There’s now even more Grip each night as FOX10 has taken its hour-long 9 p.m. newscast up another 30 minutes on weeknights. Starting this past Monday, WALA’s news team, led by anchors Bob Grip and Lenise Ligon, is on the air for 90 minutes each night.
The move comes on the heels of the station deciding to add Saturday and Sunday newscasts from 6-8 a.m. as well.
“In this market, late news is very competitive and very important to each station’s success,” WALA General Manager Gary Yoder said in a statement. “We are in a very unique programming situation that allows us to expand our late news efforts without infringing on other programming obligations. We can greatly increase our value to our viewers and our partners.”
Anchors Grip and Ligon and chief meteorologist Jason Smith will handle the entire 90-minute broadcast each night. The expanded format makes FOX10’s broadcast three times longer than those of its three market competitors, and for the first time in years will put them in head-to-head competition for viewers at 10 p.m. WALA’s hour-long broadcast always ended at 10 p.m. just as WKRG, WPMI and WEAR were going on the air.
The move also comes as the Mobile market moves to electronic code readers to determine ratings versus the manual logbooks that have been used for decades. The readers will be much more accurate in determining viewers’ habits in front of the boob tube, and there is some expectation their use will present at least some tightening in the historic pecking order among Mobile’s TV stations. The October sweeps will be the first to officially use code readers in Mobile.
“We are committed to being the place Gulf Coast residents turn to for local news, weather and information — all day, every day,” FOX10 News Director Scott Flannigan said in a statement. “This isn’t a condensed version of our nine o’clock news. Expanding our 9 p.m. news presence gives us the chance to do more investigations, more weather coverage and be of more service to our viewers.”
Crawford back at WPMI
Almost two years after his contract with WPMI was not renewed, Lance Crawford is headed back to the sports anchor’s chair.
General Manager Bobby Totsch announced late last week that Crawford will be back on the air for WPMI. Crawford was the station’s lead sports anchor for five years before being laid off, and he preceded that with 10 years at WALA.
“His local knowledge and local contacts as well as professional skills will benefit our already solid anchor team,” Totsch said. “We are looking at some new and fun ideas to really change how we cover and report on sports in the market.”
Dumas leaving P-R
A week after the company-wide firing of several reporters, one more scribe is calling it quits at the Press-Register. We’re told reporter Michael Dumas has taken a position with Danny Lipford, whose nationally syndicated home improvement show is filmed in the Port City.
The P-R is now left with 14 editorial staffers, including two photographers, a cartoonist, an editor and four members of the sports staff. Last week’s cuts included eight editorial staffers at the P-R and several others at The Huntsville Times, Birmingham News and Alabama Media Group’s Tuscaloosa bureau. Along with resignations by Dumas and fellow reporter Theresa Seiger, the newsroom will soon be 10 writers lighter and down a total of 21 since the beginning of the year. None of the vacancies has been filled, according to insiders, although the company is currently advertising for a “digitally savvy breaking news reporter” on journalismjobs.com.
AMG executives continue to ignore questions concerning the layoffs and their plans for the future, but a letter to employees by Vice President for Content Michelle Holmes did become public later last week and seems to outline the company’s desire to move away from writing and towards video production.
“We see enormous growth and potential in video and continue to hire staff skilled in creating original programming,” Holmes wrote.
Trump brings national media
Taking in the circus-like atmosphere of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s visit to Mobile last Friday night were several national journalists following the outspoken tycoon.
As is the case when the national eye focuses upon us, the temptations to whip out the Southern stereotypes often proves difficult for some to control. While Mobile got plenty of fair and even favorable treatment, there were more than a couple of media outlets that took their disdain for Trump out on the city and its citizens.
Easily the shabbiest treatment came from an online publication of some sort called The Gothamist. It declared “The Worst People In America Gather For Donald Trump Rally.” I’m doubtful the writer of this classic piece of American journalism actually attended the rally, but he seemed certain the people gathered to hear a political speech are actually worse than the rapists, murderers and pedophiles in prisons across the country.
Another sweet piece was “Trump Tells His White Mobile, AL Audience He Was Right. Illegal Immigrants Are Rapists,” which appeared on the website Politicus USA. Taking that trend further was The Daily Kos, which blasted, “NEW VIDEO: ‘White Power’ Flourishes With Trump; ‘We don’t need an election!’ #TrumpWhitePower.”
The Chamber of Commerce may not want to link to any of those.
Some calmer headlines included “The Daily 202: Trump Tornado Heads to Alabama for the Biggest Event So Far in GOP Race” by The Washington Post. And CNN’s “30,000 turn out for Trump’s Alabama pep rally” was controversial in its own right, as most journalists at the event placed the attendance at 20,000 or fewer. (It’s still an impressive number Trump fans, don’t get upset.)
It’s always interesting to see how things that happen here are reflected back through the national media. Some of them are great, but others … well, bless their hearts.