- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Winter Olympics coverage begins Friday on NBC and not surprisingly the network’s local affiliate WRC-TV (Channel 4) is the only D.C. station with skis on the ground in Turin Italy.

What is surprising is how little the local station’s management had to do with it.

WRC sports reporter Lindsay Czarniak was handpicked by the network, and engineer Randy Stafford heads back to the Games as part of NBC’s pool of technical professionals.

NBC has 2,768 employees in Turin, about half local and the rest from the U.S., said Mike McCarley, a spokesman for NBC Universal Sports & Olympics.

“We choose our commentators based on their performance in other programs. Most have worked for the network on other sports programming, as is the case for Lindsay,” Mr. McCarley e-mailed from Italy.

Ms. Czarniak joined WRC in June as a weekend sports anchor and reporter after holding the same jobs at an NBC station in Miami. She is contributing an Olympic blog to WRC’s newly redesigned Web site.

“It’s a real honor for her to be working for the network,” said Vickie Burns, WRC’s vice president of news and operations. She added that they hope to see Ms. Czarniak’s stories as part of WRC’s broadcasts, but “we won’t know since so many people are over there.”

Bill Lord, vice president of news at Allbritton’s WJLA-TV (Channel 7) and NewsChannel 8, said expenses, distance and access kept him from sending anyone to the Games.

“As a non-Olympic station, we would not have had the access that NBC would have,” he said, adding that his stations are affiliated with both ABC and CNN. “We’ll have plenty of material available through them.”

“We didn’t see the benefits because it’s primarily associated with NBC,” said Darryll Green, president and general manager of Gannett-owned WUSA-TV (Channel 9). He said the CBS affiliate is more likely to send local talent to the NCAA tournament.

Jim Ladas, vice president of creative services at WTTG-TV (Channel 5), said it makes no sense for the Fox affiliate to pour resources into an event that promotes another network’s activity.

Ms. Burns would not say whether WRC or the network pays the expenses for its two employees to travel to Italy. She said it depends on the person, when they traveled and many other factors.

Mr. McCarley said the network doesn’t provide specific budget data, but will spend about $100 million on production costs for the Turin Games, in addition to the $613 million rights fee.

Kirk on NC8 anchor desk

Beverly Kirk last week returned to the D.C. airwaves and to her local TV roots as evening news anchor at NewsChannel 8.

Miss Kirk arrived at NC8 after two years as the weeknight newscaster for “PBS/NPR Newsbrief,” the hourly 30-second television news reports produced by National Public Radio for Public Broadcasting Service stations. Before that, she was as a freelance reporter for WTTG after six years as a correspondent for the NBC News Channel.

“I’m most looking forward to the opportunity to anchor local news again and the opportunity to do it was unexpected, but a pleasant surprise,” she said.

Miss Kirk has a two-year contract and hosts the 5 p.m., 6 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts.

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