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Not since Nitschke

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Linebacker Ray Nitschke still looms large amid Uncle Barky's Packer trinkets while Clay Matthews follows in his path and has a locker room replica at NFL Experience in downtown Dallas. Photos: Ed Bark

Uncle Barky's native state Green Bay Packers are scheduled to touch down in Dallas later this afternoon. So as anticipation builds for Sunday's titanic matchup against Pittsburgh, here's another chapter in our pre-game festivities.

The Pack had a snarling monster on defense during the Vince Lombardi glory years. That would be the late No. 66, linebacker Ray Nitschke, who died at the tender age of 61 in 1998 after ascending to the NFL Hall of Fame two decades earlier.

Nitschke wore glasses off the field, but was a terror on it. Thirty-eight years after his final game with Green Bay, the team at last has another folklore-ic intimidator on defense in the form of No. 52, outside linebacker Clay Matthews.

Picked 26th in the first round of the 2009 draft, Matthews' long locks and He-Man roars after sacks have quickly made him one of the NFL's most visible and voluble defenders.

The bumbling Dallas Cowboys could have had Matthews with the 20th pick of the 2009 draft. But they instead traded it away to Detroit along with two lower picks in return for the Lions' Roy Williams. Yeah, that's gone really well.

Below is an inventive Matthews highlight reel which spares D-FW viewers the stop-in-his tracks mega-hit he delivered on Cowboys' running back Marion Barber during the Packers' regular season 45-7 route of Dallas. On the following day, a color-drained Jerry Jones fired head coach Wade Phillips. You're welcome.
Ed Bark

NBC5 bolsters two-man sports department by adding Cincy import


Fort Worth-based NBC5 is adding Rontina McCann to its sports staff. Arriving from Cincinnati's WXIX-TV (Fox 19), she'll be both a producer for incumbents Newy Scruggs and Matt Barrie and a self-standing "video journalist" who will shoot, produce and narrate her own stories.

"You may see her anchor occasionally," NBC5 vice president of programming Brian Hocker said in an email confirming McCann's hire. Her scheduled first day is Feb. 10th.

The West Virginia University graduate joined WXIX in 2009 and previously worked for two small TV stations in her home state. Her WXIX bio says she was doing basketball play-by-play as a 15-year-old and also became an "award-winning cook and journalist" before leaving for Cincinnati. Her "yummy cinnamon rolls" won a blue ribbon, says McCann, who also received a "Best General Assignment Reporter" award in 2009 from the West Virginia Broadcasters Association.

High jump, Packers style: origin of the "Lambeau Leap"

Which Packer did it first? And if the coach's challenge option had existed back then, would the "Lambeau Leap" ever have gotten off the ground?

In Part 4 of Uncle Barky's Super Bowl-spurred ode to his native state Green Bay Packers, we rewind back to a Dec. 26, 1993 game between the Green 'n' Gold and the then Los Angeles Raiders.

On a weird play that probably should have been negated on two counts, future Hall of Famer Reggie White picked up an Oakland fumble and eventually lateraled the ball to safety LeRoy Butler. The former Florida State star, who played his entire pro career with the Packers, then cruised into the end zone and leapt into the arms of fans. No Packer player had ever done that before.

Upon further review, it looks as though Oakland running back Randy Jordan hit the ground before he coughed up the ball. Upon further further review, White can be seen stepping out of bounds while tossing the ball to Butler.

But the refs didn't see it that way and ruled the play a Packer touchdown. So whether it should have counted or not, the Butler did it and the Lambeau Leap was born. See for yourself.
Ed Bark

Shaped like a racetrack, kringles are the thoroughbreds of pastries (and perfect for your Packer backer Super Bowl party)

Perhaps you've noticed that Uncle Barky is just a bit excited about his native state Green Bay Packers making their inaugural visit to Jerry's Palace as one of the teams in Super Bowl XLV.

So here's the second in a series of Badgerland-themed mini-posts. This one is a tribute to Little Barky's birthplace, Racine, WI, and its singular claim to fame -- the Kringle. It's an inimitable Danish pastry made only in a place whose onetime trademark factories have mostly shut down. But you can still order one of the best baked goods on the planet from Racine's one and only O&H bakery. They'll be the hit of any Texas-based Green 'n' Gold fan's Super Bowl party, so act now if you want to get yours in the mail. Did I mention they're indescribably delicious? They are, with the pecan and apple versions in a league of their own.

Here's a homey little ad from O&H, which isn't providing any kickbacks in return. But we have ordered kringles in the past, and they arrive in great shape, ready to impress both you and your guests.
Ed Bark

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Jan 25) -- State of the Union address survives NCIS rerun


President Obama with backdrops Joe Biden and weepin' John Boehner during Tuesday's State of the Union address. Photo: Ed Bark

D-FW viewers first flocked to CBS' NCIS rerun Tuesday night before many settled in for President Obama's State of the Union address on a variety of outlets.

NCIS drew 360,136 viewers in the 7 p.m. hour, a total that amounted to well more than half the president's total audience on the Big Four broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC). Luckily for Obama it wasn't a new episode.

The speech started at 8:11 p.m. and stretched to 9:13 p.m. Senators and congressman sought to ease party tensions -- for a night at least -- by co-mingling with one another rather than sitting in the traditional Republican and Democratic sections. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, sat beside 2008 Republican standardbearer John McCain to form the night's uncontested losers' bracket.

Here's the total viewers breakdown in D-FW for the State of the Union speech:

CBS -- 200,845
ABC -- 159,291
Univision -- 138,514
Fox -- 131,588
NBC/Fox News Channel -- 117,737 each
CNN -- 62,331
MSNBC -- 27,703
PBS -- 13,851
CNBC -- 3,463

Hand-held calculator technology says that's a grand total of 973,060 viewers on 10 networks. Which is well short of the audiences for either of Sunday's pre-Super Bowl championship matchups on Fox and CBS.

Over on Fox Sports Southwest Tuesday night, the Dallas Mavericks' rough-and-tumble comeback home win over Blake Griffin's L.A. Clippers pulled in a respectable 145,440 viewers.

In local news derby results, WFAA8 swept a downsized 10 p.m. competition in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. (CBS11 was delayed by a Big Bang Theory throw-in.)

Fox4 returned to the 6 a.m. winner's circle by nipping arch rival NBC5 in total viewers and winning more comfortably with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Fox4 also took the 5 and 6 p.m. races in the 25-to-54 demorgaphic and tied for first place at 5 p.m. in total viewers with WFAA8. CBS11 had the 6 p.m. gold in total viewers.

"The Green Bay Packers have broken the uncomfortable shave habit" (now let's win the Super Bowl, too)

Sorry, but I'm just not going to be able to help myself.

As Uncle Barky's native state Green Bay Packers prepare to touch down in Arlington, TX, we bring you the first in a series of pre-Super Bowl XLV vignettes. Behold a vintage Norelco commercial starring the team's star threesome in the early Vince Lombardi glory years -- Bart Starr, Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor. Boy, those guys could sure sell an electric shaver. Because after all, your mug takes a helluva beating in a typical NFL game.
Ed Bark

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun. Jan. 21-23) -- Green 'n' Golden and that other team propel Sunday ratings


Brat 'n' cheese-fueled B.J. Raji motors toward a key TD. Photo: Ed Bark

Uncle Barky's native state Green Bay Packers are heading this way after counting out the arch rival Chicago Bears Sunday in their NFC Championship brawl on Fox.

How fitting that the smallest city by far in the NFL will be playing in the league's largest, gaudiest showplace when Super Bowl XLV convenes on Feb. 6th. The entire city proper of Green Bay, with a population of just over 100,000, could easily fit within Jerry's Palace. But a $10 beer price might prove dispiriting. That's the cost of an entire dinner and drinks at Green Bay's finest eatery, Mel's Frozen Tundra Family Restaurant.

The Packers will play the daunting Pittsburgh Steelers, another storied team from a deep freeze city. And on Sunday at least, the Steelers' 24-19 defeat of the hang-tough New York Jets, which aired mostly in prime-time on CBS, outdrew the Packers 21-14 win at Chicago in the afternoon game.

Steelers-Jets, which ran from 5:42 to 8:49 p.m., averaged 1,350,512 D-FW viewers while Packers-Bears (2:05 to 5:15 p.m.) drew 1,253,552. The Packers had the larger peak audience, however, with 1,530,580 watching the final 15 minutes of the game. Steelers-Jets topped out at 1,509,803 between 7 and 7:15 p.m.

A nice-sized swatch of viewers stuck around for CBS' post-AFC championship game attraction, a new episode of Hawaii Five-0 that began at 9:14 p.m. It pulled in 464,022 viewers to easily crush all competing programming.

Nothing came up big in Friday's festivities, where CBS11's 6:30 p.m. offering of Wheel of Fortune was the mosst-watched attraction of day or night with 221,622 viewers.

Over on MSNBC, bombastic Keith Olbermann's sudden last night as host of Countdown had a piddling 13,851 viewers opposite Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor (69,257 viewers).

In Friday's local news derby results, WFAA8 flexed by sweeping the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. competitions in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming on most stations.

At 6 a.m., Fox4 and NBC5 tied in total viewers, with Fox4 nipping the Peacock among 25-to-54-year-olds. WFAA8 reversed from by running last in both measurements.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Jan. 19) -- loud numbers for Season 10 Idol debut

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Yikes, the new judges even liked bawdy Tiffany Rios. Fox photos

Shorn of Simon Cowell and relaunching on a new night, Wednesday's Season 10 premiere of Fox's American Idol at times seemed intent on giving everyone a ticket to Hollywood.

New judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez were notably kinder as advertised. And the rejects had appreciably less air time during the two-hour trip to New Jersey. Meanwhile, D-FW audiences were more than willing to play along, driving Idol to total dominance from 7 to 9 p.m. over an array of first-run attractions on rival networks.

Idol amassed 602,536 viewers locally, with 256,667 of them in the coveted 18-to-49 demographic. The best showings for competing programs were 311,657 total viewers for CBS' Criminal Minds and 134,915 viewers in the 18-to-49 range for ABC's Modern Family.

Among the series left for dead were ex-Idol judge Paula Abdul's Live to Dance (131,588 total viewers in the 7 p.m. hour) and NBC's made-in-Dallas Chase (117,737 viewers at 8 p.m. on its new night and time).

(Nationally, Idol took a bit of a dip, according to "overnight" Nielsen numbers. Its 26.1 million viewers were down from 29.9 million for the Season 9 launch. And it dropped from an 11.8 to a 9.7 rating with 18-to-49-year-olds.)

Back in D-FW, CBS' Blue Bloods prospered in its first trial run on Wednesdays, winning the 9 p.m. hour in total viewers (311,657) over runner-up Fox4's local newscast (235,474 viewers). But the Tom Selleck-driven cop drama badly faltered with 18-to-49-year-olds, drawing just 32,906 of 'em compared to 88,846 apiece for Fox4's news and ABC's new Off the Map.

The Dallas Mavericks' gutty home win against the Los Angeles Lakers, which ended a six-game losing streak, had relatively pint-sized audiences on two outlets. TXA21's homegrown telecast averaged 90,034 total viewers while ESPN chipped in with 76,183. Demographically, however, the Mavs did beat Blue Bloods among 18-to-49-year-olds.

In local news derby results, CBS11 edged WFAA8 for the 10 p.m. gold in total viewers while NBC5 and WFAA8 tied for the top spot with 25-to-54-year-olds, main advertiser target audience for news programming on most stations.

Fox4 scored twin wins at 6 a.m. and WFAA8 did likewise at 5 p.m. The 6 p.m. race in total viewers amounted to a three-way tie among NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11. But the Peacock gets the nod if the numbers are boiled down to one-hundredths of rating points. WFAA8 had the 6 p.m. gold to itself in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Dec. 29 to Mon., Jan. 17) -- marathon catchup round

Fellow ratings mavens have been deprived of their weekday fixes during the waning days of the holiday season followed by your friendly content provider's journey to the annual winter network TV "press tour" out West.

We'll try to remedy that as much as possible with this fast and furious recap. Opening question: Which of these football attractions drew more D-FW viewers?

A. The Dallas Cowboys' regular season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles
B. The Rose Bowl between TCU and my alma mater, the Wisconsin Badgers
C. The college football national championship game
D. Any of the post-season NFL playoff games

While you ponder this momentous query, here's a chronological rundown of local news derby results during the four-way weekday competitions.

Wednesday, Dec. 29th
WFAA8 scored twin wins at 10 p.m. in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the prime advertiser target audience for news programming on most stations. Fox4 had a doubleheader sweep at 6 a.m. and also won at 5 and 6 p.m. with 25-to-54-year-olds. CBS11 called the tune at 6 p.m. in total viewers while Fox4 and WFAA8 tied for first in total viewers at 5 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 30th
WFAA8 logged another 10 p.m. win in total viewers but Fox4 triumphed with 25-to-54-year-olds. CBS11 shocked the world with very rare twin wins at 6 a.m. NBC5 topped the 6 p.m. Nielsens in the 25-to-54 demographic and tied WFAA8 for first place in total viewers. Fox4 ran first in total viewers at 5 p.m., with WFAA8 winning among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Friday, Dec. 31st
All four stations went the "H" for holiday route, save for WFAA8 at 10 p.m. For the record, the station also had the largest audience at that hour with its mix of news and views from the adjacent Big D NYE party in Victory Park. WFAA8 likewise scored big with its locally produced post-newscast telecast of the festivities, peaking at a very robust 554,056 viewers between midnight and 12:15 a.m. That more than doubled the crowd for the Fox network's competing New Year's Eve party.

Monday, Jan. 3rd
WFAA8 continued its winning ways at 10 p.m. with a doubleheader sweep. Fox4 likewise ran the table at 6 a.m. while CBS11 rang up a pair of firsts at 6 p.m. The 5 p.m. competitions were led by NBC5 in total viewers and CBS11 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Tuesday, Jan. 4th
CBS11 broke through at 10 p.m. with a win in total viewers while Fox4 topped the 25-to-54 scoreboard. NBC5 ran first at 6 a.m. in total viewers but yielded to WFAA8 with 25-to-54-year-olds. CBS11 continued to flex in the early evening hours, sweeping the 6 p.m. competitions and also taking the 5 p.m. gold in total viewers. NBC5 edged CBS11 in the earlier hour among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Wednesday, Jan. 5th
Fox4 had a big day, running the table at 6 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m. The station also ran a close second at 10 p.m. to WFAA8, which claimed both golds.

Thursday, Jan. 6th
CBS11 led the parade at both 6 and 10 p.m. with across-the-board firsts. It also had the most total viewers at 5 p.m. Fox4 again swept the 6 a.m. competitions and WFAA8 logged its only victory by topping the 5 p.m. ratings among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Friday, Jan. 7th
NBC5 poked through to win at 10 p.m. in both ratings measurements. It was a downsized three-way competition, though, with Fox4's late nighter pushed back by its network's telecast of the Cotton Bowl from Jerry's Palace. Fox4 ran the table for the third straight day at 6 a.m. and also won at 5 and 6 p.m. in the 25-to-54 demographic. The 5 and 6 p.m. golds in total viewers were shared by Fox4 and CBS11.

Monday, Jan. 10th
WFAA8 returned to the 10 p.m. top spots with twin wins while Fox4 remained unstoppable at 6 a.m. with another sweep. CBS11 won at 6 p.m. in total viewers but yielded to Fox4 among 25-to-54-year-olds. Fox4 also ran first at 5 p.m. in the 25-to-54 age range and shared the 5 p.m. total viewers gold with CBS11 in an exceedingly tight four-way race.

Tuesday, Jan. 11th
CBS11 crowed with sweeps of the 6 and 10 p.m. news races. NBC5 broke up Fox4's 6 a.m. victory parade by winning in both ratings measurements. The 5 p.m. firsts went to CBS11 in total viewers and Fox4 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Wednesday, Jan. 12th
WFAA8 returned to the top of the 10 p.m. competitions with twin wins. Fox4 nipped NBC5 at 6 a.m. in total viewers while the two stations shared the 25-to-54 golds. CBS11 remained strong at 6 p.m. with a doubleheader sweep. NBC5 won at 5 p.m. in total viewers and Fox4 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Thursday, Jan. 13th
Fox4 smiled all the way to the ratings bank with wins among 25-to-54-year-olds at 6 a.m. and at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. The station also ran first at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. in total viewers. The other golds went to CBS11 at 10 p.m. in total viewers and WFAA8 at 5 p.m. in that measurement.

Friday, Jan. 14th
Fox4 again came up big among 25-to-54-year-olds, running the table at all four hours for the second straight day. The station added a 6 a.m. win in total viewers before CBS11 claimed the rest of the spoils with the largest overall audiences at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 17th
NBC5 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers, with WFAA8 on top with 25-to-54-year-olds. Three of the four stations took a "Holiday" designation at 6 a.m. in deference to Martin Luther King Day, with the Peacock also throwing out its 5 and 6 p.m. results. In the three way competitions at those early evening hours, Fox4 swept the 25-to-54 numbers and also ran first at 5 p.m. in total viewers. WFAA8 topped the 6 p.m. field in the latter measurement.

The four-week February "sweeps" ratings period begins on Thursday, Feb. 3rd, with all four stations now in their respective bullpens warming up. Given these recent results, Fox4 clearly is the station to beat at 6 a.m. while it looks like another close finish at 10 p.m. between WFAA8 and CBS11. The 5 and 6 p.m. races look to be wide open, with only NBC5 seemingly out of the money while WFAA8 is on shaky ground.

OK, now for those football numbers. In order of finish, here are D-FW's total viewer Nielsen results for some of this period's big games:

Cowboys-Eagles (Jan. 2) -- 1,163,518 viewers on Fox
Packers-Eagles (Jan. 9) -- 1,080,409 viewers on Fox
Jets-Patriots (Jan. 16) -- 1,066,558 viewers on CBS
TCU-Wisconsin Rose Bowl (Jan. 1) - 886,490 viewers on ESPN
Ravens-Chiefs (Jan. 9) -- 810,307 viewers on CBS
Bears-Seahawks (Jan. 16) -- 803,381 viewers on Fox
Jets-Colts (Jan. 8) -- 796,456 viewers on NBC
Texas A&M-LSU Cotton Bowl (Jan. 7) -- 754,901 viewers on Fox
Steelers-Ravens (Jan. 15) -- 747,976 viewers on CBS
Packers-Falcons (Jan. 15) -- 727,199 viewers on Fox
Auburn-Oregon National Championship Game (Jan. 10) -- 692,570 viewers on ESPN
Seahawks-Saints (Jan. 8) -- 671,793 viewers on NBC

Monday, Jan. 17th also brought the premieres of NBC's Harry's Law and CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight.

Harry's, starring Kathy Bates as a curmudgeonly patent lawyer turned criminal defense attorney, opened solidly at 9 p.m. with 277,028 total viewers. That landed it in second place at that hour behind CBS' new episode of Hawaii Five-0 (325,508 viewers). Harry's also ran second among 18-to-49-year-olds, the key advertiser target audience for entertainment programming.

Piers Morgan, with Oprah Winfrey as the lippy Brit's first guest, drew 55,406 total viewers in its first 8 p.m. outing as Larry King Live's replacement. That put it second in the cable news universe, behind Fox News Channel's Hannity (69,257 viewers) and ahead of MSNBC's Rachel Maddow (20,777 viewers).

The same night's second episode of NBC's heavily promoted The Cape had just 124,663 total viewers in the 8 p.m. slot to badly trail all competing programing on the Big Four broadcast networks. Cape likewise crapped out with 18-to-49-year-olds, running an even more distant fourth.

Catchup round: a pair of departures at CW33 while WFAA8 anchor Gloria Campos remains on the mend

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Candice Crawford and Shana Franklin are putting CW33 behind them.

After another winter TV "press tour" out West, your friendly content provider is back in D-FW with a few local updates for readers.

The CW33 news room is on the receiving end of departures by two high-profile women staffers.

Candice Crawford, who became engaged to Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo on her 24th birthday last month, has left the station's sports department to get ready for her wedding. The former Miss Missouri USA 2008 had her official last day on Saturday, Jan. 8th.

Crawford, a Lubbock native and sister of actor Chace Crawford (The CW network's Gossip Girl), joined CW33 in July 2009 as a high school sports reporter. She also co-hosted a daily lifestyle segment, The RC Project, with the station's Roni Proter.

Crawford hopes to return to TV someday, but not with CW33, sources say.

The station also will be losing veteran reporter Shana Franklin at the end of this month. She'll be joining her husband, a sales representative who has been transferred out of state.

Franklin became famous -- or infamous -- as CW33's resident "sexpert," filing a steady stream of reports for 9 p.m. newscasts on topics ranging from "Flossing For Better Sex" to "The Science Behind the Booty Call." In fairness to Franklin, she pretty much got roped into this and was a very capable reporter when assigned other topics.

***Longtime WFAA8 anchor Gloria Campos continues to wear a leg brace after fracturing her left kneecap in a Dec. 10th fall.

Prompted by co-anchor John McCaa, Campos told viewers about the mishap during the station's Jan. 3rd 6 p.m. newscast. In a subsequent email response to unclebarky.com, Campos said she "tripped over a pallet at the backdoor" of WFAA8's Young Street offices. She missed a week of work and then had two weeks of scheduled vacation before returning to the station.

Campos said she's been released to work with restrictions that include "minimal standing and walking." She expects to be wearing the leg brace for at least the rest of this week.

"I fell hard on both knees, so I'm happy only one was fractured!" Campos said in the email.