CBS' late-night news show stays alive

MEDIA MONITOR

January 22, 1991|By Steve McKerrow

The nightly breaking news of war in the Persian Gulf has given a temporary reprieve to "America Tonight," the CBS late-night news magazine show scheduled to be replaced this week by a new slate of action adventure shows.

A CBS spokesman said yesterday "America Tonight," hosted by the steady, insightful Charles Kuralt, "will air indefinitely" in its 11:30 p.m. weeknight slot. And WBAL-Channel 11 says it will continue to air the show at that hour.

Before last week's war outbreak, WBAL had delayed the show until midnight to show "Who's the Boss" reruns at 11:30. But since war began, Channel 11 has moved directly from its own 11 p.m. news into the CBS "America Tonight" feed and will continue to do so.

A new debut date for the CBS late-night adventure shows has not been set. The shows scheduled to have launched last night are "Sweating Bullets," "Fly by Night," "Scene of the Crime," "The Exile" and "Dark Justice," to air Monday through Friday, respectively.

ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE -- As war reporting settles into a daily pattern in which relatively few new facts punctuate a great deal of discussion and speculation, it is easy to become numb from overload.

But radio listeners may find it interesting to hear the international perspective on events provided by the British Broadcasting Corp. Washington-based WAMU-FM 88.5, which can be received by many listeners in Baltimore, is carrying expanded BBC broadcasts for the duration of the hostilities.

The station currently carries the "BBC News Hour" live at 5 p.m. daily, offers a half-hour news summary at 11 p.m. and is carrying "BBC World Service" broadcasts from midnight to 5 a.m., including a two-hour nightly special war report.

As opposed to much U.S. reporting, the BBC seems impeccably reserved in passing along unconfirmed reports. In fact, WAMU station manager Steve Palmer says his news staff has been instructed to check all reports with the BBC.

"If the BBC says it, we'll say it, but if they're not reporting it, we won't," he says, citing an erroneous report of a missile attack on Israel late last week.

At the moment, WAMU has suspended the nightly 11 o'clock airing of "As It Happens," a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. newsmagazine-style show from Toronto, because it is ordinarily tape-delayed from 6 p.m. and thus does not carry late news. But Palmer says the show will be resumed as soon as possible.

FORMAT FIDDLING -- Another local radio station is fine-tuning its musical format. WYST-FM 92.3 (and AM 1010) is now playing "a variety of up-tempo hits for adults" from the 1960s to the present, a somewhat livelier tune than 92 Star's previous light and easy vocal sound.

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