Charlotte native Jack Brayboy will be the next cast member to depart from “Fox News Rising,” joining an alumni list of more than two dozen who came and went since the show's debut five years ago.
Brayboy, who came aboard as morning newsman in February, will do his last show on Friday.
He's been in broadcasting for decades and knows the ways of the business. No hard feelings.
“They've decided to go in a different direction,” he says. “I'm not part of it and I'm OK with that. They've got to do what they feel is best for the station. They've got a lot of good people over there.”
Since launching in January 2003, “Fox News Rising” has been through about 30 hosts, co-hosts, temporary hosts and other personalities. Among them were Richard Spires, Robin King, Michael Haun, Shannon Wiseman, Adam Smasher, Shannon Spake, Morgan Fogarty, Beth Troutman, Malachi Rodgers and Candice Little.
In a personality-driven business, it hasn't been easy to build viewer loyalty with such turnover.
Now with a new team – Mark Mathis, the former zany forecaster on “Fox News at 10”; Charlotte native Anna Kooiman, who was most recently at the NBC affiliate in Toledo, Ohio; and Tera Blake on weather – management is hoping for some stability.
In the beginning, “Fox News Rising” was envisioned as an offbeat morning radio program translated to TV. It originated from a studio that looked like a cross between a high school boiler room and a motorcycle club hideout. Haun did traffic reports and sometimes accompanied himself on the guitar.
It was meant to be an alternative wake-up broadcast, a morning version of “Fox News Edge,” the station's youth-oriented evening magazine show. It didn't work.
“This show has been frustrating to us because we have so much fun on the night show and it's always gotten respectable ratings,” says Ken White, news director of WCCB (Channel 18).
Turnover has been a challenge in building viewership, he admits. And understaffing was long a problem. And it's still the newest morning show in the market.
“We have followed the exact same path as other stations that have tried it – we started out as a wild and wacky Fox show, and learned you have to rein that in.”
Now the goal is to provide a local program on the model of NBC's “Today.” Management is looking at adding another hour to “Fox News Rising,” which now airs 5-8 a.m., bringing it up to the 9 a.m. hour perhaps by year's end. A new HD studio is under construction.
Mathis will be the entertainer, Kooiman the news professional and foil. Jon Wilson will continue his field reports.
Target audience: A 37-year-old woman with two preteen kids. “Barb,” they call her.
Unlike competing broadcasts on Channels 3, 9 and 36, Fox Charlotte does not have a news van out prowling the city for stories, though a crew can be scrambled in an emergency, White says.
But it is the only morning show with a Friday dance segment. And in a few weeks, hosts will be giving away $100 in gasoline to a viewer each morning.
Ratings will tell whether the new strategy is successful. “Fox News Rising” ran a distant fourth in early news, drawing about 18,500 viewers in the 6 a.m. hour vs. 69,500 for No. 1 WSOC (Channel 9) in the May sweeps, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Brayboy, 49, is the son of Jack S. Brayboy, the Charlotte educator for whom the gymnasium is named at Johnson C. Smith University. He went to Garinger High School and UNC Chapel Hill and worked two years at Channel 9 before heading to Philadelphia, where he spent about two decades in sports at the city's ABC affiliate.
He recently married and they are expecting a baby in August.
“I've got a lot of good things going on in my life,” he says. “I've got so many things to look forward to. This is my town. I'll do just fine.”
Idea spotlights coach's kids
Cody and Mark Fox, sons of Panthers head coach John Fox, get their shot at stardom this weekend on PBS's “Everyday Edisons.”
In the invention series, made in association with the Charlotte-based product-development firm Enventys, the Fox brothers came up with a cover to protect textbooks.
It uses hard plastic edges to stave off wear and pencil or pen marks. They attended a casting call in San Diego to sell the idea to the series, which is launching its second 13-episode season.
“Everyday Edisons” airs Sunday at noon on UNC-TV (Channel 58) and at 7 p.m. on WTVI (Channel 42).
Cody, 16, and Mark, 15, attend Charlotte Christian. Their idea was one of 12 chosen for the series out of about 10,000 presented during the casting process.
Reporter Lisa Reyes departs News 14 Carolina to return to her native New York. “I love Charlotte and I love the people here. We'll see what the next chapter brings,” she says. She ended with a flourish; her last story – on the south Charlotte bridal shop that went out of business, stranding brides before their weddings – got picked up by CNN. She has been with the cable news station since 2003 and moved up to weekend anchor in 2006. Johnell Johnson will replace her on weekends starting today …
Honored this week after about 2,600 shows of “Charlotte Talks” was Mike Collins. WFAE-FM (NPR, 90.7) celebrated his 10th anniversary on the show Wednesday at a gathering at Spirit Square, where the station's downtown studio is located. He told the crowd that NBA hall-of-famer Bill Russell – “who doesn't do autographs and doesn't like interviews, and we booked him for an hour” – was his most intimidating guest. Russell spoke in only monosyllables, even for open-ended questions, he said. After a few minutes of that, Collins said he only drew out his guest by confessing, “Your mother wouldn't think you're treating me nicely.” Russell, promoting a new book, recognized that Collins had obviously read deep into the autobiography and hit the part about the lessons his mother had taught him. After that, he loosened up…
Another gig for Brotha Fred of WIBT-FM (“The Beat” 96.1): He will be heard 8 to 10 a.m. daily on XM satellite radio's channel XM21, which is programmed by Clear Channel radio and showcases its top talent from around the nation …
Charlotte-based Speed channel adds veteran NASCAR crew chief Doug Richert to provide analysis for multiple programs, including the weekly “Speed Report” … Patsy Queen of Kings Mountain, a nursing instructor at Gaston College, took home $8,000 on Wednesday's “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” ... Wanda Swaringen of Charlotte will be a contestant on “The Price Is Right” Monday (11 a.m., WBTV, Channel 3).
Mark Washburn: 704-358-5007; email@example.com.