New Owner and New Staff Boost Boston Station to Ratings Win

By Kevin Eck 

The new owners of Boston FOX affiliate WFXT are seeing a return on their investment, just a few months after going on a hiring spree.

The Boston Herald reports, Cox Media Group brought on 17 new employees including anchors, producers and photographers since taking over from former owner FOX Television Stations and viewers are starting to notice.

With the epic snow drawing more people to TV news, Fox 25 grabbed the top spot at 11 p.m. Monday to Friday among the money-making demographic of 25-to-54 year-olds for the first time during a major sweeps month.


Fox 25’s 11 p.m. news averaged 47,136 viewers in the coveted demo. WCVB-TV (Ch.5) was second with 43,761, followed by 
WHDH-TV (Ch.7) with 38,296 and WBZ-TV (Ch.4) with 28,819. Fox 25 crushed its competitors at 10 p.m. with 67,889 viewers.

“It has just been an investment in our news operation, in our team and in our news-gathering resources, to help put a better product on the air,” said Fox 25 news director Lee Rosenthal.

“The biggest difference is we’re collecting and delivering way more content than was previously done.”

Under the old regime, the newscasts were riddled with lengthy on-air interviews instead of straight news coverage, but that’s no more. “With the number of reporters and photographers that were here,” Rosenthal said, “there was only so much news-gathering that could be done.”

The Herald says the biggest changes can be seen in the mornings.

The station’s morning newscasts have seen a boost in ratings from last February. During the most recent sweeps, the station’s 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. newscasts fetched 50,739 viewers in the 25-to-54-year-old demo, beating out the network morning shows on Channels 4, 5 and 7. That’s the best show of ratings that time slot has seen since 2009, Rosenthal said.

There are also two anchor teams manning the morning show instead of one.

Sorboni Banerjee and newcomer Daniel Miller are at the anchor desk from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. before hitting the ground running as reporters.

Viewer favorite Sara Underwood is back at the anchor desk from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. alongside Gene Lavanchy. The morning show now has three news reporters instead of one or five, if you include Banerjee and Miller.

A full-time traffic reporter, Julie Grauert, was also brought on board. Mark Ockerbloom and Maria Stephanos continue to hold down the anchor desk at 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.

The station has also invested in a new on-air traffic system and bought new cameras and computers.

Rosenthal said his reporters are trying to hunt down exclusive stories and the station is trying to set itself apart. After fielding complaints from viewers about their snow-covered streets, the station teamed up with a local business and rolled out the Fox 25 plow to dig them out.