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November 10, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Day 8

So I’m watching Channel 13’s 10 p.m. newscast Thursday night, and the top five stories are crime- or accident-related. No problem there. It’s sweeps, after all, and KOVR has a tradition of leading with crime.

But then came this tease, spoken by a voiceover artist who sounds just like the guy who recorded all those negative political ads: “The crime scene! The clues! The investigation! Dave Bender tracks California’s killer storms!” Then, cut to Bender, looking way too serious for a weather guy, intoning: “One. Piece. Of. Evidence. At. A. Time.”

Then comes the all-caps graphic: “CSI: Weather.”

Well, I was floored. Channel 13 had managed to make even the weather into a crime story. Well done, guys.


As it turns out, despite the “CSI” gimmick, Bender’s “special report” was not that sensational and actually pretty darn interesting. It detailed how the National Weather Service investigates storms to determine whether they were tornadoes or just “downbursts.” It has something to do with the direction at which trees topple. Bender, one of the most likeable on-air personalities in the market, made it entertaining and informative.

But I’ve got to comment on Channel 13’s “special report” teases, which are nothing short of works of high art. They've debuted two teases for future “special reports” that try hard to scare you but succeed only in making us chuckle:

* Fade in to a shot of a suburban neighborhood. The voiceover begins: “In five days, we’re breaking into one of these homes – live! Will it be yours?” Switch to images of a gloved hand pressed up against the outside of a bedroom window, and a shadowy figure peering through the blinds. “Are you prepared? In five days (lengthy pause) on CBS 13 News at 10.”

* Fade in to what appears to be a public service ad, with a familiar logo and, in the background, a plane landing on an aircraft carrier. “The Salvation Navy,” the voiceover begins, cheerfully. “Helping you help others.” Then the screen breaks up. The voiceover grows ominous. “Except it doesn’t even exist! Did you give to bad Santa?” Then the kicker: A closeup of Channel 13 anchor Tony Lopez, dressed as Santa. And he winks at us.”

OK, on to other newscasts.

News10 finally joined the “special report” fray Thursday night with anchor Cristina Mendonsa’s look at nanotechnology (rendered at right). No crimes were committed. Mendonsa interviewed a UC Davis professor specializing in the science, which the prof nebbishly defined as “nano is a prefix meaning 10 to the minus nth - really small.”

Uh, will this be on the test?

Anyway, Mendonsa shows us how “going small” can help consumers. How about a self-cleaning kitchen countertop, folks? Yup, Mendonsa stood in front of a gleaming countertop and enthused, “Nano particles of titanium oxide are embedded in the counter top. When it hits UV light, they kill bacteria and the countertop is instantly sanitized.”

Mendonsa missed her chance to sex-up the report. She could’ve said “Nano killers! Bacteria has no chance!”

Channel 3 did go for the beefcake in its report on male body image, and how we poor schlubs will risk death for six-pack abs.


As Adrienne Bankert reported with a gleam in her eye, “There’s nothing wrong with men wanting to lose weight, getting those washboard abs and bulging biceps. The question is, how bad do you want it?” She interviewed a guy who overdosed on steroids and nearly died, then ended the report with a quick-cutting series of sexy, flat men’s bellies. The final shot: Arnold Schwarzenegger flexing.

Bankert then threw it back to the anchor desk, where Dave Walker, looking amused, said: “Six-pack abs? I got those - a six pack of beer.”


The one story that all four news stations jumped on was the deer that frolicked in the Target store in Iowa. They all spent nearly a minute watching the eight-pointed buck roaming the aisles before finally taking off.

Quipped News10’s Dale Schornack: “Just wanted to see if they had anything for a buck.”

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