CBS News Detroit, the streaming and broadcast news operation based out of WWJ Detroit, launches Monday (January 23) with 6 and 11 p.m. weekday newscasts. Part of CBS News and Stations, WWJ’s newscasts will broadcast on the air and simulcast on the CBS News Detroit streaming channel.
Billed as the “Newsroom of the Future,” CBS News Detroit will expand its daily news output in the coming weeks. The station is shooting for 40 hours of local news per week, with morning, midday, early evening and late newscasts.
WJBK Detroit was a CBS affiliate, offering local news, until News Corp. purchased the station in 1994 and aligned it with Fox. CBS acquired an independent Detroit station that same year, which became WWJ, known as CBS 62.
WWJ VP and General Manager Brian Watson pitched a full news operation in his first one-on-one with Wendy McMahon, president and co-head of CBS News and Stations.
“What would you do in local news if you could start from scratch?” asked Watson, in a memo to staff. “Set aside 70-plus years of ‘that’s how it’s always been done’ and blaze a new trail. What would you do differently to be more engaging, relevant and accessible? How would you create the newsroom of the future? That was our challenge and our unprecedented opportunity.”
Watson’s memo spoke of “converting neighborhoods to newsrooms,” with reporters embedded in neighborhoods around the Detroit metro, and producing packages from WWJ’s specially equipped Ford Broncos.
He spoke of more than doubling the station staff in less than a year, where “everyone has a voice on our news team and across the station.” He described the CBS News Detroit operation as “a streaming news organization that also happens to broadcast.”
Graham Media’s WDIV, Fox’s WJBK and Scripps’s WXYZ (ABC) are the local news players in Detroit.
Paul Pytlowany is WWJ news director. Shaina Humphries and Jeff Skversky will anchor at 6 and 11 p.m. Humphries is from WTXF Philadelphia and Skversky from WPVI Philadelphia.
Watson and Adrienne Roark, CBS Stations president, spoke with B+C a few days before the launch. Rehearsals were ongoing, with the newscasts taking shape. “We discuss, we resolve, we apply it on the next rehearsal,” said Watkins.
Roark said WWJ staffers were psyched to premiere. “Sure, they’re nervous, they’re human,” she said. “But they’re also so excited. They understand they’re part of history.” ■
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.
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