WTVJ, the NBC O&O in Miami, saw its 6 a.m. news go from fifth place to first in just one year. How did it do that? “There are so many elements” behind its ascendancy, says Jorge Carballo, WTVJ’s GM.
Even in a tight news ratings race, for any local TV newscast to go from fifth place to first in one year is pretty remarkable.
But that’s what WTVJ, the NBCUniversal O&O in Miami, did with its 6 a.m. newscast between March 2021 and March 2022.
How did it accomplish that?
“There are so many elements,” says Jorge Carballo, GM for WTVJ and WSCV (Telemundo 51). “I cannot attribute it to one thing.”
One key element was the newscast’s anchors.
“Honestly, one of the best things was the combination of [new anchor team] Constance Jones and Kris Anderson,” Carballo says. “The chemistry they started building together was ideal.”
WTVJ brought in Anderson and Jones for the 6 a.m. news in February 2021.
“They both have roots in this market,” Carballo says. “They understand the market, how it works. So those were things that helped the chemistry.”
Carballo says both are home-grown anchors, and the launch promos for them stressed those community ties.
“The launch promos were amazing,” Carballo says, noting both Jones and Anderson came across as “very honest, very humble and relatable. They both have that accessibility and I think those promos highlighted that very well.”
With just two news anchors, the pacing of the newscast increased, allowing for more time to focus on weather and traffic, he says.
Miami always has an issue with traffic, he says. “So we focus on weather and traffic as an integral part of our mornings.”
Carballo says weather is another “big element that was part of the strategy overall. The resources that NBC and Comcast have invested in us in weather are critical. We have a very strong weather team. We have our own Doppler radar.”
Carballo says the station put more resources in the morning, adding another dedicated reporter to the 6 a.m. newscast.
He says they’re combining the resources of both WTVJ and WSCV more often, which is a company strategy.
“There were days I had a Telemundo 51 reporter report for WTVJ in the morning,” he says. “The duopoly helped a lot by adding resources. We have our own chopper now so we can have a chopper flying as well in the morning as any time during the day.”
Carballo credits NBC’s coverage of the Olympics as the turning point for the station. The 2021 Summer Olympics aired on NBC for from July 23-August 8.
WTVJ launched a new set during the Olympics “that was very fresh, very Miami,” Carballo says.
The overall strategy during the Olympics was to brand WTVJ as the first TV station to sign on in Florida.
“We used a lot of those eyeballs to remind people that we are a legacy station and we have been here 75 years,” Carballo says. “That was a big positive.”
While WTVJ’s ratings growth at 6 a.m. happened in just one year, the station’s strategy is “for the long haul,” Carballo says.
“I don’t have to be No. 1 all the time,” he says. “I just need to have consistency and be a solid station where people can turn to. That is my mission here.”
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