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This just in: A night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Thurs., May 17)

CBS11 reporters Jack Fink, Stephanie Lucero and J.D. Miles

Save for seriously bad weather, lead stories seldom are one and the same on D-FW's late night newscasts.

All agreed Thursday night, though, that the day's biggest news came from Payne Springs in Henderson County, where two deputies were killed and another wounded after they responded to a 911 domestic dispute call.

Big breaking news of this kind is tailor made for new news director Regent Ducas' rapid-fire "urgent" approach. It allows him to swarm a story with "Live Team Coverage," which CBS11 did to good effect with its exhaustive May 2nd storm reporting.

The station's extensive coverage of Thursday's shootings also stood out, with reporters J.D. Miles, Stephanie Lucero and Jack Fink all on the scene. Their live dispatches, with Miles doing a double-dip, gave viewers the best overall feel for what had happened.

CBS11 gets into trouble when it virtually has to manufacture mayhem for the Ducas-initiated "First Five Minutes" of whip-around crime and tragedy reporting. But on nights when there's genuine news of import, the approach can work well.

Belo8 sent reporters Gary Reaves and Dan Ronan to Payne Springs, and they also performed solidly. Ronan tripped himself up, though, by telling viewers, "Two of the three officers who died, they were wearing bulletproof vests. Not a match, of course, for shots fired from a high-powered hunting rifle."

Two, not three officers, died. The other deputy was taken to the hospital with a leg injury. Ronan obviously knew that, but his words didn't come out quite right under the duress of live reporting.

NBC5, which craves crime news even more than CBS11, sent only Scott Gordon to the scene for its comparatively brief coverage. But it was the only station to note that the sinister-looking mug shot of accused assailant Randall Wayne Mays was from a previous 1999 arrest. Blood ran from his left eye in that eight-year-old picture. Viewers watching rival stations were led to believe it was the current-day Mays.

All of the stations made heavy use of an interview with eyewitness Gerald Nicholson, using roughly the same vivid quotes.

"I hate to say it, but I wish they'd been able to kill him," he said of Mays.

Fox4's 9 p.m. newscast, delayed a half-hour by its network presentation of the movie The Day After, was the first station to report the names of the two deceased deputies and their wounded comrade.

Shortly after 9:50 p.m., reporter Brandon Todd read the names live after saying they'd just been given to him, presumably by authorities. CBS11 later named names during its 10 p.m. newscast , but Belo8 and NBC5 never did. Belo8's Ronan told viewers that police hadn't released them yet pending notification of kin.

Other crime stories as usual filled up most of the opening segments on CBS11 and NBC5.

The Peacock's Susan Risdon showed some enterprise in finding a Good Samaritan who came to the aid of a woman being sexually assaulted. And CBS11's Jay Gormley had an interesting followup to Wednesday's biggest crime, the murder of a donut shop employee by a robber who himself later was killed by police after a car chase.

Gormley interviewed a very talkative and demonstrative elderly woman who was with her husband at a Whataburger later in the killer's crime spree. She said he had set his gun down at their table.

Gormley also found the sister of the deceased donut shop worker, who left two young sons behind. It was compelling reporting with a point to it. Too much of CBS11's reporting these days is of the wham-bam school, with car wrecks also a favorite point of attack.

On Belo8, transportation specialist David Schechter had another interesting story on impending tollway makeovers. He makes this stuff interesting, which is no easy task.

Oddly, the station later showed "breaking news" overhead footage of a police car supposedly enroute to serving a search warrant in the case of dead SMU coed Meaghan Bosch. It was Belo8's first late night news mention of a death that has been covered prominently by all of its rivals.

Belo8 anchor Gloria Campos otherwise was nearly beside herself in promoting Janet St. James' story on "a breakthrough in the bedroom!" that might get women ready to rock.

Later in the newscast, Campos enthused, "Ladies, if you have a low sex drive, we may have just the pill for you!"

The station had gone the Viagra-for-women route during an earlier ratings sweeps period. But when in doubt, recycle -- especially when you can plug the story throughout Thursday night's season finale of ABC's Grey's Anatomy.

Pete Delkus and Dale Hansen cooked up another bit, too, after the Belo8 chatterbox promised "a little surprise after the weather."

It turned out to be a bobblehead doll likeness of sports anchor Hansen. It'll be given to lucky fans at the June 1 Fort Worth Cats baseball game.

Big Pete noted that the doll depicts a thinner Hansen with lots more hair. This triggered a full minute of "happy talk," with Hansen displaying and making fun of a minor league baseball card of Delkus when he pitched in the Minnesota Twins farm system.

Hansen ended it all by throwing a brushback pitch at his veteran co-anchor.

"You work with Gloria Campos for 20 years and we'll see how good you look," he told Delkus.

Campos let loose with another Jumbo Jet laugh, but may well have been seething on the inside. Might she have swatted Dale with her purse after the newscast? If so, let's hope they recorded it for future on-air use.

It should be noted that Belo8 management loves this stuff and heartily encourages it. The now almost nightly Dale-Delkus show is seen as a means of minimizing the usual viewer falloff in the second halves of late night newscasts.

Only four more sweeps weeknights to go before your faithful chronicler falls out. Can I at least get a Hansen bobblehead doll?