Station Break

Second chance for WWOR-TV

A New Jersey appeals court ordered a new trial for WWOR-TV New York, which had been ordered to pay former anchor Sara Lee Kessler more than $7 million in 1999 for discrimination.

The jury had rejected her contentions that she suffered discrimination over her age, religion and gender but held that she was demoted and forced onto disability leave after injuring her lower back.

The appeals panel found that the trial court's instruction to the jury was unclear.

Kessler is now a medical reporter for the New Jersey Network.

KRON-TV's Berryhill returns to Boston

Mark Berryhill, who was hired by Young Broadcasting last November to maintain and expand KRON-TV San Francisco's news in preparation for the loss of its NBC affiliation next year, is leaving the station to return to New England.

The former WHDH-TV Boston news director still owns a house in Boston and says he is leaving for personal reasons.

Last week, he did not have a job lined up but said he might take the summer off while consulting with KRON-TV.

Berryhill, who left WHDH-TV for a radio job in Boston, says he won't be applying for his old job at the TV station. General Manager Paul Dinovitz quickly promoted assistant news director Stacy Owen to fill Berryhill's position.

After Young outbid NBC for KRON-TV when it was sold in 1999, KRON-TV and NBC, after much negotiation, failed to reach a new affiliation agreement. Instead, Granite Broadcasting's San Jose station KNTV(TV) made a 10-year deal with NBC beginning in 2002 after Granite agreed to some unusual terms, including paying for the affiliation.

Young management has said that much of its success as an independent hinges on the continuing success of its news programming.

Unexpected tribute

Several recipients of the National Association of Broadcasters awards last week noted the presence the guest of honor, former heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali. But when KRQE(TV) Albuquerque News Director Dan Salamone received a public-service award, he paid an unexpected tribute to a TV station he grew up with. The New England native noted the presence of WCVB-TV Boston executives and commented that, "every day, I wake up and hope to be as good as WCVB."

"I almost fell out of my chair," said WCVB-TV General Manager Paul LaCamera. "It was certainly a spontaneous, unsolicited endorsement. We were touched and honored. It couldn't have been lovelier."

Big shoes to fill, not just in Chicago

Kids around Chicago will be wiping the smiles off their faces as Joey D'Auria, Chicago's Bozo since 1984, took off the clown white for the final time. The last of more than 200 Bozos around the country taped his last performance for WGN-TV television last week, for a scheduled airing this summer.

Competition from kids cable networks such as Nickelodeon and Disney had caused the show's ratings to dip after 40 years in Chicago and more than 50 nationwide.

Among those who snagged the hot tickets, according to the Chicago Tribune, were Alan Livingston, the record exec who created the beloved clown in 1946; Carol Bell, widow of Chicago's original Bozo, Bob Bell; and rocker Billy Corgan, of Smashing Pumpkins, who sang Bob Dylan's Forever Young for the atypically adult Peanut Gallery.

Good Morning, Ellis

It was reported last week that WPRI-TV Providence, R.I., did some staff trimming as Sunrise Television took over from Clear Channel. This week, News Director Matt Ellis, who had confirmed those staff changes, is leaving the station.

Ellis will become head writer for ABC's Good Morning America. He said he had floated his résumé in anticipation of the ownership change. Sunrise had assured him he could stay, he said, but "the opportunity to jump to the network was too good to pass up."

No more wire microphones!

WSYX(TV) Columbus, Ohio, cameraman Jason Old had his first paparazzo moment when he was confronted by Academy Award-winning actress Faye Dunaway for shooting her image against her wishes. She was in town making a film based on a local minister's life.

All news is local. Contact Dan Trigoboff at 301-260-0923, e-mail
or fax 413-254-4133.