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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Dec. 29) -- Fox4 news falls just short of double grand slam

Sweeping the four major local news competitions in both major ratings measurements is an exceedingly rare feat.

It hasn't happened for several years, and WFAA8 was the last to do it. But the station's once dominant early evening ratings have since calcified while it remains third on most days in the early morning. Fox4 has become the dominant news station in D-FW, and on Thursday it fell just one win short of a double grand slam.

The station won at 6 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m. in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. And it added a 10 p.m. first in the 25-to-54 demographic. But CBS11 took the 10 p.m. gold in total viewers, with Fox4 placing second. The score was 196,449 to 142,256.

Prime-time again offered wall-to-wall holiday season repeats, with CBS the overall leader. The most-watched program of the day, CBS' The Big Bang Theory, had 277,738 viewers. In contrast, ABC's 8 p.m. rerun of Grey's Anatomy barely registered with 13,548 viewers in a D-FW market of nearly 6.8 million.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Dec. 27) -- Kennedy Center Honors thrive amid reruns

CBS reaped a just reward Tuesday night for sticking by its annual holiday season telecast of the high-minded Kennedy Center Honors.

The two-hour telecast, which feted Meryl Streep, Neil Diamond and Sonny Rollins among others, command the 8 to 10 p.m. slot with 237,094 D-FW viewers. Save for Fox4's local 9 p.m. newscast, it otherwise was wall-to-wall repeats, with CBS' NCIS the overall top draw with 345,479 viewers from 7 to 8 p.m.

NCIS and the first hour of the Kennedy Center Honors also won among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds before Fox4's news handily took the 9 p.m. hour.

In Tuesday's local news derby results, CBS11 topped the 10 p.m. field in total viewers while Fox4 had the edge among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 won at 6 a.m. in total viewers and tied Fox4 for first place with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Fox4 swept the 5 p.m. competitions and shared the total viewers gold with CBS11 at 6 p.m. WFAA8 broke through with a 6 p.m. win in the 25-to-54 demographic.

And to all a good night: D-FW's list of 2011 TV departures


As 2011 nears its expiration date, we present our annual alphabetical list of on-camera D-FW news people who left their stations by choice or otherwise.

Off-camera personnel are in many ways equally or more important. But the anchors and reporters who come into viewers' homes are the ones we get asked about at unclebarky.com. So here's their closing roll call, which unfortunately also includes two deaths that hit home hard.

ASHANTI BLAIZE -- She left NBC5 in October after four years as an anchor/reporter. It was by choice, not force, Blaize stressed.

"It's been a wonderful run here in D-FW for the last four years," she said. "I've grown so much personally and professionally. I thank the viewers for watching, and my competitors for the camaraderie and for always keeping me on my toes, and NBC5 for giving me a great opportunity."

TROY BUSH -- The jaunty HD Chopper 8 pilot/reporter left the friendly North Texas skies in early April after four years of covering natural disasters and high-speed chases.

"Unfortunately, the economy has hit the TV business hard," he said at the time. "It's forced WFAA to reduce our flight time drastically. I would rather get hit in the head with a hammer than not fly. I'm a pilot that reports, not a reporter that flies."

Bush returned to the Gulf of Mexico, where he flew crews to rigs for many years before joining WFAA8. But he's since occasionally piloted the station's chopper on a freelance basis.

CANDICE CRAWFORD -- The high school sports reporter and co-host of CW33's The RC Project left the station in early January to get ready for her wedding to Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Mission accomplished: they tied the knot in a lavish May 28th ceremony.

DAVE CROME -- He endured for 13 years as a sports anchor/reporter at CW33 before departing in April. That briefly left the station without any sports staff at all. Crome is now in the media relations department at Texas Motor Speedway.

KIM FISCHER -- The NBC5 reporter with the hard-partying Facebook page left the station in early September after a two-year stay.

"I was at the point in my contract where I could look for work as an anchor, an entertainment reporter or a number of other choices," she said in a memo to station staffers. "I have several interesting opportunities in the works and the timing was right. I decided to take the leap and see what is next as I grow my career."

Fischer recently joined Salt Lake City's KTVX-TV as part of the station's new 5 p.m. anchor team.

CHRIS FLANAGAN -- The former co-anchor of WFAA8's Daybreak and co-host of the station's Good Morning Texas left in October to become a featured nighttime news anchor at Cleveland's WEWS-TV. He had joined WFAA8 in March of 2009, but was sacked after a two-year run on Daybreak in favor of New York import Ron Corning. He then marked time at GMT while looking for a way out.

SHANA FRANKLIN -- The CW33 veteran and resident "sexpert" finally escaped after the end of the February "sweeps" ratings period, when she joined her husband in relocating to his new job in California. She was a solidly capable reporter when not saddled with stories such as "Flossing for Better Sex."

DUARTE GERALDINO -- He spent about seven months as a CW33 reporter before leaving. He's lately based in New York City, where he freelances.

MATT GRUBS -- He carved out a niche as a low-key stylist during three years as a Fox4 reporter. But in July, Grubs opted to return to New Mexico with his wife to be closer to family. He's also producing public affairs programming for PBS station KNME-TV in Albuquerque.

"Personally, it's a good move for us," he said. "Professionally it will be a bit tougher because I will be leaving daily television news behind. I will miss telling stories about people who are a lot closer to us than we sometimes realize."

CHRIS HAWES -- The veteran WFAA8 reporter and late night newscast staple left the station in December after nearly five-and-a-half years on the job. She then immediately took a position as strategic communications manager at Medical City Dallas Hospital.

"I have worked in an industry I love for more than 15 years," Hawes said in a Facebook post. "I feel blessed to conclude my television career at a station of WFAA's caliber . . . As a reporter, some of the stories that have touched me most have been those of doctors, nurses, and patients fighting together against incredible odds, and winning. It will be an honor to join that world, and ensure their stories continue to be told."

JERRY HAYNES -- Best known for his age-old stint as Mr. Peppermint on WFAA8, he died on Sept. 26th at age 84 of complications from Parkinson's Disease. Haynes also was a stage and film actor who had small roles in numerous feature films and network TV movies and series.

KIMBERLY KING -- After joining NBC5 in late June as a full-time investigative reporter, she left in December "because of a family matter," the station said. "We respect her need to make her family a priority."

BERT LOZANO -- The former WFAA8 reporter died on August 31st at the age of 42 after suffering a heart attack. He worked at the station from 2004-'07 before taking a position in the Dallas office of the Weber Shandwick public relations firm.

ANNIE POTASZNIK -- She was cut loose after joining the station in early 2009. Potasznik lately had been reporting the "Around Town" segment at the close of Saturday late night newscasts and contributing to the station's 5.2 digital channel.

DESMOND PURNELL -- He left CW33 in February after a latter day stint as the station's weeknight sports anchor. Purnell lately has been working for Fox Sports Southwest and as a sideline reporter for Fox College Sports.

GARY REAVES -- One of WFAA8's best known and most accomplished reporters left the station on Aug. 1st after two tenures totaling 24 years. In between time, he was a CBS News correspondent from 1986-'91.

Reaves told colleagues in an email that "after 35 years of going to work every day in a newsroom, I have decided it is time for me to move on. It is difficult to decide to leave WFAA. I have had most of the best moments of my work life here . . . However, after some 10,000 days on deadline, I have decided it is time to take a break."

SOPHIA REZA -- She became a fixture on Fox4's late night shifts during her nearly three years as a reporter. But Reza called it quits in April after her husband got a new job in Seattle.

SCOTT SAMS -- He spent four years as CBS11's weekday early morning co-anchor before the station decided in March to not renew his contract. Sams, who also had a long career at WFAA8, quickly became an early morning drive-time anchor at Dallas-based news station KRLD (1080 AM).

SUSY SOLIS -- She left NBC5 in October after four years as a reporter and lately has been doing freelance work for WFAA8.

JANE SLATER -- After 18 months as a freelance reporter for CBS11, she opted to instead be a weekday early evening traffic updater at rival WFAA8.

GRANT STINCHFIELD -- After seven years as a reporter for NBC5, he made an abrupt U-turn and bought a Kwik Kar Auto Lube and Repair shop in Irving. Then Stinchfield switched gears again in September by announcing his candidacy as a Republican for the 24th District congressional seat now occupied by Kenny Marchant.

"The TV business has drastically changed over the past few years and I felt it was best to try and control my own destiny before NBC Universal controlled it for me," Stinchfield said of his decision to leave the TV news racket. "I think local TV news has some serious challenges ahead. I figured I would get off the ship before it sinks . . . I will miss covering the 'big story,' but it was time for a change."

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Mon., Dec. 23-26) -- deflated ratings for Cowboys/Mavs blowouts

Both the Cowboys and Mavericks laid eggs under the Christmas tree, with D-FW viewers in turn tuning out.

What shaped up as a pivotal Dallas-Philadelphia matchup on Christmas Eve instead became a "meaningless" game in which QB Tony Romo sustained an early knockout. It averaged just 1,016,115 viewers locally on Fox4, barely beating the season low crowd of 1,009,341 for the previous week's win against the woeful Tampa Bay Buccaneers on NFL Network/CW33.

Still, Fox4 would dearly love to have this Sunday's revenue-enhancing Cowboys-Giants matchup, which will send the loser home and the winner to the post-season. Instead, the NFL played Grinch, taking the game from Fox/Fox4 and gift-wrapping it for NBC's Sunday Night Football.

Although Fox is the designated NFC network, it will end up carrying only half of the Cowboys' 16 regular season games. CBS had its usual allotment of two, ESPN's Monday Night Football and the NFL Network each got one and NBC will have had four by the time New York and Dallas finish the regular season in the national prime-time spotlight on New Year's night.

Most of the big marquee Cowboys games were on networks other than Fox this season, save for the narrow Oct. 16th road loss at New England. Fox's eight matchups included lemons against Arizona, Seattle and St. Louis in addition to the Christmas Eve crap-fest, a 20-7 Cowboys loss that basically was over before halftime.

Fox4 will end up getting just four of the last 10 regular season games. And if Dallas makes the playoffs, you can bet that NBC will want to pluck the team's first round game during "Wild Card Weekend."

It's the price of being "America's Team" and fostering a longstanding love/hate relationship with pro football fans. Networks still want any piece of the Cowboys they can get, because they remain a ratings magnet in good times and bad. In this latest season, up-and-down Dallas turned to be just good enough to play the Giants for the NFC title. So NBC pounced and left Fox/Fox4 with the equivalent of the Stillwater Pails vs. the Decatur Taters.

OK, on to the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, who looked like the Dallas Dumptrucks in their nationally televised season opener against the Miami Heat. ABC's early afternoon Christmas Day telecast averaged 453,865 viewers locally, with the Heat pasting the Mavs in a thoroughly one-sided rout.

What looked to be the no-brainer most-watched pro sports event of the day instead ran second on Sunday to NBC's prime-time Packers-Bears game, which had 494,509 D-FW viewers.

The Mavericks returned to a semblance of action Monday night on Fox Sports Southwest, where the Denver Nuggets toyed with them. Dallas' second consecutive home floor humiliation drew a paltry 94,837 viewers against ESPN's Monday Night Football matchup between the Saints and Falcons (386,124 viewers to easily rank as the day's overall top draw).

In local news derby results, Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 all took day-after-Christmas holiday knees for their 6 a.m. and 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts. Which means that none of the ratings officially count.

But they all played ball on Friday, with CBS11 topping the 10 p.m. competitions in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 ring-a-ling-linged by running the table at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. The 6 p.m. firsts were split between WFAA8 in total viewers and NBC5 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

CBS11's merry Mowry promo

Cute. Funny. Seasonal.

As this holiday-themed promo for CBS11 meteorologist Larry Mowry shows, you can accomplish a lot in just 20 seconds. And it's lots more effective than the multiple Mowry spot that's also been running of late.
Ed Bark

WFAA8 looking for new news director after Michael Valentine's promotion to corporate position; station's Byron Harris wins another duPont-Columbia award for reporting (updated)


News director Michael Valentine is moving up the corporate ladder. WFAA photo

Dallas-based WFAA8 has begun the search for a new news director with the promotion of Michael Valentine to a corporate position, station sources tell unclebarky.com.

In his new position he'll be "working with Belo Corp. news departments on corporate initiatives" after relocating to corporate offices across the street from WFAA8 studios in downtown Dallas. Belo owns a total of 20 television stations.

Valentine, who was named WFAA8's news director in April 2005, is expected to remain in that capacity until a successor is chosen. The ABC affiliate hopes to make the transition by February, sources say. Mike Devlin retains his position as WFAA8's president and general manager.

Valentine joined WFAA8 from Belo's Norfolk/Hampton station, WVEC-TV, where he also had headed the news department. He was 36 at the time.

Fox4, as previously posted, hired a news director earlier this month to replace the departed Maria Barrs, who now is president and general manager at ABC's Sacramento television station. Robin Whitmeyer, who last worked at WSOC-TV in Charlotte, NC before leaving that station in February, is scheduled to join Fox4 on Jan. 9th.

NBC5 and CBS11 also have women news directors, respectively Susan Tully and Adrienne Roark.

In the November "sweeps" ratings period, WFAA8 topped the four-way 10 p.m. field in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

The station finished third in both audience measurements at 6 a.m. while also lagging at 5 and 6 p.m., according to data from Nielsen Media Research.

ANOTHER MAJOR AWARD FOR WFAA8 INVESTIGATOR BYRON HARRIS -- WFAA8 on Wednesday won its 11th duPont-Columbia Award, this time for a News 8 Investigates series titled "Bitter Lessons."

It's the fifth duPont for investigative reporter Byron Harris, one of which he shared with colleague Brett Shipp in 2009 when WFAA8 became the first local television station to ever win a Gold Baton for overall excellence. Harris' other duPonts are Silvers.

During his 36 years with WFAA8, Harris also has won two equally prestigious George Foster Peabody Awards. Colleague Shipp, besides the Gold Baton, has collected three individual Peabodys and two du-Pont Silver Batons. That makes them the most-honored investigative reporter duo in the history of any local television station.

The "Bitter Lessons" series, which also received a Peabody award earlier this year, investigated irregularities in the lucrative, government-funded career school industry. Producer Mark Smith and photographer/editor Billy Bryant also worked with Harris on the series.

"In a tough economy, fewer and fewer local stations are committed to serious investigations," WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin said in a statement. "However, WFA remains vigilant in dedicating the needed resources to provide viewers with these stories."

Former NBC5 reporter Jay Gray arrested for drunk driving after attending party thrown by attorney for accused child molester Jerry Sandusky


NBC reporter Jay Gray, formerly a nightside reporter and investigator for Fort Worth-based NBC5, is not likely to have a terrifically joyous holiday season.

Based on official police reports, TMZ reports that Gray was arrested for driving under the influence early on the morning of Dec. 12th after attending a Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants watch party at the Pennsylvania home of accused child molester Jerry Sandusky's attorney, Joe Amendola. The story since has spread all over the Web.

Gray and other reporters attended the party in hopes of landing an exclusive interview with Sandusky, the central figure in a sexual abuse scandal tied to the Penn State University football program.

Gray, who still lives in the Dallas area with his family, reportedly was initially stopped for a traffic violation by a Pennsylvania State police officer. He worked at NBC5 until the early 2000s, and is occasionally seen on the station's local newscasts from the scene of breaking stories.

Investigator Kimberly King cites personal matters in leaving NBC5 less than six months after arrival


Kimberly King, who joined Fort Worth-based NBC5 in late June as a full-time investigative reporter, has abruptly left the station.

Brian Hocker, vice president of programming for NBC5, said in a statement Tuesday that King "made a difficult decision to leave NBC5 because of a family matter. We respect her need to make her family a priority."

In a separate phone conversation, Hocker stressed that "there's really nothing more to it than that." He said NBC5 is now "in the process of figuring out what to do with the investigative unit."

As previously posted, King is a Southern Methodist University graduate who joined NBC5 from Fox 59 (WXIN-TV) in Indianapolis. She also had been a fill-in meteorologist at that station, where she won a prestigious Edward R. Murrow award for her reporting.

ALSO OF NOTE -- Fox Sports Southwest has hired Bob Ortegel as an analyst on pre- and post-game Dallas Mavericks shows.

He'll join host Dana Larson, starting on Dec. 26th when the Mavericks host the Denver Nuggets, FSS said in a publicity release.

Ortegel had been a mainstay on Mavericks game telecasts until owner Mark Cuban bounced him during the middle of what turned out to be last season's championship run. The former Drake University head coach had been with the team for 23 years as a TV or radio analyst.

"I'm extremely grateful to Fox Sports Southwest for allowing the relationship to continue," Ortegel said.

Fox4's Tinsley wasn't pet smart, still won't talk about it


Longtime Fox4 anchor Clarice Tinsley posing with a Teacup Maltese pedigree puppy as emcee of a recent benefit auction for Children's Medical Center. It's still posted on her Facebook fan page.

Fox4 anchor Clarice Tinsley's Facebook fan page is lighting up like a Christmas tree this month -- with non-fans who are excoriating her for emceeing a Dec. 7th charity auction for Children's Medical Center at which three puppy mill pups were illegally auctioned off to the highest bidders.

Jeanne Prejean of the Dallas-based MySweetCharity blog walked out on the event and then posted a story headlined "Fundraiser Breaks The Law With County Officials And Legal Eagles In Attendance." Besides Tinsley, attendees included Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, County Commisioner Elba Garcia and singer Cindi Lauper, who performed.

Prejean's story said that dog auctioning has been illegal in Dallas since 2008. The auctioning of pets at charitable events has "happened before and will probably happen again unless animal advocates, nonprofit benefactors and law enforcement do more than issue a letter," Prejean wrote. "One group that recently auctioned off a puppy quipped, 'Let 'em send a letter or even fine us. We made more money off the sale of the dog than the fine.' "

The story was widely linked and circulated, with Tinsley taking a hammering for both her participation in the event and her absolute public silence ever since. She has not returned an email, sent Thursday, asking for comment or clarification on the charity event, at which she willingly posed with one of the pups up for auction. Nor is there any reaction from Tinsley on her FaceBook page. And she hasn't addressed the matter on the air.

Is this the right approach by a household name TV anchor who's been in the D-FW market for more than 30 years (as a current Fox4 promotion trumpets)? No, it's not. But it's unfortunately typical of many high-profile TV people who report on the mishaps of others but dodge or ignore questions about their own questionable activities.

Some of Tinsley's detractors have been crude and vicious. One of the numerous postings on her Facebook page, by "pet rescuer" Heather Goldsmith of Santa Monica Pet Rescue, says that "you and everyone involved in this sick act should be disgusted with yourselves!!! Looking at your face makes me want to vomit all over it!!"

Many others, in far more reasonable language, have called on Tinsley to either issue an apology or report on puppy mill atrocities. And a handful have defended Tinsley's participation as a well-meaning effort to raise money for a worthy organization.

Kristina Bowman, who says she was at the event, writes in part, "I am horrified by the ignorant & hateful comments, on Clarice's page, from many so-called animal rescuers . . . YES, it was a disgusting and horribly wrong decision to auction off 3 puppy-mill pups. HOWEVER, Clarice had nothing to do with that . . . A pup was handed to her for a photo op. She would have had no way to have known anything about where that pup came from. I also understand that she made some uninformed comments about the pup, but that is where true animal rescuers could have taken the opportunity to be civil and respectfully educated her about the horrors of puppy-mills."

Again, it would be nice to hear from Tinsley on this. Instead, Prejean lately has decided to speak on her behalf in a followup Dec. 19th MySweetCharity post in which she describes the anchor as "a Nolan Ryan-caliber animal lover."

"Unfortunately, she has been pilloried like the worst of Salem on her Facebook fan page," Prejean adds. "MySweetCharity's elves have been double-dosing Maalox knowing that Clarice, who adores her cat Serenity, has been treated in such a way. Like so many people, Clarice didn't know the auctioning of animals for charitable purposes was illegal. If you're going to think badly of Clarice for not knowing, then damn the majority of people in Dallas who were also ignorant of this ordinance."

Tinsley has never been shy about publicizing her efforts on behalf of "the community." And footage of her in action often finds its way onto Fox4 newscasts. But mum's the word in this case, because there's a whiff of controversy in play.

Tinsley's approach is in stark contrast to another major D-FW television personality who's been in this market for almost as long as she has. WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen is nothing if not a standup guy. And he made that abundantly clear again Sunday night, on his annual "Thank God For Kids" Christmas segment, with an admission that he had been sexually assaulted as a 10-year-old boy in Iowa.

Hansen said he had told no one until now, but wanted to unburden himself in light of the ongoing sexual abuse scandal involving former coaches in the Penn State University football program. One can sometimes question the venues he chooses. And Hansen is long-accustomed to being labeled a pompous ass and worse by detractors who can't take him anymore.

But Hansen would never take Tinsley's approach. He'd address his critics front and center, and apologize if necessary. It simply isn't in him to bob, weave or stonewall. He long has understood that prominent media personalities have a responsibility to come clean and explain themselves when the going gets a little tough. Otherwise what right do they have to continually come into living rooms with stories that pry into other's lives?

Tinsley apparently wants viewers to love her unconditionally, with no further questions asked. So she simply ignores unpleasant matters rather than at least briefly addressing them and then moving on. She's hardly alone in her field. Which makes Hansen all that more exceptional. Love or loathe him, he'll keep coming at you while Tinsley in this particular case ignores all inquiries and keeps her desk job.

Hansen's annual "Thank God for Kids" Christmas video/commentary includes revelation that he was sexually assaulted as a child

One never knows in what direction WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen might take his annual "Thank God For Kids" Christmas commentary, tied to the Oak Ridge Boys' song of the same name.

Three years ago, Hansen talked very personally about his fractured relationships with his own two grown children. He repeatedly lashed himself for being an absentee father who tried to compensate by spending lavishly on them. But he also told viewers that if his children 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."

For his 30th anniversary "Thank God For Kids" commentary, delivered after Sunday's late night newscast, Hansen began by talking about the Penn State University sexual abuse scandal and how the shamed victims invariably tend to "stay hidden in the darkness."

"We all know somebody," he added. "You might not think you do, but I know you do. Because you all know me."

Hansen then said he had been victimized as a 10-year-old while living in a small Iowa town that he called "the Mayberry of the Midwest." A 16-year-old coaxed him to take a bike ride to a baseball field located on the "edge of town." It turned out that no one else was there, and the older boy "then started what Sandusky (accused former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky) would describe as horsing around until he threw me to the ground and pulled at my pants."

"He had my pants below my knees before he decided to let me go," Hansen said. "And I don't know why."

His assailant may have been "afraid of my dad, because in my hometown, everybody was," Hansen speculated.

He never told anybody about the incident, Hansen said, because even then he knew that "no one talks about the sexual abuse of a child, and maybe it's time that we do."

He also wondered, "How many lives did that monster ruin because I didn't tell?"

Hansen said it all happened 53 years ago, and that he can still pinpoint the exact location in the park.

His voice quavered slightly several times during the commentary, which ended with Hansen telling viewers that "the innocence of a child is worth talking about, and that's why I choose to talk about it tonight."

Here's the commentary in its entirety, including the video in which Hansen can be seen at the end with his own young kids. It's been playing on WFAA8 since 1982.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Dec. 16-18) -- holiday weekend, uncommon venues, lackluster opponent keep Cowboys' ratings "low"

The Dallas Cowboys' one-sided win over hapless Tampa Bay Saturday night inched just past the one million mark on two out-of-the-way networks.

Running from 7:28 to 10:17 p.m., the game had 704,506 D-FW viewers for CW33's simulcast of the NFL Network's coverage. Add an extra 304,835 viewers for those who watched NFL Net and that's a not-so-grand total of 1,009,341 viewers. That makes it the least-watched Cowboys game of the season, with more than a half-million fewer viewers than the previous Sunday night loss to the New York Giants, which drew a local crowd of 1,591,914 for NBC's Sunday Night Football telecast.

The low ratings are hardly surprising, given the holiday season timing, the boring opponent, and the uncommon pairing of CW33 and NFL Net on an unusual night for pro football. The high-stakes Christmas Eve revenge encounter on Fox with arch rival Philadelphia should rebound back up toward the 1.5 million mark.

Among Sunday's NFL attractions, CBS' Tim Tebow-fueled Broncos-Patriots game led the way with a very robust 711,281 viewers. The earlier afternoon Giants-Redskin faceoff had 528,380 viewers on Fox. And NBC's prime-time matchup of the Ravens and Chargers drew 413,220 viewers.

Friday's local news derby results went like this: CBS11 won comfortably in total viewers at 10 p.m., but NBC5 took the gold among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

The 6 a.m. firsts were split between Fox4 in total viewers and the Peacock with 25-to-54-year-olds.

CBS11 ran the table at 6 p.m. and added a 5 p.m. win in total viewers. NBC5 prevailed at the earlier hour in the 25-to-54 demographic.

That left WFAA8 without any wins anywhere for the fourth straight weekday. In recent times, that might be a first -- so to speak.

Fox4 tabs Charlotte TV veteran as new news director (updated)

Robin Whitmeyer in Twitter page photo

Staffers at Dallas-based Fox4 learned Thursday afternoon that Robin Whitmeyer, most recently of WSOC-TV in Charlotte, will be the station's new news director. She's scheduled to arrive in early January.

The position had been vacant, with Bruce Smith serving as acting news director, since Maria Barrs left Fox4 this past summer to become president and general manager at ABC affiliate KXTV-TV in Sacramento. Her first day in that position was on Aug. 22nd. She had been news director at Fox4 for 13 years.

Fox4 hasn't put out any official announcement of Whitmeyer's hiring, but several station sources have confirmed it. The Charlotte native had been news director at WSOC-TV for eight years before surprisingly departing in February, according to published reports. She had spent 30 years at the ABC station, working her way up from intern to camera operator to newscast producer.

"It's just time. Greener pastures," she told Charlotte Observer media reporter Mark Washburn at the time.

(Fox4 president and general manager Kathy Saunders later confirmed Whitmeyer's hiring in a statement. "Robin brings an extensive news and management background to the Fox4 newsroom and the Dallas-Fort Worth market," she said. "We are thrilled that she will be joining KDFW.")

Fox4 is coming off a prosperous November "sweeps" performance in which it ranked No. 1 at 6 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. The station also was No. 1 in total viewers at 6 a.m. and tied NBC5 for the top spot in that measurement at 5 p.m.

NBC5's new newscast look


DSCN3099 DSCN3100

NBC5 anchors amid their remodeled looks Tues. night. Photos: Ed Bark

Readers have been asking whether the new surroundings for NBC5's news anchors are the planned revamp noted in a previous unclebarky.com post or a temporary fix until the makeover is completely finished.

Brian Hocker, vice president of programming for the Fort Worth-based station, says that this is it.

"You're seeing our newly modified set," Hocker said in an email reply Wednesday. "As with all set changes, there may be some minor tweaking in the days ahead as we settle into newscasts."

The bottom left shot generally is used to open newscasts and as a bridge in and out of commercial breaks. Bottom right shows the new look for single anchor readings. On top is a more panoramic shot used during sports anchor Newy Scruggs' brief nightly mini-chat with news anchors Brian Curtis and Meredith Land.

It's a pretty basic look, all in all. But it's not off-putting. Now if WFAA8 could at last rid itself of that fuzz guitar music that bridges breaks in its newscasts. It's long outlived whatever heyday it might have had.

Hocker also re-confirmed that NBC5 still plans to relocate from the only home it's ever had at 3900 Barnett St. in Fort Worth to the Centreport office park south of Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. "But the details are still being finalized," he said.

WFAA8 hires Kansas City's Marcus Moore after losing Chris Hawes (updated)


WFAA8 has hired Kansas City reporter Marcus Moore after losing Chris Hawes, who left the station this month to take a public relations position with Medical City Dallas Hospital.

Moore's decision to depart ABC affiliate KMBC-TV for Dallas was first reported by the industry news site Bottom Line Communications. His last day reportedly will be on Dec. 26th after a six-year stint with KMBC.

WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin and news director Michael Valentine have not returned emails asking for confirmation of Moore's hiring, which later was picked up by the TV Spy and mediabistro websites. But Moore, in an email reply to unclebarky.com, said that his first day at WFAA8 will be on Jan. 4th.

WFAA8 also had another vacancy, created in mid-July when Gary Reaves opted to retire from TV news.

Moore's bio remains on KMBC's "News Team" page, where he's quoted as saying, "News is in my blood. I believe the Lord has called me to the profession and I simply want to fulfill His will for my life."

In the Bottom LIne Communications account, Moore described Kansas City as "awesome, except during the winter. Finally, I won't have to worry about getting snow tires anymore."

Moore began his TV news career at KBTX-TV in Bryan/College Station, Texas and also has worked at WAPT-TV in Jackson, Mississippi and KOMU-TV in Columbia, MIssouri.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," he says at the close of his KMBC bio, quoting Philippians 4:13.

Perfect for next year's Christmas card . . .


Ron Jackson and Adrian Arambulo on Sunday's Good Day. Photo: Ed Bark

Santa Claus paid an extended visit to the Dec. 11th edition of Fox4's Good Day Sunday. It rubbed off on meteorologist Ron Jackson and anchor Adrian Arambulo, both of whom succumbed to his gift of funny holiday hats.

Santa primarily helped to promote the station's annual Toys For Tots initiative. But he also made merry at the anchor desk and helped Jackson with several weather segments. All well and good. 'Tis the season after all. Thought you'd like to see how they looked.
Ed Bark

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Dec. 9-11) -- giant numbers, Giants win


No jolly ho ho ho for Rob Ryan after his defense again falls apart. Photo: Ed Bark

Losing on NBC's Sunday Night Football -- before bigger than usual D-FW crowds -- has become a tradition for the Dallas Cowboys.

The team's latest 4th quarter collapse, which led to a 37-34 New York Giants win at Jerry's Palace, marked the sixth straight SNF defeat for Dallas. This one stretched until just before 11 p.m. and averaged 1,591,914 viewers locally. That's just a few smidges shy of the season record to date -- 1,634,465 viewers for the Sept. 11th SNF opener against the Jets.

Cowboys-Giants peaked at 1,693,525 viewers for the closing 15-minute increment, in which "iced" kicker Dan Bailey had a game-tying 47-yard field goal blocked to end matters.

Earlier Sunday on CBS, the Green Bay Packers improved their record to 13-0 with a rout of Oakland. It averaged a nice-sized 541,928 viewers after the earlier CBS game -- Houston vs. Cincinnati -- drew 298,060. Fox's early Sunday game, the Saints vs. the Titans, had 379,350 viewers.

Saturday's most-watched prime-time attraction was ABC's two-hour Republican presidential candidate debate, the 2,867th in a continuing series. It drew 196,449 viewers.

On Friday, local viewers gave a frosty reception to a half-hour edition of the syndicated Extra, which was taped earlier that day in Dallas for a 6:30 p.m. airing on NBC5. It had a paltry 60,967 viewers, well less than one-third the crowd for CBS11's competing Wheel of Fortune (209,997 viewers) and less than half as many as WFAA8's Entertainment Tonight (121,934). But Wheel fell hard to fourth among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, with Extra inching up to third behind fellow rag mags Access Hollywood (on Fox4) and ET.

Friday's local news derby proceedings had at least one lollipop for each of D-FW's four major TV news providers.

CBS11 nipped NBC5 for first place in total viewers at 10 p.m., but the Peacock ran solidly on top with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 swept the 6 a.m. competitions in dominant fashion and added a 5 p.m. win in total viewers.

CBS11 ran first at 6 p.m. in total viewers, but WFAA8 took both early evening news golds in the 25-to-54 demographic.

WFAA8 reporter Chris Hawes leaves station, takes hospital PR position


Reporter Chris Hawes, a significant presence on WFAA8's late night newscasts for the past several years, has left the Dallas-based station.

Hawes, who joined WFAA8 in July 2006 as a general assignment reporter, already has a new position as strategic communications manager at Medical City Dallas Hospital. She began her new job on Monday, Dec. 12th.

"The role includes external and internal communications for Medical City Children's Hospital, and a variety of Medical City's specialty centers and programs," Hawes said in a Facebook post. "I have worked in an industry I love for more than 15 years. I am immensely grateful to the colleagues and supervisors who have encouraged, guided and believed in me throughout this journey. I feel blessed to conclude my television career at a station of WFAA's caliber."

Hawes said she is opting, however, "for a new chapter in my life. As a reporter, some of the stories that have touched me most have been those of doctors, nurses, and patients fighting together against incredible odds, and winning. It will be an honor to join that world, and ensure their stories continue to be told."

Hawes joined WFAA8 from a Tampa, FL. station and also has worked for television stations in Cincinnati and her hometown of Mobile, Alabama.

WFAA8 news director Michael Valentine so far has not returned an email asking for comment. But station spokesman Dave Muscari said via email that she left WFAA8 "on very good terms. I think this is a pretty simple lifestyle choice."

Former D-FW reporters Kim Fischer, Dan Plante land simultaneously in Salt Lake City

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Kim Fischer, and Dan Plante, now both with Salt Lake Cit;y's KTVX-TV

Former NBC5 reporter Kim Fischer, who left the Fort Worth-based station in August after a two-year stay, has joined Salt Lake City's KTVX-TV as part of its new 5 p.m. anchor team.

Dan Plante, who worked at Dallas' KDFW-TV (Fox4) back in the 1990s, also has been hired by KTVX as the station's latest early morning co-anchor. Both announcements were made Monday by the ABC station.

Plante is the son of longtime CBS News correspondent Bill Plante. He arrives at KTVX from San Diego's KUSI-TV, where he spent 11 years.

Fischer joined NBC5 from WOAI-TV in San Antonio.

Colorless Garrett colors himself blameless, too. He'd better Cowboy up


Does the head coach of "America's Team" have a duty to at least be interesting -- if not flat-out colorful?

At the very least should he take responsibility for his actions when a sequence of clock management brain freezes ends up snatching defeat from victory in Sunday's 19-13 overtime loss to Arizona?

Well, no one can accuse Jason Garrett of being interesting. And after Monday's mind-numbing "I don't have a great answer for you on that" press conference, no one can accuse him of being a standup guy either.

During the Tuesday edition of his regular mid-morning show on "The Ticket" (1310 AM), Norm Hitzges repeatedly and emphatically noted that Garrett gives the media "NOTHING!" of any real substance or worth. And when you're looking for story hooks or interest-generating quotes, there's nothing worse than a thoroughly dull, cliche-spewing coach.

If the Dallas Cowboys were a consistently winning team, perhaps none of this would matter all that much. Garrett could continue being a big bore who never cops to a mistake or gives the media anything to play around with during those long hours at Valley Ranch.

But damn, there's nothing worse than a guy like Garrett when the team continues to be basically mediocre with flashes of brilliance. Fans generally don't rally behind robots, and a Garrett press conference is about as exciting as steamed broccoli for dessert.

Yeah, Tom Landry wasn't exactly a quote machine during his 29 years as the Cowboys peerless head coach. But his generally expressionless sideline demeanor became his own mystique. That and The Hat. And the fact that the Cowboys made the playoffs year after year after year.

That statue of Landry outside Cowboys Stadium still speaks volumes. Garrett is already a statue, with "The Ticket" and other sports radio stations succumbing to his daily press conferences with all the anticipation of a little kid opening Aunt Gertrude's annual Christmas gift -- a pair of dress socks.

As many readers of this site know, I'm a Wisconsin native who grew up spoiled during the Green Bay Packers' Vince Lombardi era. But I've been in Dallas since 1979, long enough to see all of the Cowboys coaches in action.

Jimmy Johnson had The Hair. He also had a colorful blend of arrogance and enthusiasm. His life and times at Valley Ranch were never ever dull.

Barry Switzer was a straight-from-the-shoulder, pistol-packing hoot whose shoulder-punching dust-up with WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen during a live interview remains legendary and unparalleled.

Hansen basically loathed Bill Parcells, whose disdain for the media was on constant display. But that very disdain made his press conferences must-see TV or must-hear radio. Who would he browbeat next? When might he walk out in one of his patented huffs? Good stuff, even if he did come off as a giant a-hole.

Dave Campo at least was excitable on the sidelines. The guy wanted to win so bad. And it always showed. Drawlin' Chan Gailey inspired a running gag on "The Ticket" that had him trapping bobcats outside stadiums just before each game. Wade Phillips was far more accomplished than given credit for, but provided comic relief as owner Jerry Jones' dumpy yes man. Let's not forget he had one great regular season, too.

In contrast, Garrett comes off as a know-it-all Princeton grad who gives the masses nothing. Three-piece charcoal grey wool suits have better personalities. And when the heat's on -- as it certainly is now -- we just don't like those kinds of people. And we certainly don't rally behind them.

Of course a thunderous win against the New York Giants on NBC's national Sunday Night Football stage might serve to re-humanize Garrett. In many ways that's all it takes around here.

Still, he'd better watch out. Because the Cowboys' polar opposite of "The Most Interesting Man in the World" is now playing with fire. Failure to make the playoffs this season -- or a one-and-done ouster in the first round -- will have many fans calling for a new coach who outwardly breathes fire. A coach you can hang your hat on. A guy who exclaims, "How 'bout them Cowboys!" Or at the very least, a leader who admits, "I blew it, and my team has every right to be upset."

Jason Garrett shows no signs at all of being that guy. And it may be too late for him to learn.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Dec. 2-4) -- Cowboys' desert debacle draws biggest crowd since season opener

Late afternoon games generally do better and it was a cold, rainy day to boot. So the Dallas Cowboys prospered on Fox Sunday during a game that will long be remembered as the one where head coach Jason Garrett shot the team in the foot by "icing" his own kicker.

Let's spare any more details of the Cowboys' thereby snatching defeat from victory, with the Arizona Cardinals prancing to a stunning 19-13 overtime win. The game averaged 1,544,495 D-FW viewers, with a high of 1,788,362 between 6 and 6:15 p.m. for a game that stretched to 6:22.

Only NBC's Sunday Night Football opener between Dallas and the Jets has drawn a bigger overall crowd to date. It averaged 1,634,465 viewers.

Fox's earlier Houston Texans-Atlanta Falcons game drew a nice-sized 541,928 viewers, more than NBC had for its prime-time matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions (447,091 viewers).

Among Sunday's non-sports offerings, CBS11 scored highest with a 9 p.m. episode of CSI: Miami (345,479 viewers).

On Saturday night, most of you naughty little boys and girls watched Oklahoma State drub Oklahoma rather than see Uncle Barky's alma mater Wisconsin Badgers win the inaugural Big Ten championship game by barely surviving Michigan State. The double Okie had 352,253 viewers on ABC while Bucky played before a small crowd of 81,289 viewers on Fox.

Baylor's rout of Texas on Saturday afternoon averaged 284,512 viewers on ABC.

Friday's local news derby results went like this: CBS11 edged NBC5 for first place at 10 p.m. in total viewers but the Peacock rebounded with a big win among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Otherwise it was all Fox4, which swept the 6 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m. competitions.

NBC5's Lindsay Wilcox gets super-sized -- with her hair


NBC5 anchor Lindsay Wilcox: Leading a BIG HAIR comeback in Big D? Photo: Ed Bark

Sometimes things just jump out at you -- such as Lindsay Wilcox's mushrooming head o' hair.

The NBC5 anchor/reporter worked her usual morning shifts over the weekend. And those house afire tresses are a definite wakeup call, reminiscent of the BIG HAIR that dominated '70 and '80s TV. Maybe she's auditioning for a cameo on TNT's new version of Dallas, where a back-in-the day Linda Gray sported both oversized locks and shoulder pads. Jane Fonda's Barbarella look comes to mind, too.

As one who succumbed to a big, puffy curly-haired perm in the '70s, I'm not one to rip or clip anyone's hair. But Wilcox definitely is calling attention to herself with a super-sized coif that perhaps is ready for a latter day comeback. Or not.
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Linda Gray and Victoria Principal in their Dallas days.

Selling TNT's Dallas with a suitably over-the-top new trailer

The old Dallas wasn't known for restraint in its depiction of the cheatin' hearts and crooked bidnessmen populating every nook and cranny of dirty dealin' Big D.

TNT's new one won't be showing any either, judging from this spanking new trailer. Included are laughable intonations from an off-screen pitchman, a handful of deep-breathing scenes and a gathering of cast members to chew over what the original CBS series meant to us all.

"It's epic in terms of 'appointment' television," says Patrick Duffy, who's returning as Bobby Ewing along with Larry Hagman as J.R. and Linda Gray as Sue Ellen. Their offspring are expected to get the bulk of the camera time, though, with the show's old hands dropping in and out.

The new Dallas is set to premiere sometime next summer. Have a look if you'd like.

Scott Pelley (mustache included)

CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley burnished his reporting skills for seven years at Dallas-based WFAA8 before heading to the network in 1989.

"WFAA was the greatest training possible for a young correspondent," he told unclebarky.com in an interview this past summer. Pelley also made a point of underscoring the indelible lessons he learned from late news director Marty Haag and assignments editor Bert Shipp, who recently published his first book, Details At 10.

It's been hard to find video of Pelley's work at WFAA8. But David Margulies, a former reporter/anchor at the station, recently posted his introduction to a Pelley story on a new Garland housing development gone awry.

I'd forgotten that Pelley sported a mustache back in the early '80s, which is when this report first aired. So check that out while also noting the crisp, concise job he does of laying out this story. No stagey voice inflections or visual props. Just a firm grip on things, with strong accompanying video adding to its impact.

As posted, though, the video has a 17-second blackout from the 1:23 to 1:40 mark. But it comes back up, and otherwise is perfectly clear. Watch for Pelley's closing standup, his left hand tucked in a suit coat pocket as he winds down to the end.