Station Break - Broadcasting & Cable

Station Break

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WTAE opening

Jim Hefner will leave Hearst-Argyle's WTAE-TV Pittsburgh in March to take over Capitol Broadcasting's WRAL-TV Raleigh, N.C.

Citing close ties to the North Carolina area and the station where he began his career, he said WRAL-TV is "the only place I would leave for. It's a very special place to me. But I feel good about leaving in terms of where this station is."

Hearst had not named a successor last week, but most speculation has centered on Vicki Regan, WPBF(TV) West Palm Beach, Fla., her third station run for Hearst-Argyle. She has a long history with both WTAE-TV and Pittsburgh: She was a student at Duquesne, interned at KDKA(TV) there and even worked with Pittsburgh-based TV icon Mr. Rogers.

Also in Pittsburgh, WPXI(TV) General Manager John Howell retired in December after almost 18 years there. Only weeks ago, the revelation that CBS's KDKA-TV had speeded up a football game to insert extra commercials (B&C, Nov. 5, 2001) had industry observers handicapping KDKA-TV's Gary Cozen as the most likely Pittsburgh GM to be leaving.

That hasn't happened, although Post-Gazette
TV writer Rob Owen reported that CBS President Les Moonves had said that, if it ever happened again, "everybody involved will be out the door in 30 seconds."

No warts and all

The cover story on WTVQ-TV Lexington, Ky., anchor Alexa Gromko in the current issue of local entertainment magazine News4U
carries no byline. Writer/radio host Tim Woodburn says he had his name cut when his drafts were altered into what he calls a puff piece with too much station input.

His second draft—posted on the Internet by student-journalist Ben Fain—includes her detailing how her blouse accidentally opened when she met Lexington's mayor, her tongue-in-cheek fear of close-ups on her rear, and newsroom practical jokes. But it also discusses her award-winning reports on women in prison, cancer victims and co-anchor Jon Lindgren's death from cancer last year.

The final version begins: "Alexa Gromko is and has been the archetype of confidence and pure professionalism."

Changes came after Woodburn showed Gromko his first draft. The magazine let other drafts be reviewed by Gromko and News Director David Foky, who worried about the anchor's and station's being "trivialized without proper perspective."

"We're not the Enquirer
or in the business of making someone look bad," said Editor Angela St. Clair, adding the drafts were released as a courtesy—a highly unusual practice in print journalism. Showing a subject his work in progress, Woodburn said, was "a mistake I'll never make again."

Staying the course

Hearst-Argyle said last week that its stations plan to continue the practice, introduced for the 2000 elections, of pledging a minimum of five minutes nightly for electoral news and candidate discussions for 30 days prior to primaries and elections. Hearst stations WCVB-TV Boston and KCRA-TV Sacramento, Calif., were among a handful recognized for pre-election coverage by the Annenberg School of Communications.

UPN adds affil

Nexstar Broadcasting is converting its WCFN(TV) Springfield, Ill., station from a satellite for its duopoly partner and CBS affiliate WCIA(TV) into a UPN affiliate. It will relaunch April 2, and both stations will continue to be run by Perry Chester.

Upped in Philly

Veteran NBC newsman Chris Blackman has been promoted from assistant news director to vice president of news at NBC-owned WCAU-TV Philadelphia. Blackman replaced Steve Schwaid, running the NBC team to transition KNTV(TV) San Jose, Calif., to an NBC-owned station when the sale is approved sometime this year. Blackman, who joined WCAU-TV last year, was previously a news executive for NBC's Asia operations and a producer at NBC-owned WMAQ-TV Chicago.

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