FIRST ON THE BLOG (other than Roanoke.com): It looks like one station in Central Virginia is ready to launch their own in-house news department and step away from help of another station. Remember, this station is now owned by Nexstar.
According to Roanoke.com, WFXR 27 (seen on 27.1 and also seen on WWCW 21.2) is planning to create and start up their own news department. The station is planning to move its current headquarters at Colonial Avenue in Roanoke to the Valleypoint office park, a much larger building, in Roanoke County near the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport.
The new site is 14,830 square feet, more than three times the size of the station’s current building, which will provide more space for production equipment and the capabilities for the station to produce its own newscasts in-house. Right now, the FOX 21/27 Morning News from 7:00-9:00 a.m. weekday mornings and the nightly 10:00 p.m. newscasts (hour-long weeknights and half-hour weekends) are currently produced in the studios of WSLS 10, the NBC affiliate owned by Media General. WSLS 10 has bee providing the newscasts for WFXR 27 since 1996. WFXR 27 pays WSLS 10 for use of its facility and some of its staff.
Some of the newscasts’ on-air staffers — which include 10:00 p.m. weeknight anchorwoman Becky Freemal and 7:00-9:00 a.m/ morning co-hosts Bob Grebe and Tara Wheeler — are employees of WFXR 27 and will remain with them when WFXR 27 starts producing newscasts in-house. However, the newscasts also feature WSLS 10’s meteorologists, reporters and some news producers. WFXR 27 will have to fill those positions when it takes over its own newscasts. 25 jobs will be provided if WFXR 27 does move to Valleypoint office park.
WFXR 27 was bought by Nexstar Broadcast Group, Inc. from Grant Broadcasting last year for $87.5 million. This is one of many changes under Nexstar as the station has already unveiled VirginiaFirst.com with the plans to add more local news content under WFXR 27’s productions in the future, with a redesigned focus on local news.
According to Garry Kelly, WSLS 10’s General Manager, WFXR 27 will end its current news relationship with WSLS 10 soon in the future with no timetable for the change set as of yet.
Joseph McNamara, WFXR 27’s V.P. and G.M. in an email:
“Everyone here at WFXR and WWCW is extremely excited to be part of the planned relocation of the station to a new state-of-the-art broadcast facility that will allow us to better serve the entire Southwest and Central Virginia region with stellar news and entertainment. We are expanding the depth of content that we can deliver to consumers beyond our traditional TV station platform.”
So, FOX 21/27 News or Local 21/27 News perhaps? We’ll find out.