Station Break

Springer Takes on WOIO Convention Duty

Cleveland—Talk-show host Jerry Springer, an Ohio delegate to this week's Democratic National Convention, will do double duty as a commentator for Raycom's CBS affiliate WOIO.

"We are in the attention-getting business, and if having Jerry helps people find us, then everybody wins," says News Director Steve Doerr. Doerr's no stranger to Springer's appeal: The two competed against each other more than a decade ago when Springer was a news anchor in Cincinnati.

Springer will report and comment on aspects of the convention that other reporters might miss, says Doerr. "He knows his way around politics," he observes, "and he's terrific on TV."

WBBM Likes Mike

Former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka has signed with CBS O&O WBBM Chicago for a Friday-night football show. Sportscaster Mark Malone will co-host the program, which will preview upcoming Bears games.

"To have the legendary Mike Ditka join this team means that more and more people will be turning to CBS this fall," says General Manager Joe Ahern.

Ditka spent the last few years as a football analyst first for NBC and then CBS. A group of Illinois Republicans tried this year to persuade him to run for U.S. Senate, but he declined.

This will be Ditka's second go-round with WBBM. In the 1980s, when he coached the Bears, he appeared in a regular post-game wrap-up show.

Dollars for Dialing Fails

Columbia, S.C.—The promise of a big payoff did not move the meters much for WOLO. The Bahakel Communications-owned ABC affiliate dangled a $25,000 prize at viewers who participated in a contest to keep count of the number of stories in its 11 p.m. newscast.

Despite the hype, the station's ratings declined at both 11 p.m. and 6 p.m. The late news finished in fifth place, behind two other newscasts and a couple of sitcoms. "We're in this for the long haul," says an undeterred Jim Babb, the company's executive vice president of television and cable.

Though based in Columbia, WOLO's newscasts originate from WCCB, Bahakel's flagship station in Charlotte, N.C.

Cash contests have long been a staple in radio, but few TV stations use them to this extent. There is little evidence that cash giveaways do much to change viewing habits, which are based more often on programs and personalities than on promotion.

Overstepping His Bounds

Fargo, N.D.—A brazen stunt that backfired cost WDAY reporter Michael Licquia his job and more than $1,000 in fines and attorney fees. The station dismissed him last week hours after he pleaded guilty to criminal trespass for climbing over a security fence at the local airport.

The police report quoted Licquia as saying that he was working on a story about airport security and did not tell station management that he planned to scale the fence "to see if I could do it."

WDAY News Director Al Aamodt is a bit more circumspect: "He broke the law and, in the process, cast a negative light on WDAY and [owner] Forum Communications." Licquia had been with the station for two years. His story never ran.

How High Is Up?

Minneapolis—The return of Cyndy Brucato to KSTP gave a quick jolt to the station's slumping 10 p.m. newscast last week, but will it last? The Hubbard flagship, an ABC affiliate, lured Brucato back to the anchor desk this month some 18 years after she left the station to go into PR.

Originally brought in to anchor the 6 p.m. newscast, Brucato got the late chair all to herself when KSTP dismissed co-anchors Kent Ninomiya and Harris Faulkner.

How's it going? The July 12 late news generated a 9 rating—about three times the audience the Ninomiya/Harris team typically drew. While that's cause for some celebration, KSTP remained mired in third place behind KARE and WCCO.

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