Locals prep en masse for pope

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The city's TV stations are planning extensive coverage for Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the U.S. next week in Washington and New York.

Univision's local affiliate plans three days of live coverage, from the pope's arrival at JFK airport on April 18 through his April 20 departure. In between, Univision 41 will offer live coverage of the pope's visits to the United Nations, St. Patrick's Cathedral and Yankee Stadium. He'll also stop in at a Yonkers seminary.

English-language stations like WCBS also will cover many of the same events, including all of the public appearances with coverage anchored by Chris Wragge and Kristine Johnson. Some of the events will fall within the regular news program times, but others will pre-empt other programming.

"It's an event of extraordinary importance to our viewers in the tristate area," WCBS vp and news director David Friend said.

WNBC will send an executive producer and two anchors to Washington for the first leg of the pope's trip. WNBC managing editor Peter Facini said Tuesday that it's an extensive effort across Queens, Manhattan and Yonkers to get ready for the pope's appearances.

"Because there are so many events spread out through the city and Westchester (County), and these events are so highly controlled, everything has to be set up, locked down and planned for well in advance," he said. "There is no ability to move in and out."

WABC also will provide extensive coverage, though details weren't available Tuesday.

The Univision coverage will be anchored by Rafael Pineda, who has covered several papal visits to the U.S., and will feature interviews with Spanish-speaking priests and theologians.

Univision 41 also will have a reporter and a Washington correspondent on hand to cover that leg of the pope's visit, which includes a trip to the White House to meet with President Bush.
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