If host Thuy Vu has her way, "KQED Newsroom," which debuts on Friday, will take on the feel of a highly pleasant cocktail party -- full of "interesting people and thoughtful and meaningful conversation."

"We definitely hope that folks will want to drop by and linger for a while," she says.

"KQED Newsroom" is a news and public affairs series with a multiplatform presence on television, radio and online. The half-hour TV version essentially replaces "This Week in Northern California," the program hosted by Belva Davis for nearly two decades. Davis retired last November.

"We want to maintain the same level of commitment as Belva did," says Vu. "She left an incredible legacy. We want to respect and honor that, but we also want to move the show ahead."

Thuy Vu
Thuy Vu ( kqed )

While Vu, a longtime Bay Area journalist, oversees things as the program's host, Scott Shafer ("The California Report"), will serve as senior correspondent. The series, they say, will largely consist of round-table discussions, feature stories and field reporting.

"We're going to offer longer-form interviews than you usually see elsewhere (on TV)," Shafer says. "We want to tell unexpected stories in unexpected places. And we're not going to serve up the same old sound bites."

For Vu and Shafer, "KQED Newsroom" represents an exciting new personal adventure. Shafer, who worked as a press secretary for former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos and was chief of staff for then-State Controller Gray Davis, has spent most of his years in radio.

Vu, who emigrated with her family from Vietnam in 1975 and went on to attend UC Berkeley, has held several radio and TV jobs. Most recently, she was the co-host of "Eye on the Bay," CBS 5's magazine-style show.

"I've spent 20 years in broadcasting, doing various things, but I've never had the chance to start a brand-new show from scratch," Vu says. "I'm very excited, but to be honest, I'm a little nervous, too."

She and Shafer will have reliable backup support. Most of the "KQED Newsroom" staff worked on "This Week in Northern California," including executive producer Joanne Elgart Jennings. The new program's title is a nod to KQED's groundbreaking 1968 program, which was the first nightly news series on public television.

In the runup to the show's launch, Vu and Shafer participated in several open forums in various Bay Area communities to solicit story ideas and get a feeling for the challenges those communities face.

"They've been extraordinarily interesting and helpful," Shafer says of the events. "The stories I get most excited about are the ones that have you saying, 'Oh, I hadn't thought of that.' And we've experienced that a lot."

Scott Shafer and Thuy Vu of "KQED Newsroom"
Scott Shafer and Thuy Vu of "KQED Newsroom" ( kqed )

FAB FIVE REUNITE: Remember "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"? Ten years ago, the offbeat makeover series premiered on Bravo and went on to become a cultural touchstone -- a show that brought gay people into living rooms across America and had a huge influence on reality TV.

This weekend, that legacy is celebrated with "Queer Eye Reunion: 10 Years Later" (9 p.m., Bravo). Host Andy Cohen welcomes Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley and Jai Rodriguez, who discuss the impact of their trailblazing show on their own lives and on the country.

They'll reflect on their most memorable moments and reveal their favorite "make-betters" and who among them was the biggest diva. Sounds like a lot of fun.

THE REAL E.R.: "The Waiting Room" (10 p.m. Oct. 21, KQED), an extraordinary documentary that takes viewers inside the doors of Oakland's Highland Hospital, makes its public-television debut next week after playing in theaters and film festivals.

Stretched to the breaking point, Highland is the primary care facility for 250,000 patients of nearly every nationality, race and religion, with 250 patients -- most of them uninsured -- crowding its emergency room every day.

With health care issues and concerns a prime topic of conversation, this film by Peter Nicks isn't only timely but highly important.

Contact Chuck Barney at cbarney@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/chuckbarney and Facebook.com/bayareanewsgroup.chuckbarney.

'kqed newsroom'

When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: KQED Channel 9 (also airs at 6 p.m. Sundays on KQED public radio, 88.5 FM)