WGN is now taking advantage of being an Independent station. How? By airing more news. Yes, if you think WGN has enough, they’ll say not enough and now… they’ll have more.
Starting Tuesday April 4th (Yes, on a Tuesday mainly because WGN 9 will more likely be carrying a sports event on Monday April 3rd), WGN 9 will be adding yet another hour-long newscast with the WGN Evening News at 6:00. It will compete against the big three in the market: WBBM 2 (CBS), WMAQ 5 (NBC), WLS 7 (ABC) for local news in the first half-hour while WGN 9 will become home to the ONLY local newscast on at 6:30pm in the market as others air syndicated programming (Entertainment TONIGHT on WBBM 2, Access Hollywood on WMAQ 5 and Wheel of Fortune on WLS 7).
This will give WGN 9 with the market’s first-ever three-hour continuous local news block aired on one station from 4:00-7:00pm. This will give WGN 9 with 70-and-a-half hours of local news a week and combine that with the amount of news it airs on its sister cable channel, CLTV – Chicagoland Television, the amount of news will be much more staggering. Anchor teams will change vastly from morning to early evenings as a result…
Starting Tuesday April 4th, Mark Suppelsa and Micah Materre will shift from anchoring 4:00-6:00pm to instead anchor 5:00-7:00pm, including the new hour-long 6:00pm newscast. WGN WeatherCenter Chief Meteorologist Tom Skilling and WGN Sports director Dan Roan will also be a part of this news block and they’ll remain the same from 9:00-10:30pm. And instead of them doing the news at 4:00pm, Ben Bradley (who came from WLS 7 earlier this year after working there for 14 years) and Lourdes Duarte (a 10-year veteran of WGN 9) will replace them. Meteorologist Demetrius Ivory and sports from Jarrett Payton (who’s making his TV sports anchor debut) will be a part of their team. No word as to who’ll replace Ivory or Duarte on the WGN Morning News, in which they currently do weather and news respectively from 4:00-6:00am.
WGN 9’s News Director, Jennifer Lyons:
“We look forward to offering Chicagoland viewers a fresh new choice for news at 6 p.m. and the only local news in the market at 6:30 p.m. The debut of Ben Bradley and Lourdes Duarte at 4 p.m. will make a great addition to ‘Evening News’ with their news judgement, knowledge of Chicago and investigative story telling.”
Not only that, Suppelsa, Duarte and Bradley also serve on “WGN Investigates,” the station’s recently new investigative reporting team with producer Marsha Bartel.
This new newscast will replace two episodes of the syndicated comedy show, Two and a Half Men. And according to CRM – Chicagoland Radio and Media, out of 168 hours of WGN 9’s programming every week, 42% of WGN 9’s schedule will be made up by LIVE newscasts (weekdays: 4:00-10:00am, 11:00am-1:00pm, 4:00-7:00 and 9:00-10:30pm + weekends: 7:00-9:00am, 5:00-6:00 and 9:00-10:00pm).
So yes, local news is alive and WGN 9 will be doing more. If you thought WGN 9 expanding news was dead, think again.
DISCLAIMER: Some of the information that was used, especially the quote, was taken from Robert Feder, an independent media columnist/blogger out of Chicago whose website is at RobertFeder.com