“Good Day Carolinas” will flicker to life at 4:30 a.m. Monday, becoming the fifth local news show trolling for bleary eyeballs weekday mornings on Charlotte TV.
How do you set yourself apart from the traditional news-desk shows on the ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates or the casual, personality-centered “News Rising” program on WCCB (Channel 18)? WJZY (Channel 46) appears to be planning to split the difference.
Fox46 will have two field reporters for the morning show – Charity Bailey and a journalist to be named later – as well as the rest of its news team available for specialty stories. But largely, the show is intended to be a more laid-back, top-of-the-morning chit-chat experience with the viewer, says Karen Adams, general manager for the Fox-owned station.
“What we’re trying to do is have a conversation with the community,” she says. “We want to prepare you for your day and talk about the successes relevant to your life.”
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Adams’ station is experimenting with a new approach to broadcast news that downplays the routine crime and urban mayhem of the moment in favor of longer-form stories on issues around the region.
A 10 p.m. newshour launched in January was joined by a 6 p.m. broadcast at the end of June. Both start-up shows are lagging in the ratings versus their competitors, but Fox – concerned about the overall decline in news viewership nationally, especially among young adults – has shown patience with the experiment and is expected to look at the new morning show as a laboratory as well.
“It’s going to be about what’s going on and what’s being done to make it better rather than the convenience store video from the hold-up last night,” Adams says.
A flashy studio for the morning show has been built at the Fox46 studios off I-85 in west Charlotte with a distinctive Streamline Moderne architecture reminiscent of classic “rail car” diners like Charlotte’s Midnight Diner in Southend, with maybe an old Cadillac tail fin or two thrown in.
“We said, ‘Lets get that diner feel, where people go to talk about things in the morning,’ ” Adams says.
A wall of stacked stone and an adjacent wooden wall both have a Carolina feel. Hanging up are pieces of artwork by local artists, which will change every few months. There is a working kitchen set for the show’s guest chefs.
Co-hosts for the show will be Page Crawford, a UNC-Chapel Hill grad who worked on the morning show at the NBC affiliate in Raleigh, and Erick Weber, who comes from a regional cable news network in New England. Nick Kosir, who most recently worked in Twin Falls, Idaho, will be meteorologist and Chuck Roads, known in civilian life as Chuck Neely and a longtime WBT-AM (1110) contributor, will cover rush-hour traffic.
Caitlin Lockerbie will host the weekend edition of the show with Melissa Le Fevre on weather. Le Fevre will work long days, doing the weather for the station’s weekend evening newscasts as well. Adams says Sundays, typically a slow news morning, will feature extended interviews with newsmakers. “Good Day Carolinas” will air 4:30 a.m.-9 a.m. weekdays, 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. Saturdays and 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. Sundays.
Gov. Pat McCrory is expected to be a guest on the inaugural show Monday and Oliver North, a Fox News contributor coming to Charlotte for the VFW convention, will appear soon, Adams says.
WBTV (Channel 3) recently expanded its morning show by two hours from 7 to 9 a.m. aboard its digital channel that carries Bounce TV and WSOC (Channel 9) carries an extension of its morning show at the same hours on sister station WAXN (Channel 64). Add in competitors WCNC (Channel 36) and WCCB and you get about 20 hours of news programming each weekday morning in Charlotte.
Is there money to be made with so much competition?
There will be – North Carolina is a battleground state in the 2014 elections and you can already see the amount of political advertising that is beginning to push regular local advertisers out of key time slots. That is expected to increase as November approaches and stations with local programming time to sell – and local news shows carry advertising sold by the stations, not the networks – stand to reap millions in political advertising this fall.
Pride Magazine publisher Dee Dixon names Lashawnda Becoats as the magazine’s new editor-in-chief. Becoats is co-founder of Darling Media Group Inc., a Charlotte multi-media company, and served as Charlotte editor for Uptown Magazine and former Style Editor for Qcitymetro.com. Becoats will replace Lee McCracken.
Kyle McCurry, Hickory-based reporter for WJZY (Channel 46), happened to be in Watkins Glen, N.Y., on vacation to take in the NASCAR race when Kevin Ward Jr. was killed by a car driven by Tony Stewart at a nearby track. McCurry wound up covering the story for days. Ashley Stroehlein joins the WBTV (Channel 3) sports department in time for high school football, replacing Sammi Jo Francis. Stroehlein, who started at the station as an intern, had been a video editor. Also at WBTV, Brad Hyatt moves up to executive producer for late afternoon and early evening newscasts and Molly Kelleher joins the station from the CBS affiliate in Tucson, Ariz., as executive producer for the morning news show.
Charlotte’s Creative Loafing has been acquired by Womack Newspapers, which publishes Greensboro’s alternative weekly, Yes! Weekly. Charles Womack, who launched Yes! Weekly in 2005, says he will take over as publisher of Creative Loafing on Sept. 1, replacing Chris Sexson, who joined Creative Loafing as publisher about six months ago and who will remain with SouthComm Inc., which will continue to own Creative Loafing papers in Atlanta and Tampa.
Former WBT-AM (1110) host Jerry Klein will return to the host’s chair next Friday to sit in for John Hancock 3 to 6 p.m., and on Labor Day, working as holiday replacement for Keith Larson, 9 a.m. to noon. “Fat Guys In the Woods,” a survival show airing 10 p.m. Sundays on The Weather Channel, will feature Charlotte student Joe Morillo on this weekend’s edition.
Fox Sports South is moving production of college football shows “ACC Gridiron Live” and “The New College Football Show” to Charlotte temporarily while their Atlanta studio is being renovated, bringing Tommy Bowden, James Bates, Alge Crumpler, Coy Wire, Jim Grobe, Greg Olsen and Clay Travis to the Fox Sports 1 studios off Harris Boulevard at I-85. With ESPN’s SEC Channel and ESPNU based in Ballantyne and Raycom Sports off Morehead Street, Charlotte is for the moment one of the nation’s biggest hubs of collegiate sports coverage.