Matt and Katie are taking a back seat to Michael and Lark in this town.

WTTG's local morning newscast, anchored by Michael Gargiulo and Lark McCarthy, is poised to beat NBC's powerhouse "Today" show in Washington's May ratings period, which wrapped yesterday.

The Fox station's 7-to-9 a.m. news program is watched daily in 98,000 homes, 1,000 more than "Today" on NBC-owned WRC. WTTG's morning audience is up 30 percent from last May, while "Today" viewership is down about 11 percent.

If the numbers hold (final results are to be released today), WTTG news director Katherine Green said, it may be the first time that a Washington newscast has usurped "Today" and certainly would be a first in her six-year tenure with the station.

Green acknowledged that the popularity of Fox's "American Idol" didn't hurt the morning show's ratings this month, but said its emphasis on local issues is what ultimately won viewers.

Green also singled out Karen Meyers for her "news you can use" segments and offbeat reporter Holly Morris for adding energy to the show. "We've tried to make the show very informing and entertaining without being an entertainment show," Green said.

In the early-morning race, from 5 to 7, WRC still dominates, led by the decade-old team of Joe Krebs and Barbara Harrison. WRC drew an average of 89,000 homes, up nearly 20 percent from last year, compared with WTTG's 55,000 homes.

WJLA's "Good Morning Washington" moved to third place in the early-morning slot, thanks to WUSA's slippage. WJLA remained flat from last year, but WUSA, which had its first May book without Mike Buchanan, lost about 12 percent of its audience.

WRC won the 5 p.m. newscast race with 102,000 households, and WTTG was closing in on WJLA for second place (WJLA averages 85,000; WTTG, 84,000). WTTG got a big assist from its "Judge Judy" lead-in at 4 p.m. The judge's lead over "Oprah Winfrey" on WJLA continues to grow; this month she drew an average of 129,000 homes, compared with Winfrey's 110,000.

WUSA's news at 5 continues to suffer from a poor lead-in of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and "Inside Edition" and is losing even to WBDC's "Judge Mathis."

Numbers are down or flat from last year at all the stations for the 6 p.m. and late-night newscasts.

At 6 p.m., WRC is averaging 142,000 homes, followed by "The Simpsons" on WTTG with 110,000 homes. WJLA is in third with 91,000 homes, and WUSA last with 87,000.

At 11 p.m., WJLA dropped about 30 percent from last year, averaging 80,000 homes. Once again, ABC's dismal prime-time performance didn't help WJLA as its revamped news team struggles to build an audience.

WRC is tops in late night, drawing 166,000 homes, the same as last year. WTTG's 10 p.m. news is second with 145,000; WUSA is averaging 125,000 homes.

Jimmy Kimmel's first May sweeps in the market was not kind to the talk show host. The show, which debuted in Washington in April, drew 36,000 households. That's down almost 40 percent from WJLA's midnight programming last year of "Inside Edition" and "Extra."

As for "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest, barely anyone is watching his daytime show. UPN's "On Air With Ryan Seacrest" garnered just 16,000 homes, half the audience that was watching two reruns of "The Hughleys" in the same 5 p.m. time slot last year.

WTTG's 7-to-9 a.m. news program is anchored by Michael Gargiulo and Lark McCarthy.