Station Break

WSBK-TV cancels 7 P.M. Newscast

CBS duopoly station WSBK-TV Boston is dropping its 7 p.m. newscast and will launch a 10 p.m. edition. Boston already has two UHF newscasts at 10 p.m., but WSBK-TV/WBZ-TV General Manager Ed Goldman says station research shows that the 10 p.m. audience is driven more by convenience than by allegiance to a particular newscast. The WBZ-TV–produced newscast hopes to gain an edge in convenience by being a half-hour, rather than an hour. It will have different reporters and anchors than WBZ-TV's news.

Launched last fall, the 7 p.m. newscast drew ratings in the mid-2 range. Syndicated Seinfeld
reruns had done about twice that in the time slot. The station will replace the news with a double-run of Frasier.

WSBK-TV had hoped the 7 p.m. broadcast would allow WSBK-TV and sister WBZ-TV to demonstrate the powers of duopoly along the lines of the news model pioneered on cable by NBC through its MSNBC and CNBC networks. "I'm glad we took a swing," said Goldman. "If you don't try, you don't know."

Meredith gains a duopoly, drops a GM

Shortly after the announcement of the long-awaited station swap by the Fox and Meredith station groups, Meredith's new boss Kevin O'Brien replaced Tony Thompson, general manager at Fox affiliate KPDX Portland, Ore., with Teresa Burgess, who has been general manager at Cox-owned KFOX-TV El Paso, Texas.

O'Brien was for many years the head of Cox's KTVU(TV) Oakland, Calif., and regional manager of the group's Western stations. Since taking over as head of the Meredith group, he has also replaced general managers in Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix.

When the asset swap is approved by the FCC, Burgess will run both KPDX and KPTV, for which Meredith swapped WOFL(TV) Orlando and WOGX-TV Ocala, Fla. Fox had no comment on possible management changes.

The deal gives Meredith a duopoly in Oregon and Fox one in Florida. Fox already owns WRBW(TV) Orlando and has duopolies in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, Minneapolis and Phoenix. Fox's two acquisitions will actually decrease the group's audience reach, however, as measured by the FCC.

Finnish but not finished

Finland Calling!, or Suomi Kutsuu!
as they call it in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, celebrates its 40th anniversary this month on WLUC-TV Marquette, Mich. Hosted all this time by longtime local anchor Carl Pellonpaa, now semi-retired, the program aired its 2,000th entry last month and will tape an anniversary show April 27 at the Lakeview Arena in Marquette.

The Sunday-morning show began in 1962 as an outreach to the hundreds of thousands of area residents with Finnish backgrounds, and Pellonpaa believes it's the only show of its kind. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Finns were comfortable with the region's climate and terrain, he explains, and were "attracted by the work in the mines and on the farms."

One major change in the show has been an increased use of English. "What I say in Finnish I will repeat in English for the many who don't speak the language anymore." Many immigrants and first-generation Americans who spoke the language have passed, he says, and many more non-Finns appear to be watching.

I know what you're thinking

Perhaps Miss Cleo needs better representation. Portland, Maine.-area psychic medium Vicki Monroe will host a series of TV shows on WPME(TV) there. Monroe, also described as a doctor of natural medicine, says she can communicate with people's "spirit guides" and can connect with them through hearing, seeing, telepathy, mental images or physical sensations. She is already well-known around New England through her media appearances.

WPME said it was Dr. Monroe's popularity and notoriety that inspired it to pursue the television show. Secrets From the Light With Dr. Vicki Monroe
will air first on April 25 and was taped at the station's studios last week.