WPIX Pulling the Plug on the 6:30 News

blackmon300It was an experiment that never took off. The anchors didn’t gel and the ratings plummeted from its start in early January.

Now, Tuned In has learned, Channel 11 is turning its back on the 6:30 p.m. broadcast within the next few weeks. Interim GM Greg Easterly made the announcement to staffers.

The future of Kaity Tong and Brenda Blackmon (left) is uncertain, although sources say Blackmon is done at PIX. It’s believed the former WWOR anchor has a one-year contract. She was respected within the newsroom but the cancellation didn’t surprise many at the station.

Tong, a WPIX lifer, may return to the weekend anchor slot.

“How do you compete against network news? They could have cancelled it after two months,” a PIX insider says.

While there was no mention of layoffs, the fate of 6:30 p.m. Executive Producer and former meteorologist Chris Knowles is up in the air.

“Every newscast, talent and manager are being looked at,” a source tells Tuned In. “Hard to see how others survive when ratings aren’t there for any show.”

But with PIX unable to build an audience in any daypart, the leash on News director Amy Waldman might get even shorter.

“Amy’s management team has to go,” an insider says. “They have no clue.”

Although this 6:30 decision still has the fingerprint of former GM Rich Graziano on it, his replacement is ready to move forward.

“Waldman has surrounded herself with incompetent managers. Good to see Easterly is recognizing that changes are needed and welcomed,” the source says.

Kaitlin Monte Leaves WPIX for Reporting in Houston

WPIX160629090038Morning traffic anchor Kaitlin Monte is embarking on a new start to her burgeoning broadcasting career. After two years at WPIX she exited for the Fox station in Houston, where she’ll be a general assignment reporter.

Monte, who returned from her honeymoon last week to say goodbye to WPIX, tells Tuned In that she wants to spread her wings.

“I was always concerned that I’d be pegged as a traffic babe.” But Monte says that job is not trivial. “For fear of anyone accusing me of just showing up and reading maps in a pretty dress, it was very important to me that I got other opportunities to do more than that.”

So instead, she’s padding her resume in the Lone Star state.

“My new role is going to give me a lot of different types of experience,” Monte says. “A big goal for me was, before I turn 30, getting as much as experience within the industry as possible…also cutting my teeth. A big element of this was getting a chance to leave New York City.”

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Graziano Out, Easterly in at WPIX; Is Waldman Next?

richgrazianowpixAnother victim in the WPIX carousel. President and GM Rich Graziano is out. As the newscasts have struggled to find viewers, especially on the new 6:30 p.m. broadcast, Graziano becomes the latest member of Tribune management to face the fire. Tribune says in a statement that Graziano “decided to leave,” although multiple sources confirm that he was fired. Staffers saw him carrying boxes out of the office at 3 a.m. Tuesday.

Graziano takes the high road in his departure letter, as he ends a 17-year association with the media company.

“Here in NY we have accomplished much at WPIX. I’m very proud of and thankful for the leadership team and all of the staff that is so dedicated and passionate about PIX 11.”

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WPIX Expanding News Programming to Weekend Mornings

kori-chambersChannel 11 is ready to expand its morning news coverage to seven days. Tuned In has learned WPIX will start a Sunday broadcast from 7-9 a.m. in June. The station will add Saturdays to the mix in September. No word on who will anchor the shows.

Despite the extra pre-dawn news, WPIX is seeing little to no viewers during the week as the May sweeps get underway.

Mornings got an overhaul last month when Kori Chambers was sent packing to weekend nights, while Scott Stanford gave up his sports desk for the second time, now to become Sukanya Krishnan‘s co-anchor.

Since the changes, Tuned In has received multiple comments from readers putting the blame on one person–Krishnan, who has had at least four on-air partners since arriving in 2000.

A sampling of the responses:

L. Fields writes, “After watching Sukanya’s on-air coolness toward Kori during boardcasts, I get the impression that Kori never got a fair chance. There’s a distinct difference in her demeanor and [the] interaction now that Stanford is in the seat.” 

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Big Changes at WPIX; Chambers to Weekends, Stanford Back to News

Scott_StanfordIt’s time to play musical “anchor” chairs. WPIX is making major moves to its weekday morning show and weekend news programming starting Monday.

First off, Kori Chambers has been demoted to weekend nighttime anchor. The rumbles about his dismissal due to lack of chemistry with Sukanya Krishnan have been almost immediate since his arrival in 2013.

Its another news turn for longtime sports anchor Scott Stanford (left), who replaces Chambers. Stanford, whose teaming with Tamsen Fadal didn’t spark enough interest, has been an occasional fill-in opposite Krishnan, since the failed experiment.

Krishnan is the one constant in the ever-changing PIX morning landscape. In fact, by last count, that’s at least four partners she’s worked with on the sunrise newscast since joining the station in 2000.

kori-chambersWith Chambers (right) flying solo on the weekend, that means Kala Rama and Craig Treadway are being shuffled too. The team just started in January, and are now headed to a revamped 5 a.m. PIX Morning News lead-in. 

Rama, whose husband is WPIX morning reporter Anthony DiLorenzo, joined PIX this year from Channel 7, but Treadway is another PIX lifer, headed back to his morning roots.

Andy Adler takes the weeknight sports duties.

“It’s just another shift of chairs on the Titanic,” says a PIX insider. “The next move is obviously a change in management.”

Of course, Channel 11 has their own spin room in place.

Tuned In obtained the email News Director Amy Waldman sent to staff Wednesday.

“To maximize the talents of our news team, we are making some exciting changes in the news department.”

Waldman wrote that Chambers will handle political coverage during the weeknight newscasts. He’ll also work on special consumer reports.

Despite Waldman saying she’s excited about plans for the upcoming book, ratings have been regularly tanking across all dayparts.

Additionally, Dan Mannarino writes on his Facebook page that he’s switching from morning drive to night side reporting.

Shakeup Could Be in the Works at WPIX

AmyThe noose is tightening for management at WPIX. It’s only three months since the Tribune flagship added a 6:30 evening newscast. But it’s not too soon to realize it’s a disaster. The ratings for the Kaity Tong/Brenda Blackmon 30-minute broadcast, aside from the first week curiosity, are in the tank. Channel 11 performed better with Craig Ferguson‘s poorly received Celebrity Name Game in syndication, previously holding down the slot.

Multiple sources confirm to Tuned In that executives are upset with the PIX direction led by news director Amy Waldman (above) and GM Rich Graziano, who promoted her once Mark Effron was shown the door.

“Graziano was honest about why he greenlighted Waldman- her market knowledge” an insider admits. “But knowing how many live trucks your competition has does not make a news director. Now Graziano is tied to dismal ratings, low morale, and an unimpressive news director.”

Insiders say that Waldman, who took on the high profile positiion last April, will not survive beyond the May sweeps. But Graziano’s days could be numbered as well for orchestrating the creation of the 6:30 p.m. newscast.

Another indication that he may be on the hot seat, Tuned In has learned that Bart Feder, Tribune’s SVP of News will lead the search for Waldman’s replacement–not Graziano.

All of the backdoor maneuvering comes as Tribune is reportedly up for sale. What that could mean for WPIX remains a mystery.

Update from Feder:
“I am absolutely not engaged in a search for a new news director at WPIX, nor is anyone else. Amy Waldman is our news director. Period.” 

Emmy Night: Wragge, Fadal Among the Big Winners

B9lXa8FIYAAYH1T (1)Red carpet ready, the best local TV personalities are honored at 59th Annual New York Emmys.

WCBS takes home the trophy for top morning and noon broadcasts with Chris Wragge and Mary Calvi at the helm. Channel 2 traffic reporter Alex Denis wins in the first ever traffic/transportation category. Also at “the deuce,” Jessica Schneider is victorious in the Continuing Coverage category, her first individual Emmy award.

Winner of Best Evening Newscast is WXTV/Univision 41.

For the second time, WPIX’s Tamsen Fadal is named the Best Anchor. Her station also picks up the prize for breaking news.

WABC’s Rob Powers gets the trophy as top sports anchor, while Ian Eagle earns another Emmy for his Nets play-by-play work on the YES Network. SNY’s Keith Hernandez adds another piece of hardware to the mantel.

MSG Network tops all outlets with 14 winners. WNBC leads the over the air stations with 13.

Diane Macedo Likely Moving Crosstown to WNBC Anchor Desk

macedoDiane Macedo, weekend WCBS/Channel 2 morning anchor and reporter, has left the station. Multiple sources tell Tuned In that Macedo is headed to WNBC to co-anchor the new 4 p.m. newscast debuting in May.

Channel 4 previously announced that Stefan Holt, son of NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, was hired as co-anchor on the late afternoon broadcast.

Macedo took to Twitter announcing her farewell last weekend and teasing her next opportunity with, “can’t say yet. Soon!”

A WNBC spokesperson says they don’t comment on rumors, but wouldn’t deny it either.

Macedo, 34, joined WCBS two years ago, primarily working with Andrea Grymes on the early Saturday and Sunday broadcasts. She was a frequent fill-in in the evening when Cindy Hsu was out for a few months last year.

UPDATE: Macedo is joining ABC News as anchor of the overnight broadcast World News Now and America This Morning.

Photo:Twitter @dianermacedo

WNBC Shakeup: Shiba Russell Out; Brynn Gingras CNN-Bound

ShibaRussell_WNBCShiba Russell is gone from WNBC. The anchor’s days were numbered at Channel 4 since Sibila Vargas came on board from Los Angeles in October 2013, supplanting Russell as night time co-anchor with Chuck Scarborough.

Tuned In speculated even before Vargas put her Channel 4 mic clip on for the first time with the headline, “Is Shiba Russell on the Way Out at WNBC?

Russell’s five-year tenure at 30 Rock started with such a promising note, perhaps too promising. Most believe was hired from the ABC affiliate in Boston with the ultimate goal of replacing legend Sue Simmons.

Her star immediately soared. Shortly after starting out on the weekend anchor desk, Russell was promoted to weekdays, putting her in the perfect “wait in wings” position.

Simmons was pushed out in 2012, and there was her heir apparent to pick up the pieces.

However, the chemistry never worked between Scarborough and Russell. The pairing would not come anywhere close to the 32 years of Chuck and Sue’s famous “marriage.” In fact by early 2014, Vargas, who already sat with Scarborough for the 6 p.m. newscast, replaced Russell on the 11 p.m.

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WNBC to Air 4 p.m. News Starting in May

WNBC new logoDecades ago, WNBC set local news on fire when NewsCenter4 was born, ushering in New York’s first two-hour newscast. This time they are the follower, not the leader. Channel 4 will start its early evening newscast at 4.

The move is coming to four markets in May.

That means Ellen DeGeneres‘ Show gets pushed to 3 p.m. while The Steve Harvey Show moves back to 2.

There is no word on any anchor pairings for the one-hour WNBC broadcast.

Market leader Channel 7 has been the only 4 p.m. local newscast since Oprah Winfrey’s 2011 departure.

For now, WNBC does 30-minute “segments” from 5-6:30 p.m. with Chuck Scarborough and Sibila Vargas as bookends to David Ushery and Shiba Russell, anchoring at 5:30.