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This just in: A night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Tues., May 18)

NBC5's Kevin Cokely and CBS11's Tracy Kornet

Let's start with the two D-FW stations that didn't start their late night newscasts with more of those overblown weather alerts.

Those would be CBS11 and NBC5, which respectively ranked first and second in Tuesday night's Nielsen ratings for both total viewers and advertiser-favored 25-to-54-year-olds. Maybe that was purely coincidental. Or in a refreshingly perfect world, maybe viewers finally are getting sick of weathermen gone wild.

NBC5 began with a decent package of airplane pieces. The station had to fly reporter Scott Gordon to Washington, D.C. for one of them. He's on "Strike Watch" while American Airlines management and flight attendants dicker over a new contract.

To his credit, Gordon didn't fan any flames, noting that the sides remain far apart, but that a possible strike authorization vote doesn't mean any walkout is imminent.

"If a strike happens -- and it's a big if at this point -- it would be sometime later this summer," he told viewers.

As is typical in these cases, the flight attendants' union head was happy to talk with Gordon while management brushed him off while he walked alongside an American Airlines VP. Too busy, lotta work to do, said a grinning but firm Mark Burdette.

NBC5 followed with a story by Kevin Cokely on a conference in Dallas aimed at finding ways to curb "wildlife strikes" that continue to jeopardize flights. He was talking about flocks of birds. One North Texas company has sold some airports on the idea of bird-resistant artificial grass implants alongside airport runways. DFW Airport spokesman David Magana, ever cordial on camera even when WFAA8 gumshoe Brett Shipp upbraids him, told Cokely that "if it's a worthy idea . . . we'll certainly look into it."

CBS11 led with reporter Carol Cavazos' story on a man who was severely injured 10 months ago in a multi-vehicle North Texas freeway accident. He's still partially disabled and is yet to receive any sort of settlement.

The story didn't quite jell, mainly because it's still unclear if the complainant, David Horn, actually merits a big payday. Bu the piece nonetheless was affecting. "Broken and broke," as Cavazos described him, Horn works 600 miles from home at a friend's kiteboarding shop in South Padre. It's the only work he can do, she said. But Horn's wife, who talks to him via Skype, said tearfully, "I mean, this is not even a quality marriage for us anymore."

Later in the newscast, anchor/reporter Tracy Kornet had a more easily digested piece on a North Texas couple that spends 10-12 hours a week entering various sweepstakes. People like them are known as "Sweepers." And over the past 22 years, their efforts have paid off with winnings of four new vehicles, 90 free trips, etc. etc.

"It's a high. And it never goes away," said Gwen Beauchamp, who also noted that she never lets a loss get her down.

This turned out to be a winning human interest piece on a night when ho-hum stories were easy to come by. So much so that Fox4's 9 p.m. newscast piggybacked onto two stories previously told by rival stations.

Reporter Sophia Reza had a jailhouse interview with the now contrite subhuman who ran down a 17-year-old bicyclist and left him for dead on a rural road. CBS11's Jane Slater interviewed Donald Lewis Cassell III on her station's Monday night newscast. Convicted of a previous DWI, he admitted drinking on the night of the fatality, but said he thought he'd merely hit some livestock.

Later on Fox4, Matt Grubs reported on a McKinney elementary school's banning of Silly Bandz, the latest little kid craze. He put his usual inventive spin on the piece, but NBC5's Ellen Goldberg first told the Silly Bandz tale on Monday night.

Fox4 again spent ample time on American Idol finalist Casey James of Cool, TX, who took another beating from judges for his opening song choice Tuesday night. Brandon Todd, seasoned veteran of area Idol "watch parties," talked to the 27-year-old James' mother and brother this time. His jackpot likely will be a trip to next week's Idol finale in L.A. if James somehow survives Wednesday's penultimate vote-off.

WFAA8 again got all lathered up about the possibilities of inclement weather in outlying areas, with co-anchor Gloria Campos telling viewers up top, "Severe storms are possible tomorrow," with a chance of hail and strong winds.

A shirtsleeved Pete Delkus then predicted a "two-day event," with those living in areas between Wichita Falls and Texarkana the most susceptible.

Later, during his regularly scheduled weather segment, Delkus offered an almost apologetic discourse on how he's "getting a lot of confusion in our computer models." He then elaborated at length in a manner that made even the Lost storyline seem easy as pie. Campos and colleague John McCaa were on the receiving end, and perhaps deserve Lone Star Emmy acting awards for seeming to actually pay attention.

Delkus means well, but damn.

McCaa also all but scolded that small group of high schoolers seen sloshing through standing water in Seagoville on Monday's 10 p.m. newscast. The water was "so high" that the road was closed to traffic, he told viewers. "It is unclear if they had an alternate route or had to walk through the water to get home."

For the record, WFAA8's first report on Washington crossing the Delaware said that the water was only 12 to 15 inches deep. But you can't be a kid anymore -- at least not when WFAA8 is watching.

None of the station's non-weather stories made much of an impact. The newscast cried out for an enterprising story by David Schechter or Jim Douglas. Or a worthy investigation by the aforementioned Shipp or Byron Harris. But none of them were contributors Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, the weather remains sunny but a bit windy at unclebarky.com world headquarters in Garland on an early Wednesday evening.

Six nights to go.