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Published: Monday, 7/21/2003

Fox affiliate eyes a newscast at 4 p.m.

In what would be one of the boldest moves in the Toledo market over the past decade, WUPW-TV, Channel 36, plans to launch a 4 p.m. newscast in January.

Currently, only one television station in Ohio -- Cincinnati's WKRC -- has a 4 p.m. newscast. (There is none in Detroit, the market closest to Toledo.)

Newscasts at 4 are a relatively new phenomenon. They've popped up in markets all across the country in recent years. Few have tried it in markets as small as Toledo, however.

WUPW, a Fox affiliate, sees this as an opportunity to take its news operation to the next level. Because the LIN-owned station has only one daily newscast, at 10 p.m., respect has been hard to come by -- even though it has received the Regional Emmy for best newscast in each of the past two years.

“We've been talking about expansion for a year,” WUPW news director Jose Suarez said. “It was just a matter of doing research and analyzing which time period made the most sense for our situation.”

Suarez said the afternoon newscast will have “the same energy, the same attitude” as the 10 p.m. version. WUPW presents the news in a rapid-fire format; chit-chat between anchors is virtually nonexistent.

Right now, WUPW airs back-to-back episodes of Dharma & Greg beginning at 4. It will have only one episode of the comedy, at 4:30, starting in early January.

According to Nielsen Media Research, about 75,000 households are tuned to Toledo television stations from 4 to 4:30 p.m. (By comparison, 136,000 households are tuned in at 6 p.m.)

WUPW's 30-minute newscast is expected to go up against Oprah on WTOL-TV, Channel 11; Pyramid on WTVG-TV, Channel 13, and Judge Judy on WNWO-TV, Channel 24. During the most recent ratings period, Oprah averaged 33,000 viewers in that time slot, followed by Pyramid with 27,000 and Judge Judy with 17,000. Dharma & Greg averaged 5,000 viewers.

WUPW general manager Ray Maselli said a realistic goal for the 4 p.m. newscast is “12,000 to 13,000 after a year.”

Suarez said he will hire four employees -- a reporter, producer, editor, and photographer -- and hopes to have them on board by the end of November.

This will be the third “new” time for a newscast during the past decade. WTOL and WTVG launched 5 p.m. newscasts on the same day in 1994. WUPW's first 10 p.m. newscast was in 1996.

MOVING ON: Ellen McGregor, WTVG's assistant news director, is returning to WEWS-TV in Cleveland. She has been hired as executive producer for the station's chief investigative reporter. Prior to moving to Toledo 16 months ago, she was weekend news manager and producer at WEWS.

NEW PUBLICATION: The first edition of the monthly Pet Lovers News has hit the streets. Laurie H. Cohen, the editor and publisher, operates out of her Sylvania home. The first issue was 12 pages. She said the free publication provides “practical, insightful information” about pets and pet ownership.



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