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The news behind the breaking local and world news reports carried by WHBF-TV, Rock Island, is that the station’s news operation itself has undergone a “major makeover.”

So notes Arthur Steadman, news director, who adds that the changes are more significant and dramatic than at any time during the six years he’s been in the Quad-Cities.

Gone is the Eyewitness News 4 designation. It’s now CBS4 News and the weathercasts are augmented by ESP Live.

“All the news sets have been rebuilt to permit new graphics and show more landmarks and interesting places in range of our cameras,” said Steadman, who also said a search is under way for two new videojournalists to fill vacancies created by the promotion of Sloane Heller and Christina Palladino to posts at sister station WOI-TV in the larger market of Des Moines.

In his opinion the CBS4 tag capitalizes on the fact that the station is an affiliate of the Columbus Broadcasting System, which has given its own news operation new energy by hiring Katie Couric as evening anchor and instituting other changes that have resulted in attracting viewers’ interest.

The ESP in the weathercast designation means “Exclusive Storm Prediction.”

(That should satisfy the curiosity of any who might be thinking the forecasters were getting involved in extra sensory perception.)

“Having ESP Live means WHBF has the state-of-the-art technology to bring the most powerful radar signals operated by the weather services to our forecasts,” Steadman said.

With the other changes last fall, CBS began supplying affiliates with a “CBS Affiliate Update Newsletter.”

Edited by Dick Wein, it chronicles the network’s position in using or contending with all the new advances in news dissemination.

This month, it reported that “53 percent of fans who watch a TV show online turn around and watch it on the network,” according to Leslie Moonves, CBS corporate president.

And “research shows that as the public becomes more connected to both broadband and digital TV, the more engaged they become to prime-time TV programming.”

Contact the features department at (563) 383-2400.

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