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Mar 26, 2001  •  Post A Comment

WHLT plans 15 layoffs, no newscasts

WHLT-TV, the CBS affiliate in Hattiesburg-Laurel, Miss., will air its last newscast March 30 and lay off 15 staffers. WHLT General Manager Todd Buccelli said the newscast, which the Media General-owned station launched in 1999, did not have high enough ratings.

Block, Raponi promoted by Cox

Cox Television has promoted Jeff Block from station manager to vice president and general manager at Fox affiliate KTVU-TV, Oakland, Calif., and Tom Raponi from station manager at independent station KICU-TV, San Jose, to vice president and general manager.

They will report to former KTVU General Manager Kevin O’Brien, who retains his title as Cox’s executive vice president of Television Independent Group/Fox.

ABC affiliate WNCF lays off eight

ABC affiliate WNCF-TV, Montgomery, Ala., laid off eight employees last week in an effort to cut costs and improve ratings, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. Among the casualties are main anchors Bob Howell and Dee Dee Sharp, market veteran and political consultant Bob Ingram and general assignment reporter Isaiah Harper.

The newspaper said WNCF reporter Elizabeth Artz will be the new main anchor, and her male co-anchor will be announced in a few weeks.

KONG crowned king in Seattle

For the first time last week, the half-hour 10 p.m. newscast anchored by Lori Matsukawa and Allen Schauffler on Belo-owned independent station KONG-TV, Seattle, beat the half-hour 10 p.m. news on Fox affiliate KCPQ-TV on a Monday when Fox’s “Ally McBeal” was the lead-in for KCPQ. KONG earned a 4.8 Nielsen Media Research and 10 share, with a lead-in of 2.9/5 for the last quarter-hour of “Cops.” KCPQ’s newscast got a 4.4/10, with 10.8/18 as a lead-in from “Ally McBeal.”

While it may seem like a small victory, Dave Lougee, general manager for KONG and sister station NBC affiliate KING-TV, Seattle, says KONG’s newscast has won on other nights, but this is “a sign of strength and growth.” KONG’s newscast, which is cross-promoted on KING at 9:50 p.m., was launched two years ago. The newscast is produced by KING’s newsroom. “As baby boomers have kids, they’re getting up earlier and going to bed earlier.” Mr. Lougee said. “KONG gives us the wonderful option of not being landlocked by network prime. We’re able to offer viewers the options of our news at both 10 p.m. [on KONG] and 11 p.m. [on KING].”

KIRO wins Murrow regional award

CBS Seattle affiliate KIRO-TV will receive the Radio Television News Directors Association’s Edward R. Murrow regional award for overall excellence for the second year.

KIRO also received national recognition for a tape of the recent 6.8-magnitude earthquake shot as reporter Brian Wood was setting up for a news conference in the mayor’s office. That footage was seen across the country. KIRO News Director Bill Lord said the station went from a 2 Nielsen Media Research rating and 8 share to a 12 rating and 30 share in a five-minute period at the start of the earthquake.

“We just have an extraordinarily talented team that works very closely,” Mr. Lord said. “When there is a breaking story like the earthquake, each manager has a certain function. When I was in L.A. (as KNBC-TV’s news director), we were constantly having to go on the air to do live O.J. coverage. So the things we learned there we’ve applied here.”

Davis in weekend anchor chair at WBBM

John Davis will be the new weekend co-anchor at CBS-owned WBBM-TV, Chicago, starting March 31. He will co-anchor with Katherine Bliss. Mr. Davis joined WBBM in 1982 and was the first U.S. reporter to talk with Nelson Mandela following Mr. Mandela’s release from prison, according to WBBM.

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.