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John McIntire leaving 'NightTalk' Oct. 17

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Say goodbye to scintillating commentaries on PCNC. John McIntire, host of PCNC's "NightTalk" for the past seven years, will leave the local cable station after his Oct. 17 telecast.

Station manager Mark Barash said PCNC wanted to keep McIntire, "albeit in a restructured way. None of those ways we attempted were acceptable to him."

McIntire said the station's new contract offer caught him by surprise.

"Mark's been nice through this difficult journey, but he came to the seventh anniversary party [in August] and said I'd changed the face of Pittsburgh television," McIntire said. "That sounded to me like another comparable offer [would be forthcoming]. Maybe I read too much into that; call me naive."

Instead, the offer would have changed the terms of his employment.

"I would like a full-time job, and they offered me a part-time job," McIntire said. Barash would not comment on the terms of the contract.

"It was the most fun job I've ever had and in some ways the most frustrating job I've ever had," McIntire said. "You had all the freedom in the world and very few of the resources. But local television is going to run things frugally, and it's getting worse every year. That's not just PCNC; that's local television."

McIntire said his first choice is to stay in Pittsburgh, but he'll look in and out of the market.

"I'd prefer to stay here, but I'd also prefer to eat," he said. "I've been working my butt off seven years to develop a base, and it really seems a shame to toss it away."

McIntire continues to write a twice-monthly column for City Paper and appear on WDVE (102.5 FM) Friday mornings. A noncompete clause in his contract prohibits him from working for another local TV station for nine months.

After reports of his pending departure from PCNC surfaced, McIntire said, he received notes of encouragement from former Pittsburgh Mayor Sophie Masloff and county Coroner Cyril Wecht.

"I didn't get a letter from the coroner of Tulsa when I got fired there."

WQED Multimedia president George Miles said he's received calls from people asking him to consider hiring McIntire to host a talk show on WQED.

"I like John; I watch him," Miles said. "Will we be willing to talk to him? Yes."

Barash called McIntire "a great talent" and said the station was fortunate to have him on the air for as long as it has.

Barash said PCNC will continue to air a prime-time local talk show, but no decision about a host has been made. He's received calls of interest from 15 people and has no timetable for when the new show might air.

Fred Honsberger already hosts a program mornings on PCNC, but he said he's had no discussions with station executives about moving to a later time slot.

KDKA-AM (1020) host Mike Pintek said he's had no conversations with PCNC but would be willing to discuss the possibilities. WPTT-AM (1360) talk show host Lynn Cullen said she wouldn't be interested.

In local media circles, WXDX-FM (105.9) DJ Alan Cox has also been mentioned as a possible McIntire replacement. Cox appears on WQED's "Off Q."

"I had heard my name being thrown around, but no one officially ever made a call to me," Cox said. "Doing a one-hour TV show doesn't interest me right off the bat. I think McIntire is the best host they could get for that show anyway, so partially out of deference to him I wouldn't do it."


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

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