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This just in: A night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Tues., May 11)

Fox4's Dan Henry, CBS11's Steve Pickett, WFAA8's Pete Delkus

Monday's devastating tornado touchdowns in Oklahoma continued to draw interest on D-FW's late night TV newsers, although the pecking orders differed significantly.

Fox4 and WFAA8 both topped their newscasts with extended followup coverage and live reports from the scene.

NBC5 and CBS11 relegated Oklahoma to the third spot on their 10 p.m. editions, instead leading with stories of a relatively picayune nature.

Let's look at the game plans.

Fox4 began with Sophia Reza's live report from Cleveland County, Okla., where she introduced her previous interviews of denizens whose homes had been flattened. A suddenly homeless woman spoke as people often do in these situations: "A house we can rebuild. We can't rebuild new people." It's become a cliche, but what else can one say?

Later in the newscast, meteorologist Dan Henry returned to the studio to give an interesting account of his previous day's adventures in Oklahoma with a "moving armada" of storm chasers. "They believe they're breaking new ground," he said of tech-savvy scientists aiming to understand how tornadoes develop so they "can issue better warnings."

As he noted during a telephone report Monday night, Henry and his team were unable to get up close to a tornado. But it wasn't for lack of trying.

WFAA8 weathercaster Pete Delkus didn't chase any storms Monday. But he was in Noble, OK Tuesday night to helm coverage that also included solid reporting from Jonathan Betz on the mobil home destruction that killed a Little Axe mother and critically injured her three children. Delkus proved to be capable in the field, dialing down his tendency to be overly earnest when stationed in front of studio weather maps.

NBC5 chose to lead its newscast with what were termed "startling new details" in the already much-reported case of a Colleyville man who sent his ex-wife a boxed bomb that failed to detonate. Reporter Omar Villafranca said the bomb was designed to kill not burn its would-be victim. But a tiny light filament broke during the packing of the bomb, rendering it inoperative. Interesting, but it could have waited until a little later.

A brief story on the discovery of a bagged grenade floating in Mountain Creek Lake also took precedence over tornado followup coverage. Scott Gordon then reported via videotape on Monday's destruction, telling viewers at story's end, "In a strange way, those who lost everything say they're grateful."

CBS11 went the Terrytown route with an opening pair of "only on CBS11" stories. Jane Slater reported on how chewing gum can be toxic for dogs. And Melissa Newton told how a children's clothing store thief caught on tape set a bad example for her two young children by possibly using them as shields while she stuffed items into a bag.

Somehow Oklahoma seemed like a much bigger story. Then again, fish are caught with minnows, and it was the station's view that more viewers might bite on stuff like this. From this perspective that's classically bad news judgment. But it's also increasingly the way things are done.

Coverage of the tornadoes' aftermath came from veteran reporter Steve Pickett, stationed live in Little Axe. His videotaped package turned out to be the night's best -- tightly written and well-photographed.

CBS11 later made room for Arezow Doost's story on a bumpy railroad crossing in Carrollton that motorists understandably want repaired. One woman claimed it damaged her SUV. Another said she doesn't want the same to happen to her vehicle. A city official said DART approval is needed first. OK, fine, but hundreds if not thousands of such crossings exist in the North Texas viewing area. Doost probably could bank an entire year's worth of reports by highlighting a new one each night.

The station was on stronger footing with Tracy Kornet's dispatch on how women often pay considerably more than men for the same cosmetic products. The only difference is their label -- for men or for women. The women's version of Degree deodorant, for instance, is $1 more expensive than the men's despite having identical ingredients.

SMU marketing professor Dan Howard, featured in Doost's Monday night story on children's toy regulations, again got a chance to wax indignant.

"It is outrageous!" he exclaimed before later noting that companies "charge women more because they know that women are willing to pay more."

Credit Howard, though, for being co-anchor Doug Dunbar's straight man. The professor urged women to "shop like a guy. Buy the man brand." Dunbar then riposted, "I know what Karen's (co-anchor Karen Borta) getting for Christmas -- a big bottle of Old Spice." Let me add my two scents: That's a great line.

Elsewhere Tuesday night, NBC5's reliably strong Randy McIlwain had another good story -- this one on a steady influx of Burmese immigrants to Lewisville after fleeing from religious persecution in their home country.

The station's Kristi Nelson later reported at length on the perils of Vitamin D deficiency, which one doctor said is "epidemic." Maybe so, maybe not. But Nelson's story at least was instructive.

WFAA8 investigator Brett Shipp continued his dogged investigation of faulty gas couplings that have led to home explosions. His latest subject, Irving widow Peggy Mantheiy, lost her husband in January after their home blew up with him in it.

Shipp has been on this case for three years, as he usually points out. It's very valuable work, although Shipp might want to step back just a bit and keep his emotions more in check. His voice seemed to be on the verge of breaking Tuesday night as he narrated closing video of the Mantheiys' home being scraped away.

"Machines can't plow away the pain nor eliminate a widow's pledge to unearth the truth about why another life was lost," Shipp told viewers. A little less drama might be in order next time.

WFAA8 also had an exclusive report on the sorry spat between the divorced parents of the so-called "Wylie's Angel," deceased six-year-old Gerren Joseph Isgrigg. The station's Steve Stoler said that his mother wants him cremated while his father wants a "Christian funeral and burial."

Gerren, who was blind, deaf and also suffered from other afflictions, was found dead near a Collin County pond after allegedly being abandoned by his maternal grandmother. He remains in a funeral home while his parents -- neither of whom had seen him in years -- fight over his final resting place.

Eleven nights to go.