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’)

Noon

  • 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

 

Fox 7 promotes from within to fill ‘Good Day’ anchor slot

Tania Ortega (Fox 7 photo)

Reporter Tania Ortega, a regular presence on Fox 7’s morning newscasts for almost five years now, is taking over as anchor of the weekend editions of “Good Day Austin.”

Ortega replaces Ann Wyatt Little, who recently left to work as an anchor/reporter at sister Fox station WJZY in Charlotte, N.C.

“Tania has covered everything from hurricanes and tornadoes to features for ‘Good Day Austin,’ ” Fox 7 vice president and news director Pam Vaught said. “Because she is tuned in to the city of Austin and the interests of its people, Tania is the ideal person to take over this anchor position.”

Ortega arrived in Austin after holding a variety of positions at two separate TV stations in Waco. She’s a graduate of San Diego State University.

“After four and a half years of reporting on location for ‘Good Day Austin,’ I’m excited to provide viewers with the news of the day and the human interest stories they love, all from the anchor desk,” Ortega said.

The weekend edition of “Good Day Austin” airs from 6 to 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

May TV ratings: KXAN, KVUE split the wins

The ‘Daybreak’ team: Erika Lopez, left, Yvonne Nava, Bryan Mays and Anavid Reyes (KVUE photo)

In the race to keep you informed before you head to work or school each morning, two Austin TV stations are duking it out for first place.

ABC affiliate KVUE and NBC affiliate KXAN have been relatively close in the pre-dawn hours for the past several years, with KXAN winning most head-to-head competitions. May was different, though, with KVUE taking the top spot at 4:30 a.m., 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., according to Nielsen.

“This win was all about teamwork,” KVUE president and general manager Kristie Gonzales said. “From the producers and staff behind the scenes, to the team you wake up to every morning, each person put their heart and soul into making ‘Daybreak’ the best morning newscast in Austin.”

KVUE also was home to the top-rated midday newscast.

Evenings, KXAN continues to be the station to beat, dominating at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. “KXAN News at 6,” for instance, draws more viewers than the second- and third-place stations combined.

In primetime, NBC was No. 1, followed by CBS, ABC, Fox, The CW and then MyNetworkTV.

May Nielsen ratings

Each ratings point equals 7,712 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 / 10 / 6,170
  • KTBC: .3 / 4.3 / 2,314
  • KXAN: .3 / 3.6 / 2,314
  • KEYE: .2 / 2.5 / 1,542

5 a.m.

  • KVUE: 1.2 / 12.5 / 9,254
  • KXAN: .9 / 9.6 / 6,941
  • KTBC: .7 / 7.6 / 5,398
  • KEYE: .6 / 6.1 / 4,627

6 a.m.

  • KVUE: 2.3 / 15.2 / 17,738
  • KXAN: 2.1 / 14 / 16,195
  • KTBC: 1.6 / 10.8 / 12,339
  • KEYE: .8 / 5.3 / 6,170

7 a.m.

  • KTBC: 2.1 / 10.9 / 16,195
  • KNVA: .3 / 1.5 / 2,314

8 a.m.

  • KTBC: 1.9 / 8.6 / 14,653

9 a.m.

  • KTBC: 1.6 / 7.3 / 12,339
  • KEYE: .8 / 3.6 / 6,170 (‘We Are Austin’)

11 a.m.

  • KVUE: 2.2 / 9.5 / 16,966
  • KXAN: .8 / 3.4 / 6,170 (‘Studio 512’)

Noon

  • KXAN: 1.5 / 6 / 11,568
  • KTBC: 1 / 4.2 / 7,712

5 p.m.

  • KXAN: 4.9 / 13.6 / 37,789
  • KVUE: 3.9 / 10.9 / 30,077
  • KTBC: 2.5 / 6.8 / 19,280
  • KEYE: 1.3 / 3.7 / 10,026

6 p.m.

  • KXAN: 6.2 / 15.2 / 47,814
  • KVUE: 4.4 / 10.8 / 33,933
  • KEYE: 1.6 / 3.8 / 12,339

6:30 p.m.

  • KEYE: 1.7 / 4.1 / 13,110

9 p.m.

  • KTBC: 2.6 / 4.9 / 20,051
  • KNVA: .9 / 1.8 / 6,941

9:45 p.m.

  • KNVA: .8 / 1.4 / 6,170 (‘KXAN Sports: More Than the Score’)

10 p.m.

  • KXAN: 5.3 / 10.8 / 40,874
  • KVUE: 3.5 / 7.1 / 26,992
  • KEYE: 2.5 / 5.1 / 19,280
  • KTBC: 1.9 / 3.9 / 14,653

 

February TV ratings: KXAN wins mornings and evenings

KXAN’s newscasts were No. 1 at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.

KXAN continues to be Austin’s No. 1 choice for TV news, winning virtually every head-to-head competition in February, according to the latest Nielsen ratings.

The city’s NBC affiliate took the top spot at 5 a.m., 6 a.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.

At 4:30 a.m., KXAN and KVUE tied, while KVUE is home to Austin’s top-rated midday newscast.

KXAN’s margin of victory, in most cases, was well into the double digits, averaging 54 percent. Its 6 p.m. newscast had 80 percent more viewers than the No. 2 station and was watched by more people than the No. 2 and No. 3 stations combined.

Those numbers make KXAN one of the highest-rated NBC affiliates in the country, the station said.

“Each story KXAN investigated in February uncovered valuable information viewers couldn’t get anywhere else,” KXAN news director Chad Cross said. “This critical reporting affects your investments, safety and well-being. Viewers trust KXAN as their source for local news because we focus on what affects their lives.”

In primetime, NBC was the English-language network to beat in February, followed by CBS, ABC, Fox, The CW and then MyNetworkTV.

February Nielsen ratings

Each ratings point equals 7,712 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.

  • KXAN: .5 / 6 / 3,856
  • KVUE: .5 / 6 / 3,856
  • KTBC: .3 / 3.3 / 2,314
  • KEYE: .1 / 1.3 / 771

5 a.m.

  • KXAN: 1.4 / 12.5 / 10,797
  • KVUE: 1 / 8.9 / 7,712
  • KEYE: .7 / 6.1 / 5,398
  • KTBC: .6 / 5.2 / 4,627

6 a.m.

  • KXAN: 2.7 / 16.2 / 20,822
  • KVUE: 1.8 / 10.7 / 13,882
  • KTBC: 1.7 / 10.1 / 13,110
  • KEYE: .8 / 5.1 / 6,170

7 a.m.

  • KTBC: 2.3 / 11.2 / 17,738
  • KNVA: .3 / 1.4 / 2,314

8 a.m.

  • KTBC: 2.1 / 9.2 / 16,195

9 a.m.

  • KTBC: 1.9 / 8.1 / 14,653
  • KEYE: .9 / 3.9 / 6,941 (‘We Are Austin’)

11 a.m.

  • KVUE: 2.6 / 10.1 / 20,051

Noon

  • KXAN: 2.1 / 7.9 / 16,195
  • KTBC: 1.2 /4.6 / 9,254

12:30 p.m.

  • KXAN: 1.4 / 5.4 / 10,797 (‘Studio 512’)

5 p.m.

  • KXAN: 5.6 / 14.7 / 43,187
  • KVUE: 3.7 / 9.7 / 28,534
  • KTBC: 2.5 / 6.2 / 19,280
  • KEYE: 1.6 / 4.1 / 12,339

6 p.m.

  • KXAN: 7.2 / 16.5 / 55,526
  • KVUE: 4 / 9.1 / 30,848
  • KEYE: 1.7 / 3.8 / 13,110

6:30 p.m.

  • KEYE: 1.6 / 3.3 / 12,339

9 p.m.

  • KTBC: 3 / 5.3 / 23,136
  • KNVA: .8 / 1.4 / 6,170

9:45 p.m.

  • KNVA: .6 / 1.1 / 4,627 (‘KXAN Sports: More Than the Score’)

10 p.m.

  • KXAN: 6 / 11.8 / 46,272
  • KVUE: 4 / 7.9 / 30,848
  • KEYE: 3.1 / 6 / 23,907
  • KTBC: 2.4 / 4.7 / 18,509

Former Austin TV meteorologist dies of heart attack

Connor Vernon (KTBC screengrab)
Connor Vernon (KTBC screengrab)

A former weatherman for KTBC Channel 7 has died of an apparent heart attack.

Connor Vernon served as KTBC’s chief meteorologist from 1989 to 1995, when the station was still a CBS affiliate.

He died Saturday, according to media reports. Vernon was 63.

After leaving KTBC, Vernon served as morning host at now-defunct Austin radio station Oldies 103. But he still popped up on occasion on KTBC, doing fill-in work.

Vernon’s replacement at KTBC, Troy Kimmel, described him as “a good friend and colleague.”

Most recently, Vernon served as a meteorologist for WTVY and WDHN, both in Dothan, Ala.

Services will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Sun­set Fu­neral Home Chapel near Dothan, with burial to fol­low at Friend­ship Ceme­tery in Don­al­sonville, Ga.

September TV ratings: KXAN wins most news time slots

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

KXAN’s winning streak continued in September, finishing first in most head-to-head news competitions.

The city’s NBC affiliate was No. 1 at 5 a.m., 6 a.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. last month.

ABC affiliate KVUE was the top-ranked station at 4:30 a.m. and middays.

NBC’s “Today” was the first-place network morning show and “NBC Nightly News” is the nighttime network newscast to beat.

In primetime, NBC is the frontrunner, followed by CBS, then ABC, Fox, The CW and MyNetworkTV.

September Nielsen ratings

Each ratings point equals 7,456 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: .6 / 5.3 / 4,474
  • KXAN: .5 / 4.6 / 3,728
  • KTBC: .4 / 4 / 2,982
  • KEYE: .2 / 1.7 / 1,491

5 a.m.

  • KXAN: 1.2 / 9.7 / 8,947
  • KVUE: 1.1 / 8.9 / 8,202
  • KTBC: .7 / 5.3 / 5,219
  • KEYE: .5 / 3.8 / 3,728

6 a.m.

  • KXAN: 2.9 / 15.5 / 21,622
  • KVUE: 1.7 / 9 / 12,675
  • KTBC: 1.4 / 7.2 / 10,438
  • KEYE: .9 / 5 / 6,710

7 a.m.

  • KTBC: 1.7 / 7.2 / 12,675
  • KNVA: .5 / 2 / 3,728

8 a.m.

  • KTBC: 1.6 / 6.6 / 11,930

9 a.m.

  • KTBC: 1.5 / 6 / 11,184
  • KEYE: .7 / 2.9 / 5,219 (‘We Are Austin’)

11 a.m.

  • KVUE: 2.1 / 7.8 / 15,658

Noon

  • KXAN: 1.7 / 7.5 / 12,675
  • KTBC: 1.1 / 3.8 / 8,202

12:30 p.m.

  • KXAN: 1 / 4.4 / 7,456 (‘Studio 512’)

5 p.m.

  • KXAN: 5.6 / 14 / 41,754
  • KVUE: 4.3 / 10.8 / 32,061
  • KTBC: 2.2 / 5.5 / 16,403
  • KEYE: 1.3 / 3.3 / 9,693

6 p.m.

  • KXAN: 6.8 / 15.3 / 50,701
  • KVUE: 4 / 9 / 29,824
  • KEYE: 1.8 / 4 / 13,421

9 p.m.

  • KTBC: 2.5 / 4.4 / 18,640
  • KNVA: 1 / 1.8 / 7,456

9:45 p.m.

  • KNVA: .7 / 1.3 / 5,219 (‘KXAN Sports: More Than the Score’)

10 p.m.

  • KXAN: 6.5 / 13.2 / 48,464
  • KVUE: 3.5 / 6.9 / 26,096
  • KEYE: 2.5 / 5.2 / 18,640
  • KTBC: 2.2 / 4.4 / 16,403

Fox 7 news team training pup to help disabled vets

Tommy (Jennifer Kendall photo/Fox 7)
Tommy (Jennifer Kendall photo/Fox 7)

The newest addition to the Fox 7 news team is a playful puppy named Tommy.

Station employees are working to socialize the black lab as part of the Patriot PAWS program, which provides service dogs for veterans.

Tommy spends his days in the newsroom, where there’s no shortage of head pats and belly rubs, then heads home each night with one of a handful of specially trained handlers, vice president and news director Pam Vaught said.

“It’s a great project,” she said. “Corporate was very excited about it when we first approached them. Everybody loves it. Everybody wants to participate and help out in some way.”

Tommy is being featured in stories airing Tuesdays during the Fox 7 newscasts at 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., during anchor Ann Wyatt Little’s Sunday morning newscast and during chief meteorologist Scott Fisher’s weathercasts weeknights at 9 p.m. The station even has a live webcam at fox7austin.com where viewers can keep an eye on the pup.

Already, he’s become a celebrity around town, Vaught said.

“We ran the first story Sept. 2,” she said. “The very next morning, I was at PetSmart and a woman recognized him. It was awesome.”

Fox 7 will have Tommy for about four months, then he’ll go off to a women’s prison in North Texas to continue his training, according to Vaught.

“We’re going to miss him when he’s gone,” Vaught said. “He’s a big, goofy puppy that’s highly intelligent. I think everybody’s blood pressure has gone down since he arrived.”

Training Tommy is just the latest in a long line of projects the station has undertaken in recent years to help area veterans. Earlier this year, anchor Rebecca Thomas intervened when a local veteran in need of an organ transplant was getting the run-around from doctors. The station plans to continue that advocacy, Vaught said.

“When our general manager Michael Lewis arrived, he felt this was a great niche for us to focus on,” she said. “It’s just grown from there.”

July TV ratings: KXAN remains No. 1 in most time slots

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

Another month, another ratings win for KXAN.

Austin’s NBC affiliate continues to have the most-watched newscasts in most time slots, according to July figures from Nielsen.

KXAN is ranked No. 1 at 5 a.m., 6 a.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.

The station’s 6 p.m. broadcast remains the city’s top-rated newscast, regardless of time period, drawing more viewers than its competitors combined.

ABC affiliate KVUE took the top spot at 4:30 a.m. and middays.

In primetime, NBC was the network to beat, followed by ABC, CBS, Fox, The CW and MyNetworkTV.

July Nielsen ratings

Each ratings point equals 7,456 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: .5 / 5.3 / 3,728
  • KXAN: .5 / 5.1 / 3,728
  • KTBC: .3 / 2.8 / 2,237
  • KEYE: .2 / 2.1 / 1,491

5 a.m.

  • KXAN: 1 / 9.2 / 7,456
  • KVUE: .8 / 7.5 / 5,965
  • KTBC: .6 / 5.2 / 4,474
  • KEYE: .4 / 4 / 2,982

6 a.m.

  • KXAN: 2.6 / 16 / 19,386
  • KTBC: 1.5 / 9.1 / 11,184
  • KVUE: 1.4 / 8.8 / 10,438
  • KEYE: .6 / 3.8 / 4,474

7 a.m.

  • KTBC: 1.8 / 8.1 / 13,421
  • KNVA: .4 / 1.5 / 2,982

8 a.m.

  • KTBC: 1.7 / 6.8 / 12,675

9 a.m.

  • KTBC: 1.5 / 5.9 / 11,184
  • KEYE: 1 / 3.7 / 7,456 (‘We Are Austin’)

11 a.m.

  • KVUE: 2.7 / 9.4 / 20,131

Noon

  • KXAN: 2.1 / 6.8 / 15,658
  • KTBC: 1.2 / 3.8 / 8,947

12:30 p.m.

  • KXAN: 1.2 / 4.2 / 8,947 (‘Studio 512’)

5 p.m.

  • KXAN: 5.4 / 13.6 / 40,262
  • KVUE: 3.7 / 9.2 / 27,587
  • KTBC: 2.6 / 6.2 / 19,386
  • KEYE: 1.6 / 4 / 11,930

6 p.m.

  • KXAN: 6.5 / 14.3 / 48,464
  • KVUE: 3.9 / 8.6 / 29,078
  • KEYE: 2.1 / 4.7 / 15,658

9 p.m.

  • KTBC: 1.8 / 3.3 / 13,421
  • KNVA: .9 / 1.6 / 6,710

9:45 p.m.

  • KNVA: .4 / .7 / 2,982 (‘ATX Uncensored(ish)’)

10 p.m.

  • KXAN: 5.3 / 10.6 / 39,517
  • KVUE: 3.8 / 7.7 / 28,333
  • KEYE: 2.5 / 5.3 / 18,640
  • KTBC: 2.1 / 4.1 / 15,658

May ratings: Which TV stations do adults ages 25-54 watch most?

Same stations, different order.

A few weeks ago, we showed you results of the May “sweeps” period. Those numbers were for total households, but now demographic data has been released – and in the advertiser-friendly adults ages 25-54 demo, you’ll notice some slight shifts when comparing the two lists.

KXAN continues to lead, though, in most time slots, typically followed by either KVUE or KTBC.

Take a look …

5 a.m.

  • KXAN: .4 rating / 3,600 viewers in demo
  • KTBC: .4 / 3,000
  • KVUE: .2 / 2,100
  • KEYE: .1 / 1,100

6 a.m.

  • KXAN: 1.5 / 12,100
  • KTBC: 1.3 / 11,200
  • KVUE: .9 / 7,400
  • KEYE: .3 / 2,200

7 a.m.

  • KTBC: 1.4 / 11,400
  • KNVA: .1 / 800

8 a.m.

  • KTBC: .9 / 7,900

Midday

  • KVUE: .6 / 4,800 (11 a.m.)
  • KXAN: .5 / 4,000 (Noon)
  • KTBC: .5 / 3,900 (Noon)

5 p.m.

  • KVUE: 1.4 / 11,400
  • KXAN: 1.3 / 11,000
  • KTBC: 1.1 / 9,000
  • KEYE: .5 / 3,900

6 p.m.

  • KXAN: 1.9 / 16,000
  • KVUE: 1.6 / 13,500
  • KEYE: .5 / 4,100

9 p.m.

  • KTBC: 1.3 / 11,000
  • KNVA: .7 / 5,300

10 p.m.

  • KXAN: 2.3 / 19,100
  • KVUE: 1.9 / 15,800
  • KTBC: 1.3 / 10,900
  • KEYE: .8 / 6,600

 

 

 

Fox 7 story on veteran’s plight catches attention of 2 U.S. senators

Rebecca Thomas
Rebecca Thomas

A series of reports that aired recently on Fox 7 caught the attention of a pair of U.S. senators, prompting them to introduce new legislation.

Rebecca Thomas, who anchors the station’s 5 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts, introduced viewers to Charles Nelson, a veteran from Leander in need of a kidney transplant.

It’s a story that was personal for Thomas, who donated one of her kidneys to her mom last year.

Nelson’s son, Coty, was a match and ready to donate – but there was a problem. The U.S. Veterans Administration said that, because Nelson’s son wasn’t a veteran, the procedure wouldn’t be covered under its “Choice” program.

Ultimately, Charles had to qualify for Medicare and rely on that program to pay for the life-saving surgery instead.

“When his wife first contacted the station, this sounded like such an injustice,” Thomas said. “Being a living kidney donor, I know what’s involved and how tough it is. This was an undue burden for them.”

Thomas did some digging and found that the VA didn’t appear to be interpreting the rules for the Choice program as lawmakers had intended.

In a statement provided to Fox 7, U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Florida), chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs said the VA had “created a technicality that doesn’t exist, as basic common sense dictates that in cases of transplants, the donor’s medical care is an essential part of the procedure.”

Not long after that, U.S. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) introduced the Veterans Transplant Coverage Act, which seeks to clarify the Choice program’s rules.

“Our veterans who have sacrificed so much for our nation deserve the best possible health care we can give them, but unfortunately, the VA bureaucracy is not doing everything they can to help those who need life-saving transplant procedures,” Sen. Cornyn said. “I thank Sen. Kirk for his leadership on this issue, and I hope we can pass this bill to help veterans in Texas and across the nation cut through the red tape and receive quality, life-changing care.”

The goal, Thomas said, is to keep other veterans from facing similar obstacles.

“The family is very happy a fix is coming down the line,” she said. “Advocacy journalism is wonderful. How many other veterans are there who don’t have someone advocating for them? It’s scary. Being able to expose a wrong and see some action is incredibly gratifying.”

As for Thomas and her mom, they’re both doing well, post-surgery. Thomas was back on air just a couple weeks after the procedure, and her mom is showing no signs of rejecting the donated kidney.

“It’s almost like it never happened,” she said.