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Apr 29, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Fletcher uncovers 9/11-related scam
Since moving in March to an investigative reporter job at ABC affiliate KNXV-TV, Phoenix, from the main anchor spot at ABC affiliate KEZI-TV, Eugene, Ore., Lisa Fletcher already has made a splash.
Her big story to date exposed local resident Casey O’Shay, who falsely clamed to have lost loved ones in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. The station initially had covered Ms. O’Shay’s story immediately after Sept. 11, when she said she lost her son and daughter-in-law in the tragedy. But when Ms. Fletcher conducted a follow-up interview with her recently, she suspected something was amiss and did subsequent pieces uncovering the woman’s deception every night during the week of March 25.
On April 24, Ms. O’Shay flew to New York to surrender to state authorities, who were planning to fly to Phoenix to arrest her. Ms. Fletcher said the woman previously had been flown to and from New York on free Red Cross-furnished tickets right after Sept. 11. The KNXV reporter tracked down the name of her supposed son, who turned out to be the long estranged father of Ms. O’Shay’s grandchild. “Not only did I find the guy, but I found [Ms. O’Shay] had seven Social Security numbers and about a dozen aliases,” Ms. Fletcher said. “It just didn’t feel right. I sat there, watched her. Her story had holes in it, and I went back to the station and watched old videos. It turned out to be a big fat lie.” Ms. Fletcher is gearing up for the May book with a piece about the hazard to firefighters posed by roofs supported by increasingly popular wood trusses, which are prefabricated and don’t hold up like the old post and beams.
Pfeffer said to be leaving KPHO
In other Phoenix news, word is that main anchor Cary Pfeffer will leave Meredith-owned CBS affiliate KPHO-TV after the May book because his contract is not being renewed. This is part of the shake-up that began when General Manager Pat North left in January. Bob Furlong, the new general manager, came from across town, where he was running UPN affiliate KUTP-TV. Mitch Jacob became news director in January as well.
Demanding week for L.A. stations
Last week was a busy one for the Los Angeles market, even before sweeps began April 25. The stations began the week with wall-to-wall coverage of the Robert Blake arraignment. On April 23, a freight train ran a red light and crashed into a Metrolink train filled with morning rush-hour commuters, killing two people and injuring many others. KCBS-TV, KNBC-TV, KABC-TV and KTTV all jettisoned programming from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. to cover the crash. Although KABC was the winner of the two-hour block of breaking news with a 4.4 Nielsen Media Research rating and 15 share, KCBS, with eight reporters on the story, beat KNBC, pulling down a 2.7/9 over KNBC’s 2.4/8. KCBS reporter Christina Penza also did a story that day on a technology called Positive Track Control that could prevent such crashes; the following day, the Los Angeles Times ran an article on the same topic. KCBS’s efforts are part of new news director Princell Hair’s vision for the station to cover more hard news. “It’s just part of our overall strategy to be aggressive with hard news and breaking news as much as possible,” Mr. Hair said. On April 18, KCBS was the only network station to break into its popular Thursday-night network program “CSI” to show a live Los Angeles Police Department news conference with the first details of the Blake case.
And the Los Angeles weather war is heating up. KNBC weatherman Fritz Coleman told viewers to watch for the station’s new weather gizmo called SkyScan on the first day of sweeps. The new weather animation system from AccuWeather shows viewers 3-D, fly-through-the sky activity in real time. Rival KABC launched the market’s only live Doppler radar for February sweeps. The two rivals are also revving up traffic news. KABC had a soft launch of its “Traffic on the 7’s” during its morning news on April 12, giving viewers traffic reports every 10 minutes on the “7s” (7, 17, 27 … minutes after the hour) and also on the hour. Although KNBC is No. 1 in morning news, KABC has seen a spike since “Traffic on the 7s” began. KNBC had its soft launch of its “Traffic on the 4s” in the morning news a month ago and officially launched it April 22.