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TV Note: KDKA news moves into Rosie's 4 p.m. spot

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Rosie O'Donnell wasn't the only person missing from KDKA at 4 p.m. yesterday.

Weekend anchor Don Cannon was bedeviled by technical problems when he attempted to report on a rescue at Cheat Lake, W.Va., for the station's debut 4 p.m. newscast. His story was supposed to be the lead, but it wasn't until midway through the hour that viewers heard Cannon, by phone, talk about the mishap and promise details and interviews for later newscasts.

KDKA used its maiden broadcast to update the stories of the day -- local, national and, briefly, international -- promote its "Guiding Light" lead-in (and appeal to fans who hadn't reached for the remote) by airing a long feature on the daytime drama and tease stories that would appear on subsequent shows.

Anchors Patrice King Brown and Stacy Smith, for instance, promised more at 5 and 6 p.m. on World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto and the teens who traveled north to see Pope John Paul II. Also teased for 6 p.m. was a story that Pittsburghers never seem to tire of: Whether the Steelers are going into the season with Super Bowl expectations.

Although 4 p.m. newscasts are common in other parts of the country, this marks Pittsburgh's first foray into the time slot previously occupied by O'Donnell's talk show, now in reruns and out of production.

The broadcast, which closed with a local story by Dr. Maria Simbra on the West Nile Virus, looked pretty much like any other newscast. It had three weather reports from Jeff Verszyla, a quick look at the traffic, plus news of the day, ranging from the WorldCom bankruptcy to a local poll about whether Al Gore should run for president again. And the survey said: No.

As promised by Al Blinke, KDKA's news director, King Brown and Smith "tossed" to Jennifer Antkowiak at 5 p.m., and the camera pulled back to show viewers both sets in the same studio.

Top of the morning

Former Pittsburgher Christopher O'Riley is scheduled to appear on NBC's "Today" show tomorrow morning. O'Riley, son of Ceci Sommers, is a classical musician and host of "From the Top," a weekly radio series showcasing the nation's most outstanding young (18 and under) classical musicians. The program airs on WQED-FM (89.3) at 1 p.m. Sundays. The TV segment is set to air tomorrow between 8:30 and 9 a.m. (as always, subject to change).

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