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Channel 4's short staffing starting to show

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On last night's Channel 4 newscast (in a segment rebroadcast this morning), the sports report was delivered by an unlikely person: Mike Hooker, who's served as either the station's mountain or northern newsroom reporter since 1994.

Why? News operations traditionally scramble during the summer months to cover for vacationing staffers -- but fewer bodies are on hand the rest of the year as well. Note that a few weeks ago, former Bronco Reggie Rivers, who would previously have been the logical choice to helm the holiday weekend 'cast, was laid off as part of ongoing budget-cutting/belt-tightening.

Hooker did a competent, if dry, job filling in. Still, his presence in this role sends an unmistakable message to viewers about the current state of local-TV news in general and Channel 4 in particular. Although it might be fun to watch investigative reporter Brian Maass delivering the weather forecast....

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