After 13 years of pop chit-chat, “WCCB News Edge” is turning serious.
WCCB’s (Channel 18) magazine show that follows its 10 p.m. newscast has departed from its pop-culture roots to take on more serious topics. It’s a sign of maturity for the program born in 2002 with a hipster, bad-boy vibe and one ahead of its time in trying to lure younger audiences to local news.
“If you don’t keep evolving, it gets a little stale,” says Jim White, WCCB’s general manager. “That show will always evolve.”
Built around Morgan Fogarty, the station’s franchise personality, “Edge” opens with a panel of three discussing a topic of the day as the “Edgeitators.” Recent topics have included legalizing prostitution, legalizing marijuana and whether Tim Tebow’s new NFL contract is a publicity stunt.
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Ashley Anderson, who helped launch the “Edge” as a co-host with Mark Mathis and one who has consistently brought a sensible voice in her appearances through the years, will be a regular “Edgeitator,” White says. Depending on the topic, WCCB sports personalities may be on the panel, co-anchor Will Kennedy, comedian Tremaine “QCB” Sloan from WFNZ-AM (“Fan” 610), Matt Harris from WLNK-FM (“Link” 107.9) and others. Christopher “Brotha Fred” Frederick, who co-hosted with Forgarty in one of the show’s more dynamic periods before he left in 2010 to become a radio star in Chicago, has joined the new “Edge” a couple of times via Skype.
“It’s very Morgan-centric,” White says. “It’s sort of like a good jam band, they expand that topic out with the panel.”
A quick-reaction segment on newsy topics called “Edge on the Clock” keeps the pace quick. Leading the show is a new producer, Krista Bagley, who came from the NBC affiliate in Charleston.
One of WCCB’s longtime strengths has been its promotional muscle, led by marketing manager Jeff Arrowood. It is apparent in the short video segments used in the credits and transitions that feature big-city shots of uptown bubbling to an urban soundtrack. Like neon, they project energy and vitality, and connect the show to Charlotte’s what’s-happening districts.
When WCCB lost its Fox affiliation in July 2013 to WJZY (Channel 46), it lost powerful network lead-ins to the 10 p.m. news hour. But even with a weaker CW network line-up, it managed to remain competitive at 10 p.m., running second to WAXN (Channel 64).
Among Charlotte’s 10 p.m. newscasts, WAXN delivers the most younger viewers that advertisers covet – those in the 25-54 age range – between 10:30 and 11 p.m. with about 10,000; WCCB’s youth-oriented “Edge” delivers nearly 7,000 and WJZY about 3,000, according to Nielsen. Reruns of the old “Sanford and Son” on WMYT (Channel 55) attracts about 9,600 viewers in that demographic and the three major networks attract between 20,000 and 47,000 at that hour in Charlotte.
Changing things on “Edge” reflects that WCCB is still very much in the game, and White likes the evolution. “We like where it’s headed,” he says. “We like the pace of it.”