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Casey Norton leaving WFAA8; former weekend anchor partner Debbie Denmon takes new job with Dallas County D.A.'s office (updated)

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Former WFAA8 weekend anchor duo Casey Norton, Debbie Denmon

Just a month and a half ago, Casey Norton and Debbie Denmon were Dallas-based WFAA8's weekend P.M. anchor duo.

Now they're both going to be gone.

Knowledgeable sources tell unclebarky.com that Norton is leaving the ABC affiliate to join the Dallas-based Weber Shandwick public relations firm.

Norton will be vice president of labor relations communications for the firm's American Airlines account. The position has been held by former Fox4 reporter Scott Sayres, who joined Weber Shandwick in the summer of 2008.

Norton, who could not be reached for comment Friday evening, came to WFAA8 in March 2010 from Seattle's KOMO-TV. He also did reporting for WFAA8 and filled in as a weekday anchor. WFAA8 news director Carolyn Mungo so far has not returned an email asking for comment on Norton, who worked the Labor Day shift at the station in place of anchor John McCaa.

Also on Friday, the Dallas County District Attorney's office announced that Denmon has been hired as director of communications. Her first day in that position will be on Sept. 10th. She left WFAA8 last month after the station declined to renew her contract. Earlier in the year, Denmon had lost a discrimination suit she filed against the station.

Denmon's cell phone was filled to capacity, and she could not be reached for comment Friday. But in a statement released by the D.A.'s office, Denmon said, "I'm excited to embark upon this new venture in my career after spending more than 20 years honing my journalism skills in the broadcast industry. I really am looking forward to utilizing my writing and speaking talents in a different venue."

Denmon's new boss, District Attorney Craig Watkins, said she "brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise from her related field. Communication is vital in improving media relations and sharing with the community what this office is really about: seeking justice, fairness and integrity."

She spent 12 years at WFAA8. Earlier this month, Denmon told unclebarky.com that she planned to join the part-time staff of The Texas Daily, a one-hour local morning newscast scheduled to premiere Oct. 1st on KTXD-TV. That now won't be happening, but the station still has 13 former D-FW television anchors and reporters lined up for the weekday program.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Aug. 30) -- convention's closing night another Fox News Channel victory lap

Fox News Channel made it three-for-three Thursday, again dominating its broadcast and cable network rivals in ratings for closing night of the Republican National Convention.

Clint Eastwood's improv theater -- a bracingly stark departure from the choreographed norm -- helped to push part of nominee Mitt Romney's acceptance past prime-time (as did his elongated red carpet walk to the podium). He ran until 10:13 p.m., with ABC, CBS and NBC then all signing off by 10:21 p.m.

We're going to tabulate D-FW's convention ratings from 9 p.m. to 10:15 p.m., when the seven major network providers were all in session. Nielsen Media Research measures in 15-minute increments, so this is the closest we can come to an accurate count. Here's the breakdown in total viewers:

Fox News Channel -- 209,997
ABC -- 94,837
PBS -- 74,515
CBS/NBC -- 60,967 apiece
MSNBC -- 54,193
CNN -- 47,419

Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast again prospered opposite the convention, averaging 169,353 viewers for the full hour. The most-watched broadcast network entertainment program in prime-time, CBS' Big Brother 14, drew 155,804 viewers from 8 to 9 p.m.

Among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, Big Brother drew far more viewers -- 92,867 -- than any individual network's convention coverage.

In Thursday's local news derby numbers, the 10 p.m. newscasts all started late -- save for Fox4's -- and won't be counted in this post.

Fox4 won at 6 a.m. in total viewers while tying WFAA8 for first place among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

The two stations split the golds at both 5 and 6 p.m., with WFAA8 on top in total viewers and Fox4 the most-watched by 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Aug. 29) -- Cowboys, convention, Rangers

A lot of dust got kicked up Wednesday night in D-FW, with the Cowboys and waning minutes of the Rangers game squaring off at one point against Republican convention coverage on seven networks.

Our job here is to clear the ratings air, so here we go.

The Dallas Cowboys' last pre-season game, telecast on TXA21, easily had the smallest audience of the four. Grinding to an end at 10:37 p.m., Dallas' 30-13 win over the Dolphins averaged 338,705 viewers overall, with 352,253 during the 9 to 10 p.m. hour in which ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC all offered convention coverage.

The Cowboys' audience during that time easily was enough to beat any individual network's coverage. But in something of an upset, the combined seven-network viewership, again paced by FNC, was greater than the Cowboys' crowd.

Here's the 9 to 10 p.m. breakdown:

Cowboys-Dolphins -- 352,253 viewers
FNC -- 189,675 viewers
PBS -- 56,902 viewers
CBS -- 51,483 viewers
NBC and MSNBC -- 47,419 viewers each
ABC -- 40,645 viewers
CNN -- 33,871 viewers

The Rangers' 8-4 loss to Tampa Bay, with an early start of 6:05 p.m., crept a bit into the seven networks' convention coverage before ending at 9:10 p.m. Nielsen Media Research measures in 15-minute increments. So from 9 to 9:15 p.m., the Rangers game and a smidgen of the post-game show drew 169,353 viewers. That equaled the combined convention audience for ABC, CBS and NBC during those 15 minutes.

Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast also made its mark Wednesday night. It averaged 155,804 viewers for the full 9 to 10 p.m. hour to rank third in that time period behind the Cowboys and FNC's convention coverage.

From 7 to 9 p.m., CBS' Big Brother 14 ranked as the most-watched network entertainment program with 176,127 viewers.

Wednesday night's featured convention attraction was vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's acceptance speech. It ran slightly long until 10:03 p.m., with ABC, CBS and NBC then all bailing within three minutes or less.

Not surprisingly, the convention is not doing well among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds. In fact the ratings are abysmal. So much so that CW33's 9 p.m. local newscast Wednesday had more 18-to-49-year-old viewers than the convention hours on NBC and ABC while tying PBS.

NBC hit rock bottom in this respect. Of its 47,419 viewers, Nielsen says that a sub-scant 1,601 were of the 18-to-49 persuasion.

Had enough? Here's a brief look at Wednesday's local news derby numbers.

Fox4 ran first at 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

At 6 a.m., Fox4 and NBC5 tied for the top spot in total viewers, but WFAA8 barely nipped both of them in the 25-to-54 demographic.

WFAA8 also won at 6 p.m. in total viewers while Fox4 ran the table at 5 p.m. and added a 6 p.m. win with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Ready or not, Tony Romo is (in new commercial)

Love or loathe the Dallas Cowboys, there's lots to like about this new Tony Romo spot for Starter sports gear.

The oft-criticized but resilient Cowboys QB is in the throes of a Rocky-esque workout while ticking off all the criticisms aimed at his team. His parting shot: "People are focused on what we haven't done. That's what I'm focused on, too."

Those are fighting words, and Romo delivers them very effectively. Now it's put-up-or-shutup time, beginning Wednesday night against the Super Bowl champion New York Giants on their home field.

Regular readers of this site know I'm a Wisconsin native and longtime Green Bay Packers fan. But Romo at last seems to be coming of age and establishing himself as a leader. And I think this image spot does a very good job of selling what seems to be his new resolve.
Ed Bark

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Aug. 28) -- what condition's the convention in?

This is rather remarkable.

First off, it's not surprising that Fox News Channel would be the No. 1-rated network for Republican Convention coverage during the one-hour in which it went head-to-head with the three major broadcast networks as well as CNN and MSNBC. That's happened before, both nationally and in D-FW.

But on Tuesday's opening night, FNC not only won this war from 9 to 10 p.m. locally. It equaled the combined audience of the five rival networks. Here's the D-FW breakdown during the hour in which Ann Romney and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were the featured attractions:

Fox News Channel -- 189,675 viewers
ABC -- 54,193 viewers
CBS -- 47,419 viewers
NBC -- 40,645 viewers
CNN -- 27,096 viewers
MSNBC -- 20,322 viewers

But wait, there's more. The 9 to 10 p.m. portion of the Texas Rangers' 1-0 home win over Tampa Bay drew 264,190 viewers on Fox Sports Southwest. That was more than enough to beat the combined convention audience on the three cable networks (237,093 viewers) as well as the combined audience on ABC, CBS and NBC (142,257 viewers).

Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast, with 128,708 viewers, handily whipped all of the individual networks' convention coverage except for FNC's.

It'll be a tougher task for Wednesday's 9 to 10 p.m. convention window, which in D-FW is opposite the final Dallas Cowboys exhibition throwaway on TXA21 and at least part of the early starting Rangers game if it runs past 9 p.m. after an early 6:05 p.m. start to accommodate Jerry's Team. If VP nominee Paul D. Ryan addresses the Republican faithful and no one hears him in D-FW, is it a sound?

CBS and NBC both suffered sharp audience drop-offs from the entertainment programming preceding their convention coverage. NBC had 176,127 viewers for its 7 to 9 p.m. edition of America's Got Talent before the Peacock's GOP festivities drew less than one-quarter that crowd. CBS had 115,160 for an 8 p.m. NCIS: Los Angeles repeat before the convention pulled in less than half the viewers.

Only ABC showed an increase, drawing a sub-measly 20,322 viewers for its 8;30 p.m. rerun of Don't Trust the B . . . in Apartment 23. The convention then came close to tripling that audience.

In Tuesday's local news derby results, WFAA8 had the most total viewers at 10 p.m. But it again fell to second behind a suddenly flexing Fox4 among 25-to-54-year-old viewers, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

WFAA8 swept both the 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. competitions while NBC5 did likewise at 5 p.m. CBS11 remained lost but not found in the key 25-to-54 demographic, placing fourth in all four time periods.

Return of the two-headed weatherman -- NBC5 edition


Transition edition: Newcomer Rick Mitchell with long-timer David Finfrock on Monday's 10 p.m. NBC5 newscast. Photo: Ed Bark

NBC5 began smoothing the way for its big 10 p.m. transition Monday by recycling WFAA8's two-headed weatherman gambit from several years back.

The guy taking over the late night highs and lows -- Rick Mitchell -- joined the dean of D-FW-'s temperature takers, David Finfrock, on Monday's edition.

"Unfortunately, he made me wash his car tonight," Mitchell joked as they stood side by side. "Part of the hazing that I have to go through."

As previously posted, Mitchell is inheriting the 10 p.m. newscast -- as well as the 4 p.m. -- while Finfrock is relinquishing the late night weathercasts he's been doing since becoming NBC5's chief meteorologist in 1991. He'll now do the 5 and 6 p.m. editions en route to a planned May 2018 retirement that could be moved up if he chooses.

Mitchell, an 18-year veteran of Oklahoma City's KOCO-TV, originally had been named to be the Fort Worth-based station's early morning meteorologist. But his road to the top hit a much faster track last week when NBC5 announced a revised game plan.

WFAA8 deployed a similar strategy during the waning days of Troy Dungan's reign as its signature weatherman. Incoming Pete Delkus and Dungan teamed up on newscasts in hopes of making viewers feel completely at ease with the transition. The idea is to send the message that no one's being shoved out, we're all friends, this is a natural course of events, etc.

WFAA8 management later stopped being friendly with Dungan after he anointed CBS11's Larry Mowry as his favorite weatherman during that station's ratings "sweeps" feature story on Dungan's retirement years.

After first sharing the screen, Mitchell and Finfrock did separate weathercasts Monday night -- just like Delkus and Dungan did for a while.

The newcomer got his first local mis-pronunciation under his belt -- calling Waxahachie Waxa-"hashy" -- while also doing a little riff that quickly established him as more animated and playful than Finfrock cared to be.

"We have different computer models. We've plotted all of those on what we call a 'spaghetti plot,' " Mitchell said of several thin pink, blue and yellow lines bisecting his weather map. "Because it kind of looks like spaghetti. I'd hate to think what (it would look like) if it was called the ravioli plot or something like that."

NBC5's announcement last week said that Finfrock and Mitchell "will work together transitioning responsibilities . . in the coming weeks."

It's likely to be a short-term engagement, though, compared to the time that Delkus and Dungan spent together.

"All right, Rick Mitchell, the hazing has only begun," co-anchor Meredith Land told him after Monday night's two-headed stint. "So happy to have you."

Still up in the air is whether NBC5's viewers will feel likewise.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Aug. 27) -- back to school means back on top for Fox4

Management and talent at Fox4 news exhaled into their Morning Joes or teas Tuesday. After a summer-long period of more downs than ups, the station's early morning newscast moved back to the top spot on the big back-to-school Monday.

This is generally an audience booster for all four of D-FW's major waker-uppers. And three of the four combatants in fact upped their audiences from the previous Monday. Let's look at the 6 to 7 a.m. Nielsen form charts, with ups or downs in parentheses:


Fox4 -- 121,934 (+47,419 from Mon., Aug. 20)
WFAA8 -- 88,063 (+13,548)
NBC5 -- 81,289 (-13,548)
CBS11 -- 27,096 (+6,774)

25-to-54-YEAR-OLDS (main advertiser target audience for news programming)

Fox4 -- 66,205 (+27,084)
WFAA8 -- 48,149 (+6,019)
NBC5 -- 42,130 (-6,019)
CBS11 -- 12,037 (+3,009)

This is just one day, of course. And it likely will be a close three-way race for the top in both ratings measurements as summer turns into fall and weather becomes more of a factor for Little Johnny Elementary-Kiddo. Then come the November "sweeps."

Monday's back-to-school numbers also underscore how far back CBS11 is, with no realistic hopes of even sniffing in the vicinity of third place any time this year. The station yet again is regrouping in the early mornings with a mostly new team while NBC5 likewise has a number of new faces. The comparative old hands are at Fox4 and WFAA8, with the latter station's Ron Corning already the No. 2 male anchor in seniority after just 16 months on the job.

Elsewhere Monday, the Texas Rangers again dominated the prime-time ratings with their 6-5 home win over Tampa Bay. An average of 250,642 viewers watched the game on Fox Sports Southwest, with another 33,871 opting for ESPN's coverage. The runners-up were Fox's Hell's Kitchen, Fox4's following 9 p.m. local newscast and CBS' 7:30 p.m. repeat of The Big Bang Theory. All three had 169,353 viewers apiece.

The Rangers likewise were the top draw among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, the key audience for non-news programming. Hell's Kitchen ran second.

In the other local news derby results, WFAA8 ran first at 10 p.m. in total viewers but Fox4 again ruled with 25-to-54-year-olds.

NBC5 won at 5 p.m. in total viewers and at 6 p.m. in the 25-to-54 demographic.

The other golds went to WFAA8 at 6 p.m. in total viewers and Fox4 at 5 p.m. with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Tom and Jerry: Cowboys commercials then and now

The man who fired Tom Landry -- and later admitted he botched it -- has a new ungainly commercial for Papa John's pizza.

In this one he raps.

Meanwhile, the late Landry did a little singing himself on behalf of a motel chain after his forced retirement as Cowboys coach. That one wasn't quite a classic either. But Landry did manage at least one gem -- on behalf of American Express, circa 1986.

Here are all three, beginning with -- urp -- Jerry:

Wheel, Jeopardy! not going anywhere

wheel-of-fortune2 Alex Trebek

Don't believe everything you read on wikipedia.

An alert reader noted over the weekend that Dallas-based KDFW-TV's (Fox4) wikipedia page had this rather startling paragraph: "In July 2012, KDFW announced that the Fox station will carry syndicated programs such as Inside Edition, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. All 3 shows are moving from KTVT to KDFW on September 3, 2012."

Not true, says CBS11/TXA21 director of communications Lori Conrad.

"Despite any information to the contrary, we're pleased that Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy! and Inside Edition will continue to air on CBS11 and TXA21 this season," she said in an email reply.

By late Monday morning, after being notified by unclebarky.com, the erroneous claim was removed from the KDFW wikipedia page. It also had shown up over the weekend on the KTVT wikipedia page, but is no longer there.

Wheel has aired at 6:30 p.m. weekdays on CBS11 since fall 2005. WFAA8 had been the show's home for the previous 18 years, but the station opted to move Entertainment Tonight into the 6:30 p.m. slot after deeming Wheel's audience too old and thereby less profitable in terms of potential advertising revenues.

Jeopardy! is carried at 11 a.m. on CBS11 and and 6 p.m. on TXA21. Inside Edition is at 7:30 p.m. on TXA21.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Aug. 24-26) -- Cowboys inch up, Rangers remain solid

Saturday night's "dress rehearsal" pre-season game between the injury-riddled Cowboys and woeful Rams split the difference ratings-wise between the first two pretenders.

Running until almost 11:15 p.m. on CBS11, the 20-19 win over St. Louis averaged 582,573 D-FW viewers. That's up from the 541,928 who watched Game 2 against San Diego but down from the pre-season opener crowd of 629,992 for that thrilling 3-0 win at Oakland.

ABC's competing NASCAR race drove into second place in the prime-time Nielsens with 94,837 viewers while NBC's one-hour Wrestlemania special managed 74,515 viewers from 8 to 9 p.m.

Earlier Saturday, the Texas Rangers' afternoon thumping of the Twins drew a nice-sized 243,868 viewers on Fox.

The Rangers' Sunday afternoon ratings were muddled by a lengthy rain delay that stretched the game into the early evening on Fox Sports Southwest. The peak audience for the Rangers' 6-5 loss came between 6:15 and 6:45 p.m., when 298,060 watched. That was a bit better than the 277,738 viewers for NBC's pre-season Sunday Night Football matchup between the Jets and Panthers.

Friday night's Rangers-Twins game on TXA21 easily paced all prime-time programming with 216,771 viewers opposite CBS' Bears-Giants exhibition (142,256 viewers).

In Friday's local news derby results, WFAA8 notched a 10 p.m. win in total viewers but bowed to Fox4 among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

WFAA8 narrowly won at 6 a.m. in both ratings measurements and added a more dominant 6 p.m. sweep.

NBC5 took both golds at 5 p.m.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues.-Thurs., Aug. 21-23) -- three more sweeps for Rangers

Strap the top executives of Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 to lie detectors. Ask them a simple question: Would you like the Texas Rangers to revert to their old losing ways so more people would start watching your networks' prime-time programming instead?

They'd all be lying if they answered "No." Because the first-place Rangers are a dominant ratings force this summer. From Tuesday through Thursday, they again were D-FW's most-watched TV attraction opposite whatever the networks threw against them.

Thursday's home win over the Twins, which stretched all the way to 10:45 p.m. on Fox Sports Southwest, averaged 264,190 viewers. The second most-watched prime-time program, CBS' Person of Interest repeat, had 135,482 viewers.

Wednesday night's Rangers game, a home field victory over the Orioles, pulled in 230,319 viewers on FSS. The runner-up in prime-time was CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation rerun (149,030 viewers).

On Tuesday night, a home loss to the Orioles had 216,771 viewers on FSS, with NBC's two-hour America's Got Talent placing second with 142,256 viewers.

All three Rangers games also were tops among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds.

It's easier in the summer amid a sea of network repeats and first-run non-scripted shows. But this never used to happen. Now it's the norm, with FSS the prime beneficiary with the best overall regular season Rangers ratings in its history.

Here's a look at the local news derby Nielsens from Tuesday through Thursday:

Tuesday -- 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.

At 6 a.m., NBC5 and WFAA8 tied for the top spot in total viewers, with WFAA8 soloing in first place with 25-to-54-year-olds.

The 6 p.m. golds were split between WFAA8 in total viewers and Fox4 in the 25-to-54 demographic. NBC5 won at 5 p.m. in total viewers, but WFAA8 wore the 25-to-54 wreath.

Wednesday -- CBS11 edged WFAA8 for the 10 p.m. top spot in total viewers while Fox4 cruised to a dominant win among 25-to-54-year-olds.

NBC5 won a pair of tight races at 6 a.m., edging WFAA8 in both measurements.

NBC5 and CBS11 tied for first at 6 p.m. in total viewers, but Fox4 again won with 25-to-54-year-olds. The Peacock swept the 5 p.m. Nielsens.

Thursday -- WFAA8 ran the table at 10 p.m. and 5 p.m. The ABC station also added a 6 a.m. win with 25-to-54-year-olds and a 6 p.m. win in total viewers.

Fox4 finished first at 6 a.m. in total viewers and also topped the 6 p.m. field in the 25-to-54 demographic.

First of its kind: the Dale Hansen Football Classic

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Stick around long enough and you just might have something named after you.

Namely the inaugural Dale Hansen Football Classic, being held on Sept. 7th and 8th at Waxahachie's Lumpkins Stadium.

"It's small-town high school football at its best," the longtime WFAA8 sports anchor says in a promo. He even wears one of his Hawaiian shirts for the occasion.

Hansen lives in Waxahachie and regularly professes his love for high school football. So this seems like a good way to put his community in the spotlight while also showcasing six smallish pigskin powers from around the state. It'll likely be your only chance to see the Italy Gladiators vs. the Malakoff Tigers, who compete in the Friday night, Sept. 7th opener. There'll be a doubleheader on Saturday.

The official website for the big weekend event is here. And below is the promo:

Debbie Denmon, Iola Johnson the latest to sign on as part-time pundits for KTXD-TV's upcoming Texas Daily news program (updated)

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Former WFAA8 anchors Debbie Denmon and Iola Johnson

Add another pair of prominent former WFAA8 anchors to The Texas Daily's roster of part-time pundits.

The list is officially at 14 now with the additions of Debbie Denmon and Iola Johnson to Dallas-based KTXD-TV's latter day D-FW museum of broadcasting.

As previously posted, the Me-TV affiliate will be launching the one-hour Texas Daily on Oct. 1st in an 8 a.m. weekday slot. It's aimed directly at baby boomers who have aged beyond the 25-to-54 age group that's considered the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Johnson was the first African-American anchor in the D-FW market, debuting on weekends in 1973 before teaming with Tracy Rowlett in 1975 for a ratings-rich 10-year run at 6 and 10 p.m. weeknights. Rowlett also is among KTXD's new hires, although no one other than main anchor Jeff Brady will be expected to log more than one or two appearances per week.

Denmon, sacked in July after a 12-year tenure at WFAA8, at first thought that a standard "non-compete" clause in her contract would prohibit her from being on the air with a rival D-FW station for at least six months. But unbeknownst to her, she said, WFAA8 didn't include that standard language in her final one-year deal with the station. In November of 2011, Denmon lost a discrimination suit against WFAA8 when an arbitrator rule that her case had no merit.

"I just figured it was the same-old, same-old, because it (a non-compete clause) had been in every single one of my previous contracts," Denmon said in a telephone interview Thursday. "It was definitely my fault. They didn't point it out and I didn't look."

Her attorney, Michael Coles, subsequently discovered that she was free to join another station at any point, Denmon said. That included during her time at WFAA8.

"If I had known that, I probably would have reached out to other people while I was at Channel 8," Denmon said. A WFAA8 representative, speaking on condition of anonymity, has confirmed that Denmon's final contract gave her the option of jumping to another D-FW station whenever she pleased.

That's a highly unusual situation, but Denmon and station management hadn't exactly been in close harmony during the latter stages of her career at WFAA8. She was cut loose with three months remaining on her contract, which WFAA8 is honoring in full.

Denmon said she hasn't been actively pursuing full-time work at another D-FW television station.

"I'm just taking this month to sit still, relax and get my bearings," she said. "Spending family time and just figuring out what's important to me. There are no anchor openings right now anyway, and I wouldn't want to go on the air as just a reporter."

Nor does she want to work weekends anymore, Denmon said. "I don't want to do anything out of desperation, and I also want to consider some things outside of TV. I just haven't been in any rush to beat down anybody's door. I'm a laid-back person and I pray a lot about what to do next."

Joining KTXD will reunite Denmon with a slew of former WFAA8 colleagues. But she most wants to meet Iola Johnson, whom Denmon idolized as a kid growing up in North Texas.

"Iola Johnson is the reason I originally got into broadcasting," Denmon said. "So for me it was a no-brainer saying that I would contribute. It's an honor just to be in the mix. I just throught it would be a blast."

Of the 14 veteran TV personalities named as KTXD contributors so far, only one has no former ties to WFAA8. That would be former NBC5 sports anchor Scott Murray.

Besides the aforementioned, the other WFAA8 alumni who have agreed to join The Texas Daily are Troy Dungan, Robert Riggs, Midge Hill, Phyllis Watson, John Criswell, Suzie Humphries, Gary Cogill, Rebecca Rodriguez, Jolene DeVito and John Sparks. Some of them also worked at other D-FW stations during their careers.

And yes, KTXD management also has talked to former NBC5 anchor Jane McGarry, who "resigned" from the station in July after pleading "No Contest" to a heavily publicized DWI charge.

McGarry has not made a commitment yet, but has told KTXD that she'll make a decision shortly.

Veteran WFAA8 reporter Cynthia Vega leaves station


It continues to be a very turbulent summer for arrivals and departures at D-FW television stations.

The latest to call it a day is veteran WFAA8 reporter Cynthia Vega, who joined the ABC affiliate in spring 2000. She is best known for her live street reporting on WFAA8's early morning Daybreak program.

Several sources confirmed Vega's departure Thursday, and her "News Team" bio already has been removed from WFAA8's website. WFAA8 spokesman Dave Muscari so far has not returned an email asking about Vega.

Her departure pretty much rubs out the on-camera anchors and reporters hired by former WFAA8 news director David Duitch, who had that position from August 1999 to December 2004. Only reporter Steve Stoler, hired in December 2002, remains as a Duitch alum. And he was already in the D-FW market, working at rival Fox4 before jumping to WFAA8.

Debbie Denmon, Macie Jepson, Chris Heinbaugh, Dan Ronan and Jeff Brady, all Duitch hires, previously left WFAA8 for varying reasons. Earlier this summer, Duitch ended a four-year tenure as Dallas-based CW33's news director. He is now editor of The Dallas Morning News' website, dallasnews.com.

Keith Garvin back in the running as newest anchor-reporter for Houston's KPRC-TV (updated with comments from Garvin)


Former CBS11 anchor-reporter Keith Garvin, whose last day at the station was Monday, has quickly landed on his feet in another Texas TV newsroom.

He's been hired by Houston's KPRC-TV as a 4 p.m. anchor and nightside reporter. Garvin is replacing the NBC affiliate's Iain Page, starting next week.

Garvin's hiring was first reported by vigilant Houston blogger Mike McGuff on his media website.

"My family and I are very excited about this move," Garvin said in an email to unclebarky.com. "I will miss North Texas but am looking forward to calling Houston my new home. This will allow me to work for a great station and be closer to my hometown of Bryan. If no one else is excited about that, I know my mother definitely is!"

Garvin initially came to Texas in November 2009 as co-anchor of the now defunct First In Prime local newscast on CBS11's sister station, TXA21. He later moved to the co-anchor slot on CBS11's early morning news program before Brendan Higgins was named to replace him. Garvin then understandably looked for other work while hanging on at CBS11 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. And now he's found it.

WFAA8's McCaa staying in place while other D-FW long-timers change courses


At least John McCaa isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

This week's news of NBC5 meteorologist David Finfrock leaving the station's 10 p.m. newscasts while slowly marching toward a planned 2018 retirement came shortly after WFAA8 anchor Gloria Campos became a part-timer by giving up her regular 6 p.m. berth.

But McCaa confirmed Wednesday that he's staying the course at WFAA8.

"I have come to an agreement to continue what I am currently doing full-time -- 5, 6 and 10 p.m. news," he said in an email reply. "Still working out specifics."

McCaa has been part of the ABC station's showcase 10 p.m. newscast since October, 1993, when a rotating tri-anchor system went into effect. In August of 2002, McCaa and Campos became the sole 10 p.m. news anchors. They currently are D-FW's only minority anchor duo during evening or nighttime hours. (NBC5 newcomer Mark Hayes and Deborah Ferguson give that station an African-American/Hispanic anchor team on weekday early morning newscasts.)

McCaa, who joined WFAA8 in 1984 (the same year as Campos), didn't specify the length of his latest contract. But they generally run for three-year periods. The station's president and general manager, Mike Devlin, continues to have a standing "no comment" policy regarding any inquiries from unclebarky.com. And his recently hired news director, Carolyn Mungo, has yet to return an email on any subject, even to comment on the end of Campos' 6 p.m. tenure and what she has meant to the station as D-FW's first Hispanic weekday news anchor.

After some time off, Campos is scheduled to rejoin McCaa at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 4th. But that will be her only newscast of the day, save for occasional fill-ins at 6 p.m., where Shelly Slater now is teaming with McCaa.

McCaa's rise to prominence at WFAA8 began in December 1991, when he began co-anchoring the Dallas-based station's 5 p.m. weekday newscasts. He later dropped the 5 p.m. shift while moving up to the 6 and 10 p.m. editions. But he's been co-anchoring all three newscasts in recent years, with his new deal keeping McCaa busier than any other anchor at the station as he approaches his 60th birthday in February of 2014.

Dale Hansen, dean of D-FW's sports anchors, also is continuing apace at WFAA8 after taking a substantial pay cut. A salary "adjustment" downward almost certainly is in the cards for McCaa, too.

Both of NBC5's "legacy" news anchors, Mike Snyder and Jane McGarry, are no longer with the Fort Worth-based station. Snyder was downsized out of the picture on July 1, 2010 after earlier being pulled from the 10 p.m. edition. McGarry (who likewise had seen her role diminished) "resigned" last month from NBC5 after pleading "No Contest" to a heavily publicized DWI charge.

Fox4 anchor Clarice Tinsley remains the dean of all D-FW news personalities and has said in the past that she's more than willing to anchor into her 70s. Tinsley, who joined the station in November 1978, continues to anchor the 5 and 10 p.m. weekday newscasts. She's been soloing at both hours after Fox4 parted ways with anchor Baron James in early 2010.

Until that time, Tinsley and James were D-FW's only African-American anchor team. He now is with WPLG-TV in Miami.

Iconic NBC5 meteorologist David Finfrock signs last contract with station while newcomer Rick Mitchell gets the 10 p.m. newscast for starters

page5_blog_entry2470_1 Finfrock Formal Vertical

NBC5 meteorologists Rick Mitchell and David Finfrock

The winds of change are sweeping through NBC5's weather center, with iconic meteorologist David Finfrock planning to retire at the end of a new "long-term" deal while newcomer Rick Mitchell soon will be inheriting the 10 p.m. mantle.

The changes, announced early Tuesday evening by the Fort Worth-based station, also call for staffer Grant Johnston to immediately step in as NBC5's weekday 5 to 7 a.m. meteorologist. As recently as last week, he was filling in as the traffic reporter. Samantha Davies will remain with the station as the 4:30 to 5 a.m. meteorologist.

Mitchell, hired in mid-July after 18 years as a meteorologist for Oklahoma City's KOCO-TV, was scheduled to join the station on Wednesday, Aug. 22nd. In NBC5's initial announcement, he was named to be the station's new early morning meteorologist, replacing Jennifer Lopez.

Finfrock, who joined NBC5 in 1975 as the legendary Harold Taft's eventual successor, became the station's chief meteorologist in 1991. His new less visible duties will make Finfrock the head forecaster on the 5 and 6 p.m. weekday newscasts. Mitchell is assigned to the 4 p.m. First At Four shift as well as the featured 10 p.m. newscasts.

"Finfrock and Mitchell will work together transitioning responsibilities for the NBC5 News at 10 p.m. and NBC5 First at Four in the coming weeks," NBC5 said in Tuesday's publicity release.

The approach seems similar to the "two-headed" weathercaster transition at WFAA8 between longtime incumbent Troy Dungan and incoming Pete Delkus, who became the station's principal forecaster in the summer of 2007 after Dungan's retirement.

"I was fresh out of college when Harold Taft hired me, and I never dreamed I'd spend my entire career at one television station," Finfrock said in a statement. "I'm not ready to leave yet, but I've been thinking about retirement for several years, and I'm pleased this agreement offers me the opportunity to finish my career right where it began -- with the first television station in Texas."

NBC5 did not specify the length of Finfrock's final "long-term agreement" and a spokesperson said the station does not discuss the particulars of employee contracts. But in an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Finfrock said that his last deal with NBC5 will expire in May 2018. It includes an option for Finfrock to cut back to three or four days a week during the contract's final two years. Finfrock will turn 60 next May.

Finfrock and Taft are the only chief meteorologists in the 64-year history of the station, which signed on in 1948 as WBAP-TV.

"I've always insisted that everyone we hire be a professional meteorologist," Finfrock said in praising the current staff of Mitchell, Johnston, Davies and Remeisha Shade. "And you won't find a team more professional than this anywhere."

News director Susan Tully said in a statement that Finfrock's "experience and dedication to accurate forecasting is unparalleled in North Texas television. The fact that he will be here to guide us through the coming transition is invaluable."

Mitchell, who was a meteorologist for WOI-TV in Des Moines, Iowa before moving to KOCO-TV in 1994, said that "the combination of the rich history of KXAS-TV (now promoted as NBC5) and the chance to be part of their wonderful weather team makes this a dream job for me."

The station is still searching for a meteorologist for weekend evening newscasts, according to Tuesday's announcement.

Finfrock has been plagued by allergy problems that have triggered on-air coughing spells in recent years. NBC5 had a special 10 p.m. newscast report on his malady during the 2007 February "sweeps" ratings period.

His longtime 6 and 10 p.m. running mates, anchors Mike Snyder and Jane McGarry, left NBC5 in the past few years. Snyder was downsized to earlier evening newscasts before being let go. McGarry recently "resigned" after pleading "no contest" to a heavily publicized DWI charge.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Aug. 20) -- Rangers back on top

It's been a while, with the Olympics, Cowboys and a spate of day games lately clogging their ratings.

But the first-place Texas Rangers moved firmly back atop the prime-time Nielsens Monday, ranking as prime-time's most-watched attraction in both total D-FW viewers and advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds.

Texas' 5-1 home win against Baltimore averaged 230,319 viewers on Fox Sports Southwest, with 89,664 of them within the 18-to-49 motherlode.

Fox's 8 p.m. episode of Hell's Kitchen ranked second in both measurements, with 169,353 total viewers and 86,462 of them in the 18-to-49 range.

TNT's second episode of Major Crimes also performed well at 8 p.m. with a third-place total of 142,256 viewers. But just 28,821 of them were in the 18-to-49 demographic.

Attention also must be paid to CBS11's Wheel of Fortune, which had a dominant 250,642 viewers in the 6:30 p.m. prime-time appetizer slot. It also thumped the competing rag mags on Fox4, NBC5 and WFAA8 among 18-to-49-year-olds.

NBC's second episode of Stars Earn Stripes slumped to just 67,741 viewers at 8 p.m. before the network's following Grimm perked up a bit to 88,063 viewers. But Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast, pre-empted last Thursday and Friday by NFL pre-season football games, returned to dominate its time slot in the non-sports programming division. Its 162,578 total viewers (70,451 of them in the 18-to-49 age range) thumped the opposition on ABC, CBS and NBC.

ABC's 9 p.m. entry, Glass House, was particularly shattered, shattered, sha-doo-be. It had a sub-measly 49,645 viewers, with just 12,809 of them in the "desired" 18-to-49 food group.

Here come Monday's local news derby results:

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

NBC5 continued its strong post-Olympics run at 6 a.m. with first place finishes in both measurements.

WFAA8 likewise ran the table at 6 p.m. and tied for the top spot with Fox4 at 5 p.m. in total viewers. Fox4 had the 25-to-54 win at 5 p.m.

CBS11 reporter Jay Gormley still scripting for the big screen, too


Jay Gormley is ready for his close-up. But is Hollywood? Photo: Ed Bark

Reporter by night, stay-at-home dad by day and independent filmmaker whenever the spirit moves, Jay Gormley jokes that when The End eventually comes, his tombstone will read "Almost."

Nearing 15 years of pavement-pounding at CBS11, Gormley and his longtime friend and collaborator, John Venable, are all too familiar with the ins and outs of the Hollywood shuffle. They've made movies together and apart. They've taken meetings with major studio representatives. And so far it's been mostly the same old story. A variation on the phony baloney "Let's do lunch" invite that ends up being cold turkey.

Gormley remains chipper but also cautiously optimistic during an interview at a Dallas coffee shop.

"It's a hobby that I would like to see turn into more," he says of his script writing and film directing. "But if it doesn't, it's not like I'm picking up trash off the streets. I've got a great job. I'm happy every day. I get paid to do the news. I mean, how great is that?"

He also got married in October 2009 to Robin Lisa Raxlin, a Dallas social worker and native of Toronto. They now have a son, Daniel Patrick, who's nearing his first birthday.

But Gormley still has a Beverly Hills-based manager. And his eighteen-and-a-half minute film, Odds Or Evens, recently was named "Best Community Short" at the Oak Cliff Film Festival after earlier making the cut for Oklahoma City's annual deadCenter festival.

Not only that, Odds Or Evens co-stars Charles Baker, best known to TV audiences as the recurring "Skinny Pete" on AMC's acclaimed Breaking Bad.

"We couldn't afford his day rate, but he liked the script so much that we worked something out," Gormley says. Accomplished Fort Worth-born actress Lydia Mackay shares the screen in a film that deftly caps its morality tale with a climactic twist.

Gormley prefers writing in this fashion. "I like to see jaws drop. Things like that," he says.

Back in 2005, Gormley and Venable thought they might be in the fast lane with their script for the full-length $30,000 Millionaires. They teased the proposed movie at Dallas' Magnolia Theatre after a screening of their 11-minute short film Bachelor 37. "Coming soon. Soon as we have the money to film it," it said on the big-screen as the audience enthusiastically applauded the surprise ending of the darkly comic Bachelor 37.

They hoped to raise $1 million for $30,000 Millionaires, a comedy about "five vacuous Dallas bachelors striving to maintain upscale lifestyles via maxed-out credit cards."

But "we found out we were lousy at raising money. So we shelved it," Gormley recalls. He moped for a while until Venable coaxed him into collaborating on another full-length effort, Karma Police, filmed on a shoestring budget in Dallas in early 2007. It was primarily Venable's film, with a cast that included John Wesley Shipp (best known as Dawson Leery's dad on Dawson's Creek after earlier playing the title role in the short-lived 1990 CBS series The Flash).

Although it was entered in five film festivals, Karma Police ended up going pretty much nowhere. It remains alive, though, via karmapolicemovie.com.


Charles Baker & Lydia Mackay in Odds or Evens. Photo from Jay Gormley

While Karma Police languished, interest rekindled in Gormley and Venable's $30,000 Millionaires. In 2009 they were contacted by Sheree Guitar Entertainment, a Hollywood name if ever there was one.

Guitar told them she "loved" $30,000 Millionaires, but the script needed to be reworked. Then came another call, from Dune Entertainment, which is in a partnership with 20th Century Fox films. Gormley and Venable met twice with Fox studio executives and "participated in numerous conference calls" while spending another year re-working the script for $30,000 Millionaires.

They were then passed over to Fox Searchlight Pictures, whose reps told them they had "the next Hangover." Just re-work the script some more.

But Fox Searchlight quickly passed. So it was back to 20th Century Fox for more re-writes. This went on for another nine months but "for some reason we just fell off the radar," Gormley says. "They didn't do anything with it. We never signed a contract with them. I've got a fully developed script that never got walked into 20th Century Fox."

Undeterred, he's now writing a pilot for a proposed TV drama series. Its title is Frat Lines and it's set in what Gormley calls "the underground 1980s of dark warehouse nightclubs and over-indulgent parties."

The overall premise: "A group of college students fall on hard financial times after a tragic chain of events. They hatch a plan to form a fraternity as a mere front to run an organized crime ring. Their influence soon exceeds campus boundaries to ultimately become one of the most powerful syndicates in the city."

Gormley envisions it as "Breaking Bad meets Boardwalk Empire meets Entourage."

It just might be that he's deluding himself. But Gormley, regularly in league with Venable, has been writing screenplays since 2002. Interest wanes and then heats up again. The fun is in the trying, and there's no harm in that. He'll keep his night job at CBS11 for as long as the station wants his services. Street reporting is in his blood, too. But it would be nice to some day have a second career option. What if one of his screenplays finally hits it big? And then Hollywood suddenly keeps crying out for more?

"That bridge seems far off," Gormley says. "I can't even imagine a world like that."

The End. Until the next chapter.

Briefly in D-FW television news


Katie Couric popped in on WFAA8's 5 p.m. newscast. Photo: Ed Bark

Katie Couric has been in D-FW Monday (Aug. 20), cutting promos with WFAA8 anchors John McCaa and Shelly Slater for her upcoming daytime talk show.

She also popped in on the 5 p.m. newscast for a brief chat with McCaa and Slater.

As previously posted, Katie will air at 4 p.m. weekdays on WFAA8, with Dr. Oz sliding from that time slot to 3 p.m. The ABC affiliate also will continue to carry Anderson Cooper's struggling Anderson, which is getting a makeover and a new title, Anderson Live, this fall. It will air at 2 p.m. instead of 3 p.m.

Katie, scheduled for a Sept. 10th premiere, is the big-ticket show, though. Distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television, it's getting the prime slot once occupied by Oprah Winfrey in many TV markets. WFAA8, which has declined to develop a local 4 p.m. news program to compete with those on NBC5 and CBS11, is hoping that Katie will funnel an appreciably larger audience than Dr. Oz did during its year at 4 p.m.

***Fox is showcasing its fall quartet of Tuesday night comedies with advanced theater screenings in 10 cities. One of the venues is Dallas, where on Sunday, Aug. 26th attendees can watch newcomers Ben and Kate and The Mindy Project plus returnees New Girl and Raising Hope.

After the screenings, cast members from those comedies will participate in a "live Q&A event" that will be satellite-fed from the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center. All seating is first-come, first-serve. You can reserve a spot by RSVPing via email to FOXTuesdayDallas@AlliedIM.com.

Start time for the screenings is 7 p.m. in Dallas, with doors open one hour earlier. The venue is AMC Valley View 16; 13331 Preston Rd 2300; Dallas, TX 75240.

***The top 10 finalists from Fox's ninth edition of So You Think You Can Dance will be touring against this fall. The North Texas venue, on Oct. 30th is Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie.

Tickets go on sale on Friday, Aug. 24th at AXS.com.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Aug. 17-19) -- Cowboys power up, in ratings at least

Saturday night's second Dallas Cowboys pre-season game, a 28-20 loss at San Diego, primed the weekend ratings pump with 541,928 D-FW viewers on CBS11.

That's a drop from the 629,992 for Game 1, which was shown on both CBS11 and ESPN. But the Cowboys-Chargers game stretched deeper into the night, ending at 11:12 p.m.

Friday night's Texas Rangers-Toronto game on TXA21 averaged 243,868 viewers to tie Sunday night's Colts-Steelers game on NBC as the weekend's second most-watched prime-time attraction. Afternoon Rangers games on both Saturday and Sunday respectively drew 94,837 and 169,353 viewers on Fox Sports Southwest.

The Friday night ratings were paced by Fox's pre-season NFL game between the Lions and Ravens. It averaged 135,482 viewers while also again pushing Fox4's 10 p.m. newscast much deeper into the night.

The 10:40 and 10:41 p.m. start times on Friday and Saturday gave rival stations a leg up in coverage of both planned aerial West Nile virus sprayings. Heavy duty area storms also were a factor in Saturday's 10 p.m. equation, with NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 of course milking this situation with top-of-the-newscast weather summations while the Lions and Ravens played on.

In each case, rival stations built on the 9:45 to 10 p.m. network lead-ins during the first 15 minutes of their newscasts. Fox's NFL exhibition lost viewers from 10 to 10:15 p.m. for the second straight night opposite the local news.

Friday's three-way 10 p.m. competition ended in a total viewers tie for first place between NBC5 and WFAA8, with CBS11 ranking third ahead of Fox's football. Among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming, NBC5 nipped WFAA8 for the top spot while football ran third ahead of CBS11.

The Peacock also added twin wins Friday at 6 a.m., where it remains strong in the post-Olympic Nielsens.

Anchor Gloria Campos' last day as a regular 6 p.m. anchor brought WFAA8 a total viewers win at that hour. But Fox4 won among 25-to-54-year-olds while sweeping both legs of the 5 p.m. competition.

CBS11 deployed its A-team weekday anchors for Saturday's late night newscast in hopes of capitalizing on the Cowboys' lead-in. The station drew roughly 196,449 total viewers for its delayed edition, up from Friday's regularly scheduled 10 p.m. crowd of 135,482.

CW33 anchor Walt Maciborski is latest to depart


Anchor Walt Maciborski is leaving CW33, leaving Amanda Salinas to solo for now at the tumultuous Tribune-owned station. Photo: Ed Bark

The carousel keeps spinning at Dallas-based CW33, with 9 p.m. weeknight co-anchor Walt Maciborski the latest to get off.

New Director of Content Larissa Hall, appointed to that position Thursday, told staffers Friday that Maciborski will be relocating to Fox affiliate WXIN-TV in Indianapolis, where he'll also anchor. Both stations are owned by the Tribune Company, but it's a substantial market size drop for Maciborski, from No. 5 to No. 25.

Maciborski and his 9 p.m. co-anchor, Amanda Salinas, were both hired in February 2009 by former CW33 news director David Duitch, who earlier this summer left the station to become editor of The Dallas Morning News website, dallasnews.com.

He joined CW33 from ABC's Tampa, Fla. affiliate, WFTS-TV, after previously working at KVUE-TV in Austin.

During CW33's arguably lowest point, Maciborski got saddled with his picture next to a slogan that read, "You Won't Believe the $#!T We Report!"

His departure apparently leaves Salinas to solo on the 9 p.m. newscasts, although nothing is entirely certain right now at CW33.

"Walt is a tremendous person," Salinas said in an email Friday to unclebarky.com. "He's a true professional, and this is an amazing opportunity for him. He will be greatly missed here at CW33."

In the past several weeks, meteorologist Bob Goosmann, sports anchor Chase Williams and reporter Giselle Phelps also have left the station.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues.-Thurs., Aug. 14-16) -- West Nile virus coverage vs. pre-season football

The Fox4 newsroom found itself in a vexing predicament Thursday night. And it paid a ratings price.

While low-flying airplanes began spraying neighborhoods in hopes of curbing the West Nile virus, Fox-owned Fox4 was stuck with its network's elongated pre-season football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons.

Including a totally inconsequential post-game wrapup, it stretched all the way to 10:40 p.m., delaying the station's 10 p.m. newscast beyond the end times of rival stations while completely rubbing out Fox4's 9 p.m. edition. The 9 p.m. news in particular likely would have had a high tune-in value.

Here's the tale of the tape:

WFAA8 led at 10 p.m. with 159,194 D-FW viewers, a significant jump from the 96,870 viewers who watched the last 15 minutes of ABC's Rookie Blue.

NBC5 ran a close second with 147,676 viewers, up from NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams lead-in of 127,353 viewers.

CBS11 ran third with 137,514 viewers, coming off CBS' Person of Interest lead-in of 118,547 viewers.

The 10 to 10:30 p.m. portion of Fox's NFL pre-season game drew 134,127 viewers, falling from the 9:45 to 10 p.m. football audience of 172,062 viewers.

NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 also improved on their respective networks' lead-in audiences among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. The 10 to 10:30 portion of the Bengals-Falcons game lost viewers off its 9:45 to 10 p.m. lead-in. But football did draw the biggest crowd in this demographic, edging WFAA8 and NBC5 while CBS11 as usual dropped to a distant fourth.

What might Fox4 have done with its regularly scheduled 9 and 10 p.m. newscasts in place on a news night of more than a little import? We'll never know, but you can bet the newsroom would have loved to give it a try.

The pre-10 p.m. prime-time portion of Bengals-Falcons averaged 189,675 total viewers, good enough to beat all competing programming before the 10 to 10:30 p.m. drop-off kicked in. CBS' Big Bang Theory rerun drew the night's biggest crowd -- 223,545 viewers -- mostly against Fox's pre-game show.

Here are the Tuesday-Thursday local news derby results in the quartet of four-way competitions:

Tuesday -- WFAA8 nipped CBS11 at 10 p.m. in total viewers and won bit a bit larger margin among 25-to-54-year-olds.

NBC5 had the 6 a.m. edge in total viewers, with WFAA8 a paper-thin winner over the Peacock in the 25-to-54 demographic.

WFAA8 ran the table at 6 p.m. and Fox4 did likewise at 5 p.m.

Wednesday -- WFAA8 ran first at 10 p.m. in total viewers but Fox4 dominated among 25-to-54-year-olds.

NBC5 swept the 6 a.m. race and added 5 and 6 p.m. wins in total viewers. Fox4 took the two early evening news golds in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Thursday -- The 10 p.m. results already have been reported above. NBC5 was tops in total viewers at 6 a.m. while tying WFAA8 for the lead among 25-to-54-year-olds with Fox4 right behind and CBS11 again well back.

WFAA8 had the most overall viewers at both 5 and 6 p.m. while Fox4 ran first at both hours with 25-to-54-year-olds.

The time is now: Gloria Campos ending 22-year tenure as WFAA8's weekday 6 p.m. co-anchor


Gloria Campos on Wednesday's 6 p.m. WFAA8 newscast. Photo: Ed Bark

Gloria Campos, part-timer.

Those words seem opposed to one another. But after 28 years at Dallas-based WFAA8, the last 22 as the first Hispanic of any gender to be permanent anchor of a weekday D-FW newscast, Campos' last regular 6 p.m. edition will be on Friday, August 17th.

"Life is full of transition, and I'm ready for that transition in my life," Campos, 57, said in a phone interview minutes before heading to the station's Victory Park studios for Thursday's newscasts.

After a short break, Campos is scheduled to return on the day after Labor Day, Sept. 4th, to rejoin co-anchor John McCaa on the 10 p.m. edition. Under her new 18-month contract, it will be Campos' only newscast of the day. As previously reported, Shelly Slater will be the new 6 p.m. weekday anchor, in tandem with McCaa.

"To be honest with you, I've been preparing for this for quite a while," Campos said.

She first approached station management in 2008 with the idea of cutting back and gradually weaning herself from the mothership.

"I told them, 'Hey, you can cut my salary by a big chunk if you'll let me work part-time," Campos recalled.

The station declined, but revisited the idea after her latest three-year contract ran its course. In times when station profits and newscast ratings continue to erode, the idea of giving a well-paid anchor a substantial pay cut didn't seem so bad after all. And Campos insists that this was her initiative, not a case of management marginalizing her, as NBC5 did by initially removing both Mike Snyder and Jane McGarry from its 10 p.m. newscasts while at the same time sharply cutting their salaries. (Neither is with the station anymore. Snyder was let go and McGarry recently "resigned" after pleading no contest to a DWI charge and apologizing on her Facebook page.)

Campos said it's a case of legitimately wanting to spend "more me time" away from the station and with her husband, Lance Brown. They are the parents of 19-year-old twin sons, Greg and Tony.

"We don't live lavishly. We don't have any debts," she said. "Believe it or not, I've always had that mindset that this job could disappear tomorrow. No one is irreplaceable. I certainly am not queen around here. I want to be the master of my fate as much as I can be. I think that's quite remarkable in this business."

Management said she could arrive as late as 6:30 p.m. for her new part-time shift. But Campos said she'll be more comfortable in the early going with a 5 p.m. check-in.

She joined WFAA8 in 1984 from KGBT-TV in Harlingen, TX, where she anchored the 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts and also produced the late night edition. Campos interviewed at KDFW-TV (now known as Fox4) and KXAS-TV (now NBC5) before being hired by the late Marty Haag, who was WFAA8's hard-driving news director through most of the 1970s and '80s.

"I came here with no aspirations of being an anchor," Campos said. But Haag had other plans after earlier making Iola Johnson D-FW's first African-American news anchor in 1973.

Campos first co-anchored WFAA8's midday newscasts before moving to weekends. In early January of 1990, she took a big step forward to the 5 p.m. weekday newscasts, co-anchoring with the late Chip Moody. Within several months, Campos got the 6 p.m. slot, which in those days was a much bigger deal than it is today. In June of 1990, the Dallas Hispanic Council honored her as the "first Hispanic to anchor a weekday 6 p.m. TV newscast in Dallas."

"I'd kind of forgotten that," Campos said when reminded. "When you look at it that way, I guess it is kind of an end of an era. We're so much more diverse now."

Campos will still fill in on occasion at 6 p.m. And Slater's pregnancy likely will mean at least an interim return. "But there's a limited amount I'll do," she said.

Slater has been a lightning rod among some commenters on unclebarky.com. They mainly find fault with her delivery and voice inflections. But Campos said that's nothing new.

"When I said I was going to Channel 8, someone asked me, 'Why would you want to come here? They don't like Mexicans in Dallas,' " Campos recalled. "But I don't have control over that."

Former Good Morning America anchor Joan Lunden had the right approach, Campos said. "Even if not everyone likes me, enough people like me. I've always felt the same way. I've never deluded myself that I'm everyone's cup of tea."

She has a soft spot for Slater, a Plano native who visited Campos at WFAA8 when she "was a little girl," Campos said. "She had written me a letter about her interest in TV news, and I showed her around the station. I think she was about 11 years old. So we have a history, and of course I wish Shelly the best. People get to know you after you've been on the air a while. They get more comfortable with us. No matter who you are, you have to earn the acceptance of the viewers. And that takes time."

Campos' new 18-month contract with WFAA8 will expire in the first half of 2014. After that she's not sure about what's next.

"I can't definitely say I'm gonna walk out the door in 2014 and never come back," she said. "But when it does come time to separate, that's going to be the hardest part. Because I love the people at Channel 8."

Campos' long tenure as a featured anchor, nearly matched by McCaa's, is exceeded only by Clarice Tinsley's nearly 35 years as an anchor at KDFW-TV (Channel 4), which was a CBS affiliate station when she started there.

As for future anchor longevity, "it's a big question mark, isn't it?" Campos said. "But my gut tells me that we probably won't be seeing these 'legacy anchors,' as people call them."

She doesn't want any fanfare at the end of Friday's 6 p.m. newscast.

"I really don't want them to do anything because I don't want to cry on TV," she said when asked. "I've come close many times before because the news can be so bad. So I hope they don't mention it."

It is the end of an era, though. No doubt about it. And so attention will be paid -- in these spaces at least.

Briefly in D-FW television news


Hi, I'm NBC5's Grant Johnston. Perhaps you know me better as . . . Photos: Ed Bark

Yes, that's NBC5 meteorologist Grant Johnston doing the traffic reports this week on NBC's early morning news program.

And so far he hasn't reported any high pressure fronts on Central Expressway. Well, in a way he has.

The Fort Worth-based station is still searching for a permanent traffic cop after veteran Tammy Dombeck and NBC5 reached a contract impasse. Andi Parker was named to fill in after Dombeck's departure on July 27th. But Johnston lately has been the designated "Gridlock Buster."

NBC5 news director Susan Tully relayed a comment via email, saying that Johnston "offered to help out on traffic, as we are still searching and there's vacation scheduling on top of it. It is not permanent by any means, even though he's doing an awesome job!"

Johnston likely is the first male to be deployed as an NBC5 traffic-meister. Vice president of programming Brian Hocker said he would ask Johnston "if he's ever done this before." Still waiting on an answer, although weathercasters have a leg up in this particular domain, having already grown accustomed to "green screens" and pointing at things.

*** CBS11 reports that one of the station's photojournalists, Edgar Solis, had his Richardson home destroyed by lightning during Tuesday night's storms.

Solis told CBS11 reporter J.D. Miles that he and his two children were asleep when the lightning hit, starting a fire in the attic of their home.

"I gotta laugh. It's all I can do. It's Mother Nature," Solis said.

CBS11 director of communications Lori Conrad said that a relief fund has been established at Chase Bank for Solis and his family.


Verizon Fios subscribers couldn't see WFAA8's HD channel during part of the early evening Wednesday. Got a light show, though.

***Part of Wednesday's 5 p.m. newscast on WFAA8 and Diane Sawyer's entire 5:30 p.m. ABC World News were rubbed out in homes with Verizon Fios. But it was only on WFAA8's HD channel.

Respondents using other cable providers apparently experienced no such outage. Alerted by your friendly content provider, WFAA8 vice president of product development Dave Muscari said the station eventually determined that it was not at fault.

"Fios told us the problem was on their end. They know about it and are working on the issue," he said.

The issue was resolved just as WFAA8 began its 6 p.m. Wednesday newscast. There were no further problems, at least not at unclebarky.com central.

CW33 tabs Larissa Hall as newsroom's latest Director of Content


Larissa Hall, who has been senior producer of the Tribune Company's laugh-laced early morning Eye Opener program, has been named as Dallas-based CW33's new Director of Content.

Joe Young, the station's vice president and general manager, made the announcement to newsroom staffers Thursday afternoon. In her new position, Hall "will be responsible for all news content being produced by our news department," Young said in a memo.

Hall and Denise Killian, who had been CW33's acting director of content (or news director if you prefer), will remain at the station as assistant news director. They will "work together on enhancing our 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. shows," Young said.

Eye Opener, which is also carried on several other Tribune-owned TV stations, originates entirely from CW33 studios in Dallas. Hall returned to the station to produce it after spending several months as a producer on WFAA8's Good Morning Texas. Before that she produced CW33's 9 p.m. local newscasts.

Hall is engaged to former CW33 assistant news director Rob Cartwright, who currently is news director at WSYR-TV, the ABC affiliate station in Syracuse, NY. She essentially replaces former CW33 news director David Duitch, whose tumultuous four-year reign ended when he took a position earlier this summer as editor of The Dallas Morning News website, dallasnews.com.

The CW33 newsroom is now facing another uncertain future after Duitch virtually cleaned house during his tenure. An employee who under condition of anonymity said that staffers "expect big changes coming on our air soon in terms of content and style. What those changes are nobody knows . . . Tribune Corporate sees her (Hall) as a golden child. The staff will just keep on working. It's all we can do."

CW33 has struggled mightily in the ratings, with its showcase 9 p.m. newscast averaging just 13,548 viewers in the May "sweeps" compared to 176,127 viewers for Fox4's competing 9 p.m. edition. Audience levels for CW33 have steadily slid during the past two years, with numerous formats, features and reporters coming and going. The CW network likewise has performed dismally in prime-time, giving CW33's 9 p.m. newscasts little to work with on most nights in terms of lead-in programming.

Hall also has been a news producer at Austin's KVUE-TV and has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, according to her Linkedin biography.

Anchor-reporter Keith Garvin cutting ties with CBS11 (updated with comments from Garvin)


Anchor-reporter Keith Garvin is leaving CBS11 after nearly three years with the Fort Worth-based station and its sister operation, TXA21.

His departure was confirmed Wednesday night by director of communications Lori Conrad, who said his last day will be on Aug. 20th.

In a later email reply, Garvin said he's "proud of all my work at CBS11, but especially proud of the time I spent in Afghanistan to tell the stories of North Texas soldiers deployed there. I also can say my CBS11 colleagues are not only some of the hardest working people in the industry, but many of them have become dear, lifelong friends. I'm also thankful for North Texas viewers, who were always kind to me."

Garvin apparently has another position lined up. "As soon as I can reveal my next move, I'll be sure to let you know!" he said.

He arrived in November 2009 from NBC-owned WRC-TV in Washington, D.C. His initial assignment was as co-anchor of TXA21's now defunct First In Prime local newscasts, where he replaced Chris Salcedo.

In October 2011, Garvin joined Lisa Pineiro as co-anchor of CBS11's early morning newscast after Scott Sams' contract wasn't renewed. Pineiro eventually was dropped and Garvin got re-assigned in June of this year after former NBC5 early morning anchor Brendan Higgins was hired to work the same shift at CBS11. He's now teaming with fellow newcomer Adrienne Bankert

For the past two months, Garvin has been a reporter and fill-in anchor for CBS11. There is no word yet on his future plans.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Mon., Aug. 10-13) -- Olympics pass baton to Cowboys

The Olympics are history and the Cowboys are back, even though that looked like a soccer score for Monday's pre-season opener.

CBS11's ESPN simulcast of Dallas' 3-0 win over the Oakland Raiders averaged 447,091 D-FW viewers while ESPN added another 182,901. The grand total of 629,992 viewers easily out-hit the Texas Rangers' 8-2 road loss to the Yankees, which had 155,804 viewers on Fox Sports Southwest.

Among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, the Cowboys had 169,722 viewers on CBS11 and 99,271 on ESPN. The Rangers drew 57,641 viewers in this key demographic.

Monday also marked a big night of post-Olympics premieres on NBC, which had flogged the launch of Stars Earn Stripes and the Season 2 start-up of Grimm throughout the Summer Games. Both of them bombed in a market where both the Cowboys and Rangers drained a big portion of the audience pool.

Stars Earn Stripes, which aired from 7 to 9 p.m., drew just 81,289 total viewers before Grimm dropped to 67,741. Fox's 7 p.m. premiere of Hotel Hell (121,934 viewers) and a new episode of Hell's Kitchen (155,804) both outdrew Stars Earn Stripes. It was the same story among 18-to-49-year-olds, only worse in terms of viewer margins.

Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast more than doubled Grimm's audience in total viewers, but the two programs tied among 18-to-49-year-olds.

TNT fared even better with its series finale of The Closer followed by the 9 p.m. premiere of its spinoff, Major Crimes.

The Closer ranked as Monday night's overall top non-sports draw with 209,997 total viewers before Major Crimes held steady with 189,675 viewers.

Here are the prime-time audiences for the last three nights of NBC's prime-time Olympics coverage:

Friday -- 440,317 viewers
Saturday -- 399,672 viewers (lowest of any night during NBC's 17-day run)
Sunday (Closing Ceremonies) -- 806,118 viewers

NBC then deservedly paid a price for pushing The Who's closing performance to its brief late night wrapup in order to air a 10 p.m. sneak preview of the new fall sitcom, Animal Practice. It dove down to 304,835 viewers.

Here are the Friday and Monday local news derby results:

NBC5, in the final throes of its Olympic afterglow, swept Friday's 6 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m. competitions in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds (main target audience for news programming). WFAA8 won a downsized three-way 10 p.m. race in total viewers but Fox4 had the edge with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Buoyed by a Cowboys lead-in, CBS11 easily won Monday's 10 p.m. competition in total viewers but couldn't hold serve among 25-to-54-year-olds. Fox4 instead topped that field, with CBS11 dipping to second.

NBC5 kept its early morning ball rolling on a post-Olympics Monday with twin wins at 6 a.m. The Peacock also swept a downsized three-way 6 p.m. face-off while CBS11 opted for a Cowboys pre-game show that beat the newscasts on Fox4 and WFAA8.

Fox4 ran first at 5 p.m. in total viewers and NBC5 took the 25-to-54 gold.

Reporter Giselle Phelps resigns from Dallas-based CW33


CW33 reporter Giselle Phelps resigned from the Dallas-based station Friday, continuing the latest exodus of on-camera staffers.

Phelps confirmed her departure Saturday. "That's really all I want to say at this point, other than to say I appreciate the opportunities I received at CW33," she said in a telephone interview.

Phelps joined the station in March 2010 and had been without a contract since March of this year, she also confirmed. So she will not be shackled by a "non-compete" clause and is free to be an on-camera reporter for other stations in the D-FW market.

Her bio already has been removed from the station's website. As previously reported, veteran meteorologist Bob Goosmann and sports anchor/reporter Chase Williams also recently decided to cut ties with CW33.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Aug. 9) -- Olympics flaming out

Thursday's prime-time Olympics package took a tin medal with the smallest D-FW audience to date.

NBC's four hours of coverage averaged 555,476 viewers, with 227,363 of them in the advertiser-prized 18-to-49 age range.

That fell significantly below the previous low of 657,088 viewers for last Friday's prime-time coverage. Still, nothing else measured up, with CBS' 7 p.m. repeat of The Big Bang Theory taking the prime-time silver Thursday with 162,578 total viewers.

During daytime hours, the U.S. women soccer team's 2-1 gold medal win over Japan averaged 149,030 viewers on NBC Sports Net.

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

WFAA8 also ran the table at 6 a.m. NBC5 had doubleheader sweeps at both 5 and 6 p.m.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues.-Wed., Aug. 7-8) -- Dallas season finale dodges Rangers bullets, paces cable ratings

TNT's Season One shutdown of Dallas fell far from the heights of its two-pronged premiere while still beating everything except the Olympics in Wednesday's prime-time Nielsens.

The 8 p.m. "Revelations" episode, in which Christopher Ewing's estranged wife, Rebecca, was outed as Cliff Barnes' scheming daughter, drew 176,127 D-FW viewers. That's a major markdown from the June 13th premiere, when crowds of 331,931 and 338,705 watched back-to-back episodes.

Dallas also dodged a very entertaining Rangers-Red Sox slugfest, which aired during afternoon hours on Fox Sports Southwest. The 10-9 Texas win at Fenway Park averaged a smallish 101,612 viewers. In prime-time, the slugfest assuredly would have drawn at least twice that crowd.

The Ewings have no worries, though. Dallas has been renewed for a second season, with an increase from 10 to 15 episodes. And it again will be filmed in its namesake city, starting later this year.

Wednesday's prime-time Olympics coverage on NBC averaged 670,636 viewers. It ran a bit long, until 10:06 p.m., before the new Matthew Perry series, Go On, sneak-previewed without commercial interruption. Its second 15 minutes had 372,576 viewers after the 10 to 10:15 quarter hour mix of the Olympics/Go On drew 636,765 viewers. That's a good sampling, but also a substantial turn-off for Go On's opening episode. The series won't be back until Sept. 11th as part of the Peacock's revamped Tuesday night lineup.

Tuesday night's four-hour Olympic bloc had 704,506 viewers, with that night's Rangers win over Boston drawing 230,319 viewers on FSS.

Here are Tuesday's and Wednesday's local news derby results, which won't take long.

NBC5, still aided by its network's Olympic torch afterglow, swept the 6 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m. competitions on both days. That meant solid wins in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

In the downsized three-way 10 p.m. races, WFAA8 and CBS11 tied for Tuesday's 10 p.m. gold in total viewers, with Fox4 winning among 25-to-54-year-olds.

WFAA8 ran the table in Wednesday's 10 p.m. Nielsens.

Cowboys pre-season home will be on CBS11/TXA21

hi-res-83713910_crop_exact 220px-Cowboys_Stadium_field

Owner Jerry Jones again looms large over his iffy "America's Team."

Dallas' longest-running serial drama, the Cowboys, again are getting ready for some football, beginning with Monday night's pre-season kickoff at Oakland.

This time around, CBS11 and sister station TXA21 will have all four exhibition games to themselves. Plus three regular season games, including TXA21's simulcast of ESPN's Oct. 1st Monday Night Football game against the Chicago Bears.

Here's the complete CBS11/TXA21 schedule, touted in a Tuesday publicity release:


Monday, Aug. 13th at Oakland (7 p.m., CBS11)
Saturday, Aug. 18th at San Diego (8 p.m., CBS11)
Saturday, Aug. 25th vs. St. Louis (7 p.m., CBS11)
Wednesday, Aug. 29th vs. Miami (7:30 p.m., TXA21)

Regular season

Monday, Oct. 1st vs. Chicago (7:30 p.m., TXA21)
Sunday, Nov. 18th vs. Cleveland (noon, CBS11)
Sunday, Dec. 16th vs. Pittsburgh (3:25 p.m., CBS11)

As previously posted, Fox has 10 regular season Cowboys on its schedule this season while NBC has the other three. But the Peacock could still use its "flex" option to cherry-pick an extra late season Cowboys game. It did so last season by taking the final game against the New York Giants, which Fox originally had dibs on.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Aug. 6) -- Olympics still dominate but with reduced swagger

NBC's 11th night of Olympics coverage shrugged aside all competing programming, averaging 677,410 viewers from 7 to 11 p.m.

That's one of the smaller crowds for the ongoing Summer Games, but only a slight drop-off from the 684,184 who watched the first Monday's prime-time coverage.

Over on Fox Sports Southwest, Boston's 9-2 rout of the Texas Rangers and faltering Yu Darvish offered little resistance. The game averaged just 128,708 viewers, one of the Rangers' lowest totals of the season.

Among Monday's non-sports prime-time attractions, Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast had the most viewers with 101,612. Ratings were not immediately available for Monday afternoon's women's soccer thriller on NBC Sports Network. The United States beat Canada 4-3 in an overtime period after thrice rallying from one-goal deficits.

In local news derby results, NBC5 rolled to sweeps at 6 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m., winning in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds (the main advertiser target audience for news programming).

WFAA8 ran the table at 10 p.m. in a downsized three-way race opposite NBC's dominant Olympics coverage. The ABC station had 128,708 viewers while the Peacock's 10 to 10:30 p.m. Summer Games segment drew 812,892 viewers.

The late Marvin Hamlisch made WFAA8's GMT a regular stop

Music maestro Marvin Hamlisch, who died Monday at age 68, appeared several times in recent years on WFAA8's Good Morning Texas. He never failed to be engaging.

Here he is messing around on the piano in 2010 with GMT's co-hosts.
Ed Bark

Layman, Jayroe and a true story about the whereabouts of KXAS-TV's old "Action News" logo

Way back in KXAS-TV's "Action News" days, Dave Layman and Jane Jayroe reigned as the Fort Worth-based station's featured news anchors.

Layman, who long ago relocated to Providence, R.I., recently wrote a commentary on NBC5 anchor Jane McGarry's DWI arrest. Jayroe, the former Miss America 1967, currently resides in Oklahoma City and is enshrined in the Oklahoma Hall of fame.

True story. The late news director Bill Vance, who both hired and fired Layman, inherited the "Action News" format and the day-glo logo visible behind the anchor desk in the video below. Your friendly content provider regularly twitted the format, prompting Vance to send the entire logo to me when KXAS retitled its newscasts. They arrived in black crepe paper and are now proudly displayed at unclebarky.com central in Garland, TX. And they've aged well as artifacts from ancient news times.

The brief video finds Layman and Jayroe introducing a story on a local trucking company's sudden shutdown, with reporter Kevyn Burger on the scene. Also included are the opening visuals and theme song. And yes, when KXAS (now billed as NBC5) opens its new state-of-the-art facility sometime late next year, it is welcome to have the old "Action News" logo as long as management solemnly swears not to burn it or throw it in a closet.

For better or worse, some things are worth preserving.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Aug. 3-5) -- Olympics build from night to night

NBC's prime-time Olympic-casts continued to rule prime-time over the weekend, although Friday's D-FW audience was the smallest to date.

The Peacock's haul of 657,088 viewers on that night fell a bit below the previous low of 663,862 for the Saturday, July 28th first full day of competition.

The Saturday, Aug. 4th prime-time audience ticked up to 690,958 viewers before Sunday upped the ante to 765,473. The biggest competition crowd during the first 10 days of NBC's Olympics was 860,311 on Tuesday, July 31st. NBC's Friday, July 27th coverage of the Opening Ceremonies remains on top with 894,181 viewers.

The first-place Texas Rangers continued to rank No. 2 on each of the three weekend nights.

Friday's road win at Kansas City drew 230,319 viewers on TXA21. Saturday's game, another Rangers victory, had 237,094 viewers on Fox Sports Southwest. And Sunday afternoon's dismal extra inning loss, on a game-ending throwing error, had 182,901 viewers. NBC's 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday Olympics segment averaged 304,835 viewers.

Among non-sports attractions, CBS' Big Brother 14 again was the only broadcast network program showing much of a pulse, with 162,578 viewers for Sunday's 7 p.m. hour. A sizable percentage of those viewers -- 102,474 -- were advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds.

AMC's new Sunday night episode of Breaking Bad also did very well in this respect. Of its 121,934 total viewers, 92,867 were in the 18-to-49 motherlode. The Olympics flexed with 365,062 viewers in the 18-to-49 wheelhouse for NBC's five hours of nighttime coverage Sunday.

In Friday's local news derby results, WFAA8 won a downsized three-way 10 p.m. competition in total viewers while Fox4 finished first with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

WFAA8 and NBC5 tied for the top spot at 6 a.m. in total viewers, with WFAA8 taking the 25-to-54 gold.

NBC5 ran the table at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

"And if someone won't take our call, we will track them down."


NBC5's new hit-the-ground-running investigative team: From left, photographer-editor Peter Hull; reporter Scott Friedman; investigative producer Eva Parks and researcher Shane Allen. nbcdfw.com photo

NBC5 understandably is using its network's potent Olympics platform to promote the virtues of its news anchors and, for the first time, its investigative team.

Headed by the very capable Scott Friedman, NBC5's four-member bloodhound unit pledges to "dig in to find the truth, make
the powerful accountable."

This is basic boilerplate language. But it comes from a station that for many years didn't have any official in-house investigators, let alone a team.

Friedman, formerly co-anchor of NBC5's early morning news program, headed an investigative unit at WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee before arriving in Fort Worth a little over six years ago. He fronts the new 30-second spot, but his off-camera mates also are shown in action. Namely, photographer-editor Peter Hull, investigative producer Eva Parks and researcher Shane Allen.

"There's no question we're afraid to ask," Friedman proclaims up top. "And if someone won't take our call, we will track them down."

That's a little too threatening, especially coming from a media company. In this TV market, NBC5 is better than most at actually responding to questions about how it operates. Even if it's often a "no comment" or a generic one-size-fits-all statement, as when longtime anchor Jane McGarry recently "resigned" from NBC5.

CBS11 also addresses most questions sent its way while Fox4 relays virtually everything through a corporate spokesperson in New York. WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin has a standing "no comment" policy regarding inquiries from unclebarky.com. His recently hired first lieutenant, news director Carolyn Mungo, likewise has ignored all questions from your friendly content provider.

I bring this up because stations vowing to "track down" wrongdoers also should be at least a bit accountable when it comes to the misadventures or dismissals of their own employees.

After all, as Friedman says in the promo, NBC5's hard-charging investigative unit is "tough, unafraid. And we're working for you." And many of you have indicated you'd like to be more in the know about the comings and goings of the TV news people who come into your homes as "family."

Fox4 and CBS11 also have just one on-camera investigative reporter apiece -- respectively Becky Oliver and Ginger Allen. WFAA8 has the awards-laden duo of Byron Harris and Brett Shipp.

NBC5 is smart to tout a solid front man such as Friedman. Its first effort takes the usual tack of promising too much. Just how much Friedman and company will be able to deliver is another story. But at least the station is back in the game.

Here's the promo:

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

The Daily Show's Moment of Zen -- starring NBC5's Newy Scruggs (updated with comments from him)

NBC5's nightly 6:30 p.m. Olympic Zone shows have been naming names of major gold medalists before the NBC network's tape-delayed, prime-time packages kick in.

During Tuesday's edition, sports anchor Newy Scruggs warned viewers to hit their mute buttons if they did not want to know who won. He neglected to add, "Run and hide as well." Because the Fort Worth-based station then showed a big picture of swimmer Michael Phelps, with the logo "Most Decorated Olympian."

Jon Stewart pounced during Thursday's Daily Show, making Scruggs the target of the climactic "Moment of Zen."

In an email reply, Scruggs noted that his "Weed live shot from San Francisco during the (2010) World Series went viral" before being further exposed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The O'Reilly Factor and Lopez Tonight.

"I love The Daily Show," he said. "I know Jon Stewart will never have me on as a guest so I'll take anything he'll give me. As long as I'm not getting on late night TV the way Michael Scott did with the gecko, I'm all good!"

Scrugg joins CBS11 reporter Jay Gormley on D-FW's national dubious achievement scrolls. He won the bronze in May 2008 when Keith Olbermann cited him during the "Worst Person In the World" segment on his now defunct MSNBC Countdown program.

The NBC network also has spilled some beans during its prime-time Olympics presentations. On Monday night, the Peacock inadvertently aired a promo that touted Missy Franklin's gold medal win and her scheduled appearance on Today's Tuesday edition. Franklin then swam to victory minutes later on NBC.

The network later sent its regrets, saying in a statement, "We have a process in place and this will not happen again. We apologize to viewers who were watching and didn't know the result of the race."

Perhaps NBC5 also has learned its lesson. Here's Newy's "Moment:"

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Aug. 2) -- Olympics. Rangers. Period.

The Texas Rangers made their best showing to date opposite the Olympics while still averaging less than one-third the crowd for the Summer Games.

The Rangers' 15-9 home win over the Angels in the climax of a four-game series averaged a nice-sized 264,190 D-FW viewers on Fox Sports Southwest. The game stretched to 11:10 p.m., with a peak audience of 331,930 between 10:30 and 10:45 p.m.

NBC's Thursday night Olympics package topped out at 1,056,760 viewers between 10:15 and 10:30 p.m. enroute to averaging 826,440 viewers for the entire four hours.

Among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds, the Olympics averaged 336,242 viewers while the Rangers had 92,867.

The next closest prime-time attraction, CBS' 8 p.m. episode of Big Brother 14, drew 142,256 total viewers, with 80,058 of them hitting the 18-to-49 sweet spot.

Fox's 8 p.m. Glee repeat barely registered with 6,774 viewers, 3,202 of them in the 18-to-49 age range. CW33's 9 p.m. local newscast drew identical "crowds" in both ratings measurements on a night when rival broadcast networks for the most part might have fared better with a prickly heat telethon.

In Thursday's local news derby results, WFAA8 won a downsized three-way 10 p.m. faceoff in the total viewer Nielsens; Fox4 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 ran the table at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. while adding a 6 p.m. win in total viewers. The Peacock and WFAA8 tied for the top spot at 6 p.m. in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Aug. 1) -- Rangers miracle comeback still no match for Olympics

NBC's tape-delayed conclusion of the individual men's gymnastics competition went against a very live incredible comeback by the Texas Rangers late Wednesday night.

The Summer Games still prevailed by a wide margin, drawing 785,796 D-FW viewers in the 10 p.m. hour before NBC5's late-arriving local newscast had 447,091 viewers for its 11 to 11:15 p.m. segment.

Over on Fox Sports Southwest, the Rangers-Angels marathon (which ended at 11:10 p.m. with Elvis Andrus' game-winning hit) drew 230,319 viewers from 10 to 11:15 p.m. Measurements are only available in 15-minute increments.

Texas, which rallied from 7-1 and 10-7 deficits, perhaps was given up for dead by many fans, including this one. The game overall averaged 169,353 viewers while NBC's full four-hour Olympics telecast weighed in at 690,958 viewers. Absent the "Fab Five" women's gymnastics team and any gold medal finals for swimmer Michael Phelps, that's a significant drop from the 860,311 viewers who tuned in Tuesday night.

CBS' 7 p.m. hour of Big Brother 14 led the non-sports prime-time contingent with 155,804 viewers, 99,271 of whom were in the advertiser-prized 18-to-49 motherlode. That's a considerably better percentage than the Olympics had. Of its 690,958 viewers, 320,230 were in the 18-to-49 age range.

The three 10 p.m. local newscasts competing against both the Olympics and the Rangers mostly went begging for attention. CBS11 led in total viewers with 121,934, with WFAA8 (67,741) and Fox4 (54,193) trailing.

Among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming, Fox4 was tops at 10 p.m. with just 30,093, followed by CBS11 (24,074) and WFAA8 (18,056). From 10 to 10:30 p.m. opposite the newscasts, the Olympics pulled in 430,330 viewers of the 25-to-54 persuasion. Hardly seems fair.

In Wednesday's four-way local news derby competitions, NBC5 ran the table at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. while adding a 6 p.m. win in total viewers. But Fox4 withstood the Olympics afterglow to nip the Peacock at 6 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., July 31) -- fourth night of Olympics competition pulls highest numbers to date

Paced by taped coverage of the gold medal-winning U.S. women's gymnastics team, NBC had prime-time pretty much to itself Tuesday.

The fourth day of Olympics competition averaged 860,311 D-FW viewers from 7 to 11 p.m, with a peak crowd of 1,138,049 between 10:15 and 10:30 p.m. That made it the most-watched of the four competition nights to date, with Friday night's Opening Ceremonies averaging a bit bigger audience of 894,181 viewers.

The ongoing big home series between the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels again had a tough time gaining traction on Fox Sports Southwest. The 6-2 Angels win, which shrunk Texas' first-place lead to three games, drew 176,127 viewers on Fox Sports Southwest.

Among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, the Olympics had 318,084 viewers while the runner-up Rangers game managed 60,844.

CBS' 7 p.m. NCIS repeated ranked as the biggest non-sports attraction in prime-time with 142,256 viewers.

Tuesday also marked the end of the revenue-enhancing mud-slinging fest between Republican senate candidates Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst. Cruz won, but the election returns on Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CW33 had no chance against competing Olympics coverage.

CBS11's 10 p.m. local newscast had the most viewers with 108,386, followed by Fox4's 9 p.m. news and WFAA8's 10 p.m. edition (88,063 each); Fox4's 10 p.m. news (60,967) and The CW's 9 p.m. news (6,774).

Fox4's 10 p.m. news drew the most 25-to-54-year-olds with 30,093. That's the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5's late night news, again pushed back to 11 p.m. by the Olympics, retained a 474,187 total viewers from a 10:45 to 11 p.m. Olympics lead-in of 812,892 viewers. The Peacock's 25-to-54 haul -- 228,707 -- was bolstered by an Olympics lead-in of 400,237 in that key news demographic.

NBC5 swept the four-way 6 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m. competitions in both ratings measurements. It's good to have the Olympics on your side.