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Apr 8, 2002  •  Post A Comment

RTNDA panels resurrected
Some panels scheduled for last September’s canceled Radio-Television News Directors Association convention will get a second shot this week at the RTNDA@NAB confab in Las Vegas. Expected to draw a large audience is the super session “The State of Local News,” discussing competition, sales pressures, ethical challenges, budgets and network-affiliate relationships. The session will be moderated by NBC News weekend anchor John Seigenthaler, and panelists will include New England Cable News President Phil Balboni; Media General VP of News Dan Bradley; Post Newsweek Stations VP of News Mark Effron; Cox Television President Andy Fisher; Scripps Howard Broadcasting Senior VP John Lansing; Young Broadcasting Executive VP of Operations Deb McDermott; WTVH-TV, Syracuse, N.Y., General Manager Gary Wordlaw; Benedek Broadcasting President and Chief Operating Officer James Yager; and Hearst-Argyle Television Senior VP Fred Young.
“We exceeded our expectations in terms of number of registrants, considering that [the convention] was very short notice and this is out of our usual pattern, that it’s held in the spring instead of fall,” said RTNDA President Barbara Cochran.
Another panel at this week’s convention will be “Post 9/11: Journalism in a Brave New World” with NBC News President Neal Shapiro and CBS News national security/Pentagon correspondent David Martin expected to be on the panel. A related panel, moderated by ABC News chief Washington correspondent John Cochran, is “Covering the War: Preparing Journalists for Battle,” which will deal with the war on terrorism. In “From Worst to First,” panelists including Carl Gottlieb, deputy director for Project for Excellence in Journalism, and WFOR-TV, Miami, News Director Shannon High will talk about the keys to making a newscast No. 1. Several sessions, such as “I-Team on a Budget,” tackle the challenge of doing more news for less money. “I think the word budget appears in three or four workshop titles, and that’s the reality people are dealing with today,” Ms. Cochran said. Other headliners to appear at the convention include NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw and ABC News correspondent and co-anchor Sam Donaldson.
The RTNDA convention originally was to be held in Nashville on Sept. 12, but was canceled due to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. RTNDA spokeswoman Noreen Willey said that a few hundred people had already gathered in Nashville on Sept. 11 in preparation for opening the convention. After the attacks, the RTNDA staff chartered a bus back to the group’s Washington headquarters while journalists rented cars to head back to their newsrooms.
She added that this first RTNDA convention at NAB is part of a five-year agreement between the two associations to hold their annual conventions simultaneously.
Haynes joins Detroit’s WDIV
Tom Haynes debuted April 3 as weekday morning anchor at NBC affiliate WDIV-TV, Detroit. Mr. Haynes was a news anchor for CNN Quickcast, an hourly newscast provided by CNN to RealNetworks and AOL Plus. He was also substitute anchor on CNN Headline News, among other duties, and a former associate producer for “Larry King Live.”
KKCO replaces fired forecaster
Bill Varecha, owner and general manager of KKCO-TV, Grand Junction, Colo., told Electronic Media he has already hired a replacement for popular weather forecaster Larry Carlton, who was fired from NBC affiliate late last month amid controversy. But Mr. Varecha won’t name the new weatherman because his start date hasn’t been set yet.
Mr. Carlton, the weather forecaster for the 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. news, was one of the most recognizable personalities in the small market. He recently was convicted of third-degree sexual assault and could receive six to 18 months in jail at his sentencing June 19.
Acme to acquire WHPN-TV
Acme Communications will acquire UPN affiliate WHPN-TV, Madison, Wis., for $5.6 million in cash through a bankruptcy auction. Acme is the third-largest WB affiliate station group, and WHPN will become a WB affiliate after the deal closes. “We are pleased to add our 10th WB affiliate to our station portfolio,” said Acme President and CEO Doug Gealy. “Madison is a great market for Acme-it’s the state capital and a dynamic market with young demographics.”