In a move that should save WGCL-TV a few bucks, the station is handing over all sports duties to 790/The Zone.
Veteran sports anchors Gil Tyree and Mark Harmon will be let go at some point early in the new year but will continue with their regular duties for the next few weeks.
“I have great respect for Gil and Mark,” said news director Steve Schwaid. “Btt we are now aligning ourselves with an organization that does sports 24/7 365 days a year. This will give us even more sports content over the next few years. I think this give us more flexibility in the world of sports. The analogy I use is how ABC News uses ESPN for its sports coverage.”
Many news stations in smaller markets have scaled back or cut sports segments completely out of their newscasts, especially at 11 p.m. Both General Manager Kirk Black , who created a similar alliance when he worked in Kansas City, and Schwaid said this outsourcing was a way to continue the same amount of sports coverage but free up cash to expand regular news programming.
In fact, Schwaid said they will be adding six people to the staff, including two more general assignment reporters. (WGCL is generally in fourth place overall among news operations and has had the least resources relatively speaking.)
The Zone will use its hosts for CBS Atlanta newscasts and original sports programming such as Sportsline, the SEC Wrap-Up Show and the CBS Atlanta Dawg Show. How this will be parsed out among the likes of Chris Dimino, Nick Cellini, the Stews and others has yet to be determined but should be in the coming weeks.
“The importance of old bread-and-butter local sports segments has continued to diminish,” noted Black, in this day and age of iPhone sports score access and online video and such. “No one is sitting around until 11:23 p.m. to find out whether their favorite team won or lost.”
Andrew Saltzman, president of 790/The Zone, said he’s excited by the prospect of working with WGCL. “We bring to the table credibility and equity in the sports game here,” he said. “And we are blessed with a stable of talent that virtually has all done television at some point.”
He is also psyched to know that CBS is the marquee home for next year’s Super Bowl, the Masters and SEC football games, to name a few.