Going to where the people are

A TV station in Lansing has flipped its evening anchor and morning anchor because, they say, morning is where the growth is and, in TV, that’s where the big names belong.

In the mornings, they haven’t yet been deluged by information. “It’s the one time of the day when people haven’t already been plugged in to the news,” said Jam Sardar, the WLNS news director.

While other ratings drop, mornings thrive. “The fastest-growing audience is the morning audience,” said Kevin Ragan, the WILX news director. “Sometimes, it’s referred to as the new prime time.”

Assuming that isn’t just marketing talk for moving a rising morning star to the evening, it’s interesting how the station is going where the people are, a concept that is more important now than ever as markets fracture. That kind of thinking should inspire all media to look at where the people are congregating and go to them, rather than expecting them to come to you.

In the Triad, WGHP and WFMY both expanded their morning broadcasts to begin at 4:30 a.m. this month. WXII is already there. (Didn’t Kimberly Van Scoy move from nights to mornings five or six years ago?) But it’s doubtful that at least one of those stations will follow WILX’s lead any time soon, says Neill McNeill, evening anchor at Fox8:

In this market  I can tell you the evening newscasts on all three stations still produce “sell-able” numbers. In other words, the stations still make money off of them–else we wouldn’t be doing them.

On top of that, WGHP is the only station in this market that produces a primetime newscast at 10pm. It consistently is the #1 Fox Affiliate 10pm news (per capita) in the country. (The Fox affiliate in St. Louis slipped by us in November because the World Series was on FOX and the Cardinals were in it.) So— this newscast is and has been an important part of our primetime.

Also–most of  the evening news anchors in this market are well-established and “known” in the market as are most of the morning anchors. Therefore, I don’t see anyone moving to opposite sides of the clock anytime soon. But you never truly know what might happen in this business.