The show's format, unchanged since its debut, starts off with the first 15 minutes being a daily recap of all the soap opera serials aired that day, and the last 45 minutes being a talk/variety-type show. In the latter portion of the show, subjects can vary from show to show. In one show, a famous TV, movie, or newsmaking celebrity may make an appearance as a special guest (usually discussing their latest work, etc.), while the very next day could focus on a guest who has survived against all odds.
The show originated from Studio C of KOMO-TV's old building until it was demolished to make way for Fisher Plaza in 2000.
On June 10, 2008 KOMO-TV announced that Northwest Afternoon was cancelled because of increased competition against first-run syndicated fare from Dr. Phil on KING-TV, Rachael Ray on KIRO-TV, and Maury on KCPQ. These shows had made inroads into Northwest Afternoon's once-comfortable ratings, making it difficult for station management to continue producing the show. The stunning announcement came after the series won a local Emmy. A 24-year retrospective send-off was aired on September 4, 2008, with the last show airing on September 5.
The original hosts of the show were Dick Foley and Dana Middleton, with the soap-opera recap portion of the show hosted by Cindi Rinehart. Dana Middleton left in 1992 to pursue other interests. Her departure was an emotional moment, and her last show was filled with recaps of previous shows. Middleton's replacement was Elisa Jaffe, a reporter and morning news anchor for KOMO News who had also launched the "Morning Express," the station's first hour-long morning newscast in 1987. Dick Foley followed suit in 1996, and was replaced by KPLZ radio host Kent Phillips (who had been filling in on occasion for Cindi Rinehart for a few years prior). Out of the current hosts of the show, Cindi Rinehart was the only remaining host since the show's debut in 1984.
The main portion of the program was most recently hosted by Kent Phillips, with rebroadcasts of segments co-hosted by Natasha Curry (who joined Northwest Afternoon in 2007), and KOMO News reporter Rachelle Murcia.
Scope on the Soaps is the opening segment, usually 15-20 minutes in length, in which Cindi Rinehart gives viewers a daily recap of the happenings in the soap opera world. Her awkward style has become legendary, and she has earned a "backstage-pass" into the behind-the-scenes production of all the major dramas on daytime TV. Her Scope on the Soaps segment has been frequented - either in person or over live telephone calls - by major soap stars and producers, and Cindi herself has even starred in soaps such as General Hospital. Because of her expertise, she has been dubbed "The Soap Queen."
Reinhart also attracts a lot fans beyond the Northwest. Since the show is also seen across Canada on satellite, its not uncommon for viewers to call as far away as Nova Scotia and Quebec just to ask Cindi questions about what will happen on the soaps, a rarity for a locally produced---and American based---afternoon talk show.
Other notable guests include much of KOMO's own on-air staff. KOMO news anchors Dan Lewis, Kathi Goertzen, and several KOMO TV reporters have made appearances on Northwest Afternoon over the years.
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