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Channel 4's new 'Wake Up!' anchor will try to sustain momentum

Channel 4's new 'Wake Up!' anchor will try to sustain momentum

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After almost a year since Teresa Weakley left WIVB-TV, the CBS affiliate has announced her permanent replacement on the morning newscast "Wake Up!"

Melanie Orlins, who most recently anchored the morning news at a Fox affiliate in Harrisburg, Pa., will join the station July 27 and become Jordan Williams' co-anchor on the morning newscast sometime after that. She will also anchor the noon newscast. Orlins and her husband have already purchased a home here.

Weakley left in September of 2016 to work at a station in Grand Rapids, Mich., and has been temporarily replaced by Brittni Smallwood since then.

The delay in naming a full-time co-anchor was partly the result of a change in Channel 4 ownership and the hiring of a new vice president and general manager, Dominic Mancuso.

During the almost 11 months since Weakley exited, Williams and Smallwood have made significant ratings gains on first-place WGRZ-TV (Channel 2), which makes one wonder why it would change a good thing a few months before "Daybreak" co-anchor John Beard exits.

In the recent May sweeps, Channel 2's "Daybreak" defeated Channel 4's "Wake Up!" in households by .05 of a rating point at 6 a.m. A year ago, Channel 2 won the time period by more than a full rating point. Channel 4 also significantly lowered Channel 2's advantage in the age 25-54 demo from a year ago.

Smallwood, who was married a few years ago and is expecting her first child, will resume her role as the anchor of the 8 a.m. hour of "Wake Up!" on WNLO-TV, Channel 4's sister station. She made some Buffalo TV history a few year ago as the 8 a.m. anchor of "Wake Up!" by becoming the first African-American to regularly anchor a weekday news program in Buffalo in about two decades.

Brittni Smallwood hasn’t been at channel 4 long, but she already has made history

Of course, she would have made more and bigger history if Channel 4 had named her the full-time replacement for Weakley. Smallwood could not be reached for comment. If she wanted the job, she deserved it. And that isn't only because of the station's morning rating gains; Smallwood has the voice, the personality and the skills for the job.

Channel 4 News Director Lisa Polster confirmed this morning that Smallwood applied for the job by doing it. Asked why she didn't get it, Polster said: "Brittni is a great journalist, she will still be part of the team. We love her. Melanie also is a great journalist and has experience growing a morning show in a bigger market. She is active in the community and on social media. We're adding another solid journalist."

Orlins, a Virginia native who graduated from Florida State University, will try to keep Channel 4's morning momentum going, though generally morning changes can disrupt viewing patterns.

“We are excited to welcome Melanie to our team,” Mancuso said in a release. "Her high energy and enthusiasm is infectious. We’re certain she’ll enjoy telling our community’s stories and she’ll be a great advocate for the people of Western New York.”

In the same release, Polster added: “Melanie played an important role in building a successful and growing morning show. We know she’ll make a great fit for our 'Wake Up!' team while adding experienced journalism to our overall news team.”

Besides working in Harrisburg – the same market where Channel 4 sports director Josh Reed worked before coming here – Orlins was an anchor and reporter in Washington, D.C.; Florida; and North Dakota.

The Channel 4 release noting that she is a running enthusiast and active in the American Heart Association, the Salvation Army and the SPCA.


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