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Jun 18, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Buffalo town meeting a winner
With 37 murders committed in Buffalo during the first half of this year, ABC affiliate WKBW-TV, Buffalo, pre-empted one hour of prime-time programming June 6 to air a town meeting dubbed “Taking Back the Streets.” The special won its 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. time slot, earning an 8.8 Nielsen Media Research rating and 15 share and beating out NBC’s “The West Wing” on WGRZ-TV, which scored a 5.7/10. CBS affiliate WIVB-TV, which ran two episodes of “Ladies Man,” averaged 6.2/11 for the hour.
“This station made its reputation over the years as being the station to go to when there was a crisis, and 37 murders halfway through the year is a crisis,” said WKBW News Director Bob Yuna, who was hired in March. “So we’re returning to what’s made the station great historically. The only complaints people had [were] they wanted more and they wanted it to be longer.” WKBW will air another town meeting special at 8 p.m. July 11.
Dance of the news directors
Now that May sweeps are over, it’s time for news directors to begin the game of musical chairs. Just seven months after joining Young Broadcasting-owned NBC affiliate KRON-TV, San Francisco, News Director Mark Berryhill will leave the station to return to Boston, his hometown. “I felt I needed to be close to home,” he told Electronic Media.
KRON Assistant News Director Stacy Owen has been promoted to replace Mr. Berryhill, who will stay on through July as vice president of news and then will assume an advisory role. “I don’t have anything lined up right now,” Mr. Berryhill said, denying a rumor that he would become general manager of CBS affiliate WPRI-TV, Providence, which is in the process of being acquired by Sunrise Television. WPRI News Director Matt Ellis announced he would be going to “Good Morning America” as head news writer, leaving a vacancy at the news director level.
Meanwhile, NBC affiliate WHDH-TV, Boston, General Manager Mike Carson is busy interviewing candidates in a national search for a news director and so far, he reports, “There’s a lot of interest” in that coveted job. WHDH News Director Nancy Nydam left June 8 because of “philosophical differences.”
In Los Angeles, Young-owned independent KCAL-TV News Director Dennis Herzig has announced his resignation after 41/2 years on the job; Monday will be his last day.
KPRC eathers Houston floods
The torrential rains and flooding that claimed 20 lives in the Houston area earlier this month proved a challenging story for NBC affiliate KPRC-TV, Houston. There were intermittent camera problems, inoperable cellphones and live trucks that had to be repositioned due to rising water. “It was really hard-roads were closed, crews got stranded, several live trucks got stuck,” said KPRC News Director Nancy Shafran. “One person in our newsroom literally lost everything. His whole house flooded. “
Ms. Shafran made one photographer get medical attention June 12 after showing his bug-bitten legs on the air to warn kids not to play in the water. “The fire ants got into his protective clothing and he has hundreds and hundreds of bites,” she said. However, KPRC did have cause to celebrate; according to General Manager Steve Wasserman, the station’s just-in May demo numbers placed it No. 1 among adults 25 to 54 for the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. news for the first time.
WPIX takes high-definition plunge
WB affiliate WPIX-TV, New York, was set to air Friday’s interleague baseball game between the Yankees and Mets in high-definition on WPIX-DT, Channel 33. It was the first time a New York station has produced and aired an HDTV program locally.
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.