WBTV (Channel 3) plans to add three hours of newscasts on its digital channel this month.
Two more hours of morning news and an hour newscast at 8 p.m. will be added in late January on the station’s auxiliary channel, 3.2. That channel, available to viewers with digital over-the-air antennas and on Time Warner Cable channel 106, carries the Bounce network, an entertainment channel aimed at the African-American audience.
News director Dennis Milligan says the morning news show, which airs from 4:30 to 7 a.m. on Channel 3, will be extended for two hours on the auxiliary channel.
Morning anchors John Carter, Christine Nelson, meteorologist Al Conklin and traffic reporter Sammi Jo Francis will continue the roles they have on the early show. It will replace early morning movies on Bounce.
Rival WSOC (Channel 9) made a similar move in 2010, extending its “Eyewitness News Daybreak” newscast on sister station WAXN (Channel 64) for two hours, 7-9 a.m., when Channel 9 flips to “Good Morning America” at 7 a.m.
WBTV’s hourlong 8 p.m. newscast on the Bounce channel will include time for local newsmaker interviews, Milligan says. An anchor for the broadcast has not been named yet.
WBTV has been considering the move since it learned a year ago that the 10 p.m. newscast it provided for WJZY (Channel 46) would end when the contract expired at the end of 2013. WJZY was bought by Fox Network Stations last year and launched its self-produced, hourlong newscast Wednesday. WBTV had been producing WJZY’s 10 p.m. show since September 2003.
“We figured with the 10 o’clock going away, we could do news on the Bounce channel and potentially reach an audience we might not reach with the mothership,” Milligan says. WBTV’s sister station in Charleston runs a similar newscast on its Bounce channel.
Though Bounce does not attract an audience the size of the main commercial stations, Milligan says it offers an opportunity for growth. “It will generate some income, or we wouldn’t be doing it,” he says.
Extending newscasts is relatively inexpensive for stations because they already have people in place and can repurpose reports generated for other news shows.
Bounce, which launched in 2011, is partly owned by WBTV’s parent company, Raycom.
Joining the WJZY (Channel 46) news team is Melissa Le Fevre as weekend meteorologist. She formerly worked for CNN and got a degree in earth and atmospheric sciences last year from Georgia Tech. Also joining WJZY as junior digital journalist is Alexandra Miller, a recent University of Maryland graduate who had been working as a news assistant at Time Warner Cable’s news channel in New York City. …
After the departure this week of Taylor Zarzour to Sirius-XM, Marc James will become the solo host of “The Drive” from 2 to 7 p.m. on WFNZ-FM (“Fan” 610), CBS Radio says. Zarzour will still have a small presence on the show, doing weekly call-ins. Zarzour and James have been co-hosts since January 2011.
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