Research told WTMJ that their viewers want more positive news and the station’s response was the weeknightly Milwaukee Tonight. Local viewers and news directors across the country are already embracing it.
WTMJ, Scripps’ NBC affiliate in Milwaukee, launched a new daily newscast on May 10 and a promo that promises it won’t be just another newscast.
Milwaukee Tonight airs weeknights at 6:30.
Tim Vetscher, WTMJ’s news director, says the focus of Milwaukee Tonight will be “to celebrate this great city that we live and work in and the people, the places and the hidden gems and the points of pride are all topics for this new show.”
Vetscher says the station wanted Milwaukee Tonight to have a different look and feel, not just in the content, but in its presentation. So the anchor of the show, Steve Chamraz, won’t be sitting behind a desk, but moving around the studio.
Vetscher says research points to this kind of newscast as “the right move for being a better representative of our viewers and our community. Research tells us that viewers want more positive news, more differentiation, and Milwaukee Tonight is certainly different.”
Although McShepard is new to WTMJ, she’s a Milwaukee broadcasting veteran with more than 10 years’ experience in local TV news at another station in the market.
“Cassandra is Milwaukee through and through,” Vetscher says. “She wears her love for Milwaukee on her sleeve and she is the perfect correspondent for this show for that very reason. She has been a home run in so many ways.”
The image promo for Milwaukee Tonight has an urban, sassy feel to it, as delivered by the station’s voice-over announcer, Mia Bankston, a rare woman in the position.
Gregg Schraufnagel, WTMJ’s creative services director, who’s been at WTMJ for 23 years, says he wanted the promo to match the energy and tone of the show.
“We wanted her to read it like a beat poem,” Schraufnagel says.
According to Schraufnagel, Clark Barton, the promo’s producer, took still photos all over the city, “because we wanted it to feel like you are a tourist in your own town.”
The music used was a cut from Stephen Arnold Music’s Vault library.
“We wanted it to feel a little like jazz,” Schraufnagel says, noting he wanted it to evoke something one might hear at a poetry reading.
Since the launch of Milwaukee Tonight, Vetscher has heard from news directors all over the country congratulating him and wanting to know how they can sell the idea of a “good news” newscast to their management and owners.
And in Milwaukee, the feedback has been very encouraging.
“We thought that this was what was possible,” Vetscher says. “To see how well it is being received is extremely gratifying. This is going to be on the air every weeknight at 6:30, so there is a lot more to come.”
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