toni Duclottni and now, Gradney. The three current hosts are incumbent Sean Dowling and recent additions Danielle Volmar and Oliver Tull.

Designed as a zippy alternative to the already increasingly fun-filled "serious" morning programs on rival D-FW stations, Eye Opener also airs on Tribune-owned TV outlets in Philadelphia, Miami, Houston and Portland, Oregon.

In the February "sweeps" ratings period, the program averaged 13,548 viewers in D-FW, which actually put it in range of the CBS11's terminally ratings-challenged early morning show (40,645 viewers).

Eye Opener is aimed more at younger viewers. In Friday's local Nielsen ratings, it had 3,374 in the 18-to-34 age range from 5 to 6 a.m. while CBS11's waker upper had "hashmarks" (no measurable audience) for its entire 4:30 to 7 a.m. running time.

NBC5's Friedman rewarded for investigative work


NBC5 investigator Scott Friedman, who until recently co-anchored the Fort Worth-based station's early morning newscasts, has won the Texas Freedom of Information Award for his story on triple-digit speeders.

Friedman and station researcher Shane Allen examined police records to see what happened to motorists who were apprehended for driving in excess of 100 miles per hour.

"The risk of serious injury and death goes up dramatically when speeds are over 100 mph," Friedman said in a publicity release. "Yet we found our justice system sometimes treats those speeders no differently than someone caught driving 7 mph over the limit."

The Freedom of Information Award is presented annually by the Texas Associated Press broadcasters in conjunction with the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.

NBC5 has not been known in recent years for its investigative work, with the lion's share of awards going to rival WFAA8 and its longstanding investigative team of Byron Harris and Brett Shipp.

This is no Peabody or duPont-Columbia award, but it's a start in the right direction. Friedman recently was named to head NBC5's rekindled investigative unit. Last week, the station announced that Mark Hayes from WAGA-TV in Atlanta will be its new early morning co-anchor. Staff reporter Omar Villafranca has been filling in, with Hayes due to start sometime in May.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., April 13-15) -- Rangers still a force on three different channels

The Rangers' weekend sweep of the Twins -- sequentially on TXA21, Fox and Fox Sports Southwest -- swept its time periods as well during both daytime and after dark.

Friday night's Rangers-Twins opener averaged 203,223 D-FW viewers in beating all competing programming.

The Saturday afternoon win, on Fox, rolled up the biggest viewer total with 291,286. Yu Darvish started. Thus the ratings bump.

Sunday's early afternoon tilt on Fox Sports Southwest drew 243,868 viewers, outpointing the first half of ABC's Dallas Mavericks-Los Angeles Lakers game in head-to-head competition. The Mavs' tough overtime loss overall averaged more viewers, with 264,190.

On another sports front, Saturday night's Samsung Mobile 500 Sprint Cup oval-athon at Texas Motor Speedway had 182,901 viewers on Fox.

OK, let's U-turn to Sunday's premiere of CBS' latest cop series, NYC 22. It walked two beats, winning its 9 p.m. slot in total viewers (223,545) while plunging to fourth place with advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds. ABC's Dallas-set GCB won that battle.

ABC's new made-for-TV Titanic splash had just 67,741 viewers for its three-hour Saturday night installment before washing ashore with 74,515 for Sunday night's one-hour conclusion in the 8 p.m. hour.

The 60 Minutes tribute to Mike Wallace easily won its Sunday 6 p.m. hour with 203,223 total viewers while also prevailing by a narrower margin in the 18-to-49 demographic.

In Friday's four-way local news derby results, CBS11 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers but Fox4 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

There otherwise were three sweeps. Fox4 had a doubleheader win at 6 a.m., as did NBC5 at 5 p.m. and WFAA8 at 6 p.m.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., April 12) -- three nets divide prime-time spoils, with NBC again mostly out of sight

Fox's American Idol results show again set the prime-time pace Thursday, drawing 379,350 D-FW viewers in the 7 p.m. hour while also rolling with advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds.

The network's Touch then held up fairly well, tying a new episode of ABC's competing Grey's Anatomy in total viewers (230,319 each) while finishing a close second to Grey's in the 18-to-49 returns.

CBS' Person of Interest repeat took the 9 p.m. hour with 209,997 total viewers but Fox4's local newscasts won comfortably with 18-to-49-year-olds while Person fell to third behind ABC's second episode of Scandal.

NBC was new all night but fourth across the board in total viewers with its four comedies and the freshman series Awake. Things got a bit better in the 18-to-49 age range. The Peacock's Community ran second at 7 p.m., benefiting from CBS' rerun of The Big Bang Theory. And 30 Rock, The Office and Up All Night all logged third place finishes from 7:30 to 9 p.m. before Awake again slept soundly in fourth.

The Texas Rangers' afternoon win over Seattle on Fox Sports Southwest drew 101,612 total viewers to out-score all competing entertainment programming. The Rangers also had more viewers than every NBC prime-time show except The Office (108,386 viewers).

In Thursday's local news derby, Fox4 jumped to the top of the 10 p.m. heap in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 likewise swept the 6 a.m. competitions while WFAA8 had a doubleheader win at 5 p.m. The 6 p.m. firsts were split between WFAA8 in total viewers and NBC5 with 25-to-54-year-olds.

NBC5 names Mark Hayes as early morning co-anchor


Mark Hayes, a 10-year veteran of the early morning shift at Atlanta's WAGA-TV, has been named to join incumbent co-anchor Deborah Ferguson on Fort Worth-based NBC5's waker upper.

He'll start in May, the station said Friday. Hayes is replacing Scott Friedman, who now is heading the station's investigative unit. Reporter Omar Villafranca has been filling in this month.

"When a viewer turns on the news in the morning, Mark is the kind of person they want to see," NBC5 vice president of news Susan Tully said in a publicity release. "He has a warm delivery and makes the early wake-up call just little more enjoyable."

Hayes said that joining NBC5 "has exceeded all my expectations in taking the next step in my career. Their extraordinary vision and passion for journalistic excellence was what attracted me to this opportunity."

Hayes, who previously worked at WXYZ-TV in Detroit and WBAL-TV in Baltimore, said goodbye to Fox-owned WAGA on the Friday, April 6th early morning newscast.

A highlight clip that preceded his emotional closing remarks shows that he definitely knows how to have fun. And that's a mantra more than ever in the early mornings, with glib Tim Ryan still entrenched at No. 1 Fox4 and Ron Corning showing a flair for rmessing around on WFAA8, which now is challenging NBC5 for the No. 2 spot in the early morning ratings race.

Here's the video of Hayes' goodbye, including the accompanying highlight reel.

Mark Hayes Says Goodbye to FOX 5: MyFoxATLANTA.com

WFAA8's Izaguirre births her twins


Cynthia Izaguirre, co-anchor of WFAA8's early morning Daybreak, gave birth to twins a month ahead of schedule Thursday evening.

The Dallas-based station announced the arrivals on Friday's program. Daughter Karina arrived at 5:06 p.m., with her brother, Simon, born at 5:45 p.m. Both babies weighed just over 5 pounds, the station said on its website.

Izaguirre had been on complete bed rest while awaiting the arrivals. She is expected to be on maternity leave for at least the next three months. Traffic reporter Alexa Conomos, who's filling in for Izaguirre at the anchor desk, is pregnant with her third child and due this summer.

Here's the video of Friday's Daybreak announcement.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., April 11) -- Idol holds steady, Rangers still score despite late-inning swoon

Fox's American Idol again controlled the 7 to 9 p.m. slot Wednesday before the Texas Rangers rode into first place in the closing hour of prime-time.

Idol, with McKinney's Hollie Cavanaugh still in the running, rolled up 440,317 D-FW viewers while also calling the tune with advertiser-favored 18-to-49-year-olds.

The 9 to 10 p.m. portion of Fox Sports Southwest's Rangers-Mariners game then drew 291,286 total viewers to out-score Fox4's runner-up local newscast (243,868 viewers). Baseball barely beat Fox4 in the 18-to-49 demographic during that hour. The game overall averaged 264,190 total viewers while stretching to 10:28 p.m. By that time the Rangers had blown a 3-1 ninth inning lead before losing 4-3.

ABC's premiere of Don't Trust the B ---- In Apartment 23 had lackluster results in the 8:30 p.m. slot following a new episode of the network's Modern Family. It inherited 243,868 total viewers before falling to 94,837. That was good enough only to beat the second half of NBC's yet again relocated Rock Center with Brian Williams. Don't Trust the B finished in the same spot with 18-to-49-year-olds.

The Peacock's second episode of Best Friends Forever, airing at 7:30 p.m., deep-sixed to just 20,322 total viewers, with a likewise minuscule 9,609 in the 18-to-49 age range. With the May "sweeps" ratings period nearing, it could be Best Friends never more by next Wednesday. It's not a good sign when 90-year-old Betty White's preceding Off Their Rockers episode draws more than five times as many 18-to-49-year-olds (54,439).

In Wednesday's local news derby results, CBS11 edged Fox4 for the most viewers at 10 p.m. while Fox4 won by a wide margin with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 ran first at 6 a.m. in total viewers, but NBC5 was tops among 25-to-54-year-olds, nipping WFAA8.

The Peacock also won at 5 p.m. in the 25-to-54 demographic while sharing first place with WFAA8 in the total viewer Nielsens.

CBS11 had the most total viewers at 6 p.m., with Fox4 taking the 25-to-54 gold.

WFAA8's Daybreak re-aligns its personalities while Cynthia Izaguirre is on maternity leave

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Colleen Coyle, Alexa Conomos and Julie Bologna

WFAA8 officially has its Daybreak replacement troops in place while co-anchor Cynthia Izaguirre is on maternity leave awaiting the birth of her twins.

"I'm on full bed rest till twins come. We're really approaching the finish line now. Prayers r welcome! :)," Izaguirre tweeted Tuesday.

During her absence from Daybreak, traffic reporter Alexa Conomos will join Ron Corning at the anchor desk while weekend morning/weekday fill-in meteorologist Colleen Coyle tries her hand at traffic and meteorologist Greg Fields stays in place.

The interim game plan was confirmed by several sources at the Dallas-based ABC affiliate. News director Carolyn Mungo so far has not returned emails asking for official word on the changes.

Meanwhile, another face familiar to some local viewers will be filling in for Coyle on weekend mornings. Former CBS11 early morning meteorologist Julie Bologna showed up on Saturday's edition and later posted a Facebook video of her deviled eggs segment with Amy Kushnir of "My Texas Today."

"Julie is a meteorologist working in our weather department," WFAA8 vice president of product development Dave Muscari said without elaboration in a Wednesday email. Her stint with the station likely is temporary for now.

Bologna worked for CBS11 from 2004 to 2008 before returning to her hometown of Pittsburgh and her previous station, WPXI-TV. But she left that station for a second time last July, saying that her demanding weathercasting schedule made it too difficult to maintain a healthy family life.

As previously posted, Bologna interviewed at Fox4 in late January of this year for a weather staff position that hasn't yet been filled. Under the terms of her new contract, Fox4 weathercaster and lifestyles correspondent Fiona Gorostiza will become a full-time reporter after her replacement is named.

Daybreak, which has built considerable momentum in recent months, came within an eyelash in the February "sweeps" ratings period of overtaking NBC5 for second place (in the key 25-to-54 demographic) in the early morning news ratings. The four-week May sweeps start on April 26th and end on May 23rd. WFAA8 will be without Izaguirre for that entire period.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., April 10) -- more nice numbers for Rangers but NCIS and Dancing score higher

Neftali Feliz's sparkling debut as a Texas Rangers starter couldn't match the pulling power of Monday night's Yu Darvish show. Still, Fox Sports Southwest will take these numbers any day of the week.

This time the game whisked by, with Texas finishing off a 1-0 win over Seattle precisely at 9:30 p.m. Rangers-Mariners averaged 250,642 D-FW viewers from first to last pitch Tuesday night. Monday's game drew 399,672 in beating all competing network programming, including ABC's Dancing with the Stars and NBC's The Voice.

Both shows had live 8 p.m. results editions Tuesday. Dancing pulled in 325,157 viewers to win the time slot, with CBS' NCIS: Los Angeles (291,286) trailing while The Voice (250,642) ran behind the Rangers (270,964) for that one-hour portion of the game.

The night's big hitter, as usual, was CBS' new 7 p.m. episode of NCIS, with 406,446 viewers. ABC's Body of Proof won from 9 to 10 p.m. with 304,835 viewers.

It played out quite differently with advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds. Fox's return of Glee won at 7 p.m. while its 8 p.m. episode of New Girl also beat all comers, including the first half-hours of Dancing and The Voice. The second half of The Voice then ran first with 18-to-49-year-olds before Body of Proof won the full 9 p.m. hour.

In Tuesday's local news derby results, WFAA8 romped to twin wins at 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 ran the table at 6 a.m. and added a 6 p.m. win with 25-to-54-year-olds. CBS11 had the most total viewers at 6 p.m. while the 5 p.m. firsts were split between NBC5 in total viewers and WFAA8 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., April 9) -- special Yu tube edition


Yu's first pitch to Ichiro is a ball in rough 1st inning. Photo: Ed Bark

Battling a bevy of broadcast network heavyweights, Yu Darvish's major league debut scored big Monday night despite his near knockout in the 1st inning.

The Texas Rangers' eventual 11-5 win over Seattle, with Darvish getting the victory, beat all competing programming despite stretching until 10:18 p.m.

Rangers-Mariners averaged 399,672 D-FW viewers for the entire game, outdrawing ABC's runner-up Dancing with the Stars (352,253 viewers) by a sizable margin. The game peaked at 494,509 viewers between 8:45 and 9 p.m. Yu lasted until 9:14 p.m., pitching five-and-two-thirds innings and leaving with an 8-5 lead after being rocked for four runs in the first inning.

Fox Sports Southwest has to be even happier with how well the game did from 7 to 9 p.m., when Yu and the Rangers faced both Dancing and NBC's most popular series, The Voice.

But before celebrating, the network needs to get its act together and synchronize watches with the Rangers. Because the all-sports network inexcusably missed Yu's first two pitches, returning from a commercial after he had thrown two balls outside the strike zone to the Mariners' lead-off hitter. You just don't do that on a history-making night like this.

Here are the 7 to 9 p.m. numbers, with the Rangers game also facing new episodes of four popular CBS comedies and Fox's first-run hours of Bones and House.

Rangers-Mariners -- 419,994
Dancing with the Stars -- 352,253
The Voice -- 250,642
Bones (7 to 8 p.m.) -- 230,319
Two and a Half Men (8 to 8:30 p.m.) -- 189,675
Mike & Molly (8:30 to 9 p.m.) -- 162,578
How I Met Your Mother (7 to 7:30 p.m.) -- 155,804
2 Broke Girls (7:30 to 8 p.m.) -- 155,804
House (8 to 9 p.m.) -- 142,256

Rangers-Mariners won by wider margins from 9 to 10 p.m. and also dominated Monday night's Nielsens among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds. That's a very impressive sweep and big money in the bank for FSS. Every Yu start could be an event, at least in the early season. And Monday night likely exceeded all expectations, particularly opposite so many network big guns.

In Monday's local news derby, WFAA8 ran the table at 10 p.m. by topping its three news competitors in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the favored target audience for news programming.

NBC5 likewise had a big day at 6 a.m., where it ran first in both ratings measurements and by an unusually wide margin among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Fox4 swept the 5 p.m. proceedings and added a 6 p.m. win with 25-to-54-year-olds. WFAA8 had the most total viewers at 6 p.m.

Can Yu's debut outscore the Big Four broadcast networks' powerhouse Monday night lineups?


It might be, it could be, but will it be done?

Can Yu Darvish's Monday major league debut with the Texas Rangers win its D-FW Nielsen ratings matchup with some of network television's heaviest hitters?

The visiting Seattle Mariners are one thing, but here's what else Yu is up against when he takes the mound at 7:05 p.m. on Fox Sports Southwest:

***A live two-hour Dancing with the Stars performance edition on ABC.

***A live two-hour performance edition of The Voice on NBC.

***New episodes of CBS' potent sitcom bloc of How I Met Your Mother, 2 Broke Girls, Two and a Half Men and Mike & Molly.

***New episodes of Bones and House on Fox.

So how will Yu do?

Expect him to get off to a fast start and at least win the first 15-minute increment from 7 to 7:15 p.m. Because who doesn't want to see him throw that first historic pitch?

After that it's pretty much up to Yu. He'll stay on a ratings high as long as he pitches well and stays in the game. And six innings of shutout ball -- with a nice number of strikeouts mixed in -- just might be enough to overpower the wall-to-wall hits he's facing on rival broadcast networks.

I'm thinking that the Rangers possibly could hit the half-million viewers mark for at least some parts of Monday's game. But in the overall 7 to 9 p.m. bloc, I'm going to go with Dancing followed by Yu, The Voice, CBS' sitcoms and Fox's dramas.

But if Yu is pitching really great . . . well, I wouldn't want to be in Dancing's shoes when the ratings come out on Tuesday. We'll of course have a complete report.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., April 6-8) -- Rangers/Masters vie for Sunday's biggest crowds

The Texas Rangers on ESPN's national stage out-hit The Masters' final round on CBS, although golf had the higher peak audience Sunday.

ESPN's Sunday night game of the week, with Texas shutting out the White Sox 5-0, averaged a very nice-sized 318,383 D-FW viewers. The high point came between 8:15 and 8:30 p.m., when 372,576 watched.

Earlier Sunday, The Masters went into overtime before Bubba Watson beat Louis Oosthuizen on their second playoff hole. Stretching until 6:33 p.m., golf averaged 264,190 viewers to run behind the Rangers. Its peak audience was bigger, though with 413,220 watching the final strokes and attendant after-party in the 6:30 to 6:45 increment.

The Rangers' Saturday night loss to Chicago on Fox Sports Southwest averaged 250,642 viewers while Friday afternoon's opening day win (also on FSS) drew 223,545 viewers.

In each instance, the Rangers easily won their time slot, even beating ABC's annual Easter season reprise of The Ten Commandments, which averaged 101,612 viewers Saturday night.

CBS again led Friday's prime-time parade with its regular lineup of Undercover Boss, CSI: NY and Blue Bloods. But ABC took the last two hours among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds with its menu of Prime Time: What Would You Do? and 20/20.

Friday's local news derby results went like this: WFAA8 swept the 10 p.m. competitions in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 won at 6 a.m. in total viewers but shared the top spot with NBC5 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

At 6 p.m., Fox4, WFAA8 and CBS11 tied for first in total viewers while Fox4 won outright with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Fox4 also ran first at 5 p.m. in total viewers but NBC5 had the edge among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Hansen and "Coach Joe" -- free spirits now minus one

WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen and former Dallas Cowboys special teams coach Joe Avezzano were pals through and through.

Here's how Hansen remembered Avezzano on Thursday's 10 p.m. newscast. Short and sweet, but no doubt very tough to get through. You could feel that through the screen as well as hear it in his voice.
Ed Bark

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., April 5) -- Scandal starts sluggishly while Awake still snores

ABC's D.C.-based Scandal launched Thursday night but many viewers seemingly felt they'd already seen enough of the real thing.

Following a new episode of Grey's Anatomy, and from the same creator/exec. producer, Scandal drew 162,578 D-FW viewers in the 9 p.m. hour, with just 32,023 within the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 motherlode.

That put it third in both ratings measurements. CBS' competing The Mentalist led in total viewers (243,868) while Fox4's local newscast set the pace among 18-to-49-year-olds with 96,069.

NBC's generally critically praised Awake took another huge drubbing en route to what is now certain cancelation. It drew 54,193 total viewers in the 9 p.m. slot, with a sub-measly 6,405 of them in the 18-to-49 range.

Fox's American Idol results show won the 7 p.m. hour across the board, but not by much from 7 to 7:30 p.m. against a new episode of CBS' The Big Bang Theory. And CBS' 8 p.m. attraction, Person of Interest, had Thursday's biggest overall viewer haul, barely nipping Idol by a score of 375,963 to 375,285.

The Peacock had another miserable night, with none of its four sitcoms and Awake hitting the 55,000 total viewer mark in a market of nearly 6.8 million. And only The Office was a rerun.

In Thursday's local news derby results, CBS11 edged WFAA8 in total viewers at 10 p.m. while Fox4 ran first among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 swept the 6 a.m. competitions and also notched wins at 5 and 6 p.m. in the 25-to-54 demographic. NBC5 had the other two golds, winning at 5 and 6 p.m. in total viewers.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., April 4) -- NBC pulls disappearing act

"Led" by the premiere of Best Friends Forever, NBC recorded mostly subterranean ratings Wednesday while Fox's American Idol romped as usual.

BFF had just 54,193 D-FW viewers in the 7:30 p.m. slot after inheriting 149,030 from the Peacock's biggest performer of the night, the return of Betty White's Off Your Rockers.

The last two episodes of NBC's much better but still virtually unwatched Bent likewise had 54,193 viewers from 8 to 9 p.m. BFF and the two Bents also bombed with advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds. The night's least-watched program in this key demographic -- BFF of course -- had 16,012 viewers in the 18-to-49 age range.

Idol easily controlled the 7 to 9 p.m. terrain, with 386,124 viewers and 169,722 within the 18-to-49 motherlode.

At 9 p.m., a new episode of CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation won in total viewers (345,479). But Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast ran first with 18-to-49-year-olds. NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams managed a third-place finish in both measurements opposite ABC's repeat of Missing.

In Wednesday's local news derby results, CBS11 took the top spots at 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 and NBC5 tied for first at 6 a.m. in total viewers, with Fox4 keeping the 25-to-54 gold to itself.

Fox4 swept the 5 p.m. competitions and added a 6 p.m. win in the 25-to-54 demographic. NBC5 had the most total viewers at 6 p.m.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., April 3) -- WFAA8 out-draws Fox4 in a mostly two-way battle for biggest shares of afternoon weather audience


The views from above weren't pretty in tornado-hit areas. myfoxdfw.com photo

Tuesday's multiple tornado strikes sprung D-FW's television news providers into non-stop, commercial-free action from early afternoon until the storms subsided by early evening.

As noted in a previous post, all involved provided a valuable public service that may well have saved numerous lives. So there'll be no nit-picking here, although it's irresistible to note that of all the weathercasters deployed, only NBC5's David Finfrock and CW33's Rebecca Miller kept their jackets on throughout. Otherwise it was shirtsleeves all around, sure signs that Mother Nature was acting up.

We can be precise, though, on which stations drew the largest audiences during the times the weather attacked. Measurements will be in one-hour increments from 1 to 5 p.m., when all regularly scheduled programming gave way to continuous weather coverage.

We'll only look at the total viewers. The main advertiser target audience for news programming is 25-to-54-year-olds, but there were no commercials during this period. So that particular statistic is basically irrelevant, doubly so in times when everyone's life is of value.

Although CW33 likewise devoted Tuesday afternoon to weather coverage, the station's overall audience never reached even 50,000 D-FW viewers. People just aren't accustomed to CW33 making such an all-out effort. Which meant the station just wasn't a player in the afternoon Nielsens, despite solid work from veteran meteorologists Miller and Bob Goosmann.

Here's how audiences responded to the weather coverage on Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11. Nielsen measurements are only for in-home viewing and do not include workplaces and schools. Still, they're a good barometer for where the eyeballs went.

1 to 2 p.m.

WFAA8 -- 196,449 total viewers
NBC5 -- 155,804
Fox4 -- 149,030
CBS11 -- 101,612

2 to 3 p.m.

WFAA8 -- 311,609
Fox4 -- 291,286
NBC5 -- 237,094
CBS11 -- 162,578

3 to 4 p.m.

WFAA8 -- 386,124
Fox4 -- 331,931
NBC5 -- 230,319
CBS11 -- 196,449

4 to 5 p.m.

WFAA8 -- 325,157
Fox4 -- 298,060
NBC5 -- 250,642
CBS11 -- 169,353

NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 all preempted their 5:30 p.m. network newscasts for coverage of the storms' aftermath. WFAA8 again ranked No. 1 in total viewers from 5 to 6:30 p.m., with NBC5 moving up to second place from 5:30 to 6 p.m. but trailing Fox4 in the other two half-hours. CBS11 ran fourth throughout.

WFAA8 and CBS11 both extended their 10 p.m. newscasts to 11 p.m. while NBC5 went until 10:45 p.m. and Fox4 aired TMZ in the regular 10:30 p.m. slot after its nightly 90 minutes of local news from 9 to 10:30 p.m. WFAA8 once again had the biggest audience, with NBC5 running second ahead of Fox4 and CBS11. The latter station ran fourth in all time slots for its weather coverage.

Although audiences swelled for Tuesday's weather coverage, the biggest single crowd of the day was for ABC's 8 p.m. Dancing with the Stars results show, which drew 460,639 viewers.

Over on ESPN, the Baylor women's basketball team capped an unprecedented 40-0 season in thrashing Notre Dame for the NCAA title. The game, which tipped off at 7:45 p.m., averaged 189,675 viewers.

Earlier Tuesday, a 7 to 9 a.m. showdown between ABC's Katie Couric-hosted Good Morning America and NBC's Sarah Palin-hosted Today went to Palin by a score of 115,160 to 101,612 viewers, with Fox4's local two hours close behind (94,837).

But among 25-to-54-year-olds, Fox4 narrowly out-pointed runner-up GMA, with Today just a little behind in third place.

Lastly, David Letterman's interview with the once again fired Keith Olbermann drew scant local interest after CBS' Late Show got pushed back to 11 p.m. because of weather coverage. The Olbermann portion had just 40,645 total viewers.

D-FW stations excel with continuous breaking storm coverage


A foreboding weather map on CBS11 Tuesday afternoon. Photos: Ed Bark

Some of the scariest weather in many a season hit the D-FW area Tuesday afternoon, with severe storms, tornado touchdowns and warnings plentiful here, there and everywhere.

Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8, CBS11, CW33, Telemundo10 and Univision23 all preempted network and syndicated programming for continuous, commercial-free coverage from roughly 1 p.m. throughout the deeply darkened afternoon.

Take it from the dean of D-FW meteorologists, NBC5's David Finfrock, who told viewers shortly before 2:30 p.m., "Those first 30-to-45 minutes were unlike anything I've seen here."

As this is being written, at 3:35 p.m., the rain is pouring down in Garland, but so far without the heavy winds that have caused severe damage in other areas.

Meteorologists repeatedly urged viewers in varying areas to scurry to a "tornado-safe shelter" in their homes, schools or workplaces.

The only signs of levity came when Texas Rangers' catcher Mike Napoli first sent WFAA8 his video of players watching the field tarp whip around at the Ballpark in Arlington. They seemed to be having a good time watching this particular show.

All of the aforementioned stations are to be commended for contributing a genuine public service throughout the day. Weather oftentimes doesn't merit the heavy coverage it receives on local newscasts. But this certainly did, with even CW33 showing its willingness to break in and stay on the air with the big boys. And the station did a good job.

For the record, Rebecca Miller and Bob Goosmann teamed for CW33's coverage. Finfrock and Grant Johnson were NBC5's point men. Dan Henry and Ron Jackson helmed Fox4's coverage. Pete Delkus and Greg Fields led WFAA8's coverage while CBS11 deployed Larry Mowry and Jeff Jamison.

A number of reporters and "storm chasers" also contributed as best they could from the field. And by late afternoon, D-FW was still very much under the weather.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., April 2) -- four-way slugfest

The most eventful Monday night of the season is all played out, with ABC's Dancing with the Stars and NBC's The Voice clashing anew while CBS offered up the NCAA men's basketball final and Fox touted the return of Bones.

Kentucky's win over a stubborn Kansas ranked third in total viewers but moved up a notch to second place among advertiser-favored 18-to-49-year-olds. Bones managed to best CBS' sitcom repeats from 7 to 8 p.m. before Fox's new episode of House fell to a distant fourth across the board in the 8 p.m. hour.

Let's look closer.

Dancing amassed 433,542 total D-FW viewers from 7 to 9 p.m., besting The Voice's 365,801. Kentucky-Kansas, which ran from 8:27 to 10:40 p.m., drew 345,479 viewers for the entire game. In the full half-hour (8:30 to 9 p.m.) when the three attractions collided, Dancing led with 440,317 viewers, with hoops nipping The Voice by a score of 352,253 to 345,479.

Voice led the overall 18-to-49 parade with 198,543 viewers in this age range, with basketball drawing 160,115 and Dancing 121,687.

In their full half-hour opposite one another, Voice had 214,554 viewers in this key demographic, romping over both basketball (150,508) and Dancing (112,081).

Bones had 223,545 total viewers, with 73,653 in the 18-to-49 demographic.

In Monday's battle of the sexes, 18-to-49-year-old men made basketball the night's big winner, with Voice second and Dancing a distant third. But with women in that age range, Voice was tops, followed by Dancing and hoops.

From 9 to 10 p.m., Kentucky-Kansas won among total viewers, edging ABC's Castle. Hoops also topped the overall 18-to-49 Nielsens at that hour, with Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast sliding into second ahead of Castle. NBC's Smash ran fourth in both measurements.

The local news derbies went like this: WFAA8 swept the downsized three-way 10 p.m. competition in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 had the edge in total viewers at 6 a.m., with Fox4 on top with 25-to-54-year-olds.

CBS11 ran the table at 6 p.m. The 5 p.m. firsts went to NBC5 in total viewers and WFAA8 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Campos poised to become part-timer, remaining as 10 p.m. co-anchor

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WFAA8 anchors Gloria Campos and Shelly Slater

WFAA8 veteran Gloria Campos, who joined the Dallas-based station in 1984 and became its first Hispanic anchor, has agreed to a new contract that will make her a part-timer and include a significant salary cut.

Campos hasn't officially signed the deal yet, and would only confirm that she's "re-upped." Under its terms, she would continue to co-anchor the weekday 10 p.m. newscasts but relinquish the 6 p.m. edition while filling in when needed. The new contract will run through early 2014, with Campos' reduced schedule probably going into effect sometime this fall.

Campos earlier said she was open to reducing her hours and having more time away from the workplace. In today's budget-challenged television climate, longtime anchors with big-time salaries in reality aren't usually given much choice in the matter.

The most likely 6 p.m. replacement for Campos would be Shelly Slater, who currently co-anchors WFAA8's 5 p.m. newscasts. As previously posted on unclebarky.com, Slater recently met with management at KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City after the station contacted her about a possible main anchor job at that station.

But the latest word out of WFAA8 is that incumbent co-anchor Jessica Schambach has decided to remain with KOCO, which presumably would close that particular possibility. Sources close to the situation say that Schambach did go so far as to interview for the early morning co-anchor job at CBS11, where management has informed anchor Lisa Pineiro that her contract will not be renewed when it expires in October. Pineiro, who continues to anchor, has been told she is free to explore other opportunities.

Slater and Pineiro so far have not responded to requests for comment. WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin still has a standing "no comment" policy regarding all inquiries from unclebarky.com. And CBS11 director of communications Lori Conrad said in regard to Pineiro's situation, "As this is a personnel matter, I decline to comment."

Campos' new deal puts her in league with longtime WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen, who in January agreed to a contract extension and eventual substantial salary reduction. The third member of WFAA8's longstanding anchor trio, John McCaa, is anticipating a similar outcome when his contract soon comes up for re-negotiation.

Another of the D-FW market's four major TV news providers, NBC5, also in the midst of some significant changes. Scott Friedman, who had been co-anchoring the station's early morning newscasts, signed off on Friday, March 30th and now will head NBC5's investigative reporting unit, as previously announced.

NBC5 reporter Omar Villafranca will fill in as the station's early morning co-anchor, and began doing so on Monday, April 2nd, vice president of programming Brian Hocker says.

The station is still searching for a permanent replacement for Friedman and also is in the market for a new weathercaster after parting ways with Jennifer Lopez early last month. Until then, staffer Samantha Davies is the main early morning meteorologist while newcomer Kendra Lyn is now a full-time member of the early morning reporting team after joining NBC5 from WESH-TV in Orlando, FL.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun, March 30-April 1) -- country again gets its kicks


Co-host Blake Shelton and Lionel Richie at Sunday's ACMs. CBS photo

CBS again got the ring, with rival networks getting the finger Sunday night. That's 'cause the 47th annual Academy of Country Music Awards shebang emerging as the most-watched program of the weekend.

The ACMs averaged 399,672 D-FW viewers in the 7 to 10 p.m. slot, with the closing hour (447,091) drawing more than twice the crowd of ABC's competing, Dallas-set GCB (209,997 viewers). Country likewise was king among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds, although not by quite as wide a margin.

On ESPN Sunday night, the Baylor women's basketball team moved to within one step of a perfect and unprecedented 40-0 season by holding off stubborn Stanford. The NCAA tournament semi-final game drew 149,030 viewers, with 60,844 in the 18-to-49 motherlode. Baylor will face Notre Dame for the title Tuesday night.

AMC's two-hour Season 2 launch of The Killing pretty much played dead in these parts with 20,322 total viewers in the 7 to 9 p.m. slot. a new Mad Men hour then had 54,193 viewers.

CBS also had Saturday's biggest audience draws -- although nothing as big as country -- with the two semi-final games of the men's NCAA hoops tourney. Kentucky's win over Louisville had 243,868 total viewers before Kansas' comeback win over Ohio State drew 270,964.

CBS swept Friday's prime-time parade in total viewers with its regular lineup of Undercover Boss, CSI: NY and Blue Bloods. The first two shows also won with 18-to-49-year-olds before Blue Bloods tanked as usual and fell to an out-of-the-money fourth place in the Big Four network arena behind ABC's No. 1 20/20, Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast and NBC's Dateline.

In Friday's local news derby results, WFAA8 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers while Fox4 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

WFAA8 also took the 6 a.m. competition in total viewers, with Fox4 again on top in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Fox4 made it a clean sweep among 25-to-54-year-olds with wins at 5 and 6 p.m. The respective victors at those hours in total viewers were WFAA8 and NBC5.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., March 29) -- Idol bops Big Bang while Fox/Fox4 run table with 18-to-49-year-olds

The continued presence of McKinney's Hollie Cavanaugh, who survived a Bottom 2 scare Thursday, helped propel Fox's American Idol to another clear-cut win in prime-time's lead-off slot.

Idol had 433,542 D-FW viewers opposite a new episode of CBS' The Big Bang Theory (325,157) while also whipping the potent sitcom among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds. (Nationally, though, Idol ran second to Big Bang in the key 18-to-49 demographic.)

CBS then ran first from 8 to 10 p.m. in total D-FW viewers with new hours of Person of Interest and The Mentalist. But Fox and Fox4 called the tune among 18-to-49-year-olds in the broadcast network universe with Touch and the nightly 9 p.m. local newscast.

On TNT, the Dallas Mavericks' lopsided loss at Miami averaged 196,449 total viewers, beating everything on NBC.

ABC's 7 p.m. new episode of Ashley Judd's Missing fared fairly well with 189,675 viewers overall. But it ran fifth with 18-to-49-year-olds, trailing Idol, the CBS comedies, NBC's Community/30 Rock and the Mavs.

ABC's Private Practice repeat at 9 p.m. was the least -watched program among the Big Four broadcast networks, with a measly 27,096 viewers. But it was juggernaut compared to CW33's competing local newscast, which registered one of its lowest totals ever with just 5,419 viewers following a barely watched new episode of The CW network's The Secret Circle (10,839 viewers).

In Thursdays four-way local news derby proceedings, CBS11 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers but Fox4 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds, the favored advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 had a pair of soothing wakeup calls, running the table at 6 a.m. Fox4 swept both the 5 and 6 p.m. competitions.

Pineiro's tenure growing short as co-anchor of CBS11's ratings-starved early morning newscasts


Lisa Pineiro on the Friday, March 30th edition of CBS11's early news. Photo: Ed Bark

Lisa Pineiro's tenure as co-anchor of CBS11's weekday early morning newscasts could end any day now.

Or it could stretch for several more months, depending on her success in finding work elsewhere.

Pineiro, whose contract runs until October, has been informed that CBS11 does not intend to renew it, sources close to the situation tell unclebarky.com. She has been freed to pursue other opportunities while at the same time potential replacements have been visiting the D-FW-based station to openly audition for the early morning anchor position.

Pineiro has not returned an email requesting comment. Lori Conrad, CBS11's director of communications, said this week, "As this is a personnel matter, I decline to comment."

Pineiro has continued to anchor throughout this week, and with her usual upbeat demeanor. She
joined CBS11 in the fall of 2010 and co-anchored her first early morning newscast on Oct. 28th of that year. Her desk partner at the time was Scott Sams, who later was let go and now is part of the morning drive time news team on KRLD radio (1080 AM).

Pineiro then anchored for the next seven months with traffic reporter Teresa Frosini, who is among those being considered as her replacement. On Oct. 24th of last year, Keith Garvin joined the early morning team after CBS11 dropped sister station TXA21's prime-time newscasts, which he had been anchoring. He remains as Pineiro's anchor partner.

Pineiro, the single mother of four sons, had been a stay-at-home mom for five years before joining CBS11. Her last on-air job had been as an anchor-reporter for Salt Lake City's KTVX-TV.

"We think North Texas viewers will respond to Lisa's warmth and sincerity," CBS11/TXA21 president and general manager Gary Schneider said at the time in a publicity release. She replaced Ginger Allen, who returned to the station's investigative unit and still heads that team.

CBS11 had a shred of momentum in the early morning ratings when Sams and Pineiro were first paired. On the Wednesday before their initial newscast together, the station had finished a heady second from 6 to 7 a.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Any momentum since has dissipated. Shackled with a little-seen "lead-out," the ever-changing 7 to 9 a.m. CBS network program, CBS11 ran far out of the money in the February "sweeps" ratings period. The featured 6 to 7 a.m. portion averaged just 39,290 viewers, with 16,551 in the 25-to-54 range.

In that same period, third-place WFAA8 (which has considerable momentum of late), drew 77,225 viewers, with 50,857 in the 25-to-54 demographic. Front-running Fox4's respective viewer totals were 113,127 and 68,612. The latter figure is more than four times CBS11's total in the key 25-to-54 measurement.

Pineiro clearly isn't solely to blame for CBS11's seemingly terminal early morning shortfalls. She's just the latest to feel the sting while WFAA8 has put itself back among the living with a
saturation promotion campaign on behalf of glib, telegenic Ron Corning. He's gradually establishing a following as he nears his first year on the job.

TV news stations large and small generally don't like to talk about departures, announcing newcomers with warm words of praise and then going into cones of silence when things don't work out.

It's the nature of the beast, and the television industry is hardly alone in this respect. But at least now you'll know what's happening with Lisa Pineiro, whose best years in the business could still be ahead of her.

Sports anchor Doocy sports a new spring look


Ya do what ya gotta do. Ask Mike Doocy. Photo: Ed Bark

WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen often has a clownish comportment, although I don't think he's ever gotten into costume. Unless you count Hawaiian shirts and occasionally loud sport coats.

But his Fox4 competitor, veteran Mike Doocy, ventured bravely -- or foolishly -- into this territory early Friday morning with a plug for this weekend's Hella Shrine Circus.

Doocy likely won't include this footage on any future resume tapes. But if stations still do Christmas gag reels, then this one's a keeper.

"The Dooc" does have a lighter side, infrequently breaking into song during sports segments and with "The Ticket" radio's (1310 AM) house band at the station's annual "TicketStock." Wearing a clown nose and funny hat likely is a first, though, proving anew that you just
never know what you might see on early morning TV.

Never trust anyone over 30 (Ron Jackson excluded)


Fox4 meteorologist Ron Jackson is marking a full three decades this week at the Dallas-based station.

That's a tremendous number of highs and lows. Congratulations on making it this far at one place -- and in one piece. It's quite a milestone in any profession.
Ed Bark

TNT's new Dallas showers fans with steamy new tease


Here's the just-released "tease" for TNT's new version of Dallas, which now has an official start date, too -- June 13th.

The network says the "steamy artwork" is meant to evoke "one of the most iconic scenes in Dallas history: the shower scene in which Bobby Ewing surprised viewers by returning (after a one-season absence) and revealing that the previous season had been a dream."

Season 1 will have a 10-episode run, and the pilot was sent out a few months ago. Previously posted
first impressions are here. What's still undetermined is whether Larry Hagman's cowboy-hatted J.R. Ewing is using a body double. Whatever works.
Ed Bark

Eye Opener gets makeover


Hosting lately on Eye Opener: ex-CBS11/TXA21 anchor/reporter Nerissa Knight, holdover Sean Dowling and comedian Oliver Tull. Photos: Ed Bark


The Tribune company's early morning Eye Opener, which originates from CW33's Dallas studios, lately has given a wake-up call to some of the on-camera talent.

Out are two of the program's original co-hosts -- Ellen Fox and Douglas Caballero -- plus curvy traffic reporter Toni Duclottni. In, for the time being at least, are former CBS11/TXA21 anchor/reporter Nerissa Knight, comedian Oliver Tull and Danielle Volmar. The latter is described as a "host/reporter/meteorologist" on CW33's website. She previous worked at Fox25 in Oklahoma City.

Additionally, CW33 staffer Tommy Noel now will be doing double duty as both a local news updater and traffic reporter. Laura Thomas remains as the program's weathercaster.

A CW33 spokesperson said that the station's contingent of three Eye Opener contributors had to be down-sized to two because of budget considerations. So Duclottni got the ax, although the station hopes to keep working with her in some capacity.

Eye Opener's executive producer Justin Allen, confirmed the changes via email Tuesday, but said that a "jammed" week didn't allow him any further time to elaborate on whether some of the latest host changes are envisioned as permanent or temporary.

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From Toni Duclottni to Tommy Noel: No more curve appeal.

As previously posted on unclebarky.com, Eye Opener premiered on Nov. 1st after being test-launched last May on Houston's KIAH-TV.

The show, which airs from 5 to 8 a.m. in D-FW, originally was produced out of Chicago. But in August, Tribune decided to revamp Eye Opener while at the same re-locating it to CW33 studios. The program also is syndicated to several other Tribune-owned stations. In the February "sweeps" ratings period, Eye Opener averaged 13,548 D-FW viewers.

Former host Caballero says on his Twitter page that "I'm working on new 'badazz' TV projects." Fox, who formerly worked for Al Gore's Current TV, has been mum on her social media sites. Duclottni still has her
"House of Haute" blog.

Knight lately had been doing some freelance reporting for CW33's 9 p.m. newscasts. She
left CBS11/TXA21 in December 2010 after a three-year stint.

his website, Tull describes himself as an actor, writer, director, comedian who has performed in over 3,500 live shows. He has been with the improv group Four Day Weekend for the past 11 years.

***In other happenings at CW33, news director David Duitch confirmed the hiring of a new assistant news director. Denise Killian, who arrived earlier this month, most recently was news director at NBC affiliate KWQC-TV in the Quad Cities. The Lewisville High School and Texas A&M grad earlier produced D-FW-based CBS11's early morning newscast and also has been an executive producer at WKRN-TV, Nashville's ABC station.

"I'm thrilled to have her here," Duitch said.

Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 all have women news directors. Earlier this year, WFAA8 made it a foursome by hiring the first female news director in its history, Carolyn Mungo.