Station Break

Woodcock flies KCBS-TV

After less than a year on the job, David Woodcock is out as general manager of KCBS-TV. Station owner Viacom is about to complete its $650 million acquisition of KCAL(TV) from Young Broadcasting. An internal memo said Woodcock had chosen to leave, adding that he would pursue "other interests," typically code for an involuntary exit.

This will leave KCAL General Manager Don Corsini in charge of both stations when the deal is completed. Many knowledgeable sources believed it would be Woodcock running the duopoly, although CBS station executives never confirmed that and frequently touted Corsini's abilities.

Prior to joining KCBS-TV, Woodcock left KCOP(TV) Los Angeles last year when its owner, the Chris Craft group, was taken over by Fox. Princell Hair, Viacom's No. 2 in local news behind group News VP/ WCBS-TV New York News Director Joel Cheatwood, recently took over the news at KCBS-TV and is expected to emerge as head of news for both, although KCAL News Director Nancy Bauer-Gonzales, who previously ran news at KNBC(TV), may stay on, too.

Noncompetes barred

The Arizona House of Representatives last week approved a bill that would ban noncompete clauses in TV and radio contracts. Scott Bundgaard, the Republican senator who sponsored the bill, says that it is likely to get final approval in the Senate, but local broadcasters are expected to lobby Gov. Jane Hull for a veto.

No exit

WCSH(TV) Portland, Maine's proposed "Get Out Alive" feature took an unexpected turn. Reporter Shannon Moss was not, in fact, able to get out of a car submerged in several feet of water in a Durham lake without the help of police divers. Moss, who has done several such pieces, was unable to break the car window with a "punch" hammer in the simulated incident; the divers had to open the window with a crowbar. The reporter was unhurt.

Besides the divers standing by, Moss had oxygen and an air mask in the car and so was in no danger, according to General Manager Steve Thaxton. He estimates that about 50 to 60 people attended the demonstration, including several kinds of rescue crews.

"We may not even run the story," says Thaxton. "It was not as easy to get out as we imagined." The story may be shot again, this time with a clear means of escape—presumably one that allows for travelers without rescue crews.

Here's Johnny

This may be the first time that saying a station's sweeps ratings are "in the toilet" would constitute praise. Spanish-language WXTV(TV) New York is hoping to draw some extra eyeballs with a local news special report, "Baños de Horror
(Bathrooms of Shame)," identifying the city's worst public restrooms. A word to the streetwise: The three worst discovered were John Jay Park, DeWitt Clinton Park and the East 180th St. subway station; floors in the last were covered with, well, what you'd expect with standing water and toilet paper. The best of the dozen restrooms in high-traffic areas WXTV surveyed was Bryant Park, at W. 42nd St. and Sixth Ave. in Manhattan, adjacent to the New York Public Library.

A fresh start

Sharon Reed, who lost her job at WCAU(TV) Philadelphia amid a controversy involving e-mail threats against colleague Alicia Taylor, will soon be anchoring WOIO(TV) Cleveland's new 5 p.m. newscast.

In March, Taylor reported to police a series of Internet postings she considered harassing and threatening. Police did not charge Reed with threatening Taylor but left any action to the station. Reed has admitted involvement.

"I'm an opportunist at a ratings-challenged station," says WOIO News Director Leesa Dillon Faust, who worked with Reed briefly in Philadelphia. "Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody has issues. She's coming here with a clean slate."

Remembering broadcasters

Bonus Books held a reception in New York for its book Covering Catastrophe, a collection of journalists' 9/11 stories, the proceeds from which will benefit The Society of Broadcast Engineers Relief Fund, among other charities. Here, WPIX(TV) New York anchor Jim Watkins (far right), New York Gov. George Pataki (second from left) and Bonus Books CEO Jeffrey Stern (far left) make a special presentation to Deborah Jacobson, widow of WPIX engineer Steve Jacobson, one of six broadcast engineers who died at the World Trade Center.