Station Break

KRON-TV Yanks Newscasts

San Francisco—NBC affiliate-turned-independent KRON-TV has pulled the plug on its 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. newscasts, replacing them with local and syndicated entertainment fare. Out in the shuffle is long-time anchor-reporter Emerald Yeh, who had anchored 11:30.

It's unclear how many staffers will be cut. Station spokesman Jeffrey Weinstock said positions are still being shifted, others eliminated, with at least some of the latter freelancers. He said Yeh was leaving because anchoring midday had been her primary job; she also did consumer reporting.

Brian Hackney and Vicki Liviakis, who anchor at 4 p.m., are expected to be reassigned. The midday newscast will be replaced by "best of" episodes of local cooking show Bay Café,
which airs originals on Saturdays at 6 p.m. The 4 p.m. news will be replaced by an additional airing of Judge Judy, which will now air back to back at 4-5 p.m.

Weinstock said the station wanted to put more resources into its 9 p.m. news. In the November book, the newscast did a 5.1 rating/8 share, up 16% in rating and 14% in share over the November 2002 book. By contrast, the 11:30 newscast did a 1.2/5, down dramatically from a 1.8/8 in November 2002, and the 4 p.m. a 2.9/8 vs. a 3.5/11.

Club Owners Indicted

Providence, R.I.—A state grand jury last week indicted brothers Michael and Jeffrey Derderian, owners of The Station nightclub, on 200 counts each of involuntary manslaughter in the fire that killed 100 people last February. Also charged was the tour manager of the band Great White, which used the pyrotechnics that ignited the fire. All have pleaded innocent. Jeffrey Derderian had been a reporter for WPRI-TV Providence for only a few days when the fire occurred and resigned following the tragedy. The fire was captured on tape because, ironically, a WPRI-TV videographer was shooting footage of the club for a story Derderian was doing on fire safety.

Dual-Language Duopoly Takes Sweeps

Miami—NBC claimed 11 p.m. news bragging rights for the November sweeps in Miami-Fort Lauderdale with what the company says is a national first: The tag team of NBC's English-language WTVJ(TV) and co-owned Spanish-language WSCV(TV) (Telemundo) combined for the No. 1 and 2 spots, with WSCV taking top honors. Between them, they accounted for approximately 40% of the late-news audience in the time period. NBC says it is the first dual-language duopoly to take the top two spots in any market.

Program Log

New York—It's that time of year again: The annual running of the wood memorial, otherwise known as WPIX(TV)'s Christmas-day airing of two hours—now upped to four—of nothing but a commercially uninterrupted fireplace, Yule log ablaze, accompanied by Christmas music.

The footage dates from 1968 and was the creation of late GM Fred Thrower. Thanks to Samsung, this year's log will not only be longer but wider, with a simultaneous HDTV airing on WPIX-DT. Actually, the log debuted in 1966, but that original footage was of the Gracie Mansion fireplace. Seems during filming, the crew decided the fire looked better without the grate and removed it. Sparks flew, burning an oriental rug. When WPIX wanted to update the footage in 1968, it was asked to look elsewhere. Elsewhere turned out to be a studio in California.

The log aired without commercial interruption each Christmas Eve, then a tough ad sell, from 1966 to 1989, by which time the period had become sellable.

Despite a steady stream of calls, then e-mails, the log did not reappear until 2000, and then only online. The site was swamped. The next Christmas, GM Betty Ellen Berlamino decided to relight the TV fire, this time on Christmas Day. Since its return, the log has won its time period.

The music has remained the same since 1966. That's partly due to the wishes of log fans, of which there are many says Berlamino. "You wouldn't believe the fan base for this," she says. "In a way, it has become this sacred tradition that we try and treat with a certain respect."

If you have a local news item, contact John Eggerton at (202) 463-3712 or e-mail him at

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.