Saturday night's game between the Washington Redskins and the Indianapolis Colts on ABC's "special edition" of "Monday Night Football" averaged only an 11.8 rating and a 21 percent audience share in Nielsen's 25 major market overnights ...

But Skins fans here didn't care that the game fell right smack in the middle of a long holiday weekend. Nosiree, Bob! On Channel 7 the game averaged a Monday Night-like 28.6 rating and a 49 percent audience share ...

(Captain Airwaves has received so many cruel, and often personal, comments recently about his habit of explaining what each ratings point represents -- even in the middle of the season of goodwill toward persons -- that he says you'll all have to wait until the very end of this morning's column to discover what the above figures mean. And Airwaves works so cheap we're going to let him get away with it. This once, anyway) ...

Channel 4 reporter Wendy Rieger has been named principal anchor of the WRC/WFTY "7:30 Headline News" show, which debuts on Channel 50 the evening of Jan. 14 ...

Rieger has been with Four nearly three years after working at WTOP radio and doing weekend reporting for CNN. She will continue as a general assignment reporter for WRC in addition to her anchor duties ...

She is the first on-air talent to be named by WRC for the new program. WRC will produce and supply the talent for the weeknight half-hour -- while keeping all the advertising revenues and paying WFTY for the air time ...

The unusual partnership is being watched by broadcasters all around the country ...

The half-hour news will include sports, weather, national headlines, a recap of the top stories from Capitol Hill and "a strong block of local business news," according to Allan Horlick, vice president and GM of WRC ...

The program is aimed at an upscale audience that doesn't get home until after the 4 to 7 p.m. local newscasts ...

Meanwhile, work continues on the new set for the 7:30 news, which will be aired from WRC's Studio B, home of the NBC-owned station's 5, 6 and 11 o'clock newscasts ...

Radio promotions for "7:30 Headline News" have already begun in this market, and TV promos are slated to start this week ...

And while we're out on Nebraska Avenue: Channel 4's computer malfunctioned early Christmas morning, some seven minutes before the conclusion of Pope John Paul II's celebration of midnight Mass at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, which is why viewers found themselves suddenly watching a rerun of Robert Young in an episode of "Father Knows Best" instead of Communion ...

"It was an awful mistake," WRC GM Horlick said yesterday. "We all feel terrible about it. The program, which is taped by NBC in New York, ran longer than scheduled, but somehow the computer malfunctioned and went to the regular late-night program right on the half-hour" ...

In Other News

NBC Entertainment announced yesterday it is delaying the premiere of its 7 p.m. Sunday hour, "Sunday Best," from Jan. 13 to Feb. 3 ...

The network decided that the prospect of NFL playoff overruns in January might dim the luster of "Sunday Best's" opening night. Much more importantly, NBC wants to be sure that the first half of the miniseries introducing "Dark Shadows" has enough leeway to start right on time at 9 p.m. on Jan. 13 ...

Since kickoff time for the Sunday, Jan. 20, AFC championship game is also unknown at this time and the next Sunday will be Super Bowl Sunday on ABC, NBC has wisely, we think, decided to continue with editions of "Super Bloopers & New Practical Jokes" from 7 to 8 p.m. on Jan. 13, 20 and 27 ...

In the matter of "Sunday Best," NBC yesterday also revealed (finally) that elements will include "comedy nostalgia segments, the TV history of an NBC star, viewers' video mail, TV reviews in which home viewers sound off, humorous behind-the-scenes segments from NBC primetime shows, recurring comedy features with NBC personalities and comedy highlights from the preceding week's entertainment, news and sports programming" ...

As noted in yesterday's column, last week the network announced that Linda Ellerbee will produce and appear in her own weekly segments on the program ...

Still to be announced: hosts for the series. And what the odds are that "Sunday Best" will even be noticed against CBS's "60 Minutes" ...

(Before you get too snippy this morning, Airwaves, please note that "A Closer Look," the midday NBC News information show to be anchored by Faith Daniels, debuts on Jan. 28, not Jan. 8, as you also reported yesterday. We've warned you before about even considering a life of crime, Airwaves, which often starts by pirating items from other TV writers, who may not have it right. Let this be a lesson to you!) ...

When NBC News's "Expose" investigative half-hour debuts Sunday, Jan. 6, at 8:30, viewers will find anchor Tom Brokaw on an office set that could have been designed for Sam Spade ...

There will be an old desk, with an old typewriter, and a water cooler, "messy pictures on the wall, including a detective's license," a door made out of "pebbly glass," gray venetian blinds and an overhead fan. And if that doesn't get you in the mood, on the first show both Brokaw and investigative correspondent Brian Ross -- who drops by the office to visit with Tom -- will wear gray suits ...

Executive producer Paul Greenberg says the set is designed to convey "the feel of an investigative show" ...

Greenberg won't say what the two stories set for the debut from Brokaw and Ross are about (for competitive reasons) but insists "one of them is bound to make headlines!" ...

We've heard a lot of compliments for "It's Christmas Time Again," the special music that's been running on Gannett-owned Channel 9 and will continue through the holidays. The music was composed for a synthesizer by Jim Girodo, who left Gannett-owned KUSA in Denver to form his own "Cornerstone Marketing" firm. Lyrics are by WUSA's promotion manager Donna Meyer and Dawn Rodney, a promotion producer at WUSA ...

Is this a great country, or what? The National Association of Broadcasters has named Jerry Lewis its 1991 TV inductee into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame ...

Jerry's muscular dystrophy telethons have raised more than $525 million, and some 200 independent stations around the country air the telethons each Labor Day weekend on his ad hoc "Love" network ...

The Hall of Fame award "recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to broadcasting and the American public" ...

Says Gary R. Chapman, the president of LIN Broadcasting in New York and chairman of the NAB television board: "Lewis is clearly one of the most effective fund-raisers in television history, and his tireless devotion to the Muscular Dystrophy Association has won him the admiration and respect of millions of Americans" ...

Lewis will be honored April 17 at the annual NAB convention in Las Vegas. NAB's radio board earlier had named the late CBS News correspondent Douglas Edwards as its 1991 inductee ...

And Finally

In other Ratingzzz News from this long holiday weekend, the Dolly Parton Christmas special Friday night on ABC did a very nice 17.8 national Nielsen rating and a 31 percent audience share, which enabled ABC to average a 15.7/28 for the night compared with a 9.3/17 for CBS, a 7.6/14 for NBC and a 4.9/9 for two hours of FOX ...

The CBS Disney "Christmas on Ice" special averaged a 9.9/18 that night ...

On Sunday night, in the 25 Nielsen overnight markets, an edition of "First Person With Maria Shriver" on NBC averaged a 5.6/11. In the battle of the movies that night, CBS's 4-Puffs "Always Remember I Love You" was the easy winner with a 16.3/27, compared with a 10.6/17 for NBC's "Guess Who's Coming for Christmas" and a 9.3/15 for ABC's repeat of "The Golden Child" ...

Locally, the Shriver show did a 7.7/13 on Four; "Always," a 15.6/26 on Nine; "Golden Child," a 9.6/16 on Seven; and "Guess Who" an 8.4/14 on Four. As usual, the Fox lineup on Five swept the local ratingzzz that night ...

On Christmas Eve, "Roots: The Gift" on ABC did a 5.9/14 in the 25 big cities, but a 9.2/19 on Seven here. "Christmas Eve," with Loretta Young, on NBC averaged a 6.6/16 in the big-city overnights, a 5.4/11 on Channel 4 here. During the same 9 to 11 period, the CBS lineup of reruns Monday night averaged an 8.0/19, including a 7.3/15 on Nine here ...

At the risk of even more personal abuse, Airwaves notes that each national Nielsen ratings point represents 931,000 TV holiday hearths; an overnight ratings point, some 470,000 hearths; and a local ratings point, exactly 17,491 hearths ...