Thursday, February 07, 2002

Olympics gold mine for Channel 5?

By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Not just the athletes are going for the gold during the Winter Olympics. Channel 5 is, too.

        February's most-watched TV event could result in new viewers for the WLWT anchor team — Dave Wagner, Anne Marie Tiernon, Byron Webre and Ken Broo — that has been together for slightly more than a year.

        “What you hope to get out of the Olympics, particularly in a station like ours with a relatively new anchor team, is exposure that you might not have gotten otherwise,” says A. Rabun Matthews, Channel 5 general manager.

        NBC research says that “80 percent to 90 percent of Americans say that they intend to view these Olympics (Feb. 8-24),” says Randy Falco, NBC Olympics chief operating officer.

        NBC's coverage begins 8 p.m. Friday, with the opening ceremony starting at 9 p.m. (Channels 5, 22).

        The Winter Olympics could be pivotal in Channel 5's news turn-around. The station has spent most of the last 10 years in third place, since Jerry Springer did double duty as news anchor and syndicated talk-show host.

        In November sweeps, Channel 5 pulled into second place ahead of WCPO-TV (Channel 9). Channel 5's February ratings could be huge if viewers stay glued to the Olympics. NBC will broadcast 8-11:30 p.m., then break for local news. (Of course, viewers may tune out at 10 or 11 p.m. for local news on other stations.)

        “You hope the sampling translates over time to people liking (Channel 5's news) and coming back,” Mr. Matthews says.

        No more games: Unlike the 1996 Summer Olympics from Atlanta, NBC promises it won't delay the final competition of main events until the end of nightly telecasts. NBC also promises to carry more events live, and to alert viewers when marquee events will resume.

        “Events that we start early in the evening, we're going to do our best to conclude early in the evening,” says Dick Ebersol, NBC Sports and Olympics chairman.

        Figure skating finals will be covered live 10-11:30 p.m., he says.

        "Porn' on PBS: PBS' Frontline looks at the American pornography business, especially how AT&T and major hotels profit by offering adult movies in hotels (9 p.m., Channel 54; 10 p.m., Channels 48, 16). The episode is rated TV-MA (inappropriate for viewers 17 and under), and carries repeated warnings about its explicit content.

        “American Porn” includes Cincinnati TV news footage of Larry Flynt's 1977 Hamilton County pornography conviction. The film also notes that pornography exploded during the 1990s, when “federal porn prosecutions essentially stopped” during the Clinton administration, Frontline says.

        “You can now see on television material just as explicit as we were publishing in Hustler in 1974,” says Mr. Flynt, while Frontline airs a Sex and the City scene with the women talking about oral-anal sex.

        "Survivor 4': For the second straight time, the Tristate won't have a local person to cheer on CBS' Survivor. The 16 participants announced Wednesday include a teacher, bartender, pilot, fishing boat captain, nurse, construction worker, bowling alley owner and a Georgia judge. Survivor: Marquesas premieres Feb. 28.

        Black History: Several local broadcasters are airing Black History Month tributes:

        • WCPO-TV is airing 30-second public service announcements about five local African-Americans “who have met life's challenges head on — and won,” says Mona Morrow, Channel 9's community affairs director.

        The five Tristate “Profiles in Courage” recipients are: Kristian Durham, an Indian Hill High School senior who has recovered from a major head injury; Janay Mills, a University of Cincinnati junior who mentors at Vine Street Elementary School; the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, the civil rights pioneer who marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; Barbara Tribble-Betts, a cancer survivor; and Otis Williams, a national motivational speaker.

        • WGUC-FM (90.9) will air profiles highlighting compositions and performances by African-American artists this month. Artists to be featured include composers Scott Joplin and Chevalier de Saint-George; piano virtuosos Awadagin Pratt and Andre Watts; opera stars Marian Anderson, Kathleen Battle and Denyce Graves; vocalists Paul Robeson and Simon Estes; and conductors Paul Freeman and James De Priest.

        • WNKU-FM (98.7): Michael Grayson presents the Putumayo World Music Spotlight, music from Africa, Latin America, Asia and even theUnited States, weekdays after the 10 a.m. news.

        Fund stuff: WGUC-FM kicks off its winter on-air fund drive today, with an online “cyber day” set for Monday. The drive concludes on Feb. 15.

        Those pledging $120 will receive the station's new Love Greetings CD with classical music from Mark Perzel's Valentine's Day program. Love Greetings airs 7-9 p.m., and 9-11 p.m. next Thursday.
        Contact John Kiesewetter by phone: 768-8519; fax: 768-8330; e-mail:


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