May 4 2011 12:00 AM

The women of WLNS have plenty to say about the new ’6 in the City’


“Hello!” Jane Aldrich began, brightly. “And welcome to our new show . . . ”

“And . . .  stop.”

Only five seconds into the first take of the first shot
for the pilot episode of “6 in the City,” producer Crystal Spotts had to
halt production; a “headset issue” was causing problems.

“And I’m stopping,” Aldrich said.

But Aldrich and her fellow WLNS anchors and reporters —
Sheri Jones, Ann Emmerich, Lauren Thompson, Brittany Gray and Lisa
Byington — are actually starting something: a talk show that allows them
to address issues they don’t usually have time to cover. According to
news director, Jam Sarder, the plan is to air a new episode on the first
Monday of each month, with repeats throughout the month.

Some of the information is fun in the pilot: The first
episode includes a recipe for “cast-iron skillet cakes” and, in keeping
with its "Mother Knows Best" theme, lots of amusing anecdotes from the
chatty and spontaneous mothers of the co-hosts.

Other segments are more serious, including a discussion
about foster parenting. But each feature allows the women opportunities
to demonstrate a comfortable rapport with each other that sounds more
like a discussion among the members of a book group than a meeting of
professional journalists.

The debut installment of “6 in the City” — “You have to
say that carefully,” Aldrich jokes — was shot last Wednesday at the
Perspective2 gallery in Old Town. Audience members sat at café-style
tables. “Feel free to laugh if they say something funny,” Spotts told
the onlookers. “This is a fun, laid-back show.”

It’s also the sort of programming that used to be produced
in nearly every major city, but is now hard to find, as network
affiliates opt for running ABC’s “The View” and CBS’ “The Talk” instead
of generating homegrown productions.

“Nobody’s doing local shows like this anymore,” Aldrich admitted during a break.

That’s precisely why WLNS is doing it now. Aldrich said
she and Jones had the idea for “City” last year: “We were sitting around
the table at a news meeting, and Sheri and I were saying, ‘Wouldn’t it
be nice to have a women’s show?’” After all, WLNS has plenty of female
news anchors and reporters — “so why not showcase them?” Aldrich asked.

It’s a bit of a challenge, considering
the women work radically different schedules. “I go to bed at 2 in the
morning,” sports anchor/reporter Byington said. “And I get up at 2 in
the morning!” replied Gray, who anchors the weekday 6 a.m. newscasts.  

But no one seemed tired or
unenthusiastic, even as the taping continued for almost three hours.
"They’re working out the kinks," Thompson, an 8-year veteran of WLNS,
said as the production crew set up the next sequence. "Having our moms
here — although it’s great — it’s just another variable to throw in."

It was also adding an extra layer of emotions to the day, Thompson said.

"She went back to have a snack during a break and I saw
her get teary-eyed. She turned to me and said, ’You’re so good at your

‘6 in the City’ Pilot
Premiere episode, "Mother Knows Best," airs at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 5, and noon Sunday, May 8, on WLNS-TV.
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