You can call Kaity Tong (left) a WPIX survivor. She weathered the storm when she was relegated to weekends five years ago.
Now the 23-year PIX veteran is ready to start anew. She’ll co-anchor a new 6:30 p.m. weeknight broadcast starting next month. Another familiar face to viewers, Brenda Blackmon, is coming on board to join Tong on the 30-minute newscast.
Blackmon spent 23 years at WWOR until Fox canceled its 10 p.m. broadcast in 2013, which she anchored for many years with Harry Martin.
“Brenda is one of the most recognizable and talented journalists in the market, and we are thrilled to pair New York news icons Brenda and Kaity at the anchor desk of PIX11’s newest newscast,” WPIX President/GM Rich Graziano said in a statement.
Tong has been a fan favorite during her time at PIX, especially since dealing with the station adversity. She responded to numerous congratulatory tweets. In one saying, “Cannot WAIT to sit beside Brenda.”
Tamsen Fadal and John Muller hold down the fort from 5-6:30 p.m., before returning after dinner break for the 10 p.m.
Channel 11 will have the only local option opposite the network’s big three newscasts.
We’re not sure what this means for the Craig Ferguson-hosted game show, Celebrity Name Game, currently occupying the 6:30 p.m. slot.
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook—take your pick. Social media platforms are here to stay. And, apparently, so is how the news personalities use it.
The millennials rule the world. You see people everywhere looking down at their smartphones while walking, or sadly even behind the wheel. You would think news organizations are above the fray.
We’ve seen a marriage in recent years between local news and social media. Reporters can promote a story with photos from a scene. Think of it as a director’s cut on a DVD or Blu-Ray, providing extra content for interested followers. The person in the field can even engage in an impromptu live chat before going on the air. It’s a win-win for the journalist, the audience, and of course, the station.
But too many times, it doesn’t work, and is actually being abused by the talent. Even when beneficial, how often are the reporters more concerned with getting that shot for their social media fans than working on the on-air package?
Then there are the anchors who have a different mindset. Several want to stay connected with their loyal base, to the point of writing about personal information. For example, a veteran morning anchor took to Twitter, posting a picture sitting in the ER in a leg cast; another gave a medical update or his injured eye.
“Is anything private?” questions a veteran broadcasting insider.
The ratings are improving at WPIX, but the internal strife is still present. Part of the problem, no one is officially steering the ship in the newsroom.
Tribune hadn’t named a successor to Mark Effron, who was bounced in October. But that is about to change. Amy Waldman (left), the station’s managing editor, who has primarily handled the day-to-day operations since Effron’s departure, will be the Channel 11 news director, Tuned In has learned.
VP/GM Rich Graziano addressed staffers in two separate meetings this week to announce the hire of new Senior VP of News, Bart Feder, a New York veteran, replacing Katherine Green.
Graziano was asked in the first meeting about the elephant in the room, the lack of a news director. He told the group that Vickie Burns is back in the building, but not in a managerial role. Graziano said Burns is a consultant, who will guide and mentor Waldman, who just needs some “tweaking.”
Burns ran newsrooms at WNBC and KNBC.
While not specifically addressing a promotion for Waldman, Graziano told employees that he’s stopped taking phone calls from people applying for the news director position.
To say it was a tumultuous tenure would be an understatement. Mark Effron has been shown the door at WPIX, Tuned In has learned. We’re told Effron exited the building on East 42nd Street for the final time Wednesday at 2 p.m. He was named news director of the Tribune O&O in April 2013.
Katherine Green, Tribune’s Senior VP of News, alerted staffers in-person about Effron’s departure. Although nothing official, Amy Waldman as the second in command becomes interim news director.
It was an internal struggle as rumors persisted that Effron’s days were dwindling. Ratings were not seeing much improvement, despite Channel 11 pumping its chest about the recent July sweeps period. The station has picked up some viewers at 5 p.m., but hardly able to make a made a dent in the morning news wars or at 10 p.m. against WNYW/Channel 5.
There’s a respite from the turmoil at WPIX. In the all-important July sweeps period, WPIX claims victory in the crowded 5 p.m. race against rival WNYW/Channel 5 and WNBC. Tuned In would get spin from the other stations, but PIX typically is the only station to put such emphasis on the summertime, a time when viewership is drastically altered by vacations.
Regardless. when your management is getting scrutinized on a regular basis, any positive blip in the ratings is solid enough.
Just as John Muller returns to Channel 11, the early evening newscast he co-anchors with Tamsen Fadal makes another strong showing. WPIX is also proud of beating Fox 5 News at 5, anchored by Steve Lacy and Dari Alexander, in several key demos. They say it’s the first time outperforming the Fox O&O in three years, Adults 25-54, Women 25-54, and Adults 18-49. It also ended a three-year drought for WPIX against the folks at 30 Rock in the key demo: Adults 25-54.
The only thing worse than declaring an off-season victory is comparing results from last summer. However, the PIX Morning News was up 20 percent from last July in the Adults 25-54 groups. Summer or not, this marks the seventh consecutive sweep win for Channel 11 opposite CBS This Morning.
And in case you’re wondering, the PIX News at 10 made a 33 percent leap compared to July 2013. That stat is somewhat misleading since the station was still using one anchor. Scott Stanford didn’t join Fadal until September.
The next big question for WPIX is how will they fare in the November sweeps?
It’s a brand new start on East 42nd Street. We’ve seen the promos ushering home John Muller as Tamsen Fadal’s new partner tonight. Now the folks at Tribune have taken the re-do to another odd level.
The station had a contest where viewers could win an opening night seat in the studio when Muller and Fadal begin at 5 p.m. But the evening doesn’t end there! Following the early newscast, one lucky fan (said in game show announcer voice) will join the new duo for dinner. It’s a good bet the station is assured of solidifying at least one more regular viewer. To quote Greg Mocker, PIX is on the “trail of something different,” although that’s not necessarily something to be applauded.
“There are no adults watching the kids run around at Chuck E. Cheese,” one veteran broadcaster jokes. Continue reading →
We barely had time to take a deep breath since the night time changes at PIX, bouncing Scott Stanford to sports and rolling out the red carpet for John Muller (more in a moment), when another salvo struck.
The PIX (early) Morning News was upended today, right before our eyes. Marysol Castro, who rejoined Channel 11 in September, anchored for the final time today. Tuned In confirmed it from multiple sources and she alluded to her dismissal in the closing seconds with on-air partner Dan Mannarino.
“Hey dude, it was nice knowing you,” Castro told Mannarino.
“It was fun,” he replied.
As for Mannarino, his status is a bit muddy. He’s been part of numerous rumors for months. But we’ve learned on good authority that Mannarino is taking some time off to decide on his future. Another definite, if Mannarino returns it won’t be behind the anchor desk.
The latest drama at WPIX is a doozy. In fact, it’s a rumor that’s been gathering steam. Now it’s official.
Scott Stanford is losing his co-anchor role with Tamsen Fadal. The station is bringing back John Muller, the former morning anchor, to team with Fadal at 5 and 10 p.m.
Muller was an original member of the PIX Morning News when it launched in 2000.
In a note sent to staffers tonight and obtained by Tuned In, news director Mark Effron says Stanford, who joined Channel 11 in September, will be the station’s lead sports anchor and host the weekly Sports Desk on Friday nights.
Effron told staffers that PIX will be increasing in-depth analysis and team coverage of sports in the newscasts.
Although Stanford wasn’t the first sportscaster to make the move to news anchoring, oddly he covered both within the same broadcast.
Stanford has several years of sports experience on WNBC and WWOR.
Muller’s second stint at WPIX follows his tenure at ABC as anchor on World News Now and America This Morning. He also was a fill-in news reader on Good Morning America.