Nine O’Clock Report Replaces “Newsroom”

Channel 13’s Nine O’Clock Report takes to the air Monday, October 4, in an attempt to regain the station’s pre-eminence in innovative local public affairs programming. The Nine O’Clock Report replaces Newsroom, which after six years, was killed in early September. The Nine O’Clock Report will have some old faces, some new ones, and a much broadened format, designed by the station’s public affairs director, Bill Porterfield.

Familiar faces will be moderator Lee Clark, and reporters Susan Caudill, Tony Garrett, Tom Grimes, Norm Hitzges, Bob Ray Sanders, Steve Singer, Patsy Swank and Larry Ve-lez. Returning to the fold after a long absence is Marjorie Lewis. Also former Dallas News political reporter Dave McNeely, just back from a year’s fellowship at Harvard, will join the staff.

The new program will open with several minutes of major national or international stories, gathered from wire service reports, followed by the familiar staple of local stories, investigated by the local staff. The last minutes of the show will be filled with segments done by outside commentators, a 30-second weather forecast, sports scores and viewer comments.

Part of the reasoning behind choosing the program’s time slot is an attempt by Channel 13 to attract a younger audience to its public affairs programming. Newsroom’s audience had become considerably older than that of Channel 13’s other programs, perhaps because Newsroom’s 6:30 p.m. time slot was too early to catch viewers in their twenties and thirties. By moving to 9 p.m., the station hopes to air late enough to catch the younger audience, but not too late to lose older viewers.

One other major development is continuing at Channel 13 – engineering studies necessary before filing an application for an additional channel, are continuing. The new station will be Channel 2, if the Public Communication Foundation for North Texas, which operates Channel 13, is successful in securing the license. For years Channel 2 has been an unused educational channel designated to serve Denton, but KERA hopes to locate Channel 2’s facilities somewhere midway between Dallas and Denton.

Channel 2’s staple would be educational programming, sponsored by areacolleges, with some sort of public affairsprogramming developed to serve the cities between Dallas and Denton. Besidespursuing engineering studies for Channel 2, KERA officials are estimatingstart-up costs for an additional channel.Preliminary figures indicate about$3,000,000 will be needed just to put thenew station in business.

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