WGN’s Morning News has a national reputation, well-earned, as being different from most nearly every other local TV stations’ morning news. Some might say it’s more National Lampoon than news. More Saturday Night Live than news. But according to the May ratings, morning news viewers in Chicago like it more than any other morning newscast.
If you go to YouTube and search “WGN Morning News” like I did, the first examples you’ll see are some of the most outrageous, irreverent, off-the-wall, funny examples ever from a TV station’s morning news. WGN is an independent station in Chicago owned by Tribune.
WGN’s Morning News has a national reputation, well-earned, as being different from what most nearly every other station airs on morning newscasts.
Part of the reason for this, I’m sure, is that while WGN’s Morning News does provide more serious news coverage on a daily basis, it’s the truly creative, profane, wicked examples that get seen by those outside the Chicago market.
WGN’s Morning News makes fun of local TV news and local TV news promotion.
And of course, it makes fun of itself, and the people who work there.
Nothing’s off limits. When Perry Sook, Nexstar’s CEO, and Tim Busch, Nexstar’s president, stopped by the station to kick the tires of their soon-to-be newest station in the Tribune acquisition, the morning news pulled off quite the welcome.
According to an article in the Chicago Business Journal, credit goes to “the station’s talent lineup not taking themselves and what they do too seriously. The WGN team, most of whom have been doing the show for years, know each other and their audience very well. And they are more than willing to push the boundaries of how buttoned-down television news talking heads are expected to behave.”
Some might say it’s more National Lampoon than news. More Saturday Night Live than news. Or, more appropriately, more Second City than news.
And morning news viewers in Chicago seem to like it.
According to WGN, in the May sweep, WGN Morning News grew its adult 25-54 M-F rating year-over-year at 4 (+60%), 5 (+114%), 6 (+50%), and 7 (+13%).
Keep in mind that while the percentage growth appears substantial, the actual growth is 0.3 at 4, 0.8 at 5, 0.8 at 6, and 0.2 from 7 to 9. One rating point in the Chicago market equals 35,000 households.
So when I got a press release from the station touting its May ratings growth, I wanted to know why the station thought its morning news was growing audience.
“The WGN Early Morning News team has captured the hearts of Chicago viewers,” said Jennifer Lyons, WGN’s news director.
“They are a dynamic, smart, creative team that stands out in breaking news and weather coverage. In the two years the team has been together, they embody the personality the WGN Morning News has built over the past 25 years. No one reports the news quite like the WGN Morning News team. Larry, Robin, Paul and Pat are real, the audience feels connected to them and they trust them for not only local but national news.”
NOTE: I get lots of press releases from TV stations touting their news ratings performances after a sweeps period, even though everybody says sweeps are over. TVNewsCheck does publish local newspaper articles about news ratings. When I get a presser, I tell the station to try and put that ratings performance into some kind of context. Why did your station do well, do you think? What did your station do differently from a marketing and/or coverage point of view? Please provide any relevant marketing examples as well as actual news coverage on YouTube, or Vimeo. This column is WGN’s response, and some of the examples used were provided by the station.
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