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Surviving locally

From the nation's large markets to the small, CBS affiliates rallied behind Survivor to swell the audience bases for its newscasts.

In one of the more show-stopping examples of Survivor tie-ins, Rob Cizek, news director at WTVR-TV Richmond, Va., teamed up with WRXL(FM) to strand five women in a R.V. for the chance to win $1,000 in groceries.

Over at KIDK-TV Idaho Falls, Idaho, News Director Terry Miller came close to pulling off the stunt-of-all-stunts. He was planning to strand anchor Tim Vendt on Keefer Island, located in the middle of the state's Snake River.

Then, Miller was going to launch a canned- food drive, in which each turned-in can gave viewers one vote on how long Vendt stayed on the island.

Unfortunately, before it could happen, Vendt left to take a job at larger-market station KULR-TV Billings, Mont. Talk about being a survivor.

"I think it would have been fun," says Miller.

WCBS-TV New York and KCBS-TV Los Angeles produced countdown shows (leading into Survivor's two-hour finale) that handily won their time periods.

Wcbs' go at it, which featured its in-house chef Tony Tantillo serving up barbecued worms to a live audience, nabbed a 10.1/17 metered-market average, according to Nielsen Media Research. Time period runner-up was wabc's Wheel of Fortune (9.8/17).

Similarly impressive was kcbs' effort, which netted an 11.6/20; its closest rival was kttv Fox's The Simpsons (5.5/9).

Their late-night newscasts were also propped up high. Wcbs' news (11.4/20) won its time period and was the highest-rated 11 p.m. newscast of the year for the station. Kcbs' 11 p.m. show nabbed a 9.2/20, swiping the late-night newscast title from perennial victor knbc (6.4/20).

Kcbs News Director Roger Bell exclaimed, "I might just write in [CBS Television President and CEO] Les Moonves as president on election day."