When KUTV finally hires a new male news anchor, it just might be an old Ch. 2 anchor - Terry Wood.
Wood has been in town and reportedly has interviewed at Ch. 2. KUTV news director Dan Webster would neither confirm nor deny that he's talked with Wood."It's been no secret from the time we put the 5 o'clock newscast on the air that we were looking for another male anchor," Webster said. "I've talked to a dozen people seriously about coming to work here.
"It's difficult to find the right person. You have to deal with people who are under contract elsewhere. Some of them have escape clauses and some of them don't."
Wood is currently under contract to WDSU, the NBC affiliate in New Orleans. The station was recently sold to the Pulitzer Publishing Co., which is in the process of evaluating personnel. One morning anchor has already been told his contract will not be renewed.
In New Orleans, the NBC affiliate runs far behind the CBS station in the market, which has a larger audience than its two competitors combined. WDSU battles the ABC affiliate for second (or third, depending on how you look at it) and the addition of Wood in August 1987 hasn't improved WDSU's ratings.
Soon after he debuted in New Orleans, he was the victim of a poorly received media campaign by WDSU. The spots showed a newsroom full of reporters grappling with an issue and asking, "Who would know that? . . . Terry Wood."
"He'd just come from Atlanta and was still mispronouncing street names, and they're promoting him as a guy who knows everything and anything about New Orleans," said New Orleans Times-Picayune television editor Mark Lorando. "It didn't help his credibility at all."
It also didn't help that Wood had just been quoted as saying that news anchors had to put their foot down when it came to silly promotions.
Wood also was saddled with trying to replace a highly regarded anchorman, Charles Zewe, who was let go by WDSU only because research showed he didn't appeal to blacks or women.
Since moving to New Orleans, Wood has functioned mainly as a news reader, much as he did in Utah. He's done little or no reporting, and hasn't gone out and done any enterprise reporting at all.
While the search for another male anchor has supposedly been to relieve Bob Evans of having to do the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts, he may be relieved of more duties than he'd like. Station owners are reportedly so high on Wood they'd put him on at 6 and 10 p.m. and bump Evans back to noon and 5 p.m.
Wood's previous stint at KUTV lasted 13 sometimes stormy years. He was just 23 when he began to anchor Ch. 2's news in 1971.
The most-publicized of his difficulties at KUTV came in October 1982 when he was apparently suspended for two days after laughing loudly - off camera but on air - at a colleague's televised miscue. Wood soon tendered his resignation, which was accepted, then negotiated a new contract with the station and returned to the air a month after he abruptly left.
Wood left Utah in 1984 to take a job with an Atlanta station. He was let go in 1987 and was unemployed when he was hired by WDSU in New Orleans.
A move back to Utah would mark a further decline in Wood's standing. He's gone from a major market, Atlanta, down to No. 36 New Orleans. Returning to Salt Lake would drop him to an even smaller market, No. 41.
WHOOPS: Mr. Spud knows that Kathy Brock is the co-anchor on KUTV's 6 p.m. newscast. He doesn't know why he wrote in Monday's story that she's on at 5 p.m. (Maybe his brain is addled from too much TV watching.)
Mr. Spud has also figured out that that means Christie O'Connor will be replacing Brock at 6 p.m., not 5 p.m.
Please forgive him.
RATINGS: America, you made Mr. Spud very happy Sunday night. You chose the classy "Caroline?" over the trashy "Fall from Grace" and "Summer Dreams: The Story of the Beach Boys."
"Caroline?" was the week's fourth-most-watched show; "Fall," the story of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakkers, tied for eighth and "Dreams" was 48th.
More good news - the NBC fine new sitcom "Wings" tied for eighth.
Now for the bad news - "Twin Peaks" has slipped all the way to 45th, down from 28th the week before. (Mr. Spud is sad, but this is actually about where he expected "Peaks" to be in the first place.) And "America's Funniest Home Videos" was the week's top-rated show.
NBC won the week ending April 29 with a 12.9 rating and a 23 share. ABC came in second with an 11.4 rating and a 20 share, while CBS had an 11.1 rating and a 19 share.
- THE TOP TEN: 1. "America's Funniest Home Videos," 2. "Cheers," 3. "A Different World," 4. "CBS Sunday Night Movie: Caroline?," 5. "Cosby," 6. (tie) "Roseanne" and "60 Minutes," 8. (tie) NBC Sunday Night Movie: "Fall from Grace" and "Wings," 10. "Unsolved Mysteries."