When Maria Stephanos Left WFXT, Did She Take Viewers With Her?

By Kevin Eck 

When WFXT anchor Maria Stephanos said goodbye to viewers on the station’s 10 p.m. newscast Friday night, WFXT held the top spot in that timeslot. Just two days into her absence, The Boston Herald says, the Boston Fox affiliate was feeling it.

On Monday, Channel 7’s news on WLVI fetched a 1.1 rating among 25- to 54-year-olds, the money-making demographic coveted by advertisers. Fox 25 followed with a 0.9, and WBZ-TV Channel 4’s newscast on WSBK-TV (Ch. 38) trailed with a 0.1 rating.

On Tuesday, WLVI won with a 1.0, followed by Fox 25 with a 0.9, and WSBK with a 0.6 rating.


“Ratings are measured in monthly periods for a reason,” said WFXT gm Tom Raponi. “To just take ratings from a day or two does not give an accurate picture.”

“People build loyalty to anchors,” said Boston University journalism professor 
Susan Walker. “You lose a major anchor, a familiar face, and you’re going to see a blip.”

During the July sweeps, one of the top four ratings periods of the year, Fox 25’s 10 p.m. news pummeled the competition with a 1.8 rating among 25- to 54-year-olds. WLVI had a 0.4 and WSBK had a 0.3.

To be fair, on Monday last week — before Stephanos left — the 10 p.m. news on Fox 25 was second, with a 0.7 rating, while WLVI was ahead with a 1.3 and WSBK last with a 0.25. The next night, Fox 25 was first with a 1.3, followed by WLVI with a 1.2 and WSBK with a 0.2 rating.

Stephanos’ anchored Fox 25’s news for the last time Friday night in an emotional farewell after an 18-year run at the station. Her last 10 p.m. newscast was the winner, drawing a 1.5 rating. WLVI had a 0.8 and WSBK had a 0.4 rating.

Stephanos departure was called a surprise by many after the announcement came one day before her goodbye. In a press release, the Cox-owned station said she was leaving to “pursue new professional endeavors.”