powered by FreeFind

Apple iTunes


Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Aug. 27-29) -- Emmys hold off pre-season football; Cowboys crunch Rangers


NBC's Emmy Awards telecast survived Sunday night against what the Peacock will be banking on this fall -- a Sunday night pro football game.

It was just the pre-season, though, which is why the Emmys were moved up to late August. The three-hour telecast peaked early, sagged later and averaged an overall 339,315 D-FW viewers to outscore Fox's competing NFL exhibition game between the Steelers and Broncos (271,452 viewers).

The Emmy telecast had its biggest audience -- 407,178 viewers -- between 7:30 and 7:45 p.m. In the final 15 minutes, when the big awards for best drama and comedy series were announced, the Emmys were down to 318,956 viewers.

Fox's peak audience for Broncos-Steelers came between 8:15 and 8:30 p.m., when 339,315 watched. Sunday night's two biggest attractions tied among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, averaging 146,772 viewers in this age range. But football handily won the 9 to 10 p.m. hour in this key demographic, with 169,603 viewers to the Emmys' 127,202.

On Saturday night, the Dallas Cowboys' near-catatonic 23-7 loss to the Houston Texans nonetheless rolled up another big number opposite the first-place Texas Rangers' likewise lifeless 5-0 home loss to second place Oakland.

The Cowboys averaged 644,698 total viewers while the Rangers managed 128,940 on Fox Sports Southwest, one of their lowest post-All Star game totals.

Sunday afternoon's Rangers game, another loss on FSS, drew 169,658 viewers. Friday night's Rangers win against Oakland likewise had 169,658 viewers on TXA 21. That was just enough to beat the competing Saints-Chargers pre-season game on CBS11 (149,299 viewers).

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

Fox4 continued its recent early morning surge, tying NBC5 at 6 a.m. in total viewers and winning narrowly over the Peacock in the 25-to-54 demographic.

CBS11 took first at 6 p.m. in total viewers, but Fox4 had the early evening's other three golds with a 6 p.m. win among 25-to-54-year-olds and a sweep of the 5 p.m. competitions.

WFAA8's 5 p.m. Nielsen number in the 25-to-54 demo was almost subterranean. The ABC station had 6,138 viewers in finishing seventh among broadcast stations. CW33's 5 p.m. local newscast ran a heady fourth with 21,483 viewers in the 25-to-54 age range.

No more need to "yuck monkey it up" on Rangers TV telecasts now that the team looks like a thoroughbred


Rangers TV team of Josh Lewin, Tom Grieve. Photos: Ed Bark

ARLINGTON -- Josh Lewin's rookie season with the Texas Rangers didn't go particularly well.

The 2002 edition of the team finished 31 games out of first place with a 72-90 record. By the time August and September hit the fan, most area sports fans once again were fixated on the Dallas Cowboys while the Rangers continued to flail away in their still relatively new ballpark.

These are much happier days for Lewin and his TV announcing partner, former team general manager and player Tom Grieve. As September nears, the Rangers are eight-and-half games in first place with as many wins -- 72 -- as Lewin witnessed during the entire 2002 season. An important three-game home series with the second-place Oakland A's starts Friday.

"For me, the one thing that's changed a lot is not having to 'yuck monkey it up,' " he says during a pre-game interview in the booth before Thursday's game against the Minnesota Twins. "I've always felt a responsibility to the team and to Fox to make sure we've got the most possible eyeballs we can get. And that's always meant reaching a little bit further than you normally would if the team is like, 50 and 72. There really hasn't been a game since early June where I've felt like, 'OK, I've got to put my tap dancing shoes on.' For me it's almost like enjoying the fruits of our labor. We can finally let the games speak for themselves."

The eyeballs also are taking care of themselves this season during what seems to be the Rangers' inevitable march toward their first post-season appearance since 1999. Fox Sports Southwest, venue for most of the games, has shown a 29 percent ratings increase over last season at this time, according to network research drawn from Nielsen numbers. The most-watched attraction ever on FSS was the Aug. 11th home game against the New York Yankees. And that broke the record set on the previous night, when the Yankees also were in town.

TXA21 also has enjoyed robust ratings for its weekly Friday night Rangers telecasts, which likewise are handled by Lewin and Grieve. On a number of nights this season, the Rangers have outdrawn all network prime-time competing programs while also delivering a blow to the 10 p.m. local newscast ratings when the games run long. Meanwhile, those same newscasts have pretty much been forced to lead their sports segments with Rangers results before quickly segueing to Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, CA.

Grieve, in his 16th year as the Rangers' TV analyst, knows what it's like for the team to win. He was in the booth for the Western Division championship years of 1996, '98 and '99. The Rangers then were bounced out in the first playoff round, each time by the Yankees. But Grieve, like Lewin, has watched losing teams in six of the last eight seasons before last year's 87-75 team ran out of gas down the stretch and finished 10 games behind the Angels of Anaheim -- or whatever they're called lately.

"I don't think we're naive enough to think it has anything to do with us," Grieve says of the bigger crowds for Rangers telecasts. "We're essentially the same announcers we've been. It's just that we have a better team to talk about . . . The thing that makes the job easy and fun for me is the caliber of players we have on the team. They're fun to be around, they don't make excuses and they play hard. You don't pick up a newspaper and worry about what these kids did the night before. Now that we're in first place, it's kind of the perfect storm for a fan."

Assuming that Texas doesn't have a cataclysmic collapse, both Grieve and Lewin will have to turn the team over to other networks once post-season play begins. Unlike the Dallas Mavericks' local announcing team, they don't get to do a companion home-flavored telecast for at least the first round of the playoffs.

Grieve agrees that it's a bit deflating to serve all those appetizers and then not be invited for the main course. "I would like to be up here broadcasting the games, but I'll probably be just as happy and might enjoy it even more if I'm just down there watching it and not having to worry about what I'm saying."

Lewin rationalizes that "it's a whole lot better to have loved and lost" after the regular season than to endure another losing Rangers team. And should the Rangers almost miraculously get to their first World Series, Lewin says it's OK with him "If the call for the ages is being made by the signature voices of baseball -- (Joe) Buck and (Tim) McCarver on Fox. That'd be pretty cool. We'll be sitting here clappin' and yellin' and getting vuvuzelas or whatever."

But wait. Fox Sports Southwest publicist Ramon Alvarez interjects to note that the network will be doing live post-game shows for any and all Rangers playoff games. And that Lewin and Grieve will be a part of them.

"That's the first time I've heard that," Lewin says. "But I'm happy to do it. I'm showin' up either way."


Grieve, by the way, does not appear to be a big fan of McCarver's on-air work.

Asked to name his top 3 favorite former athletes turned TV analysts, he initially singles out Bob Brenly, who currently does games for the Chicago Cubs. He's then stuck for a No. 2.

"A lot of 'em I don't like. I'll tell you that," Grieve says, declining to name any of them. When his questioner mentions McCarver, Grieve says, "Tim" -- long pause -- "You know what? I'm going to respectfully decline to answer your question."

He says this pleasantly, and later adds the retired Tony Kubek as "my all-time favorite. And I like Brenly because he's low-key. Doesn't try to show off. Just analyzes the game."

Two of Lewin's play-by-play heroes are late legends with whom he's worked. He teamed with Harry Caray in 1997 on Cubs telecasts and joined Ernie Harwell in the booth for Detroit Tigers games from 1998 to 2001 before coming to Texas. ESPN's Jon Miller and the Dodgers' longtime signature voice, Vin Scully, are other members of his personal "Mount Rushmore."

"It's so subjective," Lewin says. "I liked everybody growing up because I wanted to be every single one of 'em. Harry's point was that baseball's supposed to be fun. It's supposed to be a diversion. He took the game seriously, but he didn't take himself seriously. Ernie was the consummate pro, a terrific wordsmith, a gentleman's gentleman."

Caray was known to consume more than a few Budweisers in the booth. Lewin and Grieve are better known for harboring cookies, cakes, pies and other sweets baked by Rangers fans and brought to the booth by security personnel who expect to get tastes in return.

This brings us to the subject of whether baked goods and baseball telecasts mix. Grieve has been twitted by some, including this writer, for spicing most Rangers home games with individual thanks for each and every treat-maker.

Foremost among them is the original "Cookie Lady," Shirley Kost, who began baking for players and broadcasters a number of years ago.

"It's like a soap opera, especially for older people," Grieve says. "They watch every single game. And when it unfolds slowly, we talk about the food. Now that more people are watching, there's more people that like to bake. It's getting a little out of hand. But I think people genuinely feel like they're part of the broadcast."

Grieve is the point man for baked goods announcements, but Lewin is a very willing imbiber and co-conspirator.

"It's almost like people saying we're all family together," Lewin says. "Not to get all weepy and sociological about it, but I think it's beautiful. It's heartfelt from these people and it's heartwarming because of that."

Lewin says it's all about something he learned from Caray.

"He used to stay stuff like, 'Hey, Irma Smedley's here from Dubuque.' And WGN (longtime home of Cubs telecasts) would get all these letters from people saying, 'C'mon, why are you doing this? It's 3-to-3 in the eighth.' Harry would say, 'Look, now Irma Smedley is the biggest deal in her church for the next year.' And it's two seconds out of a three-hour ball game.

"He was passionate about that. And my thought always was if it's good enough for Harry, who am I pass to judgment on it? It's a small thing you can do for somebody. So until they tell us to shut up . . ."

But back to what prompted this visit in the first place -- winning Texas Rangers baseball and big TV ratings to match.

Lewin: "I'm getting paid to watch a pennant race. This is a job in a candy store. The players do all the heavy lifting and all I've got to do is put the caption on the picture. It speaks for itself when Josh Hamilton hits one 460 feet. It's just great theater."

Grieve: "If your mentality was to give your best as a broadcaster throughout the bad days, then all you've got to do is keep doing what you've been doing. Because the game is what they want to watch now -- not listen to us."

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Aug. 26) -- Rangers loss still amounts to ratings gain


Cliff Lee throws his first pitch in Thursday night's Rangers home game against the Twins. He'd soon be down 5-0. Photo: Ed Bark

A four-game home sweep of Minnesota looked like a definite possibility when supposed Texas Rangers pitching ace Cliff Lee took the mound Thursday night.

But Lee continued to struggle and the Rangers wound up losing 6-4 while the ratings deflated a bit for Fox Sports Southwest. The game averaged 196,803 D-FW viewers after 264,666 tuned in the night before. Still, only CBS' 9 p.m. repeat of The Mentalist had more viewers (210,375). And the game's spillover until about 10 minutes past 10 p.m. again outdrew the first 15 minutes of all four local late night newscasts.

Competing against the Rangers on ESPN, the mighty Green Bay Packers' thrashing of the Indianapolis Colts had 88,222 viewers.

In local news derby results, CBS11 had the most total viewers at 10 p.m., but WFAA8 ran first -- and CBS11 slid to fourth -- among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming on most stations.

Verdicts also were split at 6 a.m., with NBC5 tops with total viewers while Fox4 nipped the Peacock in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Fox4 ran the table at 5 p.m. and also had the 6 p.m. gold among 25-to-54-year-olds. WFAA8 placed first at 6 p.m. in total viewers.

The slow reveal -- extended weather forecasts used to be hand-activated, one by one

Weather's the star player in today's local TV news firmament. Even the threat of a drizzle tends to be top-of-the-newscast material. And CBS11 lately is trying to out-Delkus WFAA8's Pete Delkus with a promotion that underscores Larry Mowry's proclivity to go coat-less whenever the weather kicks itself up a notch.

Maybe they could heighten the suspense, though, by returning to those hand-activated extended forecasts of yesteryear. Weathermen used to proceed one day at a time, making viewers wait a few seconds for each reveal. Now the whole deal is slapped up on screens electronically, giving viewers instant gratification.

The below video is excerpted from a December 1979 forecast by WFAA8 weekend weathercaster Steve Newman, who worked at the station from 1978-'80 and still resides in the North Texas viewing area. It includes a little opening and closing banter with former anchor John Criswell. But the manually activated "5 Day Outlook" is the star player here. There's even an audible clunk at the end after Newman has finished rolling down his shade.

Imagine the fun to be had if WFAA8 went back to those days -- maybe for just a week during a ratings "sweeps" period. The station's madcap duo of Delkus and sports anchor Dale Hansen could be like Vanna and Pat back when she had to manually execute her nightly consonant and vowel movements.

For that matter, any station could promote a "Throwback Week in which news sets return to their stark, spare surroundings while stories are presented on film instead of videotape. Vintage hairstyles could make a comeback, too. Pasted on mutton chop sideburns for the men and piled on hair for the women.

Hey, I think maybe I'm on to something here. OK, probably not. Here's the clip. And it's too bad that Criswell couldn't have greeted his weathercasting partner with "Hello Newman!" Alas, this was all pre-Seinfeld.

Shipp strikes again with investigation of powerful Southlake Carroll football program


Call him anything but timid.

Instead star WFAA8 gumshoe Brett Shipp has the temerity to take on the state's most powerful high school football factory, Southlake Carroll.

Shipp's lengthy investigation of whether the school's star starting quarterback is eligible to play this season topped the Dallas-based station's 10 p.m. newscast Tuesday. It had both confrontational drama (also known as "good TV") and some seemingly very legitimate questions about the transfer of QB Daxx Garman to Southlake for his senior year after he was ruled ineligible to play at Jones High School in Oklahoma.

With Garman leading the way, Jones won six games and a district football title that it since has forfeited after officials determined that he and his parents actually lived outside the school district on a 25-acre ranch in Choctaw. Now it's an open question whether the Garmans have established residency in Southlake, whose Dragons football team has won four Class 5A state championships since 2000. The highly regarded Daxx Garman already has verbally committed to play at the University of Arizona.

Shipp and WFAA8 photographers presented convincing visual evidence that Garman's father, Pat, continues to live in Oklahoma, where he owns a concrete contract company. Texas University Interscholastic League eligibility rules state that "any relocation of residence is a complete and permanent move for the family." There's also a question of whether Garman would first have to sit out "at least an equal number of games" forfeited by Jones High before he could throw a pass for Southlake.

Confronted at an Oklahoma gas station by Shipp and station photographers, Pat Garman said "I absolutely do" when asked if he lives in Southlake. Matters then went further south when more questions were asked. Garman, who looked big and mean enough to break Shipp in two, first cursed him and then threw a bag of ice at him. It was all captured on tape and of course became the money shot of Shipp's story.


Pat Garman tries to ice down shooting Shipp. Photos: Ed Bark

Shipp also grilled Southlake athletic director Kevin Ozee, who affixed a frozen smile while dancing around some direct questions about his "due diligence" in the Garman matter.

At one point he asked, "Excuse me. Pardon me. Am I on trial? Am I on trial?"

Well, yeah.

Shipp also noted that the Garman home in Oklahoma just happened to be put on the market on the very day (Aug. 10th) that he interviewed Ozee. The athletic director said the home had been for sale since "sometime back in the spring."

The newly constituted District Executive Committee, local decision-making body for the UIL, is scheduled to look into the Garman situation later this week while most if not all Southlake football fans get busy cursing Shipp. It's not the first time he's investigated a high school athletic program. In November 2007 Shipp looked into grade-fixing tied to South Oak Cliff's basketball program. The Dallas Independent School District later ruled that the school had to forfeit its 2006 state title.

In an interview at the time with unclebarky.com, Shipp said he had been "bombarded with hate mail," but to no avail. He's been there before during a long and largely distinguished career that has won him multiple Peabody and duPont Columbia awards.

"It doesn't faze me," he said. "That's what the 'delete' button is for on the computer. I just keep going."

Those who contended that Shipp's investigation of the mostly black South Oak Cliff was racially motivated might want to hit their pause buttons to note that Southlake is a prosperous, mostly white suburb. Fair is fair.

In contrast Tuesday night, NBC5 reporter Omar Villafranca investigated an infrared hunting camera shot of "something hovering in the night sky" above a woman's Archer City ranch. The old UFO gambit came after Monday's sub-ridiculous 10 p.m. story on a star-struck "Twitteratzi" who revels in her supposed relationships with tweeting celebrities.

But no, NBC5 wasn't a turnoff on either night. The station swept both Monday's and Tuesday's 10 p.m. D-FW Nielsen ratings, although a bounteous lead-in audience from NBC's America's Got Talent certainly didn't hurt the Tuesday numbers.

Here's video of Shipp's story.

Nutritive news takes another kidney punch with NBC5 "story" on one-woman "Twitteratzi" brigade


Meredith Land introduces story on lone "Twitteratzi." Photo: Ed Bark

It doesn't take much to be a television "newsmaker" these days.

As NBC5 reporter Grant Stinchfield proved on Monday's 10 p.m. newscast, it takes less than nothing.

In a story with nary a speck of irony, Stinchfield introduced viewers to star-struck Ashley Stanley after NBC5 co-anchor Meredith Land said the intrepid reporter "has the secret to chatting with the stars."

"For the first time in history, the untouchables are now within reach," he then told viewers. "That's right. Chatting with a star one on one."

Imagine that. Stanley describes herself as a "Twitteratzi," a k a "Paparazzi on Twitter." Stinchfield was all ears.

"So you've chatted with some pretty famous people?" he asked her.

"Absolutely," crowed Stanley, who further described herself as "a nobody. I'm just a real estate broker in Dallas."

"But now," Stinchfield deduced, "even a self-described nobody can mix it up with the rich and famous."

Perhaps you've heard of one of the three "rich and famous" people cited by Stanley. That would be Joe Jonas of The Jonas Brothers. She's also supposedly gone one-on-one, via Twitter, with Shontelle Layne (huh?) and Shannon Elizabeth (oh wow).

Layne's brief wikipedia entry describes her as an R&B singer from Barbados whose "mildly successful" debut album, "Shontelligence," was released in November 2008. Elizabeth, a veteran of two American Pie movies and a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, lately has fashioned a second career as a high-stakes poker player.

Stanley spoke glowingly of actually getting a Twitter response once from Layne: "I said something that just made her laugh and she told me happy birthday."

This put Stinchfield on the scent, probing for more tips on technique while at the same time leading Stanley along.

"Be engaging," he told her.

"Very engaging," she agreed.


"Wit helps. Yeah."

Stinchfield, husband of WFAA8 Good Morning Texas co-host Amy Vanderoef, did note near the end of this "story" that "there is a warning in all of this." Some celebrities, he said, hire PR people to do most of their tweeting and FaceBook posting.

Gee, I thought he might say there's a serious danger of having no life at all if you continue along Stanley's path of gushing with excitement at "connecting" with a peripheral celebrity. But instead of introducing Stanley to a life coach, he gave her the last words.

"It's great!" she enthused. "It's one on one. It's you and them."

There are eight million stories in the Naked City. Urp, this has been one of them. The video follows.

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcdfw.com/video.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Aug. 19) -- WFAA8 flexes, then falters in four-way news competitions

WFAA8 management publicly made it very clear, after a less than stellar November 2009 "sweeps" performance, that the only ratings barometer of any real monetary worth is a newscast's standing among 25-to-54-year-olds.

By that barometer, WFAA8 had hollow victories in total viewers Thursday while again stumbling in the demographic that "all stations make a living on," in the words of president and general manager Mike Devlin. It's a pattern that's been repeated throughout the summer months, particularly with the ABC affiliate's 5 and 6 p.m. editions.

In Thursday's Nielsens, WFAA8 ran first in total viewers in both early evening news competitions. But it fell well behind front-running Fox4 in the 5 and 6 p.m. results among 25-to-54-year-olds.

At 10 p.m., WFAA8 and CBS11 tied for the top spot in total viewers. WFAA8 then dropped to third among 25-to-54-year-olds, behind both Fox4 and NBC5 and just a smidgen ahead of CBS11.

WFAA8 has been making some progress at 6 a.m., though, where its Daybreak lately has been competitive with both Fox4 and NBC5. A truer test will come next week, when many North Texas students head back to school while the early morning news programs anticipate some resultant ratings spikes.

On Thursday, Fox4, NBC5 and WFAA8 essentially tied for first place in total viewers, with a statistically insignificant two-hundredths of a rating point between them. But WFAA8 prevailed by a narrow margin over NBC5 among 25-to-54-year-olds. So that's at least one win that counts in the eyes of management.

In other ratings developments, the faltering first-place Texas Rangers' fourth straight road loss, this time at lowly Baltimore, drew a second straight smallish crowd of 115,367 total viewers on Fox Sports Southwest.

Thursday night's biggest draws, Fox's NFL pre-season game between New England and Atlanta and CBS' Big Brother 12, both had 183,230 viewers.

Latest made-for-TV car chase should have been nipped far earlier


Thursday afternoon chase comes to a halt at Love Field. WFAA8 photo

Yes, I know. Stopping these prolonged car chases much earlier in the game will deprive local TV news stations of both their breathless live coverage and eventual lead stories on all nighttime newscasts.

Still, the moron who led police on a super slo-mo adventure Thursday afternoon should have been stopped almost before he started. It's as simple as that. Police contend they didn't want to endanger the public safety in case the driver came out shooting in a residential area. So instead they let him crash through a flimsy gate at Love Field Airport before finally deciding enough was enough.


But the TV stations love it because it makes for "great TV." And now let the recriminations begin, led by those same TV stations.
Ed Bark

CBS11/TXA21 meteorologist Mike Burger mapping out his retirement (updated with interview)


CBS11/TXA21 meteorologist Mike Burger has announced his retirement from broadcasting just five months after marking his 40th year in the business.

Burger, who joined the D-FW stations in 2000, earlier had spent seven years as Dallas-based Fox4's head meteorologist before leaving the station in 1996 for a four-year stint at Orlando's WKMG-TV.

Burger, who turns 65 in September, had signed a two-year contract with CBS11/TXA21 in March of this year. But in a telephone interview Friday, he said that upon further review, it was time to go.

"I found myself looking in the mirror, saying 'What are you doing?' " Burger said. "Do you want to do this until you're 70 and then drop over dead? It's time to have some fun."

Burger said his decision was crystallized after the recent death of his longtime girlfriend's mother. It persuaded him that life can be short and should be sweeter down the stretch. He also "knew this was going to be my last contract (with CBS11/TXA21), whether it was my decision to leave or theirs. So I decided it would be better to go out on my terms, and do it my way, so to speak."

He discussed the matter with news director Adrienne Roark, who told him, "I'll back you in whatever you decide to do," Burger said. In leaving he simply opted out of the remaining 19 months on his contract. "I knew there wasn't going to be any buyout or anything," he said. "It was my decision . . . It's been the best 10 years of my career."

In the previously released CBS11/TXA21 announcement, Burger said, "To say I have been a lucky man is an understatement. To say the good Lord smiled down on me is a fact. To say I will always hold dear the memories of my friends, co-workers and viewers for their support is a cherished truth."

CBS11/TXA21 president and general manager Gary Schneider said in the same news release that Burger's "wit, skill and sense of humor will be missed. But we respect his decision, and I know that he'll enjoy having more time to play golf, among other things."

Other things will take precedence in at least the immediate future. Burger and his girlfriend have a one-week trip to Ireland planned on the day after his retirement. Upon return, they'll be attending a wedding in Vancouver.

Burger's last weather segment in D-FW will be on CBS11's Saturday, Sept. 4th 10 p.m. newscast (it's been changed back again from 6 p.m.). He plans to remain in North Texas. CBS11/TXA21 will still have three meteorologists -- head man Larry Mowry, Jeff Jamison and Garry Seith.

"It was my wish. It was what I wanted to do," Burger said in the phone interview. "God knows I'll miss it."

Dallas-born Harrison brokers "love," lives to tell about it as host of Bachelor, Bachelorette, Bachelor Pad

100895_1219_pre 100706jake-pavelka-vienna-girardi2

Dallas native and Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor Pad host Chris Harrison brokered last month's slam-a-thon between former made-for-TV lovebirds Vienna Girardi and Jake Pavelka. ABC photos

BEVERLY HILLS -- In this year alone, Cupid-esque Chris Harrison has oh-so-earnestly segued from The Bachelor to The Bachelorette to the ongoing Bachelor Pad.

All three ABC love lost/gained entries have prospered in the 18-to-49-year-old Nielsen ratings, leading to even more work for the 39-year-old Dallas native and his new Harrison Productions. The former Oklahoma City sportscaster recently was named to host next year's 90th anniversary Miss America pageant, which is returning to ABC after traipsing through a variety of cable channels for the past several years.

Harrison, a graduate of Lake Highlands High School, also is to the TV Guide Network what his friend, Ryan Seacrest, is to E! He'll host its red carpet coverage of the August 29th Emmy Awards ceremony. And his fledging company is developing another celebrity-driven show for TV Guide that will replace Hollywood 411 after "we kind of blow that up," Harrison says during a recent ABC "All-Star Party" event.

Gossip-drenched, up-to-the-second websites such as TMZ and RadarOnline "have changed the game," he says after characterizing Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood and Extra as a bit behind the curve. "And if you keep playing by the old rules, you're going to get killed."

Here's a guy who not only can put lipstick on a pig but rouge on a rattlesnake bite. For instance, the recent ugly bust-up between Bachelor star Jake Pavelka of Dallas and proclaimed love of his life Vienna Girardi "almost enhances the franchise. It doesn't taint it whatsoever," Harrison says. "It's not just about love . . . It's about all the social, economic and mental issues that we all deal with. And we show the viewers all of that -- uncut, unedited, raw. We show it and you watch it and you judge and you decide and you twitter and you blog and you write."

Or in some cases, retch.

Harrison is indefatigable, though. And few TV hosts are hotter at the moment. It was his idea to arrange last month's special confrontation, under The Bachelorette banner, between what turned out to be a glowering, eye-rolling Pavelka and an accusatory, weepy Girardi, who left their stage early while bawling her eyes out.

"There was so much crap being said," Harrison says. "I thought, you know what, I know these people. Let's bring 'em in. I can sit 'em down. Honest to God, my goal that night was to have them walk away amicably and shake hands. It almost happened. It wasn't one of those interviews where you go in trying to stir it up. Gasoline didn't need to be added to that fire . . . I hated that that relationship disintegrated into that. But I love that we are a show that stirs up that much emotion."

The way Harrison sees it, though, neither party was at fault. True love never runs smooth. And on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, what's love got to do with it anyway?

"There's buckets of blame to go around," he says. "Seventeen years of marriage (to wife Gwen) and two kids later, I get that. There is no side. These are two people I know that broke up. I'm not really rooting for anybody. I felt bad. That's all I felt at the end of that interview."

Harrison's parents, grandparents, brother and sister all still live in the Dallas area. His mom, a realtor, regularly has "Bachelor nights and watching parties at her house," he says.

All involved revel in the show's ups, downs, accusations and machinations.

"What woman hasn't dated the bad guy?" Harrison asks somewhat rhetorically. "What woman hasn't tried to nurture and be the mommy figure? And those relationships never work out. Yet every woman does it! That's great conversation, and I kind of like stirring that up."

The Bachelor franchise, launched in 2002, "absolutely" had waned earlier in this decade, Harrison agrees. But he credits the show's producers with reviving it to the point where it now ranks second only to Dancing with the Stars among ABC's "reality" series thoroughbreds. With advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, though, Bachelor and its spinoffs are on more than equal footing with Dancing.

When Bachelor premiered, "there was no blogging, tweeting or texting," says Harrison, who both tweets and blogs about the show. "The viewer in this day and age demands a lot more. And they demand it now. And so our show and producers really had to wake up and evolve new storylines. You literally need the body, the smoking gun and the videotape."

One more thing. Harrison says he's to blame for starting the blog/tweet semi-frenzy about American Idol finalist Casey James of Fort Worth possibly being the next star of The Bachelor.

"I hate to admit this, because I'm from Texas," he says. "But I was at a 'purse party' (in Los Angeles) hosting as a favor to Ryan Seacrest and his radio station. And Casey James was performing. I said, 'Hey dude, you ought to be on The Bachelor.' And he was like, 'All right.' We said that in front of a crowd. And before I got home, it was on Twitter with pictures of both of us."

Don't worry. Harrison is sure it's not going to happen.

"I'm guessing he's got bigger fish to fry," he says of James, who earlier this month signed a recording deal with Sony Nashville.

As for Harrison, he's never been in a better position to wheel and deal while somehow keeping a straight face through all those cringe-worthy made-for-TV love matches and heartaches. He also strives to remain on convivial speaking terms with all of the show's star players. That's why he tried so hard, he says, to give peace a chance between Pavelka and Girardi.

"At the end of the day, I do want to still be respected by these people," Harrison says. "And also by myself. I kind of have to live with myself at the end of this."

Personally speaking, it's been quite a summer for WFAA8's women anchors. Latest development: wedding bells primed to ring for Cynthia Izaguirre

WFAA8 Daybreak co-anchor Cynthia Izaguirre

The off-camera personal lives of WFAA8's women anchor/reporters have been eventful of late.

As recently posted, 5 p.m. weekday co-anchor Shelly Slater and her husband, Clay, had their first child Friday. It's a boy named Hutcheson Kent.

Shon Gables, who anchors WFAA8's morning weekend newscasts, is due any day now with her third child. She's been regularly tweeting and blogging about it -- sparing few if any details.

And now Daybreak co-anchor Cynthia Izaguirre confirms that wedding bells are in her near future. The Dallas-bred graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School, who joined WFAA8 in January 2008 from New Mexico's KOAT-TV, said via email, "Yes, I am happily engaged with a wedding for this October!"

An observant reader had alerted unclebarky.com to the ring on Izaguirre's finger, prompting another fairly rare shift into society reporter mode.

Izaguirre declined to reveal her fiance's name.

"He's a wonderful guy whom I was friends with for several months before we started dating," she said. "That's the key, being friends first. I finally figured it out! As I know you'll understand, I'd like to keep his name and information private. Just better that way."

Izaguirre's future fiance took her to the emergency room earlier this summer after her nose survived a technical knockout from a garage door. So he's already seen her through some of the bad and the good.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Aug. 13-15) -- Rangers, Rangers, Rangers (updated)


Josh Hamilton ignites a packed house by scoring from second on infield hit to tie Friday's TXA21 telecast at 9-9. Photo: Ed Bark

We'll get to those boffo weekend Texas Rangers ratings in just a minute.

But first I'd like to thank Myrtle Beach of Barren, Texas for sending a delicious butterscotch bundt cake up to the booth here at unclebarky.com central.

Also, many thanks to Ida Didit of Dime Box for that very tasty pan of frosted lemon squares.

And we can't wait to try that batch of hickory-smoked homemade beef jerky, courtesy of Bob Ed Bubbadubba of Lake Algae.

Those who watched the games -- and there were many of you -- must know by now that I've had my fill of those repeated updates of their refrigerator supplies by Rangers' TV announcers Josh Lewin and Tom Grieve. Yeah, it's supposed to be homey and all that. But at this point, how about just one big thank you to one and all. Thank you very much, but those jalapeno popcorn balls from Otis "Kernel" Mustard of Minnehoohah no longer should merit on-air recognition.

Meanwhile, TXA21's Friday night telecast of the Rangers' marathon 10-9 win over Boston went nuts in the D-FW ratings.

Stretching to 11:16 p.m. -- when Nelson Cruz hit a walk-off home run -- the game averaged 309,650 viewers according to Nielsen's final report. A peak audience of 434,323 watched between 9:45 and 10 p.m. The Rangers also laid waste to the quartet of local late night newscasts, drawing 413,964 viewers from 10 to 10:30 p.m. while Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 drew a combined 346,101 viewers.

The Rangers and Red Sox shifted to Fox Sports Southwest for the Saturday and Sunday games.

Saturday night's 3-1 loss to Boston averaged 257,879 viewers. And Sunday afternoon's 7-3 Rangers win, stretching their first-place led to eight-and-a-half games over the Angels, drew 251,093 viewers.

In all three cases, the Rangers were each day's most-watched attraction on either broadcast or cable. Even on Sunday, the peak audience of 325,742 viewers exceeded the peak viewership of the PGA championship on CBS. Golf's last major championship of the season, which went into a three-hole playoff that extended to 7:12 p.m. Sunday, topped out at 278,238 viewers between 6:30 and 6:45 p.m. Its overall ratings average was much lower than the Rangers-Red Sox game, which competed directly against the PGA championship from 2:05 to 5:05 p.m.

Sunday's post-local newscast, late night sports specials of course all led with reports from the Dallas Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, CA, where every little snippet of activity was duly flogged. But NBC5 and CBS11 at least found time to also do live interviews with Rangers general manager Jon Daniels and new owner Chuck Greenberg (respectively by NBC5's Newy Scruggs and CBS11's Babe Laufenberg).

WFAA8, with Joe Trahan anchoring from Oxnard, loaded up on Cowboys' minutiae before finally getting around to a brief highlight tape from the Rangers game. (I missed Fox4's earlier 10 p.m. sports special. And an effort to DVR the scheduled replay turned up part of an old Eddie Murphy/Martin Lawrence prison movie instead.)

(This just in: Fox4 sports anchor Mike Doocy emailed Tuesday to note that "we led with Rangers, spent 15 minutes talking baseball" at the start of Sunday's program. He also added a caveat: "To be honest, though, if I had been in Oxnard (with the Cowboys), the show would have been stacked differently. It 's fun to have some options, though!")

Cowboys pre-season games may be "meaningless," as WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen regularly tells viewers. But on WFAA8 more than any other station, the Rangers are about as high a priority as a kids' Wiffle ball game. Even though as an ABC affiliate, WFAA8 again won't have any pre-season, regular season or post-season Cowboys games. Fox4, NBC5 and CBS11 all will.

(To answer the inevitable rebuttal, yes, the Cowboys still draw far more viewers for their games than the Rangers do. But when basically nothing is going on in training camp, do the Cowboys always have to lead sportscasts? The Rangers uncommonly are entrenched in first place while playing games that count every day. They're legitimately the D-FW market's biggest sports story -- at least until the Cowboys' regular season starts or if a major player such as Tony Romo or Miles Austin is injured. But local stations are still blowing a big hunk of their budgets by sending crews lemming-like to Cowboys training camp while the Rangers' biggest-drawing homestand in recent memory is a comparative afterthought. They hit the road now while I rest my case -- futilely of course.)

Although bludgeoned by Friday night's Rangers game, NBC5 and WFAA8 (Cowboys coverage and all) tied for first at 10 p.m. in total viewers with a bunt-sized 108,581 apiece. But the Peacock won outright among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming on most stations.

NBC5 took the 6 a.m. gold in total viewers while finishing in a first-place tie with Fox4 and WFAA8 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

CBS11 ran the table at 6 p.m. and also topped the 5 p.m. Nielsens in total viewers. WFAA8 and CBS11 shared first place at 5 p.m. with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Aug. 11) -- victory in defeat: gut-grinding Rangers loss sets all-time FSS viewing record

No attraction on Fox Sports Southwest -- including football -- has drawn a bigger crowd than Wednesday night's agony-of-defeat Texas Rangers-New York Yankees game.

An average of 366,460 D-FW viewers watched the home team blow a 6-1 lead and eventually succumb 7-6 in a game that stretched from 7:09 to 10:54 p.m. A peak audience of almost a half million watched between 10:15 and 10:30 p.m. Both are all-time FSS highs, the network says, exceeding the household and total viewer numbers for a March 19, 2002 game between the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers. No wonder Mavs owner Mark Cuban wanted to buy the Rangers.

A pair of usually potent network competition series were dwarfed by the Rangers' numbers.

Fox's first of a two-part So You Think You Can Dance season finale drew 176,444 viewers from 7 to 9 p.m. while NBC's one-hour 8 p.m. edition of America's Got Talent had 149,299 viewers. The biggest 9 p.m. draw -- among the Big 4 broadcast networks -- was CBS' CSI: NY repeat (128,940 viewers). The Rangers-Yankees game had more than three times that many viewers from 9 to 10 p.m. while also crushing all four local 10 p.m. newscasts. From 10 to 10:15 p.m., the game had more viewers than the combined total audience for Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11.

Otherwise here's the way it looked in Wednesday's local news derby.

WFAA8 swept the 10 p.m. proceedings, winning in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming on most stations.

Fox4 and NBC tied for first at 6 a.m. in total viewers, with Fox4 the sole gold medalist with 25-to-54-year-olds.

WFAA8 ran the table at 6 p.m. and also notched a 5 p.m. victory in total viewers. Fox4 ran first at 5 p.m. in the 25-to-54 measurement.

"Spirit of Texas" -- 25 years removed

Sports anchor Dale Hansen makes a horse's asset of himself, weathercaster Troy Dungan encounters a beaming kid at a science fair and news anchor Phyllis Watson climactically hugs a kid.

Quaint but still homey, these little vignettes played out in a 30-second 1985 "Spirit of Texas" spot for WFAA8, which got major use out of that slogan during its many years as D-FW's dominant TV news force -- ratings wise and otherwise.

Hansen remains in place, of course. But the retired Dungan has given way to temperature taker Pete Delkus while the current activities of Watson at this point remain a mystery. She anchored and reported at WFAA8 from 1983-'91 and returned to the market for a 1995-'98 tour with KDFW-TV (Channel 4). I remember her as a genuinely decent and unaffected news personality with a klieg light smile and compassion to spare. Perhaps a reader or two will know what she's up to now. Meanwhile, here's the way they were:

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Aug. 10) -- Rangers rack up another viewing record with clutch win over Yanks


Closer Mariano Rivera reacts as David Murphy whistles a hit to right to give Rangers a 4-3 win in the 10th against Yanks. Photos: Ed Bark

The Texas Rangers skied to a new Fox Sports Southwest ratings record with Tuesday night's extra inning win against the visiting Yankees.

They're still a long way from Dallas Cowboys territory. But an average of 318,956 D-FW viewers (for the game's actual running time from 7:07 to 10:45 p.m.) broke the nearly 12-year-old FSS record set on Sept. 16, 1998 vs. the Angels.

FSS says the Rangers-Yankees game also was seen in more D-FW households than any previous telecast. So far this season, the first-place Rangers' post-All Star game ratings are more than double those of the season's first half.

Tuesday night's extra inning thriller played on through local 10 p.m. newscasts, with the Rangers easily drawing more than double the audience for top-scoring NBC5.

Elsewhere in prime-time, Fox's Hell's Kitchen won the 7 to 8 p.m. slot among the Big 4 broadcast networks with 217,162 total viewers. NBC's America's Got Talent then ran first from 8 to 10 p.m. with an average of 196,803 viewers.

Hell's Kitchen also romped among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds while the network's new Masterchef beat the first hour of Talent in this key demographic. Another new summertime entry, ABC's Shaq Vs., stumbled at 7 p.m. with a distant fourth place finish in total viewers. But Shaq nipped CBS' competing NCIS among 18-to-49-year-olds to avoid being completely slam dunked.

In local news derby results, NBC5 came within a smidgen of pulling off a very rare double grand slam in the four principal races.

The Peacock topped its news rivals at 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming on most stations. NBC5 also swept the 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Nielsens while winning at 5 p.m. in the 25-to-54 demographic. Its only loss was in the 5 p.m. total viewers competition, where WFAA8 prevailed over the Peacock by just one-tenth of a rating point (6,786 viewers).

Tuesday's big news, though, was the Rangers, who might well set another FSS viewing record when ace lefthander Cliff Lee takes the mound Wednesday night. Meanwhile, Tuesday's hero, outfielder David Murphy, is the latest recipient of the by now tiresome shaving cream pie in the puss during his post-game interview. Boys will be boys. See for yourself.


CW33 web reporter Pelpina Trip leaving to weave another web


Internet specialist Pelpina Trip, whose "Pelpina's Picks" have been a nightly feature on CW33's 9 p.m. newscasts, is leaving the Dallas-based station for another web venture.

Trip, whose last day is Friday, will be producing and hosting webcasts for geekbeat.tv, CW33 news director David Duitch confirmed Tuesday. Its proprietor, John Pozadzides, "promises me he will make Pelpina a global brand," Duitch added.

Trip joined CW33 in early 2009 after graduating from the University of North Texas in December of 2008 with a bachelor's degree in electronic news.

"When Pelpina is not expanding her worldwide web footprint, she is also going to be working on her Master's Degree from UNT," Duitch said. "We are going to miss her."

cogill_n images_sizedimage_314152807 images_sizedimage_122130815

WFAA8's Gary Cogill and Jeff Jamison/Garry Seith of CBS11/TXA21


There have been a few other local developments of interest during the two weeks I attended the annual summer network TV "press tour" in California.

For one, longtime movie critic, arts reporter and former Good Morning Texas co-host Gary Cogill will be leaving Dallas-based WFAA8 after his current contract expires on Oct. 31st. He joined the ABC affiliate in 1986.

Cogill, 57, is starting up a new film production company, LasCaux Films LLC, in partnership with Dallas anesthesiologist Richard Toussaint and Richards Group managing partner Derrick Evers.

"You spend your life talking movies, but deep down inside I've always wanted to make movies," Cogill told Chris Vognar of The Dallas Morning News.

WFAA8 news director Michael Valentine said in a prepared statement that "we wish him the best with his new project."

Cogill plans to remain in Dallas and WFAA8 "remains completely committed to quality coverage of performing arts and entertainment in North Texas," Valentine said in the statement.

***CBS11 meteorologists Jeff Jamison and Garry Seith will be trading spaces, beginning on Monday, Aug. 16th.

Seith, nearly recovered from a serious late June motorcycle crash, will become CBS11's new weekday early morning weathercaster. Jamison, who recently underwent a non-emergency appendectomy, will assume Seith's previous duties on TXA21's prime-time newscasts and CBS11's 4 p.m. editions.

"Both Garry and Jeff are excited about this opportunity to help grow these very important newscasts," CBS11/TXA21 news director Adrienne Roark said in a memo to station staffers. "And I believe they will do just that in their new roles."

Roark also is touting the two stations' blogging efforts during last week's oft-raucous Texas Rangers auction proceedings. The eventual winners, in a pitched battle with Dallas Mavericks and HDNet owner Mark Cuban, were the Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan Group.

A station publicity release says that "close to 20,000 people" followed the CBS11/TXA21 live blogging of the 17-hour marathon, which didn't end until the wee hours of Thursday morning.