In the era of hot-looking models reading the news on TV (remember now, it's sad face for tornado deaths, happy face for Shriners in parades, never the other way around), WFAA somehow manages to get enough pretty faces on camera and still maintain depth of field in the actual journalism department. Byron Harris, David Schechter and Brett Shipp continue to bring serious game to the newscast as investigative reporters. Jobin Panicker and Todd Unger do yeoman work as fire-chasers (but work on that closing squint and head-nod, Todd) and Teresa Woodard manages to be both hot-looking and downright credible as a street reporter. Pete Delkus always makes the weather sound like something you might even find faintly interesting in a place where it's just hot as hell all the time. For some reason they've decided to cast sportscaster icon Dale Hansen as the newscast clown, which is off the mark, since Hansen often brings the only biting grownup commentary on the show. As anchors, John McCaa and Gloria Campos are master and commander, with great backups in Jason Wheeler and Shelly Slater.
News Update is like every other news show on local, network and cable TV these days: lots of joking around and horseplay between stories to make us love them. The owners pay for focus groups, polls and consultants. Presumably they know what they're doing. We're not here to second-guess. It's when the cast gets a bit too mischievous, goes off script and begins to ad-lib the horseplay that things can drift precariously into inappropriate land or just-stupid land. Over all of this, the singular glower of news anchor John McCaa reigns like a Jovian thunderbolt: You can see him physically push back from the bench and blast the pranking weather and sports rascals with the look — a look that says, "Sober up, now." McCaa, a seasoned, serious journalist who often writes his own copy, knows a sad-face story from a happy-face without being prompted. His delivery is incisive and persuasive. He and his talented co-anchor Gloria Campos always treat each other with respect and dignity. Every good circus needs a ringmaster. McCaa is one of the best.