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Station Break - Broadcasting & Cable

Station Break

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Dog Days

Houston's NBC affiliate, KPRC, has become the latest station to adopt a canine mascot for its weather team. The Post-Newsweek station recently introduced a 5-month-old mixed breed adopted from the local humane society. More than 5,800 viewers participated in an online poll to name the animal. The winning moniker: "Radar."

Radar isn't alone. Forecaster Tom Sherry frequently works with "Doppler the Weather Dog" at KREM Spokane, Wash.; KSHB Kansas City, Mo., forecaster Gary Lezak adopted two dogs, "Windy" and "Stormy," while shooting a promo at an animal shelter. Both have appeared with him on-air and at public events.

This isn't a new stunt. NBC first broached the "pet–as–co-host" concept in 1953, introducing a chimp named "J. Fred Muggs" as an on-camera foil to Dave Garroway on the nascent Today show.

News Vet Floyd Kalber Dies

Chicago—Floyd Kalber, 79, a TV news legend who led WMAQ and later WLS to ratings dominance, died May 13 of emphysema. He was nicknamed The Big Tuna because, colleagues once joked, he had as much power in the newsroom as a notorious Chicago mob chieftain, Tony "Big Tuna" Accardo, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Kalber anchored the WMAQ 10 p.m. newscast for 16 years beginning in 1960. Eventually, he was teamed with a 24-year-old Jane Pauley,. That pairing was awkward and unsuccessful, and he left to join the Today show, the program where Pauley would later come to dominate. He quit the news business altogether by the 1980s but was wooed back by Dennis Swanson, then general manager of ABC-owned WLS. He began anchoring the 6 p.m. news there in 1984; it was top-rated for 14 years, although he liked to joke about how little he actually did besides arrive shortly before the newscast and then leave. Kalber retired in 1998.

TV Time

Flint, Mich.—WJRT, an ABC O&O, found itself involved in a drug case last week when prosecutors and lawyers representing a man convicted on drug charges struck an unusual plea bargain. If the man participated in an interview about the dangers of drugs, the attorneys agreed they would knock as much as 10 years off his 20-year prison sentence. But nobody told WJRT.

A WJRT investigative crew had been working with drug officers on a story about methamphetamine labs and had asked police to help line up an interview with a meth-lab operator. Jim Bleicher, the station's news director, says WJRT would not participate in any arrangement that used an interview as a bargaining chip. "We're not supposed to make the news, just report it," Bleicher told The Flint Journal.

Damage Control

Cincinnati—TV stations in Cincinnati are taking extra security precautions following a May 3 incident that resulted in damage to several news vehicles. The incident occurred after police stopped a car for a traffic check, and, they said, the driver shot himself to death.

Following the incident, an angry crowd set fire to a WCPO news van, and tossed a rock through the window of a WXIX vehicle. The unrest is not new for Cincinnati. In April 2001, riots broke out after police shot an unarmed teenager. News crews have sometimes donned bulletproof vests since then.

"We learned a lot from the riots of 2001," says Patrick Casey, news director at Raycom's Fox affiliate WXIX. "What you're worried about is getting a photographer or reporter isolated alone." Casey says stations try to keep crews traveling and working together and in close contact by radio or cellphone.

Hoosier Heaven

Louisville, Ky.—A group of local investors has put up $500,000 to launch WVHF, a low-power station that will target five counties in nearby Southern Indiana. As "Indiana 5," the station intends to produce a daily two-hour morning news program and plans to add half-hour evening news shows in the fall.

"There are a lot of good things happening here that people don't know about. Our main story is not going to be who got killed yesterday," Doug Toland, the station's general manager, told the Associated Press. He added that WVHF will carry the market's first daily Spanish-language programming. Hispanics make up about 2% of the population in the Louisville market, according to Nielsen Media Research.

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