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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Feb. 28) -- Idol not used to this kind of treatment

American Idol's male finalists, singing live for the first time, weren't man enough to stand up to Mark Harmon in Tuesday's Nielsen ratings.

CBS' NCIS drew 521,606 D-FW viewers from 7 to 8 p.m., drubbing the first hour of Fox's Idol (399,672 viewers). NCIS: Los Angeles then tied Idol from 8 to 9 p.m., with each show luring 413,220 viewers.

CBS then made it a prime-time sweep 243,868 viewers for its 9 p.m. hour of Unforgettable.

Idol and Fox could still claim victory, though, among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds. NCIS and its spinoff were decisively beaten in that key demographic while Fox4's local newscast prevailed at 9 p.m. with a slim win over Unforgettable. And Idol might well do better Wednesday night against lesser competition and with two Texas women -- Hollie Cavanaugh of McKinney and Baylie Brown of Krum -- in the final 12.

ABC's The River and Cougar Town overall were the least-watched shows on the Big Four broadcast networks, with just 81,289 viewers apiece.

Over on Fox Sports Southwest, the Dallas Mavericks' last second home loss to New Jersey averaged 121,934 total viewers.

Tuesday's local news derby results brought a first place in the 10 p.m. total viewers competition between WFAA8 and CBS11. But NBC5 was tops among 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming) while WFAA8 slid to third.

Fox4 and the Peacock shared first place at 6 a.m. in total viewers, with Fox4 alone atop the 25-to-54 heap.

NBC5 and WFAA8 tied for first at 6 p.m. in total viewers, but Fox4 had the 25-to-54 win to itself.

The 5 p.m. golds were split between Fox4 in total viewers and NBC5 with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Only Wednesday remains to be counted in the February "sweeps" ratings period. And at 10 p.m., NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 remain locked in an exceedingly close battle for the top spot with 25-to-54-year-olds. So you might experience some severe turbulence Wednesday in the form of extra-juicy prime-time teases, instant bailouts from the preceding 9 p.m. network attractions and "stories" that really aren't. There are no scheduled news desk appearances by Cirque du Soleil, though.

In the four principal four-way combat zones, there are sure winners in just four of the eight races.

CBS11 will dethrone reigning champ WFAA8 in the 10 p.m. battle for total viewers.

Fox4 again will sweep the 6 a.m. competitions, where the real race is for second place with 25-to-54-year-olds between NBC5 and WFAA8.

And Fox4 will keep its 6 p.m. gold among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Look for the complete final results Thursday on unclebarky.com.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Feb. 27) -- bizarro Daytona 500 beats 10 p.m. newscasts

Beset by everything but a plague of locusts and rivers of blood, Fox's long-delayed Daytona 500 finally ended just a few strokes before midnight Monday.

It ranked as D-FW's most-watched attraction from 10 p.m. until the checkered flag while running just a hair behind ABC's Castle in the 9 p.m. hour. But among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds, Daytona rolled over all rival 9 p.m. attractions.

NBC's The Voice again emerged as Monday night's juggernaut, though, amassing 453,865 viewers from 7 to 9 p.m. while also crunching all comers in the 18-to-49 demographic.

The Peacock's Smash then pretty much crashed, falling to a fourth-place 169,353 total viewers at 9 p.m. while also claiming that spot with 18-to-49-year-olds.

The 10 to 10:30 p.m. portion of Daytona drew 237,094 total viewers in edging WFAA8's local newscast (230,319 viewers). In its final quarter hour -- 11:45 p.m. to midnight -- the race still had an audience of 216,771 viewers tuned to high-speech drivers in their oval offices.

In the 10 p.m. local newscast field, WFAA8 also beat its two rivals -- NBC5 and CBS11 -- among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. With just two weekdays remaining in the February ratings "sweeps," the race among 25-to-54-year-olds remains extremely close among WFAA8, NBC5 and CBS11. The total viewers gold at this hour will go to CBS11 by a comparatively comfortable margin.

Fox4 won another doubleheader at 6 a.m., this time by unusually big margins. But the race for second place with 25-to-54-year-olds will go down to the wire between NBC5 and WFAA8, which took Monday's silver while its Daybreak continues to ply potential viewers with its roving free food truck. NBC5 currently has no plans to provide dessert.

WFAA8 swept the 6 p.m. local news competitions as the Daytona got underway on Fox. At 5 p.m., Fox4 won in total viewers and NBC5 with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Feb. 24-26) -- split decision for Oscars vs. Grammys


Billy Crystal hosted the Oscars for ninth time. Photo: Ed Bark

Sunday's 84th annual Oscar-cast on ABC edged the Grammys in D-FW but fell short of the month's other big awards event among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds.

Hosted by Billy Crystal for the first time since 2004, the Oscars as usual ran longer than they should -- this time from 7:30 to 10:43 p.m. An average of 1,054,760 viewers were on hand, enough to edge the even longer three-and-a-half-hour Grammys on Feb. 12th (1,022,880 viewers in D-FW).

The Grammys' audience included 496,357 viewers in the 18-to-49-year-old range, with this year's Oscars falling a little short of that mark with 477,143. Whitney Houston's death on Grammy eve helped propel the ceremony to its second biggest audience ever, with only the 1984 show drawing a bigger crowd in the year Michael Jackson won eight trophies for Thriller.

The 84th Oscars significantly outdrew last year's Academy Awards in both ratings measurements. That one featured the widely panned hosting duo of Anne Hathaway and James Franco, with 907,267 viewers in attendance and 417,906 in the 18-to-49 age range.

Crystal's return also narrowly beat the 2010 Oscars ceremony hosted by veterans Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. It had 1,024,731 viewers, with 443,578 in the 18-to-49 demographic.

The Oscars in part faced competition from the high-scoring NBA All-Star game on TNT, which started and ended earlier. It averaged 196,449 total viewers and 108,878 in the 18-to-49 motherlode.

In Friday's local news derby results, CBS11 cemented its insurmountable February "sweeps" lead in total viewers with another 10 p.m. win. But the race remains very much up for grabs among 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming) with just three weekdays remaining. NBC5 won the latest round in what remains a tight fight with WFAA8 and CBS11. Any of the three stations could still finish either first -- or third.

The Peacock also won at 6 a.m. in total viewers and tied Fox4 for the top spot with 25-to-54-year-olds. WFAA8's Daybreak, which is still plying potential viewers with free food, is in a down-to-the-wire battle with NBC5 for second place at this hour among 25-to-54-year-olds. Friday's numbers didn't help, with WFAA8 slipping to a fairly distant third.

Fox4 swept the 5 p.m. Nielsens in both measurements and added a 6 p.m. win with 25-to-54-year-olds. Fox4, NBC5 and WFAA8 tied for first place at 6 p.m. in total viewers.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Feb. 23) -- another comedown for Idol

Fox's American Idol continues to downtrend during the week in which it's been supplanted as television's most-watched singing competition by NBC's The Voice.

Thursday's D-FW numbers were the smallest of the season, particularly among advertiser-desired 18-to-49-year-olds. CBS' competing The Big Bang Theory prevailed in both total viewers and this key demographic before Idol beat the network's Rob from 7:30 to 8 p.m.

Overall, Idol averaged 386,124 total viewers, with 124,890 in the 18-to-49 age range. Big Bang's respective totals were 419,942 and 147,306; Rob then dropped to 237,094 total viewers, with just 38,428 of the 18-to-49 persuasion.

CBS' Person of Interest and The Mentalist again won from 8 to 10 p.m. in total viewers. But ABC's Grey's Anatomy had a runaway 8 p.m. win with 18-to-49-year-olds before Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast edged ABC's Private Practice at 9 p.m.

NBC's lone semi-bright spots were The Office and Up All Night, which ran second in the 8 p.m. hour among 18-to-49-year-olds. ABC's Wipeout replicated its name by being Thursday's least-watched program in this demographic in the Big Four broadcast network arena.

In local news derby results, CBS11 continued to prosper at 10 p.m. with a doubleheader win in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 likewise ran the table at 6 a.m., although barely nipping NBC5 in total viewers. WFAA8 continued its strong push for second place among 25-year-olds, taking the silver ahead of the Peacock.

CBS11 won in total viewers at 6 p.m. while WFAA8 prevailed among 25-to-54-year-olds. In another split decision, NBC5 ran first in total viewers at 5 p.m., but Fox4 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Just four more weekdays remain in the February "sweeps" ratings period, which ends on Wednesday, February 29th.

The sure winners to date are CBS11 in total viewers at 10 p.m. and Fox4 in both ratings measurements at 6 a.m. Fox4 also will finish first at 6 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Feb. 22) -- Fox4, CBS11 split local news spoils while NBC again in prime-time toilet

No longer all-powerful but still strong enough to get the job done, Fox's American Idol again emerged as Wednesday's most-watched prime-time attraction with 406,446 D-FW viewers in the 7 to 9 p.m. slot.

Its strongest opponent, CBS' 8 p.m. new episode of Criminal Minds, ran a solid second with 291,286 viewers while ABC's Modern Family drew a nice-sized 257,416 viewers.

Idol likewise prevailed among advertiser-favored 18-to-49-year-olds, with Modern Family a competitive second. Both NBC's The Voice and CBS' NCIS had larger overall audiences than Idol this week. The show revealed 14 of its 24 semi-finalists Wednesday, with 22-year-old Baylie Brown of Krum, Texas making the cut after falling short of this level five years ago in Idol's Season 6.

The 9 p.m. hour went to CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation in total viewers (243,868) and Fox4's local news in the 18-to-49 demographic. In the cable arena, the late-starting (8:30 p.m.) Dallas Mavericks-Los Angeles Lakers game drew 128,708 total viewers on ESPN and 81,289 for the homegrown Fox Sports Southwest telecast.

NBC washed out all night in both ratings measurements. Three of its attractions -- Whitney, Are You There, Chelsea? and Rock Center with Brian Williams -- fell short of the 55,000 mark in total viewers. The two comedies also were buried by The CW's One Tree Hill.

In local news derby numbers, CBS11 continued to cruise toward what will be a decisive 10 p.m. win in total viewers at the end of the February "sweeps." It ran first in that measurement while also edging runner-up Fox4 among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 again swept the 6 a.m. competitions and added a pair of 6 p.m. wins. The 5 p.m. golds went to Fox4 in total viewers and CBS11 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Five weekdays remain in the sweeps, which end on Wednesday, Feb. 29th.

This just in: a night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Tues., Feb. 21)


Anchor Heather Hays (right) at first had no idea either. Photo: Ed Bark

Increasingly reverting back to its old crime blotter ways, NBC5 led Tuesday's 10 p.m. newscast with a purse-snatching.

Fox4, on its 9 p.m. edition, recanted an erroneous report and gave viewers the news on "Nomophobia" and "Me-Ality" before anchor Steve Eagar agreed with a "Viewers' Voice" accuser that he's a pompous ass.

Your friendly content provider's head thereby stopped just short of detonating on this seventh and last day of February "sweeps" late night news monitoring. But that's only because WFAA8 and CBS11 injected some worthwhile reporting into their 10 p.m. mixes.

Fox4's one-hour featured newscasts compete directly against network entertainment programming. So a little seltzer in your pants perhaps can be overlooked.

But NBC5 really has no excuse for its relapse. After showing some signs of vitality and worthy enterprise in recent "sweeps" periods, the Peacock seems to be falling back into a rip 'n' read mentality in which capable, seasoned street reporters are being wasted on inconsequential spot stories spiked with foul play.

Veteran reporter Ellen Goldberg started with a top-of-the-newscast story on a weekend NorthPark purse pilfering. Her angle: a "Good Samaritan" named Fleming Longino used a "Blackberry and some quick thinking" to get a picture of the black Nissan Centra that sped from the scene after the parking lot robbery.

Anchors Meredith Land and Brian Curtis led viewers to believe that the photo clearly identified the robber. Or at least clearly pictured the auto's license plates. But the image was blurry at best, and no license plate number or further identification accompanied the story. Even though Longino said she had "shouted the license plate out" while snapping a picture.

So where's the real value, other than a witness at least trying to do the right thing? But NBC5 took a bait-and-switch approach while Goldberg unfortunately played along by sitting live in a parked car with a gold purse in the front passenger seat.

Later in the newscast, NBC5's Scott Gordon reported on yet another instance of "squatters' rights" deadbeats being kicked out of a home they had no right to occupy in the first place. WFAA8 had big picture stories on this practice several months ago. They've now become as commonplace as -- a purse snatching.

Readers of these compendiums might also remember that NBC5 gave prominent play on Monday's 10 p.m. edition to a mass TXDOT traffic camera outage caused by electrical damage from a burst water pipe. It was a valid story, and Fox4 also reported it.

But here's the difference. NBC5 took the cheap alarmist approach, with Land twice telling viewers that the outage "could slow down your commute for days, even weeks." Fox4 said that the entire camera system should be back on line by sometime Tuesday. And that's exactly what happened, with NBC5 of course making no mention of its previously stated worst case scenario during a brief, buried update on Tuesday's 10 p.m. news.

This monitoring period, which began on Monday, Feb. 13th, came and went without any weeknight sightings of lead NBC5 sports anchor Newy Scruggs, even though it's the heart of a ratings "sweeps" period. Matt Barrie instead mostly filled in. And Barrie's body language -- and occasionally his verbiage -- made it pretty clear that he felt left on an island during the closing anchor jibber jabber. On Monday night, Barrie referred to himself as the "smelly sports guy." On Tuesday he simply threw his hands up. Good times.

On to Fox4, where the Tuesday 9 p.m. newscast included an apology by co-anchor Heather Hays. It was tied to the station's handling of Monday's lead story on the alleged abduction of a young Frisco woman who said she wound up escaping from her captor at a Muskogee, OK ice cream shop.

Hays and reporter Natalie Solis both said that the woman told Frisco police she had been sexually assaulted. On Tuesday night, Hays told viewers, "We mistakenly reported that (Bethany) Stroud told police she was sexually assaulted. Frisco police say she did not make that claim."

NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 also reported on the alleged abduction, but without making the same mistake.

Earlier Tuesday, Hays shared the Fox4 studio stage with giggly Charity Adams of the Noyau Wellness Center. Their topic was "Nomophobia," a term that both women said they had never heard of until someone at the station decided to devote a segment to a survey that said growing numbers of cell phone owners get very upset when they don't have them or think they've lost them. Ergo, "Nomophobia."

Fox4's Clarice Tinsley, who lately presides over two "Your Turn" Facebook segments per newscast, expressed surprise that the first one -- on a possible U.S. Supreme Court-mandated end to Affirmative Action -- had failed to spark much interest.

"I thought it would be burning up our page. But you know what, it really isn't," she said after co-anchor Eagar had moderated an interesting in-studio discussion with two Dallas attorneys on the future of Affirmative Action.

Perhaps the subject was too pithy for the station's social media "community." But Tinsley quickly perked up to note that "Nomophobia" had struck a responsive Facebook chord. Or as she later put it in her second "Your Turn" dollop, "Everybody blew up our Fox4 news page on Facebook." Which meant "more than 100 people," she later noted.

Near the end of the newscast, viewers got a glimpse of "Me-Ality," a new shopping center device in which customers are measured for their exact sizes in something resembling the full-body scanner that some airport travelers complain about.

Then came the climactic "Viewers Voice" segment, during which Eagar regularly can get more than a little snarky -- like Uncle Barky -- with accusatory viewers. He did so during Monday's installment. But not on Tuesday, when Eagar said, "Finally, an email I can completely agree with."

Here it is: "Who told Steve Eagar he was funny? Someone needs to put him in his place. In short he is an a**. What a fool he is. Just remember Steve, the meek will inherit the earth. And you pompous jerks will be left with nothing."

The missive was from Roger of Royce City. And Eagar reveled in it. "Other than wondering whether this is Roger being meek, I'm on board with everything this dude says," Eagar replied -- with aplomb.

We'll close out this latest "Night in the Lives" journey with palate-refreshing examples of some good reporting Tuesday night on WFAA8 and CBS11:

***WFAA8's Jim Douglas followed up at length on a North Texas family's dogged efforts to have the body of Air Force Major Troy Gilbert returned home for burial. The Texas Tech grad was killed in 2006 during the Iraq war. But the military said it had ceased any searches for his remains after the U.S. withdrawal, contending they previously had recovered a small bit of identifiable tissue from his plane's cockpit.

But Gilbert, who posthumously was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor, subsequently had his body exhumed and displayed in a grisly insurgent propaganda video. So his family knew his body remained intact. After seeing the original WFAA8 story, the Secretary of the Air Force intervened and said that a new "pro-active" search would be made for Gilbert's body.

***One of CBS11's better new reporters, Jason Allen, had a good piece on the impact of an epidemic of cattle rustling in Texas. Ranchers are not optimistic about being able to stop it, and higher food prices are one of the ripple effects, Allen said.

***All four stations reported on new beefed-up DART security measures announced Tuesday. But only WFAA8's Steve Stoler followed up by attending a hearing of angry bus drivers who feel their safety is being over-looked. Several said they were issued police citations after defending themselves against violent passengers.

***WFAA8's Craig Civale reported on early evening newscasts about the suspension of Highland Park basketball star David Allen after his arrest on charges of driving while intoxicated and also fleeing after hitting a parked car.

Civale interviewed Allen's mother, Melissa, who defended him. CBS11's Jay Gormley had a better followup story on his station's 10 p.m. newscast, though. He went to that night's Highland Park playoff game to interview both a contrite David Allen and his father. WFAA8 also might want to check its printed website version of the story. Civale corrected named Allen in his on-air piece. But in the wfaa.com text, he is called Matthew Allen.

***WFAA8's Brad Watson was the only D-FW television reporter who went to Austin to interview Texas Gov. Rick Perry about his future intentions. He got the governor to admit that his defense of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants -- and his telling naysayers they "didn't have a heart" -- turned out to be a "huge error" on his part during the presidential campaign. "That was my bad," he told Watson, who was seated next to his Sunday morning Inside Politics partner Gromer Jeffers of The Dallas Morning News.

WFAA8's story oddly acted as though the clearly visible Jeffers wasn't there, never identifying him during Watson's piece. And in a rather bizarre turn of events, CBS11's Tuesday 10 p.m. newscast cited a Dallas Morning News story (by Christy Hoppe) that said Perry was "leaning toward" running for governor an unprecedented fourth time.

Watson tried several times, but couldn't get Perry to budge on his future intentions. Again running for governor is an "option," Perry said, but "I'm not gonna get in that handicappin' business."

***Finally, CBS11's Tracy Kornet imparted some useful information during her "Champagne Hair Styles on a Beer Budget" segment. Homemade shampoos and conditioners, using natural ingredients that were specified in the report, can be both cheaper and better for you, Kornet said. The info. was drawn from interviews with seemingly knowledgeable hair people.

Kornet, who still anchors CBS11's 4 p.m. newscasts, is trying to make the best of her situation after the prime-time newscasts on sister station TXA21 were canceled. She was a charter anchor in that venue. And while some of her lifestyles/consumer reports can be a little cringe-worthy, this one definitely wasn't.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Feb. 21) -- CBS crime pays, but only in older circles

CBS' three hours of prime-time crime again led the Tuesday parades in total viewers before failing to apprehend advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds.

NCIS remained the night's overall top draw, with 426,768 D-FW viewers in the 7 p.m. hour. NCIS: Los Angeles (359,027) and Unforgettable (223,545) then took over, but both with diminished returns.

Fox's winter cliffhanger episode of Glee (new episodes aren't scheduled until mid-April) edged NCIS with 18-to-49-year-olds, though. And Fox's comedy combo of New Girl and Raising Hope comfortably won from 8 to 9 p.m. in this key demographic. New Girl again was Tuesday's top achiever among 18-to-49-year-olds.

ABC's Body of Proof broke up Fox's party with a 9 p.m. win in the 18-to-49 demographic, with Fox4's 9 p.m. local news a solid second and Unforgettable</> sliding to a distant fourth.

The third episode of ABC's
The River
again ran dry at 8 p.m. with fourth place finishes in both ratings measurements. Its meager audiences were up slightly from last week's, but The River was still the least-watched attraction among the Big Four broadcast networks.

In Tuesday's local news derby results, CBS11 notched another 10 p.m. win in total viewers en route to a now certain February "sweeps" win in that measurement. But WFAA8 stayed in the 25-to-54 hunt with a first place finish among this key advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 ran the table at 6 a.m. and also collected a 6 p.m. gold with 25-to-54-year-olds. CBS11 won at 6 p.m. in total viewers. At 5 p.m., NBC5 and WFAA8 tied for first place in both barometers.

Once the runaway dominant station at 6 p.m., WFAA8's current woes in the 25-to-54 demographic are illustrated in Tuesday's tales of the tape from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

5 P.M. (25-to-54-yr. olds)
Fox4's local news -- 27,084
WFAA8's local news -- 36,112

5:30 P.M.
Fox4's local news -- 39,121
ABC's World News -- 42,130

6 P.M.
Fox4's local news -- 45,140
WFAA8's local news -- 27,084

In other words, WFAA8 lost a significant percentage of the viewers it inherited from ABC while Fox4 kept building on the audiences for its three local newscasts. It doesn't happen quite this dramatically on all weeknights. But it happens enough to assure Fox4 of winning the 6 February sweeps crown in this coveted news demographic.

This just in: a night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Mon., Feb. 20)

DSCN3279 DSCN3281

WFAA8 anchor John McCaa took a walk outside to introduce Jason Whitely's "Border Battle" story; Whitely later shared some Facebook comments on what he reported a few minutes earlier. Photos: Ed Bark

WFAA8's Jason Whitely got out and about on a Department of Public Safety chopper during Monday's 10 p.m. newscast for a visually arresting report on drug smuggling along the Rio Grande Valley. You had to be there -- and he was.

John McCaa got out for a little fresh air to introduce Whitely's story from within easy walking distance of his Victory Park anchor chair. Why? Dunno. Someone must have thought it "opened up" the newscast.

Whitely later presided over Facebook reactions to his story after first soliciting them. Tabitha Endicott and her baby picture were among the respondents making the cut on the monitor behind Whitely.

Cosmetics have always been a part of TV news. Live viewer reaction is a growing part, with local newscasts striving to stem the tide of shrinking audiences by asking you to "like" them on Facebook, kibitz with them on Twitter and lately see your name in print as reporters or anchors scroll through selected comments.

Fox4 anchor Clarice Tinsley's new and sometimes ridiculous "Your Turn" segments on 9 p.m. newscasts already have been noted in these spaces. She now has two of them each night, with the station also continuing with its longstanding "Viewers' Voice" feature. That's the one where anchor Steve Eagar regularly twits some of the yahoos who take issue with the station's coverage.

On Monday, a respondent said he was sick of all the Whitney Houston stuff. Eagar retorted that the station hadn't mentioned Houston at all on that day's newscasts. So "that's on you," he fired back before asking co-anchor Heather Hays, "Was that too harsh?" She said it wasn't.

Your friendly content provider is no longer a Luddite in this respect. You can "like" me or be my "friend" on Facebook. And you can "follow me" on Twitter if you want to double your fun. These clearly aren't fads, although they're increasingly ways for media types to get in trouble over what they sometimes impulsively tweet.

Roland Martin is still on suspension from CNN for Twitter comments that were ripped by some as homophobic. The espn.com underling who made the racial reference to New York Knicks star guard Jeremy Lin was fired earlier this week. Some WFAA8 reporters also can be quite opinionated. Award-winning investigator Brett Shipp tweeted Sunday, "It used to be that in Dallas, all the drug dealers were down on Lamar. After today's game, the whole city is down on Lamar." He meant the Dallas Mavericks' under-achieving Lamar Odom.

One does wonder, though, whether all of these on-air Facebook gyrations are as much a turn-off as a viewer incentive. In reality, the total sum of comments on any station solicitation is seldom more than a few hundred out of a viewing area of almost 6.8 million. And it's usually far fewer. That's not going to move any ratings needles.

Whitely's Monday story stood quite well under its own power, without McCaa having to journey outside to introduce it or the extra serving of Facebook dessert. WFAA8 also had an interesting lead story Monday night, with Byron Harris trying to put a finger on DART's increased police presence -- or lack thereof -- in light of recent fatal shootings.

On Fox4, consumer reporter Steve Noviello had an informative piece on discount co-pay cards that can significantly decrease the cost of prescription drugs. And Saul Garza did his usual solid job during the weekly What's Buggin' You? feature, this time on the dangers to motorists and passers-by from flying golf balls soaring over the protective nets at the Firewheel Golf Park.

Richard Ray, a longtime Fox4 stalwart, also had a compelling report on a 28-year-old man who's been missing in Mexico for three weeks after journeying there for less expensive dental work. The man's parents understandably fear the worst, and have received no help from federal authorities because there's no evidence that any crime has occurred. (An update posted on myfoxdfw.com Tuesday said that the FBI now has agreed to take a look.)

CBS11's most heavily promoted story, labeled "Modern Day Slavery," found reporter Jack Fink interviewing a Nigerian woman who said she had been held captive for nine years after journeying from her homeland to become a North Texas nanny. At one point she also was raped. Viewers were told that Fink had been trying to get the woman to tell her story for the past couple of years.

He asked "Cindy" (a pseudonym) obvious question: Why didn't she just leave? But she said she didn't speak English, had no friends and didn't know where to go for help. She finally mustered the gumption, though.

The couple that hired her are now both doing prison time for their crimes, Fink told viewers at the end of his story. He might have said that earlier in the interests of making Cindy's story believable from the start.

CBS11's Jay Gormley earlier reported on a website that trades exclusively in gossip, with comments that are "cruel, hurtful and often malicious." A "vintage pinup model" named Flossie Carmichael said she had been ridiculed on the site after her picture was obtained. Another allegedly wrong woman sobbed while talking to Gormley.

From this perspective, all this story did was drive more traffic to the site and possibly hold the two women up to even more ridicule. Which is why it won't be named here.

NBC5 had a largely nondescript 10 p.m. newscast Friday. Reporter Scott Gordon's story on increasing shortages of heavily used prescription drugs was reported in large part last Wednesday by CBS11 investigator Ginger Allen.

The station also plugged NBC's hit singing competition, The Voice, with a story on the show's previous Houston auditions by reporter Ellen Goldberg. It had one intriguing piece of information. Melissa Lawson, the Arlington singer who won NBC's Nashville Star in 2008, was rejected for The Voice. Goldberg talked to her about this without raising any questions on whether most of the winners of these competitions in reality go on to do much of anything. Quick now, who won the inaugural season of The Voice?

That would be Javier Colon, who hasn't exactly set the music world on fire after earlier bombing as a Capitol Records recording artist.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Mon., Feb. 17-20) -- Lin a big win for ABC while The Voice keeps humming

Jeremy Lin's Sunday afternoon debut on ABC's main stage, with the Dallas Mavericks as foils, emerged as D-FW's most-watched program over the weekend.

Local interest obviously played a big role, too, with the New York Knicks whipping Dallas down the stretch while Lin again wore the hero's mantle. The noon-starting game averaged 284,512 viewers with a peak crowd of 379,350 in the closing minutes.

On Sunday night, the two-hour season finale of PBS' Downton Abbey drew 162,578 viewers from 8 to 10 p.m. That was good enough to beat NBC's season premiere of The Celebrity Apprentice and ABC's soon to be grounded Pan Am. Advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds pretty much stayed away, though. Downton's 32,023 viewers in this key demographic trailed all programming on the Big Four broadcast networks as well as AMC's The Walking Dead (99,271). Mavs-Knicks led Sunday's 18-to-49 parade with 128,092 viewers.

NBC again enjoyed big returns from The Voice, which dominated Monday's 7 to 9 p.m. slot with 413,220 total viewers and likewise won handily among 18-to-49-year-olds.

The Peacock's Smash then fell to third place in the 9 p.m. hour with 176,127 total viewers while ABC's Castle won that slot with 270,964 viewers. Smash also took the bronze with 18-to-49-year-olds, trailing both Castle and CBS' Hawaii Five-0.

Despite its lead-in advantage, WFAA8's 10 p.m. newscast ran second behind CBS11 in total viewers Monday.

With seven weekdays remaining in the February "sweeps," CBS11 is all but assured of a total viewers win in the late night news wars over WFAA8, the defending November sweeps champ. But it's still a dogfight among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. CBS11 won Monday's 10 p.m. battle, nipping runner-up Fox4 while WFAA8 ran fourth.

But on Friday night, WFAA8 had a decisive win at 10 p.m. with 25-to-54-year-olds while tying CBS11 for the top spot in total viewers.

In other four-way local news derby results, the combatants all took a 6 a.m. holiday knee Monday in deference to President's Day. So those numbers don't count in the final tally.

But they played for keeps in the early evening hours, with Fox4 sweeping the 5 p.m. competitions and adding a 6 p.m. win with 25-to-54-year-olds. CBS11 ran first at 6 p.m. in total viewers.

On Friday, Fox4 and NBC5 shared first place at 6 a.m. in total viewers, with Fox4 notching a decisive win among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Fox4 ran the table at 5 p.m. and took the 6 p.m. gold with 25-to-54-year-olds. WFAA8 ran first at 6 p.m. in total viewers.

This just in: a night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Fri., Feb. 17)


NBC5's Meredith Land and Khloe Kardashian hug it out. Photo: Ed Bark

It should be a hard and fast rule. There's no hugging in TV journalism, at least during the on-camera portion of a story.

But star-struck anchors sometimes don't know any better. So NBC5's Meredith Land and Khloe Kardashian noisily embraced at the close of a taped Friday 10 p.m. story labeled "Kardashian Countdown."

"Well, I'll see you soon," said Khloe, whose E! TV series with the Dallas Mavericks' still inept Lamar Odom began Season 2 Sunday night after hubby contributed 2 points and 2 turnovers in that afternoon's road loss to the New York Knicks.

"See, we're friends now," Land then told co-anchor Marc Fein (subbing for Brian Curtis). "You like that? We hugged!"

WFAA8's Debbie Denmon likewise crossed this line a few years back by requesting and getting an on-camera hug from former Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens during a birthday party he threw for himself. In short, get a room. And at the very least, hug it up privately if you must -- but not as part of a story.

NBC5 periodically shows strong signs of being much better than this. But Friday's 10 p.m. edition was too much of an amateur hour -- in just 35 minutes time.

Fein opened the newscast by solemnly intoning, "We begin tonight with a live look at the Dallas skyline as North Texas prepares for a new round of rain."

Yeah, it rained some on Saturday. And three of the four major TV news providers led with this impending "news" while CBS11 made rainfall its No. 2 story. Amazingly, though, WFAA8 weathercaster Pete Delkus kept his coat on while reporting from outside the station's Victory Park studios. Fox4's usually buttoned down Dan Henry was the only one to strip down to his shirtsleeves.

NBC5's usually reliable Night Ranger, Scott Gordon, also stepped in it with a prominently played "he said, she said" time-waster on a young woman who said her wallet was filched from her apartment by a man claiming to be an Ambit energy employee. But during a phone conversation with Gordon, a company representative said this in fact never happened.

A printed story on the station's nbcdfw.com website continued to leave the matter unresolved Monday. So why was it news in the first place? In a No. 5 television market of nearly 6.8 million, NBC5 put this thing right behind its "new round of rain" top-of-the-news alert. Gordon is one of D-FW's most dogged and solid nighttime reporters. He really shouldn't have to do this stuff.

Shortly after the Land-Kardashian hug, new sports guy David Watkins (from a Minneapolis station) rounded out NBC5's Friday edition by saying that the Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki scored 26 points in that night's big second half comeback against the 76ers. Actually, it was 24. A minor mistake, but on this night it fit right in.

Friday was prototypically short on worthy enterprise reporting. WFAA8 investigator Brett Shipp easily had the best effort. He journeyed to nearby Covington, Texas to report on allegations that the small town (of between 250 and 300 residents) is being run as a veritable police state by police chief Wade Laurence.

Shipp talked on camera to two City Council members, an ex-mayor and a former Covington police officer. They all charge that Laurence is covering up a department drug scandal and threatening those who seek to expose it. A City Council meeting hasn't been held since November, waylaying a petition signed more than 60 Covington residents who want the four-member police department disbanded.

Shipp and a cameraman were allowed inside the police office, where Laurence could be seen from a distance saying, "I don't care to be on camera."

Near the end of Friday's newscast, Delkus, sports anchor Dale Hansen and co-anchor Gloria Campos again twitted WFAA8's heavily played story on the nearby Omni Hotel's rooms with a view. Some patrons have been seen in various stages of undress through upper story windows, reporter Monika Diaz said during a lengthy Monday story.

Delkus noted that his opening weather tease originated from the roof of WFAA8's studios.

"Oh, what a view of the Omni, Dale," he said.

Hansen joked that the hotel's manager had "called the police" on Delkus before Campos jabbed, "Put away that telescope."

Diaz had a better story earlier Friday. She followed up on the police release of a 26-year-old man who was said to be among the accused in the TCU drug dealer scandal. But that information was erroneous. And defense attorney David Wells said that such "sloppy" work "makes everything suspect in all the warrants."

Two of the four stations, Fox4 and CBS11, nonetheless continued to display pictures of all of the accused during Friday's late night editions. And The Dallas Morning News splashed all of the pictures in the center of its Sunday front page.

As noted previously in these spaces, this would not be occurring if any of the accused happened to be the son or daughter of upper level TV or newspaper management. Instead you'd see a sudden outbreak of "restraint" rather than the recurring parade of up-close photos.

Fox4 reporter James Rose tempered the by now excessive use of these pictures with a story on how alcohol abuse by college students annually claims far more lives than drug abuse. Binge-drinking remains a popular activity, Rose reported.

On CBS11, reporter Arezow Doost had a piece on how TCU is trying to put the drug bust scandal behind it. Her story was tied to opening night of the school's baseball season. But her station, like Fox4, continued to display pictures of every student arrested during Tuesday's police sweep.

This just in: a night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Thurs., Feb. 16)


Fox4's Clarice Tinsley wonders if you see Jesus here. Photo: Ed Bark

Jesus take the wheel -- from Clarice Tinsley.

The longtime Fox4 anchor (since 1978) has a new "Your Turn" segment that began as a somewhat mild irritant before becoming a gaping wound to the station's credibility during Thursday's 9 p.m. edition.

Even worse, she's lately getting two such Facebook-driven gimmicks per newscast. Both bait their hooks via Tinsley's tease that "I may read your post on the air."

Thursday's first one was tolerable -- with respondents asked how they felt about New Jersey's lowering of flags to half-mast during Saturday's funeral for Whitney Houston. Tinsley first posed that question on her Facebook Fan Page. But she then veered into nonsensical Onion News territory by urging viewers to "tell me whether you see Jesus in the radiator. 'Cause it's going to be 'Your Turn' to talk about that when I come back in about 20 minutes."

Tinsley also strongly encouraged anchors Heather Hays and Steve Eagar to weigh in. And unfortunately she eventually did come back, amending her previous misstatement to say that a Fort Worth mechanic named Gabriel believes he saw the image of Jesus in a space heater -- not a radiator. This little item was born on the official Fox4 Facebook page, not Tinsley's attendant Fan page.

A Facebook poster named Debbie said the images look like "Rob Zombie and Bob Marley," Tinsley noted. Amanda saw "Jimi Hendrix and Tina Turner." Tinsley herself opted for the late Jim Morrison of The Doors. No lightning bolts intruded on the segment, perhaps because Jesus was watching The Mentalist over on CBS.

But seriously, how can Tinsley be taken seriously anymore? She won a Peabody Award way, way back in the mid-1980s. It's still mentioned in the second paragraph of her official myfoxdfw.com bio, right before readers learn that she's "uncompromising in her commitment to inform the North Texas community thoroughly and credibly."

In other words, a Fort Worth mechanic's space heater-inspired Jesus moment qualifies as credible Tinsley-approved news. And look, up in the sky, that cloud floating above unclebarky.com world headquarters in Garland looks just like Otis Redding and James Brown smilin' down on ol' Whitney. Or maybe you think otherwise.

Fox4 also offered another puzzlement Thursday night. Let's first wade into it before underscoring the polar-opposite messages that ended up on-screen.

Anchor Hays, during a split-screen live interview with attorney Clint David, wondered about TCU's very public treatment of the alleged batch of student drug dealers outed during a Wednesday morning news conference called by university officials.

"They've all been identified, I would actually say hung out by the university," Hays began. "Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence?"

It should be noted that WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen also asked that very valid question during his brief "Unplugged" commentary on the station's Wednesday late nighter.

David said that "this thing is moving at WARP speed," and there's no doubt university big-wigs have "distanced themselves from these students."

Hays persisted: "Well, and it seems like it's a really aggressive move to say, 'OK, here's this group. Let's put them on an island and we're over here.' Think it's a good move?"

The university doesn't want anyone to think "they're slow-walking this thing," David answered in part.

Hays also noted that the street value of the dealt drugs amounted to relative pocket change in the grand scheme of things. It all made for a good discussion. EXCEPT that while David was talking, Fox4 sequentially displayed enlarged photos of 10 of the accused dealers, with their names clearly visible as well. So the station did exactly the same thing that Hays said TCU had done. Except even more visibly.

Be assured of this. If one of the accused had been the son or daughter of any D-FW station's general manager or news director, that particular photo would never have been shown in the way that Fox4 separately displayed those 10 closeups Thursday night. Hays was making some worthwhile points, but her own station invalidated them by likewise putting a majority of the accused students "on an island."


WFAA8's Hansen and CBS11 sports anchor Babe Laufenberg had dueling pre-taped Jason Garrett interviews Thursday night. Both served as appetizers for extended segments on their Sunday late night sports programs.

Hansen told viewers that he personally liked the less than colorful Dallas Cowboys coach. He then mostly baited him, telling Garrett at one point, "You're on remote control and you're like a robot too many times. And that's not really who Jason Garrett really is."

Garrett smiled agreeably several times, but gave Hansen nothing to shout from a rooftop -- or even an awning. Hansen then told news anchors John McCaa and Gloria Campos that Garrett reminds him of how boring former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman used to be.

"Aikman never said anything when he played," Hansen said. "Now you can't get him to shut up" (as a Fox sports analyst).

Even Hansen might agree -- well, probably not -- that Laufenberg got more out of Garrett in large part because he had a better story angle Thursday night. Laufenberg asked the Cowboys coach about his less than football-loving mother and his longtime football coach dad, who's now retired but has continued to run every day for the past 32 years. The station even had footage of old Jim plodding along.

"He's gotten slower and slower and slower," Garrett said affectionately. "His knees aren't in great shape right now, but he's out there. He's a little bit of a lunatic that way, but that's part of his greatness."

Garrett even audibly laughed at one point, a fairly rare sight for public consumption.

"I must say it was the best interview that Jason Garrett has given me -- ever," Laufenberg told co-anchors Karen Borta and Doug Dunbar. "Not saying the best ever 'cause he's probably done better ones with other people." Not with Hansen, though. At least during this particular joust.

***NBC5 had a newscast, too, but on this particular night it wasn't much of a bargain. Even its lone enterprise story -- on new and potentially distracting electronic dashboard innovations -- had a precursor in Fox4's same-night, same-themed piece by reporter James Rose

The Peacock's Omar Villafranca told his story more from the auto dealer's perspective. Any federal efforts to rein in such devices will only hurt car sales, a dealer told him.

Rose primarily talked to D-FW's longtime auto tester, Ed Wallace, who's also a regular contributor on the station's Good Day. Wallace told him that some of these new devices were just too hard to decipher and operate while trying to drive at the same time. He wants them toned down.

*** CBS11 investigator Ginger Allen had an interesting, in-depth look at lax regulations in the screening of sperm bank deposits purchased by prospective parents. A North Texas couple is suing one such company after their son was born with incurable Cystic Fibrosis. They say the company assured them that the sperm they bought had been tested for Cystic Fibrosis and other potential diseases that could be transmitted by a donor.

No one other than the parents and their attorney would talk to Allen on camera. This is becoming increasingly commonplace in TV news investigations. But most media companies, whether local or national, aren't any more forthcoming when it comes to questions about their own operations. So who can blame their targets?

(Note: in the particular case of CBS11, such questions generally get an on-the-record timely response from either the station's own in-house spokesperson or another member of management. That happened as recently as Thursday, when CBS11 fully acknowledged that it was the only station not to break in with live coverage of Wednesday morning's drug bust news conference by TCU officials.)

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Feb. 16) -- Fox, Fox4 sweep prime-time demo derby

Fox's American Idol again edged CBS' The Big Bang Theory as Thursday's most-watched program while taking firmer command among advertiser-favored 18-to-49-year-olds.

The two-hour Idol ruled from 7 to 9 p.m. with 433,542 total D-FW viewers while Big Bang checked in with 406,446 at 7 p.m. before the network's following Rob fell to 223,545 viewers.

CBS' Person of Interest ranked a solid second at 8 p.m. with 311,609 viewers; CBS' The Mentalist (277,738 viewers) then mopped up with a 9 p.m. win.

Among 18-to-49-year-olds, though, Idol and Fox4's 9 p.m. newscast were first-place finishers from 7 to 10 p.m. The faltering Rob ranked as CBS' least-watched attraction in both ratings measurements. From 7:30 to 8 p.m., The second half of CW's The Vampire Diaries tied NBC's Parks & Recreation for the silver in this key demographic while ABC's Wipeout crash-landed in fifth place.

In Thursday's four-way local newscast competitions, CBS11 continued to run strong at 10 p.m. with wins in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. Solid lead-in advantages from The Mentalist didn't hurt, but in both cases CBS11 held on to most of the audience it inherited.

Fox4 ran the table at 6 a.m., with WFAA8 continuing its push for second place in the February "sweeps" with a pair of runner-up finishes over NBC5. Nine weekdays remain in the 20-day competition. And the race for the silver medal among 25-to-54-year-olds remains up for grabs.

Fox4 and WFAA8 tied for first at 6 p.m. in total viewers, but Fox4 had a commanding win among 25-to-54-year-olds.

NBC5 fared well at 5 p.m., nipping WFAA8 with 25-to-54-year-olds while the two stations tied for the top spot in total viewers.

Krystle and Kris Gutierrez leaving their respective Foxes, heading to Chicago


As she had planned, Krystle Gutierrez of Fox4's Good Day is putting the show and the Dallas-based station behind her after husband Kris landed an out-of-town anchoring job.

"It's official . . . WE'RE MOVING TO CHICAGO!" Gutierrez tweeted Thursday afternoon.

Specifically, husband Kris Gutierrez has been named as an anchor at Chicago's CBS-owned station, WBBM-TV. Starting March 12th, he'll co-anchor WBBM's early morning 4:30 to 7 a.m. newscasts, the station announced Thursday. He's been a Dallas-based Fox News Channel correspondent since 2007.

As reported in mid-September on unclebarky.com, Krystle has been without a contract at Fox4 since last summer. She instead remained as "a contributor" with the freedom to leave immediately if her husband negotiated his way out of town. Krystle joined Fox4 in July 2007.

This just in: a night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Wed., Feb. 15)


CBS11 had a nice logo, but flunked a key drug test. Photo: Ed Bark

You safely could have bet your house, your farm or your luxury high-rise condo that Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 all would lead their Wednesday late nighters with "team coverage" of that day's TCU student drug dealer scandal.

And they all of course did. In a mid-morning test of preparedness, though, only CBS11 stayed with regular programming -- in this case Let's Make A Deal -- rather than go live to TCU's stunning news conference. That's a big fall-down-on-the job deal for a station whose principal offices are in Fort Worth, likewise the home of TCU.

It doesn't really matter how or why it happened. What viewers see on home screens is the ultimate litmus test. And in this case, CBS11 viewers saw Deal host Wayne Brady and contestants instead of TCU chancellor Victor J. Boschini, Jr. and other school officials.

For the record, though, CBS11 spokeswoman Lori Conrad said Thursday that the station had a photographer at the TCU news conference, "but we did not carry it live due to a logistical issue with our live truck."

CBS11's 10 p.m. news coverage of TCU's very bad day ended up being notably briefer than that of its rivals. The station didn't air any footage from the university's announcement. Nor did CBS11 have the day's other signature image -- accused star TCU linebacker Tanner Brock covering his face with his shirt as he was escorted from a Mansfield jail after posting bond.

CBS11 reporters Arezow Doost and Jason Allen did the best they could under the circumstances. Doost had tape of a TCU football player who told her, "We know what we're supposed to do, so . . ."

"What's that? Not talk?" she asked. No response.

Allen stationed himself live outside the Mansfield jail, where his cameraman got taped nighttime footage of other shielded students running from the media after being booked. He also reported that police earlier had "mistakenly sent out the name and picture" of a student who was not among the 17 arrested.

NBC5, which said it was first to report the TCU drug bust, had the only clear shot of Brock before he covered up inside the Mansfield jail. Veteran reporters Randy McIlwain and Scott Gordon were the station's principal point men. During McIlwain's coverage, two identified TCU students talked on camera about how easy it was to score marijuana on campus.

Fox4 had the most coverage, devoting the first 18 minutes of its one-hour 9 p.m. newscast (including one brief commercial break) to the TCU mess.

Reporters Natalie Solis and Brandon Todd were deployed live before co-anchor Steve Eagar traced Facebook connections linking some of the accused students.

Fox4's Clarice Tinsley, subbing for regular anchor Heather Hays, also contributed another of her extraneous "Your Turn" segments in which viewers are shown selected comments from the station's Facebook page.

Eagar said the station wanted to do more. But chancellor Boschini turned down Fox4's request to be interviewed live in-studio. And TCU student government leaders who agreed to appear were then dissuaded by school officials who "shut that down" in Eagar's words.

WFAA8 had reporters Marcus Moore and David Schechter on the case. Schechter's report suggested that TCU officials may know more than they're letting on. But none of the four stations had any smoking guns Wednesday.

Sports anchor Dale Hansen later went "Unplugged" on the scandal, but only briefly.

"I'm trying to figure out what has happened to 'innocent before proven guilty,' " Hansen told WFAA8 viewers after saying he'd seen every episode of Law & Order three times. People in general are "quick to condemn the athlete that sells the drug," he added, while applauding those who come out of rehab and are not kicked off their teams.

"I think it's just the tip of the iceberg," WFAA8 co-anchor Gloria Campos opined. Hansen agreed with her, but that's as far as it went Wednesday night.

But here's something to chew on perhaps. In his official statement, TCU football coach Gary Patterson said verbatim, "As I heard the news this morning, I was first shocked, then hurt and now I'm mad. Under my watch, drugs and drug use by TCU's student athletes will not be tolerated by me or any member of my coaching staff. Period."

Emulating former president Bill Clinton during the early stages of his affair with Monica Lewinsky, Patterson seemed to be studiously using the present tense to absolve himself.

But what of the past -- and the surprise team-wide drug test that allegedly was conducted on Feb. 1st? The one that Brock and another accused teammate made reference to in conversations with an undercover police informant. The one they said would be flunked by an overwhelming majority of their teammates?

In that context, what Patterson didn't say in his statement was that "under my watch, drugs and drug use by TCU's student athletes have NEVER been tolerated or known of by me or any member of my coaching staff. Period."

We'll see how it all plays out, with CBS11 having some catching up to do after Wednesday's mid-morning goof-up.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Feb. 15) -- Idol calls the tune before CSI/Fox4 news top prime-time charts

Fox's two-hour edition of American Idol again ruled Wednesday's ratings roost while three competing series also had solid support.

Idol averaged 467,413 D-FW viewers from 7 to 9 p.m., with 204,947 of them in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 age range.

The return of CBS' Survivor ran second from 7 to 8 p.m. with a nice-sized 237,094 total viewers and 99,271 in the key demographic.

From 8 to 9 p.m., CBS' Criminal Minds had 291,286 total viewers while ABC's Modern Family had the top runner-up total of 147,306 in the 18-to-49 motherlode.

CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation won at 9 p.m. in total viewers (257,416), but Fox4's Idol-aided local newscast edged CSI for the most 18-to-49-year-olds at that hour (73,653).

NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams, in its new Wednesday 8 p.m. slot, was the night's least-watched show among the Big Four networks, with just 54,193 viewers. And ABC's 9 p.m. Revenge continued to slump with fourth place finishes in both ratings measurements.

In local news derby results, the four-week February "sweeps" reached the halfway point with CBS11 racking up another total viewers win at 10 p.m. It would now take an almost miraculous second half rally for WFAA8 to catch up and retain its November sweeps crown.

The 25-to-54 race remains air tight, though, with WFAA8 narrowly prevailing Wednesday. Just four-tenths of a rating point (12,038 viewers) separated D-FW's four major TV news providers in Wednesday's skirmish for the most viewers in the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 and NBC5 tied for first place in both measurements at 6 a.m., with WFAA8 close behind and CBS11 again woefully out of the money.

WFAA8 ran the table at 5 p.m. and added a 6 p.m. win in total viewers. Fox4 had the 6 p.m. gold with 25-to-54-year-olds.

This just in: a night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Tues., Feb. 14)


Fox4 co-anchor Steve Eagar and Dallas police chief David Brown after their live interview on Tuesday's 9 p.m. newscast. Photos: Ed Bark

Like a finely tuned Indy 500 car, Fox4's 9 p.m. newscast ran strong and steady from start to finish Tuesday.

Its three 10 p.m. rivals all developed varying engine failures.

All four stations had followup stories on the ambush shooting of Dallas police officer Ronald Workman, who escaped death when a bullet ricocheted off his lapel microphone while he was still in his squad car. Fox4 had a better idea, though. During a live studio interview at the top of the newscast, top cop David Brown walked co-anchor Steve Eagar through an escalation of such incidents, both locally and nationally.

It was a revealing one-on-one, with the chief impressively conversant while also demonstrating how officers are taught to "take a much wider angle to 'blind spots' " when responding to scenes in which a shooter may be at large. In this case, the man who opened fire also made the 911 call that brought police to the scene at a far North Dallas apartment complex. He was looking to kill a cop, Brown said, before then killing himself.

Fox4 involves its two anchors in live studio interviews almost every night. Some work better than others, but this one played great.

Later in the newscast, co-anchor Heather Hays also made good use of in-studio time by interviewing 15-year-old Laura Diosdado and her sister, Diana. Laura has Cystic Fibrosis, for which there's still no cure. But during her remaining time, she's intent on putting out the word and selling her homemade bracelets to raise both funds and awareness.

Reporter Natalie Solis ably set the stage with a story on Laura, whose one-year-old brother and six-year-old nephew also have CS. She's one of 12 children living with their mother in what Solis described as a "tiny rented house."

Laura also would like to meet singer-actress Selena Gomez, who's a Grand Prairie native. Such celebrity requests can be cringe-worthy, but in this case definitely not.

Fox4 also had the only interview with the grieving mother of a 19-year-old son who died when he was pushed into the path of a DART train. One of the culprits, a 14-year-old, was given a 30-year sentence that would make him eligible for parole when he turns 18. Or he could be sent to an adult prison at that point.

There was one mis-fire Tuesday night. Reporter Melissa Cutler's piece on the rescue of a two-month baby after a car plowed through the front of their residential home was billed by Eagar as "a story you'll see only on Fox4."

Whoops, WFAA8 and reporter Rebecca Lopez led the station's 10 p.m. newscast with that same story. Lopez stationed herself live outside the DeSoto home, but videotaped footage and interviews showed that the station also had been on the scene earlier in the day.

Normally sure-tongued co-anchor John McCaa later stumbled at the start of the DART story, telling viewers that a "teenager has been sentenced to death." He quickly amended that to "30 years, rather."

WFAA8's most heavily promoted story, dubbed "A Valentine's Miracle," ended up without a payoff. Reporter Steve Stoler told of a widow whose husband died on Valentine's Day 2007 of both cancer and heart disease. Strapped for funds, she had pawned her wedding ring in order to buy him the medications he needed. She now desperately wants the ring back, but the owner of McKinney Jewelry & Loan said her chances of recovering it after he sold it are "slim and none. And Slim left town on a spotted pony."

So that's that for now. Viewers expecting yet another local TV news "miracle" were left with Stoler's story ending open-ended. Maybe the publicity from it will help the widow in her quest. But WFAA8 had primed viewers for a happy ending that for now has gone thataway -- along with Slim.

CBS11 saw fit to lead its 10 p.m. edition with Arezow Doost's story on a Mansfield child who said she had been followed by a man in a pickup truck. A "safety alert" such as this is valid. But it's not really a newscast topper. NBC5 showed better judgment by placing the alert in the middle of its newscast.

In the night's "Only on CBS11" contribution, reporter Jason Allen talked with ancient TV faith healer Dr. James Robison, who's been administering to Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton after his latest bout with alcohol.

"I think this will be the new improved version of Josh Hamilton," Robison said, predicting a "very legitimate transformation." Robison is scheduled to interview Hamilton Wednesday on Glenn Beck's online GBTV network, which requires a paid subscription.

Earlier in the newscast, co-anchor Doug Dunbar's reader on the DART sentencing ended with a thud when he told viewers that "details of the deal today and the identity of the teen who took the deal have not been released." Except that both Fox4 and WFAA8 had the details of the deal.

CBS11 co-anchor Karen Borta twice teased a story in which "we dish the dirt on Dallas's dirty little secret." But it turned out to be a throwaway little sniglet on the alleged growing popularity of websites that lure married people into having affairs. Dallas is No. 9 on the list of cities that use such sites while San Antonio ranks No. 2 nationally, Borta said.

The oft-glib Dunbar was not remotely amused in this case. "That's going to be a firm 'No comment,' " he said sternly. "We're back in a moment."

Dunbar previously had a "happy talk" ad lib following Tracy Kornet's rather gushy tour of D-FW's "Top Luxury Listings."

"There is something for everyone," a female realtor told her. No there's not. In fact there's nothing for 99 and 99/100ths of CBS11's viewing audience. Or as Dunbar put it, "OK, all together now. We couldn't even afford the gas bill."

NBC5's Lindsay Wilcox presides over surprise live wedding proposal.

CBS11 and NBC5 both offered police dash cam video of country singer Randy Travis' earlier intoxication arrest after police found a partly consumed bottle of wine in his car.

The Peacock led its newscast with reporter Omar Villafranca's recitation of this "Country Confession." Travis both admitted to drinking and twice said "Are you kiddin' me?" when police told him he was going to jail for a spell.

The station's best story of the night, in the No. 2 slot, was veteran Night Ranger Scott Gordon's report on some specific jobs being targeted by American Airlines in its planned layoffs of 13,000 employees. Gordon said that a total of 8,800 of these layoffs would be at the expense of maintenance and ground workers, with some of their tasks being outsourced.

An AA spokesman who's not losing his job said the moves were necessary for the airline's survival.

Things then started to head deep south -- and not in a good way. Co-anchor Meredith Land, for one, is developing a bad habit of reacting off-camera with expressions of concern while stories are unfolding. They can't quite be replicated in print, but basically amount to "Oh dear."

Land also tends to ramp up the gravity, at times comically. Two popular brands of lipstick "contain traces of lead," she said at one point, her voice more suited to an announcement that the U.S. is under nuclear attack. Land is capable of good initiative reporting, including her recent arranging of a group interview with the wives of Jerry Jones, Nolan Ryan and Mark Cuban. This kind of stuff doesn't help her.

Then came the big story of the night, a "surprise" live Valentine's wedding. Newscasts are changing, but is this really necessary?

NBC5's Lindsay Wilcox first helped a seemingly nice guy named Ryan Schuette pick out an engagement ring for Tara Smith, who recently founded the Peace Tree Africa organization. She then was duped by NBC5 into thinking the station was doing a live report on her effort from Dallas' African American museum.

"I'm nervous," Land told Wilcox live. "This is a really big night. And she's going to be surprised, right?"

Hmm, maybe not. Because Wilcox was standing right next to Tara at that point. Ryan then came around a corner with a bouquet of red roses and a ring. Everyone gushed while any remaining purists in the news business (fat chance) may have scrunched themselves into fetal positions and did a Fred Sanford-esque, "Lord, I'm comin' to you. I'm comin' home to Georgia."

At the end of the newscast, co-anchor Brian Curtis noted that the 2012 Westminster Dog Show title had been won Tuesday night by a Pekingese.

"Little dogs always have the big attitudes," he said. Curtis ostensibly was talking about the best in show top dog. But while saying this he looked right past Land and directly at backup sports anchor Matt Barrie, who never said a word this time but is known for his snarky retorts. Including one at the close of Monday's late nighter.

We'll close with another expression of true love between WFAA8 weathercaster Pete Delkus and sports anchor Dale Hansen. The below picture popped up right after Pete's extended forecast. And before Hansen said that his long-suffering wife had given him a Valentine's card, which he signed right back to her.

"I thought about getting her something, and then I quickly dismissed it," said Hansen, noting that people say "it's the thought that counts."

For the record, your friendly content provider got his wife an Adele CD, a bottle of wine and a holiday card while Pete and Dale had a loving dinner together via the miracle of photo-shopping.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Feb. 14) -- The River looks sunk

ABC's second episode of The River barely made a ripple on Valentine's night after last week's two-hour premiere also ran dry.

River ranked as Tuesday's least-watched prime-time show among the Big Four broadcast networks, with just 81,289 D-FW viewers in the 8 p.m. hour. It achieved the same feat with 18-to-49-year-olds, virtually guaranteeing a quick hook.

CBS' trio of crime dramas as usual won their time slots, with new episodes of NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles and Unforgettable all cruising to easy wins in total viewers. NCIS again had Tuesday's biggest haul, with 460,639 viewers.

NCIS and Unforgettable also took the golds among 18-to-49-year-olds. NCIS: Los Angeles ran second to Fox's New Girl from 8 to 8:30 p.m. before its second half hour knocked off Fox's runner-up Raising Hope.

ABC's 7:30 p.m. return of Cougar Town after a long benching did better in D-FW than nationally. In both ratings measurements, it had bigger audiences than the network's preceding new episode of Last Man Standing. And it beat both Fox's Glee and NBC's The Biggest Loser in the key 18-to-49 demographic.

At 9 p.m., ABC's struggling Body of Proof ran third in total viewers (beating NBC's Parenthood), but drooped to fourth with 18-to-49-year-olds (with Parenthood second).

Tuesday's local news derby results were a big boost for CBS11, which won easily at 10 p.m. in total viewers while also dominating with 25-to-54-year-olds (the main advertiser target audience for news programming).

NBC5 edged Fox4 for the total viewers gold at 6 a.m., but those finishes were reversed among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Fox4 ran the table at 5 p.m.; the 6 p.m. wins went to CBS11 in total viewers and the Peacock in the 25-to-54 demo.

This just in: a night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Mon., Feb. 13)


WFAA8's Monika Diaz in one of the Omni Hotel's rooms with a view. Photos: Ed Bark

The quality of its enterprise reporting should be the standard by which any local TV news operation is measured.

So with that in mind, here goes another limited edition ratings "sweeps" look at what you're getting from D-FW's late night newscasts. Under the microscope are the featured 9 p.m. editions on Fox4 and the 10 p.m. offerings on NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11. Front and center is WFAA8, which embarrassed itself with a peep show expose and excelled by going more than a few extra miles in connection with an already heavily-covered child abduction situation.

First the good. WFAA8 reporter Marcus Moore, a promising newcomer to the station, reported from snowy New Mexico on the apprehension of an allegedly mentally disturbed mother who had fled North Texas with her 11-year-old daughter.

Their whereabouts had been a guessing game until New Mexico State police found Kimberly Smith and her daughter, Jessica, along a remote stretch of highway. Still in Kimberly's SUV, they needed food, water and rescue from the elements. And Moore, the only D-FW television reporter sent to the scene, brought the story home by interviewing the officer who found them.

"Right when I got to her, she almost collapsed," trooper Mark Sandoval said of Kimberly. "I had to hold her up."

No other station came close to WFAA8 on this one. But they'll no doubt all swarm the scene locally when young Jessica returns home.

Unfortunately, WFAA8 also soiled itself Monday night with reporter Monika Diaz's long, overblown look at a handful of downtown Omni hotel suites whose windows supposedly provide hazy long distance peeps at unsuspecting guests in various states of undress.

"It's a story you will only see on News 8," Diaz trumpeted. She apparently didn't see the irony in that.

One of the featured whistleblowers was Church Lady-ish Pam Moore, who said that the nearby Dallas Convention Center and its big picture windows afforded her the chance to "see restroom activity that was very obvious down to the anatomy."

"These poor people don't know they're on exhibition," she added, although none of the poor people were interviewed for Monday's story.

Ir was all reminiscent of the station's old "Chapel 8" days and its refusal to carry ABC's first two seasons of NYPD Blue because of the series' occasional adult scenes and language. WFAA8, the only top 10 TV market to banish NYPD Blue, eventually relented after the show was named TV's best drama series at the Emmy Awards.

For its Omni expose, WFAA8 trained its cameras on some of the hotel's corner suites and came away with pixillated images of a few scantily clad patrons. At least that's what viewers were told. Diaz also noted that onlookers could see the hotel staff not only making beds but holding meetings.

Hotel officials declined to comment on-camera, but in a statement said it "should be evident that a guest should use their window shades" if he or she didn't want to be seen. Diaz encouraged viewers to weigh in on WFAA8's Facebook page. But the station was abundantly less than truthful in selecting which comments to publicize later on Monday's 10 p.m. newscast and also during Tuesday's edition of the early morning Daybreak.

Gloria Campos, co-anchor of the 10 p.m. news, noted in passing that "some think it's not an issue," but didn't elaborate.

Actually, an overwhelming majority fell into two camps, judging from the 134 comments posted by mid-afternoon Tuesday on WFAA8's Facebook page. They either said that hotel guests should use common sense when standing in front of a window. Or they lashed WFAA8 for running the story in the first place. Since you're not likely to see any of these on a WFAA8 newscast, here are just four of the brickbats:

Naima Sumner: "I can't believe this is the top 'exclusive' story of the day considering what is happening in the world."

David Hodges: "I have lived here all of my life and watched Channel 8 all of my life but it is time to change the channel if this is what you call news."

Bradley Huffman: "What bothers me are the creeps at WFAA for filming guests while they are changing. This is supposed to be a professional news organization, not TMZ!!"

Richard Miller: "Did you disable the comments on the story? It looks like it. If so, besides being idiotic peeping toms, you are also cowards!"

Sports anchor Dale Hansen again put matters in perspective, as only he can.

Springboarding off weatherman Pete Delkus' foggy forecast, Hansen said, "It was so thick out there I couldn't hardly see into the bathrooms at the Omni." He promised to drive "a lot slower" past the hotel during his trips to and from his home in Waxahachie.

It also should be noted that WFAA8's Monday 10 p.m. newscast topped the Nielsen ratings in both total viewers and the key target audience of 25-to-54-year-olds. It was the station's first total viewers win in eight tries during the ongoing 20-weeknight February "sweeps." So whatever criticism WFAA8 receives is basically immaterial.


***Fox4 investigator Becky Oliver had an interesting story on lawsuits aimed at Europe's largest bank, Santander Consumer USA, which in the last decade or so has been servicing car loans in the U.S. and has a Dallas branch. The company, which denied all accusations in printed statements, is accused of illegitimate harassment and the unwarranted ruining of consumers' credit. Hundreds of complaints have been filed against Samander, which also is being investigated by the state attorney general's office, Oliver told viewers.

***Fox4 also has a relatively new newscast feature called "Your Turn." It's an excuse for 10 p.m. anchor Clarice Tinsley to get a little more face time reading Facebook comments. The station already has a longstanding "Viewers" Voice" segment that closes most 9 p.m. newscasts.

On Monday, Tinsley read a Facebook submission from a dude named Bill, who said his favorite Valentine's Day song is Roy Clark's "Thank God and Greyhound She's Gone." Tinsley demurred, telling viewers that her fave is "Kiss An Angel Good Morning" by Charlie Pride. "And that's what I'm going to do tomorrow to my husband," she said, prompting co-anchor Heather Hays to add, "That 's so sweet, Clarice."

Tinsley's own Facebook dust-up, which she hasn't commented on, was previously documented in these spaces.

***NBC5 easily had the night's most extensive coverage of singer Whitney Houston's death, with co-anchor Meredith Land narrating a video package. It included two TMZ photos of Houston's "disheveled hotel room" at the Beverly Hilton. NBC5 "has not been able to confirm the photos' authenticity," said Land. But the station showed them anyway.

***The station's smiley-faced closing "kicker" touted a study that said people can lose weight more effectively by eating sweets for breakfast. Even a piece of cake supposedly is OK because it reduces such cravings later in the day.

"Worst study ever," said NBC5 sports anchor Matt Barrie, who deserved a standing ovation for that declaration.

Co-anchor Brian Curtis instead kept on grinning while retorting, "I don't know. Make mine Red Velvet."

***CBS11 had an intriguing "only on CBS11" story by reporter Jason Allen, who reported from Lewisville on an apparent prank by an X Box user that prompted a SWAT team to respond to an alleged shooting with the shooter still at large.

Instead the cops surrounded a home in which a teenager was merely playing the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops. The kid recounted his story to Allen, but didn't want his face shown on camera. Police are still looking for the prankster.

***CBS11 also aired its heavily promoted story on the wealth of reality series originating from Dallas. But it basically amounted to a commercial for the Style Network's Big Rich Texas, which starts its second season Sunday night.

Reporter Tracy Kornet said her station was "granted exclusive access to go behind the scenes" of Big Rich Texas. A scene was being shot at Skintastic, whose resident doctor also got a nice plug.

The story never got into how Big Rich Texas, Most Eligible Dallas and other such concoctions invariably leave the country at large with the impression that the city and state are populated by vacuous, excess-oriented posers. Kornet instead relied on the wisdom of blogger Cynthia Smoot, who said, "It's great exposure for Dallas, whether you love it or you love to hate it."

Co-anchor Doug Dunbar later said it might be fun to give reality show addicts a look at the real-goings on at CBS11.

"Wait until you see that," he said.


Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Feb. 13) -- The Voice dominates before Smash crashes

NBC's The Voice improved on its already dominating Nielsen numbers from last week, but Smash then shattered any dreams of an all-powerful Monday night.

The Peacock's 7 to 9 p.m. edition of The Voice averaged 596,121 D-FW viewers to more than double the audience for any competing attraction. CBS' 8 p.m. new episode of Two and a Half Men (291,286 viewers) fared the best but had less than half the audience.

NBC's second episode of Smash then plunged to 264,190 viewers while losing audience in each of the 15-minute increments measured by Nielsen. But it still held on to win its time slot opposite ABC's No. 2 Castle (230,319 viewers).

Smash took an even heavier hit among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, though, drawing well less than one-third the audience for Voice. The respective totals were 281,802 viewers and 76,855, leaving Smash in a second place tie with CBS' Hawaii Five-0 and just one-tenth of a rating point ahead of Castle.

Fox's 7 to 9 p.m. lineup of House and Alcatraz had a tough night all around, running fourth in both ratings measurements.

In local news derby results, WFAA8 notched a much-needed 10 p.m. win among total viewers after being shut out on the first seven nights of the 20-weeknight February "sweeps." The ABC station also had a commanding win among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 likewise swept the 6 a.m. races while WFAA8 won at 5 and 6 p.m. in the 25-to-54 demographic. The total viewer victories at 5 and 6 p.m. went to NBC5 and CBS11.

Snakes alive on WFAA8's Good Morning Texas in new rival to NBC5's famed leapin' lizard incident (amended)

Madcap WFAA8 just can't help itself lately. This latest on-air fiasco involves Good Morning Texas contributor Paige McCoy Smith and a small snake placed on her shoulder by a helpful employee.

Her ultra-hysterical reaction is the first serious D-FW contender to one of the greatest reptilian moments of all time. That of course would be former NBC5 anchor Michael Scott's up close and personal brush with a gecko on an August 2002 edition of DFW Today. It's now received more than one million youtube views, but McCoy Smith might someday be a contender.

(Note to readers: Turns out it was a fake snake in the form of a piece of video cable. My mistake. It still had the desired effect on a near-hysterical Smith.)

Below are the videos. Your comments are welcome. Does Good Morning Texas have a winner here?

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Feb. 10-12) -- Grammys top the million mark

Infused by the death of Whitney Houston and a Beach Boys reunion, Sunday night's annual Grammy Awards on CBS hit high notes beyond all expectations.

The three-and-a-half-hour ceremony averaged a mega-sized 1,022,889 D-FW viewers, a figure in league with some Dallas Cowboys games this past season. At its high point, 1,158, 371 viewers watched between 9 and 9:15 p.m.

CBS11's delayed 10:30 p.m. newscast, with its A-team anchors and meteorologist in the saddle, drew 589,347 viewers, its biggest audience in recent memory. Over on ABC, new episodes of Once Upon a Time and Desperate Housewives were left for dead with 128,708 and 162,578 viewers respectively opposite the Grammys.

AMC's 8 p.m. return of The Walking Dead had more viewers -- 182,901 -- than either of the ABC series. But the premiere of AMC's Comic Book Men then plunged to a meager 27,096 viewers.

CBS and the Grammys also soared with advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, amassing 496,357 viewers in this age range.

On Friday night, WFAA8's ballyhooed comedy weather segment with Rangers pitcher Derek Holland failed to give the station a lift among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. Instead the station ran fourth in this key demographic while losing viewers from its ABC lead-in, 20/20. NBC5 took the gold by a comfortable margin while runnerup CBS11 doubled WFAA8's haul and third place Fox4 nearly doubled it. At the seven weekday mark of the 20-day sweeps, the Peacock still leads all competitors in what would be a major upset.

In the 10 p.m. total viewers race, CBS11 remained firmly in control of first place, thumping second place WFAA8 while benefiting from a sizable lead-in advantage from CBS Blue Bloods. But Blue Bloods and 20/20 ran neck-and-neck with 25-to-54-year-olds, giving WFAA8 no credible excuse for its Holland-themed shortfall in that key measurement.

The other local news derby competitions found NBC5 running first at 6 a.m. in total viewers and tying Fox4 for the top spot with 25-to-54-year-olds.

The Peacock also swept the 5 p.m. races while the 6 p.m. golds were split between CBS11 in total viewers and Fox4 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Under the weather in the ratings, WFAA8 resorts to comedy forecaster Derek Holland of your Texas Rangers


Texas Rangers pitcher Derek Holland goofballed his way through the weather on Friday's edition of WFAA8's 10 p.m. news. Photos: Ed Bark

OK, it was only the weather. And in some TV markets, clowns have been doing it for years.

Still, Dallas-based WFAA8 long has touted itself as the awards-laden imperial palace of local TV news. You know, the station whose reporters are "crossing state lines" in the interest of "bringing home the kinds of stories no other local station can."

During Friday's 10 p.m. newscast, WFAA8 crossed another line to do the kind of weathercast no other D-FW station ever has. It brought Texas Rangers pitcher Derek Holland in to play around with highs, lows and precipitation while regular forecaster Pete Delkus laughed himself silly.

Holland, the off-center left hander with a small bag of celebrity impressions, brought his poor man's Harry Caray into play while also exclaiming ad nauseum, "Would you look at that!? Just look at it!" That's the oft-used tagline of a youtube comedian known as Ed Bassmaster. It got painful pretty quickly.

Holland's goofball weather segment, promoted throughout the day by WFAA8, came just four days after the ABC affiliate hailed its incoming news director, Carolyn Mungo, as a veritable Joan of Arc of journaism.

But she won't become "the next outstanding leader in the WFAA newsroom" until late February. Meanwhile, WFAA8 so far is fighting losing battles on two fronts in the ongoing February "sweeps" ratings competition.

Through six of the 20 weekdays, WFAA8 has yet to win at 10 p.m. in total viewers while CBS11 leads the pack by a fairly comfy margin. Among the main advertiser target audience for news programming -- 25-to-54-year-olds -- WFAA8 is running third in a very tight three-way race that currently is being paced by NBC5. Yes, that's a shocker, and would be the biggest upset in many a sweeps period if the Peacock somehow manages to hold on.

WFAA8 won both of these contests in the November "sweeps," nipping CBS11 in total viewers while winning fairly easily with 25-to-54-year-olds. But that was then. In the context of the here and now, using Holland as a weathercaster smacked of abject desperation. But if it works, WFAA8 has opened the door wide for the likes of Khloe Kardashian to step in and try her hand at some point. After all, the Rubicon has been crossed.

For his part, Holland predicted "six feet of rain in Wichita Falls" and a "chance of snow" on both Monday and Wednesday before sliding over to Dale Hansen's sportscast and happily agreeing to his request to do Mavericks and Stars highlights while mimicking "Will Ferrell doing Harry Carey."

It's certainly not a crime -- or even a misdemeanor -- to have a little fun on a local newscast. And maybe WFAA8 roped in a few extra helpings of 25-to-54-year-olds by turning both its weather and sports segments into carnival sideshows. But at what price? Or does anybody even give a crap anymore?

There are still a few small pockets of resistance at WFAA8. At least a handful of veteran staffers no doubt are privately appalled by what went down on Friday night. But in reality, all resistance is futile.

WFAA8's sense of entitlement marches on, and its cache of major national awards has been duly cited and praised in these spaces. But the station's heads of state can no longer sniff and say loftily, "Oh, we'd never do something like that."

Because they already have.

WFAA8's Moe, Larry and Curly. Er, Pete, Derek and Dale.

MIGHT AS WELL GET ALL OF THIS OUT OF MY SYSTEM -- WFAA8's Good Morning Texas (9 a.m. weekdays) has yet another new male co-host.

Ty Treadway, 45, has a notable national resume, coming to GMT after stints as a daytime soap regular (One Life to Live, Days of Our Lives), a game show emcee (Merv Griffin's Crosswords) and co-host of Soap Talk with Lisa Rinna.

Treadway, who now lives in Frisco, also is an accomplished bodybuilder who once reigned as Mr. Natural Pennsylvania.

In the below photo, Treadway and incumbent GMT co-host Amy Vanderoef use chocolate mustaches to mimic poor weathercaster Greg Fields. It happened on Thursday's show, and perhaps could carry over into a "Chocolate Mustache Night" on an upcoming 10 p.m. newscast. All right, enough.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thursday, Feb. 9) -- this time it's Big Bang's turn

Thursday brought another rock 'em, sock 'em battle between CBS' The Big Bang Theory and Fox's first half-hour of American Idol.

Idol narrowly won last week, but Big Bang responded in kind last night. It had 454,542 D-FW viewers from 7 to 7:30 p.m. compared to Idol's 444,042. And among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, it was Big Bang, 207,509, and Idol, 192,778.

The second half of Idol again swamped CBS' competing Rob in both ratings measurements.

CBS comfortably won from 8 to 10 p.m. in total viewers with new episodes of Person of Interest and The Mentalist. But it was the same old story with 18-to-49-year-olds, who preferred ABC's competing medical mambo of Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice.

In local news derby results, CBS11 swept the 10 p.m. competitions in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. It's beginning to look very dicey for reigning champ WFAA8 in the total viewer Nielsens. The station hasn't won in that measurement yet in the first six weekdays of the February "sweeps." And on Friday night, WFAA8 is resorting to Texas Rangers pitcher Derek Holland as its 10 p.m. weathercaster, with Pete Delkus standing by in case he throws a curve ball and predicts a plague of locusts and triple-digit temperatures for the D-FW viewing area.

At 6 a.m., NBC5 rose up for a rare doubleheader sweep during a sweeps month in which it's being hard-pressed by WFAA8 for second place in the 25-to-54 Nielsens.

The 6 p.m. spoils were split between WFAA8 in total viewers and Fox4 in the 25-to-54 demo.

NBC5 won at 5 p.m. in total viewers and shared the 25-to-54 top spot with WFAA8.

Former WFAA8 anchor Macie Jepson and the station reach undisclosed settlement on her discrimination claim

Macie Jepson in WEWS-TV photo

Three and a half years after being laid off, anchor Macie Jepson and WFAA8 have written the last chapter in their relationship with the settlement of her discrimination suit against the Dallas-based station.

No one is talking about the terms of the settlement.

A spokesman for WFAA8 said the station will have no comment. Jepson's lawyer, David Watsky of Dallas' Gillespie, Rosen & Watsky law firm, said via email, "Sorry, but I cannot comment on this." And Jepson herself, now co-anchoring the Good Morning Cleveland program on WEWS-TV, has not returned emails asking for details and/or comment. She worked at WFAA8 for eight years and was co-anchoring weekday 5 p.m. newscasts when the station laid her off in August of 2008.

This much is known. Jepson did receive some sort of monetary compensation. And scheduled testimony in January on the part of at least two on-camera WFAA8 employees was canceled. All WFAA8 employees who claim discrimination on the part of the station are contractually required to have matters decided by arbitration rather than in a public courtroom trial.

Warranted or not, WFAA8 has been on the receiving end of three discrimination suits that were resolved in the past five years.

In January 2007, former WFAA8 anchor Scott Sams was awarded a total of $683,771 by an arbitrator. In that instance, both sides claimed victory, with the station saying that Sams received only four percent of what he had asked for while his attorney countered, "That four percent is a 'spin,' and that's putting it mildly."

In November of last year, arbitrator Elizabeth Scott Wood ruled that WFAA8 anchor-reporter Debbie Denmon's claims of discrimination had "no merit." WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin issued an official statement in reaction to the ruling, saying in part that "we are glad we fought this to the end and obtained complete vindication of any wrongdoing."

Denmon, who remains at WFAA8, so far has declined to comment.

Fox4 and CBS11 also have been on the receiving ends of discrimination suits in recent years.

CBS11 reporter Bud Gillett filed suit in July of 2009, but later dropped it. He remains with the station.

Former Fox4 reporter Rebecca Aguilar, the only one to take her case to a jury trial, lost her discrimination suit in December of 2010.

Sams, Gillett and Jepson all were represented by the Gillespie, Rosen & Watsky firm. Denmon's lawyer was Michael Coles of The Coles Firm in Dallas and Aguilar retained William Trantham & Associates of Denton.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Feb. 8) -- Idol's turn to flex

Another network TV big gun dominated the prime-time landscape Wednesday, with Fox's American Idol rolling up 541,928 D-FW viewers to rank as the night's runaway most-watched attraction.

That fell a bit shy of CBS' NCIS, which had 548,702 viewers on Tuesday night. But it was better than NBC's The Voice, whose two-hour edition amassed 501,283 viewers on Monday night. All three shows had no equal in the audience-grabbing department.

CBS' Criminal Minds won Wednesday's 8 p.m. slot with 359,027 viewers while Fox's Mobbed plunged to 203,223 viewers. At 9 p.m., CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation took the total viewers crown with 291,286.

Idol and CSI also won their time slots with advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds. But from 8 to 8:30 p.m., ABC's Modern Family topped that key demographic before Minds prevailed from 8:30 to 9 p.m.

The premiere of CBS' Person to Person, a re-imagined version of the old Edward R. Murrow hour, ran a respectable second in the 7 p.m. hour ahead of ABC's The Middle and Suburgatory and NBC's Whitney and Are You There, Chelsea?.

Person skewed north of Forest Lawn, though, with its minimal 18-to-49-year-old audience putting it fifth behind Fox, ABC, NBC and The CW's One Tree Hill.

ABC's 9 p.m. entry, Revenge, started fast in the fall but now is flagging. It ran third in total viewers, ahead of Fox4's local newscast, but dipped to fourth place at that hour with 18-to-49-year-olds.

In Wednesday's "sweeps"-infused local news derby results, an increasingly competitive NBC5 tied CBS11 for first place at 10 p.m. in total viewers and won outright with 25-to-54-year-olds, the prime target audience for news programming.

It's always something, though. Fox4 narrowly ran the table at 6 a.m. while the Peacock barely beat a resurgent WFAA8 in total viewers and again fell to third behind the ABC station in the 25-to-54 measurement. NBC5 and WFAA8 are in a horse race for second place at this early hour among 25-to-54-year-olds, with WFAA8 hoping to get out of third place for the first time in several years.

WFAA8 swept the 5 p.m. competitions, where it continues to battle NBC5 through the first five weekdays of the February sweeps. CBS11 remained strong in the total viewers measurement at 6 p.m., notching its third straight win. Fox4 is still in great shape with 25-to-54-year-olds, winning its fourth 6 p.m. face-off in five nights.

Two pair on Thursday's Daybreak


Daybreak's ratings are no longer a big bust, but . . . Photo: Ed Bark

You don't often wake up to visuals like these on an early morning local news program.

WFAA8's Daybreak went for it Thursday, though, with a segment on Valentine's Day gift-gifting that included a lingerie-clad four-pack on a pair of mannequins.

Co-anchor Ron Corning presided, with help from D magazine's Raya Ramsey. In addition to undies, she suggested several restaurant and chocolate options for your sweetheart. Corning listened attentively and stayed away from any word plays.

Daybreak long has been No. 3 in D-FW's early morning news wars. But a saturation "Corning Taking Over the Morning" ad campaign -- in addition to his boyish appeal and comedy stylings -- have helped to put the program within striking distance of No. 2 NBC5 in the key 25-to-54 news demographic. The stations so far are running neck-and-neck in the early stages of the February "sweeps" ratings period, with Fox4's Good Day still pretty comfortably on top.

Corning arrived from New York to join Daybreak and co-anchor Cynthia Izaguirre in late April. He wore glasses on the air Thursday, telling his mates that allergies apparently were preventing him from seeing with his contacts. Told that he looked like Clark Kent, Corning agreed that he was Superman before Izaguirre cracked, "In your own mind."

Izaguirre is pregnant with twins, and her due date is May 17th, she told viewers in mid-November. That would be right in the heart of the May "sweeps," so Corning likely will be paired with an interim anchor for all or much of that month.

On Thursday's Daybreak there were other pairs in view. Hey, it's the sweeps.

NBC5 has new sports reporter, with Rontina McCann out

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In & out at NBC5 sports: David Watkins and Rontina McCann

NBC5 confirmed Wednesday that its sports staff has added David Watkins and parted ways with Rontina McCann.

Watkins, already with the Fort Worth-based station, arrived from Minneapolis' NBC affiliate, KARE-TV. He's a graduate of Plano West High School and the University of Missouri.

"He is filling a position left open when Rontina left the station," NBC5 vice president of programming Brian Hocker said in an email reply.

McCann spent just a year at NBC5 after arriving last February from Cincinnati's WXIX-TV. Her future plans are unknown at this point.

NBC5 has had a steady stream of young women news staffers leaving the station for various reasons in recent months.

Kim Fischer departed last August and now is anchoring and reporting in Salt Lake City. Ashanti Blaize and Susy Solis (lately freelancing with CBS11) left in October and Julie Tam went away in January.

WFAA8 adds another Fox station newsie -- reporter Teresa Woodard -- to its newsroom


Dallas native and Texas A&M grad Teresa Woodard is being added to Dallas-based WFAA8's reporting staff.

She comes from Fox affiliate KTVI-TV in St. Louis, where she had worked since October 2005, according to her station biography.

An email to WFAA8 staffers said that Woodard would be a reporter for the ABC station. But she also co-anchored KTVI's Saturday and Sunday morning newscasts, so further anchoring also could be in her future.

Woodard began her reporting career at stations in Bryan and Waco, Texas (KBTX and KCEN respectively) before moving up to WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee. She joined KTVI from that station.

On Tuesday, WFAA8 named Carolyn Mungo as news director after she abruptly resigned in late January from Fox-owned KRIV-TV in Houston. So that's two incoming Foxies, although Mungo also has strong Belo ties from her previous tenure as a reporter for the company's KHOU-TV in Houston. WFAA8 also is among the 20 TV stations owned by Belo Corp., whose corporate offices are across the street in downtown Dallas.

Woodard's scheduled first day at WFAA8 is March 23rd.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Feb. 7) -- The River runs dry for ABC; CBS11 runs strong at 10 p.m.

ABC's The River may soon be water under the dam, judging from the ratings for its two-hour premiere.

Hoping to entrance viewers with a mix of mystery, horror and hand-held cameras, The River somewhat held its own in D-FW's total viewer Nielsens but fell hard with advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds.

Its 8 to 10 p.m. Tuesday launch averaged 155,804 viewers overall, outdrawing NBC's second half of The Biggest Loser and Parenthood while nipping Fox's 8:30 to 9 p.m. new episode of Raising Hope. But it had less than half the audience for CBS' NCIS: Los Angeles (406,446 viewers) while also losing to the network's Unforgettable (298,060), Fox's New Girl (209,997) and Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast (162,578).

The 18-to-49 verdict was harsher, with The River beating only the flagging Loser while Parenthood rose from fourth to first place at 9 p.m. in this key demographic.

At 7 p.m., CBS' 200th episode of NCIS easily had Tuesday's biggest overhaul haul, flexing with 548,702 total viewers while also winning comfortably among 18-to-49-year-olds opposite Fox's second place Glee.

In local news derby results, CBS11 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers for the third of four weeknight February "sweeps" competitions. Its 304,835 viewers trounced runnerup and reigning champ WFAA8 (189,675 viewers), which has yet to record a late night sweeps win in this measurement.

CBS11 also added its first 10 p.m. gold among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 swept the 6 a.m. Nielsens, with WFAA8 continuing its strong push for a second place finish among 25-to-54-year-olds by nipping NBC5 for second place.

But the Peacock ran the table at 5 p.m. for the third time in four weekdays. The 6 p.m. crowns went to CBS11 in total viewers and Fox4 with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Mungo officially baptized as WFAA8 news director via two-page publicity release

Carolyn Mungo in Facebook profile picture

Effusive praise from her new boss and an emphasis on making new digital media inroads characterized WFAA8's official publicity release announcing Carolyn Mungo as the Dallas-based station's new news director.

Her hiring was reported earlier Tuesday on unclebarky.com. Mungo will make it an unprecedented foursome in the D-FW market, with women also running the newsrooms at Fox4 (newcomer Robin Whitmeyer), NBC5 (Susan Tully) and CBS11 (Adrienne Roark).

Mungo previously worked for WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin during his time as news director at Houston's KHOU-TV. She's a New York native who resigned in late January as assistant news director at KRIV-TV, Houston's owned and operated Fox station.

"As someone who worked in the field for many years, Carolyn knows the importance of enterprise reporting," Devlin said in a statement. "Her background in newsgathering is an essential quality for a successful WFAA newsroom."

Both WFAA8 and KHOU are owned by Dallas-based Belo Corp. Mungo was one of Devlin's star, award-winning reporters at KHOU. Both left the station in 2005.

Mungo is "experienced, resilient, thoughtful and a good communicator, whom I believe will be the next outstanding leader in the WFAA newsroom," Devlin said.

She in turn was not shy about touting herself as a visionary.

"The demands of a major market newsroom take a special set of skills," Mungo said in the WFAA8 publicity release. "I am well aware of the challenges because I have lived them. I am thrilled to be able to lead WFAA to new heights, and to continue the legacy and tradition of a strong newsroom in North Texas."

Mungo said she also is well-versed in digital media extending beyond the traditional living room TV set.

"It's not good enough anymore to simply embrace new media," she said. "It has to become part of the fabric of a television station. The key is engagement, every hour of every day. Creating strong local content on multiple platforms will be a top priority. I cannot think of a more exciting time to be in television news."

Devlin noted that news consumers "are watching the 'three screens' more than ever. And reaching them is important to our success. Carolyn's foundation as a field reporter and content-focused news director are essential to a successful digital strategy at the station."

In an unsolicited email to unclebarky.com, former WFAA8 city hall reporter Chris Heinbaugh (now director of external affairs for the AT&T Performing Arts Center) lauded Mungo as a "journalist's news director who values strong reporting, writing and storytelling. And as a manager, she is a teacher who supports veteran reporters and nurtures and inspires new ones."

Heinbaugh said he has known Mungo for 18 years, both as a friend and as a news competitor during their days in Phoenix. "She was always the one to beat when it came to winning Emmy Awards, especially for writing," he said.

In the November "sweeps" ratings period, WFAA8 won only one major ratings battle in the key news demographic of 25-to-54-year-old viewers. The ABC affiliate topped the four-way 10 p.m. newscast competition while finishing third at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. and second at 6 p.m.

WFAA8 recently has made inroads at 6 a.m., and has a fighting chance to pull into second place ahead of NBC5 among 25-to-54-year-olds at the close of the ongoing February sweeps.

WFAA8 said that Mungo will begin her news director duties in late February. The incumbent news director, Michael Valentine, has been named to a corporate position as vice president/content for Belo-owned TV stations.

Sources say WFAA8 has settled on Carolyn Mungo as new news director (updated: and now it's official)

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Kurt Davis of KENS and Carolyn Mungo, formerly of KRIV

WFAA8 is locked down tighter than a Joan Rivers facelift on this. But numerous reliable sources say that Carolyn Mungo soon will be named the station's new news director.

Sources close to the situation also say that Kurt Davis, news director at Belo-owned KENS-TV of San Antonio, was offered the position but decided to turn it down. In January, unclebarky.com reported that Davis had emerged as a "leading candidate" to become WFAA8's news director.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Davis declined to comment. WFAA also is owned by Belo Corp., whose offices are located across the street from WFAA8's in downtown Dallas.

(As this story was being posted, an official email went out to Belo employees announcing the hiring of Mungo.

Mungo then said on her Facebook page: "I think if you live on this earth long enough, good things are bound to happen. I am honored to be joining the team at WFAA as news director. Cannot wait to get started." She's scheduled to start in late February.)

Mungo left Houston's Fox-owned KRIV-TV in late January. She had been KRIV's assistant news director since 2009 after joining the station in 2005. Before that, Mungo worked as a reporter from 1999 to 2005 at Houston's Belo-owned KHOU-TV. She was the Texas Associated Press's reporter of the year in 2001.

Current WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin also was at KHOU during those years, serving as news director from 1998 until joining WFAA8 in March of 2005 as vice president and station manager.

On Jan. 30th, Mungo told Houston media blogger Mike McGuff, "I can say I am very excited about my future." She could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Devlin recently issued a standing "No comment" policy in regard to any inquiries from unclebarky.com. "Stop emailing me," he said in an email. "Put a 'no comment' by my name."

If Mungo is hired, all four major TV news providers in D-FW would have women as their news directors. Robin Whitmeyer holds that position at Fox4, Susan Tully is news director at NBC5 and Adrienne Roark is in charge at CBS11. Mungo would be WFAA8's first female news director, but the station previously has had women in the general manager position. Incumbent WFAA8 new director Michael Valentine is taking a position with Belo corporate.

Had he agreed to become WFAA8's news director, Davis would have been the first African-American male news director at any D-FW station.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Feb. 6) -- Voice roars, Smash passes first test

NBC can finally exhale.

The hard-pressed Peacock has just had its dreamiest Monday night since Justin Bieber was in diapers.

A two-hour edition of The Voice, following Sunday's post-Super Bowl launch, commanded the 7 to 9 p.m. slot with 501,283 D-FW viewers while also crunching all competing programming in the key 18-to-49 demographic. It was an Idol-esque performance from start to finish.

NBC's heavily banked on and saturation-promoted Smash then won the 9 p.m. hour with 318,383 total viewers while also holding serve with 18-to-49-year-olds. The audience fall-offs were substantial but not debilitating for the critically praised Broadway musical drama. And Smash had more than twice as many 18-to-49-year-old viewers as CBS' competing Hawaii Five-0, which drooped to fourth place in that measurement behind ABC's Castle and Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast.

All of the networks were all in with all new programming on the first Monday of the four-week February "sweeps" ratings period.

CBS' Two and a Half Men remained its most-watched Monday night entry, but took a severe beating from the 8 to 8:30 p.m. portion of The Voice. The score during that half hour was 555,476 to 291,286 in total viewers and 291,409 to 134,497 in the 18-to-49 demographic.

Fox's new Alcatraz managed a decent showing in total viewers, beating ABC's second half of The Bachelor and CBS' Mike & Molly in the 8 p.m. hour. But it trailed Bachelor among 18-to-49-year-olds while barely avoiding an across-the-board fourth place finish by nipping Mike & Molly.

At 7 p.m., Fox's House ran a distant second to The Voice in total viewers while falling to fourth place with 18-to-49-year-olds.

NBC's rare embarrassment of prime-time riches paid off big for NBC5's 10 p.m. newscast. The Peacock won comfortably in total viewers and slaughtered the opposition among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. On that demographic scorecard, NBC5 had 141,437 viewers while WFAA8 and CBS11 tied for second with 63,195 apiece.

In Monday's other local news derby results, NBC5 won at 6 a.m. in total viewers while Fox4 prevailed among 25-to-54-year-olds.

WFAA8 ran the table at 5 p.m.; the 6 p.m. golds went to CBS11 in total viewers and Fox4 with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Feb. 3-5) -- latest Supie falls short of previous Jerry's Palace edition


A super-imposed look at Eli's Super Bowl celebration. Photo: Ed Bark

Sunday's Super Bowl XLVI on NBC came close to averaging 2.5 million D-FW viewers while still falling well short of last February's ice capades-themed game at Jerry's Palace.

The Giants' 21-17 win over the Patriots, originating from Indianapolis and running from 5:30 to 8:53 p.m., drew 2,404,477 viewers with a peak crowd of 2,635,125 for its closing minutes. Supie XLV, in which the Packers whipped the Steelers, had 2,791,057 viewers locally with a high of 3,068,085.

Sunday night's most-watched competing attraction, CBS' 60 Minutes, had 54,193 viewers.

From then on it was the usual diminishing returns. NBC's post-game show, stretching to 9:19 p.m., had 1,774,814 viewers for its 9 to 9:15 p.m. increment (Nielsen measures in quarter-hours). The Season 2 premiere of The Voice then dove to 968,696 viewers, still a very respectable haul.

NBC5's one-hour "Super-Sized Edition" of its late night news, which got off to a 10:22 p.m. start, clocked in with roughly 359,027 viewers after sharing its first quarter-hour with The Voice. As noted in the Super Bowl overview on the Network News & Reviews page, co-anchor Meredith Land scored a nice coup by getting the wives of Jerry Jones, Nolan Ryan and Mark Cuban to sit down together for an interview.

Friday's prime-time Nielsens were paced as usual by CBS' Blue Bloods. The cop drama's new 9 p.m. episode pulled in 311,609 viewers while again falling off with advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds to run third at that hour behind ABC's 20/20 and NBC's Dateline.

At 8 p.m. it was grim news for NBC's first-year series Grimm, which ran fourth in both ratings measurements.

In Friday's local news derby results, CBS11 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers but WFAA8 chalked up a first place finish among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 swept the 6 a.m. competitions while doing likewise at 6 p.m. NBC5 ran the table at 5 p.m.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed.-Thurs., Feb. 1-2) -- Idol edges Big Bang, NBC5 news makes surprise showing on first day of Feb. "sweeps"

The Big 4 broadcast networks, and The CW, loaded up with all-new programming Thursday on opening night of the four-week February "sweeps" ratings period.

In another battle of the night's two Titans, the first half-hour of Fox's American Idol reversed last week's losses to CBS' The Big Bang Theory.

Idol amassed 448,445 D-FW viewers from 7 to 7:30 p.m., with Big Bang drawing 420,672. Among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, Idol won by a score of 164,118 to 152,750.

The second half of Idol then upped its audience while smashing CBS' competing Rob. Overall, Idol averaged a night's best 494,509 total viewers.

CBS won the 8 to 10 p.m. hours with new episodes of its regular crime combo, Person of Interest and The Mentalist. But ABC's first-run medical medley, Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice, topped the charts with 18-to-49-year-olds.

NBC's 30 Rock and Parks & Recreation ran a disastrous fifth in total viewers from 7 to 8 p.m., losing even to The CW's Vampire Diaries. The Peacock's best overall performer, The Office, had just 128,708 total viewers at 8 p.m. It ran a distant fourth in that measurement while moving up to third with 18-to-49-year-olds ahead of the opening half of Person of Interest.

Despite having no help whatsoever from its parent network, NBC5 pulled off a surprisingly strong showing in the February sweeps' first running of the local news derby.

The Peacock had a 10 p.m. win among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. And NBC5 swept the 5 and 6 p.m. competitions in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds.

CBS11 had a 10 p.m. win in total viewers while Fox4 ran the table at 6 a.m.

WFAA8 was shut out on opening night, but had a silver lining at 6 a.m. The station's Daybreak ran a solid second with 25-to-54-year-olds, improving markedly after a steady and ongoing barrage of promotions for co-anchor Ron "Taking Over the Morning" Corning.

WFAA8 long has been the third-place station at this early hour, but now has a realistic chance to out-duel NBC5 for the runner-up spot in the key 25-to-54 demographic. The Peacock is still likely to hold on to second place in total viewers, but that could be close, too.

On sweeps eve Wednesday, Idol flexed against mostly re-runs. Its 501,283 total viewers easily were the night's high.

The Dallas Mavericks' run-out-of-gas home loss to the smooth-running Oklahoma City Thunder drew a combined 135,482 total viewers on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN. That's a surprisingly low number.

Wednesday's local news derby numbers went like this: CBS11 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers but WFAA8 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Fox4 ran first at 6 a.m. in total viewers while WFAA8 had the 25-to-54 gold. Both of the 5 p.m. wins went to Fox4, which also finished first at 6 p.m. in the 25-to-54 demo. Fox4 and WFAA8 tied for the 6 p.m. top spot in total viewers.

I think I've just filled up 3 mins. of CW33's 9 p.m. newscast on opening night of the February "sweeps"

Dude named Giorgio sings his entire elongated $34.83 Sonic drive-in order while strummin' on the guitar. Go for it, CW33. Go for it with the full blessing of unclebarky.com. Because it's a fun, feel-good "story" that's guaranteed to please viewers of all ages en route to going viral.
Ed Bark

Fox4 entertains idea of putting former CBS11 meteoroglist Julie Bologna back in view

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Meteorologist Julie Bologna in CBS11 (left) and WPXI photos.

Former CBS11 early morning meteorologist Julie Bologna has hopes of re-entering the D-FW market.

Several sources with knowledge of the situation confirm that Bologna interviewed at Dallas-based Fox4 last week. If hired, she likely would be assuming the weathercasting duties of Fiona Gorostiza, who under the terms of a new contract will become a full-time reporter after her replacement is named. But nothing has been decided yet, and there are other candidates.

Gorostiza, who joined Fox4 in December 2008, already contributes regular feature reports and also covers entertainment news. And she's the lead singer for Fox4's Good Day house band, known as Good Daze.

Bologna was with CBS11 from 2004 to 2008 before returning to her hometown of Pittsburgh and her previous station, WPXI, where she had been a weathercaster for five years before moving to D-FW. But Bologna left WPXI for a second time last July. The married mother of two young sons said that her daily duties on WPXI's weekday 5:30, 6, 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts were making it difficult to maintain a healthy family life. Efforts to work out a lighter schedule at WPXI were unsuccessful.

Bologna, whose husband is a native Texan, could not be reached for comment. Her previous cell phone number now belongs to someone else. Gorostiza has not returned an email message asking for comment or clarification.

"Real Stories. Real People. Real Coverage" (For Real?)

The February "sweeps" ratings period must be just around the bend.

And in fact it is, starting Thursday, Feb. 2nd and running through Feb. 29th. So CBS11 is beating the drums -- literally -- on behalf of "Stories You Won't See Anywhere Else."

What's more, they're "Real Stories." About "Real People." Which all adds up to "Real Coverage." You know, not like those other pretenders.

The below promo is on behalf of CBS11's 10 p.m. newscasts, which again will go against arch rival and reigning champ WFAA8's nightly editions. Another tight race is expected between the two of them, particularly in the total viewers measurement. WFAA8 won in the November sweeps by a dinky 4,810 total viewers but enjoyed a wider margin with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

A year ago in February, CBS11 narrowly ran first at 10 p.m. in both of those key measurements. Here's the station's newest come-on:

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Jan. 31) -- CBS crime reruns pop with total viewers but Fox on fire with 18-to-49-year-olds

CBS and Fox markedly accentuated their differences in Tuesday's D-FW Nielsens.

The older-skewing CBS cashed in with crime repeats -- at least among total viewers. But the kid on the block ran the prime-table among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds with an all-new lineup.

CBS' 7 p.m. episode of NCIS again was the night's overall top draw, with 345,479 total viewers. The network's NCIS: Los Angeles and Unforgettable also won their time slots in this measurement.

Fox countered with prime cuts of the 18-to-49 demographic, with its 8 p.m. episode of New Girl topping all programming with 156,913 viewers in this age range. The network's Glee and Raising Hope also ran first with 18-to-49-year-olds before Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast made it a prime-time sweep.

The four-way local news derby numbers had a little something for everyone. CBS11 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers while NBC5 narrowly took the gold among 25-to-54-year-old, the main advertiser target for news programming. Less than two-tenths of a rating point separated the first-place Peacock from WFAA8 and CBS11, which tied for third a smidgen behind Fox4.

Fox4 again swept the 6 a.m. competitions, with a resurgent WFAA8 taking the silver with 25-to-54-year-olds. CBS11 remains a non-factor as the February "sweeps" ratings period beckons with Thursday's start.

CBS11 nipped Fox4 for first place in total viewers at 6 p.m., but Fox4 rebounded with a win among 25-to-54-year-olds.

NBC5 ran first at 5 p.m. in total viewers while the Peacock and WFAA8 shared the 25-to-54 gold.