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Station Break

Really WAVY TV

Norfolk, Va.—Stations across the Southeast had their hands full covering the destructive path of the winds and storm surge of Hurricane Isabel. One of those in the eye of the storm, and of the coverage, was WAVY-TV Norfolk. Although as much as 80%-95% of the market was without power sometime during the hurricane, according to some estimates, the LIN station took a variety of routes to get to as many viewers as possible.

Those routes included simulcasts on duopoly partner Fox affiliate WVBT(TV) Virginia Beach, Va.; Paxson's WPXV(TV) Norfolk, with which it has a joint services agreement; and a co-owned all-weather cable channel. For portable- and car-radio listeners, some portion of the coverage was carried on six area radio stations, according to Ed Munson, vice president and general manager of the duopoly and a regional vice president of LIN. "Many of our viewers told us that they listened to us on radio after the power went out," he said.

WAVY-TV stayed on air thanks to a generator at the station and another at the transmitter, but staffers were almost forced out of the station at high tide, said Munson. The backup plan was to originate from a bureau shared with the Tribune newspaper. The backup's backup was a crew stationed at the transmitter.

The station went wall-to-wall with commercial-free coverage from Thursday morning until Friday evening, including a chronicle of the storm's landfall by a crew that was ultimately stranded in North Carolina's Outer Banks when the road washed out.

Keeping Up With Coverage

Washington—RTNDA has released Covering Politics On-Air and Online, a guide to better campaign coverage. The study, billed as a primer for 2004, combines research from the Annenberg Public Policy Center and 10 TV stations during the 2002 elections. TV news directors should check their mailboxes next month for a copy of the report and CD.

WABC-TV Anchor Heads to Florida

Miami—CBS-owned WFOR-TV has snagged WABC-TV New York anchor Robb Hanrahan to co-anchor its 5, 6 and 11 p.m. news with Maggie Rodriguez. Elliott Rodriguez (no relation), who formerly co-anchored those broadcasts, will continue co-anchoring noon and 5:30, as well as moderating a weekend public-affairs show. "We've been looking for a long time for the right person to team with Maggie Rodriguez," said News Director Shannon High-Bassalik. "Robb was the right fit in every area." Hanrahan is no stranger to the market, having worked at WSVN-TV there before joining WABC.

Bill Elder Dies at 65

New Orleans—Bill Elder, award-winning anchor/reporter for WWL-TV, died Sept. 17 of complications from cancer treatment. He was 65. A 34-year station veteran, primarily as a noon and 5 p.m. anchor, Elder was also a tireless investigative reporter whose honors included an Edward R. Murrow Award from RTNDA, awards from AP and the New Orleans Press Club, and a Peabody for a 31-part series on Medicaid fraud. He retired in February 2000 suffering from problems stemming from the 1998 removal of a malignant brain tumor.

Promoting Literacy

KMOV-TV St. Louis anchor Vickie Newton helped launch a book drive by collecting slightly used books outside a St. Louis grocery store Sept. 19. She is a spokesperson for The Literacy Roundtable, which distributes the books throughout Missouri and Illinois.