In a long due overhaul, Fox-owned WFLD-TV has decided to revamp its low-rated Good Day Chicago morning news program with the announcement of two new anchors to take over the show – reporter Anna Davlantes and sports anchor Corey McPherrin, effective August 2. News of a possible anchor change first surfaced on July 14 in Robert Feder’s blog at Vocalo and was made official today by station officials.
Both Davalantes and McPherrin are currently on the station’s 9 p.m. newscasts. They will air the 7-to-10 a.m. portion of the morning show.
The duo replaces David Novarro (who’s headed back to New York, where he’ll join sister station WNYW-TV) and Jan Jeffcoat, who is being moved to noon to co-anchor the midday newscast with Patrick Elwood. During their tenure of Good Day Chicago, both Navarro and Jeffcoat were criticized for their lack of chemistry on the show.
Replacing McPherrin on the sports beat on the 9 p.m. newscast – which already saw Bob Sirott take over from Jeff Goldblatt as co-anchor earlier this week – is Jill Carlson.
Anchors shifting from sports to news have met with mixed results. While Bill Weir has had success going from a third-tier sports anchor at WGN to news anchor at KABC-TV in Los Angeles (and who just today was named co-anchor of Nightline), a similar shift Tim Weigel did in the early 1980’s with WLS-TV wasn’t as successful (he wound up returning to the sports beat.)
The move is the latest in changes at WFLD’s news operation in hopes of improving the station’s sagging news ratings, which are the weakest of the entire Fox O&O chain with viewers clearly preferring WGN-TV’s newscasts, whose numbers are the strongest of any CW affiliate in the nation in contrast.
In New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Houston, Fox-owned stations lead their Tribune counterparts by comfortable margins.
Currently, WFLD ranks fourth in morning news, only ahead of perennial basement-dweller CBS This Morning The Early Show. WGN meanwhile, often contends for number one in the time period with WLS and Good Morning America.
Thought: You wonder if all the changes the station has made over the past seven months in their news department – and there has been a lot of them – is going to make any difference. Right now, WFLD/WPWR GM Mike Renda and News Director Carol Fowler have their work cut out for them – it’s going to be no easy task to build up these ratings. And a weak syndicated programming lineup on WFLD (outside of The Simpsons, The Office, and Dr. Oz) doesn’t help matters much, either. Given all of these problems, WFLD has apparently passed on launching an early fringe newscast anytime soon.
With that said, shifting McPherrin and Dalvantes – who left NBC-owned WMAQ-TV last year – to mornings is a risk the station should take and would be a vast improvement over the bland Navarro and the vapid Jeffcoat. With Jeffocat being shifted to noon, a good guess is she might be out when her contract is up. Her next career move? Well, E! is always hiring….