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Published: Monday, 10/31/2005

Channel 11's morning woes continuing

On paper, the pairing of high-profile news anchors Jerry Anderson and Melissa Voetsch seemed like the cure for WTOL-TV's morning blues.

Three ratings periods after the move, however, Channel 11 which hasn't been No. 1 in the morning since 2002 continues to struggle. In fact, it's now closer to third place than it is to first.

What gives? Voetsch is solo anchor of the noon newscast, which is consistently No. 1. For more than a decade, Anderson enjoyed similar ratings success as solo anchor at 5 p.m. (He and Chrys Peterson now co-anchor at 5.)

Despite heavy promotion, WTOL's morning newscast remains an enigma. In six of the last seven ratings periods, the CBS affiliate has been No. 1 in every weekday time slot for local news except mornings.

WTVG-TV, Channel 13, was a solid No. 1 when Jim Taylor and Tess Rafols anchored WTOL's morning newscast, and it has an even bigger lead against Anderson and Voetsch.

The fourth and final ratings period of 2005 Nielsen Media Research's November "sweeps" begins on Thursday.

"November is a very important book for us," WTOL news director Mitch Jacob said. "We definitely want to win that time period. We want to have a clean sweep [of the five time slots for local news]."

During the July ratings period, WTVG's morning newscast anchored by Jeff Smith and Rebecca Regnier attracted 40 percent of the audience in 25-to-54 demographic, compared to 19 percent for WTOL and 14 percent for WNWO-TV, Channel 24.

The ABC-owned station has been No. 1 in the morning for 11 consecutive ratings periods.

"We've had a great run, and there's no reason to think it won't continue," WTVG news director Brian Trauring said. "I'm very confident in our entire team, and I think the ratings back that up."

When WTOL unveiled its revamped morning newscast in January, it was more personality-driven than the others. While that style may translate into ratings success in other markets, Jacob admits "it didn't work" here.

"We've been tweaking this show since it started," he said. "We haven't taken the fun out, but we have limited it."

Jacob is convinced that Anderson and Voetsch will ultimately prevail in the AM.

"Our level of talent far exceeds anyone in the market," he said. "There's no comparison."

MOVING ON: Tim Roberts, the Midwest operations manager for Cumulus for the past six years, is leaving to become program director of Infinity-owned WYCD-FM (99.5) in Detroit.

"To program in my hometown for me, it's a dream job," he said.

Elsewhere, Don Gosselin, program director of Clear Channel-owned WRVF-FM (101.5) and WIOT-FM (104.7) for the past two years, is returning to Louisiana to become operations manager for the company's New Orleans cluster.

DOUBLE DUTY: Thanks to the magic of voice-tracking, Toledo-based Pyke, who covers the 3-to-7 p.m. shift on WIOT-FM, can now be heard 6 to 10 p.m. weekdays on Youngstown's WNCD-FM. Both stations are owned by Clear Channel.

WELCOME TO TOLEDO: Andrew "Big Z" Zepeda was to make his debut today as host of the WVKS-FM (92.5) morning show.



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