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TV Notes: WPXI drops contract, ends Science Center local forecasts

Saturday, April 05, 2003

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

WPXI has severed its weather forecasting relationship with the Carnegie Science Center, which has provided forecasts for Channel 11 since July 1992.

A recording at the Science Center's weather office, which has since been deleted, informed callers that forecasts are no longer available.

"Channel 11 news, which funded the Science Center project for the last 11 years has decided to change forecasting companies and hired a forecasting company from Boston, Mass., to do their local forecasting," the voice on the recording says, emphasizing the word "local."

Tom Flaherty, director of exhibits and facilities at the Science Center, said one full-time and one part-time employee were let go after Channel 11 ended its funding.

"Channel 11 has been a really good partner to us, and we hope to continue to do some positive things with them in the future," Flaherty said.

WPXI general manager Ray Carter said Channel 11 still maintains weather equipment at the science center, and "we continue to use them as a scientific resource."

"The weather relationship where they provided us with forecasts is no longer," Carter said. It ended late last month. "The fact is most of our forecasts are done here. We have a chief meteorologist who prepares his own forecasts, and, like most television stations, we use additional forecasting services."

Carter said it was a business decision to switch forecast suppliers. A year and a half ago Channel 11 debuted its "Severe Weather Center" and began to use that phrase as the station's primary weather brand identity, although the Carnegie Science Center forecast was still mentioned routinely on the air.

Channel 11 isn't the only station to get forecasts produced by an out-of-town company. KDKA's forecasts come from AccuWeather, which is based in State College. WTAE subscribes to Bridgeville-based Air Science as a consultant/back-up forecasting service and WPGH gets data from Weather Services International in Billerica, Mass.

Reality show auditions

Casting directors for ABC's "The Bachelor," "The Bachelorette" and upcoming series "Rich Guy, Poor Guy" will be at Hi-Tops, 200 Federal St. near PNC Park, Tuesday from 4 to 8 p.m.

Producers are looking for single men and women ages 21 to 40.

On Thursday KDKA will sponsor auditions for "Big Brother 4" from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at North Park Clubhouse in Richland and North Park Clubhouse at Robinson Town Centre. Prospective contestants need to download an application from www.kdka.com and bring it to the audition.

And finally, an unnamed TNN show will be in town casting men who will get to "live like the super-rich for up to two weeks in L.A." Players get $10,000 with the potential to win $100,000. No word on what the game involves.

Auditions will be held next Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Sheraton Station Square in the Edenberg Room, second floor.

PAB TV awards

Local TV station WTAE won two awards in an annual competition sponsored by the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters.

Channel 4 won for best television commercial (a Highmark spot for a Dean Ornish program) and best television news special report (coverage of the miners' rescue in Somerset last summer).

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