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Rocky, oft-redundant start for KTXD-TV's Texas Daily

Ex-WFAA8 mainstays Troy Dungan and Tracy Rowlett ventured opinions on Monday morning's premiere of The Texas Daily. At right is host Jeff Brady, also formerly of WFAA8. Photos: Ed Bark

Dallas-based KTXD-TV (Ch. 47) is best known at present for its menu of vintage TV series repeats via an affiliation with ME-TV.

Unfortunately, Monday's 8 a.m. premiere of The Texas Daily ended up being repetitive as well, robbing the one-hour program of any real momentum or substance. Recurring technical problems didn't help either.

Helmed by former WFAA8 newsman Jeff Brady, who's billed as a "host" rather than anchor, Texas Daily's principal selling point is its roster of "pundits' who used to be star players on D-FW newscasts. As previously posted, there are 13 of them in addition to Brady. All except ex-NBC5 sports anchor Scott Murray have ties to WFAA8.

Tracy Rowlett and Troy Dungan, who respectively worked together for a quarter-century as WFAA8's main anchor and weathercaster, were first onboard Monday after yet another onetime WFAA8 personality, former PM Magazine co-host Leeza Gibbons, introduced the program to its opening day audience.

A companion clip showed Suzie Humphries telling Murray with relish, "No, I'm not on Twitter. Does someone have a twit for me?"

But Texas Daily isn't above soliciting viewer response via Twitter or Facebook. Brady did that early in the show after telling viewers, "This is not going to be your typical newscast . . . It's not a newscast necessarily. It's a conversation."

Rowlett and Dungan initially sat right there with him at the host desk, awkwardly reacting very briefly to the chosen headlines of the day in a "Morning Rush" segment that got repeated ad nauseum throughout the program. Brady briefly touched on the weekend's light earthquakes in Irving, the death of a North Texas soldier in Afghanistan and a rainy opening weekend at the State Fair of Texas.

"Of course, this is the longest conflict the U.S. has ever been involved in," he said as the camera panned over to Rowlett and Dungan. "Mmm hmm," said Dungan, apparently caught more than a bit off guard. And that was it.

Brady for some reason also cited "this poll taken in Colorado" that showed President Obama with a 58-34 percent lead over Mitt Romney. Texas Daily made no further identification in the poll, whose gaping margin seemed curious to say the least. In a September 24th Colorado survey by Public Policy Polling, Obama was shown leading Romney by just a 51-45 percent margin, with 4 percent undecided. It's the latest available poll of Colorado voters from politico.com.

Wednesday's first of three presidential debates will originate from Denver. "I'm a lifelong Republican," Dungan said. "I'll vote for Romney, but I'm not crazy about the guy."

Rowlett did not disclose his voting intentions, but the two of them seemed unanimous in their surprising disdain for the State Fair. Dungan said he hadn't been there in years and had no plans for any future visits. Rowlett agreed: "I try to avoid the Fair where possible."

It's probably safe to say that many in the older baby-boomer audience that Texas Daily is targeting remain avid Fair goers. In that context, Rowlett and Dungan perhaps came off as more than a little elitist, if not downright churlish. But they're entitled to their opinions.

Scott Fossey's weather briefs were two or three too many.

One of the worst aspects of Texas Daily's opening day were the repeated weather and sports briefs from a bespectacled forecaster named Scott Fossey and younger, studlier Eric Sullivan.

There were not one, not two, but five of these apiece. And the content and patter never varied. Fossey kept beginning his segment with "As we kick-start another week together." He also referenced a "little pinwheel of energy" five times. Sullivan unfailingly greeted viewers with "What's up, everybody?"

Repeating such segments makes much more sense in the very early hours of workday mornings, with new viewers constantly waking up and tuning in. But by 8 a.m., it should be assumed that the great majority of viewers are watching a program from start to finish. In that context, the weather and sports segments became annoying at best, infuriating at worst. Two or perhaps three of these would be more than enough. And the content should vary at least a little; instead viewers had to choke down the same seemingly pre-taped bits.

A top-heavy load of commercials didn't help matters. It too often seemed that the content of Texas Daily was interrupting the ads -- not vice-versa. And just about every spot aired at least twice during the hour. Save for the dentures commercial, which mercifully subjected viewers just once to an offer of "just $395 for a full upper or lower."

Brady regularly got cut off by the onset of these commercials, a timing glitch that easily can be fixed. But on Monday, it made the whole enterprise seem all that much more amateurish.

On two occasions, the host, Rowlett and Dungan repaired to an informal living room setting for more extended conversations that still seemed too brief.

One of the segments, on the Obama and Romney campaigns targeting just a handful of "battleground" states, had the potential to be more informative than it was. Instead, Dungan noted his previous reference to himself as a post-WFAA8 commercial endorser with "four clients." He then said, "Now that we're back in television, we need these TV stations to make some money (on campaign ads) so they can pay us those semi-huge bucks." Rowlett laughed uproariously.

Texas Daily otherwise is buttressing Brady's news headline-reading with some taped pieces from CNN. For the most part they were OK, although viewers should have been told that KTXD is using such material because of its affiliation with CNN.

The program also presented the apparently obligatory but completely unneeded "Daily Viral" segment. Rowlett and Dungan seemed to be put off their feed by visuals of a Doberman fighting a little cat. Neither could muster a comment. Texas Daily also could stand to junk a "#Trending on Social Media" filler in which the Top 5 topics mistakenly appeared on-screen in the opposite order that Brady ticked them off.

Brady is a solid choice as host, though. He had a lot of stuff to read during this first Texas Daily. And for the most part he got through it very capably.

If Texas Daily is truly going to be different, though, it needs to accentuate and lengthen the "Daily Viewpoint" segments while losing a lot of the needlessly redundant stuff. This obviously is a fluid work in progress. And there's ample work to be done.