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KFMB-TV Photographer Missing
San Diego—The Coast Guard and other law-enforcement agencies conducted a scaled-down search late last week for KFMB-TV photographer Sean O'Kane, missing since Monday morning, Aug. 25. Authorities began their search efforts as a "rescue," but, by press time, it appeared all but certain that O'Kane's leased helicopter, on its way to a training flight in Long Beach, had crashed into the ocean near Encinitas in North San Diego County. By Thursday, the search was being called a "recovery," and sonar equipment was expected from Northern California to aid divers in the search. Flying had been a hobby for O'Kane.
Before losing contact Monday, he had asked air-traffic controllers for permission to increase his altitude to get out of a cloud bank. Witnesses in Encinitas area told local reporters they heard sounds of an engine backfiring and sputtering, then a loud splash.
KFMB News Director Fred D'Ambrosi said that some of the staff from KFMB-TV and KNSD(TV) San Diego, where he had once worked, went to the Moonlight Beach area near Encinitas Monday night to look out on the search "and to grieve."
Former WPVI-TV reporter Rose Tibayan returned to Philadelphia for a party at the World Fusion Restaurant celebrating the book she left the station to write. Tibayan reports that more than 100 people showed up to see early copies of Résumé tapebook: The Job-Hunting Handbook for Television Journalists, including some former WPVI colleagues. Several universities have expressed interest in using the book for their broadcast-journalism students, Tibayan said. She left the station after management found her book in conflict with her contract. She now lives in Chicago, where she moved to be with her fiancé.
Brief Bragging Rights
Milwaukee—For two weeks last month, promos for Milwaukee's newest nightly newscast boasted that it was the city's only 9 p.m. newscast. Well, yes and no.
On two successive Thursdays, Fox-owned WITI(TV) carried network-programmed football games, preempting its own nine-year-old newscast. That left Sinclair's WVTV(TV)'s weeks-old newscast, temporarily, as the only newscast at that time on those nights. Viewers were beckoned to see teased stories "tonight on Milwaukee's only 9 p.m. newscasts," said WVTV News Director Joe Radske, who says he did not write the promos.
WITI News Director Bob Clinkingbeard, who says he noticed the promos while surfing during a break in the game, acknowledged that they were technically correct. "But they couldn't say they're the only completely local newscast," he added. That's a reference to Sinclair's Centralcast, in which part of the newscast is produced locally and part at Sinclair headquarters in Maryland.
Radske says he's starting with a staff of 22, full- and part-time, for the hour program. Since its Aug. 11 launch, WVTV has averaged about a 1 rating, to the long-established WITI's typical 9-plus.
Peacock Picks WRC-TV ND
Chicago—WMAQ-TV News Director Vicki Burns has been named to succeed Bob Long as vice president of news for Washington-market leader WRC-TV. Long took over news at KNBC(TV) Los Angeles. All three stations are owned by NBC.
Burns has been news director at WMAQ-TV since 1998 and had been assistant news director there before briefly working at ABC-owned Chicago rival, WLS-TV. A popular figure in the WMAQ-TV newsroom, her return to the station was seen as a morale booster following the difficulty the station faced after the debacle over Jerry Springer's commentaries: The talk show host's hiring to provide commentaries angered many in the newsroom and prompted the departure of two anchors and the replacement of the GM, VP of news, and news director. Burns is a veteran of all of Chicago's Big Three O&Os, having begun her career at WBBM-TV.