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Viewpoints: Xtra

About a decade ago we had a death in the family here at KVIA-TV.

The general manager who preceeded me elected to secure programming that effectively caused the end of ABC 7?s ?Xtra.? Longtime El Paso TV news consumers may well remember the Monday-Friday 10:35 PM news program that went through several incarnations during its run at KVIA in the mid to late 1990?s. You may not necessarily remember the program, but you are familiar with some of the Xtra anchors during its heyday.

They included Gary Warner, Laura Palka, Stephanie Townsend Allala, Betsy McArthur, John Purvis and Roger Smith. During the early days of Xtra, Rick Glancey and Lou Romano used to have some free-form discussions along with a little weather and sports. But in time, we found a format that worked best: a hard news single topic. The 2008 rebirth of Xtra will focus on one significant news story every week. Host Darren Hunt will produce a set-up package that defines a problem. He?ll then be joined by a live guest or two who will discuss the topic of the week. We?ll invite viewers to chime in live with their questions or concerns. Darren will also have email access to gauge viewer reaction via the internet.

Due to contractual limitations with ABC, we cannot return to a Monday-Friday edition of Xtra.

However, I decided one day a week is better than none. Besides, ABC has a strong Sunday night primetime lineup and our Sunday night 10 PM newscast is always very highly-rated. I figure a fair number of news junkies will want to stay tuned for the fireworks at 10:35. Darren is an Army brat who grew up in El Paso. He went to UTEP. He?s been a practicing news and sports print, radio and television journalist in his home city for a quarter century. He covers El Paso city council for us. He knows the issues.

His challenge is to select stimulating topics, make them come alive and be balanced in representing both sides of a cause. There is no shortage of issues. To name a few that come to mind: the city?s stormwater controversy, Thomason hospital?s treatment of victims of drug violence in Mexico, the border fence, UTEP?s upcoming football game with Texas. The list of potential good topics is limitless.

On a personal note, I?m a true weekend warrior. Usually by Sunday night I?m absolutely bushed from my myriad of weekend sports activities and yard work. I may be staying up a little later than normal on Sunday, but then I?ll rest well knowing that ABC-7 is daring to do something that no other TV station in this market does: provide thirty minutes of true in-depth coverage of an important issue.

Article Topic Follows: News

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