CBS Austin, Telemundo Austin team up with Red Cross to host Harvey phone bank

CBS Austin and sister station Telemundo Austin will host a daylong phone bank Tuesday to raise money for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts.

The stations, which are both owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, have partnered with the American Red Cross, which will distribute funds that are raised.

English- and Spanish-speaking operators will be answering calls Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 10:35 p.m., when CBS Austin’s 10 p.m. newscast wraps up.

The number to call is (512) 832-7575.

Anchor Shannon Wolfson leaving KXAN

Shannon Wolfson (KXAN photo)

KXAN news anchor Shannon Wolfson will leave the city’s NBC affiliate later this year.

Wolfson, who co-anchors with Robert Hadlock at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. on KXAN and at 9 p.m. on sister station KNVA, will depart in late November to focus more time on her family and to do some traveling, according to a post on kxan.com.

“If I were to continue in TV news, I’d be staying right here at KXAN,” Wolfson said in the post. “This is one of the strongest news operations in the country, and I have been so lucky to be an anchor at KXAN. I would like to thank my KXAN family and our loyal viewers for the incredible support.”

During two different stints at the station, the University of Texas graduate has held a variety of positions, including general assignments reporter, investigative reporter, 9 p.m. anchor and, since 2013, co-anchor of all four evening newscasts produced by KXAN.

Wolfson took over for Leslie Rhode, who also left the station citing a desire to spend more time with her family.

Wolfson’s job has already been posted on kxan.com.

 

 

YouTube TV set to add CBS Austin to its growing lineup

Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner of Austin’s CBS affiliate, has signed a deal that will add its stations nationwide to YouTube TV, YouTube’s streaming TV service.

A timeline for when CBS Austin will join YouTube TV, one of a growing number of web-based cable TV competitors, hasn’t been announced.

As part of the deal, YouTube TV will also carry the Tennis Channel, a cable network owned by Sinclair.

Nationwide, Sinclair currently owns – or is in the process of acquiring – stations in 108 TV markets.

The YouTube TV lineup offers more than 40 cable TV networks, as well as cloud DVR service, for $35 per month. In many cases, however, local network affiliates, are not available as YouTube works to negotiate contracts similar to the one it hammered out with Sinclair.

AT&T’s DirecTV Now, a similar service, has also been working to reach deals with owners of local network affiliates. In Austin, it recently added ABC affiliate KVUE to its lineup after signing a pact with the station’s owner, Tegna.

CBS Austin connecting foster children with ‘Forever Families’

Destinee and Lindsay Liepman (CBS Austin photo)

With all the craziness in the world, it’s always nice to see news outlets devote some time to positive, upbeat stories that put a smile on your face.

That’s exactly what’s happening over at CBS Austin, where the station’s new “Forever Families” franchise aims to connect Central Texas foster children with adoptive parents.

If that name sounds familiar, it should. The series had aired for years on Spectrum News, but it was one of several specialty segments the 24-hour cable news channel dropped earlier this year.

CBS Austin news director Rob Cartwright said “Forever Families” fits right in with the station’s desire to deliver community-focused journalism.

Krayshawn and Lindsay Liepman (CBS Austin photo)

“The foster care system is often in the headlines for all the wrong reasons,” he said. “We wanted to do what we could to help some of these children find their forever families.

“It is our honor to work to connect children who have lived a majority of their lives in foster care with a forever family. The reaction we have gotten from people who have seen the segment online and in our newscasts has been amazing.”

Anchor/reporter Lindsay Liepman is producing the reports, which air Wednesdays during CBS Austin’s 6:30 p.m. newscast. The segments are also archived on cbsaustin.com.

Liepman said she grew up watching legendary Dallas news anchor Gloria Campos, whose “Wednesday’s Child” segment on WFAA-TV helped connect countless foster children with adoptive parents.

“The impact she made is immeasurable in both the community and for each child who was adopted,” Liepman said. “All these years later, the need is still there. It’s an opportunity to give more of myself to create real change in a child’s life. I wanted to do it for the kids. I wanted to do it for all the caseworkers and volunteers who are working with our state’s foster children every day.”

A mother of four, Liepman said many of the stories she hears are simply heartbreaking. It’s her goal to help heal that heartbreak.

Beth and Lindsay Liepman (CBS Austin photo)

“I have three boys and a baby girl – all of them 5 years old and younger,” she said. “When I come home after spending time with a ‘Forever Families’ child, I hold my kids closer. I share their stories with my kids and explain how I’m trying to help. It’s making me a better mom. When a child makes an imprint on your heart, it never leaves. It’s the difficult part of telling their stories every week.  But even though the work is hard, it’s important.”

The children she meets are all so incredibly different, Liepman said. That can make it hard, at times, to relate. But she says she’s always able to eventually break down walls and get camera-shy kids out of their shells.

“Some of the children I’ve felt an instant connection,” Liepman said. “Others I’ve had to work hard to build rapport and trust. Interviewing children can be difficult because so much of their personality isn’t in what they say on camera. It’s what you observe them doing. I want each story to reflect the child’s hopes and dreams so they have a chance to shine.”

Reaction, so far, has been phenomenal, Liepman said, and she’s looking forward to sharing some success stories in the coming weeks and months.

Casimiro and Lindsay Liepman (CBS Austin photo)

“The Central Texas community has rallied behind the segment and liked, shared and tweeted each story,” she said. “Within the newsroom, we are all grateful for the chance to do this type of storytelling and we’re all waiting for the update that one of our ‘Forever Families’ children has been adopted. I’ve been told many times the segments have brought viewers to tears. I’m glad people are connecting with the kids.”