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This just in: A night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Fri., April 24)

D-FW reporters Jonathan Betz, Emily Lopez and J. D. Miles

There's no easy cure for a slow news daze.

It afflicted all of D-FW's major TV news providers Friday night, none more so than Fox4.

The station topped its 9 p.m. newscast with a story that might have been a chest-thumper in Lint, Nebraska. But in the country's fifth-largest TV market, should any attention at all have been paid to the so-called "religious beliefs" of a squeaky wheel mother in Irving?

"An Irving mother wants her daughter to dress by the book -- the Good Book," anchor Heather Hays teased for openers.

Emily Lopez then reported on a school board vote that allows a second-grader at Thomas Haley Elementary to wear her uniform blouse hanging out instead of tucked in. That's because her mother contended that complying with the school's dress code would "attract attention to her daughter's backside."

School principal Jerry Christian confirmed the exemption in deference to the mother's faith-based demands. Lopez helped prompt his answers as to why Haley has the tucked-in rule. "Not to look sloppy," she said off-camera before Christian parroted her.

"God is good. Thank you, Jesus," the mother said at story's end. Frankly, she sounded more than a little possessed.

Moral of the story: You, too, can be the lead story on a local newscast. Just put your head up your behind. As of this writing, though, rivals NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 have resisted this particular temptation.

NBC5 instead led its Friday 10 p.m. newscast with tried-and-true audience catnip -- an upcoming change in the weather. Not that anything was imminent. Anchor Mike Snyder passed the baton to meteorologist David Finfrock, who said it would be windy over the weekend but probably wouldn't rain until Monday. Which in fact it did. Guess we needed to know that right up top.

CBS11 began its newscast by diving into the swine flu scare story that NBC5 had led with on Thursday night. This obviously is nothing to trifle with, and viewers should be kept apprised of the possibilities that the sometimes deadly flu could spread. But reporter J.D.Miles made it seem as though scurrying to take cover is already a clear and present option. His props were an elderly couple.

"Juaniza Cross and her husband were out and about in Dallas Friday evening, refusing to let North Texas' latest health scare keep them inside," Miles told viewers.

How dare they! Plucky Juaniza also vowed, "We're not going to panic, wear masks or anything like that."

Miles is usually a solid reporter. But he seemed overly intent on stoking "North Texas' latest health scare" in this dispatch.

WFAA8 topped its newscast with reporter Jonathan Betz's story on an Allen neighborhood whose residents suddenly have been told they're living in a flood plain and now have to buy costly flood insurance. This easily was the best lead story of the bunch, but likely of little interest to the viewership at large. It would have been better slotted somewhere in the middle of the newscast. But when a slow news daze strikes . . .

THAT HAIR, THOSE EYES -- Friday is the night for Fox4's extended "Viewers' Voice" segment. Some of the voices at the other end sounded as though they'd had a few, but that's just a judgment call.

One of the callers wanted to know why reporter Lopez said "I don't care" on-camera during a recent nighttime live shot. Anchor Steve Eagar explained that a photographer had told Lopez that the wind was making her hair stick up in back. To which she said, "I don't care."

Eagar also noted that several callers have been telling him he stinks -- a reference to his on-air delivery not otherwise, he added. But a Fort Worth gentleman caller dissented. "Everyone's sittin' there dissin' on you," he counseled Eagar. "Just do your thing. And you do have beautiful eyes. Peace out, homey."

No, you CANNOT make this stuff up.

MAKING THE CUT: SCANTILY CLAD WOMEN -- Fox4 and CBS11 couldn't resist showing "mini-camp" tryouts in Grand Prairie, where half-dressed babes who hope to represent the Dallas Desire are trying out for spots in the Lingerie Football League.

"They will be in full pads, by the way, when the season starts," Fox4 sports anchor Max Morgan quipped.

CBS11 anchor Karen Borta seemed less than bemused by the visuals, noting that all of the news studio's men had their eyes "glued to the monitors."

"I wonder if I should say anything at all," Borta said before weathercaster Larry Mowry noted that "Karen's eyes rolled" off-camera while the footage rolled.

John McCaa lately can't stop tweeting -- even during newscasts.

GOOD WORK -- Fox4's Brandon Todd had an interesting story on Fort Worth's continued population spike and the attendant increased demands on city services. FW is growing faster than any other North Texas city, he said.

***NBC5's Kristi Nelson's "Deals and Discounts" segment provided some good information on affordable theater tickets at venues including the Dallas Theater Center and Fort Worth's Jubilee Theatre.

***CBS11's Nerissa Knight had her two young kids in tow while shopping for healthy cereals at an area grocery store. Her son looked a bit disconsolate after an accompanying nutritionist took away his box of super-sugared Reese's Puffs. "Another mistake is one I often make with my little ones -- letting the kids do the shopping," Knight noted.

***WFAA's Byron Harris continued with Part 2 of his eye-opening investigation of aircraft mechanics whose licenses may be fraudulent.

LEMME FINISH THIS TWEET AND I'LL BE RIGHT BACK WITH YOU, FOLKS -- WFAA8 anchor John McCaa lately has become a tweeting maniac. Take it from weatherman Pete Delkus, who asked Friday night, "Were you tweeting during my forecast?"

"Of course," the usually staid McCaa replied.

A check of WFAA8's Web site shows that McCaa tweeted four times during Friday's newscast. Here are his verbatim communiques with "followers," misspellings and lack of punctuation included:

Rods57 -- next time in grandbury eat at neister's. great german food. smoked and packed on site.
McCaa -- I definitely will do that thanks

EbD_emoting4you -- little unnerving for cabin and cockpit crew plus the flying public...
McCaa -- You're not kiddin

Charlie81 -- good broadcast tonight. Enjoy your weekend
McCaa -- Thanks have a good night!!!!!!!!!!!!

FriscoCliff -- what are some of your fav places to eat? I love Cantina Laredo!
McCaa -- ohmygoodness...too many to mention...

Well, that was time well-spent.

Eighteen nights to go. Until the next time, here's a look at the Emily Lopez story with which we began: