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CW33's News at Nine: It's a talkie and in color

CW33's Bob Goosmann, Dawn Tongish and Michael Rey

There's another local newscast in D-FW. It's not exactly a diamond in the rough, but it's clearly the product of a limited budget.

CW33's one-hour News at Nine originates from the country's fifth-largest TV market, even if it sometimes seems to be coming from Smallville. It's easy to overlook, and on most nights fewer than 50,000 homes are tuned in. Still, some attention should be paid, or so it says here. Let's go to the videotape.

Monday night's edition was anchored by Michael Rey and Dawn Tongish, who filled in for the featured team of Tom Crespo and Terri Chappell.

The first thing you notice, no matter who's anchoring, is that they stand up throughout the entire newscast. So does sports guy Bob Irzyk and, of course, live-wire weathercaster Bob Goosmann, a D-FW veteran who used to be the main temperature-taker at KTVT-TV (Channel 11) before CBS bought the station.

Everyone's vertical in what sometimes looks like a converted garage. If Belo8's sprawling new Victory Park studios are the market's Taj Mahal, then this is the one-bedroom efficiency. You'll see more frills in a van down by the river. Beware of bumping your head on the low overhead.

CW33 has a small reporting staff and seemingly limited live capability from the field. On Monday night, reporter Shana Franklin had the only live outdoor standup. After an opening Goosmann weather blip, she reported from the North Richland Hills neighborhood where an elderly woman was shot to death by a sub-human who first knocked on her door.

Franklin capably presented the story, but a nightly News at Nine gimmick didn't serve her well. Her sign-off was accompanied by a printed tease for "The Rant," in which viewers are encouraged to text-message their comments on various stories.

"The Rant" plug returned later. This time it soiled video of the tearful mother of a deceased pre-schooler. She was testifying at the trial of a day care center owner sentenced to two years in jail for her negligence and attempted cover-up. Hurry up, viewers, text your take on this one, too.

Alas, "The Rant" turned out to be a runt, despite anchor Tongish's declaration that "A lot of people (are) ranting" tonight. People have a lot to say."

Well, three viewers did, and they said basically nothing.

"She got off too easy," a ranter said of the day care center owner. Another opined that you can't even answer your own door anymore without worrying about breathing your last.

Here's my rant: End this stupid segment immediately. It's less useful than a tin can telephone.

Viewers can get a decent video sampling of news from around the U.S., although "Pinpointing America" isn't exactly an inspired title for another of CW33's nightly features.

Entertainment reporter Victoria Snee also chips in with a "Spotlight" segment that finds her in the company of various celebrities at promotional junkets. On Monday she happily squeezed one of Will Smith's biceps after he talked of getting bulked up for his new movie I Am Legend.

"Oh, hello!" Snee enthused. "Oh my God!" Smith said it was his favor to the ladies.

Anchor Tongish dutifully chimed in with a free ad. "Can't wait for that Will Smith movie," she said. "It's gonna be a good one."

Even on her night off, CW had a Chappell's show. It's a "Wednesday's Child"-like feature called "A Child to Love." The anchor took an 11-year-old girl named Sarah to NorthPark, where she got a little VIP treatment. It played pretty syrupy, but there's no need to criticize an effort to find adoptive parents for needy kids.

Breaks to commercials are bridged by an announcer's over-the-top teases of upcoming stories. And theme music deployed throughout the newscast sounds like something from Cliff Notes and his Tiny Bubbles Band.

The best reason to watch CW33's news is Goosmann's detailed weather segment. He does tend to go on and on, but clearly knows what he's talking about. Goosmann gets fewer bells and whistles than the Amish, although his station at least has progressed beyond paper maps and wooden pointers.

Sports anchor Irzyk did a nice job Monday with the obligatory Dallas Cowboys post-mortem. And he does have one more field reporter -- Dave Crome -- than NBC5's staff-starved Newy Scruggs.

Overall, CW33 puts on a product that might be state-of-the-art in Fargo, but too much like Etch-a-Sketch here. Anchors and reporters are striving to do the best with what they're given. Some are more capable than others. But you can bet that all of them would love to move up to a better situation in D-FW or elsewhere.