With Bob Grip retiring at the beginning of 2019, it appears WALA-TV has found a native son to help with anchoring duties.

The station announced last week that Byron Day has joined FOX10 and will be anchoring the 5 p.m. news along with Lenise Ligon. Day is a Mobile native who got his start in television at WALA.

“I’m getting to come home and do what I love. To do it with a team that values commitment to community and solid journalism is an incredible opportunity. I’m looking forward to joining Bob, Lenise, and the rest of the FOX10 family,” Day said in a press release.

New Director Scott Flannigan believes Day’s local connection will help him easily establish himself in his new role.

“It is rare to find someone with Byron’s combination of experience and deep local roots. It’s that emotional connection with the Gulf Coast that will resonate with viewers. This is home for Byron, and we’re happy to welcome him back,” Flannigan said.

Day has anchored in Memphis, Tennessee and Raleigh, North Carolina, in addition to his work as a sports anchor for the national networks, including NBS. He is a graduate of the University of South Alabama.

Day will start on-air beginning in April.

FOX10 named state’s ‘Station of the Year’

WALA-TV racked up some big awards at this year’s Alabama Broadcasters Association Awards banquet in Hoover last weekend. Tops on that list was being named TV Station of the Year.

In addition to that award, FOX10 took home six more wins for:

• Best Hard News Reporting: “Who’s Tracking You” (Katie Weis, David Rencher, Kellie Jones and Rodney Rocker)
• Best Investigative Reporting: “Toxic Release” (Kati Weis and Franz Barraza)
• Best News Feature: “Sunken Treasure” (Devan Coffaro and Guy Turnbow)|
• Best Photojournalist: Franz Barraza
• Best Reporter: Kati Weis
• Judges Merit Documentary: “Quest for Answers” (Kati Weis, Renee Dials, Franz Barraza, Kellie Jones, Randy Merrow and Bill Flowers).

Other stations in the Mobile market also received awards. WKRG took home four awards:
• Best Web Center Report: (J.B. Biunno)
• Award of Merit Reporter: (J.B. Biunno)
• Award of Merit Hard News: “Woman Caught in Lies about Arson” (Katarina Luketich)
• Best News Series: “Cyber Safe” (J.B. Biunno)

WPMI brought home one award for Best Public Affairs TV: “Mobile’s Opioid Crisis”

Newsprint tariff hurting newspapers

Contrary to popular belief, running a smaller, local newspaper isn’t all just making up fake news and counting stacks of cash. Newspapers at every level have had to fight over the past decade to stay relevant, and in many cases, to stay in business.

A lot of the staying relevant part has to do with covering local news, and the papers that don’t understand their primary mission certainly have reason to struggle. But the staying in business part is a little more complex. Newspapers fight a constant battle to convince advertisers print is not dead. In Lagniappe’s case, for instance, we have independent demographic research showing about 80,000 people read us each week and we even increased our circulation 20 percent two years ago, but it’s still never an easy sell, despite the big radio conglomerates being in bankruptcy and the myriad problems social media faces.

Now, tack onto that a border war with Canada that is causing newsprint prices to spike, and newspapers have another major financial issue with which to contend. The Department of Commerce and International Trade Commission are currently considering tariffs on Canadian newsprint — the lower cost paper that has allowed many newspapers to stay afloat in the internet age.

These tariffs are coming essentially to help one paper mill in the Pacific Northwest. Throughout most of the rest of the country there are no mills making newsprint, so printers and newspapers buy from Canadian mills. Tariffs could drive those print costs up by as much as 30 percent. And for most newspapers, print is already the second biggest cost behind payroll.

It’s not as if these tariffs are going to make U.S. production of newsprint suddenly cheaper or more available. All it will do is help the bottom line of one mill while damaging hundreds and hundreds of newspapers.

If having healthy local newspapers matters, write your Congressman and the Department of Commerce and let them know how you feel. And help support great local journalism by advertising in Lagniappe and buying a subscription. We intend to be here for the long haul, but ridiculous tariffs don’t make that goal any easer to achieve.