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Hey Matt:

I watch CBS News real early in the morning Monday through Friday. Every morning at exactly 4:28a.m., whatever news story is on gets cut off and a commercial plays. Its been bugging me and I always wonder why that happens.

-- Joe, the net

For your answer, we once again go to Wavy Gravy, our broadcast guru, who has connections with the poor sap commonly known as the Overnight Guy. (No matter what station or broadcast medium you're talking about, he's always known as the Overnight Guy. Even if he's not a guy.) He's the skilled engineer paid to babysit the control room in the wee hours, when Joe and maybe one other person are actually paying close attention to what's on the tube.

According to Overnight Guy, what you're watching on the local affiliate at that ridiculous hour is CBS Up to the Minute, an hour-long network feed that begins here at 3a.m. and repeats 1-1/2 times. At 4:30, the local station joins the live broadcast of CBS Early News, which brings you fresh, crisp, juicy, it's-happening-now programming instead of crumbly, stale, it-happened-an-hour-and-a-half-ago stuff. The way the scheduling goes, in order to slide in some commercials, something's gotta give. Better to chop off the end of the old, dry, tasteless news than join the succulent, just-picked-flavor news two minutes into the show. All this is set up to happen automatically, night after night, with no assistance from Overnight Guy, whose main task is to avoid spilling coffee into the expensive digital switching gear.

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