Every now and then, the news itself makes the news, giving this old media ouroboros a good old mouthful of print, radio or television broadcasting news. This just in: Local CBS affiliate WLNS announced today its revival of a weekend morning news show. Nom nom nom.
Starting Sept. 12, WLNS morning show “6 News This Morning” will expand to Saturday and Sunday, anchored by morning reporter Mariah Harrison. The Pontiac native graduated from Central Michigan University with a degree in broadcast and cinematic arts before joining WLNS in May 2014. She originally came on as a producer, but said she soon convinced the station’s news director, Jam Sardar, to let her get in front of the camera. To hear it from Sardar, it didn’t take that much convincing.
“I had my eye on Mariah since she was a college student,” Sardar said. “She’s extremely talented, an excellent journalist and has this great energy that you want to wake up to. She’s perfect for the morning news. As soon as the opportunity came along to promote, I did.”
The weekend version of “6 News This Morning,” which will air from 6-7 a.m. and 8-9 a.m., will be an abbreviated version of the two and-half hour weekday show — a mix of news reporting, packaged stories and and local event coverage.
“It seems like in mid-Michigan, everything happens on the weekends. So with this show we can let you know about events as they’re happening,” Harrison said. “And we’ll also have a lot more leeway than during the week. It’s also going to allow us to have more people on the show. It’s a little lighter, but I’m pretty easygoing so it’s a good fit.”
The format is a resurrection of sorts for a previous weekend show, which aired from 2004 through 2007. Sardar said station cutbacks necessitated the show’s demise, but now, with a new regime behind the studio and increased funding, adding weekend coverage became a priority.
“As a station, you’re always looking for opportunities to expand your presence,” Sardar said. “This is a very competitive market. With this show, Mariah is really going to be able to help us stand out.”
In addition to her new weekend role, Harrison will continue to report during the week — even if she’s not entirely thrilled about the hours.
“I never want to fully get used to it,” she says. “I do hold out some hope of waking up at a normal time. But I love the morning news. And if it means I have to wake up at 1 a.m., I’ll put on my big girl pants and make sure the coffee is ready to go.”
The station’s other transition has to do with someone who’s normally getting home from work just as Harrison is waking up. For the past 26 years, Sheri Jones has anchored WLNS’ 11 p.m. broadcast. She had previously coanchored the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. shows as well — the only person is station history to anchor all three simultaneously — but six years ago decided to step away from the earlier slots to spend more time with her family.
Jones returned to the 6 p.m. desk in March, joining the station’s longest-running anchor, Jane Aldrich. It was meant to be a temporary fix while Sardar sought out a new male anchor. But after ratings went up in May and again in July, the studio decided to make it official. Earlier this month, Jones was named the permanent 6 p.m. co-anchor. She will continue as solo anchor of the 11 p.m. broadcast.
“I’m thrilled with my new schedule,” Jones said. “And I’m lucky that I was given the opportunity to come back. It was so great getting to be there for my kids.”
“Sheri is one of the most loved, most popular people in the market,” Sardar said. “We’re happy, lucky and proud to have her. I’m really happy that she’s in a place in her life where she can (return to 6 p.m.). And the best thing is she’s genuine. I think viewers pick up on that.”
Jones is also active with several local charities, which led to one of the station’s newest segments, Friends for Life. In May, she led a team of 100 women in building a Habitat for Humanity home for the first segment. That led to segments on a Susan G. Komen walk and on organ donation. Adding these positive stories into the mix helped push WLNS to the top of the local ratings.
“It resonated really well,” she said. “May was a big month, and it led to this (ongoing segment) which has a potential to do so much good. We won May, we won July and now we’re gearing up for November.”