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Feb 18, 2002  •  Post A Comment

WFAA’s Shipp makes national waves
After his national exposure on “Nightline” last week, investigative reporter Brett Shipp from ABC affiliate WFAA-TV, Dallas, has been getting e-mail from colleagues around the country. He appeared to discuss a story WFAA broke Jan. 1 about people who were jailed after being falsely accused in a drug bust. Police called the August bust, which gained national attention, “major” and said they obtained 200 pounds of cocaine. But according to the WFAA report, which investigative producer Mark Smith helped break, the white powder was gypsum powder-plaster of Paris-with just a “trace” of cocaine.
“This is the most important story I’ve ever done,” Mr. Shipp said. “It’s what being a journalist is all about. It doesn’t get any better than this, to make this kind of difference in somebody’s life.” Since WFAA’s story, those arrested have been released from jail, two officers have been put on leave and the FBI is investigating the case. In March, District Attorney Bill Hill, whose office allowed the cases to go forward, is up for re-election.
Games play for Portland, Seattle
While it’s no surprise that Salt Lake City NBC affiliate KSL-TV is the highest-rated station for the Winter Olympics, Belo-owned KGW-TV in Portland, Ore., and KING-TV in Seattle are second and third, respectively. KING sent 12 newsroom employees to cover the Games. KGW sent 10 staffers. KGW is pre-empting “Inside Edition” at 7 p.m. and airing the special “Live at the Winter Olympics.” “Normally, we do a 5 rating and 9 share in that time period, and on Tuesday we did a 13.3/22 for that half-hour,” said KGW Program Director Brenda Buratti. “It’s unbelievable.”
Since the first day of the Olympics, KING’s 6:30 p.m. newscast has enjoyed a spike, with an average 15.0 Nielsen Media Research rating and 25 share, compared with a 9.0/16 in February 2001. That newscast leads into the 7 p.m. “Evening Magazine,” which is being renamed “Evening Magazine at the Olympics.” That show is averaging a 14.6/25 compared with a 6.6/12 for February 2001. KING’s 11 p.m. news leading out of the Olympics has an average of 14.7/37, up from 8.1/21 in February 2001. “Our ratings in Seattle are a combination of the fact that KING has always overindexed the network-our ratings are always higher than the national average-and the fact that the Northwest is very recreational-sports-oriented,” said KING General Manager Dave Lougee.
KCBS helps divert potential crisis
KCBS-TV, Los Angeles, anchor/ reporter Jonathan Elias broke a story Feb. 11 that an Arab man bought seven small propane tanks, nine Valentine’s Day teddy bears and thousands of BBs at a Santa Clarita, Calif., Wal-Mart. The FBI considered the purchase suspicious, conjecturing that the tank and BBs could be put into the bears, and then the bears rigged to explode. On Feb. 13, the store released its security camera video of the white truck the man used. The story about the purchase might have helped diffuse a possible terrorist act on Valentine’s Day. Mr. Elias got the story the old-fashioned way: by talking to sources on a regular basis. “It just happened in a conversation with a source, and I talked to two sources before I confirmed it with the FBI,” Mr. Elias said.
High hopes for low-power Bowl
Mitch Lambert, general manager of Rockfleet Broadcasting-owned ABC affiliate WVII-TV, Bangor, Maine, who also runs Bangor’s UPN affiliate, sister station WCKD-TV, is hoping the Super Bowl, which aired by special arrangement on WCKD, garnered enough ratings to finally register the low-power station in the February book. WCKD, launched in March 2001, is also available on Adelphia Cable. When WB affiliate WPXT-TV, Portland, Maine, switched from its Fox affiliation in October, leaving no Fox affiliate in the state, WCKD couldn’t switch affiliation from UPN, so the next best thing was to get the rights to Fox Sports. Viewers could also get Fox through satellite and cable. Mr. Lambert said having rights to the Super Bowl and NASCAR will help get viewership for WCKD. “My whole motive here was to build this new station,” Mr. Lambert said. For a week before the Super Bowl, Mr. Lambert aired promos on WVII to tell viewers to watch WCKD, which is the only station in Bangor to have a 10 p.m. newscast.