Z on TV Critic David Zurawik writes about the business and culture of TV

New anchorwoman, set, graphics debut at WJZ-TV today and tomorrow

A new anchorwoman , set and graphics will debut starting at noon today on WJZ-TV, according to station management.

Viewers tuning to the noon news on Channel 13 today will see the newscast staged on a much larger set with huge video screens backing and flanking the anchor desk.

Watching a rehearsal Wednesday, I was impressed with the bright, clean, open look of the set. But many newsroom sets have those characteristics — they more or less define the aesthetic of local TV news.

I will wait until I see WJZ’s set on a screen the way viewers do before judging it. What the eye sees in person can be very different from what the camera captures and transmits.

Viewers will have to wait until 5 a.m. Friday to see the new co-host of WJZ’s morning show, Nicole Baker, formerly of WJCL, the ABC affiliate in Savannah, Georgia. Below is a reel of her anchor work posted on Vimeo when she was at that station.

She seemed high energy in Wednesday’s rehearsal, and nothing is as important in morning TV as a sense of energy. But, again, let’s hold off making a call until she’s had a chance to settle in and we’ve seen how she handles anchoring on those days when it’s a grind.

Baker will join Marty Bass and Linh Bui as anchors in what Audra Swain, vice president and general manager of WJZ, characterized as an expansion of the anchor lineup.

“We’re excited to expand the team,” Swain said at the station Wednesday.

Bass has been at the morning anchor desk for more than three decades. He will continue to do weather. Sharon Gibala handles morning traffic.

“Change is good,” Bass said on the set Wednesday. “It’s the truth.”

In another move aimed at expanding the morning franchise for the CBS owned station, Swain said the telecast will start a half hour earlier at 4:30 a.m. weekdays beginning August 20.

WBAL, WBFF and WMAR already start their news at 4:30 weekdays as mornings have become increasingly important to local stations with viewers facing longer workdays and commutes and earlier starts.

david.zurawik@baltsun.com

twitter.com/davidzurawik

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