No, you’re not imagining things. WNWO-TV, Channel 24, has hour-long local news beginning at 5 p.m. With that addition, all but the noon newscast is now a three-way competition for viewers for the first time in years.
The WNWO newscast is co-anchored by Jim Blue and Laura Emerson, who recently returned to her longtime home on Toledo airwaves after a 2½-year absence, with longtime Chief Meteorologist Norm Van Ness handling weather.
“When Sinclair [Broadcast Group] bought this station, the desire was to become competitive and they continue to put the resources necessary into this station to make sure we can do that,” said Nicole Hahn, Channel 24’s news director. “It makes us competitive in the market when our competition has a 5 o’clock newscast that we are an option for viewers.”
Meanwhile, the station has openings for seven positions, including an executive producer, a Web producer, a sports anchor, a multimedia journalist (MMJ) to report and shoot his/her own stories, as well as a news investigative reporter, and reporter/fill-in anchor to replace Annette Falconer, whose final day at the station is today.
Hahn said there will be other changes as well.
“We’re looking at bringing in a couple of franchise pieces that will help us stand out,” she said.
The other big news from local viewers is that, beginning at 4 a.m. Monday, WT05-TV becomes CW13, a digital substation of WTVG-TV, Channel 13. Which makes sense considering both WT05 and WTVG were recently purchased from California-based SJL Broadcasting by Atlanta-based Gray Television Inc.
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WT05 is seen locally on Buckeye CableSystem Channel 5, but as CW13 the station will expand its northwest Ohio viewing platforms to include WTVG’s free over-the-air Digital Channel 13.2 in high definition, Buckeye’s Channel 5 and Channel 605 HD, and Channels 4, 17, and 996 on Time Warner.
“This is a great opportunity for us,” said Peter Veto, WTVG’s general manager. “We have negotiated the CW affiliation agreement with the CW, as well as with Buckeye Cable, [which] saw it as an opportunity as well to take the station to the next level.”
Buckeye previously owned the WT05.
CW network programs include hit series such as The Vampire Diaries, Arrow, Resign, America’s Next Top Model, Supernatural, and Whose Line Is It Anyway, with additions of The Flash and Jane the Virgin this fall.
CW13 will also feature much of WTO5’s syndicated programming: Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, Two and a Half Men, and Family Guy.
The station will replace 13.2’s current 24-hour programming from the Live Well Network, which is operated by ABC Owned Television Stations Group and was scheduled for cancellation at the end of January, Veto said.
“This opportunity arose, and instead of waiting we said let’s take it to the next level,” he said.
The shared ownership of the two stations also allows for cross-programming, including the launch of an hour-long 10 p.m. newscast perhaps as early as January.
The CW13 newscast will likely include some of WTVG’s existing personnel, Veto said, while the presentation style of the broadcast will be tailored to attract a younger demographic than that of Channel 13. This will include a “techier edge” to the broadcast as well as more engagement via social media.
“We want it to be different,” he said. “We want to be the same high-quality news that viewers of 13ABC have come to know, but we want to differentiate our newscasts.”
The programming strategy of “one news department, two stations” is similar to that of WTOL-TV, Channel 11, providing daily newscasts on WUPW-TV, Channel 36, including an hour-long 10 p.m. broadcast. The key difference is that WUPW and WTOL, while sharing newsroom equipment, personnel, and a newsroom, are owned by separate companies.
And speaking of WTVG and WTOL …
While Channel 13 has been the dominant newscast in the morning ratings for a while, Channel 11’s news director C.J. Hoyt said with addition of Andrew Kinsey and a new executive producer for the a.m. newscasts, the station has all the pieces in place to make the mornings competitive again.
“We have our team in place,” he said. “It’s all part of our effort to bring viewers what we think is a great show. We had a second solid book in the morning [in July] and we’re hopeful that viewers are responding to what we’re doing.”
Kinsey replaces Brandon Jones as morning co-anchor, along with Melissa Andrews. In February Jones became a full-time investigative reporter and, as recent on-air promos suggest, is the face of the station’s Call 11 for Action viewer-assistance program.
“It’s a huge effort on our part to be a station that’s an advocate for our viewers,” Hoyt said. “Call 11 for Action is a direct way to respond to problems that viewers have. It’s gotten tremendous response from our viewers. We now get calls asking for Brandon because they’ve got a problem that needs to be resolved.”
Finally, in the “local boy done good” category, Johnny Beechler, a 1997 graduate of St. John’s Jesuit High School and Academy, received an Emmy last weekend.
A supervising producer on the popular Discovery Channel series Deadliest Catch, Beechler’s show won Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program.
Deadliest Catch documents the highly dangerous profession and oceanic adventures of Alaskan crab fishermen. This is Beechler’s second Emmy; he previously won in 2012 for Team Cinematography for Deadliest Catch.
Raised in Toledo, Beechler is the son of Suzanne Utley Keller and Andy Keller.
Contact Kirk Baird at email@example.com or 419-724-6734.