NBC 4HDRichard Huff in Thursday’s Daily News has revealed some major changes for WNBC’s early evening news line up starting next month. Channel 4 hopes that the rejiggering will make the station more competitive with WABC who dominates the 5 p.m. hour on the coattails of Oprah.

The most noticeable change is for Live at Five where Sue Simmons will not be anchoring for the first time in almost 27 years. The 5 p.m. newscast will be radically changed, with a 30 minute newscast at the top of the hour with Lynda Baquero and David Ushery and Perri Peltz anchors a lighter news and features half hour called News 4 You at the bottom of the hour. A new set will be used for the 5:30 p.m. program.

As for Sue Simmons, she will still be seen in the early evening. Simmons gets teamed up with her 11 p.m. anchor husband Chuck Scarborough for the 6 p.m. newscast replacing Baquero. It looks like NBC 4 is trying to harness some of the same great chemistry that Chuck and Sue have at 11 p.m. at 6 p.m.

With the move of Ushery to weeknights, the weekend news lineup will also shift, since he anchors every weekend newscast. Mike Gargiulo, who was a morning news anchor in his previous gig at WTTG in Washington, will step in to Ushery’s shoes for on the weekend editions of Today in New York. The evening newscasts will have Melissa Russo filling his seat on Saturdays and Carol Anne Riddell on Sundays.

Gothamist was able to ask Dan Forman, Senior Vice President, News and Station Manager about the changes. (After the jump)

Gothamist: Sue Simmons and Live at Five are synonymous since she has been there for over a quarter century. It seemed a bit of a shock when the news came out that she was going to leave the newscast. Was this done to have a stronger 6 p.m. anchor team or to show that the station is taking a new direction or is it some combination of the two?

Dan Forman: It is a combination of both.

Sue and Chuck have been synonymous with being the longest running on-air husband and wife team for more than 25 years, garnering the respect, recognition and trust of viewers in this marketplace, and beyond, with an unmatchable on-set chemistry.

Keeping with the status quo no longer works. In a space now dominated with so many options and viewer habits changing dramatically, we are being proactive to stay ahead of the curve and are doing so by offering three clearly defined newscasts at 5, 5:30 and 6 p.m. complete with content, anchors and a set unique to each one that will provide a product that is fresh, innovative and interesting.

Gothamist: A few other NBC owned stations have been trying new things with their newscasts. WMAQ in Chicago has a quirky morning show called "Barely Today" and WCAU in Philadelphia has a 4 p.m. newscast called "All That and More" that sounds very close to what you are planning for 5:30. The changes here seem to part of an overall shift at all of the NBC owned stations to try new things. Was there any pressure from the station operations division and will the mistakes made elsewhere temper the final product here?

Dan Forman: This was not a knee-jerk decision. The management at WNBC thought long and hard about our audience, spending months brainstorming ideas that would make the most sense to our tri-state area viewers without compromising our identity and integrity. Our longtime viewers have been loyal and we expect them to remain loyal, while bringing new viewers into the tent.

Gothamist: News 4 You is an interesting name. Is this a sign that the other newscasts may revert back to the News 4 New York brand?

Dan Forman: The "News 4" slogan has remained a constant in our newscasts, such as the "News 4 Health" segments, and the "News 4 You" title was a natural extension of that brand and a suiting title for the show as it will feature consumer, medical, family, food and other specialized reports that directly impacts peoples’ lives.

And Nobody Got Hurt
Finally a follow up to Wednesday’s snow blower incident during Fox 5’s Good Day New York’s 7 a.m. hour. For those of you who missed it, Steve Keely from sister station WTXF in Philadelphia, turned on a snow blower which hit his cameraman and camera square in the lens. According to a source at Fox 5 the incident generated several calls to the Philadelphia station and nobody got hurt. Gothamist attempted to get a comment from someone at WTXF, but nobody has returned our call yet. Even though this aired only in New York, Philadelphia blog Philadelphia Will Do caught onto our coverage and mentions that on the Philadelphia version of the show "the only schtick we have down here is dancing mascots." We can only hope this mascot dancing catches on here, so we can see Jodi Applegate dance with Mr. Met.