BALTIMORE, MD.: ABC affiliate WMAR-TV launched a pre-dawn newscast this morning, making it the first station in the market to join a nationwide trend of starting the news day at 4:30 a.m. The telecast will focus on whatever happened in Balmer overnight, the day’s weather forecast and traffic conditions. WMAR sent out a press release heralding its new early-bird telecast:
“It’s exciting to be the first Baltimore news team on at 4:30 am,” says Kelly Groft, WMAR news director. “People are waking up earlier to get to work and to get their families going, and we’ll be there first thing in the morning to help them start their day off right.”
That’s the basic sentiment at stations around the country that moved newscast start times from 5 to 4:30 a.m. People are getting up earlier and earlier, as evidenced by sleep researchers who estimate that 70 percent of Americans are sleep deprived. (See “Better Sleep Council Announces Campaign to End Sleep Deprivation.”) Stations in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Schenectady, N.Y.: Tampa, Fla., Boston, Denver, New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C.; Toledo, Ohio; Columbia, S.C.; Kansas City, Mo.; Houston and other markets launched 4:30 a.m. newscasts last year.
The WMAR folks did not say if the staff was beefed up for the added work. Around 18 percent of its workforce was cut at the end of 2009, and its Sunday evening newscast canceled. Eight reporters remained, and the 15 videographers were charged with learning to report, according to The Baltimore Sun.
-- Television Broadcast
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