In Their Own Words
Students present the news on Teen Kids
By Paige Albiniak -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/17/2004 8:00:00 PM
Some enterprising New York kids are making news. Teen Kids News, a 30-minute news program by and for kids, is cleared on 203 stations, including the American Forces Network in 178 countries. One year old, the show averages 4 million viewers, according to a Nielsen Sigma report.
Some of the anchors and reporters are offspring of well-known broadcasters: Haley Cohen is the daughter of CNN's Paula Zahn, Cody Gifford is the son of Kathie Lee Gifford, Jenna Ruggiero is the daughter of WNYW New York anchor Rosanna Scotto, and Ben Cohen is the son of The View's Meredith Vieira. And two of the show's kids are established talents in their own right: Mwanzaa Brown played Young Simba in the Broadway version of The Lion King, and Felipe Dieppa voices Diego on Nick Jr.'s Dora the Explorer.
Teen Kids News airs in daytime on Saturdays and Sundays, timeslots where it can be tough to win an audience because of sports preemptions. The program is cleared mostly for barter, including three minutes of local time and three minutes of national time; the deal is cash-plus in a few markets.
Executive producer Albert T. Primo, who created the Eyewitness News format, and award-winning Eyewitness News producer Alan Weiss are responsible for 52 episodes a year. They get writing and editing help from their partner, The Weekly Reader, a children's educational magazine with a circulation of 11 million. The show also includes a feature from Children's Pressline, an international news service.
Primo came up with Teen Kids News after watching coverage of the Columbine school shootings in 1999. "For kids to become interested in the news, it has to be presented by them, even if it is gathered, written and edited by adults," he says.
"Al was relentless" in terms of clearing the show, says Lew Leone, president and general manager of WCBS New York, which carries the show Saturdays at 1 p.m. "It's a great idea to have kids anchor the news. It's important to try and get them interested from an educational and community-service standpoint."
And it's good business, Leone adds, to build brand loyalty from an early age.
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