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Cronkite NewsWatch Airs Live on PBS Across Arizona

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February 1, 2010

Cronkite NewsWatch, the award-winning nightly television newscast, will be seen live starting tonight on Eight World, a digital channel of Eight-Arizona PBS that reaches more than 1 million homes across Arizona.

The newscast, a production of the Cronkite School, airs live Tuesdays through Thursdays on Channel 8.3 (Channel 88 on Cox Cable) at 4:30 p.m. and is rebroadcast during primetime at 9 p.m.

Eight General Manager Kelly McCullough and Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan said the partnership between the two ASU institutions is both powerful and unique.

“Our partnership provides Eight with a substantive 30-minute nightly newscast that most PBS stations in the country cannot match while giving Cronkite students the largest reach of any university-produced newscast in the nation,” McCullough and Callahan said in a joint statement.

“The partnership is an enormous benefit to both Cronkite and Eight,” they said. “But the real winners are the viewers of Arizona who can watch a nightly newscast that focuses less on the latest shooting or car accident and more on critical policy issues that impact the lives of all Arizonans.”

The Cronkite NewsWatch team regularly covers major policy issues from the Arizona Statehouse and across the region. Crews have reported across the Valley and the far reaches of the state and into Mexico and California. On election night, the NewsWatch crew produced more than three hours of live election coverage with two live remote field locations.

The all-student NewsWatch team of anchors, correspondents, producers, editors, videographers and production crew are supervised by full-time professional journalists from the Cronkite faculty, led by news director Mark Lodato, who joined Cronkite in 2006 from KPHO-TV in Phoenix.

Under Lodato’s leadership, the newscast has experienced dramatic growth – from a weekly show that aired only on Tempe cable television in 2006 to a daily production that airs in the nation’s 12th largest TV market.

The newscast, which also can be seen live and online on ASUtv (Qwest Cable 138), Tempe Cable 11 and Mesa Cable 11, was recognized at the 2009 Emmy Awards by the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It also regularly finishes first in the Hearst Journalism Awards, the most prestigious college journalism competition.

“The experience our students are receiving every day at Cronkite NewsWatch is unmatched at any journalism school,” Lodato said.

Lodato and his team – executive producer Sue Green, production manager Jim Jacoby and supervising producer Melanie Alvarez – have sent dozens of students into highly coveted TV news jobs around the country, and some have risen quickly to major markets. NewsWatch alumni Elias Johnson and Hannah Mullins are already back in the Phoenix market as on-air reporters at KPHO-TV and KPNX-TV, respectively.

Lodato’s team also has created a Spanish-language newscast that airs on Univision’s Telefutura in the Phoenix market, news updates for AZTV’s “The Pat McMahon Show” and a 30-minute sports magazine for Fox Sports Arizona.

McCullough, a Cronkite alumnus who became Eight’s general manager last year, oversees a multi-platform media operation that includes three digital TV channels – Eight HD (8.1, Cox 708/8), Eight Create (8.2, Cox 80) and Eight World (8.3, Cox 88) – a Web site (azpbs.org) and the monthly Eight Magazine. Eight, which reaches more than 80 percent of Arizonans, is among the nation’s most-viewed public TV stations per capita with 1.3 million weekly viewers.

McCullough led the successful move of Eight from its home in Tempe, where it started in 1961, to a new 225,000 square foot, $71 million digital media complex in downtown Phoenix shared with the Cronkite School. Eight dedicated its new home Saturday in a ceremony featuring PBS President Paula Kerger, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and ASU President Michael Crow.