Nexstar put news operations of two of its stations together at one location in the nation’s capital and branded it as DC News Now. Now, 100 days into the expansion, it has begun a branding campaign that outlines the central points of its news coverage philosophy.
On July 11, Nexstar combined the news operations of two of its stations — WDCW, the CW affiliate in Washington, and WDVM, an independent in Hagerstown, Md. (also in the Washington DMA) — at one central location in the nation’s capital and branded them as DC News Now.
But other than that initial announcement, the change has been marked with little fanfare.
Now, 100 days into the expansion with the pieces in place, DC News Now has begun a branding campaign that outlines the central points of its news coverage philosophy.
“It has felt like we have started a new TV station,” says Emily Mowers Kurtz, DC News Now’s director of marketing and creative services. “We are building one from scratch.”
WDVM is offering a morning newscast from 5 to 9, an hour-long noon news, evening newscasts from 5 to 8, and the market’s only 9 p.m. newscast, Kurtz says.
On WDCW, there is a 10 p.m. DC News Now newscast, one of two newscasts at 10 in the market.
It took a bit of doing to get all the pieces in place.
“We have a brand-new studio here in D.C.,” Kurtz says. “We had to do a huge construction build out. We added on our studio, so it overlooks Georgetown and then we expanded. We now have the whole third floor.”
The reason for the build out is to accommodate all the new people, including the employees located at the Hagerstown location and about 80 additional staff, Kurtz says.
Ben Dobson, news director of the expanded operation, “got to hire all his anchor teams, all his reporters, all his MMJs,” Kurtz says. Some of the anchors are new to the market, she says.
“We are just kind of introducing ourselves, meeting people for the first time,” Kurtz says.
Part of the news expansion includes staffing three bureau locations in Hagerstown and Frederick, Md., and one in Chantilly, Va., providing, Nexstar says, more coverage to more communities than any other local broadcaster serving Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C..
That’s one of the central tenets of the DC News Now branding campaign, Kurtz says.
“We are extremely excited about this expansion, particularly because it enables us to launch new newscasts while also establishing three new satellite news bureaus from which we can deliver live news directly from within local communities in Maryland and Northern Virginia,” says David Bangura, WDVM and wdcw’s GM. “These bureaus will give WDVM-TV and WDCW-TV a way of connecting to the community as never before.”
“Our approach is more regional,” she says. “People are commuting in and out. We are trying to provide that value of really being where people live, having boots on the ground and reporters in the field to cover where people really live and what is really impacting their communities.”
One element that impacts their communities is weather.
“Weather here is really tricky because you can’t just focus on D.C. weather,” Kurtz says. “We are taking more of a micro climate approach as our goal.”
Kurtz says the soft launch to get the kinks out, to take their time, was intentional. But now a really aggressive, multifaceted marketing campaign is in the works, she says.
“Nexstar has been very patient with us knowing we are just starting up,” she says. And the company has been financially supportive of the marketing plan.
Kurtz says “there is opportunity here. Everyone we talked to said they would be very curious to check out a new entrant into the market, that they would give them a shot.”
A new name, new brand, new studio, set and graphics and new people creating more news has made the past 100 days “pretty wild and pretty awesome, too,” she says.
And with new creative on the way that looks different than what most people are seeing and a healthy budget to increase viewership and get new audience, Kurtz says she’s “super excited.”