Station Break

Short Shrift for Shortsleeve

Boston–Veteran WBZ anchor Joe Shortsleeve will disappear from the anchor chair of the station's 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts on Oct. 4. He lost his seat to a new co-anchor team of Josh Binswanger and Lisa Hughes. Shortsleeve will be reassigned as the shows' "chief correspondent."

"It makes us a stronger team," says General Manager Ed Goldman. "What we are looking for is to make the needle move."

WBZ, a CBS O&O, has been a non-contender in Beantown for years. In recent months, WBZ has launched a new branding campaign ("CBS4"), brought in a new news director (Matt Ellis) and moved its 5 p.m. newscast to 4 p.m., replacing it with Dr. Phil, a move that worked well for sister station KYW in Philadelphia. In May, the WBZ newscasts finished third at 6 p.m. and second at 11 p.m.

It's a Twister!

Viewers of Gray Television's WJHG got a rare live close-up of a tornado as it formed and raced across town. Meteorologist Jason Kelley was using a camera mounted on the station's tower to show cloud formations in advance of Hurricane Ivan when he spotted the twister in progress.

"We have a tornado on the ground. Somebody roll tape!" an agitated Kelley is heard saying. The audio track also records sounds of the building being shaken as the tornado approached the station. The storm killed two people.

Meanwhile, Clear Channel's Mobile, Ala., NBC affiliate WPMI last week continued to piggyback its signal onto that of sister station WJTC, a UPN outlet. High winds from Hurricane Ivan heavily damaged WPMI's tower. Its newscasts will be carried on WJTC until further notice.

WUSA Union Probe

Washington–As if Gannett's WUSA wasn't having enough troubles with poor ratings and newsroom changes, the union representing its on-air staff is investigating the station's employment practices. The D.C. chapter of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists says it's looking into complaints that WUSA routinely fires or reassigns older workers.

In recent months, WUSA has released anchor Mike Buchanan and informed sportscaster Frank Herzog that his contract would not be renewed when it expires in November. Each had been with the station for more than three decades. Earlier this month, WUSA said it was removing 35-year veteran anchor Gordon Peterson from its 11 p.m. newscast.

New UPN in Horse Country

Lexington, Ky.–Gray Television's CBS affiliate WKYT now uses its digital signal to carry programs from United Paramount Network, giving Lexington its own full-power UPN station. Until this month, viewers had to depend on a low-power station whose over-the-air signal delivered little more than static to most of the market.

The move is unusual, but not unique, for Gray. In July, the company began a similar setup in Knoxville, Tenn., where its CBS station WVLT employs its digital feed to carry UPN.

The scheme opens a world of programming flexibility. On Sept. 11, while CBS was carrying the U.S. Open tennis tournament, WKYT shifted a college football telecast to WKYT-DT. The UPN station also rebroadcasts WKYT's 6 p.m. newscast at 7 p.m.

A Paltry Pauley

Indianapolis–No matter how you spin it, it has been a rough first month for Jane Pauley's new daytime show, even in her hometown and on her home station. In spite of a billboard campaign that plastered Pauley's face all over town, the show debuted in third place behind The Oprah Winfrey Show
and Judge Judy
, scoring a disappointing 4 rating/10 share on WISH, where Pauley spent her formative years as a reporter. Ratings dropped 25% on day-two (3/8).

Still, that's better than the show's national average of 2/5 for its first week.

News Adventures in Paradise

Honolulu–Raycom-owned WB affiliate KFVE plans to introduce the market's first 9 p.m. newscast on Oct. 18. General Manager John Fink says the station will hire up to four new newsroom staffers to handle the show. KFVE will share a staff with KHNL, which is co-owned by NBC, and will use KHNL's news set, albeit with what Fink describes as "a different look and feel."

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