But the team is banking on a civic-minded streak to gin up donations. "We are really hoping the business community will step up," said Felkner. And Hummel sees hope in the larger drift of the industry from the 6 o'clock news to something new and still-to-be-defined. "I almost feel like I'm one step ahead of the tidal wave," he said. "Television is a tough place to be right now."

Indeed, one high-profile reporter who might have left the scene is back in the game. And Hummel is hoping his project might inspire similar efforts in other cities.

"There are a lot of Hummels," he said, "all across the country."

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