KCNC, the CBS O&O in Denver, grew its weekday 5-7 a.m. news viewership in July 2022. “We did a deep dive into what we could do to reboot morning news,” says Tim Wieland, KCNC’s general manager.
EDITORS NOTE: A previous version of this post has been corrected to clarify KCNC’s growth and not its rank in the ratings.
KCNC, the CBS O&O in Denver, grew its weekday 5-7 a.m. news viewership between July 2021 to July 2022. KCNC’s morning news, branded as CBS 4 This Morning, airs from 4:30 to 7.
Tim Wieland, KCNC’s general manager, says the morning news was one of his priorities when he became GM a year ago.
“We went about it very methodically,” Wieland says. “We spent a lot of time focused on morning news. Everything from our team to our content to rundown structure and break length. We did a deep dive into what we could do to reboot morning news.”
If anyone is qualified to lead a deep dive into the KCNC’s news, it’s Wieland. Prior to being named the GM at the station a year ago, he was news director there for 17 years. So not much goes on at KCNC that escapes Wieland‘s notice.
“I was actually an intern here when I was a student at University of Colorado, so my connection to KCNC dates back to 1991,” he says. “I have been associated with this station almost my entire career.”
Wieland says it’s hard to move the needle these days, so to grow audience in KCNC’s morning news “is a really big deal. It is a real point of pride and also signals that we’re onto something.”
Wieland says the station made some real key changes to the morning news in 2021, starting with the anchor team.
Michelle Griego was brought in to co-anchor CBS 4 This Morning along with Dominic Garcia. Griego and Garcia were not new to the market nor to KCNC viewers. Both had worked at the station prior and both grew up in Denver. In fact, like Wieland, Garcia started as an intern at KCNC.
Smart move bringing back familiar faces who are native to the area.
Griego and Garcia joined Ashton Altieri, who’s been the morning meteorologist for 6 years, and Makenzie O’Keefe, the morning traffic reporter. O’Keefe is a Colorado native, and a 5-year KCNC veteran.
Wieland says in the year they’ve all been on the air in the mornings, the team developed a “genuine chemistry. It starts with a team that really works well together, understands the mission and can connect with our audience with the content that we are focused on.”
While putting his team together, Wieland was also examining the morning news content, making sure “all of our content really helps the audience prepare for their day ahead.”
Including the weather forecasts, reformatted to shorter and more frequent segments that deliver what viewers want, he says.
“What is the weather right now, how is the weather going to impact my day hours ahead and in the day ahead,” Wieland says. “Very focused on planning and events, what you need to know if you are heading out, real high impact weather forecasting.”
That called for a rebrand of KCNC’s weather across all newscasts to First Alert Weather.
Wieland knows it’s not smoke and mirrors, hanging a fancy name and graphics on what the station’s already doing to recruit viewers, he says.
“We have to genuinely, fundamentally look at how we are delivering weather information to the audience on all of our platforms and when we really do that in an audience focused way, then we can make a difference,” Wieland says.
Lesley Martin, executive producer of CBS 4 This Morning, says in addition to shorter, more frequent weather forecasts spread throughout the newscast, they added a popular weather feature, the Dog Walk Forecast.
“It’s so popular, we have dogs submitted back in May that are just making air in August,” Martin says. “We love the interactivity of featuring our viewers’ pets while breaking down the best time of day to walk their dogs. It’s the best planning feature I feel we have – even for those few who don’t have dogs in Colorado.”
Wieland says the success of the morning news has been helped by image promotion, topicals and proof of performance spots.
Wieland believes that topical promos for the morning news, layered with image promos, really showcase “our team as much as the content itself.”
In addition to the topical promos that run on-air, the morning show talent “also records a different, more raw topical that airs on our stream,” Wieland says. These topical promos are sometimes shot off their mobile phones immediately after the morning news and posted to Facebook or Twitter to promote the next day’s morning news.
— CBSColorado (@CBSNewsColorado) July 21, 2022
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