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Swan song: Good Day's Henderson puts Fox4 behind her

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Fox4 sent its resident glamour girl off with a l-o-o-o-o-ng goodbye Friday while rival station managers turned cartwheels in their heads.

"So I thought that if I kept hitting the snooze button this morning that this day wouldn't happen," Good Day co-anchor Tim Ryan said at the show's 5 a.m. start time. Good Day then devoted much of its four hours to a "Mega Megan Celebration" in honor of departing co-anchor Megan Henderson, who's leaving to take a morning anchor/reporter job at KTLA-TV in Los Angeles.

"You guys. I feel like I've died . . . I am so not worthy of all of this," she said near the end before Emerald City serenaded her with one of her favorite songs, Earth, Wind and Fire's "Dancing In September."

Henderson was last seen clapping along to the band's performance of the Good Day theme song. She wore a bright yellow/orange dress and was surrounded by many of her on-air colleagues, including Ryan, Evan Andrews, Chip Waggoner, Mike Doocy, Krystle Gutierrez, Dan Godwin (who will be filling in for her at least temporarily, beginning Monday), Steve Noviello, Shaun Rabb, "Stylin' Steve" Kemble and former Fox4 weathercaster/reporter Maria Sotolongo, who also brought her baby daughter.

Fox4 has prospered in the early morning ratings for much of Henderson's Good Day stint with Ryan, whom she joined in August 2003. But that was then, and NBC5 has taken charge of the early morning ratings for much of this year. On Thursday, Henderson's penultimate day, the Peacock won for the fifth straight weekday in the 6 to 7 a.m. Nielsens.

Henderson was a star player, though, and her absence clearly will be felt in the short term at least. Or as street reporter Saul Garza put it in his final farewell to her: "That anchor seat will be filled, but you'll never be replaced."

Some were put off their feed by Friday's extended goodbye to Henderson. To her credit, she called attention to a viewer named Mary, who asked via email, "Are we going to have to listen to this boo-hoo (stuff) all morning? Give us a break." Henderson also noted that Mary had called her a "moron."

"We don't care if you love us or hate us. As long as you watch," Ryan added.

Others blamed Ryan for running Henderson off. Not so, she said. "He's not the reason. Not even close. You haven't driven any of them away. Well, maybe the first two. But definitely not me."

As noted previously -- and numerous times during her sendoff -- Henderson's official reason for leaving Fox4 is that she wants to be closer to her family. She was raised in San Clemente, CA.

"I love this place so much," Henderson said near show's end. "And you don't leave any place you love unless there's family out there."

"Even the bosses like you," Ryan noted.

The bosses at Fox4 have declined to comment publicly on Henderson's departure. But they did allow her to have what likely was the most prolonged on-air sendoff in the station's history. Whatever the station, many on-air personalities barely get to say goodbye -- if that. But Henderson was showered with gifts, tributes and mostly fond farewells -- save for Mary.

Postscript: Megan Henderson truly is one of the nicest and most unaffected D-FW news personalities I've ever covered. So all the best to her in L.A., where it's harder to be humble and easier to be eaten alive.

Meanwhile, the bosses at NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 are very happy to see Henderson go. Her departure likely will make it a bit easier for them to make headway in the highly competitive early morning ratings race. But Fox4 won't be a pushover, and no one is irreplaceable. Let's see how it all shakes out.

Male delivery for Good Day

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In something of a surprise, Dallas-based Fox4 will put Good Day in the hands of two male anchors -- at least for the interim.

Sources confirm that station veteran Dan Godwin will join incumbent anchor Tim Ryan next week after Megan Henderson signs off Friday and heads to KTLA-TV in Los Angeles.

Fox4 management has declined to comment on how long Godwin will co-anchor, or on whether the station eventually will hire a new woman co-anchor from outside the D-FW market. Management also is not commenting on Henderson's departure from Good Day, which she joined in August 2003.

Fox4's Natalie Solis and Krystle Gutierrez previously have filled in on Good Day during Henderson's absences, as has Godwin.

The rival early morning programs at NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 all have male-female anchor duos. NBC5 lately has been winning at 6 a.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, according to Nielsen Media Research.

There's no early mourning at NBC5, where the picture now looks even brighter



Sunny sides up. Looming large in the early morning ratings race -- and in these NBC5 photos -- are clockwise from top left: Deborah Ferguson, Brendan Higgins, Jennifer Lopez and Tammy Dombeck.

So where is the early morning ratings race headed now that Fox4's Megan Henderson is leaving Good Day while WFAA8 awaits its latest new Daybreak male anchor -- Chris Flanagan from cornfed Des Moines, Iowa?

It's pretty simple, really. NBC5, lately with ratings momentum on its side, is the new station to beat -- at least in the short term. And that's despite little if any promotional help from its parent network, whose prime-time ratings are dismal on most nights.

NBC5's early morning news anchors, Deborah Ferguson and Brendan Higgins, easily will be D-FW's longest standing duo after Henderson signs off this Friday and heads to Tribune-owned KTLA-TV in Los Angeles. They're likeable and sometimes playful, but serious when the occasions demand. In short, Ferguson and Higgins click. And it shows.

Veteran traffic reporter Tammy Dombeck also is a key member of NBC5's veteran morning mix. And meteorologist Jennifer Lopez, who joined the station in late June, seems to have weathered the storm of viewers who swore they'd never watch again after the station unceremoniously dropped Rebecca Miller (now the featured forecaster at The 33).

NBC5 ran second to Fox4 in the 6 to 7 a.m. November "sweeps" ratings. But lately it's been the Peacock doing the crowing. In the past month's Nielsens, NBC5 has been No. 1 in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. Fox4 is running a relatively close second while WFAA8 and CBS11 fight for scraps on most mornings.

Here's another bulletin. From November 2007 to November 2008, audiences grew overall at 6 a.m. on the four competing stations. In their other major battlegrounds -- 5, 6 and 10 p.m. -- the aggregate audience dropped from year to year.

"I tell my morning team constantly that they are the second-most important thing that we do (other than the 10 p.m. newscast)," NBC5 Vice President of Content Development Susan Tully said in a story I wrote last April for D CEO magazine. "They could go to an early-evening newscast, but that would be a step backwards."

"Our early-morning news, behind the late news, is our second-biggest revenue generator," WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin said in that same article. "The money is gravitating there."

Losing a morning star, as Henderson undeniably is, doesn't necessarily dig a grave for Fox4. But it certainly provides an opening for its three competitors. NBC5 has a prime opportunity to put some daylight between itself and the second place station. WFAA8 has a chance to inject some stability into its morning team while Fox4 at the same time is forced to make a change. And cellar-dwelling CBS11 has been ever-so-slowly creeping up on WFAA8, which is closer to fourth than first place as springtime nears.

Fox4 management has declined to answer phone calls about Henderson's departure. But as noted previously in these spaces, Henderson herself replaced established incumbent Julia Somers (now Julie Summers at Miami's WPLG-TV) in August 2003 without any undue harm to Fox4's ratings picture.

Don't discount incumbent Tim Ryan either. He's been at the Good Day controls since September 1995, and will remain in place to welcome -- or maybe distance himself -- from whoever ends up sitting beside him. Going in-house (to Natalie Solis or Krystle Gutierrez) or elsewhere obviously will be a key decision for Fox4. But Ryan is far more than a leftover lug nut.

In fact, WFAA8 has hired Flanagan with an eye toward adding a more "mature," yet nimble-witted presence to its morning team. Coltish Cynthia Izaguirre, just a bit past her first year as Daybreak's co-anchor, needs someone to play with. But the show also could use a leading man with a little tread on his tire. Flanagan won't be a father figure, but he could serve as Izaguirre's older brother. Whatever happens, the station hopes to stay the course for at least a few years after a year in which Justin Farmer, Brad Hawkins and Jeff Brady all have sat beside Izaguirre. Rolling rrrrrrrs and all.

Over at CBS11, veteran Scott Sams and co-anchor Ginger Allen are getting a nice assist from congenial meteorologist Jeff Jamison, who was deployed to early mornings after Julia Bologna headed back to her hometown of Pittsburgh last year.

Jamison gets out there and does stuff on occasion, but his fun from-the-field reports haven't rendered him a wacky weathercaster. He's a good new addition to a show that's been ratings-starved since its inception, in no small part because the following CBS Early Show has been terminally in the dumper.

Whatever happens, NBC5 lately has the best chance to establish a yawning gap between its early morning show and the others. Ferguson, Higgins, Dombeck and Lopez should be a prime focus of station promotion in the coming months. There's hay to be made while their principal rivals re-seed.

Bare market: pal o' mine Michael Precker gets national exposure for himself, The Lodge

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Ya gotta eat: Ex-DMNer and ongoing pal Michael Precker talked about life at The Lodge last week on D.L. Hughley's CNN show.

And here all I've still got is this lousy Web site.

Meanwhile, former Dallas Morning News colleague Michael Precker, who remains a good friend, has gone national in his capacity as co-manager of The Lodge gentlemen's club, where he also bills himself as "writer-in-residence."

Michael recently was the subject of a Wall Street Journal article on offbeat career turns for former newspaper reporters. This led to a guest shot over the weekend on CNN's D.L. Hughley Breaks the News

"You're the Wolf Blitzer of thongs," Hughley told him at one point.

"We have our own Situation Room," Michael riposted.

He encouraged Hughley to drop in sometime to sample The Lodge's first-class food, drink and other niceties. And Michael promised to be as discreet with Hughley as he would be with George W. Bush, who now lives a few miles down the street.

"He would certainly be welcome," Michael said when Hughley asked if the ex-prez might be eligible for a free lap dance. "We are bi-partisan. Mr. Clinton would be equally welcome."

Hughley seemed to like that answer, and promised to drop in the next time he's in Dallas. He'd be in good hands. Here's the clip, which is preceded by a brief commercial:

Henderson leaving Good Day, heading West (updated)


As anticipated, Megan Henderson is leaving Dallas-based Fox4's Good Day to take a position at KTLA-TV in Los Angeles.

Her last day as the show's co-anchor will be Friday, Henderson said in an email to unclebarky.com Monday morning.

"This was, hands down, the toughest professional decision I have ever made," Henderson said. "Leaving behind friends/colleagues you love and respect is never easy. I cannot say enough good things about my experience at Fox4, or about this wonderful community. I am beyond grateful for my time here. North Texas will always be my second home."

Henderson, who grew up in San Clemente, CA, will be a morning anchor/reporter at KTLA, which is owned by Tribune.

"I hope it's a good move. I'm giving up so many wonderful things here," she said. "But I just couldn't turn down the chance to be closer to my family. These types of opportunities don't come around very often in L.A. I am absolutely thrilled to be going to the station I grew up watching . . . It really is a dream come true for me in many ways."

Henderson joined Fox4 as Good Day anchor in August 2003, teaming with incumbent Tim Ryan, who remains.

No replacement for Henderson has been named yet, and Fox4 news director Maria Barrs has not returned phone calls asking for comment. Fox4 comfortably won the 6 a.m. early morning ratings in the November sweeps, but lately has been battling with NBC5 for the top spot. That station's team of Brendan Higgins and Deborah Ferguson will easily be the longest-standing early morning anchor duo in D-FW.

WFAA8, currently in third place, has a new anchor, Chris Flanagan, arriving from a Des Moines, Iowa station early next month.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Feb. 20-22) -- special Oscars edition

ABC's three-and-a-half-hour Oscar-cast (7:30 to 11 p.m.) obviously dominated the Sunday night landscape. But how did it do with various D-FW audience groups? Here's a breakdown:

Total Viewers -- 677,586
18-to-49-Year-Old Women -- 174,867
18-to-49-Year-Old Men -- 116,309
18-to-34-Year-Olds -- 128,022
12-to-17-Year-Olds -- 27,000
55 Years and Older -- 330,480

Or to put it another way, the Oscars still skew pretty old, no matter who's hosting. And substantially more women watch than men in the key 18-to-49 advertiser target audience.

Barbara Walters' annual Oscar warmup hour didn't fare nearly as well, drawing 179,361 viewers from 6 to 7 p.m. to tie Fox's competing Sprint Cup race for a close second behind CBS' 60 Minutes (186,004 viewers).

The most-watched network attraction opposite the Oscars, NBC's two-hour dose of Top 100 Most Outrageous Moments 2, averaged 192,647 total viewers from 8 to 10 p.m. NBC5's 10 p.m. newscast fared the best overall against the Oscars, drawing 239,148 viewers.

On Friday night, Fox's second episode of Dollhouse clunked in the 8 p.m. hour with just 73,073 viewers. That put it sixth in a time slot won by CBS' Flashpoint with 225,862 viewers. Dollhouse also was beaten, in order of finish, by NBC's Friday Night Lights (yay!), MY27's Friday Night Smackdown!, ABC's Supernanny and TXA21's Dallas Mavericks-Sacramento Kings game.

Dollhouse inched up to fourth place among 18-to-49-year-olds, with Flashpoint again on top followed by Friday Night Lights and Supernanny in a second-place tie.

In Friday's local news derby, CBS11 nipped WFAA8 for the total viewers lead at 10 p.m., but in turn was edged by NBC5 among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

The Peacock inched past Fox4 at 6 a.m. in both ratings measurements and likewise ran the table by narrow margins at 5 p.m.

WFAA8 had its lone win at 6 p.m. in total viewers, but was edged by NBC5 in the 25-to-54 Nielsens.

Bark bow wows at "Pete's Tweets"

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Shame of the city?: grown men "tweeting" on wfaa.com

Perhaps the apocalypse is nigh -- or at least in the neighborhood -- when the reigning weather and sports anchors in the No. 5 market's most-watched 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts see fit to Twitter about the latter's surgical "procedure."

Dallas-based WFAA8's Pete Delkus and Dale Hansen also have chattered about it on the air. And for the record, said procedure is sports anchor Hansen's run-of-the-mill colonoscopy this week, which is keeping him off the air for a few days.

"Well, sounds like Dale isn't so full of it tonight! LOL," YellowRose43 twittered Wednesday to the "Pete's Tweets" section of wfaa.com.

"You got that right!" Pete tweeted back.

Tweeting via Twitter is one of the newer forms of social networking. Whatever you have to say has to be said in 140 characters or less, which means that this paragraph has just exceeded the limit.

Being actively involved with Twitter is supposed to build "relationships" and increase traffic to your station or Web site. In this particular pursuit, deep thoughts are both discouraged and, for the most part, impossible. As when Pete tweeted, "Now that's funny!! after "shpwrckd" said, "Sweet mother of God. if the 'procedure' is shown my eyes will run away."

This particular thread of conversation began with "KimArr asking Pete," So is Dale going to live-tweet his procedure? That's what all the cool kids do." To which Pete tweeted, "None of us want to see his 'procedure.' Nasty!!"

Hansen, much to Delkus' on-air and on-line merriment, chirped a tweet of his own the other day. Pete linked to it after tweeting, "Check this out . . . I can't believe the old man is going to tweet!!! Maybe hell is freezing over!!"

The Hansen tweet -- and we're reprinting his extra vowel movements -- went like this: "im off the rest of the week for a proooceeeduure . . . back sunday for an oscar shortened version of sports special."

Your friendly content provider is neither a tweeter nor a "live blogger," which perhaps makes unclebarky.com the Internet equivalent of a buckboard at NASCAR. But seriously, is this what it takes to make friends and influence people?

Meanwhile, I hope Hansen's colonoscopy goes well, even though it's lately become the butt of Pete's Tweets. As has the mere fact of Hansen tweeting. So much so that Pete tweeted Tuesday, "I'm going to read some of your tweets on the air at 10 p.m. tonight about Hansen tweeting. thanks for the ammo."

A little birdy tells me that grown men aren't supposed to act this way. Then again, this is coming from someone whose alter ego is Uncle Barky. FYI, this final rumination also has just violated its Twitter max. Bad boy.

The problem is not with your set: Fox4 finally makes it a high-definition foursome

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Let the record show that Fox4 at last went to high-definition local newscasts with the Wednesday, Feb. 18th noon edition.

The Dallas-based station did so seamlessly and without any technical glitches or promotional fanfare. The only indicator to viewers -- besides the crystal-clear, widescreen pictures -- was a rotating "Fox HD" symbol in the lower left-hand corner.

Making history, but without calling any attention to it, were anchor Dan Godwin, weathercaster Fiona Gorostiza and reporter Adrian Arambulo, who filed the first live report -- on the three-year-old girl from Argyle who died after falling into a septic tank.

Many viewers will first notice the difference on Wednesday's 9 p.m. newscast, whose widescreen pictures finally will be a match for the Fox network programming preceding it.

Fox4 also has widescreen pictures from the field, although some file footage is still in the older, square-boxed analog format. That leaves NBC5 as the only HD newscaster in D-FW without the capability to show full-screen pictures from outside the studio.

Fox4 made the switch to HD on the day after a much-publicized Feb. 17th national digital conversion that was pushed back to June 12th earlier this month.

WFAA8 was the HD pacesetter in D-FW, switching over on Feb. 2, 2007 after a big promotional campaign.

NBC5 made the switch on Sept. 7, 2007 and CBS11 made it a threesome on Sept. 23rd of that year.

New anchors debut on The 33, which otherwise houses the same old "stories"

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Walt Maciborski and Amanda Salinas debuted on The 33 Monday.

Presenting the new faces of The 33's 9 p.m. news -- and Facebook, too, of course.

Anchors Walt Maciborski (pronounced MACK-iborski) and Amanda Salinas signed on as Dallas-based KDAF-TV's incoming anchor duo Monday night.

The malaprop-prone Maciborski looks as though he might be good for a few laughs. He also shows a willingness to laugh at his own brand of humor.

Salinas seemed mostly deferential for starters, but has a nice smile. It's early, though, and both anchors are still feeling their way through an hour-long newscast that still mostly measures up to one of the CW-affililated station's signature shows -- Smallville.

On Monday's newscast, departing reporter Norris Deajon's piece on "Finding work through Facebook" was the top-billed attraction. That's hardly surprising. Facebook stories have become ever-present on The 33, where the CW network's prime-time target audience is 18-to-34-year-olds.

That puts new University of North Texas grad Pelpina Trip near the top of the pecking order with her nightly Web-cruising "Pelpina's Picks" segments, during which she invariably touts a "Facebook application." Maciborski gamely teased Monday's dollop, but forgot a consonant in saying, "If you are ready to learn another language, you have a lot of option (sic) these days."

Trip happily trumpeted the joys of "learning a new language in your bathrobe" before wondering aloud, "So who needs books and classrooms? It looks like the Internet and Skype are the new ways to learn a language."

That's the spirit. Go to hell, higher ed.

The newscast segued from that observation to a story on how the Jonas Brothers had surprised a band called Honor Society at a concert in New York City. Maciborski then tried to get jiggy.

"Those guys just go, er, girls, go crazy over those Jonas Brothers," he noted.

Washington-based Tribune reporter Sabrina Fang then was introduced as "Saprina" before Maciborski outdid himself while bantering with meteorologist Rebecca Miller.

"It was chilly this morning waking up at the bus stop," he said, prompting a brief pause by all concerned. Maciborski then regrouped. "I didn't wake up at the bus stop, but once I got there it was cold."

Oh, but we kid Big Walt, who earlier told viewers, "New research says beef should be the cause of global warming. What?" He likely meant to say "could be the cause."

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Old-schooler Barry Carpenter; newcomers Pelpina Trip, Roni Proter

Monday's newscast also included another nightly informercial from entertainment/lifestyles reporter Roni Proter, this one on a Frisco store that sells "all the rage" see-through backpacks at 80 bucks a pop. Another recent edition to The 33 news team, Aaron Smith, later contributed an infomercial about a place that sells discount designer garb.

In Maciborski's defense, he made a decent everyman inquiry after the trendy backpack story, asking whether GI Joe or Star Wars versions were available. But Proter basically flicked him off with an unequivocal no that made the poor guy seem more out of touch than a Rice a Roni side dish at Club de la Lucre.

Monday's newscast, with Salinas doing the honors, also reported that, "On Wall Street, the Dow fell 82 points today." Um, that was on Friday. The stock market was closed Monday in deference to President's Day.

Arrrgh, the arrival of Maciborski and Salinas unfortunately hasn't meant the departure of "The Rant." It's arguably the reigning Mickey Mouse-iest feature in any top 10 news market. And the selected viewer comments -- on a big night there might be four -- have yet to be worth the time it takes to read them. Or in Maciborski's case, transform this -- "I saw that flying thing yesterday, too. I don't think it was a meteor" -- into this -- "I saw that thing flying yesterday, too. I don't think it was a meteor."

So was there anything worth watching Monday night?

Well, reporter Shana Franklin had a decent enough story on falling North Texas rent prices during the ongoing economic death spiral. And late in the newscast, veteran reporter Barry Carpenter had a nice little heartwarmer on post-surgery "music therapy" treatments for kids. Maciborski seemed to have a bit of a commitment issue with Carpenter's story, although as usual he didn't quite mean it that way.

"Barry, this is probably one of my favorite stories of the night," he told Carpenter, who haltingly replied, "I appreciate that."

Carpenter, clearly not a Facebook kinda guy, has been hangin' in there at The 33 since joining the station in December 1999. He's a capable journalist who deserves a better forum for his work.

But as Carpenter well knows, reporters with any mileage on them clearly are an endangered species at a station whose Web site lately is advertising for a pair of "backpack journalists."

"Ready to make your mark without all the baggage of traditional broadcast journalism?" The 33 asks. "Check us out. We're looking for an aggressive backpack journalist with a knack for spotting fresh stories that people will buzz about . . . We're looking for someone who's ready to run, not walk. Show us how you use a video camera as a reporter's notebook, producing pieces that work on air as well as online. Wow us with plans for making the Internet an integral part of our news presentation."

And that's the way it is. Or as a latter day Uncle Walt told viewers Monday night, "I know this is a family show, but most women will do anything to get 'em."

Maciborski was teasing a story about a new prescription drug that may lengthen eyelashes. But of course.

NBC5 tabs former NBC Weather Plus forecaster to replace departing Aydelott


D-FW-based NBC5 has hired Samantha Davies to replace meteorologist James Aydelott, who as previously reported is joining KOKI-TV of Tulsa as its featured forecaster.

Aydelott, who joined NBC5 in June 2005, stayed at the station longer than expected while his replacement was sought. His official last day now will be Feb. 25th. He's then scheduled to start at KOKI on the following day.

Davies worked for NBC Weather Plus. which was folded on Dec. 31 of last year after the network's purchase of The Weather Channel was finalized. She also has worked at WKAG-TV in Hopkinsville, KY and and WSIL-TV in Harrisburg, IL.

Davies' arrival will make NBC5 the only D-FW station with two female weathercasters. Jennifer Lopez has worked the early morning shift since June of last year.

Rebecca Miller, whom Lopez replaced at NBC5, is now the featured forecaster at The 33. And CBS11 still employs Kristine Kahanek, who primarily does the 4 p.m. newscast after being replaced as the station's principal weathercaster by Larry Mowry.

Fox4 recently hired Fiona Gorostiza as a member of its weather team. She fills a spot vacated by Maria Sotolongo, who wanted to spend more time with her baby daughter.

And Jennifer Schack joined WFAA8 last fall after weekend weathercaster Meghan Danahey left the station to become the weekday early morning forecaster at Austin's KVUE-TV. Both stations are owned by Dallas-based Belo Corp.

By the way, Danahey recently has branched out as a dancer -- at least at charitable events.

"Let me tell you, sweetheart, my barometric pressure is rising right now," a judge told her after she performed at a Dancing with the Stars-themed competition.

KVUE thoughtfully has preserved Danahey's performance on its Web site. So here you go:

WFAA8's Izaguirre shouldn't have to renounce her tough-to-pronounce surname


You don't have to roll any Rs to say Bark.

It's a pretty guttural surname, and is spoken just the way it looks. In other words, it's not "Bear-r-r-r-r-rk," as Craig Ferguson would say, and in fact once did.

WFAA8 Daybreak co-anchor Cynthia Izaguirre can't say as much. Since joining the station in January of last year, she's been pronouncing her surname with an R roll that many of us just can't pull off. That includes a majority of her colleagues at WFAA8.

"It is a Spanish last name. My parents are from Ecuador, and it's always been a hard name to pronounce," Izaguirre says in a WFAA8 videoblog that went up on Feb. 6th and was noted yesterday on D Magazine's FrontBurner blog.

Because of continued viewer resistance, Izaguirre says she's decided to pronounce her surname in what essentially is the Anglo way. But you can see and feel her frustration when she says, "What I'm trying to do . . . is not say it the way it should be said so that you can understand it. Many of you have said, 'Say it the American way.' Well, there is no American way to say Izaguirre. I'm a proud American with a Spanish last name."

Izaguirre first addressed her surname on her very first Daybreak show -- Jan. 4, 2008.

"It's easy," she told then co-anchor Justin Farmer, who's now at WSB-TV in Atlanta. "Just break it down phonetically. EE-SAH-GEE-REH. O.K. . . . maybe not so easy!"

In my review of her first day, I wrote in part, "It's not easy being Izaguirre in an early morning world of easily rendered Ryans, Fergusons, Fields, Hendersons, Allens and Sams.

Other than Daybreak weathercaster Greg Fields, those are the surnames of some of Izaguirre's early morning competitors. And in the early morning ratings race, only CBS11's duo of Scott Sams and Ginger Allen currently ranks behind Daybreak, which on most days finishes third behind Fox4 and NBC5.

There are some serious dollars at stake in the early mornings, which still have an audience growth curve compared to other dayparts. Many of these viewers also are gainfully employed and within the 25-to-54-year-old advertiser target demographic for news programming. So anything that might be a viewer turnoff is taken very seriously, especially in a dreadful economy.

Still, it's a shame it's come to this. I can speak from experience that it's not always fun having an easily targeted last name, even if no one has any problem pronouncing it.

Izaguirre, in her blog, noted that she stopped rolling the Rs in her family name as a middle schooler because some of her classmates didn't get it. But her father reproached her for mispronouncing Izaguirre. So she went back to saying it the correct way, "un-Americanized" or not.

"But now I do want to pronounce it in a way that all of you understand it," she says. "So I hope it works."

Maybe it has nothing to do with pronunciation. Maybe Izaguirre herself isn't registering with viewers after being touted on billboards, buses and on-air promotions as a Dallas-raised kid proclaiming, "I'm from here and I'm for here."

Her rotating Daybreak co-anchors also might have more than a little to do with the program's increasingly problematic ratings. Since Farmer's departure in early August, Izaguirre has been joined by Brad Hawkins (who left WFAA8 in late December to take a PR position with Southwest Airlines) and Jeff Brady (who's leaving in early March to start his own PR firm).

Both Hawkins and Brady were plucked from in-house and viewed as interim replacements. Seeking stability, WFAA8 recently hired Chris Flanagan from Des Moines, Iowa, to co-anchor Daybreak with Izaguirre. He'll likely be in the saddle by early March.

Meanwhile, Izaguirre apparently will be yielding to pressure from some quarters to do things "the American way." Were I her, I'd instead tell viewers, "I hope you'll understand that the way I pronounce my name isn't an affectation or a gimmick. It's the name I was born with, and my father has always told me to pronounce it correctly and with pride. And so I honor him by doing so. It's as simple as that."

Once upon a time we lived in a country where Roberto Clemente had to become "Bob" Clemente on baseball cards and in newspaper accounts because that was the so-called American way of doing things.

In 2009 -- and in a D-FW viewing area with a heavy Hispanic population -- Cynthia Izaguirre shouldn't have to Americanize her surname to placate anybody. That includes viewers sending her emails or ruinous "focus groups" that already have taken too many media companies down self-destructive paths.

I've always wished I could roll my Rs, because frankly it sounds pretty cool. So I'll probably never be able to pronounce Izaguirre properly. That doesn't mean that she shouldn't.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Feb. 10) -- viewers flock to severe weather coverage

NBC5's decision to stick with Dateline in the face of Tuesday's severe D-FW weather left it in a ratings ditch from 9 to 10 p.m.

While Fox4, WFAA8 and CBS11 went into super storm modes, the Peacock aired Ann Curry's extended interview with controversial "octa-mom" Nadya Suleman. Its weather coverage was confined to commercial breaks. Here's how it played out in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

CBS11 weather coverage (in place of Without A Trace) -- 425,152
Fox4's 9 p.m. newscast (with wall-to-wall weather coverage) -- 405,223
WFAA8's weather coverage (in place of ABC's True Beauty) -- 259,077
Dateline -- 205,933

Fox4's 9 p.m. news -- 233,718
CBS11 weather coverage -- 185,153
WFAA8 weather coverage -- 127,483
Dateline -- 118,377

Footnote: "The 33's" 9 p.m. local newscast wasn't much of a player with just 33,215 viewers for the hour. But a pretty high percentage -- 24,282 -- were in the 25-to-54 age range.

WFAA8 recovered at 10 p.m. to top the four-way local newscast field with 345,436 total viewers and 179,083 in the 25-to-54 age range. CBS11 ran a close second in total viewers (332,150) while Fox4 was the runnerup with 25-to-54-year-olds (154,800). NBC5 ran last in both measurements.

Earlier Tuesday night, Fox's American Idol won as usual at 7 p.m. with 544,726 total viewers to hold off CBS' competing NCIS (418,509 viewers).

But the tables turned at 8 p.m., where CBS' The Mentalist gave CBS11 an Idol-like lead-in (544,726 viewers) for its 9 p.m. weather coverage while Fox's Fringe drooped to a distant second with 212,576 viewers. ABC's back-to-back episodes of Scrubs barely registered with 79,716 viewers apiece while the second hour of NBC's The Biggest Loser weighed in third with 205,933 viewers.

The Peacock otherwise had a big day in the other three local newscast competitions. For the first time in recent memory, NBC5 swept the 6 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m. Nielsens in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds. That hasn't happened since unclebarky.com booted up on Sept. 17, 2006. So congrats.

Another goner at "The 33"


The turbulence continues inside "The 33" newsroom, where reporter Norris Deajon is the latest to depart.

Deajon, a University of Texas at Austin grad, joined the Dallas-based station several years ago from WPEC-TV in West Palm Beach, Fla. His first job in TV news was at KBMT-TV in Beaumont.

The CW-affiliated, Tribune-owned station has been getting an ongoing makeover from news director David Duitch, who took that position last summer.

Duitch also has been hiring. His new 9 p.m. news anchors, Amanda Salinas and Walt Maciborski, were announced last week and are already in D-FW. Their on-air debut, according to sources, will be late this week or early the next. Longtime anchors Terri Chappell and Tom Crespo were dropped to make room for them.

Heavy wind, rain, hail blow out parts of Tuesday's prime-time lineup

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Weather ramifications pictured on the Fox4 and WFAA8 Web sites.

Severe and sometimes damaging weather swept through the D-FW viewing area Tuesday night, prompting WFAA8 and CBS11 to wipe out their 9 p.m. network programming as the storms hit Dallas County.

It was no big loss for WFAA8, which coughed up an episode of the ratings-starved ABC reality series True Beauty. CBS11 on the other hand sacrificed a new episode of Without A Trace.

Fox4 had its regularly scheduled 9 p.m. local newscast in play, but NBC5 restricted its weather coverage to updates during commercial breaks from Dateline's exclusive interview with so-called "octo-mom" Nadya Suleman. Wouldn't want to miss that. Or would we?

WFAA8 had the most vivid coverage, particularly when its HD Chopper 8 and pilot Troy Bush hovered live over some badly damaged homes in Colleyville. As previously posted, Fox4, NBC5 and CBS11 all grounded their in-house pilots in early January.

The three stations now rely on lease arrangements with Garland-based Sky Helicopters, Inc., and none had overhead pictures of the Colleyville damage during prime-time and late night TV coverage Tuesday. Their ground-level reports couldn't match the big picture power of WFAA8's Bush-narrated chopper pics, although the station milked them perhaps more than necessary before signing off at 11:06 p.m. after preempting ABC's Nightline.

NBC5 not only left Dateline in place, but went to NBC's Tonight Show at the usual 10:35 p.m. time. Fox4 waited until about 10:39 p.m. to yield to TMZ, which usually starts at 10:30 p.m. And CBS11 went 10 minutes late to Late Show with David Letterman, which nonetheless aired in its entirety.

All of the stations' weathermen got down to their hard-workin' shirtsleeves, save for Fox4's Dan Henry, who remained tightly buttoned in a dark blue suitcoat.

NBC5 went without signature meteorologist David Finfrock, leaving its angry looking weather maps in the hands of Steve MacLaughlin and James Aydelott, who's scheduled to take a new post later this month as the featured forecaster at KOKI-TV, Tulsa's Fox affiliate.

WFAA8 weatherman Pete Delkus went it alone as usual while CBS11's Larry Mowry occasionally used Kristine Kahanek as his wingwoman. Longtime meteorologist Ron Jackson chipped in on Fox4. Rebecca Miller and Bob Goosmann tag-teamed over on The 33.

The pinpoint accuracy of today's weather technology sometimes still amazes. At 9:57 p.m., for instance, Delkus told viewers that the night's heavy rain and wind were "now in Garland and Richardson. Let's zoom in there."

Just as he said this, the bad weather indeed swooped in on unclebarky.com central in Garland, sending Snickers the cat scurrying for her usual cover. But as with most areas, it came and went in a pretty big hurry.

WFAA8 reporter Gary Reaves, wearing a wet suit in downtown Dallas, had the line of the night.

"I'll stand out here through pea size," he said of the hail beginning to fall. "We start getting quarter and half dollar, I'm gonna bail."

Knowing when to bail out or cut in is invariably a tough call on nights such as these. Severe weather builds newscast ratings, as has been noted often in these spaces. But when a station preempts a prime-time network program, the coverage invariably is commercial-free.

So whatever audience they drew -- we'll get those details to you when they're available -- Tuesday's 9 to 10 p.m. weather-athons on WFAA8 and CBS11 weren't moneymakers. They were brand-builders, though. And even the sourest among us might concede that the public interest also was served on a fairly scary night.

Romo on receiving end of Laufenberg's head slaps

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CBS11 sports anchor Babe Laufenberg and squeezable Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo aired it out late Sunday night at a neutral site.

Rather than go to Romo's home or Laufenberg's studio, they went one-on-one at the Four Seasons in Las Colinas. No free bar, though.

Laufenberg's The Score, delayed until nearly 11 p.m. by the three-and-a-half-hour Grammy Awards ceremony, regularly delves into Cowboys' topics large and small. And exclusives can be a bit easier to come by when you're also the paid-by-the-team analyst for Cowboys' radio broadcasts, as WFAA8's Dale Hansen was for years until owner Jerry Jones finally lowered the guillotine.

That said, Laufenberg asked appropriately hard questions of Romo during their extended and heavily promoted sit-down. But Romo, whose mug and twiddling thumbs were captured in extreme closeup throughout, may not have inspired overwhelming confidence in his ability to lead the Cowboys to those Super Bowl promised lands. The fire in his belly seemingly could still stand a few bellow shots.

Romo joked that if the day comes when he sucks, then Laufenberg could replace him.

"For the record, if you get replaced by me, you'd really suck," the Babe rejoined.

He's got that right. As the injured Troy Aikman's backup at the end of the 1990 season, Laufenberg made Brad Johnson seem like Johnny Unitas in the Cowboys' final game against the then 4-11 Atlanta Falcons. Needing a win to make the playoffs, he went a miserable 10 of 24 with two interceptions and three sacks in a 26-7 loss. It's not known how the post-game press conference went, but the Babe was known as an amiable jokester during his NFL daze with the Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints, San Diego Chargers and Cowboys.

"We'd only be able to talk about your career for about five minutes," Romo retorted after Laufenberg asked, "Do you wanna switch chairs?"

Laufenberg did note that he's the guy who told Troy Aikman that Romo in fact had the credentials to be a topflight NFL quarterback.

"Ask him," Laufenberg challenged.

"I appreciate it," said a grinning Romo.

The 2009 Cowboys will "work our butts off," take practice more seriously and "give 100 percent every time we're out there," Romo said at various times. But his body language still seemed more like creamed corn than tempered steel.

The Cowboys will try hard, but "it's unrealistic to think you're going to win seven titles in a row," Romo said. One or two Super Bowls in a 10-year career would be good, he added. That's probably not what owner Jerry Jones wants to hear.

Meanwhile, Romo's girlfriend, the much-maligned Jessica Simpson, is scheduled to appear live on Wednesday's edition of CBS' The Early Show, where she'll perform her new single "Pray Out Loud" while also helping to announce nominees for the Academy of Country Music Awards. It'll be her first TV appearance since the "recent publication of controversial pictures," says a CBS publicity release, referring to Simpson's alleged recent weight gains.

Laufenberg asked Romo about Simpson, wondering "Who has it worse?"

Romo said that she probably takes criticism more personally than he does. "I'm a guy so I'm probably a little more emotionless."

Try as he might, Laufenberg couldn't bring Romo to a boil emotionally. That left Sunday night's big, ballyhooed interview at a less than crowd-pleasing simmer.

This just in: You're fired. Period. End of story

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Oh, the humanity.

It's funny/sad how TV news operations -- both locally and nationally -- hail the arrivals of newcomers while dumping unwanted anchors and reporters with nary a word on their behalf. Garbage gets more of a sendoff.

Take Dallas-based KDAF-TV (Ch. 33), for instance. Recently deposed anchors Terri Chappell and Tom Crespo were by no means the greatest TV news personalities ever to hit the D-FW market. At best they were capable custodians of a 9 p.m. nightly newscast with very limited resources compared to the bigger, brighter shows on Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11.

Still, Chappell and Crespo endured for a decade on a one-hour program with lower overheads than limbo competitions. Nobody guaranteed them lifetime employment. And both knew they served at the pleasure of the latest news director. Changes are expected when a new guy takes charge, as David Duitch did last summer. All bosses aren't bad and all anchors aren't saints.

What invariably happens, though, is what happened to Chappell and Crespo. Both simply disappeared from the station's web site "News Team." Attempts to verify their departures were then met with stone cold silence at management's end. Not even a "No comment" could be mustered.

Duitch didn't return phone calls because, of course, he had nothing to say. Crespo vanished from view less than 24 hours before his replacement, Walt Maciborski, was announced in glowing terms via a station press release Thursday. Chappell's successor, Amanda Salinas, was anointed on the same day.

Both Crespo and Chappell got word of their evictions on what also became their last days of work at "The 33." On-air goodbyes are out of the question under such circumstances. But couldn't management at least have said something on the order of: "Tom (Terri) were valued contributors for many years here at 'The 33.' We felt the need to make some changes in our newscast as we head in a new direction. But at the same time, we wish Tom (Terri) well in any and all of their future endeavors."

Instead viewers are left to wonder what happened while your friendly content contributor at unclebarky.com tries in vain to get any kind of response from management. Frankly, it's a pretty gutless way to treat people. But you know how TV stations can be about "personnel matters." Today's valued, trusted member of the (fill-in-the-blank) "family," who's "looking out for you," is suddenly a non-person when the ax falls.

Meanwhile, the new hires are depicted as Jesuses riding into view on Palm Sunday. Let the hosannas begin in press releases hailing their arrivals later this month.

"It's a pleasure to have someone with Walt's diverse background join The 33 news team as co-anchor," Duitch says of Maciborski, who's blowing in from WFTS-TV in Tampa, Fla. "He is equally strong as a reporter and anchor, and already has a list of great stories he wants to share with our viewers."

Lucky us.

Salinas used to co-host WFAA8's now defunct La Vida program while Duitch was still news director at that station. She also anchored on occasion at TXCN before eventually landing at WPBF-TV in West Palm Beach, Fla.

"We are thrilled to have someone with Amanda's background join The 33 news team," Duitch enthused. "Her roots are in Texas and her experience covering stories from major weather events to historic presidential elections will be a benefit for our viewers."

Be still my heart.

Look, every newcomer deserves a chance, and Salinas and Maciborski will be treated fairly in these spaces.

That said, Crespo and Chappell should have been let go with at least a bare shred of dignity. Even their replacements would agree with that. Because someday . . .

No more Brady bunch at WFAA8: anchor decides to chart new course


WFAA8 anchor/reporter Jeff Brady has decided to leave the station and fly his own banner as the head of Brady Media Group.

His last day will be March 6th.

"It wasn't a divorce. It was an amicable split," WFAA8 news director Michael Valentine said in a telephone interview Thursday after Brady informed him of his decision to leave. "I'm very proud of the work Jeff did here, and I wish nothing but the best for him."

Brady, who joined WFAA8 as a weekend anchor in July 2000, has been filling in on the early morning Daybreak program after Brad Hawkins left the station in December to take a PR job with Dallas-based Southwest Airlines. He otherwise had been anchoring WFAA8's 5 p.m. weekday newscasts.

"I'm 45, and this has been quite frankly the most difficult adult decision I've ever made," Brady said by telephone. "It is 95 percent about Jeff Brady and me casting a vision of where I want to be as a professional, as a dad and as a husband 20 years from now.

"I just kind of drew the lines, connected the dots and said that if I'm going to get there, I've got to make some radical changes now. It sounds hokey, but that's what it's all about. It is bar none the most radical thing I've ever done, because I love this profession and I love the people here. I think people from the outside are going to say, 'Brady, you're nuts.' It's scary as hell, and it's intimidating."

Brady, who has three children with his wife, Dr. Wesley Brady, said he "did some serious navel-gazing last year" after doing a number of stories about "technology and entrepreneurial things, and people who are planting the flag and trying to make a go of it."

His new company will advise clients on developing new digital media content, he said. "I realize I don't need a hundred clients. I just need a handful who need help. I see me as coming in and kind of providing a coaching service."

John McCaa and Gloria Campos, who co-anchor WFAA8's weeknight 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts, had been doing the 5 p.m. program as well while Brady pinch-hits on Daybreak before new hire Chris Flanagan arrives from a Des Moines, Iowa TV station later this month.

"I think we'll look long and hard at the 5 o'clock and determine if we need to add an anchor on that show," Valentine said. "John and Gloria have been great in their willingness to do it, but that doesn't necessarily mean that's the way we're going to go."

WFAA8's 5 p.m. ratings have been sagging in recent weeks, in part because of seriously decaying ratings for the 4 p.m. Oprah Winfrey Show. Brady's departure comes just several months after his former 5 p.m. newscast co-anchor, Macie Jepson, was laid off by the station.

Media consulting is getting to be a crowded field of late, with former Fox4 reporter Jeff Crilley and former NBC5 reporter Susan Risdon also forming their own companies in the past year and a half.

"I certainly can't tell you I've got everything figured out," Brady said. "But I'm really excited about what's ahead and what opportunities are out there."

"The 33" tabs two new anchors

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New anchors at "The 33" -- Amanda Salinas and Walt Maciborski

KDAF-TV (Channel 33) has named 9 p.m. newscast replacements for deposed anchors Terri Chappelle and Tom Crespo on the day after the latter was dropped.

As previously reported on unclebarky.com, one of them is Amanda Salinas, who previously hosted WFAA8's since cancelled La Vida before leaving the Dallas-based ABC affiliate in mid-summer 2004. She arrives from WPBF-TV, the ABC station in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Also joining "The 33" is Walt Maciborski, who joins the station from ABC's Tampa, Fla. affiliate, WFTS-TV. Maciborski previously worked at KVUE-TV in Austin.

Both hires were offiicially announced Thursday by news director David Duitch, who took that post last July and has been making a number of changes in recent months. He formerly was news director at WFAA8.

"We are thrilled to have someone with Amanda's background join The 33 news team," Duitch said of Salinas, a University of Texas at Austin graduate who grew up in Laredo. "Her roots are in Texas and her experience covering stories from major weather events to historic presidential elections will be a benefit for our viewers."

Maciborski is "equally strong as a reporter and anchor, and already has a list of great stories he wants to share with our viewers," Duitch said.

Salinas and Maciborski will begin co-anchoring The 33's 9 p.m. weeknight newscasts "later this month," according to the station's announcement.

Anchor Tom Crespo dealt out at "The 33"


Another shoe has dropped at "The 33" (KDAF-TV), where veteran anchor Tom Crespo was let go Wednesday.

News director David Duitch could not immediately be reached for comment and Crespo declined to be interviewed Wednesday. But a surefire sign of Crespo's departure is his removal from the station's Web site. Like several others in recent months, his picture and bio have vanished.

Crespo had teamed with Terri Chappell as the principal anchor team for The 33's 9 p.m. weeknight newscasts. But Chappell was dropped in early December by Duitch, who became news director last July.

Crespo joined KDAF in 1998 from Fox affiliate WAWS-TV in Jacksonville, Fla.

Reporter Michael Rey, sports anchor Bob Irzyk, weekend weatherman Fred Barnhill and entertainment reporter Victoria Snee also have left by choice or otherwise during Duitch's tenure. And meteorologist Bob Goosmann, previously the featured weeknight forecaster, is now on weekends, with former NBC5 meteorologist Rebecca Miller replacing him.

As previously reported, Duitch also has added Roni Proter, Aaron Smith and Pelpina Trip to the staff as either full- or part-time reporters. Reliable sources say he also will be announcing the hire of Amanda Salinas, former host of WFAA8's now defunct La Vida, as an anchor-reporter.

The only news anchors currently left at "The 33," which also does weekend newscasts, are Jim Grimes and Dawn Tongish.

Storyteller: WFAA8's Jim Douglas hits home with a memorable heart-tugger

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Few if any street reporters are better -- or more enterprising -- than WFAA8's Jim Douglas.

More seasoned than an old wine barrel, he's been on the North Texas TV beat since 1985, when he joined KXAS-TV (Channel 5) en route to WFAA8 a decade later.

Douglas still does the necessary dirty work, repeatedly reporting from the not-so-great outdoors during last week's big freeze. But it's his one-of-a-kind stories that resonate. And on Tuesday's 10 p.m. newscast, Douglas hit home with a heart-rending story on the human cost of euthanizing unwanted or abandoned animals.

Anchor John McCaa first warned viewers of "images that might be difficult to watch." Viewers then were introduced to a chihuahua being cradled by its reluctant executioner.

"This is Baby Boy," Douglas said. "By the end of this story he'll be dead. As will his sister, Rosebud."

That kind of gets your attention. Both dogs were "owner releases," which are more prevalent in tough economic times. Douglas' story didn't show any animals being injected by what he described as a blue liquid called Fatal-Plus. But in visiting shelters in Cleburne, Fort Worth and Weatherford, he certainly brought home the point that pets, strays and humans are all suffering consequences.

Jerry Dean of Cleburne Animal Services "has been reluctantly doing this work for 29 years," Douglas said. "Fighting through the guilt and nightmares."

"You've got to live with yourself doing this," Dean said.

Keane Menefee of Fort Worth Animal Services used to do all of the euthanizing himself until it caught up with him.

"I didn't think it was getting to me until I started having dreams that were indescribable," he told Douglas. Others have quit because of stress. Or as it's sometimes called, "compassion fatigue."

"Sometimes they cry and just can't do it," Douglas said. "Like when a dog holds out its paw to shake."

That's the line and the image that got to me. And it hit on both fronts. Innocent animals die at the rate of 40 per day in many shelters while the humans who do the deed die a little on the inside. There's just not enough room at these inns to accommodate their growing populations.

"Our jobs get busier when the economy gets bad," said a Weatherford shelter employee.

Douglas ended his report in much the way he began it. But this time a much bigger dog lay stomach-down on a table, with just seconds left to live.

"This was a little pup somebody had at one time," Dean said while petting the dog. "A little old fluffy pup somebody had . . ."

That's a storyteller for you. And on any given day, few can match the ways and means of Jim Douglas.

Cheaters creator hires TV gumshoe Riggs to develop new programming -- and maybe even class up the joint

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TV gumshoe Robert Riggs and Cheaters maestro Bobby Goldstein

It's not your usual match made in heaven. But former CBS11/WFAA8 investigative reporter Robert Riggs and the executive producer of Cheaters are now business partners, it was announced over the weekend.

Riggs, downsized at CBS11 in March of last year, has been named executive producer of New Programming and Development for Dallas-based Bobby Goldstein Productions (BGP), which launched the reliably tawdry Cheaters in 2000.

The show exposes unfaithful spouses and lovers, not corporate or government malfeasance. But Riggs sees BGP as a good fit for him because he's had it with conventional television news reporting.

"I've gone beyond it. I wouldn't be interested in going back," Riggs said by telephone Monday from Washington, D.C., where he was attending the annual Real Screen Summit for the first time. "I think investigative reporting is dead on arrival on television, and pretty much in newspapers, too."

It should be noted that WFAA8, where Riggs cut his teeth as a TV gumshoe, recently won the first-ever duPont-Columbia Gold Baton awarded to a local station. Its chief recipients, investigative reporters Byron Harris and Brett Shipp, are former colleagues of Riggs'.

Goldstein and Riggs go farther back, though. Both worked for the late Texas congressman Wright Patman during his committee's early probe into what became the Watergate scandal.

"Bobby came up as an intern one summer, and I was assigned to keep him out of trouble, which proved to be a full-time job," Riggs said. "But everybody loved him back in those days. He just kind of connected with people.

"We've been friends over the years, and when I left CBS11 he started talking to me about doing some consulting work for his company. And I wrote him a bunch of white papers and stuff. He has an uncanny sense of what entertains, and he's just got this creative zeal. He's an idea factory."

Riggs, 59, said he hopes to bring a "git 'er done" discipline to BGP, which "needs to become more than just Cheaters."

In its news release, BGP says that Riggs will help produce "videos made for the social media environment of Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Flickr and Facebook."

An early Web initiative, iaccuse.com, tentatively will launch in March, Riggs said. "It was Bobby's idea. He wondered how we could give the powerless a voice. And it really connected with me.

"Newspapers and TV stations get a wide variety of calls from people looking to find some sort of redress. And in this day and age, the resources increasingly aren't there to look into their complaints. And of course, God forbid they call a station with a complaint about one of their advertisers. Because that'll be deep-sixed. That'll never fly."

On iaccuse.com, the aggrieved will be able to "put up their own videos and documentation," Riggs says. "And the person accused can also go on and respond. If there's a risk of libel, it's on the user. We're just providing a place on the Internet in an easy-to-understand way."

A television show ideally could be an offshoot of iaccuse.com, Riggs said. Many stranger things have happened, including the syndicated TMZ show (10:30 p.m. weeknights on Fox4 locally) that emerged from the Hollywood gossip site, tmz.com.

"It would be a show about the little guys who took on an institution, harnessed the power of the Internet and got action," Riggs says. "It would be all about the success stories."

Riggs, who has won three duPont-Columbia awards as well as a Peabody, is also still fronting the Robert Riggs Communications Company. He hopes to produce long-form documentaries while wearing that hat.

"I'm going to be in the crime genre," he says. "Heavy, heavy crime stuff."

Incoming at The 33? Former host of WFAA8's La Vida looks like next newcomer to station's newsroom

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Amanda Salinas in WPBF-TV photo and as former host of La Vida.

Nothing's official yet because station news directors invariably want to announce new hires on their own timetables.

That said, reliable industry sources say that "The 33" intends to add Amanda Salinas, former host of WFAA8's La Vida, as an anchor/reporter at the Tribune-owned CW network affiliate.

"It's not a new hire I'm making today," The 33 news director David Duitch said Monday. "But I like her."

Salinas' picture and bio recently were removed from the West Palm Beach-based WPBF-TV Web site, where she had been part of the ABC affiliate's news team since May 2006. The Laredo native and University of Texas-Austin grad worked at KCEN-TV in Waco before joining WFAA8 in fall 2001. She left the station in mid-summer 2004.

The 33 recently added Pelpina Trip as a part-time staffer hired to work on the station's slowly evolving Web site. But Trip's "Pelpina's Picks" lately have been featured on the station's 9 p.m. local newscasts.

"She has a lot of ideas, and I thought that putting her on the air might be a good way to get more traffic to the Web site," Duitch said.

Trip is fresh out of the University of North Texas, where she graduated in December with a BA in electronic news, according to her station biography.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Jan. 30-Feb. 1) -- The Game


MVP Santonio Holmes makes clinching catch. US Presswire/Matt Cashore

As usual, nothing else mattered Sunday.

From start (5:32 p.m.) to finish (9:09 p.m.) NBC's telecast of Super Bowl XLIII towered over everything sent against it. The Pittsburgh Steelers' last-ditch 27-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals averaged 2,125,760 D-FW viewers, peaking at 2,431,338 in the closing minutes.

Interestingly, though, D-FW's 44.2 Nielsen rating in the old-line total households measurement wasn't quite high enough to rank in the top 25 TV markets, according to preliminary national ratings from NBC. It did beat the preliminary 42.1 national average, though. In D-FW, each rating point equals 24,900 households.

Pittsburgh not surprisingly had the highest household rating, 53.6. But Phoenix ranked just ninth, with a 47.5 rating. Tampa, which hosted the game, placed sixth in these preliminary "overnights" with a 49.2.

Back in D-FW, NBC's post-Super Bowl offering, a one-hour episode of The Office, held on to 504,868 total viewers from 9:40 to 10:40 p.m. NBC's Super Bowl post-game show had 1,282,099 viewers in D-FW.

The most-watched program directly opposite the Super Bowl, an 8 p.m. repeat of CBS' The Unit, managed 93,002 viewers.

On Saturday, a new episode of NBC's Saturday Night Live, with Steve Martin hosting for the 15th time, drew 166,075 viewers.

Fox4 and WFAA8 dominated Friday's local news derby.

WFAA8 as usual swept the 10 p.m. newscast competitions in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the key advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 ran the table at both 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. while also topping the 6 p.m. field among 25-to-54-year-olds. WFAA8 had the 6 p.m. gold in total viewers.

Good Karma: Dallas filmmakers land distributor for low budget movie


Karma Police's John Venable (left) and CBS11 reporter Jay Gormley

It's taken awhile, but Dallas filmmakers John Venable and Jay Gormley at last have found a distributor for their low-budget, made-in-Dallas film, Karma Police.

Gormley, who's also been a reporter with CBS11 since 1997, said the movie will be released on Netflix and Blockbuster Entertainment on Feb. 10th after being picked up by Chatsworth, CA-based Westlake Entertainment.

Venable wrote and directed Karma Police, with Gormley the film's assistant director. The two have been collaborating since forming Parkview Place Pictures in 2002.

Karma Police was filmed in spring 2007. Its principal star is veteran Dallas stage actor Chamblee Ferguson, who's previously had small roles in several feature films, including The Newton Boys and A Scanner Darkly.

John Wesley Shipp, best known of late for his role as Dawson Leery's father on Dawson's Creek, has a supporting role as a publishing company CEO who runs afoul of "the world's largest secret organization," a k a the Karma Police.