Fox4 sports anchor Mike Doocy fears the buzzer might be sounding on his 9 p.m. sports segments
04/17/08 04:18 PM
By ED BARK
Veteran Fox4 sports anchor Mike Doocy is starting to feel like a dinosaur on his station's featured 9 p.m. newscast. So he's blogging about it -- on his own station's Web site, no less.
In a newly posted "Sports-Less At Nine" dispatch, Doocy begins, "Last night on Fox 4 News at 9, we tried something new. Actually, 'they' tried something new. A traditional sportscast wasn't part of the broadcast."
Doocy notes -- and this has been noted previously on unclebarky.com -- that "there are times when we're bumped out of the show for severe weather coverage, or other time concerns . . . But last night, our news anchors sprinkled in a Mavericks highlight and a Ranger highlight during the hour. That was the extent of our 9 p.m. sports coverage. I'm not sure if this is a one-night experiment, or the beginning of a trend."
He's asking viewers for "honest feedback," and as of this writing, "Sports-Less At Nine" has received five comments.
Here's another one. The second halves of D-FW's late night newscasts increasingly are aimed at women aged 25-to-54. Nielsen Media Research figures consistently show that upwards of 100,000 more women in that demographic watch the nightly newscasts on Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11.
Station management assumes that most women don't care much, if at all, about sports. So they instead get what they supposedly deserve -- an assembly line of stories on youthifying skin goops, miracle diets, shopping bargains, face-lifting, ass-hoisting, wrinkle-removing, blemish-dissolving, exercise contraptions and ways to make your sex life spring back into action.
In other words, pandering, particularly on NBC5 and CBS11. But some newscast consulting firms say this is the best way to keep women in play as bedtime beckons. Dallas Stars hockey highlights just don't do the trick.
NBC5 sports anchor Newy Scruggs has felt Doocy's pain for years. His nightly 10 p.m. sportscast amounts to a pair of wafers sandwiching a can of Spam. The wafers are his two, fast-talking sports blips. The Spam is the elongated commercial break bridging them.
WFAA8 and CBS11 still make sports count on their newscasts. The ABC station has an outsized, highly opinionated personality in Dale Hansen and a staff that contributes at least one enterprise feature a night, usually on an area high school or college. CBS11 and sports anchor Babe Laufenberg place more emphasis on pro sports, but get ample time to air their stories out.
Laufenberg, who doubles as Brad Sham's radio sidekick for Dallas Cowboys games, is still seen as a big cheese whom management aims to please. And Hansen is an institution unto himself, a proven drawing card whose sportscasts vibrate with life even when he's throwing out cringe-worthy one-liners.
Doocy and Scruggs are both fully capable of making their sports segments hum with compelling stories and pointed opinions. But their staffs have shrunk in recent years, as has management's commitment to what they've long done for a living.
We keep hearing that Dallas-Fort Worth has no equal as a sports town. And no market has more colorful, controversial owners than Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones.
Still, Doocy's public lament is evidence that his station isn't a believer. Phasing him out of Fox4's signature 9 p.m. newscasts might be an inevitable end-game. That would be a really dumb move in this view -- particularly when you have a full hour of playing time.
Then again, I'm a lifelong sports fan who happens to be of the wrong age and gender. Even worse perhaps, I've yet to meet a "vaginal rejuvenation" story I've liked.