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Monday, March 18,2013

In the wee small hours of the morning

WILX's David Andrews prepares for a schedule shift on Monday

by James Sanford

Getting up early in the morning is nothing new for WILX news anchor David Andrews. He’s been married to WFMK-FM morning-show DJ Monica Harris for 24 years, and she’s been starting work before sunrise the entire time they’ve been together.

Beginning Monday, the couple will be working similar hours, as Andrews takes over WILX’s expanded morning news show, which starts at 4:30 a.m. every weekday.

“It’s funny,” Andrews said. “In terms of lifestyle, I always went to bed early anyway. So even when I wasn’t on this shift I was getting up at 4 a.m. or 4:30 anyway. Now, it’s just a matter of dialing it back a couple more hours when I get up.”

Andrews, a 14-year veteran at WILX who previously anchored the 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts, has been preparing for his new assignment by going in at 3 a.m. each day this week to observe how the morning show is put together. Beginning Monday, he plans to punch in at 2 a.m. each morning to allow himself extra time to do some writing and research.

“I want to be there a full two hours before the news begins,” he said. “I want to be prepared when that camera light comes on.”

Adding an extra half-hour to the morning newscast makes sense, according to WILX news director Kevin Ragan, who points to the expanding audiences for early morning programs.

“It’s sometimes referred to as the new prime time,” Ragan said. “It’s changed, like banking on Saturday: It’s what the audience wants.”

Those days when stations saw morning news shows as nothing more than a mix of rehashes of yesterday’s headlines and fluffy conversations are long gone, Ragan said.

“We’re treating morning news no longer as the last newscast of the day, but the first newscast of the day,” Ragan said. Reporter Caroline Vandergriff joined the WILX team last fall to gather fresh material for the morning show. “Not just overnight accidents and fires — she’s covering real news,” Ragan said.

Another change on Monday: Jason Colthorp and Lauren Evans will team up to anchor the 5, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts, with Andy Provenzano as meteorologist.

“How are you gonna beat that combination?” Ragan asked. “Each of them (Colthorp and Evans) has regular reporting duties, and they’re going to continue that. Having two people on the desk gives them the flexibility to have one of them going out and covering stories. We’re the only ones in town doing that.”

For more on the WILX changes, see Wednesday’s print edition of City Pulse.

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