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Local News Show Targets Female Viewers : Television: KCBS’ ‘Women2Women’ hopes to attract audience of ‘Oprah’ and ‘Rosie’ with a mix of gender-oriented topics and breaking news.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

“Women2Women News,” the new kid on KCBS Channel 2’s news block, could be called “2 With a ‘View.’ ”

The live program, which premiered Sept. 13, does share some similarities with “The View,” ABC’s daytime series geared to a female audience featuring four women discussing their lives, interacting with guests and engaging in informational segments.

“Women2Women News” is also geared to a female audience, features four women discussing their lives, interacting with guests and engaging in informational segments.

But the KCBS afternoon show has far more serious ambitions as a news and information show, and newly named general manager John Severino hopes the format will help extract the struggling station out of its traditional spot in the local ratings cellar.

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And although Severino, who also was named president of CBS’ owned-and-operated station group in July, is generally pleased with the first outings of the show, he acknowledged that it may take a while before “Women2Women News” finds its center and its audience.

“This show is a work-in-progress,” Severino said. “When a group of women who have never worked together start on a brand-new show, interesting things happen. They are leading the charge, and things will change as they see fit. I think the show will attract the female audience that is available at that time, and it’s already showing growth from what was there before.”

He added that it would take a “fairly long period of evaluation--about six to nine months” before he would make a decision on the show’s future: “It didn’t come out of the box like a ball of fire, and I want to give the audience a real chance to sample it.”

“Women2Women” is anchored by KCBS anchor Ann Martin, reporter Katherine Anaya, weather woman Pamela Wright and special correspondent Kelly Lange, Martin’s former rival at KNBC Channel 4. The show has featured some reports dealing with breaking news or important stories of the day, but still the primary focus has been on features such as finding the right pet, “Millennium Makeup” and “How to Be With Your Guy Forever and Never Let Him See You Naked.”

Severino, who revolutionized local news in the ‘70s with his “Eyewitness News” format at KABC Channel 7, said he came up with the idea for the program while in a New York hotel room, preparing to go to work at his previous job as executive producer at WNBC. While thinking of ways to revamp KCBS’ afternoon lineup, including moving “The Price Is Right” from weekday mornings to 3 p.m., he also came up with the idea of a female-oriented news program that could feed off the audience that regularly tunes in for “Oprah” and “Rosie O’Donnell.”

“It was a concept that was unique, and I truly believe in live, local television,” Severino said. He developed several local live shows during his KABC tenure. “That audience is truly available at that time, and I wanted to incorporate news and information.”

Whether the audience will be intrigued by “Women2Women News” remains up in the air after more than a week. While initial ratings showed a steady increase, the show is still experiencing growing pains, technical difficulties and a certain lack of ease among the hosts, who at times talk over one another rather than displaying a natural rapport.

Lange’s interview with writer Gail Parent on ways a wife can cover her body was so rushed and ill-focused that the two had to hurry in the final seconds to make all of the major points. On Monday’s show, Martin held up a local paper, and made a brief reference to the centerpiece front-page story about a young boy whose mother was killed by a robber and then found out that the man he thought was his father actually was not. Rather than discuss that story, however, Martin initiated a discussion on a story at the bottom of the page about rude drivers.

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Roger Bell, the station’s news director, maintained that he felt the chemistry between the hosts was good and that the show would continue to progress. Discussions are already underway for another personality to join the series.

“The important thing here is flexibility--we can go harder in the same day on the news, or softer. We’re quite happy with this.”

* “Women2Women News” airs weekdays at 4 p.m. on KCBS.


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