Standing on 'The Edge' of Local News

They'll always lead with the weather: The on-air staff of the half-hour
They'll always lead with the weather: The on-air staff of the half-hour "The Edge," beginning tonight. (Wttg)
By John Maynard
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 31, 2006

When Brian Bolter kicks off the debut of WTTG's 11 p.m. newscast tonight, the station aims to stand out. Literally.

Bolter, the program's anchor, will be chairless as Channel 5 seeks to present the news differently, in a way that befits the show's title: "The Edge."

"We're blowing out the old model of the newscast that viewers have become accustomed to," Bolter said last week in an interview, while gathered with Channel 5 executives at station headquarters in Northwest Washington.

Bolter also will be the lone anchor in a market dominated by the two-anchor system, including the 11 p.m. newscasts of WRC (Channel 4), WJLA (Channel 7) and WUSA (Channel 9).

"The Edge" will follow Channel 5's popular 10 p.m. newscast in what Katherine Green, vice president of news, calls a "seamless transition."

Green said viewers shouldn't expect to see the same lead story at 11 p.m. that they might have watched an hour earlier. "The Edge" will almost always lead off with the next day's weather report, according to the station.

"The weather is the number one reason people watch news," she said. "So, obviously, that's what you typically have used as a sort of bait. We're trying to just say, 'We're not going to play this game anymore.' "

Duffy Dyer, WTTG vice president and general manager, said the addition of the half-hour news also makes sense financially because choices have diminished for new syndicated programs that were huge network hits. Shows such as "Seinfeld" and "Friends" are "far and few between," he said.

"We've already invested a great deal into the infrastructure of the news, so extending the brand at a time when the supply was drying up just made a great deal of sense," he said.

The new newscast moves Geraldo Rivera's syndicated "Geraldo at Large" to 11:30 p.m., but Dyer said that's not because the station is disappointed with the show's ratings. Dyer said the station will start promoting the two hours that include Channel 5's 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts and Rivera's half-hour show as "a two-hour power block of news and information."

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