Five Channel 9 executives found a little something extra in their Christmas stockings yesterday -- promotions to vice presidencies ...

Named by WUSA president and general manager Ron Townsend were Larry Herbster, as vice president, business affairs; Sandra Butler-Jones, VP, broadcast operations; Dave Pearce, VP, news; Henry (Hank) Price, VP, programming and marketing; and Henry K. Yaggi III, VP, sales ...

All had been directors of their departments ...

And while we're still in the holiday spirit, we should remind you that tonight on ABC News' "Nightline" (Channel 7, 11:30 p.m.) viewers will hear the Boys Choir of Harlem, singing a mix of traditional carols and spirituals and even some songs from the pop repertoire. Ted Koppel will anchor the taped half-hour ...

The Cable News Network will air the Official Announcement of Time magazine's choice for its annual Man (or Woman) of the Year at 7 p.m. Saturday. The half-hour special, produced in conjunction with Time, will include details of the life of the winner as well as the reasons for his (or her) selection ...

Moving Right Along

Talk about fear and frustration in broadcasting, TV Column fans! ...

The first 10 minutes of Tuesday night's documentary on NBC about the hazards and general unpleasantness of commercial flying aired with a faulty sound track ...

Oh, sure, at first on the NBC News Special "Fear, Frustration -- and Flying" you could hear Tom Brokaw and Bob Hager and Lucky Severson narrating the harrowing tales ...

But none of the background noises -- climbing jets, airport concourse babble or interviews of complaining passengers -- came through ...

Mike Sherlock, president of operations and technical services for NBC, said yesterday that final editing of the NBC News tape was done "out of house" ...

When NBC received it, the cassette was marked to indicate the audio was all on one track (audio is often on two tracks, with the "natural sound" on one track, the commentary on a second -- that way, if a show is sold to a foreign market, the commentary can be redone in the native language) ...

The first problem with the "Fear" tape was that it actually was a two-track tape. The second and bigger problem, said Sherlock, was that apparently neither NBC News nor network engineers "rehearsed" the tape before airing it -- a standard procedure that received a very thorough review yesterday morning at 30 Rockefeller Plaza ...

Just before the broadcast, the cassette was put on a one-track machine, as marked, without any checking ...

When the News Special went on the air for Eastern and Midwestern audiences at 10 p.m., the first 2 minutes 58 seconds, devoted to a Brokaw introduction, went flawlessly, since there was no natural sound involved ...

Seconds later, as the jets began to take off noiselessly, and terrified airline passengers mouthed silent complaints, Sherlock said engineers were "sure there was something wrong with the machine. It took seven minutes for our maintenance people to determine the machine was okay and that it was a two-track tape on the wrong machine. Someone switched on the stereo about 10 minutes in and everything was fine from there on" ...

Viewers on Mountain and Pacific Coast time, who saw a later feed, had no problem ...

Although the documentary eventually didn't attract a wide audience (reminding holiday air travelers of the horrors they face in a day or two might even be counterproductive, n'est-ce pas?), NBC said final figures showed no particular audience fall-off over the first 15 minutes, despite the foul-up ...

"Fear, Frustration -- and Flying" drew an 8.5 national Nielsen rating and a 16 percent audience share from 10 to 11 p.m. (representing about 7.5 million TV homes). The last half of the "Jake and the Fatman" pilot rerun on CBS won the hour with a 14.2/27, while "thirtysomething" on ABC yupped up with an 11.3/22. Each rating point represents 886,000 TV homes ...

Now This

Fox Broadcasting will introduce "America's Most Wanted," a weekly half-hour series designed to help capture the most dangerous criminals at large in the United States, on Sunday, Feb. 7, at 6:30 p.m. ...

The program will originate in the studios of Fox-owned Channel 5 here and will be produced by STF Productions Inc., a subsidiary of Fox Television Stations ...

The program will be hosted by John Walsh and feature "exacting re-creations of crimes and the best available photography and videotapes of the criminals involved" ...

Viewers will be able to call in tips for law enforcement officers on a nationwide toll-free hot line, 1-800-CRIME-88. That's 1-800-CRIME-88 ...

The FBI and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are cooperating in the preparation of the program ...

Walsh gained prominence in 1981 when his 6-year-old son Adam was kidnaped and murdered. His subsequent efforts on behalf of missing children drew national support ...

The program will air weekly on WTTG as well as the Fox stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Dallas and Houston ...

As we've reported, the NBC-owned stations' "checkerboard" of five weeknight sitcoms -- seen here on Channel 4 -- is being scrapped by the network next September to be replaced by a revived "Family Feud" game show strip five nights a week at 7:30 ...

Meanwhile, starting the week of Jan. 11, NBC has decided to flip-flop "You Can't Take It With You," now seen on Wednesday nights, with "We Got It Made," now airing on Friday nights ...

Neither of them, nor "Marblehead Manor," figures to be offered for syndication next fall ... but both "She's the Sheriff," starring Suzanne Somers, and "Out of This World," starring Donna Pescow and Maureen Flannigan, probably will be rescued by their production companies and offered to stations around the country in 1988. They also stand a chance of showing up on NBC-owned stations somewhere in the Saturday schedule next fall ...

If it weren't Christmas Eve, we'd have to ask, "Who cares?" Luckily, it is Christmas Eve ...

Our weekly "My Two Duds" fix: Polly Bergen will show up in a future episode as Michael Taylor's (Paul Reiser in real life) meddlesome mom ...

Speaking of Real Life, Robert Urich, whose stocking on the "Spenser: For Hire" set probably gets a lump of coal from ABC Entertainment tonight, will do a walk-on in the Jan. 7 episode of NBC's "Cheers" ...