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Wednesday, January 18,2012

Before sunrise

David Andrews anchors the expanded WILX morning newscast

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.

As of this week, the couple will be working similar hours: Andrews, 51, has taken 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.”

Andrews, a 14-year veteran at WILX who previously anchored the 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts, prepared for his new assignment last week by going in at 3 a.m. each day to observe how the morning show is put together. He plans to punch in at 2 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.”

Andrews originally came to Lansing almost 25 years ago, when he was an anchor at WLNS. He says he´s grateful he and Harris have managed to find stability, even though the  TV and radio fields are notorious for their lack of employment security. 

“In these two jobs where you´re working contract to contract, you never know if you’re going to be here, if audience wants to watch you listen to you," he said. “We’ve been very fortunate — and I stress that word — that we’ve been able to live here and raise a family.” (Andrews and Harris have three daughters, ranging in age from 11 to 20.)

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.”

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.

WLNS news director Jam Sardar says he´s not worried about the competition.

“They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If so, we´re very flattered,” Sardar said. “´6 News This Morning´ hired a morning show reporter (Maria Hechanova) in July. They did it a few months later. We went to 4:30 a.m. in September. Now they´re following in our footsteps again. They don´t call us ´Your Local News Leader´ for nothing.”

Another change as of Monday: Jason Colthorp and Lauren Evans are teaming up to anchor the 5, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts, with Andy Provenzano as meteorologist. Tim Staudt is the sports reporter for the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts.

Colthorp and Evans will continue to report as well as anchor, Ragan said. “Having two people on the desk gives them the flexibility to have one of them going out and covering stories.”

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