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February "sweeps": WFAA8 bounces back at 10 p.m.; Fox4 has most overall wins; CBS11 still most-watched at 6 p.m.

Winless a year ago in the four-week February "sweeps," WFAA8 took back the 10 p.m. top spots this time around while Fox4 logged the most overall victories.

WFAA8 bested CBS11 by a bare handful of viewers overall while dominating the late night news among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. CBS11 had won both competitions in February 2012. The final numbers again had to be broken down to three decimal points to determine a total viewers champ in the late news race. And in other races as well.

Fox4 swept the 6 a.m. competitions while adding 5 and 6 p.m. firsts in the 25-to-54 demographic. CBS11 kept its 6 p.m. crown in total viewers while WFAA8 had a second paper-thin win in the 5 p.m. total viewers race, this time over NBC5.

The latest sweeps, with results helping to determine advertising rates, ran from Jan. 31st until Feb. 27th. Here are the complete results in the four major four-way competitions, with year-to-year audience gains or losses in parentheses.

10 P.M.

Total Viewers
WFAA8 -- 207,627 (plus 18,630)
CBS11 -- 205,769 (minus 25,228)
Fox4 -- 108,288 (minus 13,646)
NBC5 -- 98,788 (minus 47,533)

WFAA8 -- 85,945 (plus 5,597)
Fox4 -- 58,310 (minus 6,089)
CBS11 -- 51,930 (minus 29,923)
NBC5 -- 48,324 (minus 30,520)

Comments CBS11 again had a significant total viewers lead-in advantage from its network's 9 p.m. programming, but dismally failed to hold serve after routing WFAA8 last February. There's no way to sugar-coat that.

Still, one night basically made the difference in WFAA8's very slim win. On Monday, Feb. 25th, CBS punted with a Hawaii Five-0 repeat while ABC furnished WFAA8 with a new episode of Castle. Gifted with a major lead-in advantage, the ABC station pounded CBS11 at 10 p.m., drawing more than twice as many viewers (330,442 to 158,337). There's your difference-maker on a night when WFAA8 and CBS11 usually run neck-and-neck at 10 p.m.

WFAA8 had the sweeps lead-in advantage among 25-to-54-year-olds, and to its credit ran with it in piling up a big win. NBC in contrast got essentially nothing from NBC network programming. Its 10 p.m. numbers not surprisingly were dismal, with Fox4 pushing the Peacock into the basement in both ratings measurements.

6 A.M.

Total Viewers
Fox4 -- 112,488 (minus 639)
WFAA8 -- 83,505 (plus 6,280)
NBC5 -- 73,799 (minus 30,522)
CBS11 -- 57,896 (plus 18,606)

Fox4 -- 71,546 (plus 2,934)
NBC5 -- 44,418 (minus 7,342)
WFAA8 -- 44,389 (minus 6,468)
CBS11 -- 25,190 (plus 8,639)

Comments: Fox4 defended both titles from a year ago and was never seriously threatened. The station's runaway win among 25-to-54-year-olds is particularly impressive.

Otherwise the moral victory goes to CBS11, which still has miles to go but at least made up some ground with the biggest gains in both ratings measurements. WFAA8's momentum slowed with a dip in the 25-to-54 demographic, but NBC5 hemorrhaged viewers in comparison.

6 P.M.

Total Viewers
CBS11 -- 166,253 (plus 28,739)
WFAA8 -- 157,510 (plus 24,738)
NBC5 -- 124,051(plus 8,891)
Fox4 -- 108,151(minus 7,009)

Fox4 -- 57,654 (plus 2,885)
WFAA8 -- 52,915 (plus 8,979)
NBC5 -- 41,527 (plus 871)
CBS11 -- 28,976 (plus 2,795)

Comments: As it did last February, CBS11 again went from first in total viewers to worst among 25-to-54-year-olds. But it showed gains in both measurements, as did NBC5 and WFAA8. A year ago, only NBC5 enjoyed any improvement, with a slightly bigger helping of 25-to-54-year-olds. This time, 6 p.m. is the only sweeps slot with more than up than down arrows.

5 P.M.

Total Viewers
WFAA8 -- 126,394 (plus 13,267)
NBC5 -- 124,535 (plus 1,924)
Fox4 -- 114,415 (minus 5,487)
CBS11 -- 87,154 (plus 17,381)

Fox4 -- 46,296 (plus 2,360)
WFAA8 -- 39,380 (minus 3,352)
NBC5 -- 35,535 (minus 10,507)
CBS11 -- 19,795 (minus 2,775)

Comments: NBC5 won both competitions a year ago, so this is another body blow for a station that came away this time with no wins anywhere. The demographic picture also is getting grimmer, with only Fox4 enjoying a relatively modest increase in the key 25-to-54 measurement.

WFAA8 slipped into first place in total viewers despite having the weakest 4 p.m. lead-in with the syndicated Katie. That's a gold star achievement for the station.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Feb. 26) -- Celebrity Wife Swap outshines Golden Boy

The premiere of CBS' Golden Boy drew a bit bigger crowd Tuesday night than the launch of ABC's Celebrity Wife Swap. But the latter faced much tougher competition and ranked as D-FW's most-watched show among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds.

Wife Swap, with Kate (Her Again) Gosselin and Kendra (Her Again) Wilkinson trading spaces, drew a nice-sized 234,063 viewers opposite CBS' all-powerful NCIS (495,662).

NCIS usually also wins its hour with 18-to-49-year-olds. But Wife Swap turned the tables, besting the Mark Harmon-headed drama by a score of 118,008 viewers to 95,682 in this key demographic. ABC's The Taste, moved back an hour to 8 p.m., then fell to 123,916 total viewers, with 66,977 in the 18-to-49 age range.

At 9 p.m., Golden Boy won its time slot with 247,831 total viewers after inheriting 351,094 from CBS' preceding NCIS: Los Angeles. Among 18-to-49-year-olds, though, Golden Boy was soundly beaten by ABC's Body of Proof.

NBC's 9 p.m. attraction, Smash, continued to perform way off-key. It ran a distant fourth in both ratings measurements, with just 61,958 total viewers. The Peacock's entire prime-time lineup ran fourth all night.

Over on Fox Sports Southwest, the Dallas Mavericks again blew a game they should have won. this time falling to the visiting Milwaukee Bucks. It averaged 82,610 total viewers.

Here are the local news derby results for the next-to-last weekday of the February "sweeps" ratings period.

WFAA8 edged CBS11 in the 10 p.m. total viewers race and won more comfortably among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 logged two more wins at 6 a.m., where it's long been home free as the runaway sweeps champ at that hour.

WFAA8 won at 6 p.m. in total viewers and prevailed by a paper-thin margin at 5 p.m. in that measurement.

The 25-to-54 golds went to NBC5 at 5 p.m. and Fox4 at 6 p.m. The respective runners-up, Fox4 and WFAA8, were very close behind, though.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Feb. 25) -- The Bachelor smelling like roses

The prime-time competitions were close more often than not Monday. But ABC's latest two-hour dollop of The Bachelor made the overall best showing.

Starring North Texan Sean Lowe, it averaged 268,484 D-FW viewers in winning its 7 to 9 p.m. time slot. But CBS' 2 Broke Girls shared the 8 to 8:30 p.m. gold by tying for the top spot in that slot.

ABC's Castle then had an easy time of it at 9 p.m., in part because CBS punted on the final Monday of the February "sweeps" with a competing Hawaii Five-0 repeat. Castle rolled up 289,136 viewers while Five-0 lei-d an egg (117,031 viewers). It still outdrew NBC's Deception, though (103,262 viewers).

Among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, Castle likewise won easily while The Bachelor carried the 7:30 to 8 p.m. and 8:30 to 9 p.m. segments. CBS' 2 Broke Girls and How I Met Your Mother otherwise were the top draws in this key demographic.

Fox's The Following held steady at 8 p.m. with 261,600 total viewers. That was good enough to beat NBC's The Biggest Loser and CBS' Mike & Molly. But it fell to fourth across the board -- among the Big Four broadcast networks -- in the key 18-to-49 demographic.

TNT's 8 p.m. episode of Dallas had 103,263 total viewers, with 38,273 in the 18-to-49 age range. Those kinds of numbers on the show's home turf are surprisingly low. The national numbers are also iffy so far, making it questionable whether Dallas will make it to a third season.

Here are Monday's local news derby results, with just two weekdays remaining in the February sweeps.

Taking the big Castle lead-in audience to the bank, WFAA8 rolled to dominant wins at 10 p.m. in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. It may have been a crucial night in determining who wins the neck-and-neck total viewers race at this hour between WFAA8 and CBS11. Monday night's score was 330,442 viewers to 158,337 in favor of WFAA8.

Fox4 again swept the 6 a.m. Nielsens and WFAA8 did likewise with a stronger than usual 5 p.m. showing. The 6 p.m. firsts went to CBS11 in total viewers and WFAA8 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Feb. 22-24) -- falloff for Oscars

First-timer Seth MacFarlane likely won't be doing encore. Photo: Ed Bark

Despite a roster of popular pictures and a supposedly cooler host in Seth MacFarlane, Sunday night's Oscar ceremony on ABC dipped below the previous year's festivities with graybeard Billy Crystal.

Running from 7:30 to 11:05 p.m., the Oscars averaged 922,483 D-FW viewers, with 430,569 in the advertiser-prized 18-to-49 demographic. The Crystal-cast drew 1,054,760 viewers and 477,143 in the 18-to-49 age range.

This year's Oscars did, however, edge the 2011 show co-hosted by Anne Hathaway (a best supporting actress winner last night) and James Franco. It drew 907,267 viewers, with 417,906 of the 18-to-49 persuasion.

The 2012 Oscars were mercifully shorter, with a 7:30 to 10:43 p.m. running time. Sunday night's show paid a price for going 22 minutes longer. A peak total audience of 1,032,630 from 8:30 to 8:45 p.m. fell to 874,293 for the final full 15-minute segment. The extra 11 to 11:05 p.m. spill-over, with MacFarlane and Kristin Chenoweth singing "Here's to the Losers" while the closing credits rolled, also counts in Nielsen's final average.

Another factor: Sunday's Oscars got off to a slow start ratings-wise, with the smallest audience for any full 15-minute segment -- 819,220 viewers from 7:30 to 7:45 -- enduring MacFarlane's very elongated opening screw-around. In what might have been a record, the first actual Oscar-winner wasn't announced until 7:50 p.m.

On AMC, a new 8 p.m. episode of The Walking Dead drew 247,831 viewers opposite the Oscars, with an imposing 184,985 in the 18-to-49 motherlode.

Sunday also featured two big daytime sports attractions. Fox's Daytona 500 averaged 268,484 total viewers while ABC's national telecast of the Dallas Mavericks' tough home loss to the Lakers drew 165,221 viewers.

Friday's prime-time ratings again were paced by CBS' Blue Bloods, which led in total viewers with 282,252. ABC's Shark Tank had the most 18-to-49-year-olds among prime-time shows.

D Magazine earned at least a moral victory on KTXD-TV (Ch. 47) when its Friday 9 a.m. edition of the new D: The Broadcast broke through to become the first of five shows to achieve a measurable audience rather than the dreaded "hashmarks." It had 4,819 viewers before the following D Living remained in hashmark territory.

In Friday's local news derby results, CBS11 edged WFAA8 for the top spot at 10 p.m. in total viewers. But WFAA8 countered by running first among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 rang up another double header win at 6 a.m. and also tied WFAA8 for first at 6 p.m. in the 25-to-54 demographic. CBS11 had the most total viewers at 6 p.m.

The 5 p.m. golds went to NBC5 in total viewers and WFAA8 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

NEWS NOTE -- As previously posted, former NBC5 "Gridlock Buster" Tammy Dombeck will be filling in on CBS11 in that capacity. The station allowed her to make it official Sunday. And Dombeck is scheduled to appear on CBS11's Wednesday early morning news edition to talk further about her new assignment with co-anchors Brendan Higgins (a former NBC5 colleague) and Adrienne Bankert.

Action Doug: Pilot. Runner. Anchor

CBS11 has ramped up its news promotions of late. This one's for Doug Dunbar, who co-anchors the D-FW station's 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts.

He's portrayed as a man of action who can be trusted to dive into a story with the same zeal he brings to running long distances or flying a plane. And hey, he's a family man, too. Check it out.
Ed Bark

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Feb. 21) -- winning times for CBS, Fox, ABC

NBC remained in Death Valley Thursday while CBS, Fox and ABC slugged it out for time slot top spots.

CBS' The Big Bang Theory again proved invincible at 7 p.m., drawing a night's best 475,010 D-FW viewers while also winning resoundingly among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds.

Fox's American Idol then won from 7:30 to 8 p.m. in both ratings measurements.

Another of CBS' crime powerhouses, Person of Interest, took the 8 p.m. hour in total viewers (357,978). But the second half of Idol prevailed with 18-to-49-year-olds.

The 9 p.m. golds went to CBS' Elementary in total viewers (247,831) and ABC's Scandal in the 18-to-49 demographic. Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast took the silvers with solid numbers in both competitions.

ABC's second episode of Zero Hour ran a distant third at 7 p.m. in total viewers (ahead of NBC's Community and Parks & Recreation) before falling to fourth with 18-to-49-year-olds. NBC's 8:30 p.m. episode of 1600 Penn was the night's least-watched attraction in both measurements among Big Four broadcast network offerings. It drew just 41,305 total viewers.

Over on KTXD-TV (Ch. 47), D magazine's two new weekday morning hours are still awaiting their first official signs of life. Both D: The Broadcast and D Living registered "hashmarks" (no measurable audience) for the fourth time in four tries. The station's 11 a.m. post-D Living show, a repeat of the original Hawaii Five-0, then shot up to 23,406 viewers.

Here are Thursday's local news derby results, with just four weekdays left to count in the February "sweeps" ratings period.

CBS11 topped the 10 p.m. competition in total viewers while WFAA8 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 again rolled at 6 a.m. with twin wins and also ran the table at 5 p.m.

WFAA8 had the most total viewers at 6 p.m. but Fox4 won comfortably with 25-to-54-year-olds.

This just in: a night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Wed., Feb. 20 -- and last in this current ratings "sweeps" series)

Fox4 sports anchor Mike Doocy rocks to "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" on Wednesday's 9 p.m. newscast. Hey, it's a living. Photo: Ed Bark

As the years advance, you do what you have to do to survive in the (not always) glamorous and exciting world of local TV news.

Veteran Fox4 sports anchor Mike Doocy is a survivor. And in recent months he's worn a clown nose for a Shrine Circus live shot and driven all the way from Dallas to the Cowboys' Oxnard, CA training camp to save the station a few bucks.

Fox4 turned his nearly 1,500 mile journey into an ongoing promotion, with Doocy playing along as a veritable Columbus discovering the joys of small-town America rather than flying over them.

Now the amiable Doocy has devoted his last two 9 p.m. newscast sports segments -- in their entireties -- to live in-studio interviews with kids.

On Tuesday he sat down with 15-year-old Brandon Holmes, who was accompanied by his mom. His new Twitter feed (@Silence4Josh) calls on fans to greet former Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton with one big hush instead of boos or cheers when he returns to Rangers Ballpark for the season opener.

"I hope for Josh to be super-confused and to not even know what's goin' on," Holmes told Doocy, who hung in there while perhaps playing "If I Had Time In A Bottle" in his head.

Wednesday's 9 p.m. sports segment found Doocy sitting with 11-year-old Kamera McDonald, who races Bandolero cars at Texas Motor Speedway. Kamera also is a big admirer of Danica Patrick, who earlier this week became the first woman driver to win the pole position at the upcoming Daytona 500.

"You've crashed a few times. What's that like?" Doocy gamely asked.

"It's really scary," she said.

Doocy, also known to break into song when the mood suits him, then asked Kamera to demonstrate her prowess on the euphonium, which basically is a miniature tuba. She oom pah pah'd her less than listenable version of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" while Doocy sang a few bars to close out the segment.

There are lots more kids out there if Fox4 wants Doocy to stay on this path. Four-year-old Timmy Hyperdrive is a renowned T Ball slugger whose preference for running the bases backwards has made him a youtube sensation. And 13-year-old Maggie Mae Metroplex not only admires Olympic gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas but can rub her head, spit and run in place at the same time. Plus she plays the accordion while twirling a baton.

Oh but we kid The Dooc, who has shown he can take it. And while we're on this subject, CBS11 sports anchor Babe Laufenberg made a pretty big deal Wednesday night about his walk-on role for the Winspear Opera House production of Anything Goes. Doocy has bigger minnows to fry than that.


Let's stick with Fox4 for the moment. Because there was plenty to talk about Wednesday besides Doocy.

Street reporter Calvert Collins, a generally solid and still relatively new addition to the night team, was given more than a little too much time for a prominently played story on two Denton High School seniors whose one-paragraph essays were rejected by their teacher because both mentioned guns.

The two boys were asked to briefly write about something they enjoyed. One talked about going to a sporting goods store with his mom to buy a gun. The other said he had a good time at a gun show.

One of the boy's mothers, Kimberly Williams, is all revved up about this. So much so that she secretly recorded her encounter -- both video and audio -- with the teacher. Whom she kept interrupting, although he kind of danced around with his answers.

The school eventually issued a statement saying that the teacher has "accepted" the papers and apologized for "any misperceptions." The intent, the school said, was for guns "not to be trivialized" in light of recent school shootings.

At least one of the boys is still torched and so is the mom. And one of Fox4's two nightly "Your Turn" segments predictably featured Facebook commenters who mostly railed against the teacher.

The whole thing was trumpeted as "Teacher Triggers Backlash." It could just as easily have been titled "Trivial Matter Makes for Exploitative Ratings Sweeps Story." Reporter Collins told the story without any indue theatrical flourishes. But really, this is a lot of ado about essentially nothing. And co-anchor Heather Hays pretty much said as much, urging everyone to just move on.

***Hays also reacted viscerally to a "Deal or Dud" story on a ridiculous product called the Wax Vac. Consumer reporter Steve Noviello eventually dismissed it as a dud after a civilian tester found that the thing really didn't remove anything from ears he hadn't cleaned for a week. He then used a cotton swab -- almost deemed a lethal weapon in ads for the Wax Vac -- to ferret out some of his yellow stuff. A doctor interviewed by Noviello said that ear wax really isn't a problem at all, and usually works its way out of ears by itself.

Co-anchor Steve Eagar then happily noted Hays' off-camera discomfort while the story aired. That's because it "grosses me out," she said. "I don't want to see somebody's ear wax. I don't want to talk about ear wax." Always a good policy.

***Longtime Fox4 investigator Becky Oliver weighed in on a popular ratings sweeps topic -- DFW Airport security. Rival stations also have mined this topic.

Oliver interviewed two airport worker informants in silhouette. They said that clean-up crews oftentimes board planes by using just one person's badge while the others "piggyback" their way through what's supposed to be a secure door. Her story had the video to prove it. And an elderly aviation and security expert of course took offense. "It concerns me tremendously," said Denny Kelly.

No DFW Airport official would comment, Oliver told viewers. Her story perhaps will lead to some changes. And if it does, she'll definitely tell you about it. Still, it's questionable whether all of this really represents a clear-and-present danger to travelers.

***Eagar also had a brief "reader" with video on the resignations of the counseling staff at Haggard middle school in Plano. Under the terms of a financial settlement, the staffers agreed to keep quiet about why they left.

"Concerned parents will now likely never know why the counselors quit," Eagar said with some aggravation in his voice.

Fair enough. But this is exactly how virtually all media companies -- including Fox4 -- handle any dismissals or sudden resignations of their on-camera employees. Enough said.

***All four stations led their newscasts with weather segments tied to possibly calamitous morning commutes Thursday. But the weather ended up pretty much behaving itself. For the second straight night, WFAA8 forecaster Pete Delkus was the only one to strip down to his shirtsleeves in these opening salvos. Sigh, this communicates "urgency."

***WFAA8's showcase story otherwise was reporter Jason Whitely's extended and decently done portrait of Willie Nelson, who turns 80 in April. Prime-time teases showed Whitely asking Willie, "Are you smoking any more or less marijuana these days?"

Nelson's grinning answer during the full story: "I think so. I think you've nailed it right there."

Whitely stayed well within the boundaries of Texas to do the piece, which also included some time with Nelson's guitar-picking son, Lucas. WFAA8 for the time being has dropped its "Crossing State Lines" promotional gambit in which reporters traveled far and wide for stories with Texas angles.

***WFAA8 and NBC5 both had stories on four Fort Worth dry-cleaning stores that abruptly closed with their customers' garments inside. The state shuttered them after the owners fell far behind in paying their sales taxes.

NBC5's Amanda Guerra emphasized in her story that pickup times were posted on the stores' windows. One customer who had made two trips in vain said he was satisfied with that, and would return on Thursday.

On WFAA8, new reporter Todd Unger made no mention of this accommodation. Instead he told viewers, "There just isn't any way to get them out." And later, "Forget about a quick turnaround on those trousers. Try no turnaround at all."

It was left to co-anchor John McCaa to note after the story that some pickup times had been arranged. He referred viewers to the station's website for more information -- when it should have been in Unger's piece.

***CBS11 continued to make plenty of room for its newly formed "i. Team" investigative unit. In fact the station has gone a little i.Team overboard in some cases.

But on Wednesday's 10 p.m. newscast, investigator Jason Allen had an informative and in-depth story on what appear to be withering prospects for the once heavily hyped Barnett Shale exploration for natural gas. Drillings fell last year to their lowest level in a decade, Allen said. And those ubiquitous Tommy Lee Jones ads -- which Allen didn't mention -- are now long gone.

This brings us to an end for this particular series of "This Just In" looks at the late nighters on Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11. Five consecutive nights are about all I can withstand, even though it's always good to see good work amid the other stuff -- and highlight it in these spaces.

The ongoing February "sweeps" ratings period ends on Wednesday, Feb. 27th. And we'll have our usual complete ratings breakdowns on the following day.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Feb. 20) -- Fox/Fox4 dominate prime-time

Wednesday's two-hour Vegas edition of Fox's American Idol called the tune in D-FW while also inflating the ratings for Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast.

Idol averaged 419,936 D-FW viewers from 7 to 9 p.m. and likewise topped that slot with advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds. CBS' 8 p.m. episode of Criminal Minds stayed strong with prime-time's second biggest audience haul -- 357,978 total viewers.

CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation then held off Fox4's news, winning at 9 p.m. in total viewers by a score of 282,252 to 254,715. But Fox4 easily took the 9 p.m. gold medal with 18-to-49-year-olds.

Katie Couric's 9 p.m. Oscar special on ABC, airing in place of Nashville, gave affiliate WFAA8 a double whammy. Her 4 p.m. daytime talk show, which did better than usual Wednesday, has consistently provided the station with skimpy lead-ins for its 5 p.m. local newscasts. Now the 10 p.m. edition feels the pain, with Couric placing a distant fourth at 9 p.m. with 89,495 total viewers while landing in that same spot with 18-to-49-year-olds.

Over on KTXD-TV (Ch. 47), the third editions of D magazine's D: The Broadcast and D Living again had "hashmarks" (no measurable audience) from 9 to 11 a.m. It might help a bit if the station updated the tease it's still using a minute or two before the locally produced programs hit the air. As of Thursday morning, KTXD continued to tout a 9 a.m. to noon lineup of Perry Mason, The Rockford Files and Hawaii Five-0. Just trying to help.

In Wednesday's local news derby results, CBS11 made WFAA8 pay for ABC's Katie by winning at 10 p.m. in total viewers. The stations remain locked in a tight battle in this measurement with five weekdays remaining in the February "sweeps" ratings period. Fox4 ran first at that hour among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. But WFAA8 still has a safe lead in this key demographic.

Fox4 won at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. in both ratings measurements. The 6 p.m. golds went to CBS11 in total viewers and Fox4 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

This just in: a night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Tues., Feb. 19)

NBC5 Night Ranger Scott Gordon and Hood County's Linda White. Photos: Ed Bark

It's easy to deride Hood County grandma Linda White, 48, as an ignorant, nicotine-stained, drunken bumpkin who should have the book thrown at her for calling 911 and telling a dispatcher, "I need some cigarettes."

Viewers of Fox4's Tuesday 9 p.m. newscast certainly were encouraged to do that.

But perhaps you came away with an entirely different impression after watching NBC5's account.

This certainly wasn't the biggest news story of the day. But it was a tongue-wagger. And the difference in the tellings was that NBC5 has longtime, nightside pavement-pounder Scott Gordon on its staff. And Fox4 does not.

Fox4 ran the above left mug shot of White, who at 1:18 a.m. on Feb. 11th got herself arrested after using Hood County's emergency line to demand some smokes. It didn't help that she spoke in a slurred voice. White's now out on $1,000 bond while facing a maximum $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail -- or both -- for a Class B misdemeanor offense.

Fox4 reporter Dionne Anglin told viewers that "we tried to reach her at her home, but no one answered the door." And Hood County chief deputy George "Biff" Temple, who also talked to Gordon, rightly said that what White did is no joking matter.

A bit later in the newscast, Clarice Tinsley began one of her Facebook-fueled "Your Turn" segments by saying "Ya'll are burned up." And sure enough, the Facebook commenters all called for White's hide. Fine her. Put her in jail. Take away her cigarettes. Make her suffer.

Anglin is a solid reporter, and she had nothing to do with the Facebook stuff. She also isn't the first, and won't be the last reporter to be beaten to the punch by NBC5's dogged Night Ranger (as he's long been dubbed in these spaces).

Gordon's no pretty boy. He's just a grinder. A guy who can be counted on to come back with the goods far more often than not. He's probably done more late night live shots than Keith Richards. Amiable but dogged, Gordon is long-accomplished in the art of persuading people to talk to him. And if they do, they generally won't be sorry. He'll tell their side fairly, but without being a pushover.

Frankly, I also was disposed to think ill of White -- crucify her!!! -- after first watching Fox4's depiction of her. But then she stood outside her home with her amiable boyfriend and took full responsibility for what she did. Yeah, she pretty much grinned her way through it. But she didn't have an attorney monitoring what she said.

White and her boyfriend were drinking out in the backyard and had a "few beers too many," she said. "I was drunk . . . I'm deeply sorry for what I did."

She retained a sense of humor about not getting her cigarettes. "No, they don't deliver," she said of the police. "They pick up."

White said she hadn't heard the 911 call that's now made the TV rounds. Nor did she remember some of what she said. So Gordon played the tape for her. "I'm embarrassed, you know. That's not me," she then told him. "It was a frivolous call. I shouldn't have done it. But that doesn't make me a bad person."

Gordon said White told him she'd accept whatever punishment she received, and would never do anything like this again.

I have no idea what kind of person she really is. Still, a jail sentence or a heavy fine now seems too harsh to me after seeing White explain herself on camera. She didn't seem coached or scared. She just seemed like an earthy, hardscrabble woman who did something dumb -- as we all do from time to time.

If there's a next time, then of course, throw the book at Linda White. But Gordon may have opened some eyes by being the only reporter to talk directly to her Tuesday. Even some members of Fox4's Facebook brigade might relent if they take the time to watch NBC5's story as well. Here it is:

View more videos at: http://nbcdfw.com.


WFAA8 investigator Brett Shipp basically has owned the faulty cast iron gas pipe story for the past several years. He's won several major awards for digging in the face of continued energy company resistance. And on Tuesday's 10 p.m. news, Shipp had another lengthy and telling story about this ongoing lethal problem.

His springboard was the Mendez family, all three of whom were seriously injured in the late summer of 2011 when their apartment exploded because of a fracture in a nearby, 80-year-old cast iron gas pipe. Pablo Mendez, five years old at the time, bears the very visible burn scars on his face and soon will have more surgery.

Shipp noted that a Houston energy company has replaced all of its cast iron with PVC piping while Atmos energy still supposedly has 841 miles of mostly underground cast iron piping throughout Texas. Atmos again wouldn't do an on-camera interview with Shipp, but issued a statement saying it has a "pro-active pipe replacement program" and is ever-vigilant when it comes to consumer safety.

***Fox4 consumer reporter Steve Noviello seemed to have a grand time -- vocabulary-wise at least -- with a story on Wrangler's new Denim Spa jeans. They're supposed to keep cellulite in check via various chemicals embedded in them.

Can the jeans really keep "your body and your booty bangin'," Noviello wondered. Can they waylay "those dreaded dimples?"

A dermatologist basically said no. Over and over. And Noviello got in one more lick, referring to "these tush-tightening trousers" that Wrangler can't seem to keep in stock despite the naysayers. It wasn't one of his more useful efforts.

***All four stations of course gave prominent top-of-the-newscast play to the impending cold, inclement weather, But NBC5 co-anchor Brian Curtis and meteorologist Rick Mitchell stood alone at the top of the hyperbole heap.

"Rick, walk us through the next 24 hours. What can we expect here?" Curtis commanded seconds into the newscast.

"It's kind of a witch's brew of everything," Mitchell said.

Over on WFAA8, weathercaster Pete Delkus took his jacket off for starters. None of his contemporaries did, but this again was reason enough for our impressionable cat Snickers to immediately bolt for cover. A shirt-sleeved Pete is still her red alert, and there's just no talking her down.

***CBS11 co-anchor Doug Dunbar had an interesting one-on-one interview with Mark Kelly, who was in D-FW for a speaking engagement. He's the now familiar-faced husband of former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who has survived a gunshot wound to the head in January 2011 and now is helping her husband push for stricter gun regulations.

"He may have shot Gabby in the head, but he did not dent her spirit," Kelly said.

Post-interview, Dunbar modestly told co-anchor Karen Borta there was "nothing earth-shattering" during the interview. Um, Doug, for future reference, the laws of TV news require you to wait for someone to say, "What a fascinating interview" before you humbly thank them. Just kidding. Kinda.

***Also on CBS11, i.Team newcomer Brian New had a pretty good story, but "nothing earth-shattering," on the estimated $2.6 billion in unclaimed property available in bits and pieces to unaware Texans. You simply go to claimtexas.org and see what might be waiting for you.

New hooked up with a man who still had $500 remaining in an old checking account. And a woman who discovered she still had a $200 paycheck waiting to be claimed. But another young man, also shown on camera, discovered he had just 25 cents coming to him.

Dunbar said he checked out claimtexas.org during New's story and found that he, Borta and forecaster Larry Mowry had all come up empty.

Same here. But I think my wife may possibly be owed $1.58 from the late 1990s. Honest. I can't wait to tell her. And demand a finder's fee.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Feb. 19) -- another crime watch

CBS' trio of crook-catchers again dominated Tuesday's prime-time terrain in total viewers, with NCIS as always the pacesetter.

The amazingly durable Mark Harmon crime hour led off the night with 475,010 D-FW viewers while also winning its 7 p.m. slot among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds.

NCIS: Los Angeles (385,515 viewers) and Vegas (296,021) likewise topped their hours, with Vegas also tying Fox4's local newscast for the 9 p.m. lead with 18-to-49-year-olds. ABC's The Bachelor Tells All broke through to win by a comfy margin at 8 p.m. in the 18-to-49 demographic.

Tuesday's 9 p.m. return of ABC's Body of Proof had 165,221 total viewers to run third at that hour behind Vegas and Fox4's news. It finished in the same spot with 18-to-49-year-olds while NBC's competing Smash again got badly mashed. It had far fewer viewers in the 18-to-49 range -- 22,326 -- than even The CW's little ol' 7 p.m. episode of Hart of Dixie (41,461).

Smash was a steamroller, though, compared to CW's 8 p.m. launch of Cult, which arrived DOA with 13,768 total viewers and just 6,379 in the 18-to-49 demo.

Over on KTXD-TV (Ch. 47), the second episodes of D: The Broadcast and D Living fared the same as Monday's first pair. From 9 to 11 a.m., both locally produced shows registered "hashmarks" (no measurable audience) on the Nielsen charts. The station's 11 a.m. episode of the original Hawaii Five-0 then crept up to 5,507 viewers.

Let's sprinkle in some extra perspective, though. The most-watched programs of the entire day on KTXD were a pair of The Rifleman episodes from 5 to 6 p.m.. They each drew just 16,522 viewers before the live 6 p.m. edition of The Texas Daily held on to 8,261 (one of its bigger audiences). The daily 9:30 p.m. encore of Texas Daily went back to hashmarks.

In short, it's going to be a long, slow, agonizing climb -- if in fact they climb at all -- for the two new D Magazine productions. Both are severely incompatible with the vintage repeats surrounding them. And to make it worse on both Monday and Tuesday, D: The Broadcast got no help at all from KTXD's 8 a.m. Daniel Boone reruns. They also came away with hashmarks.

One more thing while we're on this. WFAA8's long-running Good Morning Texas, which airs directly opposite D: The Broadcast, is no world-beater in the D-FW ratings. Still, Tuesday's 9 a.m. edition had 41,305 viewers compared to no measurable audience for the KTXD newcomer. Both shows are live. So which one do you think product-pushing celebrities are going to choose when they blow into town for a few hours? Time slot shift, anyone? And GMT isn't going anywhere.

OK, let's get to Tuesday's local news derby results as the February sweeps ratings period starts winding down to its Feb. 27th finish line.

WFAA8 swept the 10 p.m. competitions in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

The total viewer results were of particular interest. Runner-up CBS11 again got a nice lead-in advantage from the preceding 9:45 to 10 p.m. portion of Vegas, which had 296,021 viewers. WFAA8's lead-in from ABC's Body of Proof was 165,221 viewers.

But WFAA8 grew its 10 p.m. news audience to 220,294 viewers while CBS11's competing edition sagged to 213,410. The latter station can't afford too many nights like this if it wants to successfully defend its November sweeps 10 p.m. championship. It's still too close to call with six weekdays remaining.

The 6 a.m. competition also turned out to be a newsmaker in itself. Fox4 again won in total viewers, edging NBC5 while WFAA8 fell to an uncommon fourth behind CBS11. But Fox4 lost for the first time in 2013 in the 25-to-54 measurement. falling to the Peacock by a narrow margin while WFAA8 held off an improving CBS11 for third place. Fox4 remains unbeaten for the entire year at this hour in total viewers.

WFAA8 ran the table at 5 p.m. while Fox4 and NBC5 tied for first in total viewers at 6 p.m. The 25-to-54 gold at 6 p.m. went to Fox4.

This just in: a night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Mon., Feb. 18)

WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen enlisted in the fight against domestic violence Monday during the station's 10 p.m. newscast. Photo: Ed Bark

Never shy about stating his opinions, WFAA8 anchor Dale Hansen again went "Unplugged" Monday during the station's 10 p.m. newscast.

The timing was a bit different. Rather than wait until his regular sports segment, Hansen stepped in immediately after reporter Janet St. James' very good piece on domestic violence and the biblical hold it still has on some women.

Her featured subject, Connie Nash, stayed in her abusive marriage for 25 years rather than break the " 'Til Death Do Us Part" commitment she made in church on her wedding day. Her pastor, she said, urged her to work things out or be banned from her church. She's now banned.

Co-anchor Gloria Campos then set the table for Hansen by saying he'd be "speaking from personal experience."

This isn't all that unusual on his part. During the 2008 Christmas season, as part of his annual "Thank God For Kids" commentary, Hansen pointedly called out his own two adult children. In part blaming himself for being an absentee father, he also told viewers that if his kids found themselves in a homeless center, "my son would be the one at the table complaining about the quality of the soup. And my daughter would be complaining that he had a bigger bowl than she did."

That's some pretty tough love.

Hansen drew even more attention for his 30th anniversary "Thank God For Kids" segment in December 2011. Linking it to the Penn State University sexual abuse scandal, Hansen said that he also had been sexually assaulted as a 10-year-old boy in small-town Iowa. Not by his father, but by a 16-year-old boy who coaxed him to a vacant baseball field and then "threw me to the ground and pulled at my pants."

"He had my pants below my knees before he decided o let me go," Hansen said. "And I don't know why." Hansen said he never told anyone about this until going public in a televised forum.

On Monday night's commentary, Hansen said that he witnessed his late father hit his wife only once. "But he broke her nose," Hansen recalled.

His dad was a big burly truck driver and one of the physically strongest people he's ever known, Hansen added. But in that instance, "never has a big man looked so small in the eyes of a little boy."

Hansen also noted in the commentary that "I've laughed at the jokes, I've told some of the jokes" about men hitting women."

This rang a bell. Because much earlier in his career at WFAA8, Hansen found that such a joke at the expense of his wife did not go over well with either station management or many viewers. So here's the rest of the story, while also noting that Hansen has grown up considerably in the many years since. It just took a while for him.

Back in the fall of 1988, Hansen told viewers on WFAA8's 10 p.m. newscast about actress Robin Givens' statement that her marriage to boxer Mike Tyson had been "torture" and "pure hell."

He then couldn't resist adding, "Now if my wife said that about me on national TV, I'd slap her upside the head, too."

Fellow middle-aged male anchors John Criswell and the late Chip Moody joined Hansen in grinning at that one-liner. But the WFAA8 switchboard lit up, prompting station management to require Hansen to apologize the following day on the 5,6 and 10 p.m. newscasts.

As I reported at the time, Hansen duly did so, but wasn't exactly contrite about it. He mentioned that he'd been getting big laughs on the banquet circuit in the past year by telling a similar joke "hundreds of times to thousands of people."

"I think the power of television has unfortunately distorted what I said and what I meant," Hansen told viewers. "And I'm always sorry about that."

In a subsequent off-camera interview, Hansen said he was "terribly sorry that it's been twisted and interpreted as some kind of rationalization for wife-beating. I just never saw that at all. I just walked off the set and never thought another word about it. And then all hell broke loose."

He dug a bigger hole for himself after being asked whether a woman's presence at the anchor desk might have deterred him from making the joke. In those days, WFAA8's 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts were stocked entirely with middle-aged white anchors.

A woman camera operator working that night's newscast "was laughing harder than anyone" at his "slap her upside the head joke," Hansen responded. "Quite frankly, I would have enjoyed it more if Phyllis Watson or Iola Johnson (both former WFAA8 anchors) had been sitting there."

It's been nearly 25 years since that incident. "When you're basically perceived as a smart aleck sportscaster who shoots from the hip, you leave yourself open to making a mistake," Hansen said at the time.

I wrote this at the time and will say it again: "Hansen's strong point, on- and off-camera, is his willingness to speak his mind and then face the music if necessary. Having said something stupid, he didn't shrink from the consequences or refuse to answer questions from a television critic who likewise has written some dumb columns over the years."

During Monday night's "Unplugged" segment, Hansen urged viewers to attend a Saturday, March 23rd anti-domestic violence rally called by Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings. It's scheduled to start at 10 a.m., and Hansen pledged to be there.

"We have been quiet too long, saying it's none of my business when it's everybody's business," he said on the air. "It is a blight on our city that has no boundary. It knows no color."

Hansen no longer would defend or brush off what he said back in 1988. He now says, "Real men who are gentlemen don't hit women." Or joke about it for that matter.


Both Fox4 and CBS11 used homemade video, taken by a Carrollton man, of two bobcats making menacing noises at one another on a neighborhood front lawn. But only Fox4 put things in perspective via a live in-studio interview with Bonnie Bradshaw of 911 Wildlife.

Whether you fully believe her or not, Bradshaw told co-anchor Heather Hays that the bobcats were merely working things out "about whose territory they're in." Furthermore, they pose no threat at all to humans, even young children, she said. And they would have run off if the man taking the video had gotten out of his truck.

Later, during the station's nightly "Viewers' Voice" segment, "Matt from Keller" said via email: "I cannot believe y'all let that lady on there and have her say that those bobcats pose no problems for people, even children!! Your (sic) gonna get some killed or severely mauled!! These are wild animals, not some big kitty cat."

The ringmaster of "Viewers' Voice," co-anchor Steve Eagar, replied, "I agree with the concern. But she is an expert. So . . ."

*** NBC5 lead investigator Scott Friedman had that station's lead story -- about whether some cities might be "more concerned with crashes or cash" when it comes to the oftentimes big money dollars collected via so-called "red light cameras."

Co-anchor Meredith Land first laid it on a little thick, telling viewers, "We're starting with an NBC5 investigation THAT EVERY DRIVER MUST SEE!"

Friedman, one of D-FW's better TV gumshoes, took a more restrained approach. A variety of city spokespeople of course told him that driver safety was the end-all concern. All denied any strategic re-deployments of red camera lights if certain intersections weren't pulling in enough money from automatically generated traffic tickets. Whatever the total truth, it can be a multi-million dollar revenue-enhancer, Friedman underscored.

***CBS11's Andrea Lucia had a story on a Plano couple who also happen to be rabid Ohio State fans. Their array of paraphernalia includes a green "Buckeye leaf" bumper sticker that was mistaken by a Tennessee highway patrolman for a marijuana plant. He eventually let them off, but said it needed to be removed. That hasn't happen, and Mr. and Mrs. Buckeye now are acting pretty defiant.

CBS11 news director Adrienne Roark is an Ohio State alum who delights in her alma mater's sports victories over my school, the mighty University of Wisconsin. Perhaps she was still smarting over Bucky's 71-49 pasting of Ohio State in Big Ten hoops action Sunday. But the Buckeyes won this season's first matchup and last fall beat the UW in overtime on the football field. So we're not nearly even yet.

Bucky, of course, would never condone a facsimile of a pot plant. In Badgerland, we instead tend to . . . oh, never mind.

***Finally, CBS11 investigator Ginger Allen's OK piece on computer virus peddlers -- billed as a "major threat to your personal information" -- got a rather oddly collegial thumbs-up from co-anchor Doug Dunbar

"Good stuff, Gins," he told her. Dunbar seems to have a George W. Bush inclination to give nicknames to CBS11 staffers. But it's not really working for him -- at least during a newscast.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Mon., Feb. 15-18) -- Walking Dead domination

This is pretty remarkable.

On the night of the NBA All-Star game and the shocking Season 3 finale of Downton Abbey, AMC's 8 p.m. new episode of The Walking Dead splattered both of them while also ranking as Sunday's most-watched TV attraction at any hour of the day or night.

Walking Dead drew 275,368 D-FW viewers, with a huge percentage of them (197,743) in the advertiser-prized 18-to-49 demographic.

Downton, airing directly opposite Walking Dead on PBS, had 172,105 viewers with 22,326 in the 18-to-49-age range.

The 8 to 9 p.m. portion of the All-Star game on TNT had 158,337 total viewers; 92,493 of them were 18-to-49-year-olds. That's a very solid share of this key demographic, but still less than half the audience that Walking Dead had.

In Monday's prime-time Nielsens, Fox's The Following held strong and won its time slot in total viewers at 8 p.m. with 234,063. But it fell to a fairly close overall fourth among 18-to-49-year-olds. ABC's second hour of The Bachelor led the way with 108,440, followed by CBS' 2 Broke Girls (92,493 from 8 to 8:30 p.m.) and NBC's The Biggest Loser (105,250 from 8:30 to 9 p.m.) The Following averaged 86,114 for its full hour.

ABC's 9 p.m. episode of Castle won in both total viewers and 18-to-49-year-olds.

On TNT, the 8 p.m. fifth episode of Dallas drew 130,800 total viewers, with 44,652 in the 18-to-49 demographic. Both are improvements from the previous Monday's numbers.

D magazine and its first two hours of weekday morning programming on KTXD-TV (Ch. 47) came up empty from 9 to 11 a.m. Monday. According to Nielsen, both D: The Broadcast and D Living registered "hashmarks" (no measurable audience) in total viewers and 18-to-49-year-olds.

The station's other homegrown product, The Texas Daily, also had hashmarks at 6 p.m. before drawing 2,754 total viewers for its 9:30 p.m. encore.

Here are the local news derby results for Friday and Monday.

CBS11 paced Friday's total viewer numbers at 10 p.m. while WFAA8 nipped Fox4 among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 rang up another doubleheader win at 6 a.m., where it remains unbeaten throughout 2013. WFAA8 and CBS11 tied for the most total viewers at 6 p.m., but WFAA8 had the most 25-to-54-year-olds at that hour while also sweeping the 5 p.m. competitions.

On Monday, Fox4, NBC5 and CBS11 all took a Presidents' Day knee at 6 a.m. Only WFAA8 counted its numbers, and logged the third most viewers in both measurements. But its rivals won't be including Feb. 18th in their 6 a.m. February "sweeps" averages.

Everyone otherwise played for keeps at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. WFAA8 fared the best, sweeping the 6 and 10 p.m. faceoffs. Fox4 did likewise at 5 p.m.

Seismic shift at KTXD -- from Perry Mason to D: The Broadcast

Left to right the rollicking hosts of D: The Broadcast: Lisa Pineiro, Pat Smith, Suzie Humphreys and Courtney Kerr. Photos: Ed Bark

From Daniel Boone at 8 a.m. to D: The Broadcast in the following hour. As audience flow goes, that's more than a bit like segueing from Lawrence Welk to Lady Gaga.

The primary baby-boomer target audience of D-FW's KTXD-TV (Ch. 47) likely was further put off its feed Monday morning when the ME-TV affiliate dropped oldies Perry Mason and The Rockford Files in favor of a giggly, gabby local version of The View (or The Talk) and the retitled D Living.

Both are productions of D magazine and its "D TV" offshoot. Texas Living, which used to air at noon, is still pretty much the same show with the same hosts. But D: The Broadcast is all new. It launched at 9 a.m. Monday with former CBS11 early morning anchor Lisa Pineiro; Emmitt Smith's wife, Pat Smith; Courtney Kerr from Bravo's short-lived Most Eligible Dallas series; and Suzie Humphreys, who also has been a part of the wizened elder contingent on KTXD's The Texas Daily.

Humphreys serves as the Ma Barker of this mix, but with a lot more starch in her. And she knows a crock when she sees or hears one, which viewers witnessed very early in the game Monday.

Pineiro, who for now also functions as the show's anchor/traffic cop, began by noting the passing of Mindy McCready. The country singer died at age 37 Sunday of an apparent suicide.

"She didn't have anything in her life that stood out to anybody to be particularly troubling," Pineiro said for some reason.

Humphreys immediately pounced. "Well, she had a lot of trouble," she said. "She had a lot of drugs." Not only that, but the "love of her life" (and father of McCready's 10-month-old son), committed suicide just a month earlier at the same site McCready did, Humphries noted.

Left unsaid was McCready's appearance in 2010 on VH1's Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Or her arrest on a drunken driving charge. Or her previous efforts to commit suicide. And so on. Other than that, though, nothing "particularly troubling."

Humphreys obviously will have to keep these comparative kids in check. Which might be the sole reason to watch a show whose other three hosts seem more than a little prone to hyperbole.

It was fun, for instance, to watch Humphreys almost grill Kerr about the crap that passes for reality on shows such as the widely ridiculed Most Eligible Dallas. Kerr kept ducking while also touting her spinoff show Courtney Loves Dallas, due on Bravo later this year, she said. Kerr termed it a "real life Sex and the City -- without the sex, mom." Humphreys seemed underwhelmed.

The hosts later welcomed young singer Noelle Bean (whose stage name is just Bean). After a little interview, she performed one of her songs, "Like to Love You." Pineiro, who didn't have a particularly good opening day, went a little nuts over it.

"You're going to be every bit as huge as Taylor Swift," she predicted. "Even bigger."

Even Humphreys got a bit caught up in this. "And the lyrics are fabulous," she said. "And you can understand them."

Smith kind of got lost in the shuffle on Day One. She did, however, join Humphreys for a cooking segment with chef Dean Fearing, whose seared halibut dish is being dedicated to D: The Broadcast all this week at his Ritz-Carlton restaurant. Smith let it be known she isn't much of a cook. Fearing let her play at making a salad.

The overall set looks pretty nice. It includes a desk, a couch and a mini-kitchen. And Humphreys is a salty dish of mixed nuts, which she'll have to be on a daily basis.

"They looked at a lot of people for this show -- and here we are," she said near the start of Monday's launch. "And I cannot figure out what I'm doing here."

It's far harder to imagine what D: The Broadcast would be without Humphreys. It might just float away. Meanwhile, The Rockford Files is gone for good and Perry Mason is now only at 10:30 p.m. weeknights following the daily repeat of KTXD's first home-grown production, The Texas Daily.

So far, none of the station's original local programs have drawn much more than "hashmarks" (no measurable audience) on any given day. And frankly, it's hard to see how D: The Broadcast and D Living fit between Daniel Boone and KTXD's 11 a.m. repeats of the original Hawaii Five-O.

At least they're trying, though. But will the station's core audience of older viewers be lost or greatly diminished in the process? We'll keep an eye out for you. And leave you with another picture.

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

"Consumer specialist" Deanna Dewberry is on the case. Photo: Ed Bark

Even during a ratings "sweeps" period, stations tend to phone it in on Fridays. As do many of us.

Still, Fox4 and NBC5 had late night newscasts of some distinction, with the latter station's Deanna Dewberry (on the phone above) making the most of a story on disappointed recipients of damaged Valentine's Day flowers.

Billed as a "consumer specialist," Dewberry went to bat for women who got revved up by special holiday deliveries -- only to discover that their promised roses or floral arrangements were dead, wilted or droopy within their boxes.

She contacted both ProFlowers.com and FTD, which had "hundreds of complaints" on its Facebook page, Dewberry said. Both companies issued the usual pro forma statements about how satisfaction is guaranteed although accidents occasionally happen. But aggrieved customers often are left hanging on the phone while enduring interminable wait times, Dewberry said.

This is the sort of relatable story that viewers talk about the next day. And Dewberry did a good job of showing, telling and reporting before co-anchor Brian Curtis exclaimed, "The pictures are just crazy!" Easy now.

Over on Fox4, anchors Heather Hays and Steve Eagar made optimum use of live, in-studio interviews with experts who added considerable perspective to the preceding stories on returning Carnival cruise passengers and the big meteor explosion over Russia.

The station's featured one-hour 9 p.m. newscast affords more time for such extras. It also gives the anchors a chance to think on their feet and contribute something of worth rather than throwing out those oft-clunky scripted questions to reporters in the field.

Hays talked to personal injury attorney Mike Freden, who said the Triumph passengers basically are sunk when it comes to suing. They signed away most of their rights before boarding, he told Hays. That includes any class action lawsuits or individual allegations of mental cruelty. "If all you have is emotional distress . . . then you can't sue," Freden said. And he sounded like a guy who knows what he's talking about.

Eagar interviewed Don Garland of the Noble Planetarium, who brought some heavy space rocks with him to show how lethal they can be when raining down in abundance. But Garland also noted that asteroids' paths can be diverted or their orbital motions changed if there's enough time to do so. That didn't happen in the case of Russia, with more than 1,100 people hurt and more than 3,000 buildings damaged by the fallout.

During Friday's extended "Viewers' Voice" segment, Eagar also answered queries about the previous night's oddity. As noted in these spaces, reporter Fil Alvarado's live report on the manhunt for Alberto Morales was preceded by this out-of-body, off-camera declaration: "I never dreamed about being naked at work."

"No, it wasn't Fil. He was collateral damage," Eagar said. Instead the sound bite came from substitute sports anchor Max Morgan in connection with footage from a locker room interview that aired on the day after Christmas.

"It played by accident," Eagar said. But the station let viewers have their fun, with one woman asking in a voicemail, "Is Carnival running your soundboard tonight?"

WFAA8's resident stylist, reporter David Schechter, had a lengthy "Forgotten Technology" story that didn't quite jell. He interviewed a man with a fondness for taking Polaroid pictures, a true believer in vinyl (Bill Wisener of the venerable Bill's Records) and a coffee-making purist.

Schechter's overall conclusion: "There's still a place for the joy of analog in our digital world."

In the real world, vinyl records have long been in a big comeback mode, with many new and old artists still releasing LPs while young listeners enthusiastically buy and prefer these versions. Many who grew up in pre-CD/digital download times -- guilty as charged -- also have found that old record album covers can make great wall art. It's almost like collecting baseball cards, with some "mint condition," hard-to-find sleeves commanding big prices.

Anyway, Schechter's story didn't touch on any of this. Instead it left the impression that only a small handful of somewhat quirky devotees are keeping vinyl alive along with other old-school technological pursuits. He needs to visit the mothership Half Price Books store on Northwest Highway and check out all the record albums for sale -- and all the wall art on display. There's another, fuller story there.

Until then, there's also some irony in the fact that Schechter tweeted a link to his well-intended "Forgotten Technologies" story. That's pretty much mandatory -- even when you're romancing the past.

Your friendly content provider also watched CBS11's Friday 10 p.m. newscast in its entirety. On this night at least, there's nothing further to report.

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

Late night newscasts were on cruise control Thursday. Photos: Ed Bark

We're right in the heart of the February "sweeps" ratings period, with nine weeknights left after Thursday's Valentine's Day extravaganza.

So your friendly content provider will muster as much stamina as possible for another continuous round of up-close looks at the 10 p.m. editions on NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11, and the featured 9 p.m. news on Fox4. Why? Because it's instructive to stay in touch with what they're selling as news during these thrice-annual competitions.

Advertising rates ostensibly are re-adjusted after the smoke clears, although metered "overnight" markets like D-FW deliver daily report cards on programming successes and failures. Still, the news departments at the aforementioned stations shift into higher gears during the annual sweeps months of February, May and November. Some of them deny it, but everyone's keeping score and playing for keeps until the Feb. 27th closing bell sounds. Anchor vacations and comp time then kick back in -- until the next time.

Thursday turned out to be a relatively rare night of striking similarities, with all four stations ganging up on three main stories that chewed up big chunks of air time.

Triumph the insult Carnival cruise ship led the way, of course. Followed by the ongoing manhunt for escaped, dangerous prisoner Alberto Morales and the "mega-merger" between American Airlines and US Airways.

WFAA8 was the only D-FW station to send a staff reporter to Mobile, Alabama, where the ship finally floated to rest just in time for live shots on local newscasts throughout the land. "The journey is finally over," said Monika Diaz, who also interviewed family members awaiting their loved ones' arrivals.

Fox4, NBC5 and CBS11 respectively opted for live reports from network correspondents on the scene. All of the stations also had live or previously recorded telephone interviews with passengers from Texas. WFAA8 co-anchor Gloria Campos did the best job during her live discourse with Dr. Kay Trotter of Plano.

NBC5 reporter Amanda Guerra had the bluntest-edged question, asking "What does it smell like?" In a word, bad, she was told.

CBS11 co-anchor Doug Dunbar stepped in it a bit by telling viewers that "some people have described" the cruise ordeal as "Katrina on a ship."

That nonsensical comparison came most notably from CNN dockside reporter Martin Savidge, who was shot down on live TV in no uncertain terms by a passenger named Rob Kenny.

"Let's put that in perspective," Kenny retorted immediately in a clip that's now getting heavy Internet play. "I mean, Katrina was a major devastation. We're on a freakin' cruise ship . . . Two different things."

CBS11 also used a clip in which the Midlothian, TX parents of a 16-year-old female passenger said their daughter wanted McDonald's Chicken McNuggets, fries and an iced tea as her first post-cruise meal. They said this on CNN, but CBS11 used the material without crediting the originating network. That's just not right.

The four stations all had live reports on the status of fugitive Morales. On Fox4, Fil Alvarado's dispatch was marred by a technical glitch in which viewers initially heard an unidentified man saying, "I never dreamed about being naked at work." Fox4 anchors Steve Eagar and Heather Hays simply let this go without any explanation to viewers.

On WFAA8, co-anchor John McCaa introduced Jim Douglas' report by saying that Morales had a distinctive tattoo on his left arm and "you'll see it in just a second." Not quite. Instead a photo of the tattoo was shown about 20 minutes later during the newscast's closing segment.

For the American Airlines/US Air merger story, only NBC5 reporter Scott Gordon asked newly appointed CEO Doug Parker about the "controversial" $20 million severance package being awarded outgoing AA CEO Tom Horton.

"I had nothing to do with the $20 million dollar figure . . . That's not US Airways concern. Frankly, it's not our money," Parker contended. But Gordon noted that both airlines were involved in the severance negotiations.

WFAA8 reporter Jason Whitely mentioned the $20 million parting gift in his story, but had no on-air comments from either Parker or Horton. Fox4's Brandon Todd and CBS11's Jason Allen did not mention the lightning rod severance package in their late night live reports.

Byron Harris of WFAA8 had a contextual companion piece on the possible rocky road ahead for American and US airways. His launch point was a United Airlines-Continental merger that has been a financial bust since taking hold in 2010.


Fox4 has two reliably solid weekly features in Saul Garza's "What's Buggin' You?" and James Rose's "Street Squad." It was the latter's turn Thursday night, and he delivered with an interesting piece on a highly accident-prone stretch of road in Rockwall. Vehicles invariably skid into the vicinity of nearby businesses whenever it rains, Rose reported. Boulders are serving as makeshift last walls of defense while TXDot pledges to do something about it someday.

***CBS11's beefed-up "i-Team" trained its sights on an elderly victim who fell for a get-rich-quick "Secret Shopper" scam. The newly hired Brian New got some nice promotable sound bites out of Sarah Smalls, who vowed, "You do me dirty once, you don't do me dirty twice."

Stories such as these are less than a dime a dozen, though. So CBS11 spiced it with a companion "Top 10 Scams" list and an invitation to find it on dfw.cbslocal.com. Shortly after came the nightly sweeps trivia quiz tied to CBS' preceding 9 p.m. crime series, in this case Elementary. A $500 prize is possible, but again only by visiting the station's website.

***It doesn't take a ratings sweeps period for WFAA8 weathercaster Pete Delkus and sports anchor Dale Hansen to polish their comedy act. Still, this exchange was something of a classic on the "Family First" station.

Hansen noted that his long-suffering wife, Chris, had given him chocolate-covered strawberries and Viagra for Valentine's Day.

"What did you give her?" Delkus asked.

"I took the Viagra," said Hansen.

***Longtime Fox4 news personality Clarice Tinsley took a considerably tamer Valentine's Day tack after first framing her face with an inflatable heart (see picture below) for her second "Your Turn" Facebook segment of the night.

One respondent said a special day shouldn't be needed to rev up the love. Which prompted Tinsley to tell viewers, "My husband hates Valentine's Day. He is not a fan at all. Says he shows me love 365. And you know what? I'm cool with that."

Um, eat your heart out, Hansen.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Feb. 14) -- Big Bang goes pow while Zero Hour thuds

CBS' The Big Bang Theory scored its biggest D-FW audience of the season on Valentine's night before Fox's American Idol regrouped to knock off Two and a Half Men.

Big Bang neared the 600,000 mark with 592,041 viewers while also ranking as the night's runaway No. 1 draw among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds with 287,046. CBS' Two and a Half Men then fell sharply to 351,094 total viewers and 149,902 in the 18-to-49 demographic.

That allowed the second half of Fox's American Idol to take the 7:30 to 8 p.m. slot in both ratings measurements. The onetime juggernaut has been a potent mere mortal so far this season, although things could pick up with a healthy share of Texans among the show's 40 finalists. There are five all told, including Cortez Shaw of Dallas.

CBS also topped Thursday's total viewer ratings from 8 to 10 p.m. with Person of Interest and Elementary. But the 18-to-49 crowns went to ABC's Grey's Anatomy and Scandal.

The 7 p.m. premiere of ABC's Zero Hour, starring ER alum Anthony Edwards, ran third in total viewers with a halfway decent sum of 185,873. But it was a mega-bomb in the key 18-to-49 demographic, drawing just 28,705 viewers in that age range to run a distant fifth in the 7 p.m. hour. The first half of CW's The Vampire Diaries took third ahead of NBC's Community before tying the Peacock's Parks & Recreation for the bronze from 7:30 to 8 p.m.

In the cable news network universe, CNN's all-day/all-night, oft-breathless coverage of the "CRUISE SHIP FROM HELL" for the most part capsized opposite its rivals' far more balanced menu. Fox News Channel outdrew CNN in every hour from 3 to 9 p.m. And MSNBC was the No. 2 cable news network from 5 to 9 p.m.

CNN beat both of its two cable news rivals in total viewers only from 1 to 2 p.m. and from 10 to 11 p.m. And in early- to mid-mornlng hours, CNN trailed both Fox News Channel and MSNBC by wide margins.

In Thursday's local news derby numbers, only two stations played winning hands. WFAA8 swept the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. Nielsens in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. And Fox4 remained unbeaten at 6 a.m. in 2013 with another pair of twin wins.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Feb. 13) -- sinking feeling for Idol, but it's still on top

Wednesday's latest two-hour performance edition of Fox's American Idol drooped to its smallest audience this season in D-FW while still winning its time slot and carrying Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast with it.

Idol averaged 344,205 viewers in holding off the competing 7 to 8:30 p.m. season premiere of CBS' Survivor: Caramoan (261,600). Fox4's news then took the 9 p.m. slot with 261,600 viewers while CBS again ran second with CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (227,179).

Fox and Fox4 also swept the Nielsens among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds. Wednesday's next most-watched attraction in this key demographic was ABC's 8 p.m. episode of Modern Family. ABC's new episode of Nashville, with more stellar work by Connie Britton, ran third at 9 p.m. in both ratings measurements.

ABC's audience flow on Wednesdays has become an up-and-down roller coaster ride, with The Middle up (192,758 total viewers), The Neighbors down (130,800), Modern Family up (213,410), Suburgatory down (117,031) and Nashville up (158,337).

Here are Wednesday's local news derby results for the 10th weekday of the February sweeps ratings period, which ends on Feb. 27th.

WFAA8 was tops at 10 p.m. in total viewers, but Fox4 won for the second day in a row among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 remained unbeaten in 2013 at 6 a.m. with another sweep while NBC5 stayed strong at 5 p.m. with twin wins.

CBS11 ran first at 6 p.m. in total viewers, with the Peacock luring the most 25-to-54-year-olds in that slot.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Feb. 12) -- CBS top destination for SOTU

The Big Four broadcast networks and three cable news channels yielded much of their prime-time terrain Tuesday to President Obama's State of the Union address and the Republican response from water-gulping Florida senator Marco Rubio.

CBS drew the biggest crowds, thanks in part to a NCIS: Los Angeles repeat that dominated the 7 p.m. hour with 199,642 D-FW viewers.

Here are the audience hauls, with Obama beginning his speech at 8:16 p.m. and ending at 9:16 p.m. while Rubio went from 9:29 to 9:44 p.m.


CBS -- 178,989
NBC -- 123,916
ABC -- 96,379
Fox News Channel -- 75,726
CNN -- 68,842
Fox -- 55,074
MSNBC -- 41,305


CBS -- 144,568
Fox -- 103,263
Fox News Channel -- 82,610
ABC -- 75,726
CNN -- 61,958
NBC -- 55,074
MSNBC -- 41,305

In the broadcast universe, CBS and NBC stayed with news coverage to fill out the final minutes of prime-time while Fox4 segued to its regularly scheduled 9 p.m. local newscast. ABC oddly chose to cut to an "in progress" episode of Modern Family, which started at 9:49 p.m. It had 75,726 viewers, the same as the Rubio response. But ABC's news division couldn't have been thrilled with the quick hook while its CBS and NBC rivals stayed the course until 10 p.m.

Here are Tuesday's local news derby results for the ninth weekday of the February "sweeps" ratings period, which ends on Feb. 27th.

WFAA8 had the most viewers at 10 p.m., but Fox4 won among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 notched another two wins at 6 a.m., where it hasn't lost yet this year in either measurement. WFAA8 inched up to a close second, though, in total viewers.

CBS11 ran first at 6 p.m. in total viewers while Fox4 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds.

The 5 p.m. golds went to WFAA8 in total viewers and NBC5 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Feb. 11) -- splitting the prime-time spoils

Follow the bouncing prime-time ratings.

CBS got on the board first, winning from 7 to 7:30 p.m. in total D-FW viewers with How I Met Your Mother (302,905)

The second half of Fox's Bones then got in the game with a top-rated 240,947 viewers from 7:30 to 8 p.m.

Fox's fourth episode of The Following couldn't hold serve, though. Its 227,179 viewers ran second to CBS' sitcom combo of 2 Broke Girls (261,600) and Mike & Molly (240,947).

CBS likewise won the 9 p.m. hour with Hawaii Five-0 (234,063 viewers).

How I Met Your Mother also topped all competing programming among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds. But the pendulum then swung in a big way to the closing 90 minutes of NBC's The Biggest Loser. It controlled the 7:30 to 9 p.m. slot with 18-to-49-year-olds.

Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast then topped that hour in the key 18-to-49 demographic by edging ABC's Castle.

Over on TNT, the 8 p.m. Episode 4 of Dallas had 110,147 total viewers with 35,083 in the 18-to-49 range. The total viewers were a slight increase from the previous Monday while the 18-to-49-haul represented a slight decrease.

In the daytime Nielsens, WFAA8's syndicated Katie continued to be a vexing problem for the ABC station. It had a scant 20,653 total viewers as a lead-in to the 5 p.m. local newscast. That made the Katie Couric talker and the preceding Dr. Oz the least-watched programs on WFAA8 from 5 a.m. all the way to midnight.

Here are Monday's local news derby results for the eighth weekday of the February "sweeps" ratings period.

WFAA8 and CBS11 tied for the top spot in total viewers at 10 p.m. while WFAA8 further cemented its lead among 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming) with a solid first place finish.

Fox4 remained unbeaten at 6 a.m. in 2013 with another doubleheader sweep. The station added 5 and 6 p.m. wins in the 25-to-54 measurement.

The 5 and 6 p.m. wins in total viewers respectively went to NBC5 and CBS11.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Feb. 8-10) -- Grammys fall off charts but still command night

She's like a rainbow: Carrie Underwood lit up Grammys. Photos: Ed Bark

The 55th annual Grammys on CBS couldn't be expected to top last year's ceremony, which was preceded by Whitney Houston's death on the night before.

They indeed fell far short in the D-FW Nielsens while still thumping everything in their path.

Running from 7 to 10:30 p.m., the Grammys averaged 647,115 viewers, a big drop from the 1,022,880 last February. A total of 318,940 were in the advertiser-prized 18-to-49 age range.

Sunday's No. 2 prime-time attraction, the return of AMC's The Walking Dead, drew 261,600 total viewers in the 8 p.m. hour. An eye-popping 181,796 of them were 18-to-49-year-olds. That's the best percentage of any network series on any night -- broadcast or cable.

PBS' second-to-last Season 3 episode of Downton Abbey drew 178,989 total viewers, making it No. 3 in prime-time for the night. But just 28,705 were in the 18-to-49 demographic.

WFAA8's 10 p.m. local newscast showed considerable resilience opposite the closing half-hour of the Grammys. Its 227,179 total viewers were more than CBS11 could muster for its 10:30 p.m. local news, which had 192,758 viewers despite a big lead-in from the Grammys' closing 15 minutes (509,431 viewers). A big bank of commercials between the Grammys and the newscast didn't help matters. It's like putting a giant stop sign between your audience flow.

In Friday's prime-time Nielsens, CBS' Blue Bloods led all programming with 344,210 viewers in the 9 p.m. hour. The preceding episode of CBS' CSI: NY did almost as well (330,442 viewers) but the network's premiere of The Job deservedly bombed at 7 p.m. with 103,263 viewers. That put it fourth at that hour.

Fox's two-part return of Touch ran second at 7 p.m. with 165,221 viewers before falling to a third-place tie with NBC's Dateline at 8 p.m. (130,800 viewers each).

Friday's top draw with 18-to-49-year-olds was ABC's 8 p.m. hour of Shark Tank with 76,546. The Job had just 15,947 viewers in this key demographic while NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams fared even worse with 12,758 in its first Friday 9 p.m. outing.

Here are Friday's local news derby results on the 7th weekday of the February "sweeps."

CBS11 won comfortably at 10 p.m. in total viewers but fell to last behind front-running WFAA8 among 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 notched another pair of 6 a.m. wins (it hasn't been beaten yet this year) while NBC5 did likewise at 5 p.m.

The 6 p.m. golds went to CBS11 in total viewers and Fox4 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Wait, Wait . . . I'll Tell You

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Fans of NPR's long-running Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me! got an earful Thursday night at a packed Winspear Opera House in downtown Dallas.

For radio consumption it's a one-hour show airing Saturdays at 11 a.m. on KERA's 90.1 FM and repeated at 1 p.m. Sundays. But the rough cut version, before considerable editing, runs about two hours. So no one should have felt cheated.

Host Peter Sagal, a 48-year-old New Jersey native, wore a suit and tie for the occasion, during which no photographs were allowed. WW...DTM! last visited Dallas seven years ago for a show at SMU, he noted. But there are other ties. Sagal's father, Matthew, is a graduate of Highland Park High School.

"I say to you now as he said to you then," Sagal told a highly receptive audience. "Please don't beat me up again."

Sagal, also a playwright and dedicated long distance runner, delights in calling himself a "nerd" who's also become one of radio's royalty in the years since WW...DTM!'s 1998 debut. But the program's golden-voiced announcer and weekly limerick-reader, 78-year-old Carl Kasell, emerged as the rock star Thursday night.

Voice mail or home answering machine messages read by Kasell are the show's only prizes. But they're very much treasured. And Kasell, not Sagal, became the center of attention during a brief Q&A session after the taping.

"Carl, will you be my grandpa?" a devotee shouted from the balcony.

"I'm not old enough," he responded.

A middle-aged woman in a way-too-short-for-her skirt requested a hug from Kasell. He obliged -- three times -- after she eventually made her way to the stage. Kasell also was asked to sign a pillow. That supposedly was arranged at a post-show reception.

The three weekly panelists, drawn from a pool of regulars, were comedian Paula Poundstone, Motel 6 spokesman/racconteur Tom Bodett and Kyrie O'Connor, senior editor and columnist for The Houston Chronicle.

In truth, O'Connor doesn't bring much to the party -- at least not on this night. Poundstone and Bodett riffed with a seemingly effortless ease, though. "I was one of the first people to recognize that the Central Expressway is neither," she said to big laughs.

Sagal, who has an enormous amount of verbal work to do, spontaneously observed at one point, "And this is every liberal in the city of Dallas." Pause, one-two. "I'm sorry, that's a cheap shot. Some of you are from Fort Worth."

He also wondered whether it might be "a little embarrassing to the Opera House that you guys sell it out for us."

WW...DTM! also deploys a weekly celebrity guest. Dallas singer Erykah Badu filled that bill while sitting in a big, bright red cushioned chair for her segment. Sagal eventually got around to Badu's "controversial" (as he put it mildly) 2010 video for the single "Window Seat." Arriving unannounced at Dealey Plaza, Badu got completely naked before collapsing at the spot where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963. She then made as hasty an exit as she could under the circumstances.

"I was terrified because I felt I was overweight at the time," Badu told Sagal. More seriously, though, Badu said she was intent on taking a "performance art" approach while making a commentary on the evils of "groupthink." She eventually paid a $500 fine on a Class C misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.

Sagal said the video also underscored the "theory of a second hooter" at Dealey Plaza. There may be considerable debate over whether that dicey line makes the finished broadcast on Saturday. The live audience reaction seemed mixed.

Editing is now in progress, and there's a lot of content to pare before WW...DTM! makes another smooth landing on NPR Saturday.

Sagal is now back in Chicago, from where the show usually originates from the Chase Auditorium via WBEZ-FM.

"Thanks to Dallas for a great show at the Winspear," he tweeted Friday. "I return home with great memories, a hangover, and a grackle."

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Feb. 7) -- Big Bang explodes on Idol

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CBS unloaded a new February "sweeps" episode of The Big Bang Theory Thursday night. The first half of Fox's American Idol got blown out by it.

Big Bang drew 488,778 D-FW viewers from 7 to 7:30 p.m. while Idol ran a distant second with 330,442. It was also a rout among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, with Big Bang piling up 204,122 to Idol's 149,902.

Idol saved some face by beating CBS' Two and a Half Men in both ratings measurements in the 7:30 to 8 p.m. slot.

CBS' Person of Interest won in total viewers at 8 p.m. but ABC's Grey's Anatomy had the most 18-to-49-year-olds. ABC swept the 9 p.m. hour with Scandal.

Meanwhile on NBC, the entire prime-time lineup ran fourth all night in total viewers. The second episode -- and likely the last -- of the Peacock's Do No Harm may have set a historic ratings low for a Big Four broadcast network program in D-FW. Airing at 9 p.m., it drew a comatose 13,768 total viewers, with a "Do Not Resuscitate" 3,189 in the 18-to-49 demographic. But it still managed to beat CW33's competing Nightcap ("A Different Kind of News"), which had "hashmarks" (no measurable audience) among 18-to-49-year-olds.

Here are the local news derby results for the sixth weekday of the month-long February "sweeps."

WFAA8 won easily at 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. The dominant margin in total viewers over arch rival CBS11 (254,715 to 172,105) was especially significant after both stations inherited roughly the same lead-in audiences from their respective networks' 9 p.m. dramas.

Fox4 notched another pair of firsts at 6 a.m., where it continues to run away from the competition.

WFAA8 swept the 6 p.m. Nielsens. At 5 p.m., NBC5 won in total viewers and Fox4 had the edge among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Feb. 6) -- Idol wins one, loses one

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American Idol's first "Hollywood round" made a potent showing in Wednesday's D-FW Nielsens. But "super-potent" no longer seems to apply.

The onetime Fox steamroller averaged 371,747 viewers from 7 to 9 p.m. That was good enough to win the 7 p.m. hour, in part because CBS offered only token resistance with a Person of Interest rerun. But from 8 to 9 p.m., CBS' new episode of Criminal Minds beat Idol by a score of 371,747 to 351,094 viewers (Idol's first hour had 385,515 viewers before Hour 2 slumped a bit.)

Idol still won easily among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, though, with ABC's comedy lineup of The Middle, The Neighbors and Modern Family the runner-up from 7 to 8:30 p.m. before the second half of Person of Interest took the 18-to-49 silver.

At 9 p.m., CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation ran first in total viewers while barely finishing behind ABC's Nashville, Fox4's local newscast and NBC's Chicago Fire in the 18-to-49 demographic. Those three programs tied for first.

Over on Fox Sports Southwest, the Dallas Mavericks' comeback home win against Portland had just 55,074 total viewers. Being a long shot for a playoff spot hasn't been good at all for the Mavs' ratings this season.

Here are the local news derby results for the fifth weekday of the ongoing February "sweeps."

CBS11 took the top spot in total viewers at 10 p.m. but again couldn't hold serve with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. WFAA8 instead topped that measurement by a comfy margin.

Fox4 remained dominant at 6 a.m. with another doubleheader win. Showing some sustained signs of life, CBS11 edged NBC5 for third place in total viewers and was close to the third-place Peacock in the 25-to-54 demographic.

NBC5 rebounded with a sweep at 5 p.m., the only time period where it has run strong in the early going.

CBS11 won at 6 p.m. in total viewers while Fox4 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Strange but true happenings in D-FW television news (updated)

Seen during Tuesday 10 p.m. newscasts on Fox4/CBS11. Photos: Ed Bark

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We all make mistakes, but the above graphic certainly wasn't an ideal way to lead off Fox4's 9 p.m. newscast Tuesday.

The "Metal" Health Issues tag accompanied a story on Eddie Routh, who is charged with the heavily publicized Texas gun range murders of former ace Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield.

Over on CBS11, prime-time promos urged viewers to watch that station's 10 p.m. Tuesday newscast for a question tied to the 9 p.m. Vegas episode. A $500 cash prize is being dangled, as you can see in the above graphic. It aired late in the newscast during a commercial break.

CBS11 lately is linking trivia questions to all of its network's 9 p.m. drama series in hopes that more viewers will be enticed to watch both the lead-in and the newscast.

Judging from the early returns, CBS11 and WFAA8 will be locked in another tight battle for total viewers supremacy in the 10 p.m. February ratings "sweeps." The four-week competition ends on Wednesday, Feb. 27th.

WFAA8 might want to cry foul, if only it had a leg to stand on. But the station's early morning Daybreak program offered free food to prospective viewers during the February 2012 sweeps. The vehicle -- literally -- was a bright yellow traveling "Daybreaker" truck affixed with pictures of the four anchors and the logo, "Breakfast. All Day."

This time around, Daybreak's "You Can Count On Us" campaign is offering, among other things, free babysitting services by co-anchor Ron Corning.

Later, via Twitter, Corning said he's not actually going to babysit. "It's a 'farcical' take on the standard 'count on us' local news branding," he said.

In that context, the long-running CBS11 news slogan is "Coverage You Can Count On." Read into it what you will.

Your friendly content provider also received a reader tip that the anchors of NBC5's early morning show were being required to attend some sort of "comedy school" to punch up their deliveries.

But Brian Hocker, the station's vice president of programming, said via email, "No plans for any type of comedy school that news management or I am aware of."

Still, he didn't fault me for asking. After all, these are the times we live in.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Feb.5) -- Smash mashed

Local NBC stations might want to consider picketing their own network after Tuesday's beyond dismal two-hour Season 2 return of Smash.

Stocked with several new cast members, most notably Jennifer Hudson in early episodes, Smash drew just 68,842 D-FW viewers in the 8 to 10 p.m. slot. And a scant 9,568 of them were in the advertiser-prized 18-to-49 age range.

How bad is that? Smash even trailed the CW's Emily Owens, M.D. and CW33's Nightcap among 18-to-49-year-olds. It also marked the third new mid-season bomb being dropped on local late night newscasts, which include NBC5's 10 p.m. edition. The other mostly ignored 9 p.m. NBC attractions are Do No Harm, which premiered Thursday, and Deception, which has failed to perform on Mondays.

As newscast warm-ups, Smash, Deception and Do No Harm are the equivalents of the frozen tundra that greeted visitors during the week of Super Bowl XLV in Jerry's Palace. NBC5 virtually has to recruit an audience from scratch. In contrast, CBS' 9 p.m. Tuesday series, Las Vegas, furnished 316,673 total viewers in the 15 minutes leading into CBS11's late night news.

In other prime-time results, CBS' NCIS (516,315 total viewers) and NCIS: Los Angeles (426,820) as usual piled up big wins from 7 to 9 p.m.

NCIS also won with 18-to-49-year-olds before Fox's New Girl ran first from 8 to 8:30 p.m. The final 90 minutes of ABC's The Bachelor then took the roses from 8:30 to 10 p.m.

Here are the local news derby results for the fourth weekday of the February "sweeps" rating period.

CBS11 had the most total viewers at 10 p.m. but was edged by WFAA8 for the top spot among 25-to-54-year-olds (main advertiser target for news programming). Saddled with Smash, NBC5 ran fourth in both measurements.

Fox4 continued its lengthy 6 a.m. winning streak -- it hasn't lost yet this year -- with another pair of first-place finishes.

WFAA8 ran the table at 5 p.m. and added a 6 p.m. gold in the 25-to-54 demographic. CBS11 nipped WFAA8 for the most viewers at 6 p.m.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Feb. 4) -- slippage for The Following & dropoff for Dallas while Castle gets kinged

Fox's The Following hit its first ratings pothole while TNT's competing third episode of Dallas slid further in the D-FW Nielsens. Still, both shows were their network's most-watched attractions Monday.

The Following's third episode had 227,179 viewers in the 8 p.m. hour, significantly down from the previous Monday's 344,210. It outdrew the second hours of ABC's The Bachelor and NBC's The Biggest Loser but was edged by new episodes of CBS' 2 Broke Girls and Mike & Molly (234,063 viewers each).

Dallas, also airing at 8 p.m., had 103,263 viewers after last week's first two episodes of Season 2 drew 151,452 and 144,568 viewers.

Of more concern to Fox was The Following's bigger fall-off among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds. Monday's episode had 63,788 viewers in this key audience demographic compared to last week's 133,955. The big dip put The Following in fourth place among the Big Four broadcast networks.

Dallas had 38,273 viewers in the 18-to-49 age range, down from 54,220 and 57,409 for the show's first two episodes.

TNT's premiere of the medical drama Monday Mornings fell to 55,074 viewers in the 9 p.m. hour, with 25,515 of them in the 18-to-49 age range.

ABC's Castle ranked as 9 p.m.'s big gun, winning its time slot in both total viewers (302,905) and 18-to-49-year-olds (92,493). NBC's new Deception continued to slump in the 9 p.m. hour with fourth place finishes in both ratings measurements.

CW33's comedy-infused Nightcap News endured another big ratings pratfall, particularly among 18-to-49-year-olds. It had a disastrous 956 viewers in this age range after the CW network's 8 p.m. episode of Beverly Hills 90210 furnished it with 19,136 in its final 15-minute segment.

Katie Couric's syndicated Katie also again fell flat in the 4 p.m. slot, with out-of-the-money fourth place finishes in total viewers, 25-to-54-year-olds and 18-to-49-year-olds. WFAA8's following 5 p.m. local newscast continued to pay a price, respectively running third, fourth and fourth in those three major ratings barometers.

Here are Monday's local news derby results on the third weekday of the ongoing four-week February "sweeps."

WFAA8 rolled to Castle-spiked wins at 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. It underscored the difference between having a Castle and a Katie as your lead-in.

Fox4 again commanded the 6 p.m. Nielsens in both measurements while CBS11 perked up a bit by beating NBC5 in total viewers and tying the Peacock for third place among 25-to-54-year-olds. WFAA8 ran second in both measurements.

Fox4 finished first at 5 and 6 p.m. in the 25-to-54 demographic. The total viewer golds went to NBC5 at 5 p.m. and CBS11 at 6 p.m.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Feb. 1-3) -- Supah Dupah Edition

Beyonce brings it home near end of XLVII halftime show. Photo: Ed Bark

A high-scoring, down-to-the-wire finish couldn't keep Sunday's elongated Super Bowl XLVII on CBS from drawing the smallest D-FW crowd since the 2009 game.

Running from 5:31 to 9:45 p.m. and blitzed by a 34-minute second half power outage, the Baltimore Ravens' 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers averaged 2,258,018 viewers with a peak crowd of 2,457,659 between 9:15 and 9:30 p.m.

Judging from the 15-minute increment numbers for D-FW, the blackout did not seem to significantly impact the overall rating for Super Bowl XLVII. In fact, some of the Ravens players are blaming it for super-charging the 49ers and sparking their rally. San Francisco trailed 28 to 6 and had a third-and-long situation when half of the New Orleans Superdome's lights went out at the 13:22 mark of the third quarter.

Last year's game, in which the New York Giants edged the New England Patriots, beat Sunday's XLVII with 2,404,477 viewers and a high of 2,635,125.

The 2011 Super Bowl XLV at Jerry's Palace remains the top D-FW draw in the past five years with an average of 2,791,057 viewers and a peak of 3,068,085.

Super Bowl XLIV in 2010 also whipped this year's edition with 2,599,153 viewers (and a peak of 2,911,323) for the storybook New Orleans Saints win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Sunday's extravaganza did manage to outdraw 2009's Super Bowl XLIII, in which the Pittsburgh Steelers nipped the Arizona Cardinals. That one averaged 2,125,760 viewers with a high of 2,431,338.

CBS' post-Super Bowl attraction, a new episode of the first-year series Elementary, fired up at 10:11 p.m. after a nearly half-hour post-game show. It had a nice-sized 619,578 viewers but fell sharply from the last portion of the post-game show (1,301,114 viewers).

Super Bowl XLVII of course obliterated all competing programming Sunday night. The most-watched attraction opposite the game, Fox's 7:30 p.m. episode of Bob's Burgers, drew 68,842 viewers.

In tamer surroundings, here are Friday's local news derby numbers from Day 2 of the four-week February "sweeps" ratings period.

CBS11 topped the 10 p.m. total viewer Nielsens but WFAA8 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 again swept the 6 a.m. competitions, although both NBC5 and WFAA8 were fairly close behind this time.

CBS11 won at 6 p.m. in total viewers while Fox4 nipped NBC5 for the top spot in the 25-to-54 demographic.

The Peacock ran the table at 5 p.m.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Jan. 31) -- DOA for Do No Harm; minimal interest in 30 Rock finale

The February "sweeps" rating period opened for business Thursday, with ABC's Shark Tank the only prime-time repeat in sight among the Big Four broadcast networks.

It got drubbed in the 7 p.m,. hour, but the night's biggest loser was NBC's premiere of its new medical drama Do No Harm.

Airing at 9 p.m., Do No Harm drew a piddling 55,074 D-FW viewers. Even worse, just 6,379 of them were advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds. The national numbers were equally pathetic, giving DNH a fighting chance to become this season's first one-episode-and-out cancellation.

NBC also aired a so-so one-hour series finale of 30 Rock. It had 117,031 total viewers, beating Shark Tank (61,958) but losing overwhelmingly to CBS' The Big Bang Theory (516,315) Fox's American Idol (392,399) and CBS' Two and a Half Men (351,094). 30 Rock likewise ran a distant third with 18-to-49-year-olds.

CBS' Person of Interest (440,589) and Elementary (275,368) rolled from 8 to 10 p.m. in total viewers. Among 18-to-49-year-olds, Fox4's 9 p.m. newscast edged Elementary while Person of Interest beat the 8 p.m. episode of NBC's The Office while tying a second episode for first place at 8:30 p.m.

In Thursday's local news derby results, Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 drew their initial sweeps marks in the sand, some of them very faint. Here's the complete breakdown on Day 1 of the four-week February combat in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. Note that at 10 p.m. NBC5 had a very lousy lead-in and also lost its video capabilities, according to numerous tweets from station staffers.

10 P.M.

Total Viewers
WFAA8 -- 213,410
CBS11 -- 178,989
Fox4 -- 130,800
NBC5 -- 96,379

WFAA8 -- 101,357
Fox4/NBC5 -- 65,584 each
CBS11 -- 26,830

6 A.M.

Total Viewers
Fox4 -- 123,916
WFAA8 -- 75,726
NBC5 -- 68,842
CBS11 -- 41,305

Fox4 -- 83,471
WFAA8 -- 47,698
NBC5 -- 38,754
CBS11 -- 17,887

6 P.M.

Total Viewers
WFAA8 -- 172,105
CBS11 -- 165,221
NBC5 -- 117,031
Fox4 -- 110,147

Fox4 -- 62,603
WFAA8 -- 56,641
NBC5 -- 44,717
CBS11 -- 29,811

5 P.M.

Total Viewers
Fox4/WFAA8 -- 137,684 each
NBC5 -- 96,379
CBS11 -- 82,610

Fox4 -- 62,603
NBC5/WFAA8 -- 32,792
CBS11 -- 20,868

Overall impressions: Fox4 and WFAA8 are off to the fastest starts while CBS11 is in a demographic dumpster with fourth-place finishes throughout the day and night among 25-to-54-year-olds. NBC5's second place tie at 10 p.m. in that key demographic was pretty impressive, given its technical problems and severe lead-in disadvantage from Do No Harm.