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Henderson weighs staying with Good Day, other options


Will she stay or will she go?

That's still an open question for Fox4 and Good Day co-anchor Megan Henderson, whose latest contract with the station expires in February.

"I have yet to make any decisions about my future," Henderson said in an email response. "I'm currently looking at all options, including staying with Fox4."

Henderson joined Fox4 and Good Day in 2003, replacing Julia Somers, now going by the name of Julie Summers at Miami ABC affiliate WPLG-TV. Good Day generally has been at or near the top of the early morning ratings during Henderson's tenure with incumbent Tim Ryan. But the show also did well with the Ryan-Somers team.

Fox4 management, which has a policy of not commenting on ongoing personnel matters, declined Wednesday to discuss Henderson's situation.

As previously reported, Henderson filled in twice last year on Fox News Channel's weekend edition of Fox & Friends, which is based in Manhattan. Several sources say that Henderson lately has drawn interest from the West Coast as well.

Henderson, who was raised in San Clemente, CA, arrived in D-FW from Fox's Salt Lake City affiliate, KSTU-TV.

NBC5 and WFAA8 may stand to profit, at least in the short term, if Henderson decides to leave Good Day.

The Peacock, with a veteran anchor duo of Deborah Ferguson and Brendan Higgins, has been battling for the top spot in recent weeks after Fox4 ran a solid No. 1 in the November "sweeps" ratings. And as reported last week on unclebarky.com, WFAA8 soon will be introducing a new male anchor -- Chris Flanagan from Des Moines, Iowa's WOI-TV -- to its No. 3-rated Daybreak program.

No. 4 CBS11, which has made slow ratings improvement in the past year, would have the second longest-standing anchor team, Scott Sams and Ginger Allen, if there's a changeover at Fox4.

It's safe to say that management at NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 would all heartily welcome a breakup of the Ryan-Henderson team, which also pays big ratings dividends for Fox4 during Good Day's extended 7 to 9 a.m. hours opposite the network morning shows.

But as Somers' departure proved, no one is irreplaceable. And the ever-underestimated Ryan isn't going anywhere.

B-r-r-r-r-eaking news -- and a big power outage at Fox4


Neither rain, sleet, snow -- or two power outages in the hour beforehand -- could stop Fox4's 9 p.m. newscast from its appointed icy rounds Tuesday.

It didn't look good, though, when color bars initially greeted viewers who'd been watching the Fox network's Fringe.

Anchor Steve Eagar turned up shortly, though, from a camp-out in Fox4's newsroom instead of at the anchor desk with Heather Hays.

"We're kind of in a mess here at Fox4," Eagar told viewers before throwing it to meteorologist Dan Henry, who had a lone static weather map in play before it froze on-screen and his audio went out.

"Fox4 news is experiencing technical difficulties," viewers were told via a "crawl" at the bottom of home screens. "If you are experiencing loss of audio it is not your television set. Please be patient while we correct the problem."

Henry shortly returned to the living and vamped with his lone weather map before Eagar again stepped in.

"We've had some power failures. Computers are down," he said.

But Fox4 reporters were still visible and audible via live shots from multiple locations. We'll get to them and rival stations' coverage after noting that Eagar and Hays made it back to their anchor desk after the first commercial break.

Things went reasonably well from there, although Henry's weather computers remained sluggish. A little tech-speak kicked in after a map failed to materialize. "If you can, John, let's go back to Weather 7, and I'll hop back in the chroma-key here," Henry said. And so he did.

Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8, CBS11 and even "The 33" performed admirably under the circumstances Tuesday night. But Fox4 gets a gold star for holding its 9 p.m. newscast together after all seemed lost just a few minutes before start time. This is no small deal. As posted earlier on unclebarky.com, Fox4's weather-heavy Monday 9 p.m. newscast had more viewers than any another program that day. So the stakes were high, and a total blackout would have robbed Fox4 of hundreds of thousands of potential viewers.

OK, here's a look at who hit the streets on Tuesday's local late night newscasts. (P.S. NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 all knocked out their morning network shows Wednesday and then continued with local weather coverage past 9 a.m. Fox4's homegrown Good Day, which runs until 9 a.m., yielded to Live with Regis and Kelly a few minutes after the hour. By 10:30 a.m., only CBS11 was still sticking with non-stop local weather coverage.)

FOX4 (9 p.m. news)

Frozen chosen -- Sophia Reza in Carrollton at the George Bush turnpike & I-35E; Lari Barager in Fort Worth at I-30/I-35W; Brandon Todd in Denton; Mike Doocy outside American Airlines Center, where the Dallas Stars were playing; Emily Lopez in North Dallas.

"It's hitting my face, it hurts and it's cold," Todd said of the sleet he'd encountered.

Todd also displayed his ice-encrusted coat, which was "frozen."

Reza could be seen jumping up and down to stay warm during her second live shot.

Lopez declared, "It's not cold out here, Heather. It is fuh-reezing." She then showed off her sleet-laden hat. "That's the best $10 I ever spent."

Barager noted that her can of Coke had slush in it, rendering it more refreshing.

Doocy, initially under an umbrella and later in a stocking cap, said that the Stars drew just 6,900 fans Tuesday night, likely their smallest crowd ever.

NBC5 (10 p.m. news)

Frozen chosen -- Scott Gordon in Fort Worth at the "Mixmaster"; Ellen Goldberg at the "High Five" in Dallas; Randy McIlwain in Denton; Scott Friedman outside D-FW Airport. David Finfrock manning the weather maps.

Gordon, encased in a light gray coat with hood, said, "It's not only a mess, it's downright dangerous here tonight."

"It's pretty much a ghost town out here," Goldberg observed from her post.

McIlwain crumpled an ice-crusted bush in his hand.

Addendum: At mid-Wednesday morning, NBC5's anchors spent a good deal of time amusing themselves with motorists slowly skidding to a "standstill" on a nearby freeway. "The El Camino's making a move," co-anchor Brendan Higgins said drily. "This is better than a glass of ice tea on a hot summer day," enthused co-anchor Deborah Ferguson. Consider it the yin of a car chase yang. And OK, I couldn't turn away. So I guess it was "good television."

WFAA8 (10 p.m. news)

Frozen Chosen -- Chris Hawes in Fort Worth; Jason Whitely in Lewisville; Steve Stoler in Collin County; Craig Civale off of I-75 and later in West Dallas where a man had slipped off a bridge and fallen to his death in the icy Trinity River. Pete Delkus manning the weather maps.

Hawes, Whitely and Civale all went topless, er, hatless, and didn't seem cold at all. But Stoler bundled himself in a long black coat and big black hat. Nobody engaged in any histrionics.

CBS11 (10 p.m. news)

Frozen chosen -- Carol Cavazos at the Fort Worth "Mixmaster"; Jay Gormley at the "High Five" in Dallas; J.D. Miles in Lewisville; Jack Fink in Plano; Larry Mowry manning the weather maps.

Miles was a blurry spectre in a yellow and white vest, and Eskimo-ish hood. His cameraman's lens had fogged up.

Mowry was summoned from a vacation in San Diego to head the weather team.

"THE 33" (9 p.m. news)

Frozen chosen -- meteorologist Bob Goosmann in the station parking lot; Shana Franklin at I 35E and Fort Worth Drive; Dawn Tongish in Fort Worth; Barry Carpenter at Loop 12 and Hwy. 408; Rebecca Miller woman-ing the weather maps.

"Take a look at some of the cars in the ol' parking lot," Goosmann said before trying to scrape some ice off a front windshield.

In a second live shot, Goosmann noted that a nearby American flag was stuck to its frozen pole. Miller then rejoined from the toasty indoors, "I double dog dare you to go lick that pole. Naw, I'm kiddin'. Don't try to do that." (That's a reference to a famed playground scene in A Christmas Story for those who might have been puzzled.)

Franklin, sporting a Sherlock Holmes-esque hat, said to no one in particular, "If we're not frozen to death, we will rejoin you in about a half hour to update you on conditions."

She never returned. Send out a search party.

WFAA8 tabs Des Moines anchor for Daybreak slot


WFAA8 has hired Des Moines, Iowa news anchor Chris Flanagan to join incumbent Cynthia Izaguirre on the station's ratings-challenged Daybreak program.

Flanagan, who will be a newcomer to an early morning shift, has been the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. anchor for ABC affiliate WOI-TV, which he joined in November 2004.

"He is one of the genuinely nicer people that I've met, and I think his personality will really mesh well with Cynthia's," WFAA8 news director Michael Valentine said in a telephone interview Monday. "There's an energy on the air that I think will differentiate him in this market. He's very, very funny."

Flanagan likely will join Daybreak by late February, Valentine said.

WFAA8 currently trails Fox4 and NBC in the early morning Nielsen ratings. The ABC station has had ample male churn in the past year, dating to Justin Farmer's decision to take an evening anchor post at WSB-TV in Atlanta.

Farmer informed WFAA8 management of his decision on the same day -- Jan. 4, 2008 -- that Izaguirre made her Daybreak debut. The station held him to the remaining seven months on his contract, but left Farmer out of Daybreak promotions.

Farmer was succeeded last August by in-house anchor Brad Hawkins, who then left WFAA8 late last year to take a PR position with Dallas-based Southwest Airlines. Jeff Brady, the station's 5 p.m. co-anchor, lately has been filling in.

"I think we need some stability," Valentine said. "We need people who have been on the show for more than six months and to get away from the cycle of turning over people."

Valentine said he discussed the rigors of an early morning shift with Flanagan, and is confident that he'll be a "long-term player" for WFAA8.

Flanagan, who has a journalism degree from Southern Connecticut State University, also has worked at television stations in San Francisco, Indianapolis and Hartford, Conn., according to his WOI biography.

The station said he moved to Iowa "because he was looking for a 'family friendly' area to live with his wife and raise their two children."

Finders keepers: Antiques Roadshow does Dallas

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Not yet ready for Antiques Roadshow but slowly getting there: Self-made stitchery from Madeline "Catwoman" Bark, circa early 1980s; original oil of two women getting loose while bird alights by Mary Jonaitis from Uncle Barky's early '70s Wisconsin college daze.

Most of us think our stuff's worth a lot more than it really is.

That's why you should stick around all the way through the closing credits of Monday's first Dallas edition of PBS' Antiques Roadshow. You'll certainly want to see and hear an unidentified old-timer declare, "My sister asked me to bring this plate. And we found out it wasn't worth jack diddly hoo-hoo." Priceless.

The first of three hours from Dallas, taped last summer, premieres in the usual spot at 7 p.m. Monday on KERA (Ch. 13). Seventeen items are appraised tonight, including the already well-publicized 1847 painting by James Henry Beard that supposedly would sell at auction for between $300,00 and $500,000. Roadshow waits until the end to showcase this find. The Plano woman who owns it already has been featured on WFAA8 in a story by reporter Shelly Slater. But she still doesn't want her name used.

We won't disclose any of the other appraisals because that's part of the fun, of course. For instance, what might a miniature Beggs steam train set from the late 1800s be worth? The guy who brought it in says he got it as a kid from his Uncle Bob.

Another treasure-bearer has a "turned burl bowl" made in the 1820s. It had been sitting atop her TV set as a receptacle for videotapes and DVDs, she says.

The daughter of former New York Yankees outfielder Gene Woodling arrives with a collection of World Series rings, team-signed baseballs and autographed pictures from her dad's days with the team. The Yanks won a record five consecutive world championships from 1949-'53, with Woodling on the roster throughout.

Roadshow host Mark L. Walberg, who lately has been soiling himself on Fox's The Moment of Truth, also takes a road trip to the Hall of State at Fair Park, where a longtime flag collector shows off some of his prizes.

It's still all very addictive, and has been since the original British version premiered in 1979 followed by a U.S. adaptation in 1997. The price is usually right for those items deemed interesting or valuable enough to make Roadshow's final cut. In D-FW's case, some 6,000 items were brought to the Dallas Convention Center, with only 45 chosen for the show.

No matter. The guy who brought the basically worthless plate still makes the very best of his few seconds of air time. All together now: Jack diddly hoo-hoo.

The other Antiques Roadshow episodes from Dallas are on Feb. 2nd and 9th.

Gold and Green for WFAA8

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Reporter Brett Shipp holds Gold Baton; singer Pat Green picks guitar.

WFAA8 officially became the first local television station ever to win a duPont-Columbia Gold Baton at Thursday night's awards ceremony in New York City.

As previously posted, reporters Brett Shipp and Byron Harris were honored for three investigative series. Also cited by duPont jurors were producer Mark Smith, editor and photographer Kraig Kirchem and news director Michael Valentine, all pictured above at a ceremony hosted by CBS Evening News Katie Couric at Columbia University.

***WFAA8's Good Morning Texas will be giving Texas singer/songwriter Pat Green's new CD a big promotional push.

Green is set to perform singles from "What I'm For" on all of next week's GMTs, beginning with the Monday, Jan. 26th show.

"We are pleased to help him introduce these new songs . . . and talk with him about the inspiration behind his life and music," GMT executive producer Dave Muscari says in a WFAA8 publicity release.

GMT airs at 9 a.m. weekdays.

WFAA8 drops The Gordon Keith Show and Young Street as part of layoffs announced Wednesday (updated Thurs. a.m.)

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Layoffs announced Wednesday at WFAA8 have ended the runs of The Gordon Keith Show and Young Street.

WFAA8 news director Michael Valentine said that no on-camera newsroom personnel are affected, but that an editor has been laid off.

Dave Muscari, WFAA8's vice president of product development, confirmed Thursday that 12 people were let go. Also, six open positions now will not be filled. Young Street co-anchors Henry Guerrero and Angelique Tege are the only on-camera WFAA8 personnel being dropped. Neither Young Street or The Gordon Keith Show was produced by WFAA8's news division.

In a stationwide meeting Wednesday, employees were told that much lower ad revenues than expected are projected in the coming year.

"It's a difficult business environment," Muscari said.

It was the second round of layoffs at WFAA8 in the past half-year. In August, 5 p.m. anchor Macie Jepson was let go as part of a downsizing that eliminated 14 workplace positions. Ten of them had already been vacant.

Keith, better known as the resident court jester on KTCK (1310 AM) "The Ticket," says in a post on WFAA.com that The Gordon Keith Show will be taking a "long vacation" after Thursday's 100th episode (12:35 a.m. following ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live). The show will "recharge and possibly retool with more hot chicks and explosions," Keith writes. "There also has been talk of adding some small, adorable, adopted children (focus group driven)."

Last week's show had 26,572 viewers according to Nielsen Media Research.

In a later email response sent Thursday to unclebarky.com, Keith said, "Bottom line is that these are tough economic times and we lost our budget . . . I know we are not everyone's cup of tea, but I am proud of the work we have done."

The Gordon Keith Show won three Lone Star Emmy Awards last year. It premiered in February 2007, originally on KFWD-TV (Ch. 52), with which Belo-owned WFAA8 has a programming arrangement.

"What a great and wonderful opportunity Channel 8 gave me to get my feet wet in a new medium," Keith said, sounding uncommonly sincere. "I have nothing but happiness and gratefulness for my years with Channel 8. More importantly, I hope to continue my relationship with WFAA in new ways in the near future. On a sadder note, I really feel bad for people who lost their real jobs. That, to me, is the headline."

Young Street premiered on Jan. 6, 2008 as a young adult lifestyles magazine that replaced the canceled La Vida and Metro, which respectively targeted Hispanic and African-American audiences. It's been airing at 5 p.m. Sundays on WFAA8. The Jan. 18th edition had 19,929 viewers according to Nielsen.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Jan. 20) -- Inauguration nation

Barack Obama's inauguration and first speech as the 44th U.S. president were watched in many ways, shapes and forms Tuesday. In D-FW, here are the old-school TV viewing numbers from 11 to 11:30 a.m.:

ABC (Ch. 8) -- 259,077 viewers
CBS (Ch. 11) and NBC (Ch. 5) -- 152,783 viewers apiece
Fox (Ch. 4) -- 146,146 viewers
CNN -- 139,503 viewers
Univision (Ch. 23) -- 73,073 viewers
Fox News Channel -- 66,430 viewers
MSNBC -- 63,109 viewers
PBS (Ch. 13) -- 21,258 viewers
CNBC -- "hashmarks" (no measurable audience)

That's a grand total of 1,074,162 viewers on these 10 channels. Both of Sunday's NFL championship games also had a bit over one million viewers on single networks, although many potential inauguration viewers were otherwise occupied during working hours Tuesday.

In prime-time, ABC's two-hour exclusive telecast of the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball averaged 425,152 viewers from 7 to 9 p.m. That was good enough to beat all competing programming except Fox's American Idol, which led prime time's parade with 478,296 viewers opposite the first hour of ABC's special (391,937 viewers). Idol dropped significantly from last Tuesday's Season 8 launch, which had 637,728 viewers.

CBS' one-hour inauguration wrapup ran fourth in the 8 p.m. hour with 159,432 viewers. ABC won the 9 p.m. hour with its followup inauguration news special (325,507 viewers), outpointing CBS' competing repeat of The Mentalist (285,649 viewers). NBC's 9 p.m. inauguration special had 132,860 viewers, edging Fox4's local 9 p.m. newscast for third place from 9 to 10 p.m.

In local news derby results, WFAA8 took the 10 p.m. golds in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 swept the 6 a.m. competitions and WFAA8 did likewise at 5 p.m. The local 6 p.m. newscasts on NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 were wiped out by their networks' extended national news editions. ABC's World News had the most viewers.

More changes at "The 33"

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Michael Rey, Roni Proter and Aaron Smith

"The 33" has dropped reporter Michael Rey from its news team as part of an ongoing staff shakeup by news director David Duitch.

At the same time the Dallas-based CW station has added reporter Aaron Smith, who arrives from Waco's KCEN-TV, and Dallas native Roni Proter, who will cover entertainment news after earlier hosting Simply Beautiful on Veria TV and Metroscene TV out of Chicago.

Rey joined "The 33" in April 2006 as a general assignment reporter and substitute anchor on 9 p.m. local newscasts. Before that he co-anchored WFAA8's Daybreak program with Debbie Denmon before the station replaced them with Justin Farmer and Jackie Hyland, both of whom since have left for other markets.

Rey also anchored at the TXCN cable news network after earlier logging 15 years at KVIL-FM in a variety of positions.

Smith is a Texas State University graduate who previously was a reporter and weekend anchor at KETK-TV in Tyler, TX before filling those same positions at KCEN. He's a Michigan native.

Proter's station biography and personal Web site says she began her broadcasting career "in a small Texas town" as a reporter for an NBC station.

Mea culpa: CBS11 news director says his station should have cited a Fox4 exclusive; pledges to give full credit from now on

CBS11 news director Scott Diener Photo: Ed Bark

CBS11 news director Scott Diener has taken a pledge that his counterparts should replicate.

From now on, he says, the station will specifically credit a competitor whenever it uses material from one of their stories.

Diener responded to a Jan. 14th unclebarky.com post that criticized CBS11's handling of a report by KDFW-TV/Fox4 reporter Shaun Rabb.

On Tuesday's 10 p.m. newscast, CBS11 excerpted portions of Rabb's exclusive, same-day jailhouse interview with Charles Payne, who admitted to fatally shooting Dallas police officer Norman Smith last week, but claimed he acted in self-defense.

CBS11 anchor Doug Dunbar credited "a local television station" with the interview before four printed excerpts were shown on-screen next to a picture of Payne. Fox 4 was never mentioned.

Diener, in an email sent Thursday, said that Rabb's interview "was newsworthy and needed to be shared in some form with our viewers and on-line readers."

"What I would do differently," he said, "is give an on-air credit to KDFW-TV as opposed to a 'local television station.' Unfortunately, it has been the practice in this market for years for our competitors to not air or publish our call letters or channel number. In fact I could give you numerous, documented examples in the past year where we broke a big story, fed it to the Associated Press -- only to have our print, on-line and television brothers and sisters take out our call letters and call it a 'local television station' or use 'reports say.' "

Not fully crediting rival news outlets is "a little silly," Diener acknowledged before taking an unsolicited pledge. "From here on forward," he wrote, "if we use video or information from our competitors, they'll get the full credit."

That should be a hard and firm policy at all news outlets.

Diener also said that CBS11 had requested an interview with Payne, "but he decided, after consulting with his pastor, to do one with Shaun Rabb . . . No credible news outlet would ignore an interview of this nature in such a high-profile crime. We don't believe that any one media outlet has the monopoly on the important stories in this market."

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Jan. 15) -- Gil Grissom's CSI goodbye boosts CBS to top spot

President Bush's farewell address mucked up prime-time schedules, but viewers still found CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Gil Grissom's goodbye at 15 minutes past the show's usual 8 p.m. start time.

CSI drew 558,012 D-FW viewers to easily rank as Tuesday's top draw. CBS was the only network to push back its prime-time lineup by 15 minutes. ABC NBC and Fox all chose to join substitute programming "in progress." Namely Scrubs on ABC, My Name Is Earl on NBC and Kitchen Nightmares on Fox. Their combined 498,225 viewers fell short of CSI's total.

Bush's 7 to 7:15 p.m. goodbye speech played this way with local audiences:

CBS -- 298,935 viewers
ABC -- 225,862 viewers
Univision -- 166,075 viewers
Fox -- 152,789 viewers
NBC -- 119,574 viewers
Fox News Channel -- 66,430 viewers
MSNBC -- 33,215 viewers
CNN -- 26,572 viewers
PBS -- 13,286 viewers

In local news derby results, WFAA8 recovered from Wednesday's very rare shutout to win at 6 and 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

WFAA8 also took the 5 p.m. gold in total viewers and shared the 25-to-54 lead with Fox4.

At 6 a.m., Fox4 narrowly won in total viewers but NBC5 again countered with a strong first place finish among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Heavy lifting: CBS11 poaches on Fox4 story

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Fox4 reporter Shaun Rabb; CBS11 anchor Doug Dunbar

Ripping off a rival station's story is an all too common practice in most TV markets. But CBS11 should get at least 10 days in ethical purgatory and a hot lead enema for what it did to Fox4 Tuesday night.

Reporter Shaun Rabb led his station's post-American Idol 9 p.m. newscast with "a story you'll see only on Fox4," anchor Steve Eagar told viewers. It was Rabb's jailhouse interview with Charles Payne, who admitted to shooting and killing Dallas police officer Norman Smith last week but claimed he was acting in self-defense.

Rabb asked all the right questions, including why Payne had a gun and whether there were drugs in the house at the time. Payne's rambling answers spoke volumes.

Then along came CBS11, which displayed four printed quotes next to Payne's picture in a story that ran during the opening five minutes of the station's Tuesday, 10 p.m. newscast.

Anchor Doug Dunbar played the front man, telling viewers, "In an interview with a local television station, Payne said that when someone knocked at his door that night and forced it open, he reacted and shot because he felt his life was in danger."

CBS11 obviously went to considerable lengths in lifting, re-packaging and then prominently playing Rabb's story. In that context, generically citing a "local television station" is simply inexcusable. Either ignore the story, give specific credit where it's due or try to get your own interview.

In this instance, Rabb's enterprise and legwork were simply too much for CBS11 to handle. It was easier to "re-purpose" his efforts and then let CBS11 viewers guess where they came from.

WFAA8 getting first local station Gold Baton at duPont-Columbia awards ceremony

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WFAA8 and investigative reporters Brett Shipp and Byron Harris will make history by winning a Gold Baton at a Jan. 22nd Alfred I. duPont-Columbia awards ceremony hosted by CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric.

As noted in November on unclebarky.com, Shipp is being cited for stories on high school grade-fixing and faulty gas couplings while Harris is being honored for his reports on millions of dollars in fraudulent loans tied to the obscure Export-Import Bank.

The big difference is that duPont jurors are folding those awards into a single Gold Baton for WFAA8 rather than three silvers. It's the first time a local station has won the gold since the award was instituted 20 years ago. WFAA8 will be joining 12 other recipients of the Silver Baton at this month's ceremony. Winners were officially announced Monday.

Downsizing claims Fox4 sports reporter Nita Wiggins


Sports reporter Nita Wiggins is out at Fox4 after joining the station in 1999.

She was laid off Thursday, becoming the latest TV journalist caught in an ongoing cycle of staff downsizing that's impacted all of D-FW's television newsrooms in the past year.

"Her contract had ended," said Fox4 news director Maria Barrs, who declined further comment.

Wiggins' departure leaves Fox4 with two on-camera sports personalities -- featured anchor Mike Doocy and weekend anchor/reporter Max Morgan.

Her Fox4 bio, since removed, says she's been a sports fanatic since childhood, when "I believe I was the only 8-year-old girl in my neighborhood watching NFL doubleheaders every Sunday."

Wiggins grew up in Augusta, GA, and earned a license to judge amateur boxing matches while working as a news reporter/anchor at a West Virginia station. Wiggins also has refereed more than 100 basketball games, according to her bio.

She previously worked at television stations in Augusta, Memphis and Seattle. Wiggins could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday evening.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Jan. 5)

Texas' dramatic Fiesta Bowl comeback win over Ohio State rolled to a dominating prime-time win Monday.

The Fox telecast averaged 790,517 D-FW viewers, easily the biggest crowd for college football's conveyor belt of bowl games. But Thursday night's climactic Oklahoma-Florida national championship game clearly has a great shot at topping that number and perhaps even hitting the one million mark.

Throughout the night, Texas-Ohio State outdrew the combined programming on ABC, CBS, NBC and The CW. Among the also-rans, a two-hour edition of NBC's new Superstars of Dance had 225,862 viewers from 7 to 9 p.m. opposite ABC's two-hour premiere of The Bachelor 13 (186,004 viewers). But The Bachelor beat Superstars among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds.

At 9 p.m., ABC's first episode of True Beauty scraped up 199,920 viewers to run third behind football and a repeat of CBS' CSI: Miami (265,720 viewers). True Beauty outdrew CSI: Miami in the 18-to-49 demo, though.

NBC's new Momma's Boys lagged with just 99,645 total viewers at that hour pulling in fifth behind CW 33's 9 p.m. local newscast (112,931 viewers). The Peacock also ran fifth with 18-to-49-year-olds.

In the daily local news derby, WFAA8 topped a downsized three-horse field at 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the preferred advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 again scored twin wins at 6 a.m. while also as usual whipping the three network morning shows from 7 to 9 a.m.

WFAA8 had the golds at 5 p.m and also won in total viewers at 6 p.m. WFAA8 and NBC5 shared first place in the later hour among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Miller time at The 33 (updated with new quotes Tuesday p.m.)

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The 33's Rebecca Miller, Bob Goosmann and Bob Irzyk

Former NBC early morning meteorologist Rebecca Miller officially became The 33's new weeknight forecaster Monday night, with previous occupant Bob Goosmann still in the mix for now.

Meanwhile, sources say that sports anchor Bob Irzyk has been let go after 10 years at the station.

No one in management could be reached for comment, but news director David Duitch lately has not been returning repeated phone messages left at his office. The already thinly staffed Ch. 33 newsroom has been fear-struck of late, with veteran news anchor Terri Chappell abruptly dropped early last month.

Miller did the indoor weather segments on Monday's 9 p.m. newscast, with Goosmann out in the cold -- literally. He reported live from a location outside the studio, re-informing viewers that they'd just experienced a rainy, shivery day after temperatures had hit the 80s over the weekend. After "Rebecca's 5-Day Forecast," news anchor Tom Crespo welcomed her as "now a permanent member of The 33 staff."

As previously reported on unclebarky.com, Goosmann was offered an opportunity to stay on staff as a weekend weather anchor and three-days-a-week general assignment reporter. A 30 percent pay cut also would be part of the deal.

"Yes, I have decided to stay," Goosmann said Tuesday. "In this economy and the state that the media business is in, I thought it was the best thing for me and my family at this time."

Management informed him Monday that Miller would be replacing him on Ch. 33's weeknight newscasts, Goosmann said.

"I have the utmost respect for Rebecca and have already enjoyed working with her," he said. "Not only is she very good at what she does, but more importantly she's a nice person."

Goosmann said he's "very saddened" that sports anchor Irzyk has been dropped. "I'm sure he'll land on his feet. As you know, when there's a management change in this business, they often want to move in a different direction. That's clearly the case here."

Duitch, a former WFAA8 news director, took that position at CW33 in July of last year.

Miller said Tuesday that she took the full-time chief meteorologist job at CW33 after being assured that Goosmann would be staying on.

"I would not take any position if it meant someone else lost theirs," she said.

Goosmann "has been absolutely wonderful about the whole thing," Miller said. "Apparently he'd been talked to about doing weekends awhile ago, As far as I know he's going to continue to be part of the 9 p.m. weather and news as much as he chooses. I'm happy to share on-air responsibilities as a team anytime. Both of us will do weather-related, environmentally-related stories."

Goosmann also will work on improving The 33's website, Miller said. "He's great with computers."

Miller had been filling in on weekends at The 33, with former NBC5 weekend meteorologist Krista Villarreal also taking a few shifts during the holidays after recently returning to North Texas from WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh. Miller worked at NBC5 for 17 years before the station decided not to renew her contract last March. Her termination generated more than 400 comments to unclebarky.com.

***On a somewhat less eventful note, WFAA8 veteran Jeff Brady is temporarily filling in on the station's Daybreak program while the search is on for a permanent anchor to join incumbent Cynthia Izaguirre. He began his stint this week.

"I'm told it will not be the permanent fix, and I'll be back to 5 p.m. (anchoring) before too much longer," Brady said in a video blog Monday. He expects to be working the early morning shift at least through January.

WFAA8 management is looking outside the station for a permanent replacement. Brad Hawkins co-anchored Daybreak from August to late December, when he left WFAA8 to take a PR position at Dallas-based Southwest Airlines. Hawkins had been getting an extended tryout in the seat vacated by Justin Farmer, who went to Atlanta's WSB-TV.

Budget cuts knock the wind out of Sky 4, Chopper 5 and Chopper 11


Pilot/reporter Scott Wallace and the newly grounded Sky 4

Three of D-FW's four major TV news providers are lowering their overheads by opting for cheaper choppers.

Gone are the bigger Bell helicopters that long have assumed the identities of Sky 4, Chopper 5 and Chopper 11. The veteran pilot/reporters who flew them, Fox4's Scott Wallace, NBC5's Ken Arnold and CBS11's Hector Cavazos, also are out of the picture.

"We all had our final flights on New Year's Eve," Wallace said in a telephone interview.

The three stations instead are turning to Garland-based Sky Helicopters, Inc. and its smaller Robinson R44 whirlybirds. The company offers less costly weekly, monthly and long-term "turnkey aircraft/pilot packages" to clients. WFAA8 also uses Sky Helicopters on occasion, but otherwise still deploys its trademark HD Chopper 8 with pilot/reporter Troy Bush.

"TV stations aren't making the money they used to make, and one of the biggest budget items is a helicopter," Wallace says. "We're like the fire trucks at the stations. We hop in the helicopters and we go to wherever the news is happening."

Wallace, who was president of the National Broadcast Pilots Association from 2001-'08, piloted Sky 4 for 13 years before the station grounded him. Under the new arrangement with Sky Helicopter, stations "won't have the experienced pilot or reporter on board describing the action on the ground," Wallace says. "That's something they're going to lose. The anchors are going to have to figure out some context for the picture. All they're going to receive is the video feed."

It's debatable how much of value viewers will be missing. It wouldn't hurt a bit, for instance, if stations all but ended their live, blow-by-blow reports of ongoing car chases. We also could survive with fewer overhead shots of burning buildings, car wrecks or neighborhoods that may or may not have a fugitive on the loose or in hiding.

Helicopters obviously can show the bigger picture, too, particularly in times of natural disasters. And they're still the optimum way to go when a reporter and cameraman need to travel fast to a distant, breaking story.

However it all shakes out, this looks like the end of an era. Helicopters used to be major players in typically overblown promotional campaigns. They were considered part of the news team, let alone a "flying billboard for the station," as Wallace puts it. In 2005, CBS11 sold "limited edition" mini-replicas of Chopper 11 to benefit the North Texas and Tarrant Area food banks.

Now you can slap a "For Rent" sign on Sky 4, Chopper 5 and Chopper 11 while their trusty pilots all look to fly for someone else.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed.-Thurs., Dec. 31/Jan. 1)

Here's a little turn-of-the-year ratings whoopee.

WFAA8's last telecast of 2008, its live, locally produced Big D NYE special from Victory Park, easily had more viewers than any other program Wednesday. It also drew almost as big a crowd as the following day's Rose Bowl game on ABC/WFAA8. That's a huge boost for localism.

Big D NYE, with sports anchor Dale Hansen and weathercaster Pete Delkus as the principal hosts, averaged 465,010 D-FW viewers, peaking at 544,726 between midnight and 12:15 a.m.

The Rose Bowl, in which Southern Cal mostly toyed with Penn State, drew 484,939 viewers with a peak audience of 577,941 between 5:15 and 5:30 p.m.

Big D NYE also clicked with advertiser-favored 18-to-49-year-olds, clocking in with 217,160 of 'em overall and a high of 275,502 at the midnight hour. The Rose Bowl averaged 236,608 viewers in the 18-to-49 age range, peaking at 281,984 from 5:15 to 5:30 p.m.

The other New Year's Day bowl game ratings pictures looked like this, with winning teams listed first:

Georgia and Michigan State in the Capitol One Bowl on ABC -- 259,077 total viewers and 100,477 in the 18-to-49 demographic.

Virginia Tech-Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl on Fox -- 245,791 total viewers and 106,960 in the 18-to-49 demo.

Nebraska and Clemson in the Gator Bowl on CBS -- 139,503 total viewers and 51,859 in the 18-to-49 demo.

Iowa and South Carolina in the Outback Bowl on ESPN -- 59,787 total viewers and 35,653 in the 18-to-49 demo.

Over on NBC, the NHL's outdoor "Winter Classic" between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks averaged 39,858 viewers, with 19,447 in the 18-to-49 age range.

CBS took a ratings bath on New Year's Eve afternoon with Oregon State's 3-0 win over Pittsburgh in El Paso's Sun Bowl. The game drew just 39,858 D-FW viewers, only 6,482 of 'em in the 18-to-49 demo.

The local TV news providers wrote off their Wednesday and Thursday editions with "Holiday" designations, which means they're not officially counted by Nielsen Media Research. For the record, though, the last day of 2008 went like this:

WFAA won at 10 p.m. Wednesday in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 ran the table at 6 a.m. and also placed first among 25-to-54-year-olds at 5 p.m.

WFAA8 won at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. in total viewers. At 6 p.m. it shared the top spot with with Fox4 in the 25-to-54 demo.