KVUE debuts new set

KVUE took the wraps off its new set Sunday night.

The set, from Jack Morton Worldwide, replaces one that first debuted in 2001 and underwent a refresh in 2008.

Jack Morton Worldwide has designed similar sets for a number of KVUE’s sister stations across the country.

“We’re so thankful that our parent company Tegna believes deeply in quality, local journalism,” KVUE president and general manager Kristie Gonzales said. “Their investment in KVUE allowed us to build a state-of-the-art set, inspired by Austin.”

Construction on the set started in mid-2017 in a secondary studio, allowing the ABC affiliate to continue broadcasting from its old set without interruption.

The focal point of the new 360-degree set is an array of flat-screens that sits behind the news anchors. Aside from the main anchor desk, there’s also a weather center and an interview area.

“KVUE has always set the standard in Austin for innovation,” news director Tim Ryan said. “We’ve integrated all the tools at our disposal to tell Austin’s story in real time, help the KVUE Storm Team keep you on top of the ever-changing weather in Central Texas and have a little fun, too.”

Now that the new set has debuted, the studio where the old set is located will be converted into production space.


Lead investigative reporter Brian Collister departs KXAN

Brian Collister

Brian Collister, KXAN’s lead investigative reporter, has departed the station.

In an interview with the American-Statesman, Collister, who spent nearly four years at the city’s NBC affiliate, said he’s already busy looking for his next opportunity.

“Like any relationship, sometimes the parties decide they need to go in a new direction – and that’s what we decided to do,” he said.

Before arriving at KXAN, he spent time as an investigative reporter at KTRK in Houston and WOAI in San Antonio. Earlier in his career, he helped start the 7 On Your Side unit at Austin’s KTBC.

“I’ve been an investigative reporter for 20 years,” Collister said. “Whether it’s here in Austin, elsewhere in Texas or beyond, I’m going to continue to fight for the public’s right to know.”

While at KXAN, Collister and the station’s heavily promoted investigative team won a slew of awards, including the prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for their coverage of racial profiling by Texas law enforcement officers.

“Viewers and tipsters were confident we’d tell their stories,” Collister said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to do some really great things at KXAN. I appreciate every opportunity they gave me.”

While he’s not sure what’s next, Collister said there’s one thing he wants viewers to know no matter where he lands.

“Regardless of where I am, I want people to realize they can still reach out and I can help them,” he said.

KVUE adding an hour of weekend news

KVUE weekend anchor Kris Betts (John Gusky photo / KVUE)

KVUE is adding an hour of weekend news starting this month.

Both the additions at the city’s ABC affiliate are on Saturdays.

A new 5 p.m. Saturday newscast debuts this weekend, while the station took the wraps off a newly expanded, hour-long 10 p.m. Saturday newscast last weekend.

KVUE already airs an hour-long 10 p.m. newscast on Sundays.

Current weekend anchor Kris Betts will add the new broadcasts to her existing schedule.

KVUE weekend newscasts

  • Saturday: 7 to 9 a.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 to 11 p.m.
  • Sunday: 7 to 9 a.m., 5:30 p.m. and 10 to 11 p.m.

KUT kicks off 2018 by offering more local news

Austin NPR affiliate 90.5 KUT-FM started off 2018 by adding more local programming to its lineup.

The station has expanded “Morning Edition,” which now ends at 10 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. Jennifer Stayton hosts the new 9 a.m. hour.

That means NPR’s “On Point,” which had been heard at 9 a.m., is now off the KUT schedule.

The 9 a.m. hour will have a heavy local emphasis, the station said, with more news breaks, as well as long-form interviews with local newsmakers.

“Austin’s interest in public radio journalism has never been higher, as shown by the increasing numbers of Austinites turning to KUT 90.5 for news each day,” said Hawk Mendenhall, associate general manager of broadcast and content services for KUT. “And as Austin has grown, so has the need for more news coverage. This additional hour of ‘Morning Edition’ will enable us to deliver more news from our community, the nation and the world on a daily basis.”

In other KUT programming news, Alec Baldwin’s “Here’s the Thing” will replace “The Dinner Party Download,” which has ended production, Fridays at 9 p.m.

Top 10 Austin TV/radio posts of 2017: Jenni Lee, Quita Culpepper, Terri Gruca and more

Jenni Lee

Another year is in the record books – and it was a busy one on the TV/radio beat here in Austin.

In 2017, we waved farewell to a number of beloved personalities who moved on, while also welcoming a new crop of broadcasters to the city’s airwaves.

Here’s a look at the 10 most-read TV/radio stories of 2017 on austin360.com, statesman.com and mystatesman.com.

And, of course, be sure to stop by regularly in 2018 as we work to keep you updated on comings, goings – and a whole lot more.

  1. After health scare, KVUE anchor ready to return to work
  2. Updated with photos: UT students get all Beyonce’d up for ‘Ellen’ TV crew
  3. KVUE anchor swap: Terri Gruca, Quita Culpepper trading spots
  4. KVUE meteorologist Jared Plushnick leaving at week’s end
  5. Jordan Steele leaving CBS Austin for Seattle gig
  6. ‘The Price Is Right Live’ coming to Cedar Park
  7. All Christmas, all the time on 2 Austin radio stations
  8. CBS Austin traffic anchor Chrisdyann Uribe leaving for Houston
  9. ‘Stripped’ at SXSW: Bravo TV shows some skin
  10. Darius Rucker prowls Austin in new ‘Undercover Boss’ episode

November ratings deep dive: KVUE leads among viewers in key demographic

KVUE’s 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. broadcasts feature sports director Mike Barnes, left, newscasters Quita Culpepper and Mike Rush and chief meteorologist Albert Ramon.

The big story at KVUE these days is that a growing number of folks ages 25-54 are watching the local ABC affiliate’s newscasts.

In the recently completed November “sweeps” period, the station ranked No. 1 in that advertiser-friendly demographic at 4:30 a.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.

At 5 a.m., KVUE landed in a three-way tie for first with NBC affiliate KXAN and Fox-owned KTBC.

Drilling deeper and analyzing demographics instead of total households shows the local stations, in many cases, finish in a different order. KXAN, for instance, won in total viewers at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. but placed behind KVUE among viewers ages 25-54 last month.

In many of those time slots, KVUE said it saw year-over-year gains well into the double digits.

“I’m so proud of the entire KVUE team,” KVUE president and general manager Kristie Gonzales said. “We’ve worked so hard to surprise, innovate and engage with our audience across all platforms. We are not the same old news anymore, and our vision is to make Central Texas a better place through our storytelling.”

November Nielsen ratings

Each ratings point equals 8,456 Central Texans ages 25-54. The first number is ratings points, the second is share (the percentage of in-use TV sets tuned to a particular channel) and the third is total in-demo viewers.

4:30 a.m.

  • KVUE: .6 / 12 / 5,919
  • KXAN: .3 / 6 / 2,537
  • KTBC: .2 / 5 / 1,691

5 a.m.

  • KVUE: .6 / 11 / 5,919
  • KXAN: .6 / 11 / 5,919
  • KTBC: .6 / 11 / 5,919
  • KEYE: .1 / 2 / 846

6 a.m.

  • KXAN: 1.5 / 16 / 12,684
  • KVUE: 1.4 / 15 / 11,838
  • KTBC: 1.2 / 13 / 10,147
  • KEYE: .3 / 3 / 2,537

7 a.m.

  • KTBC: 1.5 / 13 / 12,684

8 a.m.

  • KTBC: 1.4 / 12 / 11,838

9 a.m.

  • KTBC: 1.2 / 11 / 10,147
  • KEYE: .1 / 1 / 846 (‘We Are Austin’)

11 a.m.

  • KVUE: .4 / 4 / 3,382
  • KXAN: .4 / 4 / 3,382 (‘Studio 512’)


  • KTBC: .8 / 7 / 6,765
  • KXAN: .5 / 5 / 4,228

5 p.m.

  • KVUE: 1.4 / 8 / 11,838
  • KTBC: 1.2 / 7 / 10,147
  • KXAN: 1.1 / 6 / 9,302
  • KEYE: .4 / 2 / 3,382

6 p.m.

  • KVUE: 2.2 / 10 / 18,603
  • KXAN: 1.9 / 9 / 16,066
  • KEYE: .5 / 2 / 4,228

6:30 p.m.

  • KEYE: .7 / 3 / 5,919

9 p.m.

  • KTBC: 1.4 / 4 / 11,838

10 p.m.

  • KVUE: 2 / 7 / 16,912
  • KXAN: 1.8 / 6 / 15,221
  • KTBC: 1 / 3 / 8,456
  • KEYE: .9 / 3 / 7,610


November TV ratings: KXAN’s still the station to beat

KXAN’s morning team features Amanda Dugan, Sally Hernandez, John Dabkovich and David Yeomans.

KXAN continues to be Austin’s top choice for local TV news, according to the latest Nielsen ratings.

In the November “sweeps” period, the city’s NBC affiliate was home to the No. 1-rated 5 a.m., 6 a.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. English-language newscasts.

ABC affiliate KVUE placed first at 4:30 a.m. and middays.

Mornings, in particular, were especially competitive, with less than one rating point separating the top three contenders.

“We continue to stand by our commitment to producing in-depth stories in all newscasts and investigating the issues that affect our local community,” KXAN vice president and general manager Eric Lassberg said. “We work as hard as we can to follow up on the tips we receive from the people of Central Texas; please keep them coming because it’s working to get results. The entire KXAN staff is honored to continue being the top choice for local news in Central Texas.”

Looking at national news broadcasts, ABC’s “Good Morning America” is the most-watched network morning show in Austin, while “NBC Nightly News” is the nighttime network newscast of choice here.

In prime time, Fox was the network to beat in Central Texas, followed by NBC, CBS, ABC, The CW and then MyNetworkTV.

CBS’ Stephen Colbert wins the late-night TV race among local viewers, followed by NBC’s Jimmy Fallon and then ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel.

November Nielsen ratings

Each ratings point equals 7,915 Central Texas households. The first number is ratings points, the second is share (the percentage of in-use TV sets tuned to a particular channel) and the third is total households.

4:30 a.m.

  • KVUE: .8 / 8 / 6,332
  • KXAN: .6 / 5.5 / 4,749
  • KTBC: .6 / 5.3 / 4,749
  • KEYE: .3 / 2.7 / 2,375

5 a.m.

  • KXAN: 1.1 / 9.2 / 8,707
  • KTBC: 1.1 / 8.9 / 8,707
  • KVUE: 1 / 8.7 / 7,915
  • KEYE: .4 / 3.1 / 3,166

6 a.m.

  • KXAN: 2.3 / 12.9 / 18,205
  • KVUE: 2.2 / 12.5 / 17,413
  • KTBC: 1.7 / 9.4 / 13,456
  • KEYE: .8 / 4.4 / 6,332

7 a.m.

  • KTBC: 2.3 / 9.8 / 18,205
  • KNVA: .3 / 1.4 / 2,375

8 a.m.

  • KTBC: 2.5 / 10.1 / 19,788

9 a.m.

  • KTBC: 2.2 / 9.1 / 17,413
  • KEYE: .6 / 2.6 / 4,749 (‘We Are Austin’)

11 a.m.

  • KVUE: 1.9 / 7.2 / 15,039
  • KXAN: .8 / 3.2 / 6,332 (‘Studio 512’)


  • KXAN: 1.8 / 6.5 / 14,247
  • KTBC: 1.6 / 6 / 12,664

5 p.m.

  • KXAN: 4.9 / 12.4 / 38,784
  • KVUE: 4.2 / 10.6 / 33,243
  • KTBC: 2.7 / 6.6 / 21,371
  • KEYE: 1.1 / 2.9 / 8,707

6 p.m.

  • KXAN: 6.1 / 13.2 / 48,282
  • KVUE: 5.6 / 12.1 / 44,324
  • KEYE: 1.6 / 3.6 / 12,664

6:30 p.m.

  • KEYE: 1.9 / 3.8 / 15,039

9 p.m.

  • KTBC: 3.2 / 6.3 / 25,328
  • KNVA: .5 / 1 / 3,958

9:45 p.m.

  • KNVA: .3 / .6 / 2,375 (‘KXAN Sports: More Than the Score’)

10 p.m.

  • KXAN: 4.2 / 8.4 / 33,243
  • KVUE: 4 / 8 / 31,660
  • KEYE: 2.8 / 5.5 / 22,162
  • KTBC: 1.9 / 4 / 15,039


Tina Shively departs KVUE for new gig

Tina Shively

Tina Shively has filed her last report for KVUE, Austin’s ABC affiliate.

Shively, who joined the station four and a half years ago, is transitioning out of the news business and into the world of public relations, joining local firm Elizabeth Christian Public Relations.

Her first day is Monday.

“I decided to leave TV because I was looking for a new challenge,” Shively said. “I’ve played a lot of roles in TV and am eager to see what the public relations side of the business is all about. I am so excited to be working for Elizabeth Christian. Her team has an amazing reputation here in Austin. They promise there’s always a lot of work to do and that I certainly will not be bored away from news.”

Leaving KVUE was difficult, Shively admits.

“It’s hard to say goodbye to KVUE because this team really is like family,” she said. “In crunch times, we all have come together with no hesitation to get the job done no matter what the situation entails. That is rare.”

Shively initially was KVUE’s morning reporter before shifting to the evening newscasts last year, heading up the station’s Watch Desk, where she monitored social media and tracked breaking news. Shively also regularly filled in on the anchor desk.

“I’d like to thank viewers for always being gracious and kind when I shoved a mic in their face at 5 a.m. and for accepting my mistakes and stumbles with nary a negative word,” she said. “I feel that I have learned a little bit from every story I’ve ever done and I’m really grateful for that. I won’t miss the live shots or the air time, but I will miss the opportunity to listen and share the stories of people who make this beautiful city what it is.”

Prior to Austin, Shively worked behind the scenes for CBS News and as an anchor and reporter in Amarillo and Rochester, N.Y. Combined, she’s logged 17 years in the TV news business.

At Elizabeth Christian Public Relations, she joins a team that includes other former Austin TV news personalities, including Erin Ochoa and Keri Bellacosa.

What made former newscaster Olga Campos Benz turn novelist?

Olga Campos Benz

If you’re hoping longtime Austin newscaster Olga Campos Benz’ new book is a tell-all, you’re in for some disappointment.

Sure, after spending a couple decades as a broadcast journalist, there’s plenty of dirt she could dish. But instead, her book “It’s News to Me” is largely a work of fiction. Find it at BookPeople and other local stores, or online at Amazon.com.

The book is, however, set in the TV news business. In it, Marissa Cavelo, a reporter and anchor at fictional KATX-TV right here in Austin, comes across an exclusive story that a group of criminals will do just about anything to keep her from telling.

Campos Benz left KVUE, her longtime TV home, in 2011. Today, she works as community relations director for Austin businessman and philanthropist Milton Verret and was recently named a Woman of Distinction by the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce.

Campos Benz — who is a featured speaker at this weekend’s Texas Book Festival — sat down with the American-Statesman to discuss her new book and what she’s been up to lately.

American-Statesman: What made you want to write a book?

Campos Benz: Everyone always asks what the TV business was like. This was about sharing my creative side – a project – with my friends. It took me five years to write. I even took one whole year off to just put it down. I wanted to make sure, on top of everything else, that it was a fun read. I love to read. That was really the impetus of this – spending all my time in libraries and bookstores.

With all your real-life personal experiences, why did you decide to write a piece of fiction?

There’s so much behind-the-scenes drama in newsrooms. I didn’t really want to get into all the politics. That said, any author will tell you to take from your real life and there are so many things that – more generally – happen in any newsroom in any market. There’s tons of fodder there for juicy fiction. I will say, though, that there are some real-life news events mentioned in there that people who read my book will recognize if they’ve lived here awhile.

Tell us about Marissa Cavelo, the main character in “It’s News to Me.”

She’s a Latina reporter from Houston. The daughter of immigrants. Focus groups (a commonality in the TV business) absolutely love her. She primarily does feature reports, but wants to do more substantial reporting – and stumbles upon a crime ring in action. There’s a lot of irreverent humor mixed in there because that’s just who I am.

What kind of feedback have you been getting?

It has been pleasantly surprising how well received it has been – especially with Latino groups.

You worked in Corpus Christi, Houston and Austin – spending 16 years alone at KVUE, where you anchored at 5 p.m., then mornings and middays. You even met your husband, Kevin, in the TV business. Why’d you decide to leave?

It was a good ride. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It was an honor to be trusted and welcomed into people’s homes. But, for 30 years, I basically had no privacy. One time I even got recognized while we were camping. This chapter of my life is so much better suited for me. I’m grateful for Milton and my co-workers and the flexibility.

Any advice for people thinking about writing a book?

I’ve been getting a lot of people who say, ‘I admire what you’ve done. I always wanted to write a book of my own.’ I tell them there’s no reason not to take that leap into the literary world. I encourage them to do it, absolutely. The Writers’ League of Texas, in particular, is super supportive with lots of classes and instruction. They’re all about encouraging writers.

Will we see you write another book?

I’ll tell you this … I’m sure thinking about it.

Olga Campos Benz at the Texas Book Festival

1:30 p.m. Saturday

Ahora Si tent at Congress Avenue and Eighth Street

Changes at KUT: More news on weekends, new reporter hired

Claire McInerny (KUT photo)

With “Car Talk” wrapping up production after 30 years on the air, 90.5 KUT-FM has made some adjustments to its weekend schedule.

The new weekend lineup, which took effect this month, features eight additional hours of news programming and new time slots for a number of shows.

“Weekend Edition” now ends at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday – running for an extra hour both days – and BBC World Service starts three hours earlier Saturday and Sunday, hitting the airwaves at 10 p.m.

A new addition is NPR’s “Only a Game,” airing at 6 a.m. Saturdays. The sports magazine show is hosted by NPR commentator Bill Littlefield.

Meanwhile, some of the station’s lowest-rated programs have been dropped from the weekend lineup, including “Public Radio Remix,” “Studio 360,” “Bullseye with Jesse Thorn” and “The Splendid Table.”

“Discontinuing shows is always a difficult decision and will disappoint some listeners,” KUT said in a written statement. “The goal of the new schedule is to deliver more of the news programming that has been so successful for KUT 90.5 across the week.”

View the complete KUT schedule at kut.org.

Speaking of KUT, there’s a new addition to the station’s news team.

Claire McInerny is taking over the education beat at Austin’s NPR affiliate.

She arrives from Bloomington, Ind., where she worked as a producer, newsreader and education reporter at NPR station WFIU.

McInerny has a journalism degree from the University of Kansas.