A few local television stations are planning some surprises for viewers in the new year.

FOX10 is literally going after the unexpected with its new series “FOX10 SurpriseSquad.” It is touted as being part news, part marketing, part philanthropy and is set to “surprise unsuspecting Gulf Coast residents in unique and exciting ways.”

So does that mean Bob Grip jumping out from behind the shrubs? Not quite, but “SurpriseSquad” — which actually launched in the latter part of December — offers something different.

“We’ve paid grocery bills, purchased Christmas toys for local families and even picked up the tab for lunch,” FOX10 News Director Scott Flannigan said in a news release. “We are completely committed to this community and what better way to show it than giving a little something back to our friends and neighbors.”

The station’s management hopes their acts of kindness will set off a domino effect of good deeds throughout the region.

“This is a ‘pay it forward’ campaign that we intend to continue throughout the year. ’SurpriseSquad’ encourages random acts of kindness,” Marketing Director Kyle Claude said.

General Manager Gary Yoder said the program has also introduced the station to new people with stories that deserve to be on the air.

“We have met some amazing people in the short time we’ve been doing this,” Yoder said. “A simple act of paying for some groceries or hosting a Christmas party for special needs adults has opened a treasure trove of stories to tell — some funny, some touching, some heartbreaking … but all inspiring.”

In addition to “SurpriseSquad,” Claude says the station is working toward having a new app for Mardi Gras season. He also said extending the evening newscast to 10:30 p.m. will allow for more investigative reporting in 2016.

LOCAL 15 to continue hyper-LOCAL focus
Bobby Totsch oversees the four stations in the Mobile/Pensacola market owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, and he expects big things from all of them in 2016.

“As we head into 2016, LOCAL 15 will continue its hyper-local focus on weather coverage and advocacy. We’ve been the market leader, holding power accountable and uncovering wasted taxpayer dollars. We strive to bring the most relevant stories to our local viewing area, stories that we know will have an impact,” he said.

Totsch said programs like “Cool Schools,” “Out ‘N About,” “Making Spirits Bright” and sponsorship of community events like the American Cancer Society Chili Cook-Off will continue.

He added that LOCAL 15 News will continue broadcasting on WJTC at 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., times designed to give people more options to make the news broadcasts work with their schedules.

LOCAL 15 also has an independent sister station in UTV44, which Totsch said offers unique programming options.

“With UTV44 being an independent station, this allows us to schedule, produce and air local programming during key time periods on UTV44. We’ll be bringing back some of the same highly produced programming that everyone saw in 2015 on both LOCAL 15 and UTV44, such as live Mardi Gras parade coverage, live coverage of the Blue Marlin Grand Championship from The Wharf, 15 weeks of locally produced ’Friday Night Game of the Week’ football coverage and the live Orange Beach Lighted Boat Parade,” Totsch said.

WPMI LOCAL 15 will also feature the Olympics this summer, and a combo of  WJTC/WPMI will be the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Bucs NFL franchises.   

On the east side of the Florida line, Totsch said WEAR/WFGX will be focusing on advocacy and trying to grow their brand as Northwest Florida’s news station. He said area high school football and basketball were added to WFGX’s programming slate last year and will be back.

WFGX is also a place where viewers can watch the American Sports Network, which features regional college and semi-pro sporting events. Both LOCAL 15 and WEAR will air Sinclair’s “60 Minutes”-style Sunday-morning news program “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.”

WKRG did not respond to requests for information prior to deadline, but I hope to include their plans next week.

“Yellow Day” premiers
A locally produced movie inspired by the courage of a 15-year-old girl fighting cancer at Camp Grace is set to release nationwide this coming weekend.

“Yellow Day” is a partially animated film created by Providence Film Partners. It was filmed entirely in Mobile and chronicles “a young man’s life-changing journey through the Yellow Day, a miraculous day where the world is revealed as seen through the eyes of God,” according to a press release.

The movie’s name came from UMS-Wright student Krisanna Roberts, who while battling cancer at Camp Grace described her good days as “Yellow Days” and became an inspiration to others. “Yellow Day” is a Dove Foundation-approved family-friendly movie.

It will premier in this area Jan. 8 at Wynnsong 16 in Mobile and Premiere Cinema 14 in Spanish Fort.