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This just in: A night in the lives of D-FW's 10 p.m. newscasts (Tues., Feb. 13)

Smelling victory: Belo8 anchors John McCaa and Gloria Campos

Their long 10 p.m. nightmare may be ending.

Veteran Belo8 anchors John McCaa and Gloria Campos haven't been ratings winners at 10 p.m. since 2001. But they've never been in a better position to snap NBC5's long run at the top. And in High-Def, too.

A fifth consecutive ratings victory Tuesday night broke a first-place tie with the Peacock and put Belo8 narrowly ahead at 10 p.m. near the halfway mark of the four-week February sweeps. (See companion ratings story for more details.) NBC5 has won 15 consecutive sweeps battles in total homes, dating to February 2002. But the numbing, head-hurting sameness of the Peacock's nightly presentations at last is starting to look like a turnoff.

NBC5's four horsepeople of the Apocalypse -- Susan Risdon, Scott Gordon, Scott Friedman and Kristi Nelson -- are part and parcel of virtually every night's 10 p.m. show. They're usually bringing bad news, and Tuesday was typical.

Friedman stood in the dark and reported on that day's trial of a laser hair removal specialist who's charged with sexually molesting some of his clients while tending to their bikini lines.

Gordon stood in the dark to bring viewers news of a gang of teen thieves from Watauga who call themselves "The Knockout Boys."

Risdon stood in the dark to recap a weekend jewelry store robbery at the Town East Mall in Mesquite.

And Nelson stood in the dark outside a home that had been severely damaged after an out-of-control van smashed into it.

All four stations jumped on the out-of-control van story, but of course NBC5 made the biggest deal of it. Besides crime, the nightly NBC5 formula calls for a car wreck or two, a fire or two, a few cockamamie surveys and a barrage of health alerts. Season with a thinly disguised informercial for an area merchant or a "story" on how to look younger or feel better. On Tuesday night it was pillows, with anchor Jane McGarry teasing about "how the right type of fluff can help you fight fatigue."

NBC5's graphics people might be getting fatigued, too. Anchor Mike Snyder's silly little dollop on the perils of a "Weakened Immune System" was spelled "Weakend" on-screen. Somebody needs a long weekend.

NBC5 management in turn needs to go on a weekend retreat whose sole purpose would be to renovate this mess before it's too late. Don't say you weren't forewarned. The bottom is starting to drop out, and no amount of coughing by weatherman David Finfrock's is going to remedy that.

Reporters Lari Barager, Craig Civale and Jeff Crilley

None of NBC5's rivals had any big, eyecatching stories Tuesday night.

Block-jawed Belo8 newcomer Craig Civale and his seemingly immovable Everly Brothers pompadour reported live from lower Greenville Ave. That's where police recently mounted a little sting operation on bar and restaurant owners who have been lax in enforcing non-smoking ordinances.

Civale said he had encountered "ashtrays that are just cluttered all over the place." He then had a little trouble with his syntax in setting up the piece: "The attitude of many of the owners down here is if the city does not want people to smoke, then you force them to do it, 'cause we're not."

Sometimes live TV can mess with your mind. And it was pretty cold outside, too.

Belo8's sturdy, dependable Jim Douglas went to snowy Upland, Indiana to interview a woman who was dismissed from her job for being a woman. She relocated after officials at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary decided they were violating Scripture by allowing a woman to teach Hebrew to men. Interesting story.

Fox4's unsung, understated Jeff Crilley braved an encounter with a tollway cheater whose tab had run to $62,848.45 before his name was released to the media along with the area's other five top offenders.

"The worst offender wasn't home, but the second biggest violator was," said Crilley. That offender had his TV on, and it wasn't Fox4 news.

"It's already being settled . . . You have to talk to my lawyer," he told Crilley before shutting the door in his face.

Also on Fox4, reporter Lari Barager went deep on a story that rival stations only briefly touched on during their 10 p.m. newscasts. She evenhandedly looked at Bank of America's controversial decision to provide credit cards to customers without requiring proof of citizenship.

On the sports front, Belo8 anchor Dale Hansen prepped viewers for Wednesday night's one-on-one interview with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, whom he's frequently ripped and shredded.

Anchor Campos wondered whether he actually has the video to prove it.

"He still talks to me," Hansen assured. "He never ever says no."

CBS11 got the jump on Hansen Tuesday night by airing portions of Jones' sit-down with reporter Steve Dennis. He not surprisingly disputed the perception that new coach Wade Phillips is merely a "figurehead."

"He's gonna have every opportunity to sell me on any issue involving this football team," Jones said. "And I want it, I'm open-minded about it and will be a very good listener when it comes to that. That's not a puppet."

That is a pretty good quote, though.

NBC5 sports anchor Newy Scruggs isn't allotted enough time to be worth Jones' while. But Scruggs did get off a zinger aimed at Texas A&M fans, who have complained that he doesn't show enough of their Top 10-ranked basketball team.

Scruggs complied by running tape of Texas A&M losing on a heart-breaking buzzer-beater to visiting Texas Tech.

"There's your Aggie highlight," he sniffed.

Here's Tuesday night's violent crime story count, with the nine-night running totals in parentheses:

NBC5 -- 3 (43)
CBS11 -- 3 (22)
Fox4 -- 1 (21)
Belo8 -- 0 (14)