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Station Break

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

But He's Available To Anchor CNN

Miami— Golfer Fuzzy Zoeller was disqualified from the Royal Caribbean Classic tournament after taking a few shots on the Crandon Park Golf Course for a story by WSVN-TV Miami weather and lifestyle reporter Jackie Johnson.

Zoeller, a former Masters champion, had given Johnson—recently named by as "America's sexiest weather girl"—an hour lesson and demonstrated a few shots on-camera. Tour officials observed the swings and informed Zoeller that he'd violated the rule against taking practice shots on the tournament course. Ironically, it had been tournament officials who had contacted the station about doing the story, said News Director Alice Jacobs, and supplied Zoeller to give Johnson the pointers.

Although Zoeller didn't complain, several of the golfers present felt that the violation was innocuous and said publicly that he should have been allowed to play. "We felt really bad. He didn't do anything wrong; we didn't do anything wrong," said Jacobs. Zoeller told the station that tour officials later apologized to him for the disqualification.

AFTRA Calls for NLRB Vote

Chicago— The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which has campaigned extensively to pressure NBC to recognize it as the bargaining agent for NBC's Chicago Telemundo station, WSNS(TV), has asked the National Labor Relations Board to oversee an election.

If AFTRA were to be designated by the election as the bargaining authority for the Telemundo employees, according to AFTRA, it would mean that the Telemundo employees will join the unit already in existence to represent employees of NBC's WMAQ-TV Chicago. AFTRA said it is ready to proceed with the election procedures barring any legal challenges from NBC, which appear unlikely.

Although AFTRA has gained resolutions and letters of support from community leaders and the Chicago City Council, NBC has maintained that it would recognize the union if it was voted in under a National Labor Relations Board-sanctioned election but not based on past petitions signed by employees there.

NBC says, "We have said all along that we respect our employees right to choose union representation. We are pleased AFTRA has finally agreed to go through the established legal process. Had they filed this petition eight months ago, this would have all been resolved."

Duhamel Sues Over Tower

Scottsbluff, Neb.— Duhamel Broadcasting has filed a $7 million lawsuit over the September collapse of its KDUH-TV Scottsbluff, Neb., tower, which killed two workers and injured three others. The nearly 2,000-foot tower—the tallest structure in the state—was being reinforced for digital transmission when it collapsed (B&C, 9/30/02, p. 32).

The lawsuit alleged negligence in the omission of temporary bracing during the project. Fred Purdy, president of defendant company Structural Systems Technology, said the work had been subcontracted and the matter was in the hands of his company's lawyers and insurers. The casualties were not station staffers but members of the construction crew.

Beutel Retires

New York— Longtime WABC-TV anchor Bill Beutel, who cut back on his workload in 2000, is retiring for good. With Beutel on the set Thursday night, the station ran a lengthy tribute during its 6 p.m. broadcast reflecting on his four decades at the station and in New York broadcast journalism. "I won't say it's a sad day," said News Director Ken Plotnick, who has worked with Beutel for 15 years and called him a mentor. "I'll say it's a proud day. There will always be a part of Bill Beutel at this television station."

Beutel began as a reporter at WABC-TV in 1962 and switched between station and network over the next several years. He was an overseas bureau chief for ABC and, in the mid '70s, was host of the network's A.M. America. But he is best-known for his legendary anchor-desk pairing with Roger Grimsby.

Premier Investigator

KCNC-TV's Brian Maass (r) interviews Denver Police Lieutenant Gary Lauricella. The station's investigative team reported that Lauricella, one of the department's top commanders, was moonlighting on taxpayer time. The report led to the commander's suspension and a police investigation of him and other officers. The Rocky Mountain News last week called Maass "the premier investigative reporter—print or broadcast—in Denver."