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Texan Bachelorette "bad boy" kicks back on Good Morning Texas

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Wes Hayden with Bachelorette Jillian Harris -- and by his lonesome.

Austin-based country singer Wes Hayden is makin' the rounds these days, tellin' everyone he's not the "controversial Bachelorette bad boy" depicted on the ABC show's most recent edition.

He visited WFAA8's Good Morning Texas Tuesday morning to both plead his case on the show and in a special "Internet extension" of an interview with co-hosts Robert McCollum and Pat Smith.

It was fairly edgy TV, at least for the usually soft-serving GMT. Particularly because Hayden's pointed allegations about The Bachelorette came on the ABC affiliate station that carries the show in D-FW.

Hayden now says he was "set up from the very beginning" to be the show's heel. His contract with ABC amounted to "pretty much signing my life away," he said. "It pretty much says, 'Hey, we can do whatever we want to you. We can distort your character in any way."

There's even a "suicide clause" in the contract, Hayden said, absolving ABC of any liability in case a contestant ends up taking his or her life after being humiliated.

Of course no one forced Hayden to wade into the reality show cesspool, which he didn't do to "get fame," he insists.

It hasn't stopped him, though, from offering a download of the song he did for Jillian Harris on The Bachelorette before getting booted. It's available on his official website.

Here's GMT's Internet-only continuation of Hayden's back-of-the-hand to The Bachelorette.

Sources: Fox4 settles on Dallas native Lauren Przybyl as new Good Day co-anchor

Lauren Przybyl to be new Good Day co-anchor

Dallas native Lauren Przybyl, currently an anchor-reporter at NBC affiliate WHDH-TV in Boston, will be joining Fox4's Good Day as the program's new co-anchor, informed sources tell unclebarky.com.

Przybyl is slated to replace Megan Henderson, who left the program in late February to join KTLA-TV in Los Angeles.

A phone call to Fox4 news director Maria Barrs was returned by a "station spokesperson" who said, "We have nothing to announce right now."

Przybyl, a graduate of Baylor University, worked at Belo-owned TXCN in Dallas and KCTF-TV in Waco before moving to KTXS-TV in Abilene. Her next stop was KOB-TV in Albuquerque, N.M. before she arrived at Boston's WHDH in Spring, 2004.

Fox4 has been rotating in-house anchors on Good Day since Henderson's departure, with Natalie Solis, Dan Godwin, Krystle Gutierrez and Adrian Arambulo all joining veteran incumbent anchor Tim Ryan in the past five months. Good Day has fallen behind NBC5 in the 6 a.m. ratings race but still regularly beats the three network morning shows from 7 to 9 a.m.

Fox4's search for a permanent Good Day co-anchor has been a closely guarded secret. It is not known when Przybyl will join Ryan, but September would be a likely startup month.

Her WHDH bio says that Przybyl often hears, "Would you like to buy a vowel?" The bio also says that she's previously appeared on NBC's Today show, MSNBC, CNN and the Weather Channel.

One of her competitors in D-FW will be WFAA8 early morning co-anchor Cynthia Izaguirre, whose last name also is no picnic to pronounce.

Przybyl's mother is Lin Przybyl, longtime manager of the Colleyville Center. A January 31, 2003 article on the Przybyls says that Lauren was 24 at the time.

WFAA8 names new Good Morning Texas co-host, casts wider net for Gary Cogill

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New GMT co-host Robert McCollum

Local actor, comedian and voice-over specialist Robert McCollum is the new male co-host of Good Morning Texas, replacing the reassigned Gary Cogill, Dallas-based WFAA8 announced Sunday.

McCollum will quickly dive in. His first day on GMT, which airs at 9 a.m. weekdays, will be on Monday, July 27th.

"After living and working in the area for more than 15 years, Rob knows D-FW and brings an interesting creative spark to GMT," the program's executive producer, Dave Muscari, said in a publicity release. "The fact that he's a dad also helps him connect to the concerns of the many parents among GMT viewers. I think our audience will enjoy his warmth and sense of humor."

McCollum joins holdover co-host Amy Vanderoef, who recently became a first-time mom. The show also features Paige McCoy Smith in "Not-So-Perfect-Parent" segments as well as mini-infomercials in which guests pay WFAA8 to promote their products during interview segments.

Cogill, who will still occasionally appear on GMT, has been named WFAA8's performing arts reporter while also continuing to review movies for the station.

"Performing arts in Texas deserves comprehensive reporting," WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin said in a statement. "Sports teams grab headlines. However, on any given night just as many, or even more people attend a significant number of concerts, movies, theater, museums and other cultural happenings in D-FW."

Cogill has been with WFAA8 since the early 1990s. McCollum has done voice-over work for commercials (Taco Bueno, the Texas lottery), corporate films and numerous cartoons, including Dragon Ball Z. He's also been in some locally produced plays and has a handful of film credits, among them the 2003 NBC movie Saving Jessica Lynch, which was shot in North Texas.

His most recent film credit, 2009's Angela's Body, is described as a "tragic tale of one woman's descent into postpartum psychosis that ends with terrifying consequences." McCollum plays her doctor.

Just had to ask: FCC quickly grants CBS11 new digital channel

D-FW-based CBS11 (KTVT) is getting what it wanted from the Federal Communications Commission -- and at WARP speed.

The oft-slow moving government body has said yes to the station's "urgent" request earlier this month that its post-analog digital signal for over-the-air viewers be switched from the allocated Channel 11 to Channel 19. The switch will take effect on Monday, August 4th, with CBS11's sister station, TXA21, moving from Channel 19 to Channel 18 on that same date. The Channel 11 frequency also will continue to be used, director of engineering Don Dobbs says in a memo to staffers. And there's a pending proposal that TXA21 be moved yet again, from Channel 18 to Channel 29.

As previously reported on unclebarky.com, CBS11 had cited thousands of viewer complaints and significant ratings losses after the federal government-mandated analog-to-digital transition on June 12th. Many North Texans without cable or satellite capabilities were unable to get the station's allocated Channel 11 digital signal, the petition to the FCC said.

Viewers relying on converter boxes and antennas will have to "rescan" their televisions to receive Channel 19. Dobbs said that CBS11 will run announcements and on-screen "crawls" leading up to the changeover. The station also is planning a "Countdown Clock" that will start ticking at 11:45 a.m. on August 4th.

That will leave WFAA8 as the only remaining major D-FW broadcast station with a VHF band signal in the digital age. The station's Channel 8 digital frequency is working fine and there are no current plans to petition the FCC for a UHF frequency, WFAA management says.

Bud live: Disgruntled CBS11 reporter sues station, angers management, then has lead story on Thursday's 5 p.m. newscast (updated)


There he is, leading off Thursday's 5 p.m. newscast. Photo: Ed Bark

Co-anchor Karen Borta had no discernible edge to her voice when she threw it to reporter Bud Gillett at the top of Thursday's 5 p.m. CBS11 newscast.

Less than eight hours earlier, CBS11 management had issued its official response to Gillett's bluntly worded discrimination lawsuit against the station. The suit is "completely unfounded and we intend to fight it vigorously," the CBS-owned station said. (Both the suit and the station's response were first reported on unclebarky.com.)

Then it was business as usual, at least in terms of what viewers saw on home screens. Gillett returned to work -- resuming his regular Thursday through Monday schedule. And he led CBS11's 5 p.m. news with a live report on a murder-suicide in Midlothian. No muss, no fuss.

Returning a phone call Friday afternoon, Gillett politely said, "I can't talk about anything." But as previously noted, his 11-page lawsuit already speaks volumes, at least from his perspective.

Many of his co--workers, particularly the station's minority women reporters, obviously have a different view after being singled out in the lawsuit as undeserving of the air time and visibility they're supposedly getting at Gillett's expense. According to the lawsuit, it's because he's "an older, white, male, born-in-the-U.S.A. reporter" who's been locked into a "dead-end career" that includes working on both Saturdays and Sundays.

Management has to be exceedingly careful in such cases. And although no one will talk on the record, this much is clear:

***Gillett, 60, almost assuredly will not be fired because that would only fan the flames of his lawsuit.

***He could be offered a buyout that would have to be authorized at the corporate level. But of course Gillett in turn would have to drop his lawsuit. In companion materials provided by his attorney, Hal K. Gillespie, Gillett contends that before he filed his suit, CBS11 was "prepared to offer me a 'package' if I wanted to leave." But Gillett, who joined the station in September 2001 after a long career at Dallas-based KDFW-TV (Channel 4), insists that he wants to stay at CBS11 and "grow in my career."

***This could take a long time, and under very unusual circumstances. It's very rare -- and I can't think of a precedent in D-FW -- for a reporter or anchor to continue working at his or her station while a lawsuit of this kind is pending.

Former WFAA8 anchor Scott Sams, now with CBS11, already had been dropped by his station when he sued for discrimination shortly after his September 2004 dismissal. In January of 2007 he was awarded a partial judgment of $600,000, with both sides claiming victory.

Former Fox4 reporter Rebecca Aguilar was immediately taken off the air, in October 2007, after her controversial interview of an elderly man who had shot and killed two intruders at his junkyard. Aguilar's subsequent discrimination suit against the station, filed in January of this year, is scheduled to go to court in July, 2010, she says.

***Gillett is likely to be a pariah -- and understandably so -- among many of his co-workers. Maybe it's not easy being an ordinary looking, older white guy in a telegenic medium. But some of the language in Gillett's lawsuit makes him seem more like a jingoistic Neanderthal than a justice-seeker. Including this passage: "Defendants (CBS11) have a pattern of giving preferred assignments to Hispanic and foreign born employees and less preferable work to Caucasian, born in the United States, older male employees."

Five of Gillett's CBS11 colleagues are singled out as basically inferior to him. News director Scott Diener also is said to have "threatened" Gillett by calling him "bitter." These are wounds that won't heal, regardless of how all of this comes out.

Bottom line: I've long respected Gillett, and said so in these spaces, as a solid, professional reporter whose work is largely unheralded. But he was already nearing 53 when CBS11 hired him -- and put him on the weekends he now so despises. He had left Channel 4 in 2000 after 22 years at the station. There was no bidding war for him.

Television, as are other workplaces, can be a cruel mistress. And yes, there are a lot of big jerks in management. But Gillett is not exactly a bright, shining rising star in a medium where looks, diversity and attracting a young audience long have been facts of life.

Simply put, he's got a full-time, no doubt decently paying job in the country's fifth largest TV market. Maybe it's no bed of roses, but Gillett is deluding himself if he thinks his best days as a reporter are ahead of him. Yeah, his experience should count for a lot. But it's not a lifetime pass anymore -- in any line of work.

His lawsuit says that Gillett's "unfavorable schedule, modest exposure and lack of promotion are the death knell to a successful, award-winning reporter's career. Working a weekend schedule for an extended period of time hamper's a reporter's ability to obtain another position. An unfavorable schedule for a reporter is far more than a mere inconvenience or a petty indignity. The weekend schedule marginalizes Gillett's work because weekend assignments take him out of the regular business week."

And so on. News flash. Life isn't fair. But overall, life has been pretty good to Bud Gillett. So it's sad to see him go out this way. Win, lose or draw on his lawsuit, he's done himself no favors. In the end, no one likes a bitter beer face.

CBS11 reporter Bud Gillett files sharply worded reverse discrimination suit against his station (updated)


Veteran CBS11 reporter Bud Gillett, via a sharply worded lawsuit filed Tuesday in Dallas County District Court, has charged the station with retaliation and reverse discrimination based on his age, sex, race and national origin.

Gillett, who is 60, joined CBS11 in September 2001 after a long career as a street reporter at Dallas-based KDFW-TV (Channel 4). As of this writing, he remains employed at CBS11 (KTVT), with his picture and biography still in place on the station's cbs11tv.com website. The lawsuit says that Gillett has a "strong desire" to remain with CBS11 and to "grow in his career." But a long-term future may not be in the cards given the blunt charges he's made against station management.

In an 11-page suit filed by his attorney, Hal K. Gillespie, Gillett alleges that he has been systematically shunted to weekends (he currently works a Thursday through Monday schedule), repeatedly bypassed for promotion and denied a spot on the station's late night newscasts. Meanwhile, minorities and far less-experienced reporters routinely have been promoted ahead of him, the lawsuit alleges.

"The 10:00 PM newscast is the newscast of record in Dallas-Fort Worth," the lawsuit says. "To compete at the top level, a reporter needs to provide stories for the 10:00 PM broadcast. Just as there is more than one way to skin a cat, management in the news business can put an older, white, male, born-in-the U.S.A. reporter out to pasture and in a dead end career by locking him into an unfavorable schedule. Defendants have deliberately done this to Gillett."

Of CBS11's five principal 10 p.m. reporters, three are middle-aged white men (J.D. Miles, Jay Gormley, Jack Fink) and two are women over 40 years of age (Carol Cavazos and Katherine Blake). Stephanie Lucero, who is over 50, also is a regular contributor.

CBS11 president and general manager Steve Mauldin said Thursday morning, "I really can't comment on it right now." But he said an official response was being prepared for release later Thursday. Here's the CBS11 statement: "This lawsuit is completely unfounded and we intend to fight it vigorously."

Gillett, named as Wayne "Bud" A. Gillett, Jr. in the suit, has not returned a phone call and email asking for further comment. But his lawsuit is unequivocal in its claims that "defendants have locked Gillett into an unfavorable schedule and afforded him modest exposure and lack of promotion, all on account of his age, sex, national origin and gender."

While Gillett is the only full-time contracted reporter working both Saturdays and Sundays, CBS11 has assigned "superior schedules to similarly situated employees who are younger, female, Hispanic, or of foreign origin," the lawsuit contends. "Defendants have a pattern of giving preferred assignments to younger, female employees and less preferable work to older employees."

The lawsuit names names, contending that CBS11 reporters Cavazos, Lucero (who also was a colleague of Gillett's at KDFW-TV), Marianne Martinez, Arezow Doost and Selena Hernandez have all been given better work schedules and more visibility than the plaintiff.

When Gillett sought to improve his schedule, he was "ignored" and in one instance, dismissed as "bitter," his lawsuit charges.

"It sounds as if he's filed a lawsuit just because he doesn't want to work weekends," said a local television executive who has seen the lawsuit and requested anonymity. "If this went to trial and he won, what would that do to the rest of the industry?"

The executive also wondered how Gillett's minority and women colleagues would react to the lawsuit, and whether they'd be comfortable working with him.

In December of last year, Gillett filed a charge of discrimination with the Civil Rights Division of the Texas Workforce Commission. He then tried to meet with management to "resolve the issue" before any lawsuit was filed, according to companion documents sent to unclebarky.com by attorney Gillespie.

"Management would not even meet with Bud to discuss his issues," Gillespie said in an email.

Gillespie also represented Scott Sams, currently the co-anchor of CBS11's early morning newscasts, in his discrimination lawsuit against WFAA8 after he was dropped by the Dallas-based station in 2004. Sams eventually received $600,000 in back pay, damages and attorneys' fees, although both sides claimed victory.

Gillett's lawsuit says he is seeking a Monday through Friday work schedule at CBS11 plus compensatory, punitive and economic damages, and attorneys' fees.

He is described in the lawsuit as an award-winning reporter whose career and dignity have been compromised "despite his great experience and strong work ethic."

His own station's website bio begins with a testament to his durability, describing Gillett as "the most veteran reporter at CBS11 News with 33 years in major market television news, the last 26 years working the streets of Dallas/Fort Worth."

What's the frequency, Kenneth? CBS11 wants a new one

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CBS11 has faded to static for many of its rabbit-eared viewers.

Citing a "massive decline" in ratings and "thousands of complaints" from viewers after the June 12th transition from analog to digital, D-FW's CBS11 (KTVT) has an "urgent" request before the Federal Communications Commission. Namely, the station wants a new frequency in hopes of stopping the bleeding.

This is where it gets a bit complicated unless you're an engineer or otherwise well-schooled in "post-transition digital allotments." But CBS11's petition to the FCC, a copy of which has been obtained by unclebarky.com, is crystal-clear in charting the audience losses the station has suffered at the dawning of the digital age.

Since the transition, KTVT "has received several thousand telephone calls and email messages from viewers complaining about the difficulties receiving its signal," the station says. "The majority of these complaints are from viewers who utilize 'rabbit ears' and other indoor antenna systems, and who live more than 15 miles from the KTVT transmitter site . . . While KTVT has attempted to help these viewers receive its signal, it has become apparent that their reception problems are not susceptible of a ready cure."

Using Nielsen Media Research figures, CBS11's petition says the station's over-the-air prime-time (7 to 10 p.m.) ratings dropped 57 percent from the pre-digital week of June 1st to the post-digital week of June 22nd. But among viewers with digital-friendly cable, the dropoff was just 1.9 percent, CBS11 says.

"There is only one possible explanation for an over-the-air ratings decline of this magnitude over a few short weeks and without any significant change in programming," the station says. "Quite simply, large numbers of over-the-air viewers are no longer able to receive KTVT's signal."

Hoping to change this picture before the start of the fall season, CBS11 is asking the FCC to grant use of Channel 19 as its post-transition frequency for non-cable or satellite subscribers using converter boxes to get the station's signal.

KTVT was allotted Channel 11 as its post-digital frequency, but that's been a disaster, the station says. Its sister station, TXA21, allotted Channel 19 by the FCC, instead would use Channel 18 if KTVT's petition is granted. The petition was filed on July 16th.

Maybe this is enough to make many a reader's head spin. But the stakes are high, particularly in a fall season in which CBS will combat NBC's Monday-to-Friday, 9 p.m. Jay Leno show with four proven crime series -- CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, The Mentalist, Numb3rs -- and the promising new legal drama The Good Wife, starring Julianna Margulies. Every fraction of a rating point counts under such circumstances.

Monday's prime-time ratings weren't that bad for CBS11, though. The station easily won the 9 p.m. hour in total viewers with a CSI: Miami repeat. It also topped the 8 to 9 p.m. slot with reruns of Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory. And its 7 to 8 p.m. reprises of How I Met Your Mother and Rules of Engagement were a close second to ABC's "Men Tell All" recap of The Bachelorette.

Would those numbers be better if CBS11 is granted a new post-analog frequency to serve viewers relying on converter boxes?

The station clearly would love to find out.

"Brought to you by your local Coca-Cola bottler . . ."


WBAP's Jerry Desmond, Russ Bloxom and Harold Taft. Photo: Linda Kaye

KXAS-TV, now NBC5, used to be WBAP-TV until a call-letter change in 1974. Here's video of the 1969 introduction of WBAP's 6 p.m. newscast, a very spare affair featuring Jerry Desmond and Russ Bloxom at the anchor desk with Harold Taft drawing weather maps on the right-hand side of home screens. Unlike the photo above, it's in living color -- and fully sponsored.
Ed Bark

All in the family: except that WFAA8 didn't mention it in coverage of the "Plano 3"

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Colin Zwirko (center) with "Plano 3" mates, and father Walt Zwirko, a veteran WFAA8 staffer. Viewers weren't told of the connection during WFAA8's coverage of the boys' misadventures in Ireland.

WFAA8's substantial coverage of three Plano youths who have become overnight celebrities in Ireland so far is missing at least one relevant fact. The group's spokesman, 21-year-old Colin Zwirko, is the son of WFAA8's Walt Zwirko, a 25-year employee who produces and hosts the weekly Computer Corner segments on the station's newscasts and wfaa.com.

WFAA8 news director Michael Valentine, informed of the omission Friday, said it was an error in judgment.

"We should have said it was his son," Valentine acknowledged. "I don't know why we didn't. I don't have a better explanation, other than we screwed up. It's our policy to disclose that information."

Valentine also noted that "Walt is not an employee of mine. But it doesn't matter. We still screwed up."

Walt Zwirko is, however, pictured as part of the station's "News Team" on wfaa.com.

Colin Zwirko and friends Gavin Sides and Ben Whitehurst had landed at Dublin Airport earlier this month to begin a backpack trip through Western Europe. Instead they were held in a detention cell because they supposedly lacked proper documentation on where they planned to stay in Dublin and how they were paying their expenses.

The trio then were forced to take a Delta flight back home at a price of $1,900 each, according to reports by WFAA8 and The Dallas Morning News, who remain synergistic partners despite the split of Dallas-based owner Belo into two "separate" entities. Young Zwirko and his two friends since have been offered an all expenses paid trip back to Ireland by one of the country's hotel chains.

"The 'Plano 3' (as they have been dubbed in the Irish media) have received requests for interviews and audio diaries and a radio advertising campaign will be run in their honor," WFAA8 reported on its Web site.

Colin Zwirko, who contended that he and his friends were "treated like criminals," made a video of their experiences that ran in part during WFAA8 newscasts. But the station never mentioned the other WFAA8 connection.

Questions about Colin Zwirko's possible ties to WFAA8 were emailed to unclebarky.com by a reader. A commenter on dallasnews.com also raised the issue, with Dallas Morning News reporter Theodore Kim responding, "Good/perceptive question. The answer is yes. He is the son of Walt. In fact, it was WFAA that first reported the story. We followed up on it and then it went viral, so to speak."

WFAA8 in the past has identified relationships of news subjects to station staffers, most notably late last year during a murder investigation in which sports anchor Dale Hansen's son, Eric, was questioned for informational purposes.

Eric Hansen was never a suspect in the death of Dallas realtor Jeanmarie Tolle and her two sons, but had been dating her for the past few months. Both The Dallas Morning News and WFAA8 reporter Jonathan Betz identified him as Hansen's son in separate reports.

There's another irony in The Dallas Morning News' reporting on the "Plano 3." As Kim noted on the newspaper's web site, "our own Matthew Haag continues his relentless coverage" of the story.

Haag, who covers Plano schools for the paper, is the son of the late Marty Haag, who led WFAA8 to national prominence and local ratings dominance during his long tenure as the station's news director.

Stealth-y choice: Absent fanfare, Curtis supplants Snyder on NBC5's 10 p.m. newscasts


The Brian Curtis/Jane McGarry era began late Thursday. Photo: Ed Bark

Brian Curtis joined Jane McGarry on Thursday's 10 p.m. newscast, marking his first appearance as Mike Snyder's official replacement.

Not that you'd know it. There were no welcomes or acknowledgments from McGarry, meteorologist David Finfrock and substitute sports anchor Randy McIlwain. Instead, Curtis and McGarry dutifully plowed through 23 stories plus an end-of-newscast "kicker" before giving way as usual to Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show. McGarry tripped over words a couple of times; Curtis was smooth as silk.

"We thought about a welcome but decided not to do anything formal," Susan Tully, vice president of content development for NBC5, explained via email.

Curtis, who will continue to co-anchor the station's 4 p.m. newscasts, joined NBC5 in 2003. Snyder, who had teamed with McGarry for 19 years at 10 p.m., remains as co-anchor of the 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts after taking a substantial salary cut to continue at the station.

Thursday's 10 p.m. newscast also came and went without any of those obligatory "live" shots from reporters standing in the dark. Was that also a way to cut expenses as Curtis began co-piloting? Tully said it was pure happenstance.

"All the live trucks had technical issues last night," she said. "We planned for live; sometimes it just doesn't happen. If it went flawlessly and you thought it was planned that way, you have given us a compliment! Sometimes it gets ugly on air when live trucks go down."

Curtis in as new 10 p.m. co-anchor at NBC5


Brian Curtis, who joined NBC5 in 2003 and currently co-anchors the station's First at Four newscasts, will replace Mike Snyder on the 10 p.m. editions.

Susan Tully, the station's vice president of content development, confirmed Curtis' promotion Wednesday after NBC5's staff was informed on Tuesday.

"No formal news release," she said in an email to unclebarky.com. "We wanted to make sure that Mike was given the courtesy of having the focus of the day be on his decision."

Curtis, who's been on vacation, will join incumbent Jane McGarry this Thursday on the station's 10 p.m. newscasts, Tully said. He'll also continue to anchor at 4 p.m.

A recent post below had handicapped the in-house field at NBC5, with Curtis' plusses and minuses weighed along with those of NBC5's Brendan Higgins and Scott Friedman. We'll leave that in place for discussion purposes.

Snyder, who had anchored 10 p.m. newscasts with McGarry for 19 years, will still team with her at 6 p.m. and also co-anchor 5 p.m. editions.

Curtis previously worked at TV stations in Kansas City, Birmingham, Ala., Grand Rapids, Mich. and Columbia, Miss. He was named the "Best News Anchor" of 2007 by the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters, according to his NBC5 bio.

Post-Snyder 10 p.m. era ushers in subs for now on NBC5


Kristi Nelson took Mike Snyder's long-held seat, with Jane McGarry in her usual spot on Tuesday's 10 p.m. NBC5 news. Photo: Ed Bark

Hyperactive NBC5 sportscaster Matt Barrie -- but hey, he's growing on me -- found himself the only man in the house on Tuesday's 10 p.m. NBC5 newscast. He quickly swung from the lip.

"Me and the trio of female anchors will be back after the break!" said Barrie, flashing a satisfied thumbs-up to the accompaniment of off-camera male laughter.

So began the Fort Worth-based station's post-Mike Snyder era, at least in the late night arena. Kristi Nelson, co-anchor of NBC5's First at Four newscast, stepped in for Snyder, Samantha Davies subbed for meteorologist David Finfrock and Jane McGarry continued her 19-year run as 10 p.m. co-anchor.

Obviously this is temporary. But how long will NBC5 wait until announcing a permanent (as far as these things go) replacement for Snyder, who's downshifted against his will (despite the news release pronouncements) to the 5 and 6 p.m. editions?

Currently running third in the 10 p.m. total viewer ratings, NBC5 presumably will give McGarry a new partner before the scheduled Sept. 14 premiere of The Jay Leno Show, which will occupy the weekday 9 to 10 p.m. slot in one of the riskiest moves in network TV history. There's a very slim possibility that McGarry could fly solo, but that might be even riskier.

Prime candidates for the job appear to be three in-house staffers, all of whom are currently anchoring at other hours. In no particular order, let's handicap the field:

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NBC5's Brendan Higgins, Brian Curtis and Scott Friedman

BRENDAN HIGGINS (co-anchor of early morning newscasts)

Upside: Quick on his feet and glibbest of the three. Graying mane might be a better match for aging Jane.
Downside: NBC5 has shot back to No. 1 in the key early morning ratings, with Higgins and Deborah Ferguson an appealing, seasoned team. Why would you mess with that?

BRIAN CURTIS (co-anchor of First at Four newscasts)

Upside: Personable, exceedingly telegenic and a smooth operator with a TelePrompTer.
Downside: Not that this necessarily matters any more, but he'd be the softest reporter ever to ascend to this market's showcase newscast. On Tuesday night he did a story on a new wrinkle reliever. Also specializes in lightweight "Big Fat Savings" features. Might look a little too young next to Jane, but could pass for baby brother.

SCOTT FRIEDMAN (anchor of early morning weekend newscasts)

Upside: Not that this necessarily matters any more, but he easily has the strongest reporting credentials of this group. In fact he's one of the market's best. Solid behind a desk, too, and can be congenial when required.
Downside: May like reporting too much to take a job in which it's really not a requirement unless NBC5 decides to return to the old days of long-forgotten early '80s anchor Dave Layman. He once told your friendly content provider, "My thing is traipsing through weeds, knocking on doors and covering a story. That's what I enjoy doing. The anchoring to me is secondary, much to the disgruntlement of management sometimes." Management eventually responded by firing him.

JANE MCGARRY -- as a solo act.

Upside: It'd be lots cheaper in the long run. So why not get viewers used to the idea now?
Downside: Boy-girl anchor teams long have been a staple of local newscasts, particularly in late night. Too many viewers might be put off their feed at a time when the impending Leno initiative already has Peacock station managers sweating like sumo wrestlers in a sauna.

That said, whadda I know? What do you think?

Ex-beauty queen is latest eye-catching addition to "The 33" newsroom

candice-crawford Candice Crawford in swimsuit picture[3]

Dallas-raised Candice Crawford already has a nice body of work.

Former Miss Missouri USA Candice Crawford, sister of actor Chace Crawford (Gossip Girl), is joining Dallas-based KDAF-TV (Ch. 33) as a reporter specializing in high school sports.

Lubbock-born and Dallas-raised, Crawford won the Miss Missouri competition in 2008. She also will be helping to develop a high school sports section on "The 33's" website, sources say.

Crawford, 22, earlier appeared on D-FW's CBS11 as a Dallas Cowboys chronicler for The Blitz. She later placed among the 10 finalists in last year's Miss USA pageant and also finished third runnerup in both the 2003 and 2005 Miss Texas Teen USA competitions.

While studying journalism and business at the University of Missouri, Crawford worked for NBC station KOMU-TV as a news and sports reporter.

Here's one of Crawford's earlier Cowboys locker room reports for The Blitz. Below that you can see her talking to the TV Guide network as Miss Missouri USA. Take your pick.

Snyder out as anchor of NBC5's 10 p.m. newscasts, continues at 5 and 6 p.m. (updated)

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It's official. NBC5 anchor Mike Snyder confirmed Tuesday morning that Monday was his last night as the regular co-anchor of the Fort Worth-based station's 10 p.m. newscasts.

It ends a 17-year run with Jane McGarry, who will remain on the late night broadcasts while Snyder teams with her at 6 p.m. and also co-anchors the 5 p.m. news.

"Am I gonna miss doing the 10 o'clock news? Yeah, greatly," Snyder said in a telephone interview from his home. "I'm not really sad. Sad's not the word. I'm melancholy about leaving the audience at 10 o'clock, but I continue what I think I do best . . . And for the first time in my television career, I'm going to get to do something that I've never done. I get to have dinner during the week at home with my family."

Snyder, 56, and his wife, Lyn, have two daughters, ages 7 and 9.

Snyder said he signed a new contract with NBC5 -- "I can't say how long it is, but it's not a long-term contract" -- roughly 15 minutes before Monday's 5 p.m. newscast. He had just returned from vacationing with his family in Missouri.

As previously reported on unclebarky.com, Snyder had been aware that changes would be coming at NBC5, which like many TV stations around the country is downsizing and cutting costs. The veteran anchor, who joined NBC5 in spring 1980, declined to discuss his new salary arrangement with the station and also said he doesn't know who his successor might be.

"They haven't discussed that with me at all," Snyder said. "I'm not sure what the plans are."

McGarry will continue as a 10 p.m. anchor, presumably with a partner.

"I think the audience prefers having two voices," Snyder said. "And I think it broadens the audience. I think it would be odd if it were a single anchor, but anything's possible in this financial landscape."

NBC5's Brian Curtis, who co-anchors the station's 4 p.m. newscasts, subbed for Snyder while he was on vacation. Station management so far has not commented on who might be joining McGarry.

Snyder praised NBC5 president and general manager Thomas Ehlmann, who joined the station almost a year ago from WGN-TV in Chicago.

"He's a gentleman beyond parallel," Snyder said. "When we started our discussions and talked about some of the options, I found him to be probably one of the most honorable people I've ever met in the television business. I have nothing but praise for the way he handled the negotiations, and more important for the opportunity he's given me to continue contributing there . . . At least I'm able to stay with the 5 and 6 o'clock newscasts, and continue anchoring with Jane."

In an official statement released Tuesday morning, NBC5 said the new deal with Snyder "will allow Mike to work less and have more time to fulfill other opportunities he has wanted to explore."

Ehlmann is quoted praising Snyder as "a talented professional with a long record of achievement and outstanding journalism."

Snyder said his short-term pact with NBC5 also gives him "the opportunity to explore other things." He's principally interested in returning to radio, where Snyder was news director and morning drive time co-anchor at Dallas-based KLIF-AM before joining NBC5.

"I'm exploring the opportunity of being able to do radio and still doing the news on Channel 5. That's exciting to me," he said.

Snyder said he'll also have "more time with my philanthropies," which include the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Salvation Army and the Fort Worth Air Power Foundation.

The 17-year Snyder-McGarry partnership at 10 o'clock had been the D-FW market's longest. Snyder says he'll also be able to reach another milestone at NBC5 next spring, when he'll have been at the station for 30 years.

"It's been a really good run here," he said. "I'm eternally grateful for that."

Here's video of Snyder's emotional farewell Monday night, during which he told a tearful and audibly sniffling McGarry, "I have enjoyed every minute by your side." (Unlike the previously posted nbcdfw.com version, it includes McGarry's goodbye and their declarations of anchorly love for one another.)

Insights and Rochelle Brown are now out of sight at Fox4

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Rochelle Brown, formerly of Fox4

Rochelle Brown and the minority-targeted program Insights are no more at Fox4.

Insights, which endured for 29 years on the Dallas-based station, had its last telecast on June 21st.

Brown, the show's first host and in later years its executive producer, was let go on the following day after more than 31 years at Fox4. She joined the station in January 1978, pre-dating even anchor Clarice Tinsley, who arrived later that year from a Milwaukee station.

"It's been amazing. A lot of people don't know we're gone yet," Brown said in a telephone interview Thursday. "I've been getting lots of calls from the community. People are still calling, pitching stories. And I have to say, 'Wait a minute.' "

Brown, 60, said she wasn't told specifically why Insights was canceled, but "I sort of expected it. The industry is in flux right now. It's crazy. I'm not sure what the station's rationale was exactly, but I guess it is sort of an end of an era."

Fox4 news director Maria Barrs has not answered an email inquiry asking for comment. The station, like many, generally does not talk publicly about personnel matters, except when hiring people.

The ongoing tough economy has led to cutbacks at all of D-FW's major TV news providers. Earlier this year, WFAA8 dropped Young Street and its staff. The "young adult lifestyles" magazine program had replaced La Vida and Metro, which respectively were aimed at Hispanic and African-American audiences.

Brown said that Insights initially "was put together with the premise that we would be a place for the average person to go tell a story. It was primarily an African-American program, but as the makeup of the city changed, we changed, too, to include Hispanics, Asians and other nationalities."

Brown joked that she plans to "start a companion blog, and I'm going to call it auntierose.com." But in reality, "I'm not sure what I'm going to do," she said. "I think this is a great opportunity to explore some other things that I've been interested in, so we'll see what happens."

Insights, scheduled at 8:30 a.m. Sundays on Fox4, was hosted by veteran reporter Shaun Rabb until its cancellation. Brown remained the executive producer and occasionally filled in as host. Rabb remains at Fox4.

The final June 21st Insights drew 13,286 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research numbers. On the following Sunday, the infomercial that replaced it had 3,986 viewers.

In other Fox4 developments . . . Sources say the station has interviewed at least two applicants from outside the station for the Good Day co-anchor position. But the lid on this process is tighter than Joan Rivers' face.

Fox4 has been rotating in-house Good Day anchors since Megan Henderson left the show in late February to join KTLA-TV in Los Angeles. Good Day currently is running second in the early morning ratings behind NBC5.

***Fox4's Baron James, who co-anchors the station's 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts with Tinsley, will be off the air for several weeks after he has surgery to remove a growth from his larynx. His speaking voice had been affected. James is expected to be back at the station sometime in August.

Subtract Sandra Hernandez from "The 33" news team

Reporter Sandra Hernandez has departed KDAF-TV ("The 33") after being hired in late 2006.

Her picture and biography already have been removed from the KDAF website.

Hernandez previously worked at Dallas-based Fox4 as co-anchor of the station's 5 to 6 a.m. portion of Good Day. She then freelanced in Los Angeles before returning to D-FW. Efforts to reach Hernandez have so far been unsuccessful.

Hernandez joins a host of anchors and reporters who have left the station under news director David Duitch, who took that position a year ago after an earlier stint as news director at WFAA8 in Dallas.

Duitch also has made a number of his own hires, including former NBC5 meteorologist Rebecca Miller and two "backpack journalists" who were laid off earlier this year by The Dallas Morning News.

KDAF, which has a nightly 9 p.m. local newscast, recently joined in a content-sharing arrangement with Fox4 and NBC5. The station plans to debut a 5:30 p.m. newscast sometime this fall.

Pete 'n' Dale sideshow resumes; new campaign for Daybreak begins


Pete 'n' Dale on display during Tuesday's 10 p.m. news. Photos: Ed Bark

WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen returned from his month-long vacation Tuesday, also ending viewers' respite from the almost nightly 10 p.m. newscast hijinks between him and weathercaster Pete Delkus.

Big Pete could hardly wait to show an array of doctored pictures depicting "Dale's Summer Vacation," climaxing with the above shot of the two of 'em playing handsie in the sandsie. News anchors Gloria Campos and John McCaa also laughed it up while your friendly content provider wondered what more can be said that hasn't been already.

WFAA8 isn't about to cease and desist. On the contrary. So let 'em keep acting like goofballs, and we'll see where it all leads. Those who claim they're sick of their shtick should be smart enough to have switched stations at this point. Those who eagerly await their banter will be overjoyed to see Pete 'n' Dale together again. As the 10 p.m. ratings get ever closer, there's a lot riding on which side wins out.



WFAA8 also has launched a new promotional campaign for its early morning team, with the spotlight primarily on news anchors Cynthia Izaguirre and relative newcomer Chris Flanagan.

The station continues to run third in this key battleground, with NBC5 leading and Fox4 slipping to second while continuing to rotate a series of in-house co-anchors after the late February departure of Megan Henderson to KTLA-TV in Los Angeles.

Judging from the above visuals, Izaguirre and Flanagan are striving to be almost as fun-lovin' as Pete 'n' Dale. Wow, look at 'em do "The Bump" in that "Summer Survival Guide" logo featured on wfaa.com.

There's also the inventive tribute song performed in honor of Izaguirre by a smitten Granbury kindergarten teacher. Daybreak closed out a recent edition with it while she beamed and nodded to the beat. And frankly, after listening to it a time or three, it sure beats another "Rumble in the Plaza" with Hansen-Delkus. So have a look and a listen. And given the subject matter, don't pretend you could do any better.

NBC5 mgt. responds to criticism of homes-for-sale series

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NBC5's Lindsay Wilcox was hot on homes in 5-part news series.

Susan Tully, vice president of content management for Fort Worth-based NBC5, says the station's recent tour of homes-for-sale was a valid news feature.

An earlier critique in these spaces derided reporter Lindsay Wilcox's 5-part series, shown during last week's 10 p.m. newscasts, as a thinly disguised advertisement modeled after the half-hour Sunday infomercial Hot On Homes. Wilcox began the series with a tour of three homes in the $150,000 price range and ended it with a look at a trio of $1 million mini-manses. Area realtors and Wilcox took turns praising the properties during the series, which ran in the middle of newscasts. Wilcox was assisted in selecting the homes by the DFW Metrotex Association of Realtors.

One commenter questioned whether NBC5 should be investigated by the FCC. Here is Tully's defense of the series, sent via email Tuesday:

"Home ownership among our viewers is 80% and in most cases is the single largest investment they make in their lives. The topic of home values does have news value. The real estate segment was sparked by how much we all enjoy clicking through the slide shows found on sites like cnbc.com and wsj.com about how much a certain price point gets you across the nation.

"As we know, $250,000 in Texas is very different than that price in California. With so many 'For Sale' signs up right now, we were curious if there was a huge difference in a price point throughout North Texas.

"What does $150,000 buy in Mansfield compared to Uptown? It was honestly that simple. We wanted to do a local version, TV style. One story turned into five because everyone working on it really enjoyed the story and we thought a Friday night would be a fun way to voyeuristically see inside a $1 million home.

"It's the slow summer news cycle, so we said, 'Why not?' It was just meant to be informative and entertaining for the 80% who own homes.

"What concerned me about the blog was how quickly some people are to accuse us of making a pay-for-play move. Trust me, sales wasn't even aware we were doing the series. If a few folks don't like our stories, we know we're not for everyone. But for them to accuse us of FCC violations is highly offensive and uncalled for."

Tully added that the "couponing we do" on NBC5's 4 p.m. newscasts "talks to the 4 p.m. audience, mostly homeowners trying to stretch a dollar during a difficult time. No sales influence, no motivation. We did it once and the response was so good we continued it to fill a viewer need."