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Tuned In: Blanket coverage planned for Sept. 11

Thursday, September 05, 2002

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

National networks are planning wall-to-wall coverage of the first anniversary of Sept. 11 and local stations will offer their own reports.

The totality of the reports -- in print, on TV, etc. -- may drive some away from media outlets Sept. 11, but WPXI news director Pat Maday said he's not concerned that his station, which appears to have the most coverage planned, will go overboard.

"Is Sept. 11 as an anniversary going to be inescapable no matter what channel you're on? That's certainly the case," Maday said. "But when you look at some of the programming, there's a good mix of programs that are newsier than others."

He points to coverage of concerts -- locally at 7 p.m. and in prime time on NBC -- as examples of non-news commemorations and compared it to last year's benefit concert that aired on multiple networks.

"While it was Sept. 11-related, it was something people wanted to watch and it was a bit of a departure from the really tough stuff, but it was still keeping your mind on the moment," Maday said. "I see a fair amount of that not just in NBC and our programs, but a lot of the programs on that week, whether it's on the networks or cable channels."

Here's what each local station plans for coverage. Descriptions are of plans for Sept. 11 itself unless otherwise noted.

KDKA

Jennifer Antkowiak and Ken Rice will anchor from Shanksville with Patrice King Brown and Stacy Smith in the studio for the station's regularly scheduled newscasts. (The 6 p.m. news will end at 6:30 to accommodate a one-hour edition of the "CBS Evening News.")

John Shumway and Dave Crawley have taped special reports in Shanksville in recent weeks that will be part of the station's coverage. KDKA also will have an interview with Gov. Schweiker about the impact of the tragedy on Pennsylvania.

WPGH

Channel 53's 10 p.m. newscast will cover the anniversary with a series of reports. On Sunday, Kym Gable will interview Somerset County's coroner, who was charged with coordinating the efforts to identify the victims of the crash of Flight 93

On Monday, anchor Sheila Hyland will talk with local leaders about the approach of Flight 93 to Pittsburgh along with another story on artifacts left by visitors to the crash site.

On Wednesday, Channel 53 will mark the moment the first plane hit the World Trade Center with a minute of silence at 8:46 a.m.

WPXI and PCNC

Channel 11 will use its PCNC cable outlet for much of the day's coverage of local commemorations of the terrorist attacks beginning at 8 a.m. with coverage of services in Shanksville, Pittsburgh and New York and at the Pentagon. Services will be repeated on PCNC during the afternoon.

WPXI's Maday said that during the morning PCNC will showcase more of what's happening in Pittsburgh and Shanksville and WPXI will have more from New York and the Pentagon.

"By taking the New York and Pentagon stuff and replaying it in the afternoon, you give people an opportunity to see it all if they choose to see it all," Maday said. "So many ceremonies are overlapping it can really become disjointed. This is not a day your audience is going to want to be bouncing all over the place."

At 11 a.m. on PCNC, Peggy Finnegan will moderate a one-hour town meeting live from Market Square. PCNC will stay at Market Square for an interfaith service at noon.

A replay of a Shanksville memorial service will air on PCNC at 1 p.m. anchored by David Johnson. New York and Pentagon services will be replayed at 2 p.m. on PCNC, though some coverage plans could change depending on what time President Bush arrives at Shanksville in the afternoon.

Gina Redmond will anchor "Helping Our Children Heal" at 3 p.m. on PCNC. In-studio experts, local teens and viewer calls will be featured in a discussion about how children view the attacks.

The evening newscasts will begin at 4 p.m. on WPXI and continue to 6:30 p.m. David Johnson will anchor from a Somerset church where a memorial concert will take place and be carried live on PCNC, WPXI and sister station WJAC at 7 p.m. The concert will air in its entirety on PCNC, while WPXI will shift to NBC programming at 8 p.m.

At 10:30 p.m. on PCNC, Redmond will host "Pittsburgh's War on Terror" in the WPXI studio with political analyst Bill Green. The program explores local security efforts.

A one-hour newscast will air at 11 p.m. on WPXI and PCNC.

WQED

Channel 13's "On Q" will devote its Sept. 11 installment to heroes. The cover story will be Tonia Caruso's report on Shanksville a year later.

WTAE

Channel 4 will send anchors Mike Clark and Michelle Wright back to Shanksville, where they anchored coverage last year after the crash of Flight 93. Scott Baker and Sally Wiggin will again handle coverage from the studio.

The station's 5 to 7 a.m. morning news will include a live performance by local singer Bill Deasy, who has written two tribute songs inspired by the events of Sept. 11. Last year Deasy performed a song for a "Good Morning America" promo.

Channel 4 will carry the Flight 93 memorial service live at 9:30 a.m. and President Bush's visit to the site later in the day. The station will have local cut-ins throughout ABC's day of coverage with plans to highlight as many local memorials and tributes as possible.

The station's 5 to 6:30 p.m. newscasts will have "little to no commercial interruptions," according to news director Bob Longo.

PCN

The Pennsylvania Cable Network will air several special programs, beginning with "Candles for Freedom" live at 8 p.m. Tuesday. State senators will light thousands of candles, one for each victim of the attacks on America.

On Wednesday, a performance of Mozart's Requiem will be carried live from the state Capitol at 8:46 a.m.

A memorial service from Stoneycreek in Somerset will air live at 9:45 a.m. A "PCN Tours" feature on the Hearts of Steel bracelets for Flight 93 families will air at 5 p.m.

At 7 p.m. Wednesday, PCN will carry a "Celebration of Hope and Freedom," a live concert from near the State Museum on Harrisburg.

Berecky attack

KDKA news director Al Blinke did not return a call seeking an update on the condition of reporter Mary Berecky, who was injured Monday when she was assaulted at a Hempfield car wash.

Viewers wishing to send cards to Berecky can do so care of KDKA-TV, One Gateway Center, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

All three stations covered the attack. Oddly, KDKA abandoned its usual style of referring to people by their last names and called Berecky "Mary" throughout its reports.

Going and returning

Daily Variety reports TNT has canceled "Witchblade" ... The trade publication also says "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell will sign to return for the show's second season, which is expected to premiere early next year.


Rob Owen can be reached at 412-263-2582 or rowen@post-gazette.com. Post questions or comments about TV to www.post-gazette.com/tv under PG Online Talk.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

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