When Asa Aarons was let go last week, we had a gut feeling that WNBC’s 5:30PM consumer news and features based newscast News 4 You was getting a vote of no confidence. Now our gut feeling has been confirmed since the station will be replacing the newscast starting next Monday. It is also part of a late afternoon shuffle with the 4:30PM edition of Merv Griffin’s Crosswords being replaced by Access Hollywood, which also repeats in its current time slot at 7:30PM.
The replacement is a half-hour newscast with Sue Simmons and Michael Gargiulo that leads off with news and has features towards the end. In other words, it sounds like a condensed version of the old Live at Five.
This is the third change this year for WNBC's 5PM hour. First there was the 30 minute David Ushery and Lynda Baquero-anchored "Live at Five" and the creation of the 5:30PM Perri Peltz-anchored News 4 You in March, with Sue Simmons moving to the 6PM. The second was last month’s elimination of Live at Five in favor of the syndicated entertainment show Extra, the creation of the 7:00PM New York Nightly News with Chuck Scarborough, and Ushery and Baquero anchoring at six.
A spokesperson for the station said that, "Perri Peltz will continue to work with WNBC in a role yet to be determined." You may remember that Peltz was originally brought on board to co-anchor Live at Five with Sue Simmons as Jim Rosenfield's replacement in 2005.
We think that the move is a good one, since the station will be playing to its strength in harder news. However, their competition on 2, 5, and 7 has a half-hour head start in the late afternoon race (but the second half hour is usually reserved for softer news on those newscasts). So it'll be an interesting sweep months in November.