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A Fine Balance 

Local newscasters plan for September 11

How much is too much and how much is not enough? That's the question print and broadcast news people are asking themselves leading up to the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

You note I do not call it "9-11," the trivialized term for that world-changing event. This is serious business -- I don't want to relive it endlessly through repeated TV shows, but I don't want to forget it happened, either.

"Going about our normal lives" has resumed, but those with some shred of an inner life should have changed a bit, made some amends here and there, and value each day. My attention span isn't that short. For the rest of you, go back to watching Fear Factor.

But back to the print and broadcast folks. If they do too much coverage, they're accused of overkill; not enough and they're irresponsible and out of touch. It's a no-win situation. They won't be making money off the day. Estimates say TV networks may lose as much as $100 million in ad revenue on September 11 because scores of big corporations are marking the day with a publicity blackout.

The Fox Network will not run ads. NBC will replace some of what they have with public service announcements, while ABC and CBS are still pondering the issue.

Locally, I canvassed the decision-makers at Charlotte's main broadcast news outlets to find out what they have planned so far:

WBTV plans special localized stories within their newscasts, but will stay with CBS coverage, "because so much will be coming out of New York, which was the epicenter," says news director Dennis Milligan. "We're also going to be extremely judicious about using (the World Trade Center) video, and it has to be used in context. I still flinch when I see it. It's painful to watch."

WCCB will carry Fox News programming, but plans a half-hour special during its 10 and 10:30pm newscasts September 11, according to news director Ken White.

WCNC is working with the city, county, and Red Cross as the media sponsor of "Together We Remember," the community-wide remembrance the morning of September 11. NBC6 has also been running profiles of local heroes in the 30 days leading up to the day.

"Our philosophy for the day revolves around helping our community remember the events," says news director Keith Connors. "It's clear that we need to do our job with the utmost respect for the victims, for America, and our community."

News 14 Carolina will work with its sister station in New York City, NY1, in planning a possible primetime special. As far as showing sensational video, news director Jim Newman says, "You have to be tasteful in what to choose to show. You're telling the story of the worst tragedy in this country's history."

WSOC-TV. The news department did not return calls as we went to press, but Creative Services manager Cil Frazier says coverage planning is underway, although details were incomplete.

WBT-AM general manager Rick Jackson says his station will suspend all commercials until noon on September 11, and will cover CBS Radio's live coverage of September 11 events from New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania from 8:30-11am. Al Gardner will then host a retrospective from Charlotte and North Carolina from 11am-1pm, and there will be live coverage of the "9-11 Tribute Luncheon" in Charlotte. Regular programming will resume at noon.

WFAE-FM will carry and collaborate with NPR coverage on the anniversary, but will also present local and regional commentaries, stories and a special on September 6 and 8 called "Understanding America After 9/11: Carolina Voices."

Get out the sheet cake! Moira Quinn of WBTV leaves the company where she's worked for close to 26 years later this week. She's taken a cool deal with Center City Partners, namely the VP of communications and C.O.O. job.

"I am thrilled for the new opportunity," Quinn says. "I was getting stale in what I was doing (executive producing at 3). I wasn't bored, I was just stale. I can't wait for a bigger challenge."

Quinn's career has been a long and varied one with Jefferson-Pilot, and hers is a familiar face to many in the area. She began at WBTV as a Queens College intern in 1976, running camera and learning TV production. Later, she was the host of the popular PM Magazine with Bob Lacey until she took some time off to have her first child. Radio was her next gig, then back down the hall to TV, as a news anchor in the 90s, and she leaves as a behind-the-scenes player on the editorial side. She starts at Center City Partners September 3.

An update for you on the soap opera As the World Turns coming for auditions and tapings at UNCC next month. I talked with Alan Locher from the show, and he says the open casting call will be from 10am-2pm, September 17 on campus. They are looking for people of all ages, and "it would be great if everyone could bring a head shot," he says. For the uninitiated, that means a photo of your charming faces. Then, ATWT will bring its production crew to town September 24 to tape segments on campus for future shows. We'll be there for that. STUFF TOO SMALL FOR ITS OWN PARAGRAPH. . .WCNC meteorologist Bob Van Dillen is leaving NBC6 for a weekday morning gig at CNN Headline News in Atlanta. He tells me, "I truly enjoyed my time here, but the schedule was getting way too grueling for me, and I never saw my wife since she works for Bank of America and has a 9-5 job." ... Public access television has a new boss. Local TV vet John Petrie has been hired as Executive Director of Access 21, Charlotte-Mecklenburg's cable access operation. Here's hoping he improves what we see on that channel...The aforementioned Dennis Milligan of WBTV News dispelled the common rumor about his tenure, which has it that he's headed back to Charleston any day now, since he commutes there to his wife and kids each weekend. "No, it's just that I have teenage kids, and a wife that loves our house 10 minutes from the beach," he said. He keeps an uptown apartment during the week. . .High school football fans who have News 14 Carolina can see their Friday night action a tad sooner than 11:30pm, when other stations run special shows. They'll start their coverage at 11pm. So kids, you just might make curfew after pizza after all. . .They came, they saw, they shot three episodes. From a TV producer's perspective, I was impressed by the military operation that was Antiques Roadshow on its trip to Charlotte August 10. It's a tight production that manages to funnel 5,000 people clutching their treasures through long lines and in and out of the main shooting area in a single day. We'll see those shows next year.Stay tuned.

E-mail Shannon Reichley at Shannon.Reichley@cln.com.

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