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November 23, 2006
Local TV Sweeps: Day 21

“It’s one of the busiest travel days of the year.”
- Tom DuHain, Channel 3, at 5 p.m.

“ of the busiest travel days of the year.”
- Cristina Mendonsa, News10, at 5 p.m.

“On the busiest travel day of the year... .”
-- Sam Shane, Channel 13, 6 p.m.

“It’s one of the busiest travel days of the year.”
- Kye Martin, Fox40, 10 p.m.

Well, there you have it. That hoary old cliché about the night before Thanksgiving being (all together now) “the busiest travel day of the year” easily beat out “all the fixin' s” (only News10’s Dale Schornack and Channel 3’s Lynsey Paulo chimed in with that one) for the most-used phrase Wednesday night.

In the early-evening news, Channel 3 and News10 were in full Thanksgiving mode. Ten of the 14 stories News10 reported at 5 p.m. were Turkey Day-related, and Channel 3 at 5 p.m. devoted 14 of its 17 stories to the travel, the traffic, the cooking, the obligatory pardoning of the turkey by President Bush.

Only Channel 13 stayed with what it does best - crime, fires and accidents. The first seven stories that Channel 13 reported were of that nature, including this heart-warming yarn: A senior citizen in Marysville was bound and gagged in her home and had her turkey stolen. Oh, and her car, too. The tease to the story was classic: “TERRORIZED OVER TURKEY.”

Thanksgiving traditions reared their head on several newscasts. News10 reprised its practice of sending a reporter to a local market and asking kids how to cook a turkey. And it never fails to amuse. One kid’s confident response: 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.” Coincidentally, News10’s next story was about safety tips for cooking the bird. Schornack: “Raw turkeys can be a breeding ground of bacteria.”

(Speaking of traditions, this is jumping ahead in chronology a bit, but this morning on “Good Day Sacramento,” they replayed the annual heartwarming tape of Mark S. Allen taking a turkey to a strip club. Don’t ask why; it’s “Good Day.” It doesn’t need a reason.)

Anyway, back to Wednesday night. All the regular anchors were on hand - no cutting out early during sweeps month. But some were openly phoning it in. Check out this exchange between weather guesser Mark Finan and anchors Lois Hart and Dave Walker at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 3:

Walker: “Millions of people are on the road, Mark. Any weather conditions to worry about?”

Finan: “If everyone’s on the road, why are we broadcasting?”

Hart: “They watch on computers on the road...or on the handheld whatever.”

Finan (incredulous): “OK.”

Hart (school-marmish): “This is important, Mark.”

Finan looked suitably chastened.

Other sweeps observations:

* Channel 13 weather guesser Dave Bender at 10 p.m.: “As far as liquid precipitation in the high country, not a lot.”

Liquid precip? As opposed to SOLID?

* On Channel 13’s safe-shopping package, reporter Ron Jones endured a simulated mugging as he pretended to talk on a cell phone in a parking lot.

* A scooplet for Channel 3: At 5 p.m., it showed the machine that TSA screeners use to process baggage at the airport. Walker made sure we knew it was a scoop. “And now for exclusive video. KCRA was the only station allowed past the security checkpoint.”

* Fox40’s sports guy Jim Crandell never ceases to entertain with his witty asides and inside jokes. Wednesday night, he reported a story about how the Tribune Company might sell the Chicago Cubs. “If the Tribune does sell, I think they need to split the money between all Tribune employees.”

Yes, Fox40 is owned by the same company.

* News10 burnished its reputation as the “good news” station by linking via satellite a U.S. Army officer with her family for a long-distance reunion. Mendonsa said there wasn’t a dry eye in the newsroom. Schornack: “We’re a bunch of softies.”

* And finally, the tease of the night goes to Channel 13’s indefatigable Kurtis Ming: “Never pay taxes again! All you have to do is become your own religion!”

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