Local morning news race heats up as Keith Jones debuts on WTSP-Ch. 10
There were a few problems with some prerecorded stories and an inexplicable decision to spend long minutes watching a not-so-funny segment from his last day in his old job.
But otherwise, new morning anchor Keith Jonesappeared to have a pretty smooth first day on WTSP-Ch. 10 today, ratcheting up the competition in mornings by helping to amp up the station's historically low-rated a.m. newscast.
Starting his first day in a tie emblazoned with the colors of his new set, Jones appeared smooth and self-assured among a new morning team which echoed the classic patterns of a.m. television: two main anchors, a newsreader, a traffic reporter and a weather forecaster.
Imported from CBS affiliate KDKA in Pittsburgh -- the station's Facebook page for its morning show still features a picture with his face -- Jones joined co-anchor Ginger Gadsden, who had been anchoring the morning show solo since last June, when her then co-anchor Mario Diaz left the industry to work for GOP presidential candidate John McCain.
Even as the economic downturn crumbles local TV budgets, area stations are finding resources for their morning newscasts. WTSP also features a new traffic reporter, Danielle Saar, hired from Colorado Springs, while rival WFTS-Ch. 28 hired a weather forecaster and traffic reporter let go by WTSP earlier this year and debuted new morning broadcasts on the weekends.
Given the historic low ratings earned locally by CBS's The Early Show, Jones and the WTSP crew will face a serious challenge, competing against a Todayshow-powered WFLA-Ch. 8, local powerhouse WTVT-Ch. 13 and cable news channel Bay News 9, which always performs best in mornings.
With all the turbulence in mornings, this might not have been the best time for WFLA to announce that longtime morning anchor Bill Ratliff was retiring, stepping down after rejecting an offer to work fewer hours at reduced pay once the station canceled its 11 a.m. midday newscast.
But the opening may create an opportunity for rival stations, which clearly are poised to make mornings a more competitive time slot than we've seen in a while.