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Alan Pergament: Orlins makes impressive debut as Ch. 4 morning co-anchor

"Wake Up!" co-anchor Jordan Williams and meteorologist Mike Cejka sure seemed happy Monday as new co-anchor Melanie Orlins made her debut on the WIVB-TV (Channel 4)  morning program.

It will take some time to see if Channel 4's viewers will be happy with the station's decision to have Orlins replace Brittni Smallwood, who temporarily held the position for 11 months and was part of the morning ratings surge of "Wake Up!" against WGRZ-TV's (Channel 2) first-place "Daybreak."

Channel 4 has to hope that Orlins will help maintain its morning momentum. Channel 2 already has reasons to be concerned with "Daybreak" co-anchor John Beard scheduled to exit at the end of the year.

The arrival of Orlins from a Harrisburg, Pa., station can add to Channel 2's anxiety because first impressions were very favorable.

She looks the part, she didn't display any nerves, engages well in happy talk and read well, with only a few stumbles. She certainly passed the test of pronouncing the names of several towns as she read the number of Southtowns communities asked to restrict water use.

Orlins does read a little too fast for my taste, but that seems to be a tendency of all new Channel 4 anchors and reporters. I'm also not a fan of her voice, but that also can be said of most new Channel 4 anchors and reporters.

Williams introduced Orlins at 6 a.m. as "a new face."

"So happy to be here and happy to be in Western New York," said Orlins.

Cejka observed that she arrived in Western New York at a better time of year than mid-January.

"That's when I moved here five years ago," said Williams.

"Me, too," said Cejka. "Won't tell you how many years ago." (I will. The answer is 34 years ago.)

It is hard to tell how many co-anchors Cejka has worked with during Channel 2's morning dominance. This is Williams' fourth co-anchor in five years. Orlins follows Smallwood, Teresa Weakley and Diana Fairbanks in the morning, a day part that values consistency.

During the opener, Cejka presented Orlins with a gag gift – a snow shovel.

"I'm actually keeping this," said Orlins. "I used to live in North Dakota so I am ready for the snow."

Viewers should be ready for Orlins' opinions. She seems to come from the Maryalice Demler School of Anchoring. She feels the need to make obvious comments on some stories, which I find annoying. I suspect some consultant has advised anchors to do it, especially morning anchors.

When Williams noted that former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli, who was convicted of securities fraud last week, had raised the cost of one life-saving pill from $13.50 to $750," Orlins appeared to say "wow" under her breath.

After a story about a mailman who delivered letters through floods, Orlins said "I love that." (Who wouldn't?)

After a story about a 9-year-old boy whose application for a job with NASA based on his knowledge of superhero movies was turned down softly with a note to stay in school and reach for the stars, Orlins said, "I kind of agree with them." (Who wouldn't?)

"I hope he's not too upset," replied Williams.

"Maybe they'll give him a job in the future," replied Orlins.

Near the end of the hour, Channel 4 ran a story about the attempt in Buffalo over the weekend to enter the Guinness Book of Records for the longest parade of paddle boats in the world.

Williams noted that it may take up to 12 weeks to find out if the record was broken.

It may take just about that long to see what impact Orlins will have on the morning news race.

But I certainly could see some Channel 4 viewers saying "wow" under their breath during her impressive debut.


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