WKMG, Graham Media’s CBS affiliate in Orlando, Fla., changed its traditional weekday 5:30 p.m. newscast entirely to feature original digital content. On the first day, the program doubled its audience.
On Monday, Nov. 14, WKMG, Graham Media’s CBS affiliate in Orlando, Fla., took over its traditional weekday 5:30 p.m. newscast with new programing including podcasts and longer-form journalism.
“In essence, it’s the opposite of our traditional broadcast,” says Allison McGinley, WKMG’s news director. “We will be using our vast collection of local, timely, original, digital content to populate our broadcast air.”
“We are using our broadcast to be a billboard for our digital assets,” says Jeff Hoffman, WKMG’s GM. “It is news without the typical format is what it is.”
Hoffman says the initial newscast on Nov. 14 more than doubled the audience in the time period and led to a 60% increase in the 6 p.m. news.
He says some viewers have already emailed the station about the changes.
Love the new Format people!!! You’re not regurgitating the same news over and over. Tom is a natural when it comes to meteorology. Ginger and Matt are awesome on their pod cast. Keep it up.
I want to congratulate for the format change. The 5:30 segment is WONDERFUL. Informative, fun and refreshing to not have traditional news which can be tough at times.
Prior to the takeover, branded as “News 6+ Takeover,” WKMG’s 5:30 newscast was fairly typical of what viewers expect in a half-hour afternoon news program — two news anchors sitting at a desk and a lead story that is hopefully different than the proceeding newscasts, Hoffman says.
“So, why not do something that is a little different?” he says.
The result is a local TV newscast that is a little different. It’s a marriage of digital and broadcast, part of an evolution that has been taking place over the last 25 years, Hoffman says.
“People are cutting the cord, getting TV in a variety of different ways than they ever did before,” he says.
As the news audience is connecting with local TV news differently, it behooves local broadcasters to innovate to stay competitive, Hoffman says. “We better change with it and really listen to where that audience is and where they are going.”
What the audience wants is original stories, and that is what WKMG is providing at 5:30 with News 6+ Takeover.
“We are a multiplatform content provider,” he says. “This is what we do.”
According to the station, what viewers can expect to see with the News 6+ Takeover is different each day.
Monday: Florida’s Fourth Estate Podcast. This podcast by Matt Austin and Ginger Gadsden, WKMG anchors, takes them off the traditional news set and into the more casual podcast realm to give viewers their unfiltered take on some of the craziest headlines in Florida.
Tuesday: Solutionaries. Solutionaries are people who recognize a problem or injustice in society and come up with creative and innovative ways to tackle those inequities. This digital-only show gives those people a spotlight to focus on community issues and highlight potential solutions.
Wednesday: Florida Foodie. Lisa Bell, WKMG anchor, and meteorologist Candace Campos talk with chefs, farmers, small businesses owners, CEOs and activists to get people to think more about the food on their plates.
Thursday: Talk to Tom. WKMG takes a popular segment by Tom Sorrells, its chief meteorologist, and turns it into a weekly show. Sorrells shares his views on recent weather events and viral videos and answers viewer questions called into the show or submitted online.
In addition to using original digital content, News 6+ Takeover is a chance to showcase the on-air talent in a way that couldn’t be done in a typical, tightly scripted and produced newscast.
Matt Austin, an 11-year veteran at WKMG and one of the anchors at 5:30, says the new format is “a whole different universe” compared to what it was prior.
There’s no teleprompter, no story count, no suit and tie and a more conversational and slower pace, he says.
“It is a more authentic experience,” Austin says. “It’s the perfect way to give people a taste of what we do on our other platforms.”
Ginger Gadsden, another anchor at 5:30, has been at the station for eight years.
She says social media has changed the landscape of TV news over the past five years so that by 5:30, “the news is out there.”
Gadsden says the 5:30 newscast now is “not a typical newscast at all. It’s free flowing, it’s unscripted and we talk about stories we really want to talk about.”
Hoffman says the people who deliver the news are what sets WKMG apart in the market. He says the station’s anchors are well-known, respected and credible in the community.
“We tell them be themselves, be authentic, connect with an audience,” Hoffman says. But in a traditional newscast, stacked with reporter packages, there’s “a little crosstalk and then they are done,” he says.
So, the News 6+ Takeover is an opportunity to enhance that and let it grow. “For this half hour anyway, we are not going by the traditional format that stations have done for the last half century,” he says.
Hoffman says the impetus for the News 6+ Takeover at 5:30 is Catherine Badalamente, Graham Media’s CEO, who challenged all the Graham stations “to innovate at the speed of the audience, play to our strengths, be true to ourselves, be true to our brand and be authentic.”
“She gave our group this task, and this is the first iteration of it for us,” he says. “We have always been up at the front of the class.”