Station Break

Taff Moves Out, Ladies Take Over

Milwaukee—In an unusual move, WISN will post female co-anchors on its 10 p.m. newscast this week, replacing 25-year veteran Jerry Taff, who's retiring. Kathy Mykleby and Tammy Elliott will constitute one of the few all-women anchor teams for a late-evening newscast. "They have anchored our 5 p.m. show for the past couple of years, and in May, for the first time in a decade, we won the time period in both households and demographics. We have a lot of confidence in them," says Frank Biancuzzo, general manager of the Hearst-Argyle ABC affiliate. Taff, who's in his early 60s, will stick around as 6 p.m. co-anchor until next May, when he plans to return to his hometown in Texas.

Competitors Seek To Block TV-Station Sale

Duluth, Minn.—Two area TV stations want the FCC to deny the proposed sale of CBS affiliate KDLH to Malara Broadcast Group. A petition filed by WDIO, the locally owned ABC affiliate, and KQDS, operated by KQDS Acquisition Group, calls Malara's planned purchase an attempt to skirt FCC ownership rules. Malara, run by former CBS executive Tony Malara, intends to cut staff at KDLH and turn operation of the station over to Granite Broadcasting, the petition contends. Granite already owns KBJR Duluth and provides ad sales, promotion, administrative services and some programming to Malara stations in Ft. Wayne, Ind., and Duluth. Malara dismissed the complaint in a brief statement: "It's unfortunate that a couple of local broadcasters … would go out of their way to file this petition against two stations that have served the market for so many years."

WPTY Fought the Law

WPTY Memphis, Tenn., Clear Channel's ABC affiliate, has had more than its fair share of run-ins with Memphis cops lately. On at least two occasions, police ordered station photographers away from crime scenes but let other people in, says News Director Jim Turpin. After airing a story on one confrontation, Turpin arranged a meeting with police brass, who pledged to stop picking on the media. Arriving news crews have been instructed to contact the on-scene police supervisor to clarify where cameras can and can't go. Memphis media and police have a history of distrust. Says police spokesperson Rhonda Lee, "In the Memphis Police Department, you have not just a few people who don't like the media, but thousands, unfortunately, who don't. It's not fair, but it's true."

News Goes Later

Moosic, Pa.—WNEP, the longtime news leader in the Wilkes Barre-Scranton, Pa., market, plans to launch a 7 p.m. newscast this fall, the latest in a growing list of stations chipping away at the access hour. "Because of the time of day, you can expect the 7:00 to be a different kind of show," says News Director Dennis Fisher. WNEP is an ABC affiliate, owned by the New York Times Co. Other pioneers include Albritton's WCIV Charleston, S.C.; Liberty Corp's WAVE Louisville, Ky., and WIS Columbia, S.C.; and Draper Communications' WBOC Salisbury, Md.

Give Me (Free) Liberty!

Greenville, S.C.—The 15 stations owned by Liberty Corp. will provide free airtime to federal political candidates and a select number of state candidates. Company guidelines call for each station to provide a minimum of one hour per week of "dedicated political airtime," starting one month before Election Day. Forums can include interviews, debates, town-hall meetings or interactive question-and-answer sessions with candidates. Liberty's stations are located primarily in small and medium-size markets in the Southeast and Southwest. The company's initiative is similar to one announced last month by Cox Television.