Aug. 24 2011 12:00 AM

Messing with success or making a good thing better?


 WLNS adds a new face and takes on a new look ...

There’s the new news set, which will feature a 110-inch
projection screen behind the anchor desk, a couple of new additions to
the on-air team and the prospect of going to high-definition in the
fall. But WLNS news director Jam Sardar is just as excited about
something most of his viewers will never see: the July Nielsen ratings
book that showed the WLNS morning news show pulling ahead of WILX.

“We asked some old-timers to check,” Sardar said, “but no
one can remember when we last won the morning slot. It’s been at least a

WILX news director Kevin Ragan said no major changes were
in the works for his 5 to 7 a.m. show, which features anchor Lauren
Evans and meteorologist Darren Rockcole.

“We certainly plan on continuing to do the same fine
morning show we’ve always done,” he said. “But I think you are always
looking for ways to expand. The next reporter we hire is going to be a
morning news reporter.”

WILX is “pretty in tune with our audience and have a good idea of what the morning show audience wants.”

The WLNS morning show team, which has been in place since
March, features anchors Brittany Gray and Evan Pinsonnault and
meteorologist Jake Dunne.

“When people watch Evan, Brittany and Jake, people know
from the way they interact with each other that they like each other,”
Sardar said. “We’ve got some people with great personalities, and they
do a great job of talking to viewers, not at viewers.”

Beginning this week, Dunne, Pinsonnault and Gray are
joined by a new morning show reporter, Maria Hechanova, who comes to
WLNS from KYMA, the NBC affiliate in Yuma, Ariz.

 “She’s something special,” Sardar said. “When viewers see her, they’ll know.”

One of Hechanova’s many jobs at KYMA — “When you’re in a
small market, you wear a lot of hats,” she said — was anchoring the
“Sunrise” show. “I found out in Yuma that I really love the morning
shift, getting up at 2 in the morning,” she said. “Even though it’s kind
of strange to say that you like to go to bed at 6 p.m., I can’t wait to
be everyone’s morning cup of coffee.”

No, really — she couldn’t wait.

“I drove 2,000 miles by myself to get here: That’s how
badly I wanted to get this,” she said, with a proud smile and a light
laugh. “I came in and interviewed for the job and fell in love with
Lansing. I moved from Yuma in 123-degree weather — and then I got here
and realized I did not need all that extra deodorant.”

Sardar said Hechanova will be previewing the day’s events
and covering any early morning breaking news. “Whatever’s happening
between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m., expect her to be there,” he promised.

Hechanova arrived in Lansing in one piece. The 82-inch
screen for the WLNS weather center, however, wasn’t so fortunate. Two
have been shipped so far — and both arrived in pieces.

“Once, you can understand,” Sardar said. “But twice? And they’re not cheap. Someone’s gonna get it for this.”

... with the return of a familiar face: Greg Adaline

The Detroit Tigers pennant on his desk is
not just for show: Greg Adaline grew up in Sterling Heights, graduated
from Rochester’s Oakland University and spent more than four years at
WLNS before leaving in 2009 for an anchorman job in Kansas City, Mo.
This week, the 31-year-old returned to WLNS, and he and his wife,
Kristen, have brought along something they didn’t have when they left: a
4-month-old daughter, Evie, who played a role in her dad’s
decision-making process.

“There were other things I could have done,” he says. “But
I wanted to be closer to my family.” Adaline’s relatives still live in
the metro Detroit area. He’s now anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.
newscasts, alongside Jane Aldrich and Sheri Jones. 

“I’ve gotta say, it’s a little nerve-wracking,” he says.
“I want to do well and I try not to be too hard on myself; I’m easily my
own worst critic.”

He’s quick to say that although the “family atmosphere” at
the station hasn’t changed, other circumstances definitely have. “I
worked with (WLNS anchor) Lauren Thompson for four years,” he says.
“When we were working together, we were both single. Now, we’re both
married with kids. We’re growing up.”