NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 is moving up the start of its weekday morning newscast to 4 a.m., with Zoraida Sambolin anchoring the additional half-hour solo.
Effective Monday, the 30-minute expansion of “NBC 5 News Today” will match the start time of “WGN Morning News” on Tribune Media WGN-Channel 9 and give NBC 5 a jump on its three other rivals.
Stefan Holt will continue to co-anchor with Sambolin from 4:30 to 7 a.m. Holt also co-anchors NBC 5’s 11 a.m. weekday newscast with Marion Brooks.
“NBC 5 News has a commitment to deliver the best local breaking news and weather coverage, and this expansion will help us serve our viewers who wake up earlier,” Frank Whittaker, station manager and vice president of news, said in a statement.
Whittaker cited a 43 percent increase among viewers between 25 and 54 for NBC 5’s morning newscast in May, June and July.
As part of the expansion, meteorologist Andy Avalos will deliver his forecasts starting at 4 a.m. Kye Martin’s traffic reports still start at 4:30 a.m.
Here is the text of Whittaker’s memo to the staff:
I am happy to let you know that we are adding a new half hour early morning newscast beginning Monday, August 24. The NBC 5 News at 4am will be anchored by Zoraida Sambolin with weather by Andy Avalos. Stefan Holt and Kye Martin on traffic will join the team starting at 4:30am for the rest of the morning, and Stefan will continue to anchor the 11am News.
As many of you know, we have been wanting to start our news earlier as a service to our morning viewers. The early start will allow us to get a jump on weather coverage and breaking news for the early risers who need it.
It is an exciting time to launch on the heels of great success over the past few months in our morning newscasts. We’ve been the only station with consistent growth in all of our early morning news, averaging an impressive 43% growth in the A25-54 demo in May, June, and July. We are proud of your performance.
We have a detailed plan in place and will be moving additional resources to the morning show block in an effort to provide the best coverage possible.