Can the midday news vie with Perry Mason?
Portland's midday newscasts face one of the toughest adversaries in television Ñ namely, the 312th repeat of an old 'Perry Mason' episode starring Raymond Burr. KPTV (12) started airing 'Perry' at high noon back when black-and-white didn't even seem out of place.
Thus, the newscasts usually get beat up as much as District Attorney Hamilton Burger. And why not? The noon news, after all, isn't nearly as riveting as 'The Case of the Prudent Prosecutor.'
The noon news does actually offer a little more suspense. The weather and Blazer playoff highlights excepted, we don't have any idea how it's all going to turn out.
Traditionally, the noon-hour news has been a lower newsroom priority than the morning, evening and late newscasts. But no station would dare ax it from the daytime schedule and risk turning over thousands of viewers to the competition.
KATU (2): One way to avoid bumping heads with Perry is to put midday news on at the pre-midday time of 11 a.m., as KATU does. Still, you have to wonder if taking on midday mainstays 'The Young and the Restless' on KOIN and 'Regis and Kelly' on KGW makes much sense. É Now that the war with Iraq is over, it's time to lose those annoying bottom-of-the screen crawls. É Titling segments with a '2' ('2 to Your Health' and 'Need 2 Know') are simply 2 much 2. É Anchors Ken Ackerman and Debora Knapp often are saddled with fluffy little stories, something that KATU's other newscasts seem to be getting away from. É Weatherperson Rhonda Shelby's rating-the-day-by-numbers routine doesn't have the same panache as it did back when Jim Bosley used to do it. Time to give it a rest. And how can you rate a day when the day is only half-done, anyway?
KGW (8): This one-hour newscast has more than enough news and information and is chock-full of consumer and feature reports. Does anybody watch an entire hour of news at noon? Guess not, since KGW repeats stories in the second half-hour. É Anchors Brenda Braxton, Russ Lewis and weather guy Dave Salesky come off as both smooth and no-nonsense. É There tends to be an overemphasis on crime stories. É Often, the station will show video from Iraq without telling us whether we're watching today's stuff, last week's or last month's. How hard would it be to put up a 'super' reading, for example, 'Baghdad, April 25th'? É Much of the time, a screen cluttered with logos, Web site information and graphics leaves little room for video.
KOIN (6): The 'News That's to the Point and Won't Waste Your Time' tends to live up to that billing, but sometimes suffers from stodginess and a lack of energy. How about 'news that's to the point, won't waste your time, and is something you'll never see on any other station'? É OK, so I'm showing my age, but anchor Dave Erickson looks as if he's not even old enough to vote. É KOIN's newscast, unlike their competition, could use one or two feature segments. É The always perky Ron Pedersen may well be the watchable weather guy in Portland Ñ natural, witty, personable and with a knack for explaining forecasts.
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Names out of the past: Former KGW sports anchor Steve Bartelstein is now the morning news anchor (yeah, news, not sports) at New York's WABC-TV. Bartelstein left Portland for CNN/SI, which has closed up shop. His brother, Mark, remains an agent for several NBA stars, among them former Blazer Brian Grant.