News director at WMAR coming here from Texas

On the Air

March 02, 1997|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

In what will surely be a continuing shake-up of the news department at WMAR, Channel 2, Drew Berry, assistant news director at Dallas' ABC affiliate, has been named the station's news director.

Berry replaces Jack Cahalan, who announced his resignation last month.

A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Berry is a former news director for WCAU in Philadelphia. He has also worked at stations in New York, Atlanta, New Orleans and San Antonio.

"Drew is a seasoned journalist and a leader in news," WMAR vice president and general manager Steven Gigliotti said in a prepared statement. "He brings to us a wealth of experience and a winning attitude."

Berry will have his work cut out for him, as the new management at WMAR struggles to improve its news broadcasts' weak ratings.

Age-based ratings

Surprise, surprise: The Media Research Center has studied ** the age-based rating system on TV and it hates it.

"The age-based ratings system on television today is hopelessly confusing, inconsistent, contradictory and meaningless," says L. Brent Bozell, chairman of the Alexandria-based watchdog group, which conducted a study of 150 hours of prime-time television.

The study concludes that that guidelines need to be more specific in telling parents the contents of a show. It also ridicules ratings that slap a PG label (parental guidance suggested) on shows containing sexual material, obscenities and vulgarities.

The study found that 61 percent of all shows airing from Jan. 3 to Jan. 16 were rated PG despite the fact that they contained obscenities and sexual material and should have warranted a more restrictive rating.

The study counted the number of obscenities and sexual references on each network. The clear winner/loser was NBC, with 67 obscenities and 25 sexual references. (Is it coincidental NBC is also the top-rated network?). CBS had 36 obscenities, 27 sexual references; ABC, 33 obscenities (15 on "NYPD Blue" alone) and 21 sexual references. Fox, UPN and WB, which broadcast fewer prime-time hours, had 35, nine and nine obscenities, respectively, and 22, seven and 13 sexual references.

Contest winner

Allison Lockes, an 11th-grader at Harford County's Edgewood High School, has won top honors on the seventh annual "Black History Month Oratory Contest," sponsored by WJZ, Channel 13, and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Lockes wrote her essay based on a quote from Maya Angelou: "Courage may be the most important of all virtues, because without it one cannot practice any other virtue with consistency."

She was one of 20 Baltimore-area high-school students to present original essays before a four-judge panel at the BMA last Sunday. As the winner, she received $300 and a year's family membership to the BMA.

Tiffany Vice, a senior at Baltimore's Lake Clifton-Eastern High, took second-place honors, while Randallstown High's Jason Manns took third.

Contestants had to write their essays based on one of five quotes provided by contest organizers. Two were African proverbs; the others were from Angelou, Marcus Garvey and Booker T. Washington.

Making a pledge

If it's March, it must be pledge time

Yep, it's that time of year again, as MPT's on-air pledge seekers hold shows hostage until the money starts rolling in, and those of us who tape shows to view later are constantly frustrated because pledge breaks add 20 minutes to a show's length.

Oh well, necessary evil. The MPT folks need the money. And at least this year, the drive, which began yesterday and runs through March 23, won't include Thursdays and Fridays.

To try to make things a little more palatable, the good folks on Bonita Avenue are bringing in a host of guests. John Tesh, gymnastics commentator, former "Entertainment Tonight" host and musician, will be in the studios March 10 during MPT's broadcast of "John Tesh: The Avalon Concert" (set to begin at 8 p.m.).

The next day, Irish tenor Colm Wilkinson, the star of last year's big "Les Miserables" concert, will appear to discuss "Colm Wilkinson Sings," which also begins at 8 p.m.

Car buffs will want to make note of March 15, when John Davis, creator and host of MPT's "Motorweek," will appear with Pat Goss, the show's car-care expert, beginning at 5 p.m.

Finally, on March 17, author and finance commentator Jonathan Pond will be in the studio as host for two of his programs: "Your Financial Future" (8 p.m.) and "Finding Financial Freedom" (9: 30 p.m.).

'Future Fantastic'

If the 20th century has taught us anything, it's that anything is possible. That's the message behind "Future Fantastic," a five-part series debuting at 10 tonight (repeats at 1 a.m.) on the Learning Channel.

Narrated by Gillian Anderson of "The X-Files," the series looks at the science fiction of yesterday, and how much of it has become science fact today. It notes, for instance, that novelists were theorizing that the energy from a split atom could be harnessed, even as scientists insisted such a thing was impossible.

Tonight's premiere, "Alien," looks at the possibility of intelligent life beyond Earth, and pretty much takes for granted that it's out there.

"Future Fantastic" airs through Thursday. Tomorrow, "The Incredible Shrinking Planet" looks at scientists' efforts to escape Earth-bound physics. Tuesday's "I, Robot" chronicles the quest to perfect artificial intelligence, while Wednesday's "Space Pioneers" deals with interstellar travel and Thursday's "Immortals" asks if eternal life may not be possible after all.

Each episode airs at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m., with the entire five-part series slated for 1-6 p.m. next Sunday.

Pub Date: 3/02/97

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