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Drum roll: Introducing the first unclebarky.com local news all-stars

It proved to be a long, eye-straining, brain-draining November. Watching a full "sweeps" worth of D-FW 10 p.m. newscasts is not recommended for the faint of commitment.

But what's done is done, and it's been worth the effort. I now have a renewed grasp of what's making news in the country's sixth largest TV market. Too much of it is consultant-induced drivel that isn't worth your time. But that's all been duly documented in the daily dispatches on these pages. Now it's time to acknowledge only the best anchors and reporters working the all-important late night shifts at Fox4, NBC5, Belo8 and CBS11.

This first unclebarky.com All-Star team is made up of those who regularly appeared on 10 p.m. newscasts during the 20 weeknights of the November "sweeps." With anchors, that's easy. It's pretty much the same faces night after night, and many of them have been coming into your homes for a decade or more.

Selecting the team's reporters is a tougher challenge. I've narrowed it down to eight, with the caveat that they had to make at least two appearances to qualify. That makes room for investigative work that takes time to prepare properly. Some of these were very close calls, but the idea was to put together a team of varying skills and ages. Experience counts for a lot but it's also important to replenish the stock with promising and energetic younger reporters.

So here we go. And please feel free to put together your own teams in the comments section.

CBS11 has a consistently solid mix of breaking and enterprise stories. It resists responding to virtually every crime committed in the D-FW viewing area. Resorting to flash and trash apparently is the easiest road to ratings prosperity, as a certain station with a Peacock mascot demonstrates night after night. CBS11 sometimes plays that game, too, but it's far more often on the side of the angels. More viewers need to support TV journalism of a higher calling -- before it's too late.
Runnerup: Fox4


Tracy Rowlett (CBS11) -- Still the steadiest hand in the business. Authoritative but not authoritarian, he takes the news seriously without being stuffy about it. You won't find a better local anchor anywhere. Consider him D-FW's Walter Cronkite. Solid as a rock, trusty as a Collie.
Clarice Tinsley (Fox4) -- She's nearly Rowlett's equal in terms of tenure, but Tinsley has weathered all of her storms at just one station. She brings a stateswoman's presence to latenight news. Once upon a time she over-sold the news. She's long since matured into a model presenter with a still-strong presence.
David Finfrock (NBC5) -- They say "Arctic Blast," he says "cold front." Immune to gimmickry and overblown pronouncements, Finfrock simply gives you a forecast you can take to the bank. Schooled by local weather legend Harold Taft, he knows his subject and it shows. Don't ever make him change.
Dale Hansen (Belo8) -- Yes, he's a loose cannon, full of bombast and too often fueled by a longheld grudge against the Dallas Cowboys. But he's our Dale, and no one in the market has a more entertaining or distinctive sportscast. Hansen will keep doing it his way until they show him the door. Damned if that's not admirable.

John McCaa (Belo8), Karen Borta (CBS11), Pete Delkus (Belo8), Mike Doocy (Fox4)

REPORTERS (in alphabetical order)

Rebecca Aguilar (Fox4) -- You can always count on a straight story from her. A tenacious, hard-digger with a long history at the station.
Bennett Cunningham (CBS11) --- His on-air flair can be a bit overdone at times, but Cunningham's consumer reports invariably have a sound foundation.
J.D. Miles (CBS11) --- Send him out on anything and he'll deliver the goods. A strong, reliable street reporter.
Shaun Rabb (Fox4) -- He's been at it a long time, and knows the black community inside out. Eminently fair and no longer off-puttingly showy.

George Riba (Belo8) -- He's been reliably covering sports in D-FW for longer than the Mavericks have existed. Still hasn't lost his enthusiasm for going beyond the playing field.
Robert Riggs (CBS11) -- Another combat veteran, literally. He's covered the war in Iraq and brings a serious sense of purpose to whatever else he's digging up.
Shelly Slater (Belo8) -- She's the team's rookie phenom, a newcomer whose talent and imaginative approaches to stories already are readily apparent.
Brandon Todd (Fox4) -- This guy really goes after it, and it shows when his competitors are covering the same story. Expect him to give you a little something the others don't have.

Ginger Allen (CBS11), Derek Castillo (NBC5), Jeff Crilley (Fox4), Jim Douglas (Belo8), Jay Gormley (CBS11), Byron Harris (Belo8)