powered by FreeFind

Apple iTunes


Freelance dance brings Selena Hernandez to Fox4 while full-time Emily Lopez is on leave

selna_hernandez Emily_20110505163114_320_240
Freelancer Selena Hernandez and Fox4's Emily Lopez

Freelance reporters for D-FW television stations lately are hopping around while hoping to land permanent situations.

Former NBC5 full-time reporter Susy Solis, who left the station last fall after four years, became a WFAA8 freelancer before recently opting to try her hand in the same capacity at rival CBS11.

Former CBS11 freelance reporter Jane Slater is now a freelance traffic reporter for WFAA8 while also lately angling for a main anchor spot at Oklahoma City's KOCO-TV.

And now CBS11 freelancer Selena Hernandez is filling in at least temporarily for full-time Fox4 reporter Emily Lopez, who is on an indeterminate leave for personal reasons.

CBS11 has confirmed that Hernandez is no longer with the station while Fox4 confirms her arrival as a freelancer. But that of course could change on a moment's notice.

An accusatory WFAA8 vs. an unnamed Fox4 in big local arrest story


Fox4 captured Thursday's arrest of Dallas firefighter Jesus Ventura. Fox4 photo

D-FW television stations remain juvenile in their refusal to name names when it comes to a rival station's reporting. They simply leave viewers to guess.

WFAA8 took this to extremes Thursday night, leading off its 10 p.m. newscast with questions about whether that day's late afternoon arrest of Dallas firefighter Jesus Ventura came after police played favorites with a competitor.

In the words of reporter Jason Whitely, "An internal affairs investigation is underway as we speak to see if a group of officers staged the fireman's arrest, all for a local TV station."

Whitely's reporter made two more generic references without ever specifying that Fox4 was the station in question. Ventura is being charged with "deadly conduct" after allegedly waving a handgun inside Fire Station 45 in West Dallas. A bullet reportedly was discharged in the process.

Rebecca Lopez is WFAA8's principal police reporter. But Whitely served as point man Thursday night. His story referenced a police statement that said in part, "It appears these officers may have conducted their operation outside of proper department protocol, but with the approval of their supervising lieutenant. Their execution of the warrant also appears to have occurred concurrently with the arrival of a singular media outlet at the scene."

Whitely also reported that Ventura's arrest came while a separate operation by the Dallas Police Public Integrity Unit was underway in hopes of getting Ventura to voluntarily surrender.

Outwardly at least, it seemed that WFAA8 was taking a sour grapes approach after an "only on Fox4" story with video of Ventura's arrest topped the station's Thursday 9 p.m. newscast. But Fox4 took pains to explain what had happened both during and after reporter James Rose's live report.

Rose said that he and cameraman Raul Cantu were getting ready to knock on the door of Ventura's Irving residence when "an unmarked car sped up to us and said we were walking into a police operation. So at that point we stepped back."

Armed police then arrested Ventura within minutes, Rose said, while the station rolled video.

Fox4 co-anchor Steve Eagar then read the same police statement that Whitely recited from.

"I'm not sure what 'protocol' they were talking about," Rose replied. "But Raul and I were simply walking up to the last known address for Jesus Ventura, and it was the address they were about to raid, unbeknownst to us."

"You didn't get tipped off by a police officer or anything like that, right?" Eagar asked.

"We were simply 'running the traps,' as you say, doing our job, due diligence to get his side of the story," Rose said, adding that "we witness arrests day in and day out. That's part of our job, to witness what goes on in, you know, the world."

Eagar finished things off by telling viewers that "police haven't called us to ask any questions as to why we were there, whether we got tipped off."

Sources close to the situation say that Fox4 did get a call from WFAA8, which wanted a "statement" from the station regarding Rose's presence at the arrest site. No statement was forthcoming, but WFAA8's Whitely easily could have included at least a small portion of the "singular media outlet's" explanation and its unequivocal denial of any willful participation in a "staged" arrest. After all, Rose's report aired a full hour before WFAA8's 10 p.m. newscast kicked in.

The WFAA8 report instead emphasized the police department's "internal investigation" while leaving most viewers puzzled about what station may have benefited from any alleged staged police arrest.

WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin currently has a standard "no comment" policy on any inquiries from unclebarky.com. And a New York-based corporate spokesperson for Fox4 said the station likely will have no further statement beyond what Rose reported Thursday night.

WFAA8 is not alone in failing to specifically credit -- or discredit -- a rival local station's exclusives. Fox4, NBC5 and CBS11 behave in the same manner, although none of them to the extent that WFAA8 did Thursday night.

All four of them should grow up at least a little. Here are the sharply contrasting videos from WFAA8 and Fox4.

Firefighter Arrested for Firehouse Shooting: MyFoxDFW.com

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., March 15) -- Missing scores/clanks

ABC's premiere of Ashley Judd's Missing had the advantage of airing against NCAA basketball action Thursday and the disadvantage of going directly against Fox's American Idol.

The action hour ended up scoring in total viewers while fizzling with advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds.

Missing led off ABC's night with a nice-sized 311,609 D-FW viewers, falling just short of Idol's 325,157. But its 18-to-49 performance paled, with just 48,035 viewers in this key demographic while Idol rolled up 124,890 to command the 7 p.m. hour.

The return of NBC's Community and a new episode of the Peacock's 30 Rock also outdrew Missing, with 92,867 and 76,855 viewers respectively in the 18-to-49 demographic. Opening night of CBS' NCAA tournament coverage bombed, though, with just 74,515 total viewers from 7 to 8 p.m., and 35,225 within the 18-to-49 motherlode.

ABC's new episode of Grey's Anatomy won the 8 p.m. hour in both ratings measurements. The network's Private Practice then ran second to Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast in total viewers, but topped the hour with 18-to-49-year-olds.

NBC's new Awake continued to struggle, nipping basketball in total viewers while falling to fourth from 9 to 10 p.m. among 18-to-49-year-olds.

In Thursday's local news derby results, WFAA8 romped to easy wins at 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. It was a down-sized three-way race, though, with CBS11 still carrying its network's NCAA hoops coverage.

Fox4 took the 6 a.m. competition in total viewers, but WFAA8 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds.

WFAA8 won by a wide margin at 6 p.m. in total viewers and tied Fox4 for the top spot with 25-to-54-year-olds while CBS11 gave way to basketball. The golds were split at 5 p.m., with WFAA8 finishing first in total viewers while Fox4 prevailed among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Wed., March 9-14) -- catchup round

While I was away . . .

ABC's Dallas-set GCB and NBC's Fashion Star aren't anywhere near the blockbuster stratosphere. In D-FW, though, both performed well enough where it counts the most -- among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds.

Sunday's second episode of GCB won its 9 p.m. time slot in this key demographic, but lost the overall total viewers war to CBS' competing CSI: Miami. In each instance it was a rout.

CSI: Miami had 284,512 total viewers to GCB's 203,223. But in the 18-to-49 age range, GCB muscled up with 108,878 while CSI: Miami sagged to 67,248.

WFAA8's 10 p.m. local newscast laughed latest, piling up Sunday's biggest overall crowd with 298,060 total viewers.

Fashion Star's 90-minute Tuesday premiere averaged a relatively skimpy 135,482 total viewers from 8:30 to 10 p.m. ABC's Body of Proof (216,771 viewers) and CBS' Unforgettable (182,901 viewers) outpointed Fashion Star from 9 to 10 p.m. while the second half-hour of CBS' NCIS: Los Angeles reigned from 8:30 to 9 p.m. with 284,512 viewers.

NBC otherwise found some silver linings beneath Fashion Star's glitzy designer threads. The debut episode won across the board with 18-to-49-year-olds, averaging 70,451 viewers in this age range.

Fox's New Girl remained Tuesday night's demographic darling, again drawing more 18-to-49-year-olds (102,474) than any other prime-time entry.

On Wednesday night, Fox's two-hour American Idol performance show comfortably ran the table in both ratings measurements before Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast fell short of CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation on each count.

Idol's total viewer haul was a still formidable 440,317. Better yet for Fox, it outdrew NBC's The Voice, which averaged 345,479 viewers on Monday night while also falling well short of Idol in the 18-to-49 demographic.

Friday's prime-time Nielsens were a wall to wall victory march for CBS in total viewers. Nothing came close to its lineup of Undercover Boss, The Mentalist and Blue Bloods.

Boss and Mentalist likewise triumphed with 18-to-49-year-olds before Blue Bloods plunged to fourth behind ABC's 20/20, NBC's Dateline and Fox4's local news.

Here are the Friday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday local news derby results in the four major four-way competitions:

Friday -- CBS11 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers but NBC5 rung up a first place finish among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

The Peacock nipped Fox4 and WFAA8 at 6 a.m. in total viewers while Fox4 topped the 25-to-54 Nielsens in an equally close three-way battle. CBS11 again was nowhere to be found and remains hopelessly out of contention in the early mornings, as does CBS' latest re-incarnation of its 7 to 9 a.m. offering.

WFAA8 ran the table at 6 p.m., as did Fox4 at 5 p.m.

Monday -- CBS11 won again at 10 p.m. in total viewers, but it was a close four-way fight. Fox4 emerged with a comfy win among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Fox4 nipped NBC5 at 6 a.m. in total viewers while tying WFAA8 for first place with 25-to-54-year-olds.

WFAA8 repeated its total viewers win at 6 p.m. and shared the 25-to-54 gold with Fox4. The 5 p.m. firsts were split between Fox4 in total viewers and WFAA8 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Tuesday -- CBS11 continued its winning ways by topping the 10 p.m. field in total viewers. It again couldn't hold serve among 25-to-54-year-olds, with WFAA8 this time taking the prize.

NBC5 perked up at 6 a.m. with twin wins while Fox4 swept the 5 p.m. competitions. CBS11 nipped Fox4 for first place at 6 p.m. in total viewers; Fox4 retaliated with a solid win in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Wednesday -- Make it five in a row for CBS11 in the 10 p.m. total viewers wars (the station also won last Thursday). The fight for 25-to-54-year-olds again went to a rival station, though, with Fox 4 beating CBS11 by a smidgen.

NBC5 won at 6 a.m. in total viewers and Fox4 had the edge among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Fox4 swept the 5 p.m. races and added a 6 p.m. win with 25-to-54-year-olds. CBS11 ran first at 6 p.m. in total viewers.

Oklahoma City's KOCO-TV and WFAA8's Shelly Slater talk about a possible move

Shelly Slater in wfaa.com photo

Nothing may come of it. But WFAA8 anchor-reporter Shelly Slater and Oklahoma City's KOCO-TV have had discussions about her becoming one of the station's main evening and nighttime anchors, several sources with close knowledge of the situation confirm.

The station initiated contact with Slater, who joined WFAA8 in September 2006 and currently co-anchors the Dallas-based station's weekday 5 p.m. newscasts. And Slater responded by going to KOCO for a meeting with station management. That's the extent of it so far.

Slater, who is married with a young son, has other strong family ties in North Texas that may make it difficult to leave WFAA8. Her brother, sister and parents all live in the area, according to Slater's wfaa.com bio. She arrived at WFAA8 from WDAF-TV, the Fox station in Kansas City. KOCO is an ABC affiliate.

Slater has not responded to several requests for comment. And WFAA president and general manager Mike Devlin currently has a standing "No comment" response to any inquiries from unclebarky.com.

WFAA8 lately is in a transitional period, with a new news director, Carolyn Mungo, in the early stages of assessing both the staff and the station's newscasts.

As previously posted in these spaces, longtime WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen recently signed a three-year contract extension that also will require him to take a 32 percent pay cut when it takes effect in 2014. Veteran 6 and 10 p.m. co-anchors John McCaa and Gloria Campos also anticipate significant salary reductions tied to any contract extension agreements with WFAA8.

Campos, who has expressed an interest in cutting back her hours, may anchor only the 10 p.m. newscast as part of any new deal with WFAA8. That presumably would open the 6 p.m. door for Slater, although just about anything is possible at a station that emerged from the February ratings "sweeps" period with no wins in any of the four-way local newscast competitions in the early morning and at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.

WFAA8 is, however, showing strong momentum in the most-watched 6 to 7 a.m. early morning segment, particularly among advertiser-favored 25-to-54-year-olds. And several of the February competitions were extremely close, with WFAA8 in the thick of them.

Slater's talks with KOCO may end up being a one-shot deal. But that might well depend in large part on what WFAA8 might offer her to stay.

Oklahoma City is a considerably smaller television market, currently ranking 45th while Dallas-Fort Worth is No. 5. But it's not Podunk. Not with a thriving NBA franchise and a booming refurbished "Bricktown" area among its plusses. And Slater certainly would be a bigger fish as a featured anchor.

Whatever happens, we'll do our best to keep you informed.

ADDENDUM -- Sources say that WFAA8's early evening traffic monitor, Jane Slater, also has interviewed for the KOCO anchor spot. But it's unclear whose initiative that was. Slater also was a freelance reporter at CBS11.

And to add a further layer of intrigue, the word circulating at WFAA8 is that current KOCO 5, 6 and 10 p.m. anchor Jessica Schambach, a Texas Christian University graduate, has expressed interest in coming to the Dallas-Fort Worth market.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., March 8) -- Big Bang powers past Idol

American Idol's Wednesday night ratings resurgence let to its Thursday downfall at the hands of a new episode of The Big Bang Theory.

The hit CBS sitcom drew 426,768 D-FW viewers to out-kick the 7 to 7:30 p.m. portion of Fox's Idol results show (413,220 viewers). Bang won by a wider margin among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds before Idol regrouped to win in both measurements opposite a 7:30 p.m. rerun of Bang.

CBS' crime combo of Person of Interest and The Mentalist took the 8 to 10 p.m. slot in total viewers. But NBC's The Office won from 8 to 8:30 p.m. with 18-to-49-year-olds before the second half of Fox's The Finder and Fox4's local 9 p.m. newscast had the upper hands in this key demographic.

ABC blew off the night with an all-rerun lineup, including a second showing of the Dallas-set GCB pilot at 9 p.m. It ran third in total viewers and second with 18-to-49-year-olds. NBC's competing second episode of the new Awake bottomed out with fourth place finishes in both ratings measurements.

Thursday's local news derby results went like this: CBS11 topped the 10 p.m. field in total viewers while tying Fox4 and WFAA8 for the top spot with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 ran the table at 6 a.m., but barely beat an increasingly competitive WFAA8 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

WFAA8 swept the 6 p.m. competitions and NBC5 did likewise at 5 p.m.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., March 7) -- Idol re-explodes

After faltering last week, Fox's American Idol got back on track Wednesday with dominating ratings against a mix of first-run and repeat competition.

Idol averaged 562,250 D-FW viewers from 7 to 9 p.m., bettering the Monday night showing for NBC's two hours of The Voice (474,187 viewers). Among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, though, Idol and The Voice were equals with 227,363 viewers apiece.

Idol's renewed super-strong showing also helped propel Fox4's Wednesday 9 p.m. local newscast to wins in both total viewers (277,738) and 18-to-49-year-olds (118,485).

Among non-Fox alternatives, CBS' 7 p.m. edition of Survivor: One World had the most total viewers in prime-time with 223,545.

In local news derby results, WFAA8 had a commanding 10 p.m. win in total viewers while Fox4 ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 and WFAA8 shared the 6 a.m. gold in total viewers, with Fox4 alone on top with 25-to-54-year-olds.

NBC5 entered the winner's circle with the most total viewers at 6 p.m., while Fox4 had the 25-to-54 gold.

At 5 p.m., Fox4 won in total viewers and WFAA8 prevailed among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Treadway done as co-host on WFAA8's Good Morning Texas


Ty Treadway's stint as a co-host on WFAA8's Good Morning Texas turned out to be a short one.

He's no longer with the locally produced D-FW program, WFAA8's vice president of product development, Dave Muscari, confirmed Wednesday.

"Ty started with us in early January and worked for a couple of months on GMT," said Muscari, who also oversees the 9 a.m. weekday hour. "His last day at WFAA was Thursday, March 1. We appreciate all of his work, and wish him well."

Treadway, 45, had the highest national profile of any GMT host. His portfolio has included the roles of twin brothers Colin and Troy MacIver on the daytime soap One Life to Life and hosting duties on American Idol Extra and Merv Griffin's Crosswords.

He also worked with Lisa Rinna on SoapNet cable's Soap Talk. And he's had guest roles in prime-time drama series ranging from Cold Case to Dirty Sexy Money.

Muscari declined to comment on whether GMT is now looking for another host to join incumbent Amy Vanderoef.

Manning a Cowboy? Let's at least play around with that idea


This may be less likely to happen than a job swap between Daybreak co-anchor Ron Corning and Face the Nation moderator Bob Schieffer.

But in this Dallas Cowboys-centric environment, it's irresistible fun to weigh the plusses and minuses of Peyton Manning coming this way and Tony Romo going thataway.

So let's throw out some points and counterpoints while always remembering that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is obsessed with two things in life -- winning another Super Bowl and filling his palatial Cowboys Stadium to the brim with high-priced ticket buyers.

CON -- Manning will soon be 36, and is still recovering from a career-threatening neck injury. Will he ever be the same again?

PRO -- An even older Brett Favre worked near miracles for the quarterback-needy Minnesota Vikings, taking them to the precipice of a fifth Super Bowl appearance before reverting back to bad Brett and throwing a killer interception against the New Orleans Saints in their classic January 2010 NFC championship game. Manning obviously would have to prove he's fit before anyone will sign him. But if he's even 90 percent good to go, that's more than good enough.

CON -- Romo is still a bit shy of his 32nd birthday. He really tries hard and knows the Cowboys system through and through. Plus, Jerry says the team currently has the talent to contend for the Super Bowl.

PRO -- Jerry would say that if Ryan Leaf were still taking snaps behind center. Romo in fact may have a mental barrier at this point. And can the team's possible heir apparent, Stephen McGee, really learn all that much from watching him for a few more years? With Manning he'd be learning from a proven zen master who's never met a defense he didn't love to dissect.

CON -- Manning would want to be his own play-caller, just like he's always been. But Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is the play caller, and has said he can't see giving that up.

PRO -- Besides his colorless personality, one of the consistent knocks on Garrett has been his play-calling. He's too hot, he's too cold, he seldom seems to be just right. With Manning, you've got Zubin Mehta orchestrating the offense. He may be the last of a breed, but choosing Manning over Garrett as a play caller is a no-brainer.

CON -- Romo is far more mobile than Manning. And with last season's Swiss cheese offensive line, Romo made the most of what he had -- which usually wasn't enough time to throw long downfield.

PRO -- Good point. Manning has a quicker release than Romo, but the offensive line would have to be seriously upgraded to keep him from getting killed. Given just a little more time, though, Manning could make optimum use of an already talented receiving corps that includes Jason Witten, Miles Austin, Laurent Robinson and the immensely gifted but still undisciplined Dez Bryant. I'd envision Manning working wonders with Bryant in particular. He wouldn't dare run a bad route with the imposing Manning waiting to verbally tear him up. And Bryant would learn that when he's where he's supposed to be, the ball will be there, too.

CON -- Romo has put in a lot of hard work and knows how important a Super Bowl appearance will be to his Cowboys legacy. He's still in his prime years, and will only get better if the team around him measures up.

PRO -- Maybe. Or maybe he's fated to become the next -- you know where we're going -- Danny White. Except that White took the Cowboys to three straight NFC championship games while Romo has won just a lone playoff game in those few seasons the Cowboys have actually qualified for the post-season.

It's true that Manning is only 9-10 in post-season competition. But he's won a Super Bowl and might have won another had the Saints not turned 2010's XLIV edition around with a daring onside kick to open the second half.

CON -- Jerry Jones would be mortgaging the future in the slim hope that a battered, aging but legendary quarterback could somehow get his team to the promised land before the Jones kids take over the Cowboys.

PRO -- Really? What future? Still, the Cowboys may in fact represent Manning's best option. Does he really want to go to the Jets, the Cardinals, the Seahawks, the Redskins or the Dolphins? None of those teams in reality is any closer than the Cowboys to a Super Bowl. And with Jones signing the checks, Manning would be playing in a controlled climate stadium for the world's most famous football franchise. There's no doubt he'd listen hard if Jerry ever came calling.

CON -- It ain't gonna happen. So go back to reviewing your piddling little teevee programs.

PRO -- Hey, I used to be my high school newspaper's sports editor and have loved sports all my life. So this is my two cents, and welcome to it.

EPILOGUE -- The more I think about it, the more I think this could work. Manning drops back after changing the play at the line of scrimmage. He pump fakes, looks left, pivots and hits Bryant in full stride on a crossing route over the middle. Man, that kid runs a beautiful route. And he's going to go all the way.

Yeah, right. But how about your thoughts? Strictly Fantasy Football, or is Manning in a Dallas uniform a vision worth pursuing?

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., March 6) -- ups, downs for Fox's rearranged comedy night

New Girl remained a stalwart while Raising Hope held its own as Fox's new Tuesday night leadoff hitter. Returnees Breaking In and I Hate My Teenage Daughter fell pretty hard, though, in the D-FW Nielsens.

Only New Girl stayed in place on the network's newly appointed all-comedy night. Its 8 p.m. total viewer haul remained modest -- 189,675 to trail the first half-hour of CBS' NCIS: Los Angeles repeat (338,705 viewers) by a wide margin. But the first-year comedy's ratings remained golden among advertiser-favored 18-to-49-year-olds, where it again ranked as Tuesday's most-watched prime-time attraction.

Raising Hope, shifted from 8:30 to 7 p.m., ran second in total viewers behind the first-half hour of CBS' NCIS reprise. But it tied NCIS for first in its time slot with 18-to-49-year-olds.

Fox's 7:30 p.m. entry, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, fell to fourth place in both ratings measurements among the Big Four broadcast networks. The 8:30 p.m. entry, Breaking In, was the least-watched of the four Fox sitcoms. Still, it nipped the second half-hour of ABC's The River in both ratings measurements. You can safely bet all that's dear to you that The River won't be back next fall. And it may not even be back next week.

Over on Fox Sports Southwest, the Dallas Mavericks' payback home win against the New York Knicks made a very nice splash with 237,094 total viewers. Not so with the night's "Super Tuesday" Republican presidential primary coverage. Fox News Channel had the most-watched one-hour segment, with just 74,515 viewers from 7 to 8 p.m.

NBC, the only broadcast network to devote an hour's worth of attention to Super Tuesday, paid at the Nielsen polls with a puny 54,193 viewers from 9 to 10 p.m. CBS' repeat of Unforgettable won that hour with 203,223 viewers but Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast had a decided edge with 18-to-49-year-olds.

In the four-way local news derby competitions, CBS11 notched a 10 p.m. win in total viewers while Fox4 took the gold among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 also won at 6 a.m. in total viewers, but had to settle for a first-place tie with WFAA8 in the key 25-to-54 demographic.

NBC5, increasingly strong at 5 p.m., ran the table in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds. WFAA8 ran first at 6 p.m. in total viewers, with Fox4 atop the 25-to-54 Nielsens.

Corning takes down a cookie; dough promised by Izzy

WFAA8's continuing adventures of Ron "Corning In The Morning" include the sight of his successful completion of Daybreak's "Eat A Cookie with No Hands Contest."

He flawlessly navigated an Oreo from his forehead to his mouth on Tuesday's edition, which means that co-anchor Cynthia "Izzy" Izaguirre owes him $20 if she doesn't welsh on her on-air promise.

Yeah, I know. Walter Cronkite once did the CBS Morning News with a lion puppet named Charlemagne. And Today's esteemed Dave Garroway used to cavort on that show with a real life chimp named J. Fred Muggs. So WFAA8 management can say that Corning's in the same wacky early morning company -- courtesy of a mere cookie. And as the station first demonstrated, even Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard failed to do what Corning did on his first try.

Corning of course tweeted his feat on Twitter, with a link to the video below. As he must know, though, he's starting to look a little puffy on the air. So next time maybe he could find a way to nibble on a rice cake while swinging upside down from a low-flying Chopper 8.

Oh but we kid the kid and his daily Daybreak antics. Ball's in your court, Tim Ryan, and you need to come up big. Can you spell Fox4 co-anchor Lauren Przybyl's surname backwards and balance a marshmallow on your nose while she tickles your funny bone?

I'll bet Ron could -- and maybe would. Meanwhile, enjoy the show -- or not.

NBC5's latter day hiring binge marks a U-turn in D-FW television news

DSCN3290 DSCN3292

Mola Lenghi and Christine Lee are among an armada of new reporters at Fort Worth-based NBC5. And they're all full-timers living in the communities they cover, says station management. Photos: Ed Bark

New faces abound at NBC5, and they're not just replacement parts filling open on-camera vacancies.

Nor are they part-timers or freelancers serving apprenticeships in hopes of some day making the varsity.

All eight of them "are full-time employees," news director Susan Tully said in a telephone interview. And with company benefits, too, she confirmed when asked.

For the most part, however, they do shoot, write and edit their own content. Salaries weren't discussed. But as younger reporters who mostly are making sizable market jumps, it's logical to assume they aren't breaking the bank just yet. They are, however, getting lots to do in a major TV market during times when hiring freezes and salary cuts have become commonplace at TV news operations large and small.

NBC5, in contrast, is deploying a virtual armada of ethnically diverse newcomers, "the bulk of them" hired in 2011, Tully said. It's a follow through on NBC Universal's previous pronouncement that its 10 owned and operated stations, which include Fort Worth-based NBC5, would be hiring more than 130 news staffers under new parent company Comcast's initiative to "ensure they have the resources necessary to effectively compete in their markets."

Five of the eight reporters have specified community beats, and are required to live in those areas, Tully said. Two others are based in Fort Worth while Keaton Fox is a "multi-media journalist" working the early morning shift from "an NBC5 mobile unit traveling the roads of North Texas."

Their reports typically air during morning, late afternoon and early evening newscasts, Tully said. "They're covering a really specific community and they need to cover their beats when City Hall is open."

Some of the newcomers pop up on weekend night shifts, though. Arlington-based Mola Lenghi branched out Saturday for a live 10 p.m. report from that day's grand opening of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.

Here they are, with short descriptions included from their nbcdfw.com bios:

Keaton Fox -- the early morning multimedia reporter arrived from KRIS-TV in Corpus Christi. A University of Oklahoma grad, he also worked at stations in Wichita Falls and Oklahoma City.

Christine Lee (Irving/Grand Prairie beat) -- joined NBC5 from KPNX-TV, the Peacock affiliate in Phoenix. She graduated from UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television.

Mola Lenghi (Arlington beat) -- last worked at WPDE NewsChannel 15 in Myrtle Beach, SC. Studied history and journalism at Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina.

Tammy Mutasa (Garland/Mesquite beat) -- a native of Zimbabwe, she grew up in Coppell and graduated from R.L. Turner High School. Her first TV reporting job was with NBC affiliate KAMR-TV in Amarillo. She later completed the NBC News Associates Program, helping to prepare segments for Today and Dateline. The UT-Austin grad also has a degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

Catherine Ross (Plano beat) -- previously anchored and reported for a Minot, North Dakota TV station. Born and raised in Connecticut, she graduated from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

Sara Story (Denton beat) -- a Fort Worth native, she joined NBC5 from KLTV 7 News in Tyler. She was ABC News' campus "bureau chief" while attending the University of Texas at Austin, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism degree.

(Alas, in her case, the surname "Story" turns out to be a little too good of a story. Her given name is Loeffelholz, which she was still going by as a 22-year-old campus correspondent for ABC News. Too much of an anchor tongue-twister?)

(Story said in a subsequent email that her middle name is Story. And to make it easier on anchors and viewers, she decided to make it her last name while reporting for Tyler's KLTV. So there's the whole story.)

Chris Van Horne (Fort Worth beat) -- previously worked as a video journalist in Bakersfield, CA. Graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a major in broadcast journalism and minor in political science.

Andrew Tanielian (Fort Worth beat) -- has a masters degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois. He eventually became a photographer/reporter in Springfield, IL., but no previous television station work is mentioned in his station bio.


Newcomer Sara Story recently reported on a dieting pot-bellied pig in Flower Mound who's now a church mascot for parishioners also looking to lose weight. It aired during Monday's 6 p.m. newscast.

NBC5 is promoting the new approach as the only way to effectively cover a No. 5 television market with almost 6.8 million viewers. An ad that first ran during Feb. 5th on Super Bowl Sunday -- and since has been repeated many times -- began with co-anchor Meredith Land telling viewers that "North Texas is made up of many big cities."

"And each of them has a story," added co-anchor Brian Curtis. Early morning anchor Deborah Ferguson said the station therefore is dedicated to being "right there with you, where you live, where you work."

These stories tend to avoid the crime and pestilence still pockmarking many a late night newscast on all of D-FW's major TV news providers.

Story had a homey little story Monday on a dieting pig who's become a church mascot and an inspiration for parishioners to shed pounds. Lee recently reported concussion concerns tied to high school football. Ross had a piece on the increasing popularity of roadside sales banners, and the potential safety threats they might pose to motorists. And Lenghi reported on the excitement at UT-Arlington over an upcoming Drake concert. Not earthshaking, obviously. But decently reported stories with a nice community flavor.

"All of the stations talk about doing local news well," NBC vice president of programming Brian Hocker said during the telephone interview with Tully. "We're saying that clearly these cities are capable of generating enough local news that they deserve their own reporter. And that's why we're doing this."

"We're just excited that the company is investing in all of the (owned) television stations," Tully said. "The company gets that we're all unique markets."

As previously posted, NBC5 also recently hired another new full-time reporter in addition to the eight newcomers featured here. Kendra Lyn is joining the station later this month from Orlando, Florida's WESH-TV, where her on-air name was Kendra Oestreich. She'll be part of an expanded morning team hoping to thwart some strong ratings advances being made by rival WFAA8.

All of this gives NBC5 a total of 18 full-time street reporters, with early morning co-anchor Scott Friedman included in the mix as the station's pending head of a relaunched investigative unit. Amanda Fitzpatrick, who also reports from the field, remains as a freelancer. And the count of 18 likewise doesn't include anchors such as Land, Curtis, Kristi Nelson and Deborah Ferguson, who also occasionally hit the streets.

"We're enjoying it," Tully says of a bulked up news, weather, sports and traffic staff of 35 that now outnumbers the full-time brigades at NBC5's three major rivals -- Fox4 (28); WFAA8 (30) and CBS11 (30). A year or so ago at this time, NBC5 had the market's smallest full-time staff.

The station remains in a hiring mode, seeking both a morning co-anchor to succeed Friedman and a wake-up weathercaster to replace Jennifer Lopez,, who had a four-year run before recently leaving the building.

Whether it all proves to be a long-lasting new day at NBC5 is still an open question. But for now it's all systems go -- which is better than all those recent yesteryears.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., March 5) -- another shout out for The Voice while Smash finds its voice against repeats

NBC basked in the rarefied air of a wall-to-wall prime-time win Monday, with The Voice still operating at a high decibel level while Smash managed to hum along.

The Voice racked up 474,187 D-FW viewers from 7 to 9 p.m., trampling ABC's The Bachelor and Fox's two new episodes of Alcatraz while CBS punted with comedy repeats.

Smash held on to 243,868 viewers, its best showing since Feb. 13th. But ABC and CBS respectively had 9 p.m. reruns of Castle and Hawaii Five-0.

The Peacock's musical Monday also triumphed among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds, at least among the Big Four broadcast networks. But the down-to-the-wire Dallas Mavericks loss at Oklahoma City had the most viewers in both ratings measurements during its closing 15-minute segment (9:15 to 9:30 p.m.) on Fox Sports Southwest. Overall the game averaged 182,901 total viewers, peaking at 277,738 in its last quarter hour.

In Monday's local news derby results, WFAA8 deflected NBC5's lead-in advantage to score a dominating win at 10 p.m. in total viewers. WFAA8 made it a twosome by edging Fox4 for first place among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Both of the 6 a.m. golds went to Fox4, which likewise ran the table at 5 p.m.

WFAA8 ran first at 6 p.m. in total viewers while NBC5 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds.

The five-year ratings picture gives only Fox4 consistent traction in attracting 25-to-54-year-olds for local newscasts


Not quite sure if he's still in the 25-to-54 news demographic.

This site has been around long enough to make some five-year apples to apples comparisons tied to ratings "sweeps" periods.

And in good years or bad, local and network television news operations agree that the motherlode demographic for their programming is viewers in the 25-to-54 age range.

With the February 2012 sweeps results newly in the books, let's look at where D-FW's principal combatants were five years ago -- after the February 2007 competition.

WFAA8 won three of the four major races among 25-to-54-year-olds. And in news that may "shock or surprise you" -- as anchors used to say more then than they do now -- the only competition it lost was not at 6 a.m., but at 10 p.m.

What a difference half a decade makes. And what a challenge is facing new WFAA8 news director Carolyn Mungo, who was scheduled to assume that position in late February.

WFAA8 didn't win anything last month, likely marking the first time the station has been completely shut out since sometime before Tracy Rowlett and Iola Johnson became the market's pre-eminent anchor team in 1975.

The 25-to-54 picture is particularly fuzzy for WFAA8. In the past five years, the ABC affiliate's four principal newscasts have lost more viewers in that demographic than any of its rivals. Fox4 has managed to hold on tightest, showing small increases at 6 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m. while suffering only a slight drop at 10 p.m.

CBS11 is the overall biggest winner in any time slot, with a significant five-year gain at 10 p.m. Both WFAA8 and NBC5 are down across the board, with the Peacock's overall losses amounting to less.

So how do stations keep today's 25-to-54-year-olds interested enough to keep tuning in? The not-so-secret word is Facebook -- or so they seem to think. WFAA8 also has been flirting with Pinterest lately, via anchor Shelly Slater's early evening riffs.

Here is where Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 stood with 25-to-54-year-olds five years ago -- and where they stand now. Back in February 2007, each rating point equaled 29,445 viewers in the D-FW viewing area. Now each point is worth 30,093 viewers in this demographic, which provides a bit of an inflationary boost.

10 P.M.

NBC5 (2007) -- 146,370
NBC5 (2012) -- 78,844)

WFAA8 (2007) -- 132,020
WFAA8 (2012) -- 80,348

CBS11 (2007) -- 68,880
CBS11 (2012) -- 81,853

Fox4 (2007) -- 66,010
Fox4 (2012) -- 64,399

6 A.M.

WFAA8 (2007) -- 68,880
WFAA8 (2012) -- 50,857

Fox4 (2007) -- 66,010
Fox4 (2012) -- 68,612

NBC5 (2007) -- 60,270
NBC5 (2012) -- 51,760

CBS11 (2007) -- 22,960
CBS11 (2012) -- 16,551

6 P.M.

WFAA8 (2007) -- 77,490
WFAA8 (2012) -- 43,936

NBC5 (2007) -- 66,010
NBC5 (2012) -- 40,626

Fox4 (2007) -- 54,530
Fox4 (2012) -- 54,769

CBS11 (2007) -- 34,440
CBS11 (2012) -- 26,181

5 P.M.

WFAA8 (2007) -- 77,490
WFAA8 (2012) -- 42,732

NBC5 (2007) -- 51,660
NBC5 (2012) -- 46,042

Fox4 (2007) -- 37,310
Fox4 (2012) -- 43,936

CBS11 (2007) -- 20,090
CBS11 (2012) -- 22,570

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., March 2-4) -- a D-FW halo effect for GCB

GCB, ABC's Dallas-set psalm about wealthy God-hugging connivers, fared well in D-FW if not the nation at large.

Sunday's 9 p.m. premiere had 291,286 viewers on WFAA8, making it the entire weekend's most-watched attraction. GCB, short for Good Christian Bitches, also won its time slot among advertiser-favored 18-to-49-year-olds. The respective runner-ups were CBS' CSI: Miami (257,416 total viewers) and Fox4's local 9 p.m. newscast.

Nationally, however, GCB ran second to CSI: Miami in total viewers and was behind NBC's second hour of The Celebrity Apprentice among 18-to-49-year-olds. Given the heavy promotional campaign, that's not a particularly strong start. GCB also trailed ABC's preceding and very faded Desperate Housewives in both ratings measurements.

Also in D-FW's Sunday ratings, CBS' combo of The Amazing Race and The Good Wife won in total viewers from 7 to 9 p.m. But Fox's The Simpsons topped the 18-to-49 field from 7 to 7:30 p.m. while the network's Family Guy and American Dad won the 8 p.m. hour in close competition with Desperate Housewives.

ABC had Saturday's biggest overall prime-time with its two-hour 20/20: My Extreme Affliction, which averaged 149,030 D-FW viewers from 8 to 10 p.m. NBC's The Firm, exiled to Saturdays for the rest of its run, was no match with a sub-paltry 33,871 viewers in the 8 p.m. hour before a rerun of the Peacock's Law & Order: SVU nearly tripled that audience.

The English language Fox network premiere of Q'Viva (an international talent search produced by JLo and her estranged husband Marc Anthony), drew 88,063 viewers from 7 to 9 p.m. before Fox4's local news boosted itself to 142,256 viewers. A Spanish language Q'Viva previously premiered on Univision.

CBS ran the prime-time table in total viewers Friday with its lineup of Undercover Boss, A Gifted Man and Blue Bloods. But the network slumped as usual among 18-to-49-year-olds; ABC instead had the trifecta with Shark Tank, a What Would You Do? "news" special and 20/20.

In Friday's local news derby results, CBS11 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers, but WFAA8 ran first among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 nipped NBC5 at 6 a.m. in total viewers but the Peacock returned the favor among 25-to-54-year-olds.

NBC5 took the 6 p.m. gold in total viewers while Fox4 finished first with 25-to-54-year-olds. The two stations also were top dogs at 5 p.m., with NBC winning in total viewers and sharing the 25-to-54 gold with Fox4.

Jon Heder throws a few pitches on behalf of his cartoon Napoleon


Jon Heder in the moment at KHYI radio offices in Dallas. Photo: Ed Bark

It's Jon Heder's first-time in Dallas. And how better to experience the city than via a 5:30 a.m. wakeup call for a whirlwind of indoor media appearances before catching an early afternoon flight to Portland, OR?

"It's certainly a blur," Heder says near the end of his last stop at KHYI "The Range" radio (95.3 FM), where he also entertains questions from unclebarky.com and a reporter from Highland Park Middle School's Tribal Tribune. "You have fun in the moment. You're answering the same question a million times. It's more like I have to entertain myself and make it interesting for me each time I do it."

It's all in the service of Fox's animated version of Napoleon Dynamite. The last of six scheduled episodes airs Sunday, March 4th on Fox in its usual 7:30 p.m. (central) slot between The Simpsons and Family Guy.

The Simpsons recently aired its 500th episode, meaning that Dynamite is 100th of the way there. But Fox hasn't made any further commitments beyond ordering seven more scripts "just in case they decide to pick up the show," Heder says. "Of course I'm hopeful. I want it to go on. I think it could have a good run."

It's a pleasantly amusing show, with the entire principal cast from the 2004 movie returning to voice their cartoon characters. But Napoleon has averaged just 5.9 million viewers an episode so far, with 3.6 million of them in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 age range. In comparison, The Simpsons and Family Guy both are drawing 7.6 million viewers per episode, with respective 18-to-49 numbers of 4.6 million and 5.1 million, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Fox already has canceled another of this season's new animated series, Allen Gregory. But Napoleon's Nielsen numbers at least are better in comparison.

"We loved the movie so much and wanted to work together again," says Heder. A live big-screen sequel never materialized, and it's likely too late for that now.

"We're probably still young enough to play the characters, but it might be pushin' it. Who knows?" he says. "This just feels more like you can immortalize them forever."

The animated versions of Napoleon, his best friend, Pedro, and the shy Deb are all still high schoolers in nondescript Preston, Idaho. Napoleon's pathetic older brother, Kip, their caretaker grandma and delusional Uncle Rico are also in the cartoon mix. Unlike the movie, though, the actors generally do their voice-overs during solitary recording sessions.

"It's not too hard," Heder says. "You have to kind of get into character a bit without the costumes or interaction. It helps me to stand the way he (Napoleon) stands. Anything you can do to get into character."

Heder, still a very boyish looking 34, has been married for a decade and is the father of two children. He also has an identical twin brother named Dan; they play villains in an Internet martial arts comedy called Sockbaby, whose four episodes to date are in the vicinity of Fox's initial order for Napoleon.

Heder hopes to keep his cartoon likeness in play, but doesn't seem like a guy who'd be crushed if it doesn't work out that way. There's no air of desperation about him. He comes off as just another guy -- a guy who happily ate a chocolate donut before, during and after this last interview in Dallas. Not that he'd tweet about it. His Twitter page is mostly dormant, with sparse plugs for Napoleon and most recently, a mention of his appearance on E!'s The Soup.

"Other than that, I don't need to tell people, 'Dude, I'm eatin' this killer donut right now," Heder says, shifting into his Napoleon voice. "And it's like rockin' my socks off.' Who really cares?"

Dudes, I think we're done, other than a closing advisory to give Napoleon a shot Sunday night -- for what could be its last shot.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., March 1) -- Awake a little sleepy but not comatose

NBC's Awake caught a break Thursday night, premiering against repeats on ABC and CBS.

The favorably reviewed semi-supernatural detective yarn ranked as the Peacock's most-watched show of the night with 169,353 D-FW viewers in the 9 p.m. hour. Still, it ran third opposite CBS' rerun of The Mentalist (189,675 viewers) and Fox4's local newscast (182,901 viewers). ABC's reprise of Jimmy Kimmel's post-Oscar special ran on virtual empty with 47,419 viewers at 9 p.m.

Awake moved up a rung to second place among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, narrowly losing to Fox4's news while Mentalist and Kimmel both finished far back.

Fox's two-hour American Idol, in which the 13 finalists will include 18-year-old Hollie Cavanagh of McKinney, had no trouble controlling the 7 to 9 p.m. hours opposite a mix of repeats and new episodes of four NBC comedies. Idol averaged 433,542 total viewers, with only CBS' Person of Interest rerun (264,190 viewers) providing any real competition. Idol won even bigger among 18-to-49-year-olds, with Person falling off the map in that demographic.

On the first day after the February ratings "sweeps," CBS11 celebrated its success at 10 p.m. with two more wins -- in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 swept the 6 a.m. competitions and added wins at 5 and 6 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds.

The total viewer wins at 5 and 6 p.m. went to WFAA8.

Early morning revamp at NBC5 triggers reassignment of co-anchor Scott Friedman and departure of meteorologist Jennifer Lopez

373054_238406379552832_228373743_n Jennifer+Lopez+300x500

Scott Friedman is relocating at NBC5 while Jennifer Lopez is leaving.

NBC5 meteorologist Jennifer Lopez is leaving the station after close to four years while co-anchor Scott Friedman will be heading up a new investigative team as part of an early morning news shakeup announced by the station late Thursday afternoon.

Lopez, who joined Fort Worth-based NBC5 in June 2008 from The Weather Channel, "has decided to leave the morning team," the station said without elaboration. Her temporary replacement, the announcement said, will be staffer Samantha Davies, who has been the featured meteorologist on NBC5's 4:30 a.m. "First Alert Weather." She has been with NBC5 since February 2009, arriving from NBC Weather Plus, which was folded when the network's purchase of The Weather Channel was finalized.

Friedman, who joined incumbent Deborah Ferguson on the early shift in March 2010, will remain in place "until his successor is selected," NBC5 said. He joined the station in May 2006 from WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee, where he had been an investigative reporter. Ferguson, a 20-year veteran with NBC5, has signed a new contract that will keep her on the dawn patrol.

"This is an investigative reporter's dream, having the support and the resources to track down and report stories that can really make a difference for all of us who live here," Friedman said in a statement. Earlier this week, he had a multi-part report on lax restaurant inspections.

NBC5 had a head investigative reporter in place until December, when Kimberly King abrupt left the station after less than six months, citing a personal "family matter."

NBC5 ran second to Fox4 in the just-concluded February ratings "sweeps," but barely held off an onrushing WFAA8 in the key 25-to-54-year-old target demographic for news programming.

The revamped NBC5 early morning news also will have four full-time reporters, three of them currently on staff.

Amanda Guerra will operate out of the "Breaking News Center" while also "pushing out news updates on Facebook and Twitter," the station said.

Newcomers Keaton Fox and Ben Russell, both of whom joined NBC5 within the past six months, will file live reports from the field during early morning hours. Reporter Kendra Lyn will make it a threesome in the field when she joins NBC5 in March from WESH-TV in Orlando, FL.

The early morning program also has a new executive producer, Tim Livingston. He joined the station in January of this year after earlier serving as a news director for a Toledo, Ohio TV station and an assistant news director in Dayton, OH.

CBS11 wins the 10 p.m. big tunas, with Fox4 and NBC5 also claiming some top spots in extraordinarily close February "sweeps"

Airtight battles abounded in the four-week February "sweeps," with only CBS11 and Fox4 recording relatively decisive wins in the four major local news arenas.

CBS11 ran first in total viewers at 10 p.m., beating runner-up WFAA8 by its largest margin ever. And Fox4 controlled both the 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. races among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

A number of races required taking the final Nielsen rating to an extra decimal point in much the same way Major League baseball batting average winners are decided.

At 5 p.m., for instance, NBC5 beat Fox4 by a 1.81 to 1.77 margin in total viewers while the Peacock took the 25-to-54 race in that time period by a score of 1.53 to 1.46 over Fox4.

The 10 p.m. final in the key 25-to-54 demographic was a down-to-the-nub three-way race. CBS11 emerged victorious with a 2.72 rating, followed by WFAA8 (2.67) and NBC5 (2.62).

WFAA8 emerged without any wins for the first time in recent memory. But the ABC station was close enough to call it a first place tie by rounding off the results in both the 6 p.m. total viewers race and the 10 p.m. battle for 25-to-54-year-olds. Still, this is a station that used to dominate. No more. Not anywhere.

Each full rating point equals 67,741 total viewers and 30,093 viewers in the 25-to-54 demographic. As noted in an earlier post, those are deflated totals from the previous February, when the respective values were 69,257 and 31,067 viewers.

Local stations around the country for years had benefited from annual ratings inflations. So it was a body blow when the new estimates were released last September. Stations now need to achieve a slightly higher rating to get the same viewer totals. This reality will be reflected in the year-to-year plusses and minuses listed below.

Here are the final Nielsen results for the February 2012 sweeps, which ended on Wednesday. All results are based on adding the extra decimal point to break any ties. Figures in parentheses represent audience gains or losses from the previous February sweeps.

10 P.M.

Total Viewers

CBS11 -- 230,997 (minus 6,554)
WFAA8 -- 188,997 (minus 25,700)
NBC5 -- 146,321 (minus 21,281)
Fox4 -- 121,934 (minus 19,350)


CBS11 -- 81,853 (minus 5,135)
WFAA8 -- 80,348 (minus 1,980)
NBC5 --- 78,844 (plus 1,487)
Fox4 -- 64,399 (minus 13,890)

Comment: CBS11 enjoyed a substantial 9:45 to 10 p.m. "lead-in" advantage in total viewers from network programming. But among 25-to-54-year-olds, WFAA8 had a slight advantage over CBS11. The real over-achiever here is NBC5, which made it a fight to the finish among 25-to-54-year-olds despite getting comparatively little help from NBC network programming. Fox4's 10 p.m. news still suffers from being a largely redundant replay of the major stories on the station's one-hour 9 p.m. local edition.

6 A.M.

Total Viewers

Fox4 -- 113,127 (minus 25,387)
NBC5 -- 104,321 (minus 12,031)
WFAA8 -- 77,225 (plus 5,198)
CBS11 -- 39,290 (minus 22,349)

Fox4 -- 68,612 (minus 18,686)
NBC5 -- 51,760 (minus 8,821)
WFAA8 -- 50,857 (plus 528)
CBS11 -- 16,551 (minus 15,448)

Comment: WFAA8 again finished with the bronze, but came within a hair of beating NBC5 for second place among 25-to-54-year-olds. A saturation campaign for co-anchor Ron "Corning in the Morning" and free food giveaways from a traveling truck have helped to make the station a player again. Fox4 has to be concerned about its significant audience fall-offs while CBS11 again has re-defined the term "non-factor." Big year-to-year losses from already miniscule audience bases have put the station into virtual eclipse in the early mornings. It should be noted that unprecedented wintery weather last February helped to inflate those 2011 totals.

6 P.M.

Total Viewers

CBS11 -- 137,514 (minus 60,561)
WFAA8 -- 132,772 (minus 37,600)
Fox4 -- 115,160 (minus 33,050)
NBC5 -- 113,805 (minus 17,783)


Fox4 -- 54,769 (minus 15,442)
WFAA8 -- 43,936 (minus 21,615)
NBC5 -- 40,626 (plus 3,656)
CBS11 -- 26,181 (minus 28,808)

Comment: NBC5 respectively finished fourth and third but in a sense won at an hour where its rivals hemorrhaged viewers at a far more frightening rate. The Peacock was the only station to show any net gain, although not much of a one. CBS11 took heavy hits in both audience measurements. It still held on in the total viewers measurement for a narrow win over WFAA8 -- which also bled viewers.

5 P.M.

Total Viewers

NBC5 -- 122,611 (minus 4,129)
Fox4 -- 119,902 (minus 605)
WFAA8 -- 113,127 (minus 35,083)
CBS11 -- 69,773 (minus 60,430)

NBC5 -- 46,042 (plus 1,927)
Fox4 -- 43,936 (minus 13,849)
WFAA8 -- 42,732 (minus 2,315)
CBS11 -- 22,570 (minus 16,885)

Comment: NBC5 ran third in both measurements a year ago. So this is a considerable accomplishment that was achieved with a minimal loss in total viewers and a gain among 25-to-54-year-olds. CBS11 runs the risk of being as big a non-factor at 5 p.m. as it is at 6 a.m. WFAA8, without The Oprah Winfrey Show as a lead-in, did a good job of minimizing its losses in the 25-to-54 demographic. Fox4 won comfortably with 25-to-54-year-olds a year ago, but failed to hold serve.

And in other February sweeps results

***Wheel of Fortune, which WFAA8 abandoned a number of years ago for Entertainment Tonight, continued to roll at 6:30 p.m. on CBS11. It doubled the audience of ET in total viewers and also won by a lesser margin with 25-to-54-year-olds.

***In a significant accomplishment, Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast averaged more 18-to-49-year-olds (key target audience for entertainment programming) in February than the various 9 to 10 p.m. offerings on NBC, ABC and CBS. It finished third in total viewers, beating only NBC.

***NBC5's 4 p.m. local news narrowly topped that hour in total viewers, edging Fox4's double dose of Judge Judy. It also nipped JJ with 18-to-49-year-olds. Her gavel appears to be running out of gas.

***NBC's third hour of Today and Fox4's syndicated Live with Kelly respectively won at 9 a.m. in total viewers and 18-to-49-year-olds.

***NBC5's syndicated Ellen took the 3 p.m. hour in both ratings measurements, in each case more than doubling the audience for Anderson, in its first year of syndication on WFAA8.

***KUVN23, the Spanish language Univision affiliate, averaged 168,840 viewers for its 10 p.m. local newscasts, including 105,560 in the 25-to-54 demographic. That would have ranked it third and an eye-popping first in competition with the four English language newscasts.

At 5 p.m., the KUVN23 local news averaged 77,750 total viewers, with 45,270 in the motherlode 25-to-54 range. That would rank it fourth and second.

I's not exactly an even playing field, though. While Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 bang heads with one another, KUVN23 long has been the dominant Spanish language station in D-FW, facing comparatively weak-kneed competition from Telemundo affiliate KXTX39.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., Feb. 29) -- Idol rises on leap day

Facing lesser competition and with two Texans among its 12 live-singing female finalists, Wednesday's two-hour American Idol had its way from 7 to 9 p.m.

Idol averaged 453,865 D-FW viewers, up from Tuesday's guy-centric 399,672. Its closest competition, ABC's 8 p.m. episode of Modern Family, had 284,512 viewers.

Idol also won wall-to-wall among advertiser-favored 18-to-49-year-olds, with Modern Family again finishing as Wednesday's runner-up in this key demographic.

At 9 p.m., Fox4's local newscast and CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation tied in total viewers with 203,223 apiece. But Fox4 had a clear edge among 18-to-49-year-olds while ABC's slumping Revenge ran a distant fourth at that hour in both ratings measurements.

NBC had another mostly miserable night. Its Are You There, Chelsea? and Rock Center with Brian Williams ranked as Wednesday's least-watched Big Four broadcast network attractions with just 60,967 viewers each. Rock Center bottomed out even further with 18-to-49-year-olds, drawing a sub-measly 12,809 of 'em.

Wednesday also was the last day of the four-week February "sweeps" ratings period, and we'll have the complete results later today.

On Leap Day, CBS11 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers while Fox4 rose up with a win among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 muscled up to run the table at 6 a.m. while Fox4 did likewise at 5 p.m. The 6 p.m. golds went to WFAA8 in total viewers and Fox4 with 25-to-54-year-olds.