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Readers can air views on which shows should stay or go

Thursday, April 22, 1999

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Ah, the power of a television network executive. They have the ability to cancel or renew any TV show on a whim. And now you have that power -- or at least the chance to make your likes and dislikes known.

After a one-year hiatus, the Post-Gazette's "Kill 'Em or Keep 'Em" poll returns, and this time it's housed exclusively at our Web site, PG Online, in a new "On Air" TV and radio section at www.post-gazette.com/tv.

Just scroll down to the bottom of the page and click to begin casting votes.

We want to know which shows you like, which shows you hate and a little bit of demographic information about who you are. (This won't be sold to a junk e-mailing list; it's just to figure out who's interested in which show.)

Obviously this is not a scientific study (please don't vote more than once), and it's not realistic, either. There's no way "The Secret Lives of Men" will be back. It's dead. Buried. A bad memory in the minds of ABC executives. But maybe you liked it, despite the critical drubbing and low ratings. Here's your chance to have your voice heard. It may not do any good in terms of a show's longevity, but at least you'll have spoken.

Votes will be tallied on the Web site until May 9, and the results will be published in this column in early May. Results also will be sent to the entertainment presidents of each of the six broadcast networks before they set their fall schedules in mid-May.

On Air isn't just the home of this poll. It's also a resource for lots of TV and radio information. There are archives of TV articles, this column, Chuck Finder's TV sports column and Adrian McCoy's radio column.

There's a link for TV Listings, where you can get up-to-the-minute information about what's on TV every hour of the day.

The TV Connections link has a complete list of addresses, phone numbers and Web links for broadcast and cable networks, local stations and area cable companies.

Some of this runs in TV Week, but it's always dependent on space. Now the information is just a few keystrokes away. Plus, I've included the addresses for both the news and entertainment divisions of the broadcast networks. If you want to rant at Tom Brokaw, pick NBC News; if you want to complain about the cancellation of "Another World," send it to NBC's entertainment division.

Radio Connections contains a list of all the local radio stations, divided into the AM and FM band, with links to stations that maintain their own Web sites.

PG Online Talk is a forum where viewers can sound off on whatever bothers them. Chat about local news anchors, prime time or anything TV related. I'll try to drop by regularly to answer questions and spur discussion.

OOPS: The ending of Tuesday's "Jeopardy!" didn't match the rest of the show. WPXI program director Mark Barash said there are two different tapes for each show and human error is to blame for the airing of a Final Jeopardy! segment from a week ago.

Barash said the station ran a crawl with the winner's name (Helen Petrow) and her five-day winnings total ($43,000) during "Wheel of Fortune."

WHEN YOU ASSUME... WPXI has been airing a promo that says Dr. Mike Rosen is "Pittsburgh's only medical reporter who is a doctor." That's not true. My colleague, Post-Gazette medical reporter Anita Srikameswaran, is also a physician. Channel 11 needs to rewrite its spot to make clear Rosen is "Pittsburgh's only medical reporter on TV who is a doctor."

LOCAL APPEARANCE: Carol Marin, a veteran Chicago broadcast journalist, will speak as the second Marie Torre lecturer at Carlow College's Kresge Theater at 7:30 tonight.

Marin came to national attention when she quit as the NBC affiliate anchor in Chicago after the station briefly hired Jerry Springer to do commentaries for the newscast. She now works as an investigative reporter at Chicago's CBS affiliate WBBM and reports for the network's "60 Minutes II."

In a phone interview, Marin said the biggest problem facing local stations is a willingness to spend money to do the job right.

"Once local news became a profit center as opposed to a loss leader, we began with each passing day to speak less and less of our function as a public trust and more in simple business terms," Marin said. "Yes, we need to make money to survive, but we must also be a public trust. When you're not satisfied with a 45 percent profit margin, there's something crazy going on."

Marin said stations need enough news personnel to provide more in-depth coverage. The increase in the number of newscasts means reporters have to do more stories (or multiple versions of the same story) each day.

"You can't achieve the depth or context or dimension if the way you're judging that reporter is appearance by appearance," Marin said. "It's one thing to be there in front of the camera, it's another to have something to say."

Marin said a station's reputation is earned doing hard news stories that take time and require depth. And those stories require the necessary resources.

"Resources mean you can go past the nearest crime scene and do three interviews for a story and into some complexity," she said. "It boils down to saying, 'I'm going to invest my capital and my energy in this product,' and there's where I think things have broken down in so many places."

Rob Owen can be reached at 412-263-2582 or rowen@post-gazette.com.

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