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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Oct. 30) -- extended opening night of the "sweeps" edition


It's a go. Night 1 of Nov. sweeps merges with Mavs opener.

Smells like -- "sweeps spirit." Whatever that smells like.

So we'll pay the usual extra attention during this fun fall time of the year that began Thursday and ends on the day before Thanksgiving.

First, though, I'll follow the basic advice of your typical "damage control" image consultant. You ask yourself a list of questions you think might be asked and then answer them rather than let the media "frame" the issue.

That way you can "preempt" any potentially dogged, snarky or brain-dead bubbleheaded queries from the likes of hard-charging Victoria Secret or soft-serving Don E.Z. Lay. Except that this isn't damage control. It's just me being a bit of a smartass. But an honest one.

First question, please, and I see it's from Uncle Barky himself, who apparently will have a few followups.

Am I going to continue with unclebarky.com's tri-annual "This Just In: A Night in the Lives of D-FW's latenight newscasts?"


Will I start at very beginning of the "sweeps," and then watch 80 weeknight newscasts in their entirety on Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11, as I have since this insane endeavor began during the February 2007 sweeps? (roughly a half-year after unclebarky.com's Sept. 17, 2006 launch)

No, not quite.

Am I thinking you might not have enough information yet?


Am I going to give you more?

Yes. We're in the final days of a little thing called the presidential election, which somehow seems more important than the locals at the moment. But never fear -- or just plain fear (or think who the hell cares?) -- because we're not giving up.

Am I going to do anything at all about trying to make even a small dent in the oft-shoddy way that TV news is packaged and presented in the fifth largest TV market in the country?

Yes, but dent is way too big a word. Maybe a better metaphor would be a surface scratch that's all too easily covered up with a few dabs of touch-up paint by whoever happens to be running the local shows -- from here or increasingly, from afar.

So we're planning to resume "This Just In: A Night in the Lives of D-FW's Newscasts" on the Wednesday after the presidential election at the earliest. Or maybe on the Monday following Nov. 4th if the election somehow isn't decided yet. That's had a way of happening, you know.

Do I know what the February sweeps will bring?

In terms of health, wealth (hah!) and determination, no. But I hope to be doing another fully-loaded, 80-newscast special. It's just that this pesky little thing about our country's future hanging in the balance got in the way this time. By February, maybe we'll have a few new featured anchors and certainly a lot of new supporting characters. Or maybe just more vacancies that won't be filled. You can be assured it'll be something.

Am I going to make that my final answer?

For now, yes.


We have a new tool here, too. It's called "Persons2+", otherwise known as total viewers. They're a more fair comparison than the total homes numbers we've had to use so far. Mainly because people watch TV, and oftentimes more than one of 'em is watching in a given living room, bedroom, whatever.

Nielsen Media Research long has measured this always-shifting terrain as well as anyone likely ever will, until we reach the point where everybody has a surveillance camera in their homes. National networks have used the total viewers stat for years. Some don't use it at all, but only if their younger audience haul is appreciably better.

The locals haven't exactly shouted out this statistic in their news releases, because it occasionally tells a different story. Often not much of a different one, but in a very close race, it sometimes can be the difference between first and second --- or even third. That will be duly noted if it happens in the final November "sweeps" results.

We're not going to totally abandon the old household number until November 2009, when accurate year-to-year comparisons can be made in the the three major stats that all newsroom managements watch very closely: Total homes, total viewers and persons between the ages of 25-to-54.

As we've noted here literally thousands of times, the 25-to-54-number is the main advertiser target audience for news programming. And as even the biggest TV spin doctor will concede, if you win with these viewers you can declare victory without much resistance -- at from least behind the closed doors of losing rival stations, who invariably are trying to figure out ways to "get younger."

Still, total viewers matter most of all, so we're going to start with that stat from Thursday's November "sweeps" opening night.

One more thing: I have the very latest and accurate 2008 Nielsen-approved, D-FW populations for a wide variety of age groups. In the stats that matter, they're all up just a bit year-to-year, but not to any really significant degree. Usually it's only several hundred extra people or TV homes per rating point, but it beats having to cope with a smaller viewing pool from year to year, which is the case in many markets.

So trust me, they're accurate. And I've been doing this w-a-a-a-ay too long to be anything but certain of that. So let's get started, using the usual numbers and with the traditional opening night trimmings. Only 19 more weeknights to go.


WFAA8 -- 298,935
CBS11 -- 205,933
NBC5 -- 166,075
Fox4 -- 119,574

WFAA8 -- 221,610
CBS11 -- 151,890
NBC5 -- 126,990
Fox4 -- 94,620

WFAA8 -- 127,483
CBS11 -- 94,094
Fox4 -- 88,024
NBC5 -- 60,706

Fox4 -- 106,288
NBC5 and WFAA8 -- 86,359 apiece
CBS11 -- 39,858

Fox4 -- 97,110
NBC5 -- 72,210
WFAA8 -- 69,720
CBS11 -- 34,860

WFAA8 -- 75,883
Fox4 -- 66,777
NBC5 -- 60,706
CBS11 -- 27,318

WFAA -- 179,361
NBC5 -- 112,931
CBS11 -- 106,288
Fox4 -- 79,716

WFAA8 -- 131,970
NBC5 -- 94,620
CBS11 -- 72,210
Fox4 -- 54,780

WFAA8 -- 75,883
NBC5 -- 45,530
CBS11 and Fox4 -- 30,353 apiece

5 P.M.

Fox4 -- 119,574
NBC5 -- 112,931
WFAA8 -- 99,645
CBS11 -- 19,929

NBC5 -- 94,620
WFAA8 -- 92,130
Fox4 -- 82,170
CBS11 -- 12,450

WFAA8 -- 63,741
Fox4 -- 54,635
NBC5 -- 48,565
CBS11 -- 6,070

Although it's been said many times, many ways, I'll say it once more. WFAA8 has the 6 and 10 p.m. races locked up in all three ratings measurements. It would be a titanic upset if the station lost in any of these three major food groups. For now at least, rival stations are still on Titanics.

So the very important consolation prize is at 10 p.m. It's been that way for quite some time now, with NBC5 and CBS11 again battling for the runnerup spots. We'll get into this much more later.

The real races for first place are at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m.. And they're both three-way battles among Fox4, NBC5 and WFAA8.
Who's come from the ashes from last November? The Peacock in the face of green weenie sandwiches in prime-time from the network that owns it.

At 6 a.m. NBC5 inarguably has made incredible strides ratings-wise after taking maximum heat for replacing meteorologist Rebecca Miller with Jennifer Lopez earlier this year. The station wasn't even on the 6 a.m. map at this time last year.

And at 5 p.m., long-dominant WFAA8 is being seriously threatened on two fronts, again by NBC5 and Fox4. So it should be interesting. Or at least I think it is. We'll see.

Thursday's -- let's put it charitably -- disappointing home opener against the arch rival Houston Rockets drew TNT's A-team announcing crew of Marv Albert, Mike Fratello, and brother and sister Reggie and Cheryl Miller.

It might be a while before we see them again -- maybe not until the 2010 NBA All-Star game, officially announced by Mavs owner Mark Cuban Thursday but being played under Jerry Jones' new Arlington big top.

Anyway, the Rockets' 112-102 win, in which they dominated Dallas in the fourth quarter, drew an average of 99,645 total viewers and 92,130 total homes in D-FW.

OK, one more Mavs stat, and then I'm blowing the whistle.

The game drew 29,239 males in the 18-to-49-year-old age group. That 's the gold standard measurement for sports and entertainment programming.

Cuban can only hope that the old male adage holds: Fool us once, fool us twice. But if you're still fooling us halfway through the season then we won't get fooled again until near playoff time. And As a lifelong sports fan, I'd give the Mavs no better than a 50-50 chance of making it this season.

For rebuilding purposes, that wouldn't be a bad thing at all. In fact it might be great.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., 29) -- extended World Series/Barack Obama edition (updated Oct. 30th with new DMN presidential endorsement info)



Big pitches from the World Series-winning Philadelphia Phillies and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama made for a one-of-a-kind ratings scorecard Wednesday night.

First to the climactic resumption of the Series' Game 5 on Fox, which counted out the Tampa Rays by a 4-3 score and gave the time-tested Phillies (the team first began playing in the late 1890s) just its second World Championship and first since 1980.

For the very many who still couldn't bring themselves to watch, the longest rain-delayed game in modern baseball history resumed a few minutes after 7:30 p.m., with Philadelphia batting in the bottom of the sixth inning and the score tied 2-2.

It ended just two minutes shy of 9 p.m., with Phillies reliever reliever Brad Lidge striking out pinch-hitter Eric Hinske with a Rays runner at second base. Final score: Phillies 4, Rays 3. Bedlam in Philadelphia at large and Citizens Bank Park in particular.

In decidedly baseball unfriendly D-FW, Game 5 at last almost managed to outdraw all competing programming -- save for one. Overall, Game 5 averaged 177,799 total homes, peaking at 219,920 in its closing 15 minutes.

Here's the Nielsen ratings breakdown:

7:30 to 8 p.m.

World Series (Fox)-- 155,878 homes
The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS) -- 112,038 homes
Second half-hour of Pushing Daisies (ABC) -- 94,988 homes
First half-hour of 90-minute Deal or No Deal (NBC) -- 82,810 homes

8 to 9 p.m.

Criminal Minds (CBS) -- 233,818 homes
World Series (Fox) -- 189,977 homes
Concluding hour of Deal or No Deal (NBC) -- 165,621 homes
Private Practice (ABC) -- 102,295 homes

For the record, the Series also beat all competing programming -- except Criminal Minds -- among advertiser-favored 18-to-49-year-olds. It was tighter than the plate umpire's strike zone, though. Criminal Minds had 151,363 viewers in this key demographic; Game 5 slid in with 148,210 in its final hour.

Fox's 9 to 9:30 p.m. World Series post-game show terrifically captured the sights and sounds of a very celebratory Phillies' team.

It of course was nothing to get excited about in D-FW. For the record, the post-game show drew 148,572 homes locally, losing lopsidedly to the first half-hour of CBS' CSI: NY (253,302 homes), but edging the first half-hour of ABC's Dirty Sexy Money (133,958 homes). NBC's Lipstick Jungle, being exiled to Fridays next week after Thursday's episode, as always ran fourth with 97,424 homes for its first half-hour.

The order of finish was the same among 18-to-49-year-olds.

Closing Comment -- Yes, I remain a big sports fan. And yeah, the Texas Rangers have been playing mostly lousy baseball since my arrival here in late 1979 from Badgerland. Can you say Milwaukee Brewers?

The Rangers are still blessed with a beautiful ballpark but an understandably shrinking core group of fans who still dream of even one World Series appearance. That's something the previously bottom-dwelling Rays achieved in just their 11th season.

That said, does D-FW even deserve a World Series if Wednesday night's high-drama closing game (which lasted less than 90 minutes) can't even outdraw a CBS crime show that will be repeated at some point later in the season? I think not. But you're free to comment on this site. And as always, only your name and "name" will appear. Not that much response is expected.

Wait 'til next year.



Whether or not you're voting for him, the Democratic nominee had a national audience to himself Wednesday during the 7 p.m. (central) slot. His half-hour pitch, which included a closing three-minute live shot from an Obama rally in Fort Lauderdale, FL, aired on CBS, Fox, NBC, MSNBC, the Spanish language network Univision, BET and TV One. As previously detailed on this site, one major broadcast network and two cable news networks declined to take Obama's money. One wasn't asked in the first place.

Here's the D-FW Nielsen ratings breakdown. (Note that local ratings for BET and TV One, both of which target African-American viewers, were not immediately available. If anyone wants to send them now or later, please do. By now you know the email address.)


CBS -- 112,038 homes
Fox -- 85,246 homes
NBC and Univision -- 80,375 homes apiece
MSNBC -- 26,792 homes

Grand Total -- 304,451 D-FW homes. Wednesday's most-watched program on a single network, CBS' CSI:NY
We'll also look at the D-FW ratings for 18-to-34-year-olds. Turning out a much larger percentage of younger voters than in previous presidential elections is a key part of the Obama campaign's overall strategy:


Univision (KUVN/Ch. 23) -- 48,195
Fox (Fox4) -- 28,917
NBC (NBC5) -- 24,098
CBS (CBS11) -- 16,065
MSNBC -- "hashmarks" (no measurable audience)

Grand Total -- 117,275 viewers

Closing Comment
Compelling and very well-produced, Obama's half-hour commercial effectively distilled his message and basic campaign promises to those who don't already know them by heart. Whether it inspired any still allegedly "undecided" voters is another matter. But as pure political theater, this is
as good as it gets. Bravo.

I'm joined in this assessment by conservative WBAP radio (820 AM) host Mark Davis, who also writes a weekly opinion column for The Dallas Morning News, which endorsed Republican John McCain for president.

Davis lauded the Obama film as "absolute genius" during his weekly appearance on Fox4's early morning Good Day program. He also praised it as tightly edited and brilliant in getting its message out during his Good Day chat with co-host Tim Ryan.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Bob Ray Sanders, D-FW's longest standing liberal commentator/colummist, readily agreed with that review during his joint appearance with Davis on Good Day. The Star Telegram has endorsed Obama for president; it's the newspaper's first endorsement of a Democratic candidate for president since Bill Clinton in 1992 (but not for his second term).

On the campaign trail, McCain said of Obama's half-hour ad: "When you're watching this gauzy, feel-good commercial, just remember that it was paid for with broken promises."


We've literally got a task force working on this. But it's beginning to look a lot like "never."

Native Texan Lyndon Johnson, who ran as an incumbent Democratic president in 1964, would seem to be the most likely to have broken the string. But no, the DMN endorsed his conservative Republican opponent, Barry Goldwater, in that year.

Editor & Publisher, which has tracked newspaper endorsements since 1940 (the successful third-term campaign of Democratic president Franklin Delano Roosevelt), has no record of The Dallas Morning News ever endorsing a Democrat.

So the search goes on in the year that The Chicago Tribune is endorsing a Democratic presidential candidate -- Obama -- for the first time in its 161-year history.

No one at The Dallas Morning News, which does not list a history of its previous presidential candidate endorsements (on its Web site or anywhere else) seems to be able to say with any certainty whether the newspaper has ever gotten behind a Democratic presidential candidate.

If not, it's a drought dating to the newspaper's 1885 birth. That information, listing George Bannerman Dealey as the newspaper's first publisher (1885-1940), is taken directly from the print product's editorial page masthead.

This just in, from a reader who sent a copy of an article from the The Handbook of Texas. It's published by the Texas State Historical Association.

According to the handbook's brief history of The Dallas Morning News, the paper officially remained neutral in 1964, declining to officially endorse President Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas in his campaign against conservative Republican challenger Barry Goldwater.

Otherwise, from 1952 to the present, the DMN chronologically has endorsed every Republican presidential candidate, beginning with a pair for Dwight D. Eisenhower and moving on to Richard Nixon (three successive times), Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan (twice), George H. W. Bush (twice), Bob Dole and George W. Bush (twice).

The article also says, "The paper, which had initially supported Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal, found itself disagreeing with Roosevelt's policies as the president's tenure in office stretched to include a fourth term.

However, it backed Roosevelt's foreign policies, including unreserved support of America's participation in World War II after Pearl Harbor."

It's still unclear, however, whether the newspaper ever officially endorsed FDR, whose presidency began in 1932 in the midst of the Great Depression. Since the DMN eventually soured on FDR, it can be assumed that it supported Republican Thomas E. Dewey's campaign to unseat Democrat Harry S.Truman, who had been FDR's vice president and succeeded him after his death.

One more thing. Soon after its Oct. 1, 1885 birth, "The News stood firmly against the agrarian wing of the Democratic party, as represented in the state (of Texas) by James Stephen Hogg and by William Jennings Bryan in national politics," the Handbook of Texas says.

"The paper supported both Grover Cleveland and William McKinley, especially as to hard-money views. Beginning about 1900 it avoided controversy and name-calling in political attack, with the exception of its vehement opposition to the reelection of Joseph Weldon Bailey as senator in 1906."

President Cleveland, first elected in 1884, was a Democrat. McKinley, a Republican, was elected in 1896, succeeding Cleveland.

And that's all I know for now.

On the eve of the four-week November ratings "sweeps" competition (Oct. 30 until the day before Thanksgiving), here's how it went:

In the two time periods where it'll be no contest -- 6 and 10 p.m. -- WFAA8 won as usual in total homes and with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

In the two time periods where it could go right down to the wire, Fox4 won in both ratings measurements at 6 a.m.; WFAA8 took first in total homes at 5 p.m. and tied for the top spot with NBC5 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

As always, stay tuned. And comment on any or all of these topics if you feel the urge.

Watch out: Mavs men ready to dribble and dunk on home screens near you


The same old, same old Dallas Mavericks -- save for new coach Rick Carlisle -- start playing for keeps on Halloween eve. Ooh, scary?

The Mavs' Oct. 30th home opponent, the Houston Rockets, have added the always problematic but still very talented Ron Artest to a lineup that already includes NBA All-Stars Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady.

But what have the Mavs done for fans lately, besides bowing out in the first round of the NBA playoffs in the past two seasons while bringing back the same cast of aging on-court characters? And will the team's TV ratings plunge during this season of very low expectations?

Thursday's opener is on a national stage, with a 7 p.m. tipoff scheduled on TNT. The next six games will air on the usual mix of TXA21 (first telecast at Minnesota on Nov. 1) and Fox Sports Southwest (beginning with a Nov. 7 roadie at Denver). Announcing teams will shift a bit, with Bob Ortegel rejoining Mark Folowill on TV while Brad Davis returns to radio with incumbent Chuck Cooperstein.

Fans who enjoy seeing old favorites in uniform won't be disappointed. Those who wanted a major shakeup remain pissed. Returning from last season's underachieving team are six players in their 30s -- Dirk Nowitzski, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Jerry Stackhouse, Erick Dampier and Devean George. There's also troubled 28-year-old Josh Howard, who's had a very hard time acting his age.

Carlisle promises an accelerated offense that will run whenever possible. But can these guys -- puff, puff -- maintain that pace through an 82-game schedule?

Point guard Kidd, the oldest Mav at age 35, says he feels liberated in his first full season with the team after having to adapt to ex-coach Avery Johnson's gut-and-grind offense. Um, don't make me laugh.

Owner Mark Cuban, basically standing pat in the off-season for the first time since he bought the team in 2000, says the 2008-'09 Mavs will be far more formidable than the team's many doubters predict.

First, though, they have to make the playoffs. And after sagging badly in last season's home stretch, that's hardly a given. Then they'd have to win at least one playoff series to gin up viewer interest. Imagine that.

It all points to seriously deflated TV ratings, which sagged last season. But Thursday's opener should do well. And an early curiosity factor always kicks in when a team changes coaches. Also, Carlisle, no NBA virgin, already is a proven a big winner -- in the regular season at least -- as coach of the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers.

Otherwise these upcoming 82 games can't help but be viewed as a faded prelude to next spring's playoffs. Same team, different result when it really counts?

O this eve of a new season, though, the Mavs look w-a-a-ay too much like another rerun. And no viewer likes those.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Oct. 27)

Fox's rain-soaked, eventually suspended World Series telecast again popped up Monday in largely disinterested D-FW.

Baseball fans, including this one, watched closely as Game 5 produced a last-gasp, 2-2 tie in the middle of the sixth inning before continuing heavy rain suspended further play at 9:45 p.m. The game won't resume until Wednesday night at the earliest. Bad weather already has officially washed out any resumption of play Tuesday between the visiting Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies.

In Monday night's final, drama-filled final 45 minutes, the Series beat only NBC's all-but-dead My Own Worst Enemy in the total homes Nielsens. But among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds, Game 5 muscled up and took the top spot from 9 to 9:45 p.m., outscoring CBS' repeat of CSI: Miami, ABC's Boston Legal and, of course, My Own Worst Enemy.

Monday otherwise produced another big haul for ABC's latest 90-minute chunk of Dancing with the Stars, which drew 270,352 total homes to lead all prime-time programming. ABC's Samantha Who? then cleaned up nicely with a league-leading 221,640 D-FW homes from 8:30 to 9 p.m.

Samantha Who? also ranked No. 1 in that half-hour with 18-to-49-year-olds; Dancing beat CBS' competing Two and a Half Men repeat in its closing half-hour, but was edged from 7 to 8 p.m. by CBS's rerun twosome of The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother.

In Monday's local news derby, WFAA8 as usual cruised at 10 p.m., flattening its three news rivals in total homes and with 25-to-54-year-olds. WFAA8 also had twin wins at 6 p.m.

Fox4 ran the table at 6 a.m. and NBC5 did likewise at 5 p.m. The four-week November "sweeps" competition, which starts on Thursday, promises interesting ratings races in these two combat zones. WFAA8 otherwise has a hammer-lock on the 6 and 10 p.m. showdowns.

Talking points in local TV news

rodney-anderson-grid 05-19-2005.NQ_19keith.GNU1JK8A8.1 Mike+Snyder+Smiling+Dark640

Rodney Anderson, Gordon Keith and Mike Snyder

Rodney Anderson gets around.

The executive director of Plano-based Rodney Anderson Lending Services has a Saturday morning radio show on KLLI-FM and had been a weekly Wednesday presence on WFAA8's locally produced Good Morning Texas.

Now he's CBS11's new "Financial Analyst," periodically appearing on newscasts to talk about how you can best manage the ongoing financial crisis.

Here's the thing, though. Anderson paid WFAA8 for his weekly four-minute "Home and Wealth" segments on Good Morning Texas. Is he doing the same to get air time on CBS11, where he joins an anchor at the news desk?

First to WFAA8. Good Morning Texas, not part of the station's news division, long has taken money from a wide variety of guests. A brief printed disclaimer -- "Promotional Considerations Paid for By" -- lists pay-for-play guests near the end of each show. On Monday, Oct. 27th, there were four of them.

WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin declined to comment. But in a February unclebarky.com story on NBC5's relationship with Children's Medical Center, Devlin drew what he sees as an ethical line between news and entertainment programming produced by his station.

"We have a longstanding policy that advertisers and sponsors cannot buy news content, and that's the distinction," he said.

So might CBS11 be crossing that line by taking money from Anderson in return for his financial expertise during newscast appearances? In a statement emailed to unclebarky.com, the station unequivocally denied any such arrangement.

"Rodney is NOT paying to be part of our newscasts," the CBS11 response says. "He was asked by our news department to serve as an expert for the station based on his expertise in the areas of mortgage lending and consumer credit. As you know, these issues have played and continue to play a major role in the current economic downturn."

That downturn is tough on everybody, including D-FW television stations. CBS11 is now firmly on the record as saying it resisted any temptation to take Anderson's money.


NBC5's retitled and remodeled website, nbcdfw.com, also has new pictures of the station's news team, including anchor Mike Snyder (shown above). Good luck in finding them, though. It's an archaeological dig so far.

A majority of NBC5's anchors and reporters also doubled as bloggers on the station's old Web site. So far that's missing on nbcdfw.com, which is part of another corporate-driven makeover for all of NBC's owned and operated stations.

Former NBC5 president and general Tom O'Brien now runs the network's flagship station, New York's WNBC-TV, where consolidation and automation are in overdrive.

A telling story in The New York Observer has much more on what O'Brien calls "a 10-plus-million-dollar commitment to transform the operation into a newsroom of the future."


The latest giant pile of Lone Star Emmy Awards were distributed earlier this month in Houston at the annual dress-up ceremony.

Two North Texas stations took home the biggest overall honors. KXAS-TV won the Emmy for overall station excellence and WFAA-TV received the statue for overall news excellence.

D-FW's own madcap Gordon Keith received three separate Emmys for his WFAA-produced Gordon Keith Show. And no, this is not a prank. Those who care to survey the entire Lone Star Emmy list of winners can see for themselves that Keith has a threesome.

He otherwise slums on KTCK-AM ("The Ticket") with morning drive time pals George Dunham and Craig Miller.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Oct. 24-26)

The Cowboys barely escaped a third straight loss Sunday by getting defensive.

Many potential viewers escaped as well. On a beautiful day for football and numerous other outdoor pursuits, the high-noon win against Tampa Bay amassed 679,532 D-FW homes on Fox4. That's an uptick from the 611,336 homes for last Sunday's collapse in St. Louis. But it's still the second-smallest hometown audience for Dallas' eight regular season games to date.

Next week's Cowboys opponent, the NFC East-leading New York Giants, rallied late to beat the potent Pittsburgh Steelers. That game, also on Fox, drew 404,310 D-FW homes, crunching competition from the opposing Browns-Jaguars game on CBS11 (51,148 homes).

Sunday night's Game 4 of the World Series on Fox, a lopsided 10-2 win by the hometown Phillies, averaged 148,314 total homes in D-FW. That put it third third overall in the 8 to 10 p.m. hours behind CBS' Cold Case (214,333 homes) and The Unit (202,155 homes), and ABC's Desperate Housewives (199,720 homes) and Brothers & Sisters (165,621 homes).

Fittingly striking out was NBC's presentation of The 40-Year-Old Virgin (63,326 homes), which subbed for Sunday Night Football.

The Phillies now are in position to win the Series Monday night. Tampa Bay can stay alive only by taking baseball's biggest showcase back to their home field for a Game 6 Wednesday night.

Saturday's rain-delayed Game 3 of the Series, which didn't start until 9:06 p.m. Dallas time, had 53,583 D-FW homes in tow when it ended at 12:47 a.m. Sunday with a ninth inning Phillies win. Ratings peaked between 10:15 and 10:30 p.m., when the game drew 107,166 homes.

A new edition of NBC's Saturday Night Live had 131,522 homes to dominate the late night ratings.

Earlier Saturday, ABC's down-to-the-wire Texas-Oklahoma State game easily drew the day's largest audience with 253,302 homes. The network's Saturday night attraction, Penn State at Ohio State, corralled 143,700 homes to sweep the prime-time ratings.

In Friday's local news derby, WFAA8 ran first in three of the four big battlegrounds, winning at 10 p.m., 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. in total homes and with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 took the golds at 5 p.m., where it's been running strong throughout the fall. Stations begin playing for higher stakes when the four-week November "sweeps" ratings competitions kick off this Thursday.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Oct. 23)

It was a night when the visiting Philadelphia Phillies wasted more scoring opportunities than Steve Carell's 40-Year-Old Virgin.

A night when the Tampa Rays won 4-2 to square the World Series at one game apiece enroute to the comparably arctic "City of Brotherly Love" for Game 3.

In D-FW, the Nielsen ratings again were butt-ugly.

Game 2, which ran from 7:30 to 10:35 p.m. on Fox4 locally, averaged 116,909 homes during the prime-time portion and climbed a bit to 129,000 homes in the concluding 10 to 10:30 p.m. segment. It will do appreciably better nationally, as it did with Wednesday's Game 1.

In head-to-head total homes competition, the first-half hour of the Series -- and even its 7 to 7:30 p.m. pre-game show -- did manage to outdraw NBC's regularly scheduled quartet of comedies.

They included the last of three Thursday, 8:30 p.m. editions of Saturday Night Live, featuring Will Ferrell's return as George W. and another Tina Fey sendup of Sarah Palin. In that ratings face-off, Game 2 lured 112,038 homes to outscore SNL (107,166) by a bunt.

The Series also ran fourth in late night opposite the three 10 p.m. local newscasts.

Among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds, Game 2 beat absolutely nothing in prime-time, not even NBC's new Kath & Kim. From 10 to 10:30 p.m., it slid into third place, ahead of CBS11's newscast.

In the night's marquee 8 p.m. matchup, ABC's Grey's Anatomy nipped CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation in both ratings measurements.

At 9 p.m., CBS' new Eleventh Hour took the top spot in total homes, with NBC's ER running second and ABC's new Life On Mars lagging in third. Among 18-to-49-year-olds, ER won the gold while runnerup Eleventh Hour easily bested Life On Mars.

WFAA8 had a big day in the local news derby, winning at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. in both total homes and among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 spoiled what otherwise would have been a rare double grand slam by winning at 6 a.m. in total homes. But WFAA8 prevailed among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Former CBS11 newser Marita Arita champions/endorses Barack Obama in first film from her new film company

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Maria Arita and husband/business partner Thomas Howard

Former CBS11 anchor/reporter Maria Arita, downsized from the station in late March, is now running a Frisco-based film company in partnership with her husband, Thomas Howard.

Their first production, a little late in the game perhaps, is Barack Obama: Who Is This Guy?, which was released on Oct. 1st and now is in stock at Blockbuster.

Narrated by actor Blair Underwood, the Veridicus Films production aims to "help shape for the everyday American, frustrated by the daily diversions of sensationalized journalism and political spin, what's truly at stake and the monumental significance of this moment in our nation's history."

Obama's candidacyArita joined CBS11 in December 2003 and also has previous acting credits on Dallas, Wishbone, Dangerous Curves and Walker, Texas Ranger. In a separate "Maria Arita-Howard's" blog, she urges friends and "fellow Obama supporters" to rally around "a documentary that is going to change this election!"

Barack Obama: Who Is This Guy? "tells the historic narrative of this election with factual analysis and real people without ever demonizing or belittling anyone," Arita writes. "There is a vigorous fight going on in key battleground states and there are factions out there using every trick in the book to distract you and make this a cultural war -- the deception has taken a whole new low. This film takes the high road! It is stunning."

Arita is the CEO and Creative/Producer of Veridicus Films; Howard is the Chairman and COO.

"We are a husband and wife team with different skills, but with a common purpose," the Veridicus Web site says. "A journalist, a story teller, a business man, a poet, an entertainer, an activist, a mother, a father, and together we are film makers dedicated to bringing real stories to life."

Veridicus also is in pre-production on The Eddie Robinson Story, dedicated to the late Grambling University football coach who died in April of last year after a storied 57-year career.

Here's the trailer for Barack Obama: Who Is This Guy?:

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Oct. 17-19)

The suddenly destitute Dallas Cowboys also were at a loss in Sunday's D-FW ratings.

They again drew the day's and the weekend's biggest TV audience, of course, averaging 611,336 homes for the early afternoon carnage on Fox. But the lowly Rams' 34-14 slaughter of the cratering Cowboys fell almost 150,00 homes shy of what had been the season's least-watched game to date.

Dallas' lopsided Sept. 7th victory over Cleveland, which kicked off the regular season, had 759,907 homes on Fox. That's now a smash hit compared to the Cowboys-Rams stomach-turner. Dallas' high-scoring shootout with the Eagles remains this fall's biggest draw, with 930,399 D-FW homes.

Sunday night's closing Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, won by Tampa Bay over Boston, drew 104,731 homes locally on TBS. The game's closing 15 minutes, from 10:30 to 10:45 p.m., also had the biggest tune-in -- 143,700 homes.

But no, it didn't beat NBC's Sunday Night Football matchup between Seattle and the Cowboys' next opponent -- Tampa Bay. It averaged 160,750 D-FW homes.

Moving along to Saturday, where NBC's Sarah Palin-infused Saturday Night Live was a smash with an overall average of 260,609 homes. The show's opening 15 minutes, in which Palin and her double, Tina Fey, briefly crossed paths, tipped the Nielsen scales with 345,855 homes. That's a massive audience for a late night network show.

Earlier Saturday night, No. 1 Texas' prime-time trampling of Missouri on ABC averaged 231,382 homes. Its peak audience of 277,658 homes came between 8:15 and 8:30 p.m.

On Friday night, NBC's two-hour premiere of Crusoe averaged 102,295 homes from 7 to 9 p.m. That was good enough to win those two hours overall. But in the opening hour, CBS' Ghost Whisperer topped the crop with 112,038 homes. Crusoe then beat CBS' new Ex-List (70,632 homes) to a pulp in the 8 p.m. hour while also outpointing all other competing network attractions.

Crusoe ran second from 7 to 9 p.m. among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds, with MY27's WWE Smackdown! taking the overall gold by just one-tenth of a rating point (3,153 viewers).

In Friday's local news derby, WFAA8 again muscled up at 10 p.m. with wins in both total homes and among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

WFAA8 also took first at 6 a.m. in total homes and tied for the top spot with NBC5 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

The 6 p.m. wars went to WFAA8 as usual, with the ABC station also notching a 5 p.m. win in the total homes Nielsens. NBC5 took the 25-to-54 gold in the earlier hour while WFAA8 slipped to third behind runnerup CBS11.

She's not in Kansas anymore: WFAA8 hires Jennifer Schack as new early morning weekend weathercaster


Jennifer Schack is WFAA8's new weekend morning weathercaster.

A native of California, KY, Schack previously was chief meteorologist at 6 News, an independent TV station in Lawrence, Kansas. She replaces Meghan Danahey, who left WFAA8 earlier this year to join KVUE-TV in Austin. WFAA8 and KVUE both are owned by Belo Corp.

News director Michael Valentine said that Schack, already on the job at WFAA8, will be "doing exactly what Meghan did" as a "split employee" between the mothership and cable station TXCN.

"She will do Saturday and Sunday mornings and some fill-in work" on other WFAA8 newscasts, Valentine said in an email.

Fox4 continues to rebuild news staff with hiring of El Paso reporter/anchor


Fox4 continues to replenish its news staff, this time with the hiring of Peter Daut from KFOX-TV in El Paso.

Daut, who joined the station in July, 2006, has been a weekend anchor and investigative reporter for Sun City's Fox affiliate. The University of Southern California graduate broke into the news business as a news writer and field producer for KABC-TV in Los Angeles. His KFOX Web site bio says he kept that job for two years "while balancing a full load of classes."

Daut's also a former Eagle Scout and "competitive swimmer" who minored in Spanish at USC, where he graduated Cum Laude with a double major in broadcast journalism and political science.

Earlier this year, Daut and KFOX colleague George Cervantes won second place honors from the Texas Associated Press for an investigative report titled "Scandal in Socorro." He's scheduled to start at Fox4 in December.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Oct. 10-12)

Sunday's Debacle in the Desert -- the Cowboys' loss to Arizona -- came on Fox's watch this time.

Both the network and Fox4 in D-FW gladly will accept the big win in the Nielsen ratings.

Running from 3:15 to 6:43 p.m., the game amassed an average of 857,331 D-FW homes, with a high of 983,982 in tow during the closing 15 minutes. Misery loved company when the Cardinals blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone for the game-winner in overtime.

This season's record-holder is still the Sept. 15th Cowboys-Eagles shootout on Monday Night Football, which averaged 930,399 total homes on ESPN/TXA21.

QB Tony Romo's broken finger obviously only makes matters worse, Both he and oldster Arizona QB Kurt Warner were pounded to the turf time and again during a game that in Cowboys' annals ranks at or near the very top of bizarre, almost unfathomable finishes.

Note that your friendly content provider's alma mater football team, the Wisconsin Badgers, took a 48-7 pasting from Penn State at home Saturday night on ESPN's featured national telecast. Oh, my aching cheesehead. Luckily the game drew an average of just 21,920 homes. Thanks for not watching.

Elsewhere on Saturday's college football front, ABC's telecast of the Texas-Oklahoma thriller averaged 401,874 D-FW homes from 11 a.m. to its 2:37 p.m. closing time.

Friday's biggest prime-time draw, a new episode of CBS' Ghost Whisperer, lured 146,136 homes before the network's following new series, The Ex-List, dipped to barely half that crowd with 75,504 homes. Look for CBS to cross it out before the November "sweeps" kick in.

In Friday's local news derby, WFAA8 swept the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. contests in both total homes and with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 claimed the other golds, running the table at 6 a.m. while WFAA8 slid to third place in both measurements.

And babies make four


CBS11 investigative reporter Bennett Cunningham and partner Michael Spann with their newborns, Gregory Adam and Liliana Elizabeth. Both were born early on the morning of Oct. 10th.


Friday brought new lives to both CBS11 investigative reporter Bennett Cunningham and partner Michael Spann. Shown above in a newly posted picture on their web site, they're happy together with newborns Gregory Adam Cunningham (5 lbs., 14 oz.) and Liliana Elizabeth Cunningham (4 lbs., 6 oz.)

Both babies were born in Connecticut early Friday morning via gestational surgery. Cunningham and Spann say that both newborns are in a neo-natal intensive care unit after a 34-week gestation period in a surrogate mother's womb.

"Both are very healthy, but have a few typical issues associated with pre-term babies," they say in a posted update. "Nothing of any concern but the doctors tell us the babies will have to say in the 'NICU' for the next 10 to 20 days. We are very fortunate that they are free from any breathing problems and other more serious medical issues usually associated with 34-week old babies."

Cunningham and Spann say they expect to remain in Connecticut until Halloween or later, depending on the babies' progress.

Hansen-Delkus lawyer up for WFAA8's localized Boston Legal

Blowin' their usual smoke -- but this time from big cigars -- WFAA8's co-alpha males are going Boston Legal on us in a new 30- second promo.

So sue me. I think it's pretty clever, and certainly a natural extension of their egos -- plus sports anchor Dale Hansen's alter ego.

He openly worships William Shatner's vainglorious Denny Crane character. So that's who he's playing here. Weatherman Pete Delkus sits in as wingman Alan Shore, otherwise played in reel life by James Spader. Most episodes of Legal end with a few minutes of their back-and-forth sermonettes.

Delkus and Hansen already play-act on most newscast nights. Dale's old, fat, balding and a loud, lousy dresser. Pete, a former minor league pitcher, couldn't break an egg with his fastball, preens too much and has the forecasting skills of a wind chime. Or so they keep telling each other in so many words.

Some readers have made it crystal clear that they loathe every word of this. Others take it to the max, dismissing Hansen and Delkus as two clowns who overplay everything and basically know nothing.

Who's laughing last, though? WFAA8's newscasts remain a runaway No. 1 at 6 and 10 p.m., where Hansen and Delkus do most of their alleged "damage." That's the only court of public opinion that matters to any TV station. So grit your teeth or maybe grin appreciatively over this fake Crane-Shore exchange from WFAA8's Boston Legal playlet:

"We're like the two sides of a coin."

"And you're tails."

"So I've been told. Sleep over tonight?"

Here's the whole spot:

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., Oct. 7)

Tuesday night's town hall-ish presidential debate, won by ___________ , indisputably put ABC in the D-FW ratings driver's seat.

Round II of Barack Obama-John McCain also could be seen on four rival broadcast networks and three cable channels. Here's the 8 to 9:30 p.m. breakdown in the total homes local Nielsens, with post-debate chat excluded:

ABC (Ch. 8) -- 265,480 homes
Fox (Ch. 4) -- 136,394 homes
Fox News Channel -- 119,344 homes
CBS (Ch. 11) -- 107,166 homes
NBC (Ch. 5) -- 99,860 homes
CNN -- 87,682 homes
MSNBC -- 51,148 homes
PBS (Ch. 13) -- 26,792 homes

GRAND TOTAL -- 893,866 homes

Sorry guys, but that wasn't quite enough to outpoint last week's Joe Biden-Sarah Palin bout, which drew 910,912 homes on those same eight networks. But Tuesday's festivities easily whipped the first Obama-McCain faceoff, a comparative dud with 720,937 homes.

A pair of warmup acts dominated the 7 to 8 p.m. ratings.

CBS' NCIS led with 226,511 homes, outscoring ABC's competing Dancing with the Stars results show (199,719 homes). That points to an enormous turnoff for CBS' resultant debate presentation, which lost more than half the audience inherited from NCIS. The four other broadcast networks all had more viewers for the debate than for their preceding programs.

On to the local news derby, where WFAA8 romped to overwhelming wins at 10 p.m. in both total homes and with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

WFAA8's total homes tally (255,738) more than doubled the audience for runnerup NBC5 (116,909 homes). And in the 25-to-54 demo, WFAA8 amassed 173,726 of 'em in crushing the second place Peacock (70,668).

WFAA8 also romped as usual with twin wins at 6 p.m. But in the early morning ratings race, Fox4 crowed while WFAA8's ratings again slept in.

Fox4 had 121,780 homes at 6 a.m., decisively beating NBC5 (90,117) and doubling up on third place WFAA8 (60,890). The 25-to-54 gold also went to Fox4, with WFAA8 again in a third-place ditch.

At 5 p.m., NBC5 won in total homes and WFAA8 prevailed with 25-to-54-year-olds.

"The 33's" weather team now a one-man band

Weathercaster Fred Barnhill

Meteorologist Fred Barnhill, who's mostly worked "The 33's" weekend shift since joining the station in 1999, abruptly called it quits Monday.

His departure leaves Bob Goosmann as the station's lone temperature-taker and renews speculation that former NBC5 early morning meteorologist Rebecca Miller might be in line to fill Barnhill's vacancy.

Rule that out, she says.

"I have no interest in working weekends, but I would certainly help them out as they search for his (Barnhill's) replacement," Miller said via email Tuesday.

As previously reported, a freelancing Miller recently filled in for Goosmann on three of The 33's late September 9 p.m. newscasts.

"He's such a nice person," she said of Barnhill. "And he helped me learn the computer graphics system at Channel 33 when I was filling in. I'm sad to see him go, and I hope he's got something great lined up."

Several of Barnhill's co-workers also praised him as "one of the nicest people in the newsroom." None wanted to be identified in times when The 33's newscast is under reconstruction with newly appointed news director David Duitch at the controls. He earlier held that position at WFAA8 from 1999 to 2004. Another WFAA8 alum, producer Rob Cartwright, is now Duitch's assistant news director.

Previously owned by Tribune Corp., The 33 now is under the private ownership of notoriously outspoken and unpredictable Chicago billionaire Sam Zell. He reportedly intends to significantly expand the local news operations at all or most of the former Tribune stations. A new early morning weekday newscast supposedly is in The 33's future, but not until sometime next year if ever.

Meanwhile, some incumbent news staffers at The 33 "are working without contracts and there's no talk of any negotiations in the works," according to a station source. "My guess is many of us will be gone when the newscast relaunches again."

In reality, no one knows anything for sure. A gut-grinding, down-spiraling economy and resultant diminished advertising revenues have given every TV newsroom the shakes.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Oct. 3-5)

The Cowboys' near-squandering of an early 17-0 lead against winless Cincinnati kept audiences from defecting elsewhere Sunday.

End result: Another tidal wave in the D-FW Nielsens, with CBS11 the happy benefactor. Kicking off at 3:15 p.m. and ending at 6:21 p.m., Cowboys-Bengals averaged 806,184 homes, with a peak of 918,221 between 6 and 6:15 p.m.

The previous Sunday's stunning home loss to the Redskins not surprisingly logged a higher average of 879,252 homes, topping out with 962,062 in the closing 15 minutes.

This season's record-holder is still Sept. 15th's already legendary Monday Night Football Cowboys-Eagles shootout, which averaged a combined 930,399 D-FW homes on TXA21 and ESPN. The following week's Dallas-Green Bay game barely fell short of that haul, tipping the Nielsen scales at 927,964 total homes in a prime-time showcase on NBC.

No other Sunday, Oct. 5th NFL game drew even one-third of the overall Cowboys-Bengals audience. NBC's Steelers-Jaguars matchup came closest, averaging 238,689 D-FW homes.

Saturday's most-watched program, NBC5's 10 p.m. local newscast, drew 197,284 homes. NBC's Saturday Night Live, which immediately followed, held strong with an average of 158,314 homes.

Friday's local news derby went like this:

WFAA8 won in total homes at 10 p.m., and tied for first with Fox4 among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 enjoyed Eggs Benedict at 6 a.m., winning in total homes and sharing the first-place spoils with WFAA8 in the 25-to-54 demo.

Fox4 had a fun time at 5 p.m. with comfortable twin wins.

WFAA8 again cruised in the 6 p.m. newscast competitions.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (a few highs from Fri., Sept. 19 to Thursday, Oct. 2)

Persistent health problems and recurring medical tests have kept me from these appointed rounds for a while. So it's time to play just a little catch-up by comparing audiences for Thursday night's 90-minute VP debate and the previous Friday's first presidential face-off.

So with pocket calculator firmly in hand, here are the D-FW breakdowns for Joe Biden vs. Sarah Palin, ranked in the order of total homes watching on five broadcast and three cable stations (post-game blab not included):


ABC cov. on WFAA8 -- 199,719 homes
FNC -- 151,007 homes
NBC5 -- 131,522 homes
CBS11 and CNN -- 126,651 homes each
Fox4 -- 94,988 homes
PBS cov. on KERA13 -- 46,276 homes
MSNBC -- 34,098 homes
GRAND TOTAL -- 910,912 homes


WFAA8 -- 175,363 homes
Fox4 -- 138,829 homes
FNC -- 112,038 homes
NBC5 -- 90,117 homes
CBS11 -- 85,246 homes
CNN -- 60,890 homes
MSNBC -- 34,098 homes
KERA -- 24,356 homes
GRAND TOTAL -- 720,937 homes

It all adds up to this. Joe ("fact of the matter is") Biden and Sarah ("hey, can I call ya Joe") Palin outdrew the heads of their respective tickets by a sizable margin of 189,975 homes in the D-FW viewing area.

The lead dogs likely weren't helped by having to open on a Friday night, when many potential viewers instead might have been out and about or in fetal positions over the stock market mess. Still, that's quite a gap.

Reality check: Last Sunday's Cowboys-Redskins game averaged 879,252 D-FW homes on just one channel -- Fox4. At its peak, in the final 15 minutes, the tote board jumped to 962,062 D-FW homes.

That last number is more than 50,000 homes higher than the seven-network aggregate for Thursday's veep-fest. As for Barack Obama and John McCain, they were never in the ball game.