News Changes. Lynna Lai, formerly of WOIO (Channel 19)/WUAB (Channel 43), is going to WKYC (Channel 3). She will anchor weekend evening newscasts and report during the week. That fills part of the gap caused by the planned departure of current weekend anchor Eric Mansfield, who is joining Kent State University in June.
Chicago-born Lai has 18 years in TV news and, besides Cleveland, has worked in Tampa, Atlanta and other markets. She spent more than a decade at WOIO. Her contract was not renewed in January during a round of changes at the CBS affiliate that also included the hiring of former WKYC anchor Romona Robinson and the dropping of Sharon Reed.
Lai starts at WKYC on April 16.
Speaking of News … Where you may see stories highlighting the national ratings for this or that show, it’s always good to remember that television is also a local game, and the numbers may differ from one community to the next.
Consider, for instance, the morning-show wars, where the talk focuses on 7 to 9 a.m. weekdays, Today vs. Good Morning America, or how the latest revamp of CBS’ oft-changed morning telecast is doing.
So here are a couple of questions: According to Nielsen ratings, what is the most popular morning newscast in the Cleveland-Akron-Canton area? And, once you have figured that out, what’s the fourth most popular?
Got it? OK, the most popular morning show is not one of the network programs but the locally produced show on WJW (Channel 8). It is tops in viewers and among adults 25 to 54 years old, which is considered the prime audience for news shows.
Today on WKYC (Channel 3) is a distant second, including during the February sweeps (when networks try to boost their content to help local stations’ ratings surveys) and Good Morning America on WEWS (Channel 5) is third.
So you’re thinking that CBS This Morning on WOIO (Channel 19) is fourth, right?
Fox & Friends, the morning program on cable’s Fox News Channel (with former local anchor Gretchen Carlson among the stars), is consistently outdrawing CBS among local viewers, even after CBS’ morning changes, such as the addition of Charlie Rose and Gayle King. The Fox cable show has also outdone CBS in the 25-54 demo much of the time (although CBS outpointed Fox & Friends in the demo during February sweeps).
But What Does That Mean? For one thing, it means that FNC’s news presence is a force that goes beyond its cable competition (where it is well ahead of MSNBC, HLN and CNN in this morning slot) to threaten the broadcasters as well. And that’s one of many indications that we are long past the days when cable viewing was a lesser sibling to broadcast, just nibbling at the big networks’ audience.
It may not seem that way at times, when you see evening cable shows bragging about numbers that would kill a broadcast program. And there are still homes without cable or satellite dishes (and the antenna-loving crowd checks in with me pretty often). So even though cable shows are not even available to many viewers, those morning numbers show that plenty of viewers bypass the over-the-air offerings in favor of non-broadcast fare.
One More Note. Looking again at those February morning ratings, after WJW, WKYC and WEWS in the morning standings, you hit the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Fox News Channel, ESPN and ESPN2 before getting to WOIO. And, among all viewers at that time, WOIO is in a virtual tie with USA Network and TNT.
And that tells you, too, that viewers go to the programs that fit their wants and needs. They simply like the WJW team and presentation more than the network shows’, or Carlson et al. more than whatever CBS has this week.
Disney and Nickelodeon are clearly benefiting from homes with children — and from commercial broadcasters long-ago abandoning kids programs. ESPN and ESPN2 remind us that some early risers are hardcore sports fans. When I check out morning TV, I am more likely to hit ESPN than news. Of course, one reason is that, by the time I turn on the TV, I’ve already done an Internet stroll via my phone and laptop. But that’s a subject for another column.
Halle Notes. Usmagazine.com says the “giant emerald sparkler” sported by Cleveland’s Halle Berry is her engagement ring, courtesy of her actor beau Olivier Martinez. Martinez has said they’re engaged; Berry has not commented. Berry and Martinez have also been on view lately in Dark Tide, where their romance reportedly began; the film has been an on-demand offering and hit some theaters on Friday (though not a local one I can find). It will be on DVD and Blu-ray on April 24.
Also, Berry’s ex-husband, Eric Benet, got some prime time this week when he dropped by American Idol to praise contestant DeAndre Brackensick’s performance of Benet’s Sometimes I Cry.
Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and in the HeldenFiles Online blog at http://heldenfels.ohio.com. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. He can be reached at 330-996-3582 or firstname.lastname@example.org.