WCBS Unveils Plans for WLNY with New Morning and Primetime Newscasts

With the CBS takeover of WLNY history, Channel 2 is ready to unveil its news plans for that station.

Viewers will see WCBS double its resources with an expanded news presence on WLNY. The old version of 10/55 only aired a 30-minute 11 p.m. newscast.

With a target date of late June or early July, WLNY will add a two-hour morning block from 7 to 9.

“It’s going to be a unique blend,” David Friend, WCBS news director, says. “I think viewers are going to be pleasantly surprised as to what this show is going to be like. It’s going to be different than what already is on television news at that time locally.”

Therefore, WLNY’s main morning competition is WNYW and WPIX.

WCBS general manager Peter Dunn says the ‘LNY morning show will be “totally different” from the WCBS’ 2 1/2 hour early hours broadcast. Anchors and contributors have yet to be announced.

“We have some great assets with the people here, so we’re going to ulitize some of them on ‘LNY,” Dunn says. “We’re going to hire some people from the outside as well.”

However, WCBS management has named its lineup for a new ‘LNY prime time newscast from 9 to 10 p.m. Chris Wragge and Dana Tyler, along with WLNY holdover Richard Rose based on Long Island. Weathercaster Lonnie Quinn and sports anchor Otis Livingston round out the team.

Dunn tells FishbowlNY this is part of a three-pronged effort, starting with all WLNY programming now broadcast in HD.

“We’ll do a launch probably in September with all of our assets promoting the station,” Dunn says. “…making sure that people know that there’s a new WLNY in town.”

All of the ‘LNY newscasts will originate from the Broadcast Center on West 57th Street. At the start, those live broadcasts will be produced at the WCBS studios that debuted last year, but WCBS is in the process of building a new WLNY studio.

Rose, the veteran WLNY anchor reports from a revamped, HD quality studio at the same Melville facilities. He’ll also host an updated version of his Sunday morning public affairs show.

“We’ll be the only TV station in our area with a full-time studio on Long Island,” Friend says.

Former Rose co-anchor Audrey Hampton, weather anchor David Weiss, and sportscaster Kurt Semder will not be remaining with the station. But WLNY reporters, who were mostly freelance, may get another shot.

“We haven’t made any final decisions yet,” Friend says. “We still have some openings to fill, but we’ll look at everyone.”

The WLNY purchase enhances WCBS’ standing on Long Island. Award winning broadcast journalist Jennifer McLogan maintains her longtime beat in Nassau and Suffolk. In addition, Carolyn Gusoff, a native of Woodmere, and former WNBC and WNYW reporter, joins McLogan at the new Channel 2 Long Island Bureau in Melville, which also will house reporters from sister station WCBS 880.

“They’re already breaking more stories on Long Island than any of the competition,” Friend says. “They are going to continue to do that, and now they have the supplemental help from Richard [Rose], who has 15 years at WLNY. It’s just going to augment our coverage even further.”

CBS is no stranger to duopolies, owning a pair of TV stations in a majority of the Top 10 markets. As with any duopoly, (Fox with WNYW and WWOR), watch for plenty of refiled reports between the two stations. Anchors Wragge and Tyler continue with their 6 p.m. duties.

“It’s one big newsroom,” Friend tells FishbowlNY. “All the resources that we have at CBS 2 can, and will be used for WLNY. So think about how much more and better coverage we’re going to have because of that.”

“It works out well from an operational stand point,” Dunn says.

It also means live reporting is now possible with WCBS capabilities. WLNY never had a live satellite truck.

“All the news gathering ended around 4 o’clock because they had to bring it all back to Melville and edit [it],” Friend says. “The resources at CBS 2 are going to really enhance the coverage of Long Island and the tri-state area.”

And it’s even more important to enhance coverage when there is breaking news. With WCBS and its network commitments, having WLNY gives viewers another news platform.

“When a big story breaks, we’ll cover the story but we’re confined as to how long we can stay with it,” Friend says. “But now with an independent station, the ability to bring that news live to the tri-state area is limitless.”

The duopoly will also prompt dual branding, with WCBS rolling out vans showcasing both station logos and using double mic flags.

The acquisition leads to another move by WCBS. The station has named Betty Ellen Berlamino as VP and station manager. After 17 years at WPIX, including a decade as GM, Berlamino joined CBS in June as SVP, director of sales.

“It’s a unique opportunity. L.A.’s a seven station market. New York has had six, and now we’re adding a seventh station to the market,” Berlamino says. “You just don’t get any opportunities ever to do this, and especially do it in a market like New York.”

Beyond the news programming, WLNY has long been a station for syndicated fare. Dunn says, other than a tweak, for example Entertainment Tonight taking over the former news slot at 11 p.m., no major changes will be seen until September when the contracts end. One reason the WCBS brain trust moved its WLNY evening newscast to 9 p.m. was not to compete with itself at 11 p.m. Another was not to interfere with the station’s signature program–to this point–Judge Judy.

“I think we can be very competitive with WPIX and WWOR right from the start,” Dunn projects. “I think the sky’s the limit because now we can actually start bidding for some really big franchises, whether it’s sports or some specials… Three hours of news, I can just imagine is just the beginning. I think that we’ll probably continue to add.”