For starters, the station’s Saturday morning newscasts are now three hours long from 7 to 10 a.m. with Sean Lewis and Tonya Francisco. WGN is also expanding its Saturday and Sunday newscasts a half-hour to 10:30 p.m., anchored by Jackie Bange and Tahmann Bradley.
In addition, WGN is joining the weekly political round-up game with the rather generic name WGN-TV Political Report featuring political analyst Paul Lisnek and Bradley, airing Sunday mornings at 9 a.m.
With the news and political programming expansion means several existing programs are being shuffled around the schedule. Local programs Backstory With Larry Potash and Chicago’s Best are being moved to 10:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, respectively.
The moves comes as the FCC modified their E/I rules last year, enabling local stations to be more flexible with scheduling kids’ educational programming – in this case, both WLS-TV and WGN-TV have reduced their weekly E/I programming on their main channels to two hours a week with similar programming on their digital subchannels taking up the slack to meet the three-hour requirements.
The expansion also comes in an election year, where local stations are accommodating political advertisers who prefer news and information programming to target voters.