Breaking news: Spectrum News Buffalo is about to focus more on personality.
Until now, the 24-hour-a-day cable news channel hasn’t played the local TV news game of emphasizing the personalities of its news staffers.
After all, it is pretty hard for a newsman or newswoman to showcase his or her personality by solo anchoring on a newscast that is recorded and played on a wheel that can be updated when important news occurs.
But starting at 7 a.m. Monday, Spectrum is premiering a two-hour live weekday morning program, “Your Morning Buffalo,” co-anchored by Scott Patterson and John Borsa.
Meteorologist Dan Russell, reporters Mike Arena, Maura Christie and Breanna Fuss, and traffic reporter Barry Vee will be part of the live program. Christie works two mornings, Fuss three mornings and Arena is on five days a week.
Having two reporters out in the community is one more than the station has had in the morning.
“It is part of our new strategy,” said Spectrum News Director Kelly Holland. “We know we need to be relatable. And that’s going to allow us to do that. We are going to be out in the community. Our talent is really going to be able to show their personality. The format has maybe not allowed that to come across.”
A morning team of two male anchors is unusual these days.
“It is our morning team right now, that’s where we are comfortable going,” said Holland. “I think they have a great connection, They really work well together. They’ve been on each other’s day-parts overlapping for a while. And we are comfortable going that way. I always joke around when I wake up in the morning and see all of those beautiful anchors on TV, it takes me a couple of hours to get up and look like that.”
A Grand Island native and 2005 St. Bonaventure University graduate, Holland has been at Spectrum for almost nine years and previously worked on the WIVB-TV’s morning program “Wake Up!”
Holland joined Spectrum when it was known as YNN as an executive producer, was an assistant news director for four years and was promoted to news director in February. She has been in the newsroom longer than anyone on staff.
“Growing up in the market, one of the reasons I went into this business is you start to connect with who you are watching on television,” said Holland. “And we need to do that as well. By breaking that wheel format, we are going to be able to do that more.”
Of course, the morning program will feature the news headlines of the day, features, weather and traffic. The plan is to concentrate on local news even more than the three network affiliates with morning programs have done.
“We also are going to touch on the positive stories for people to start their day, community-focused,” said Holland.
All the local affiliates air morning shows from 4:30 to 7 a.m. "Your Morning Buffalo" will compete locally with the WNLO-TV (CW 23) version of Channel 4's "Wake Up," which airs from 7 to 9 a.m.
Besides the WNLO morning program, "Your Morning Buffalo" will be competing with the national morning shows – NBC’s “Today,” ABC’s “Good Morning America” and “CBS This Morning” – in addition to the national cable news programs.
That’s another reason why Spectrum plans to concentrate on local news even more than the three network affiliates.
“While there is the hard news of the day you need to cover, we are looking for the stories – you know at that time is a predominately female audience – stories that they can connect to, relate to,” said Holland.
Holland wants viewers to become more engaged with the channel, adding “at the same time it is important for people to see what we can do. This is an opportunity to showcase what we’ve been doing for a while in this new format. With this format change, we’re going to draw people in and they are going to see we are doing what 2, 4 and 7 are doing and we are doing it just as well.”
Spectrum has already premiered morning programs in other parts of the state it serves, including New York City, Albany and Rochester.
If things go well here, Holland expects there will be more live newscasts, as there have been in other markets.
Of course, Spectrum is introducing the morning program at the same time its future is in question in the state.
The New York State Public Service Commission recently agreed to give Spectrum more time to continue negotiations to avoid removing the cable TV company from the State of New York.
In late July, PSC revoked its approval of a merger between Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable for failing to expand high-speed internet at the proper pace.
“It is business as usual for us,” said Holland. “We’re operating like that every day. There is no other thinking in the newsroom or within the company.”