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Apr 22, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Market vet gets border tunnel scoop
Lupita Murillo, veteran crime reporter at NBC affiliate KVOA-TV in Tucson, Ariz., broke a story last week about an underground drug tunnel found below the parking lot of a U.S. Customs office in border town Nogales, Ariz., that connects to Mexico. It was the 12th drug tunnel on the Arizona/Mexico border that has been found since 1995. When the U.S. Customs office parking lot began to sink, officials started digging to see if it was a sink hole. Instead, they found a drug tunnel that passed underneath their property. KVOA News Director Lisa Contreras credits Ms. Murillo’s more than 20-year tenure at the station with her getting the scoop. “She’s the best-known crime reporter in Southern Arizona,” Ms. Contreras said. “Her reputation is that she’s been in every drug tunnel that’s been discovered along the Mexico-Arizona border.” These sophisticated underground drug tunnels-some of which even have electricity and air conditioning-are turning up more often along the border. “You can’t measure the value of working on a beat that long and having the kinds of sources Lupita has-it’s amazing,” Ms. Contreras said.
News director, GM leaving KNTV
The sale of NBC affiliate KNTV, San Jose, from Granite Broadcasting to NBC is expected to close April 30. The FCC has already approved the acquisition. On April 16, KNTV News Director Scott Diener sent a memo to staffers telling them he was leaving the station. The week prior, KNTV General Manager Bob Franklin announced he was leaving when NBC takes over. Mr. Franklin was also running Granite-owned WB affiliate KBWB-TV, San Francisco. On April 17, Granite announced Bob Anderson will be the new general manager of KBWB as of May 1. As for who will run KNTV, NBC has a list of three to four finalists. It has been widely reported that Linda Sullivan, general manager of NBC-owned WRC-TV, Washington, is on the short list.
As WCIA goes digital, WCFN turns to UPN
CBS affiliate WCIA-TV, Champaign, Ill., is the only station in the Springfield-Decatur market that went digital on April 2. It is the same day its satellite station WCFN-TV in Springfield, Ill., became the primary UPN affiliate in the market in a five-year affiliation deal. WCFN served as the WCIA news bureau and had no actual station, just a transmitter and tower to repeat WCIA’s signal-and now to carry UPN programming. The sister stations are 90 miles apart.
WCIA and WCFN General Manager Perry Chester said because the signals are now in digital, the cable companies can pick up the one digital signal and multiplex it on two channels in their analog systems. That ensures viewers in the various parts of the market will be able to watch both UPN and CBS programming. Mr. Chester said the big concern in Springfield was they wouldn’t be able to get WCIA, and now they’re able to get it on cable or digital. And in Champaign, they are able to get WCFN on cable. “We’ve talked to people who are receiving our signal on digital sets,”Mr. Chester said. “They’ve called us and they say that they’re able to pick up the digital signal and it looks great, very clear.”
Real promos for `Real People’ at KTLA
On April 13, WB affiliate KTLA-TV, Los Angeles, launched its first major promo campaign since 1998, focusing on its news talent, called “Real People-Real News.” It is on 500 buses and 10 billboards in addition to on-air time. In the on-air promos, viewers see news talent in a more personal light. For example, KTLA morning news anchor Carlos Amezcua plays football with his kids, evening anchor Hal Fishman pilots his airplane and talks about his love of flying, and entertainment reporter Sam Rubin shows viewers his childhood home in West Los Angeles. The campaign, still in production to add more talent profiles, will run through the end of this year. Later in the year, KTLA will profile reporters and what they do when they are not on the air. “So many times newspeople that are on the air are one-dimensional. What is wonderful about this campaign is you are able to see the human side of these people, and they’re just like us,” said KTLA News Director Jeff Wald. “We really wanted to show the other side.”