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Monday, March 19, 2018

Kitirik, 86, still in the hearts of Houston TV viewers

Bunny Orsak, aka KTRK 13's "Kitirik" has luck on her side - Dan Lovett catches up with her and reports back to us

Bunny Orsak and Dan Lovett in New Mexico - 2018

In 2016, I posted how Kitirik returned to Houston for a visit

Anyone who watched KTRK abc13 decades ago, would remember the afternoon children's show host who was on the air for nearly 20 years.

Maybe, you got lucky enough to appear on Kitirik's show for your birthday!

WATCH: KiTiRiK behind the scenes footage at KTRK 13

Bunny Orsak, 86, was the person who donned the black cat costume, that is still such a great memory for a subset of Houston TV viewers.

For those who don't know, KiTiRiK was named after the station's call letters KTRK. Why a black cat? Well, some consider the 13's channel assignment unlucky, hence the former mascot and this famous kid's program host.

"I recently spent a great weekend with KITIRIK and her husband Larry at one of their homes in New Mexico," former KTRK sports anchor Dan Lovett told "Bunny Orsak is now 86 but remains to me the Grand Gal of them all on Houston TV."

Another great past KTRK talent is sportscaster Dan Lovett (he went on to work in New York for ABC after Houston). Currently he is on a U.S. Route 66 trip to the West Coast. The other question is will he run into Buz Murdock?

I can just imagine the catching up Orsak and Lovett must have done during their visit.

"[Orsak] went on the air with the station back in 1954 and left in 1971, when the new owners Caps Cities Broadcasting axed her show in favor of Leave it to Beaver reruns," Lovett recalled. "The best they could do was give her $200 severance for all of her years of loyalty to KTRK. We shared many other stories, but I won't mention names to protect the guilty at 13 (including me)."

Former, longtime KTRK anchor Dave Ward told me back in 2016 about the reaction Kitirik's cancellation received.

"And when the station decided to take Kitirik off the air, oh, my Lord," Ward told me. "We had mothers and their children protesting, carrying signs around the front of the building, you know. 'Unfair. Keep Kitirik.'"

Check out Lovett's great auto-biography Anybody Seen Dan Lovett?: Memoirs of a Media Nomad for more Houston TV tales.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Mary Benton appointed press secretary

Houston Mayor Sylvester appoints former KPRC 2 reporter Mary Benton press secretary

Back in January when I posted that Houston Mayor Sylvester appointed former KPRC 2 reporter Mary Benton interim press secretary after Darian Ward resigned, was there any doubt she would get the full-time gig?

Well, the day is here.

We learned yesterday through a press release that Benton is now officially the mayor's press secretary:

HOUSTON - Houston Mayor Sylvester has appointed seasoned communicator Mary Benton as his press secretary, two months after she stepped into the job on an interim basis.

“To no one’s surprise, Mary adapted well to the demanding job since the very first day and has already demonstrated her integrity, dedication and the benefits of her experience,” the mayor said. “As a key addition to my communications staff, she will ensure that we effectively use every available pathway to keep the public informed about my agenda and what the city is doing for all of its residents.”

Benton was a TV news reporter for KPRC (Channel 2) for 20 years before joining Harris County government in 2014. She managed media relations and public affairs at the Harris County Toll Road Authority, worked in the precinct offices of two Harris County commissioners, and served as a communications, education and public engagement coordinator at the Harris County Public Health Department.

She is a member of the Houston chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, a board member of the charity Undies For Everyone, a Texas Association of Broadcasters member, a member of the Gulf Coast Apollo Chapter (TX) of the service organizations Links, Inc., a Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers member and a Texas Exes Life Member, having graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Kevin Quinn resigns from KTRK abc13

After 15 years, KTRK abc13 reporter Kevin Quinn resigns from the station he's called home for a long time - but he's not the only one leaving

Surprising news hits us at the start of the Texas spring break season. Longtime KTRK abc13 reporter Kevin Quinn has announced his resignation from the station.

He has granted me permission to use the following statement he posted on his personal Facebook account:

As a journalist, the story isn’t supposed to be about us. But this one is. So I’ll keep it brief.

After 15 years at KTRK I’ve given my resignation. This is a decision I’ve made following much deliberation. It is a decision which will help me focus more on my family and being present in their lives.

I will be able to publicly discuss my future soon, but not yet. I am excited about what’s to come.

To my colleagues at abc13: You are among the best, most creative journalists in the business. It’s been my honor to work with you.

To all those who trusted me to tell their stories, thank you. I hope you found them to be fair and accurate. I hope I did them justice.

I’ve taken this week to be with my kids on Spring Break, but I’ve got a few more stories to tell. I’ll say a final goodbye at some point soon.

The good news is that you can still watch Quinn for several months on channel 13.

Can't wait to see where he lands next.

Quinn joined channel 13 back in February 2003. While he covered many stories across the city, his beats were mainly Fort Bend County and NASA. That must have meant a lot of long drives in opposite directions from the station everyday.

He came from KTRK sister station KFSN in Fresno, California. While there, he won a regional Edward R. Murrow award.

Starting his career in Texas, Quinn did it all as a photographer, reporter and anchor at KMID Midland-Odessa.

The award winning journalist graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arizona State University in 1994.

Now Quinn isn't the only one leaving KTRK as of late.

I've heard there have been a handful of longtime off-air employees exiting from engineering, community affairs and beyond over the last few months.

A few weeks ago, I asked my channel 13 media contact, David Lee, if these were layoffs, retirements or buy-outs.

The thought came into my mind after an October 2017 LA Times article where it was reported the ABC Television Group was going to have layoffs across the group (KTRK is owned by the Disney ABC Television Group). Then the best media blogger around, Robert Feder, reported layoffs at WLS in Chicago (KTRK sister station).

I never heard back from Lee.

Turns out he bolted for a new job too. I guess he was too busy packing to hit reply.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Houston radio reunion 4-29-18

Houston radio legend and Texas Radio Hall of Fame member Rowdy Yates has asked me to pass along the following details of a big Houston radio reunion!

Houston Radio Folks: We are TWO months away from our reunion of personalities, engineers, traffic, continuity, sales folks, managers, news anchors and other behind the scenes people.

It is Sunday April 29, 2018 from 12pm-4pm and it is FREE to attend.

We'll see you at Mo's Place in Katy.

Mo's Place
21940 Kingsland Blvd.
Katy, TX 77450

Please share this info with your current and former colleagues, and encourage them to LIKE this page:

Friday, March 09, 2018

Former KLOL Personality Dayna Steele Wins Texas Democratic Primary

Photo credit: Brett Chisholm

March 8, 2018 – Former Houston broadcast personality Dayna Steele has won the Texas 36th Congressional District Democratic Primary, garnering an impressive 72% of the votes cast. The New York Times was among the earliest to call the election for the first time candidate, releasing their announcement less than three hours of the closing of polls on Tuesday, March 6, 2018. The successful business woman, best-selling author, speaker and former KLOL-FM standout will now face a Republican incumbent in the fall elections.

RELATED: Melissa Etheridge and David Crosby show support for Dayna Steele campaign

Calling to mind remarks she made at a press conference announcing her candidacy in May of 2017, Steele observed “The ‘most unlikely candidate for Congress’ is now a step closer to a seat in Washington. I’m going to take a quick but deep breath to enjoy this moment with my family, then it’s back to work.”

On election night, the first time candidate graciously thanked her staff, volunteers, neighbors and friends throughout the district, then took a moment to express thanks to friends from her radio days for their support. Among those who supported Steele’s campaign were legendary artists Joan Jett, David Crosby, and Melissa Etheridge.

The candidate, who traveled the length and breadth of her vast district in a wrapped campaign truck dubbed “Lady Liberty”, was endorsed by the Houston Chronicle and former Houston mayor Annise Parker. She earned the support of Texas AFL-CIO COPE, Our Revolution Harris County, the Houston GLBT Caucus, the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation, Howie’s Klein’s Blue America, and the Sabine Area Central Labor Council, among others.

RELATED: Dayna Steele and supporters rock Numbers Night Club

Additional details on the Dayna Steele for Congress campaign are available at, including information for volunteers and donors.

About Dayna Steele

Ms. Steele is a native Texan and has lived in Seabrook, Texas for over 27 years. She has been married to NASA Research Pilot and science fiction author Charles Justiz, PhD for over 25 years and they have raised 3 sons. The eldest, Cris, is married and now resides in Colorado with his wife Elizabeth. Middle son Dack is at the University of Texas in Austin, and his younger brother Nick is a high school senior. The family includes 3 rescue dogs and one rescue cat.

The candidate has pledged to protect the interests of the elderly, the young, the poor, veterans, women, the disabled, the LGBTQ community and others whom she feels are not adequately served by the current administration. Dayna Steele has also expressed concern over the future of the Johnson Space Center, which she feels is source of pride, inspiration and economic strength for the bay area.

The Texas Congressional District 36 runs from the Clear Lake area to Toledo Bend, from Lake Livingston to the Louisiana border and encompasses the southeastern portion of Harris County as well as the entirety of Chambers, Hardin, Jasper, Liberty, Newton, Orange, Polk and Tyler Counties. The expansive district notably includes NASA and the Johnson Space Center and the Big Thicket Natural Preserve.

(This post taken from a release sent to me by the Dayna Steele campaign)

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Hottest Houston social media stars February 2018

February came with some Houston social media changes!

This month, I am putting in something new.

Look below for a grouping of the top five media members in Houston overall. I want to point out that the Houston Press' Brandon Caldwell shows up in this top five overall list. I think this is the first time I haven't seen just TV people in the top five.

Share Rocket gives us data on how each Houston TV station and the corresponding air staff members performed on Facebook and Twitter for the month of February 2018.

Share Rocket is, "a social media ratings and audience solution providing media companies an easy way to quantify their social media equity, benchmark against peers and turn social market intelligence into insights that drive social success."

The numbers are pulled from station usage on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using Share Rocket's "Share" measurement.

First we are looking at every Houston media company in the Share Rocket database. Then I am looking at the top 5 on air staff members at each station in order of channel number.

- February 2018 Houston sweeps rating news
- Texas TV and radio job moves February 2018
- VIDEO: #TVnews bloopers February 2018

Houston Media
  1. abc13 KTRK
  2. FOX 26 KRIV
  3. KHOU 11
  4. KPRC 2
  5. Houston Chronicle
  6. 45 Univision
  7. 47 Telemundo
  8. Houston's 39
  9. Houston Press
  10. CultureMap Houston

Top 5 individuals
  1. Eduardo Rodríguez (Yusnaby Pérez) - 47 Telemundo
  2. Brandon Caldwell - Houston Press
  3. Dominique Sachse - KPRC 2
  4. Jennifer Reyna - KPRC 2
  5. Kaitlin Monte - FOX 26 KRIV

  1. Dominique Sachse
  2. Jennifer Reyna
  3. Adam Wexler
  4. Lainie Fritz
  5. Rachel McNeill

  1. Chita Craft
  2. Daniel Gotera
  3. Matt Musil
  4. Melissa Correa
  5. Brandi Smith

abc 13 KTRK
  1. Kevin Quinn
  2. Mayra Moreno
  3. Samica Knight
  4. Katherine Whaley
  5. Steve Campion

  1. Kaitlin Monte
  2. Isiah Carey
  3. Coco Dominguez
  4. Mark Berman
  5. Ivory Hecker

Univision 45 KXLN
  1. Marcela Perez Barros
  2. Karina Yapor
  3. Laura Sierra
  4. Gabriel Torres
  5. Albert Martínez

Telemundo 47 KTMD
  1. Eduardo Rodríguez (Yusnaby Pérez)
  2. Martín Berlanga
  3. Carlos A. Robles
  4. Ubaldo Martínez
  5. Augusto Bernal

Houston Chronicle
  1. Jonathan Feigen
  2. Joseph Duarte
  3. John McClain
  4. Mike Glenn
  5. Brent Zwerneman

DISCLAIMER: The top five Houston Chronicle staffers are listed at the bottom. I did not include KIAH 39 because it does not have five full-time on-air employees to make up the list. No Houston radio stations are listed in the Share Rocket database.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Great Day Houston back live since Harvey

KHOU 11's Great Day Houston returns on live TV for the first time since Hurricane Harvey flooded its studios

Everyone is excited about Rodeo Houston, and so is the staff of Great Day Houston with Deborah Duncan.

The staff announced on a Facebook the show is back live on TV for the first time since Hurricane Harvey flooded the KHOU 11 building. And the live location is the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo all this week.

The last live Great Day Houston show was from a church after the storm hit.

The rodeo is also a rare a chance for the crew to be live in the field, since in its decade plus existence, has mostly taken place in its studio.

Since September, the show has pre-taped at locations like the Houston Food Bank, Hotel Icon, Emancipation Park and others. I understand the show records Mondays and Tuesdays, then airs the following week.

Live or pre-taped, you can catch Great Day Houston every weekday at 9am on channel 11.

I really have to hand it to the KHOU staff. It's not easy putting on a daily show or a plethora of daily newscasts for that matter in normal circumstances. Imagine trying to do it in temporary spaces!

As KHOU 11 General Manager, Susan McEldoon, recently said, at one time the station had staff in seven different locations across the Houston-area.

She added the Houston CBS affiliate is very close to signing a lease on a new unannounced facility and in moved in by the end of the year.

Dave Ward was the 2018 Downtown Rodeo Parade grand marshal

Monday, March 05, 2018

Texas TV and radio job moves February 2018


WFAA morning anchor Alexa Conomos signed off in earlier January and has started a real estate career.


KSBJ president/GM Tim McDermott steps down from station after 27 years.

From Rock DJ To NPR News: Ed Mayberry Reflects On A Career In Radio.

93Q KKBQ morning executive producer/on-air talent Al Farb is heading to Dallas' KSCS to work afternoons and as assistant program director.

Atom Smasher, former Houston KRBE radio host, gets new show in Clear Lake

Talk Host Chris X Joins ‘Conservative Cartel’ Show. Signing on with Pinnacle Broadcast Holdings, Inc to co-host “The Conservative Cartel” program with Matt Locke is Chris X, former host of ChrisXradio.

- KENS 5 traffic anchor Chelsey Hernandez joins KTRK abc13 as a consumer reporter
- Houston TV journalists strike out on their own, and open up to about making money, including turning on a paywall
- WFMZ 69 News Lehigh Valley, PA reporter Maria Salazar joins FOX 26 as a general assignment reporter
- WCBS New York reporter Jessica Borg joins KHOU 11
- Former KPRC 2 reporter Jennifer Bauer reports from scene of horrible Florida high school shooting
- FOX 26 KRIV reporter Stephen Morgan filled-in as the meteorologist
- Rebecca Spera shows off baby #2
- Owen Conflenti announces baby


KENS-TV traffic reporter Stacia Willson, who previously anchored the noon news, is working toward becoming a certified meteorologist.

Casey Keirnan joins the CBS Sports Digital team as an Anchor/Host in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from sports reporter at KABB-TV in San Antonio, Texas.
- 3kingsentertainment


Will Jensen promoted to main anchor at KTXS Abilene.

Mike Iliopoulos moves back to Weslaco, TX and re-joins KRGV as an anchor. He moves from KMGH in Denver.

KSWO meteorologist Austin Bowling announced he’s leaving the station and the business.

Longtime KVIA (El Paso) Anchor Estela Casas will be missing from the air for weeks.


Former KTRK journalist Roy Hobbs dies.

Internet broadcaster Harold Levine passes away.

Remembering KTRE News Director Kenny Boles.

Ray Moran, a pioneer broadcaster in Texas and New Mexico, and founder of Lubbock's Ramar Communications, passed away February 11, at age 82.

Jerry Lentz, an original DJ on Dallas' alt-rock station The Edge, has died of swine flu.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Univision 45 KXLN has strong February 2018 sweeps

February 2018 sweeps are over. And now we are starting to see the results.

I got my hands on some ratings info for Univision 45 KXLN. The station says Noticias 45 finished the February 2018 sweeps #1 in midday, early and late news among A18-49, showing growth vs. November 2017.

It adds, among A25-54, KXLN finished #1 in midday and early news, #1 in daytime and early fringe. KXLN showed growth in Total Day, Daytime, Early Fringe, Prime Access and Prime vs. the November 2017 sweep period.

Now here are some graphics that show more. Remember, I am not an analytical TV salesman. I am just your humble blogger.

Click on the graphics to make them larger.

*updated with changes to KPRC's ratings

Dave Ward can captivate a room and a parade

Dave Ward was the 2018 Downtown Rodeo Parade grand marshal - here is my report on photographing a bonafide TV star

Saturday morning at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo's pre-parade dignitary breakfast inside the Hobby Center, TV news icon Dave Ward was busy shaking hands and taking pictures with the movers and shakers of the Bayou City.

I asked him if he ever got tired of people approaching him.

He told me that it's never a bother. If it weren't for the people of southeast Texas, he wouldn't have the career and life he has.

I've been around a lot of TV anchors and reporters in my time, but few have the star power with the viewers like Dave Ward. It was touching to see people light up when they approached him.

Usually the message is, "Mr. Ward, I have been watching you since I was a child!"

I've always thought of him as Uncle Dave. The steady, calm voice that came into our homes for 50 years to assure us no matter how bad things seemed, they would eventually get better.

That sentiment seems to go for you and me all the way to Houston politicians and members of Congress.

Dressed in his best western attire to perform his grand marshal of the 2018 Downtown Rodeo Parade duties, including boots that were a gift from Clay Walker, Ward was about to receive even more cowboy apparel.

Introduced by another popular fixture of Houston TV news, KPRC 2 reporter Phil Archer, Ward took the podium to thank everyone for his parade honors and receive a special grand marshal belt buckle and HLSR jacket.

"Well, I've been from the sidelines for 50 years reporting on the parade, this is the very first time I've been in the parade," Ward told me on a Facebook Live. "For them to choose me to be the parade grand marshal is an honor beyond belief. I really couldn't believe it."

Later on, seated in the grand marshal carriage with his wife Laura, Ward was interviewed by his former station's morning anchor Tom Koch and photographer Andre Dorsey live on abc13 KTRK.

As the Wards moved through the parade route, I heard folks lined up on the street yelling out Dave's name and cheering for him. Every turn of the corner came a new group of positive vibes from rodeo parade attendees.

Now I wasn't following Ward's only move just for this blog...of course that would be reason enough.

For the last few months, the Wards hired my web design company, McGuff Media LLC, to build his website.

You can check it out at:

It will keep you up to date on everything Dave Ward. You can see more photos of Ward at the rodeo parade here.

There is even a video section with clips from throughout this famous anchor's TV career. More will be added. If you have any video addition requests, email me.

Also, on the site, check out Dave Ward taking the Houston Rockets “First Shot” for Houston's Children Charity.

That honor took place the night before the rodeo parade. Imagine shooting the first free throw in front of a Rockets crowd at the Toyota Center, then the next day serving as the rodeo parade's grand marshal! That's just a weekend for one of Houston's most famous TV anchors.

Back to the parade, I asked Ward on Facebook Live how the parade has changed over the years since he started covering it.

"It just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger," he replied.

I thought about it, that description for the parade sounds like a metaphor for our city in general these days.