HLN is headed for some major changes. The network has canceled its 12 p.m. show Raising America and its 5 p.m. show Evening Express (anchored by Kyra Philips and Ryan Smith, respectively) and will lay off a number of its staff, though the laid-off workers will be able to apply for a smaller number of new positions—a tune that may sound familiar to those who've worked in news production.
Spike TV founder Albie Hecht was tapped by CNN president Jeff Zucker to run the network starting Sept. 30. Hecht announced the reorg to staff and promised new roles for Philips and Smith. Raising America last week averaged 156,000 total viewers, while Evening Express averaged 207,000.
Hecht will replace the network's 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. hours with a block called News Now, anchored by Mike Galanos, Susan Hendricks, Christi Paul and Lynn Berry. They'll also strip hidden camera show What Would You Do? in Evening Express's old 5 p.m. slot and move entertainment newsmagazine to 6 p.m.
Jane Velez-Mitchell, Nancy Grace, Dr. Drew and HLN After Dark will stay in their respective hour-long spots between 7 and 11 p.m., and Showbiz Tonight will get an 11 p.m. rerun. "A handful of our family members will be impacted by today’s news," Hecht said in a memo to staff. "I know that I speak for all of us when I offer a heartfelt thank you and my sincere appreciation for their commitment."
The memo promised more changes to come, with Hecht saying that the reorg was just the beginning of a larger plan for the network's future. "[T]hese changes serve as a principal step as we continue to re-position the brand," he told staff. "We have a real opportunity to grow the HLN brand; let's get started."
The new programming lineup will take effect starting Nov. 18.