ABC Radio News has revamped operations to provide major market affiliates with more two-ways and to increase the amount of breaking news and anchored coverage it offers. The change-up has resulted in some positions being eliminated at various levels in the news operation and the creation of several new openings.
The moves are in response to diminished demand in major markets for network newscasts and a greater appetite for breaking news coverage. For instance, in the three largest markets, CBS Radio’s WINS and iHeartMedia’s WOR New York; iHeart’s KFI Los Angeles and Tribune Media’s WGN Chicago don’t take the network’s newscasts. That means high-profile anchors such as Cheri Preston and Scott Goldberg aren’t being heard in these and other major markets.
As the same time, major market all-news and news/talk outlets are airing more breaking news coverage than before. Demand has also grown for two-ways, which involve a network anchor or reporter talking with a large market affiliate host about a news story in a 3-5 minute segment.
“These changes allow ABC News Radio to provide more two-ways, breaking news and anchored coverage which have become more important to stations,” an ABC News spokesperson told Inside Radio in an emailed statement. “It is never easy when fellow employees leave, and we wish the very best to these colleagues. The media landscape is always evolving and it’s critical we’re meeting stations needs every step of the way.”
ABC wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the layoffs as a result of the changes. But the network is said to be adding more positions than it is eliminating. On Friday it posted seven new positions, including a news writer, a Nashville-based reporter, a reporter to provide coverage for urban formats, an affiliates salesperson and several associate producers.
Last Wednesday, ABC Radio News put its staff through what’s being described as a transformation or evolution. The network is still feeding the same number of newscasts as before, anchored by SAG-AFTRA members. In past, anchors were writing newscasts. But the internal workflow has changed. Under the new set-up, a full-time Writers Guild of America news writer scripts the newscasts for the anchors, who, in addition to reading the news, will do two-ways with major affiliates or contribute to live news coverage or write single-topic reports that will be distributed through ABC Newscall. The goal is to make the anchors more valuable to affiliates that don’t carry the network’s newscasts—and to get the on-air team on the radio more often.