‘Inside Edition’ Gets 30th Birthday Gift of Upgrades

Inside Edition is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a rare gift indeed: upgrades to prime access in the two top markets, New York and Los Angeles.

Starting today (Sept. 11), the show is moving to 7 p.m. on CBS-owned stations WCBS New York, KCBS Los Angeles and KYW Philadelphia. In Philadelphia, it’s also remaining on CBS-owned The CW affiliate WPSG at 8 a.m.

Previously, Inside Edition aired on Fox’s WNYW New York at noon, CBS-owned KCAL Los Angeles at 4:30 p.m. and Fox’s WTXF Philadelphia at 6:30 p.m.

The show also is changing stations in 10 other markets and moving time slots in nine markets, including on Nexstar’s KRON San Francisco, where it will air at 7 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Earlier this year, CBS Television Distribution decided to end the run of The Insider, Entertainment Tonight’s sister show, and give those time slots to Inside Edition.

“What I was seeing was that when we were in good time periods, Inside Edition really performed well,” CBS Television Distribution president Paul Franklin said. “Obviously, it’s incredibly rare for any show to have 30-plus years. This show really deserved this opportunity. With these upgrades, I think the future is incredibly bright.”

Big Clearance Boost

“These upgrades are a significant development in the long history of this show,” said executive producer Charles Lachman. “In this marketplace, clearances mean an awful lot. You have to produce a great show, but you also have to be able to retain those eyeballs. The boosts that we are getting in these big markets are historic. It rarely happens.”

Inside Edition’s producing team has been planning for months to best take advantage of its new time slots, Lachman said.

“Our mission is to offer our viewers the most dynamic programming that the show has aired on a sustained basis. We’ve been working on this for months to come up with a great show every day that’s filled with exclusive interviews with newsmakers, investigations and the human-interest stories that are so identifiable with Inside Edition,” he said. “The goal is to hit viewers hard on day one and keep hitting them all week. New viewers will say, ‘That’s a heck of a show, I can’t wait until next week.’ ”

While Inside Edition competes with entertainment-focused magazines in syndication, it’s really more of a traditional newsmagazine with a heavy focus on human interest and investigative stories. That bent makes the show like nothing else currently on television.

“News is never easy, but I think it’s easier to do the obvious news of the day,” Lachman said. “I could go into a meeting at 5 p.m. and tell you pretty accurately what’s going to be on the network nightly news. Inside Edition wouldn’t have lasted as long as we have if we relied on that sensibility.”

For example, instead of just covering the fact that Hurricane Harvey was causing floods in Houston, Inside Edition did stories on pet and wildlife rescues or on the controversy around pastor Joel Osteen, who ultimately opened his megachurch to those stranded. At the same time, the show throws in how-to pieces, consumer reports and other investigative pieces, and lots of stories about parents, kids, families and pets.

Stories With a Human Touch

“These human-interest stories are an Inside Edition trademark,” Lachman said. “We do a very good job of telling these stories. We approach them with a lot of humanity.”

Inside Edition premiered on Jan. 9, 1989. For the first two weeks, David Frost anchored the program, but he was replaced by Bill O’Reilly — later to become famous as the most-watched anchor at Fox News Channel — on Jan. 20. O’Reilly exited six years later, to be replaced by Deborah Norville, who has remained with the program ever since.

Norville and Inside Edition have celebrated some milestones together, including the birth of her daughter in 1997, after which Norville anchored the show from the maternity ward.

Over the course of its 30 years, Inside Edition has evolved, just like everything else on television.

“In Inside Edition’s earliest incarnation, the show was a classic newsmagazine like 60 Minutes, with stories running 12 to 14 minutes long,” said Norville, who published a book about the show’s history on its 25th anniversary. “We might have 15 items in a broadcast now and one might be as short as 12 to 13 seconds.”

“The kind of storytelling we do has also evolved,” said Norville. “We tend not to think of ourselves as a New York show. We have more of an American sensibility. The kinds of storytelling we’ve done are about real people, real drama, real triumph, real challenge. Those are the kinds of stories that really work and we seem to do it well.”

While the upgrades — particularly in New York and Los Angeles — should give the show more visibility in the biggest coastal markets, neither Lachman nor Norville expects the show to shift its focus.

“I’d like to think that across the country people will see Inside Edition as a reliable place to tell them what’s going on, 30 minutes out of their day that will give them something that makes them a little sharper, more interesting, more conversational,” Norville said. “At the end of the show, if you’ve spent 30 minutes with us and feel your time was wasted, we have failed miserably. But at the end, if you’ve learned something you can share with your friends, then we’ve done our job.”

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.