WRTV changes afternoon lineup, pulls 4 p.m. newscast

Friday is the last day for the 4 p.m. news on WRTV-TV Channel 6, and country singer Faith Hill is working on its replacement.

Launched in April, 2015, WRTV’s 4 p.m. newscast, called “The Now,” was originally anchored by Candice Aviles and veteran TV newsman Rafael Sanchez. It most recently has been hosted by Beth Vaughn.

Aviles, a Chicago native and University of Southern California graduate, departed WRTV this April to take a job as weekend evening anchor and multimedia and field reporter during the week for WTSP-TV in Tampa, Florida.

Sanchez, who has not been on the 4 p.m. news for some time, according to WRTV General Manager Larry Blackerby, will remain with the station.

Blackerby told IBJ the change would not affect any personnel at the station.

In an email following a short phone conversation, he said the cancellation of “The Now” was due to a new show being offered by E.W. Scripps Co., WRTV’s parent company.

“Beginning June 26, WRTV is making some changes to its afternoon lineup leading into the 5 p.m. newscast,” Blackerby said in an email to IBJ. “These changes come in anticipation of the new lifestyle talk show Scripps is producing in partnership with country singer Faith Hill, which will air [beginning] on September 18.”

That's an apparent reference to a syndicated talk show that Hill is producing with fellow country star Kellie Pickler and journalist Ben Aaron as hosts. It's expected to debut in 20 of Scripps' 24 TV markets.

“We will bring a little bit of Southern charm and inspiration to our viewers, alongside insights from top tastemakers and experts in many areas,” Hill said in a recent media release. “Kellie is very much Southern while Ben is everything New York—complete opposites but together their chemistry is magic and our viewers are going to love them.”

“Right This Minute,” a show co-owned by Scripps, will take the 3 p.m. time slot until the new talk show launches. “Judge Judy” will move from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“‘Judge Judy’ is a strong lead-in to our 5 p.m. newscast, and we will take the summer to re-establish this new lineup for our viewers,” Blackerby said in his email.

“While these changes mean that the station will no longer carry ‘The Now,’ Scripps remains committed to that show, as it expands into two new markets this fall,” Blackerby added.

“The Now” was touted as a different kind of newscast when it was rolled out locally.

“It will be a little less buttoned-up than traditional newscasts,” WRTV News Director Terri Cope-Walton told IBJ in 2015. “We’re going to show the viewers the evolution of a story rather than a story in a nice, neat package. This show will let viewers see more of the reporting and news-gathering process and how a story develops."

But media buyers told IBJ that WRTV’s 4 p.m. news never gained enough traction with viewers to be very attractive for advertisers, and a source close to the station said there was also some concern among WRTV officials that “The Now” was pulling viewers from its later newscasts, especially at 5 p.m.

In recent years, WXIN-TV Channel 59 and WISH-TV Channel 8 have aggressively expanded their news offerings.

“We’re at the saturation point with local news," Promotus Advertising President Bruce Bryant told IBJ on Friday.

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