Station Break - Broadcasting & Cable

Station Break

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A WAVE of Thunder

Louisville, Ky.—After blustering for weeks about its "right" to broadcast live coverage of the "Thunder Over Louisville" annual fireworks show, Belo's WHAS demurred, saying that it would "respect the request of the Kentucky Derby Festival" and did not air the April 17 event.

Liberty Corp.-owned WAVE shelled out $50,000 last year for what it said was the exclusive right to broadcast the show, which heralds the start of horse-racing season. The station outbid WHAS, the official broadcast partner for years.

The infighting among Louisville stations grew intense in the days before the telecast. WAVE General Manager Steve Langford and his WHAS counterpart, Bob Klingle, traded barbs during a radio talk show. "We won it fair and square. End of story," Langford said on Clear Channel-owned WHAS(AM).

Bill Lamb, general manager at Block Communications' WDRB, took WAVE's side in a broadcast editorial: "WHAS is more than a poor loser. They are threatening to hurt Thunder by broadcasting it anyway and paying nothing for the privilege."

Fox Hunt

Chicago—For the third time in seven days, Fox TV Stations Chairman Lachlan Murdoch has named a new vice president/general manager. The newest arrival is Debbie Carpenter, who was picked to head WFLD Chicago as well as Fox's WPWR UPN station there. She replaces Stacey Marks-Bronner. Carpenter comes from New York, where she was senior vice president for Fox Station Sales.

Razor Sharp

KTLA Los Angeles morning anchor Sharon Tay raised more than a few eyebrows in her titillating photo spread in the March issue of Razor, a men's magazine along the lines of Maxim
and Playboy. Tay isn't the first Los Angeles newswoman to reveal more than her news chops. KCOP anchor Lauren Sanchez appeared last year in Open Your Eyes, a publication that targets young Hispanic males. And as the Los Angeles Times
reminds us, KTTV's Jillian Barberie and KTLA's Mindy Burbano have "emphasized sexuality to promote themselves and their newscasts for several years."

Car-uption

Honolulu—KHNL reporter Sharon Chen was doing a live shot during the station's 10 p.m. newscast April 8 when she spotted her car rolling away. Chen, still on air, exclaimed the dreaded "s-word"—twice—before the station cut her off. Anchor Howard Dashefsky attempted an explanation, saying that an "unexpected emergency" had arisen. Station management filed an internal memo the next day reminding the news staff to "conduct yourself as if you are on the air at all times." Honolulu Star-Bulletin
reporter Erika Engle wrote of the incident as a "sudden off-camera vehicular malfunction."

Roz Rules

New York—It was an impressive debut for Roz Abrams (left) at WCBS. Overnight ratings for the April 19 broadcast: a 6 rating/12 share in households at 5 p.m., more than double the station's March 2003 average (3/5). WCBS scored an 8/15 during her 11 p.m. newscast, vs. a 5/9 last year. Abrams spent 17 years at WABC before leaving last November at the end of her contract. She will co-anchor at 5 and 11 p.m. with Ernie Anastos, whom she worked with at ABC. Abrams' arrival displaces Dana Tyler, who moves to the 6 p.m. slot, co-anchoring with Michael Pomeranz.

Waiting for Mr. Wright?

New York—The abrupt departure of Fox-owned WNYW/WWOR news director Neil Goldstein raises interesting questions. Will Fox split the news operations of the two stations? Will former WWOR news chief Will Wright return? Goldstein was brought in to oversee a combined newsroom when Fox acquired WWOR from Chris-Craft in 2001. Wright, who was news director at WWOR for nine years, was forced out. He currently heads HDNews, the high-definition news channel launched this year by Rainbow Media Holdings.

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