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Mar 5, 2001  •  Post A Comment

WCAU wins 11 p.m.; N.Y., L.A. heat up
NBC-owned WCAU-TV, Philadelphia, unseated the perennial market leader, ABC-owned WPVI-TV, which has been the No. 1 station in the 11 p.m. news race since 1975.
WCAU earned a 12.6 Nielsen Media Research rating and 22 share, while WPVI got a 12.0/21.
WCAU News Director Steve Schwaid said his newsroom did not have any stunt sweeps pieces and adhered to covering local issues in the Delaware Valley. “Our universe is where our viewers are,” Mr. Schwaid said. “We do specials and investigative pieces every week, not just during the book. You can’t get viewers just during a ratings period-you have to get them to watch all year long.”
Mr. Schwaid said WCAU’s weather forecasters helped drive viewership. “Our weather team played a key role; weather is a big focus,” Mr. Schwaid said. “We are the only ones in town with all meteorologists, led by John Bolaris. We have four people who are certified meteorologists.”
Although WCAU kept close to home, the two ABC-owned stations in New York and Los Angeles racked up transcontinental mileage during the February book in an effort to serve their diverse viewerships.
Dan Forman, news director at WABC-TV, New York, said he sent reporter N.J. Burkett to Israel from Feb. 4-10 to cover that nation’s election of a new prime minister and Mr. Burkett proved to be the only local reporter on the scene. “We went to cover the election and trouble broke out, and he found himself reporting from the middle of gunfire,” Mr. Forman said.
WABC sent David Ushery to Haiti to cover the inauguration of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. WABC and rival stations sent reporters to Rome to cover local Archbishop Edward Egan’s promotion to cardinal.
WABC won the 6 p.m. newscast for the Monday-Sunday and Monday-Friday ratings, beating WNBC-TV. For the 6 p.m. news Monday-Friday, WABC earned a 8.1/15, up from 7.4/14 a year ago. But WNBC remained No. 1 for the 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. news.
“Our share in news is up early morning as well as early evening, and that was one of our goals,” WABC General Manager Tom Kane said. Across town at WCBS-TV, the 6 p.m. news earned a 3.0/6, down from a year ago when it earned a 3.7/7 in its Monday-Friday numbers. WCBS got a 4.2/8 at 11 p.m., down from a 5.6/10 a year ago. The 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts are co-anchored by Ernie Anastos. This is his first sweeps book since he returned to his old station.
In Los Angeles, for sweeps, KABC-TV sent a busy David Jackson to Israel to cover the unrest and to El Salvador to report on the earthquake aftermath.
“There was … high interest in this community because of the large Jewish and Palestinian communities here,” KABC General Manager Arnold Kleiner said. There are a half-million Salvadorans who live in the Los Angeles market. “We don’t sent reporters out unless there is an L.A. connection.”
While Seattle newsrooms worked overtime to cover the 6.8 earthquake that hit the city on the last day of February sweeps, the Los Angeles market looked more like Seattle, with 14 days of rain during the sweeps book. Fox-owned KTTV, which won the February book for the 10 p.m. news war, beating out last year’s winner, WB affiliate KTLA-TV, had an unusual live shot. On Feb. 28, KTTV went live with weekend anchor Jeff Michael underneath his house, showing viewers how his home was bolted to its foundation for protection from an earthquake.
Los Angeles’ KNBC closed in on the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. news race, but KABC-TV won its sixth consecutive sweeps in the 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts. Despite the rainy month, HUT levels were “way down,” Mr. Kleiner said.
KNBC won the morning news race. Its anchor duo of Kathy Vara and Kent Shocknek anchored their last book at the station. Last week was Mr. Shocknek’s final week at KNBC after 17 years there, and Ms. Vara jumps to KABC on Monday to anchor that station’s 11:30 a.m. news. At KCBS-TV, Los Angeles, “Judge Judy” improved that time slot by more than 100 percent to a 2.9/7, compared with a year ago when it had the “Woman to Woman” newscast. Anchored by Harold Greene and Ann Martin, KCBS-TV’s 5 p.m. newscast was up 26 percent from February 2000 to a 2.9/6. But Mr. Greene’s pairing with Gretchen Carr at 11 p.m. gave KCBS a 4.6/10, down about 8 percent from a year ago, when the newscast was anchored by Jonathan Elias and Ms. Carr.
Karissa S. Wang can be reached by phone at 323-370-2430, via e-mail at kwang@crain.com or by fax at 323-653-4425.