WGN unveils latest local programming initiative as station dumps first-run syndicated product
After the September 2021 launch of Daytime Chicago, Nexstar-owned WGN-TV is looking to duplicate its success by launching another lifestyle show, this time in the afternoons.
Beginning September 11, WGN is launching Spotlight Chicago, a new weekday show to air at 3 p.m. According to a rather vague press release, Spotlight Chicago “[spotlights] Chicago events, showcase area individuals and organizations making a difference in the community, and feature visits to local attractions.”
The new show is being hosted by WGN Morning News’ Sarah Jindra and Windy City Live veteran Ji Suk Yi.
“We are very excited to launch more local programming from Chicago’s Very Own. “Spotlight Chicago” reflects our ongoing commitment to serve our viewers and continue to tell stories of the good things going on in our community,” said Paul Rennie, WGN-TV VP/General Manager. “Sarah and Ji will be a fantastic duo. Both are seasoned veterans who know Chicagoland inside and out.”
Spotlight Chicago replaces Friends reruns in the 3-to-4 p.m. time slot. Friends was basically a stop-gap filler after the cancellation of the syndicated Daily Mail TV at the end of the 2021-22 season, a program that ran on WGN for five seasons.
The addition of another local hour of programming on WGN’s daytime schedule was expected; across the country, many local stations are reducing their reliance on costly syndicated product and producing more local shows instead, whether if its more news or lifestyle programming. It’s not immediately known what would fill the 1-2 p.m. slot being vacated by Rachael Ray, whose show ended production last spring after seventeen seasons. The 2-3 p.m. slot is currently occupied by reruns of MGM’s Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court. If WGN opts not to fill either hour with syndicated programming, it would mark the first time since 1984 that no first-run strip of any kind would be on the station’s fall schedule (outside of kids’ animated shows, religious fare like Faith 20, and the former INN News.)