- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 10, 2004

ABC affiliate WJLA-TV (Channel 7) stakes out some choice real estate on its prime-time schedule tonight for a locally produced special on the region’s health care problems.

“Code Red: A Health Alert for the Nation’s Capital” examines, among other things, the “ripple effect” D.C. General Hospital’s closure in 2001 has had in the region, according to WJLA anchor Kathleen Matthews, who is the co-host along with Leon Harris.

“Suddenly the emergency rooms at [George Washington University Hospital] and Howard [University Hospital] are filling up with people who are being shuttled across town because D.C. General has closed,” Mrs. Matthews says.

The one-hour special also compares the response times of paramedics in the District with those in nearby suburbs. In addition, it follows cancer researchers at the National Institutes of Health and reviews recent surgical breakthroughs.

WJLA has almost single-handedly kept alive the prime-time local news special, a proud tradition that has faded in an era of tight news budgets.

Last year, for example, the Allbritton Communications Co.-owned station profiled Iraq war figure Jessica Lynch on prime time. “I love having the opportunity to tell these longer stories,” Mrs. Matthews says.

“Code Red” airs at 10 p.m. after a new episode of “The Bachelorette.” It pre-empts “Celebrity Mole: Yucatan,” which WJLA plans to air tomorrow at 2:05 a.m., if anyone cares.

Neale patrol

Those Internet reports that Atlanta stations are courting Tracey Neale are “completely and utterly false,” says her agent, Lou Oppenheim.


Ms. Neale was the star anchor at Fox affiliate WTTG-TV (Channel 5) until December, when her contract ended and she left to join WUSA-TV (Channel 9), the CBS station. Legal wrangling between the two stations has put the move on hold.

On the edge

When talk-radio host Michael Graham sent an audition tape to WMAL-AM (630) in 1999, station managers told him he was too edgy for their audience.

Apparently, times have changed.

Beginning Monday, Mr. Graham takes over Laura Schlessinger’s late-morning time slot on the ABC-owned station. “I’m edgier now than I was then, but this is a different WMAL,” the archconservative says.

Mr. Graham previously hosted an afternoon show on rival WTNT-AM (570). WMAL will air his new program weekdays from 10 to 11:45 a.m. “I promise it’s going to be loud,” he said.

Oh joy.

A spokeswoman for Premiere Radio Networks, which distributes Mrs. Schlessinger’s program, did not return calls. It is unlikely another local station will pick up her show, industry sources say.

Around the dial…

• A healthy 260,000 local households tuned in to NBC affiliate WRC-TV (Channel 4) on Sunday to see Tim Russert question President Bush on “Meet the Press,” according to Nielsen Media Research.

• Country musician Kenny Chesney will drop by WMZQ-FM (98.7) tomorrow from 8 to 9 a.m. for a rare in-studio chat with morning hosts Ben Campbell and Brian Egan.

Call Chris Baker at 202/636-3139 or send e-mail to cbaker@washingtontimes.com.

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