Station Break

Almost local news

WOLO-TV is the "Eyewitness News" station in Columbia, S.C., but, in October, that witness may have an unusual vantage point: another state. The ratings-challenged Bahakel Communications Group station will have its news "centralcast" from its WCCB(TV) Charlotte, N.C., station. It will mean lost jobs for many of the approximately 70 Columbia-based staffers. About 30 newsroom personnel have already been given notice.

General Manager Chris Bailey said the move is intended to avoid costs of digital conversion by using the already converted co-owned facility less than 100 miles away (see story, page 20). The station will maintain a small news staff, which will send reports to the Charlotte station for a newscast produced there and sent back over fiber-optic lines. Similar economic conditions have led to combinations with stations inside and outside group-ownership lines, and several stations have ended news outright in the past year and a half.

"We currently do an hour and a half a day, and we'd like to keep as much as we can," said Bailey. The Charlotte Fox affiliate does news at 10 p.m. and will add at least 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts, with dedicated WOLO-TV anchors, for WOLO-TV. About a dozen positions may open up in Charlotte, Bailey said, and could be filled by WOLO-TV staff. Many Charlotte-based newspeople, he said, will be moving between the cities, taking advantage of the promixity to raise their profile in Columbia.

WYMT-TV News Director dies

WYMT-TV Hazard, Ky., news director, anchor and station manager Tony Turner, 40, died Sunday, June 30, of injuries sustained in an automobile accident last month.

Turner began his career in radio in 1970 and moved to television in the mid 1980s after having been general manager of WFSR(AM) Harlan, Ky. He began at WYMT-TV as a reporter in 1986 and was named news director and anchor shortly after. A fan of political reporting, for years he anchored a local show, Issues and Answers...The Mountain Edition, which, the station said, featured guests ranging from local mayors to former presidents.

Assistant News Director Carole Butcher has been running the station's news department. General Manager Ernestine Cornett said she had not begun planning for Turner's replacement. The station has established a scholarship fund in Turner's name for aspiring Kentucky broadcasters.

Turner is survived by a wife and two children.

Code of silence

A Minneapolis gossip columnist couldn't help commenting on the irony of the information surfacing locally about CBS O&O WCCO-TV news staff's being asked to adopt a Viacom business-conduct code that includes restrictions on comments on or off the record and on providing internal documents to the news media unless designated to do so.

The code is distributed throughout Viacom's expansive corporate structure —although a spokesperson for 60 Minutes
correspondent Steve Kroft told Star-Tribune
columnist C.J. that he was unfamiliar with the requirement. Nor are such restrictions limited to Viacom. Still, she noted, "WCCO reporters couldn't break news without the help of sources disclosing information in some of the ways that are now verboten around the newsroom."

Dana McClintock, a spokesman for the CBS Station Group, commented: "Journalists have a right to do what they do. Businesses have a right to manage their press efforts independent of that process."

Maine move

Maine Public Broadcasting has tapped veteran broadcaster Mary Anne Alhadeff as its next president. She has been president and chief executive officer at Prairie Public Broadcasting, Fargo, N.D., and succeeds Rob Gardiner, who announced last year he was leaving but agreed to stay on while a replacement was chosen.

A former Emmy-winning producer and one-time New Hampshire Public Television executive, Alhadeff begins her new job in Bangor next month.

Talking politics

WCVB-TV Boston anchor Natalie Jacobson interviews Massachusetts Democrat and Sen. John Kerry for the political program Commitment 2002, which is part of station owner Hearst-Argyle's group effort on political coverage. Kerry discussed the ongoing threat of terrorism and the Supreme Court decision on school vouchers.