WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) is preparing to go head-to-head with WIVB-TV (Channel 4) in the 4 p.m. news competition.
That bit of media news first came to light Monday when Channel 2 started running a crawl during the 4 p.m. program “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” that featured the charming Buffalo singing police officers Michael Norwood Jr. and Mo Badger.
The crawl noted that starting April 10, “Ellen” will be moving to 3 p.m. weekdays and the former 3 p.m. occupant, “Dr. Phil,” will move to 2 p.m. in place of “Dateline” reruns.
You didn’t have to be a member of law enforcement to figure out what was replacing “Ellen” at 4 p.m.
A check of Channel 2’s schedule on its website showed that a program called “Most Buffalo” will begin airing at 4 p.m. on April 10.
That doesn’t give it much time for promotion.
Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner declined to comment.
According to sources, the program may be a showcase for Kate Welshofer, who has had a variety of roles at Channel 2 since joining the station a little more than a year ago.
A St. Bonaventure University graduate, Welshofer came to Channel 2 after 10 years each in cable news in Rochester and Albany and having her own YouTube channel to showcase her humor.
Since joining Channel 2, Welshofer has been a substitute anchor in various time slots and has done comic feature material. Notably, she substituted for Maryalice Demler for a few weeks when Demler was in mourning over the sudden death of her boyfriend.
Welshofer is expected to be joined in “Most Buffalo” by weathercaster Maria Genero.
The program, which may debut online this week before airing on Channel 2, is expected to be more fun than the typical newscast because of Welshofer’s talents, according to sources.
The move away from “Ellen” does come with some risks. The daytime talk show has provided Channel 2 with a strong lead-in for its 5 p.m. news.
However, Channel 4's news at 4 p.m. anchored by Christy Kern is doing very well as that station’s lead-in.
During the recent February sweeps, Channel 4 won the time slot in households, 4.9-4.3. However, “Ellen” was a big winner in the key 18-49 and 25-54 demographics.
There are a couple of additional reasons for Channel 2 to go local at 4 p.m. "Ellen" often goes into repeats, which tend to have lower ratings. And hourlong local productions have much more commercial time for stations to sell than they are allowed to sell during syndicated programs like “Ellen.”