By JERRY BARMASH
A fluid situation at WPIX is about to take a dramatic turn.
Tuned In has learned exclusively that Channel 11 is planning to add a co-anchor alongside Tamsen Fadal at 5 and 10 p.m. This appears to suggest that Fadal, the interim lead anchor since December, is not going anywhere.
We’re told that this is in the preliminary stages, with no timetable for the new anchor.
In a mandatory staff meeting last week, news director Mark Effron highlighted several programming changes at PIX.
A nighttime anchor team means it’s back to the future for Channel 11.
Effron is pushing PIX forward, while erasing every memory from the Bill Carey regime. Carey infamously dropped the two-anchor format of Jim Watkins and Kaity Tong for Jodi Applegate in October 2010.
Another element high on Effron’s priority list is increasing a sports presence at 10 p.m. Effron told staffers in the meeting that he’ll hire a sports reporter, which was another casualty of Carey’s time as news director.
Effron, who was in charge of MSNBC’s daytime schedule from 2002 to 2006, also discussed adding more entertainment stories to the newscasts.
Effron declined to comment.
While a WPIX spokesperson would not confirm details of these internal meetings, she did not deny the plans to Tuned In.
Ratings at Tribune’s New York home have been minuscule in mornings and evenings. The pivotal May Sweeps conclude next week, but PIX had a brief moment of chest pumping last year. When Greg Kelly was promoted to nightside on rival WNYW/Fox 5, the July 2012 Sweeps provided a rare morning victory for the PIX Morning News.
Nighttime has been a tough spot, thanks in part to the weak CW prime time lead-in. Instead of Carey’s attempt to reinvent the wheel, Effron is apparently trying to lure viewers based on news content and talent.
Effron, who was hired last month, also told employees that he may not promote anyone to replace longtime assistant news director John Houseman. Effron may instead opt to have someone oversee the news division. After being passed over as news director twice during his long run at the station, it was hardly a surprise when Houseman and WPIX parted ways earlier this month.
Despite producing positive vibes at the Friday meeting, many PIX staffers are still on edge about their futures.
“Understandably so, there is a lot of nervousness, tension, and apprehension as to who survives the era of Effron,” a source told Tuned In.
Effron almost immediately did away with the Carey “staple” of anchoring the 10 p.m. meandering through the newsroom and in front of a green screen. Another experimental element of the late newscast, the “Top 11” icons at the bottom of the screen has been phased out.