Ron Townsend, the brand new vice president and general manager of Channel 9, said yesterday that he has no immediate plans to pick a successor for his old job as station manager at WDVM . . .
Currently, five of the eight Gannett-owned TV stations are operating without station managers . . . which may or may not be a clue . . .
Meanwhile, a certain euphoria was obvious at Nine yesterday in the wake of the surprise announcement Tuesday that Townsend was replacing Ed Pfeiffer, who resigned to become a partner in the purchase of the ABC affiliate in Sacramento, Calif. . . .
Ever since it was announced last year that Gannett had purchased WDVM's parent, the Evening News Association, there had been the expectable nervousness about the future under a new management . . .
The choice of 12-year WDVM veteran Townsend, promising continuity, sits well with the troops . . .
And staffers were also pleased Pfeiffer (who, friends report, had been a little uncomfortable with Gannett's strong management style after eight years of virtual independence running Nine for ENA) was landing solidly on his feet out in California . . .
Pfeiffer, who took over Nine for ENA from a Post-Newsweek management in 1978 that engendered a lot of loyalty, had a tough job facing him . . .
ENA had a reputation for tabloid TV journalism that differed substantially in style from Post-Newsweek. Pfeiffer, wisely, left the Channel 9 news operation alone for the most part, and with Townsend at his side, even survived a couple of incipient revolts to gradually earn the respect of the suspicious veterans . . .
Also in the News
CBS chairman and chief executive officer Thomas H. Wyman has taken vigorous exception to a report Monday night on "NBC Nightly News" that linked CBS Records and its president, Walter Yetnikoff, with an investigation into the record industry and organized crime . . .
In a memo to CBS Records Group Tuesday, Wyman called the segment, prepared by the NBC investigative team of Brian Ross and Ira Silverman, "a second class example of broadcast journalism, regarding the matter of independent promotion within the recording industry . . .
"By implication and innuendo, the suggestion was made that the industry as a whole had been involved in unethical and/or illegal conduct and that, in particular, the leadership of the industry was implied to be knowledgeable and perhaps even involved" . . .
Wyman went on to praise the reputation of CBS and pointed out that CBS Records "has been a proud part of this heritage" . . .
"Most especially," Wyman said in the memo, "I would underline to all of you that Walter Yetnikoff has been a leader in the industry in every sense . . .
"We are extremely unhappy that this broadcast shed any unfavorable light on his distinguished career. You may be sure that he has our 100 percent confidence, admiration and support . . .
"We are exploring whether further steps can be taken to correct the extreme misimpressions created by this broadcast" . . .
A spokesman for Yetnikoff yesterday refused to speculate whether legal steps were being considered . . .
He said Yetnikoff has been quoted as saying: "I'm not really interested in a retraction but that in the future this sort of shoddiness won't be seen on the air again" . . .
Bill Wheatley, executive producer of "NBC Nightly News," said yesterday "we stand by our story" . . .
Two elements of the NBC report disturbed CBS executives in particular . . .
At one point, Ross said, "Now in Los Angeles and New York, federal grand juries have begun to subpoena documents from major record companies. Capitol records already has turned over to federal investigators boxes of documents about (Fred DiSipio, who NBC said had met with Mafia bosses), other promoters and certain leading rock music stations. And CBS records and MCA records were reported to have received subpoenas last week" . . .
Later, Ross said, "The biggest company in the record business is CBS. And top industry executives say CBS Records did the most business with the independent promoters now under investigation. CBS Records President Walter Yetnikoff has now curtailed the use of independent promoters at CBS. But industry executives say it was Yetnikoff who had a lot to do with stopping an investigation by the Recording Industry Association earlier this year -- an investigation of independent promoters" . . .
ABC Talks to Marcos
ABC anchor Ted Koppel is on his way to Honolulu to tape an interview with deposed Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos, which will air tomorrow night on a special one-hour "Nightline" . . .
And "Good Morning America" anchor David Hartman will be in Honolulu Sunday to tape an interview with Marcos that will air in two parts Monday on "GMA," between 7 and 7:30 and 8 and 8:30 a.m. . . .
ABC says the network has been seeking the interviews, Marcos' first, since he left Manila . . .
Tuesday continues to be a disaster for CBS. "Morningstar/Eveningstar," which was presumably going to capitalize on the "Cocoon" phenomenon, was a flop again this week with a 10.2 rating and a 16 percent audience share. The reconstituted "Mary" (10.8/16) and "Foley Square" (10.0/16) are going nowhere and "The Equalizer," stuck with no lead-in audience to speak of, barely raised the ante at 10 p.m. with an 11.1/20 . . .
ABC's "Who's the Boss?" at 8 is the culprit. It arrives with a 22.4 rating and a 35 percent audience share. From there, through "Moonlighting" (21.1/32), the audience slacks off slightly but is still strong enough to win the night for the network, despite a real drop-off for "Spenser: For Hire" (15.6/29) . . .
"Hunter," at 9 p.m. with a 16.0/25, is now the strength of the NBC Tuesday lineup, but that isn't saying much. Tuesday, ABC averaged a 19.5/32 in primetime, NBC a 14.1/23 and CBS a slim 10.3/16 . . .
David L. Simon, formerly program director at KTLA, an independent station in Los Angeles, has been named vice president, programming for Fox Television Stations (e.g., Channel 5, here) . . .
Which reminds us, our Avenue of the Americas bureau chief tells us that The Word on the Street is that Fox will concentrate on Monday night first in launching its primetime programming efforts to eventually become a Fourth Network . . .
Speaking of Channel 5, the station has obtained four years of the rights to Operation Prime Time starting in May 1987. OPT has promised two mini-series a year . . .
Channel 20 did well with OPT over the years, airing mini-series like "Golda" . . .
The Entertainment division yesterday announced the renewal of seven series for next year . . .
The slight surprise is the return of "St. Elsewhere" for a fifth season . . . despite its continued dominance on Wednesday night by "Hotel" . . .
Other renewals were absolutely no surprise, including the return of the honor- and winning-statistics-laden "The Cosby Show" for a third season. All we need to know is that "Cosby" is the first top-rated series for NBC since "Laugh-In," back in 1969, when the world was young . . .
In addition, "Cheers" has been renewed for a fifth go-around; "The Golden Girls" for a second; "Night Court" for a third; and "Highway to Heaven," Captain Airwaves' favorite, for a third . . .
Ditto "Family Ties," which could retire the Lazarus Award this year, back for a fifth year, as the entire cast prays that it remains in the 8:30 Thursday slot, just behind Mr. Cosby . . .
Steven Spielberg's "Amazing Stories" was penciled in for an automatic second season the day Steven signed with NBC last year . . .
As reported earlier, NBC will release its entire fall 1986 lineup on May 15 . . .
Meanwhile, there's a rumor at the network that some version of "The David Letterman Show" will replace the fading "Saturday Night Live" next fall . . .