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May 14, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Station adapts to delay of execution
Timothy McVeigh’s execution was postponed to June 11, forcing Oklahoma City NBC affiliate KFOR-TV to pull its two crews back from Terre Haute, Ind., on Friday and scrap its planned special coverage of the event.
“Right now we’re just trying to make sense of the situation,” KFOR spokeswoman Luanne Stuart said. “That’s the nature of news coverage-things change all the time. That’s what they’re trained to do, and we’ve gotten our fair share [of news] in Oklahoma.”
Ms. Stuart said the station spent last Thursday and Friday in live coverage of reaction by relatives and friends of victims of the Oklahoma City bombing. “Once again, the victims are victims again,” Ms. Stuart said. Main anchor Linda Cavanaugh was scheduled to cover the story from Terre Haute this week in hopes of being the only Oklahoma reporter to be chosen to witness the execution. An exclusive interview by Ms. Cavanaugh with Charlie Hanger-the Oklahoma Highway Patrol officer who caught Mr. McVeigh during a routine traffic stop-that was scheduled for today’s 10 p.m. newscast has been postponed.
CBS stations expose credit card scam
KCBS-TV, Los Angeles, investigative reporter Joel Grover broke a locally based story with the help of several CBS stations around the country. The undercover piece revealed that Wellquest International, based in the L.A. area, sold customers’ credit card numbers to other companies such as J.C. Penney and LegalDirect, a legal advice service.
Wellquest sells health and beauty products such as “D-Snore” through publications such as Self, Marie Claire, GQ and The New York Times and cable outlets including the Weather Channel and the History Channel. The operators take credit card numbers and then tell the customers they will receive free gifts.
But the gifts weren’t free-Wellquest reportedly sold the numbers to J.C. Penney, for example, which billed customers a monthly $8.95 on their statements for a discount buying club they did not sign up for. LegalDirect charged customers $20 a month.
“This wasn’t a story about small-time crooks stealing your credit card number, this was a story about credit cards being abused,” Mr. Grover said. “This is not a fly-by-night company-it takes 9,000 calls a day in its boiler room in the L.A. area. It’s a major operation.”
The piece showed customers around the country complaining they had been scammed. Mr. Grover enlisted the help of reporters at CBS-owned WBZ-TV, Boston, and CBS affiliates WKRC-TV, Cincinnati, and KOVR-TV, Sacramento, Calif.
Probe centers on ex-KDVR executive
According to the Denver Post, prosecutors launched an investigation last week into investment fraud allegedly perpetrated by the former managing editor of Fox-owned KDVR-TV, Denver. The district attorney’s office in Denver received a complaint that Scott McDonald, 28, solicited loans and investments from some Denver news media personalities, public relations executives and a city government spokesman. Mr. McDonald, who left the station April 20 citing “private reasons,” told the Post he “approached friends and colleagues with what I thought was a good moneymaking proposition.” He said about $100,000 in investments and loans was involved. The Post states KDVR consumer reporter Tom Martino plans to sue his former colleague, accusing him of fraud and failure to repay a $50,000 loan. Mr. McDonald told the paper that KDVR sports anchor David Treadwell and reporter Will Jones also invested money with him.
Trejos might leave amid KTLA shakeup
The word is the contract of weekend sports anchor Claudia Trejos at WB affiliate KTLA-TV, Los Angeles, will not be renewed when it is up in June. Ms. Trejos came from Spanish-language KWHY-TV, Los Angeles. Just two weeks ago, KTLA’s popular morning newscast anchor Barbara Beck left after 10 years with the station, reportedly because of tension with morning news
Executive Producer Marcia Brandwynne. KTLA did not return calls to comment on the talent changes.#
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.