WGN-TV expands morning news to 4 a.m.

If you thought the 4:30 a.m. news craze was something… wait ’til you hear about the next one in the works – the 4 a.m. news craze.

Tribune’s WGN-TV announced today it is launching a new 4 a.m. newscast beginning on July 11th, becoming the first station in the Chicago market to expand into the half-hour. The move comes as more and more viewers are waking up earlier to start their commutes (or so they say.) But what’s driving this early morning news expansion is advertiser demand – many are willing to pay a premium to reach viewers heading out the door in the morning.

Erin McElroy (formerly Mendez) and Paul Konrad will anchor the newscast from 4 a.m. to 5:30 a.m., with Larry Potash and Robin Baumgartnen taking over for McElroy at 5:30 when she shifts over to the traffic beat.

With the expansion, WGN now has five hours of news in the morning from 4 to 9 a.m – more than any other Chicago station, and nine hours of news a day – roughly over a third of its daily schedule.

WGN usually leads the market with its morning newscasts, ahead of Good Morning America and Today and decisively beats WFLD’s competing newscasts.

With WGN shifting to a 4 a.m.start for its news, look for others to do the same: WMAQ-TV became the first to offer a 4:30 a.m. newscast in 2007 and the rest of Chicago’s stations eventually followed.

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