Reflecting a National Trend, Baltimore Stations Buoyed by Success of Morning Newscasts

By Andrew Gauthier 

Tony Pagnotti, Megan Gilliland, Patrice Harris and Candace Dold of WBFF (via)

Once an afterthought in the local news ratings race, morning programs are quickly becoming as important as evening newscasts to a station’s bottom line.

Perhaps nowhere is this shift more evident than in Baltimore, where weekday morning viewership in the 18-49 demo has grown 41 percent since 2001.  Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik takes a look at how the market’s growing appetite for morning news is changing the way local stations program:

Now, some local morning news shows are bringing in more money than the late newscasts–once the cash cows for stations. And whereas morning on-air teams were once thought of as the third string behind late and early evening anchor teams, morning hosts and anchors who prove they can attract an audience are among TV’s hottest properties.

As stations expand their news operations to meet a growing demand for morning news, a.m. anchors in Baltimore have gotten more and more colleagues.   Zurawik writes:

All the stations have amped up well beyond the old days of a morning show host and a producer or two. WBAL’s morning team includes Sandra Shaw and Tony Pann on weather, with Sarah Caldwell on traffic and Keith Mills on sports. WMAR’s crew includes Justin Birk on weather, while WBFF anchorwoman Harris is joined by Candace Dold (traffic and entertainment), Steve Fertig (weather), Joel D. Smith (reporter) and Megan Gilliland (reporter/anchor).