By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
You were in Berkeley during the Vietnam War. Ever put flowers in your hair?
Flowers in my hair? Yes, but I wasn't out in the violent demonstrations going on at the time, where they were taking over buildings. I was in the National Guard, and most of the people in fraternities were not the people protesting typically.--Robert Wilonsky
Leave no journalist behind. That's the wartime motto of the local affiliates, who still dedicate a majority of their nightly broadcasts to coverage of Gulf War II; in other words, what mayoral race? Even the weather forecasters have gotten into the act, giving us the five-day outlook for Baghdad every night. But every broadcaster in town has gotten into the act, from Robert Riggs, once embedded like a tick, to Dale Hansen, who has declared jihad on Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban. Full Frontal has jotted down some other ways the local network affiliates have tried to remain relevant when everyone else is watching CNN or Friends reruns.
··· Last Friday, KXAS-Channel 5 medical reporter Deborah Ferguson was live, from 2:34 a.m. till 6:14 a.m., removing the ingrown toenail of Fort Hood-based reservist Lee "Iceman" Mayhew. In fact, the gruesome, tiresome surgery became the topic of great conversation and consternation among media watchdogs, many of whom insisted a reporter should maintain distance from a story. "The press pass demands detachment," wrote Tom Shales in The Washington Post. Others, among them Marvin Kalb of the Shorenstein Institute, praised Ferguson for "putting heart and health above the journalist's ice-cold capacity for taking notes." Sports anchor Newy "Newdog" Scruggs has volunteered to stop saying "dat's da bomb" when referring to anchor Jane McGarry till the war is over.
··· To simulate the grainy, stop-motion footage coming from the battlefield, KDFW-Channel 4 has begun broadcasting using videophone technology. The only anchor to complain thus far has been Heather Hayes. Shaun Rabb was almost let go from the affiliate when, during a recent broadcast from a South Dallas apartment complex fire, he began detailing his location by drawing in the ash with a sharp stick. He hastily covered the markings with his fedora.
··· WFAA-Channel 8 traffic reporter Alexa Conomos began "embedding" herself in the morning commute two weeks ago. Last Thursday she was live, at 7:18 a.m., from the back of a stalled Humvee on 183, near D-FW International Airport. On March 26, Channel 8 also hired former Dallas Cowboy Chad Hennings, an Air Force pilot during Gulf War I, as a "sports-military" consultant during Dale Hansen's segments.
··· Now that Robert Riggs is back from his month-long stay in Iraq and Kuwait, KTVT-Channel 11 has forced anchors Tracy Rowlett and Karen Borda to start sleeping outside without benefit of bed, shower or razor; the two will also eat from MREs for the rest of the war. "We don't want anyone to think we're not committed to supporting our troops," says Rowlett, who will begin, on April 12, wearing a suit made entirely from a United States flag. Sports anchor Babe Laufenberg will also do his part by beginning each newscast singing "Proud to Be an American" with Dallas Desperados coach Joe Avezzano.
··· KDAF-Channel 33's news department sent out a press release March 28 reminding media outlets that "We are still on the air." At press time, this could not be confirmed.--Robert Wilonsky