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CBS11 news dawns with newcomer Russ McCaskey in sunshine mode


First look: CBS11 newcomer Russ McCaskey at 4:30 a.m. Monday. Photo: Ed Bark

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Polished, jovial and closer in age to his veteran co-anchor, Russ McCaskey joined Karen Borta Monday on CBS11’s no longer basement-dwelling early morning newscast.

McCaskey, who spent the last 15 years as a P.M. co-anchor at NBC affiliate KJRH-TV in Tulsa, OK, is replicating Borta’s move earlier this year from longstanding nighttime duty to unforgiving yawn patrol service. It’s not for everyone. But Borta and company made their marks in the May “sweeps” ratings when CBS11 climbed out of last place in the early mornings for the first time in the station’s history. Gannett8 took the fall, dropping behind CBS11 in the key 25-to-54-year-old audience demographic (main advertiser target audience for news programming).

Wearing a dark suit, white shirt and blue/white checked tie, McCaskey looked crisp and very wide awake on his maiden two-and-a-half-hour shift. A couple of tiny, inconsequential word stumbles stopped him short of pitching a perfect game. But he threw strikes on some potential tongue twisters, including “padlock-proof Plexiglass.”

McCaskey, who replaces interim co-anchor Jason Allen, repeatedly was called upon to introduce himself to viewers. His Texas bonafides are these: born in Dallas, attended Plano Senior High School and Texas Christian University before migrating to KXII-TV in Sherman, TX for his first TV job. He’s married with a son in high school and a daughter getting ready to go off to Oklahoma State University. And his seemingly immovable hair has a bare wisp of grey in the frontal region. You might have to squint to see it, though.

“Can I say I brought the sunshine?” McCaskey asked at the end of his first early morning shift. He can and he did. CBS11 would rather he bring further A.M. momentum to a station that will add another new player, traffic reporter Chelsey Davis, on June 8th.

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