WSLS-TV dedicates fifth Habitat For Humanity 'Home for Good'

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It’s a Home for Good.

Smiles, cheers and well-wishes greeted the Ayamba family in Roanoke, Virginia, as 14 family members stood proudly on their new front porch.

WSLS 10 partnered with Habitat For Humanity in the Roanoke Valley on the station’s fifth project.

This year’s Home for Good, the Apostle Build project, also included support from Journey FM and 20 area churches.

“What an amazing feeling to be up here on this porch, leading to this beautiful home WE built,” WSLS 10 Vice President and General Manager Jaimie Leon said. “We are grateful for our partnership with Habitat For Humanity, our generous corporate sponsors and our wonderful volunteers.”

War forced the Ayamba family from their home in Central Africa. The Ayambas moved from refugee camp to refugee camp before relocating in the United States. They settled in Roanoke in 2016, with the goal of building a better life for their 12 children who range in age from 1 to 25.

“Well it’s very incredible that we’re here on the porch of the house," said Mwenebatu Ayamba, the oldest son. “It’s very exciting and I’m really happy for this.”

WSLS 10’s John Carlin and Brittny McGraw broadcast this year’s house dedication live during the station’s 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. newscasts.

This Habitat project was the largest build ever, featuring seven bedrooms.

WSLS 10 staff members rolled up their sleeves and worked side-by-side with the family and volunteers during the four-month build.

“I think it’s easy to forget that with a house this size, how much more work is involved,” said Brian Clark, a Habitat construction manager. “If you think of some of our single-story builds, this is like taking two houses and stacking them on top of each other, and so it’s easy to forget that much more work.”

Habitat For Humanity Roanoke Valley has built 244 homes serving more than 1041 individuals since 1986.

Anthony Plosz named Graham Media Group CTO

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Graham Media Group announced Thursday that it has named Anthony Plosz as Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.

For the past three years, Plosz has served as Vice President, Engineering and Operations for WCAU/WWSI, the NBC-owned duopoly in Philadelphia. During his tenure, Plosz oversaw the design and construction of an IP-based operation and one of the country’s most technologically advanced broadcast facilities located within the recently completed Comcast Technology Center.

“We are excited to welcome Tony to our senior leadership team as we advance our technological capabilities," Graham Media Group President and CEO Emily Barr said. "The next chapters of television and information technology will be transformative to the way people access and consume content and the future of work. Tony’s deep knowledge of both IT infrastructure and broadcast operations and engineering will be invaluable to Graham Media Group.”

Plosz has a rich and successful history working as a Systems Engineer for NetApp; director of Broadcast Operations for KTTV/KCOP, the Fox duopoly in Los Angeles; and more than eight years as Information Services Manager at WJBK, the Fox-owned station in Detroit.

After studying engineering at Lawrence Technological University in suburban Detroit, Plosz began his career working in IT consulting and network architecture. A Michigan native, Plosz will join the company on Aug. 26 and be based at the corporate headquarters in Chicago.

About Graham Media Group

Graham Media Group, a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Co. (NYSE: GHC), operates Graham Digital, Social News Desk and seven local media hubs -- each in a top-70 market and all recognized as news leaders: KPRC–Houston, WDIV–Detroit and WSLS–Roanoke (NBC); KSAT–San Antonio (ABC); WKMG–Orlando (CBS); WJXT–Jacksonville (fully local), and WCWJ–Jacksonville (CW).

Based in Detroit, Graham Digital is a digital media and technology development group widely recognized as a leading industry innovator.

Social News Desk, headquartered in Atlanta, provides its 2,500-plus worldwide newsroom customers with a single dashboard to publish, measure, curate and monetize local news content on social platforms.

WKMG-TV bursts with livestream content during Fourth of July broadcast blowout

In an unprecedented digital and broadcast event, WKMG-TV News 6 produced more than 100 hours of livestream content for ClickOrlando.com during the station’s annual coverage of the Lake Eola “Fireworks at the Fountain” on July 4.

This online streaming project harnessed live video from more than 25 different camera angles and sources, allowing online viewers to be in the “Director’s Chair” and select from the variety of angles, including the first-ever streams directly from mobile phones of reporters and producers in the field.

The WKMG-TV News 6 coverage of the fireworks was a test event for demonstrating new live technologies as part of VIDEO 2020, Graham Media Group’s Total Video Transformation project that aims to reduce the complexity required for reporters and other content producers to publish video content and to reach their audiences faster with meaningful content. Throughout VIDEO 2020, Graham Media Group has collaborated with several partners including Google and YouTube, Amazon Web Services, The Washington Post’s Arc Publishing and Grabyo to leverage technologies born outside of the traditional broadcasting ecosystem to create and produce video livestreams.

One of the new technologies debuted at this event was Broadcast, a first-of-its-kind mobile app that allows journalists to stream high-quality, live video to multiple sites and social platforms simultaneously. The Washington Post’s Arc Publishing worked closely with the Graham Media Group team to develop this powerful application.

“It allows me to deploy my staff in ways I never could before,” said News 6 News Director Allison McGinley of the new Broadcast app. “Leveraging this technology in breaking news situations -- when minutes count -- will allow News 6 to get critical information to our viewers much faster and more efficiently. Now everybody in my newsroom is a reporter.”

The News 6 newsroom dedicated dozens of people to the event with new technology, producing a 10-hour, digital-first broadcast for the ClickOrlando.com website and mobile app and News 6 OTT app (available on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and more).

Twelve reporters were located around Lake Eola utilizing the Broadcast application to gather live shots for the full event. The engineering and IT team set up cameras to feed additional angles during the event, including a wide-angle barge cam where the fireworks were set up and a 360-degree camera to allow viewers to turn the direction of their view.

"It’s amazing where things are going," said News 6 anchor and reporter Matt Austin. "We normally work in this big technology hub with control rooms, servers and studios. Turns out we can do nearly the same thing on location! The future of news is mind blowing," said Austin, who went live from his mobile device multiple times during the event.

Up to 17 simultaneous livestreams were all ingested into cloud-based AWS Media Services and were available for the audience to watch while they were live, essentially allowing viewers to choose their own adventure in watching the fireworks. Additionally, a digital-only broadcast was produced from laptops at the event.

“The technology and platforms that we are using are useful in coverage of big events, but to us they represent the future of how local news is going to be covered,” said WKMG general manager and Vice President Jeff Hoffman. “In a breaking news situation, for instance, you really want to dedicate as many resources as you can to covering the story. These enabling technologies will give our viewers a real-time comprehensive experience. This is the index of our possibilities in covering local news.”

This event was made possible by a Google News Initiative YouTube Funding Grant. These grants were issued to help newsrooms and publishers strengthen their online video capabilities and experiment with new formats for video journalism.

“Being able to push the boundaries of how our newsrooms can cover their communities is the real benefit of having a partner like Google assisting us in this livestream project. The grant has allowed us to experiment inside of this overall project and accelerate getting the final products in the hands our newsroom and reporters,” said Catherine Badalamente, VP and chief innovation officer for Graham Media Group. “Having our reporters in the field with the ability to send video anywhere in the world supports our core mission at Graham Media Group. With partners like Google, AWS, The Washington Post/Arc Publishing and Grabyo, we have a clear line of sight into the future of how journalists will serve their communities.”

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WJXT presents 'Curtains Up'

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WJXT Channel 4 is taking viewers behind the curtain with the High School Summer Musical Theatre Experience at Florida State College at Jacksonville as they prepare and present numbers from Disney’s Newsies.

The hour-long special will incorporate behind-the-scenes and live performances from some of the most talented students in Northeast Florida, starting at 8 p.m. July 18.

The Local Station has teamed with FSCJ to produce a documentary-style special showcasing how the cast and crew are preparing for their performances July 19-21 and July 26-28.

"Curtains Up" includes exclusive footage of auditions, callbacks, rehearsals, set development and a special look at the training behind one of the choreographed fight scenes. The program will also have live performances of popular Newsies songs “Carrying the Banner,” “Watch What Happens,” “The World Will Know,” “That’s Rich” and “The King of New York.”

“The partnership this year between Florida State College at Jacksonville and WJXT Channel 4 is the epitome of the word ‘community.’ It is a great opportunity to further highlight the more than 70 student performers from Northeast Florida who have worked so hard throughout the summer to put on this fantastic production," said Beth Harvey, director of the Wilson Center for the Arts.

More than 70 seventh- through 12th-grade students are cast in this production as dancers, performers and technicians to recreate Disney’s 2012 Broadway hit.

“As the only truly local television station in town, we want to highlight all students from every part of Jacksonville, and we’re very proud to be the first and only station taking the time to celebrate the artistic talent seen in our community,” said WJXT Vice President and General Manager Bob Ellis. “Young people involved in theater, music and dance don’t get enough recognition. We’re thrilled to show off their talents and see first-hand their hard work pay off on prime time TV.”

KSAT executive producer named Pride Center Media Icon of 2019

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Pride Center San Antonio named its recipients for community Icon Awards at an inaugural brunch ceremony on June 23 at the Pearl Stable. Among the recipients was Diana Winters, executive producer of SA Live at KSAT12. She was named the Pride Center Media Icon of 2019.

Winters was recognized for founding the South Texas PRIDE series on KSAT12 back in February 2018. The series focuses on discussions of LGBTQ+ politics, resilience, identity, diversity and equality (PRIDE).

Each story focuses on what makes the South Texas LGBTQ+ community resilient, how individuals within that community connect with each other and the greater community at large, available resources and how they and others who offer them assistance are working to improve lives socially, economically, and politically and promote mental and physical wellness within the community.

KSAT reporters and producers who work on South Texas PRIDE make it a point to tell these stories from the perspectives of people in the LGBTQ+ community so as to represent them the way they want to be represented, not from the perspectives of outsiders.

People are watching and gaining an understanding of others that they didn't have before.

The series was nominated for a GLAAD award this year for Outstanding TV Journalism - Newsmagazine. It was up against contenders like CBS Sunday Morning, CBS News, Nightline and SC Featured.

Winters created the series when she was a news producer at KSAT, where she has worked since Sept. 12, 2005. She moved into her position at SA Live on Oct. 15, 2018. Winters attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in journalism with a focus on broadcast journalism.

Her favorite moments at KSAT were spent on a team with former astronaut Eileen Collins during a mission to Mars simulation, at Market Square during SA Live’s teatime with Lou Ferrigno, during SA Live’s recent Port Aransas primetime special and SA Live’s Show of Thrones, which celebrated the final episode of "Game of Thrones."

Graham Media Group makes headlines at 2019 Promax Station Summit

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Graham Media Group’s Emily Barr never imagined she’s be the president and CEO of a major media group.

Growing up, she wanted to be a filmmaker.

But here we are: it’s 2019 and Barr has made her way from news editor to creative services director to general manager to CEO. At this year’s Promax Station Summit, held this week in Las Vegas, Barr shared her path to success with moderators Natalia Egan, creative services director at KPRC-TV Houston, and Jamie Kay Walters, creative services and programming director at WDIV-TV Detroit, which are both Graham Media stations.

Speaking to an audience in the session about leadership, Barr offered the following advice, or lessons to lead by: Failure's just a bump in the road -- even if you fail in front of Oprah, and "When the door opens, don't ask why. Run through it!"

You can read a fantastic write-up about all Barr’s comments on Promax’s website.

The Promax Station Summit describes itself as the only business event created exclusively for and by television station marketing and creative services professionals.

Promax Station Summit brings together the top broadcast networks, program distributors and station ownership groups under one roof for a powerful week in the broadcast industry.

The event also featured speakers Sherry Carpenter, who does creative services and local programming for Graham Media stations WJXT and WCWJ, and Apryl Pilolli, the head of innovation for Social News Desk, a Graham Media company.

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Graham Media Group names Catherine Badalamente Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer

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Graham Media Group announced Wednesday that Catherine Badalamente has been named Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer.

“Catherine’s keen understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing our industry combined with her unfailing commitment to Graham Media Group make her the ideal individual for this position,” said Graham Media Group President and CEO Emily Barr. “Under Catherine’s leadership, the Graham Digital team has nurtured and developed our web and mobile sites, overseen the growth of significant digital revenue and developed industry-leading applications and have been recognized by a slew of industry experts for out-of-the-box thinking and far-reaching efforts to transform what we call local television.”

A graduate of John Carroll University, Badalamente joined the organization in 2000 at WDIV, the NBC affiliate in Detroit, where she held a number of leadership positions. In 2012, she became VP, Digital Media for Graham Media Group.

Badalamente has led Graham Digital in forming key technology partnerships with the Google News Initiative, Amazon Web Services and the Arc Publishing team at The Washington Post in creating state-of-the-art video and data-driven products.

Her content and development teams have been widely recognized as innovators in new technologies, including OTT apps, voice and smart speakers, AR mobile app experiences and ATSC 3.0 NextGen TV.

Badalamente is the current chairperson for the National Association of Broadcasters Digital Officer Committee. She also serves on the executive board of the Local Media Association and was the recipient of the 2017 National Association of Broadcasters Digital Leadership Award.

Graham Media Group, a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Co. (NYSE: GHC), operates seven local media hubs -- each in a top-70 market and all recognized as news leaders: KPRC–Houston, WDIV–Detroit and WSLS–Roanoke (NBC); KSAT–San Antonio (ABC); WKMG–Orlando (CBS); WJXT–Jacksonville (fully local), and WCWJ–Jacksonville (CW).

Based in Detroit, Graham Digital is a digital media and technology development group widely recognized as a leading industry innovator.

Social News Desk, headquartered in Atlanta, provides its 2,500-plus worldwide newsroom customers with a single dashboard to publish, measure, curate and monetize local news content on social platforms.

Website: grahammedia.com

Graham Media Group’s KPRC, WDIV-Local 4 win prestigious national Edward R. Murrow Award

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Two Graham Media Group television stations are proud recipients of national 2019 Edward R. Murrow Awards presented by the Radio Television Digital News Association. The Edward R. Murrow Awards recognize exemplary public service and outstanding journalism by radio, television and online news organizations.

KPRC 2 News at 6 p.m. was awarded Best Newscast in Large Market Television for “Tragedy in Santa Fe,” which featured team coverage of the May 2018 school shootings in Santa Fe, Texas. The KPRC team worked to provide complete and compassionate coverage to its community in the immediate wake of such a horrific event.

“It’s difficult to celebrate an award when so many members of our community were affected by this senseless tragedy. However, I am proud of the way our team conducted themselves to bring this story to our viewers,“ said KPRC News Director Dave Strickland.

KPRC’s producer Erica Young produced the national award-winning newscast. The program was eligible for this high honor after being selected for a Regional Murrow Award earlier in 2019. The KPRC2 team also received two other Regional Murrow Awards this year. One was for Best News Series in Large Market Television for a series titled “Inside MS-13” and the other was for the highly coveted Overall Excellence in Large Market Television.

In addition, the Society of Professional Journalists honored KPRC for the breaking news coverage from Santa Fe with a Sigma Delta Chi Award for excellence in journalism.

WDIV-Local 4 received the Murrow Award for Excellence in Sound in Large Market Television for “Criss-Cross Crash,” a beautifully crafted story that exemplifies the art of audio. Video journalists Alex Atwell and Hans Ihlenfeldt enhance the viewer’s experience of this story using multiple cameras, multiple microphones and sounds of the crowd’s reaction to a car and school bus racing in Flat Rock, Michigan.

“Our photographers are master storytellers who find special ways to craft a story. I couldn’t be more delighted to see Alex and Hans celebrated for their work,” said WDIV-Local 4’s News Director Kim Voet. “They are both the rare breed of journalists who excel technically, editorially and creatively in their reporting.”

WDIV-Local 4 is the only large market TV station in Michigan to win an Edward R. Murrow Award nationally or regionally. This is the third year in a row WDIV-Local 4 has won the Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Sound. WDIV also received a Regional Murrow award this year for Excellence in Social Media, highlighting WDIV’s multiplatform news approach led by Social Media Manager Ken Haddad.

“We are deeply humbled and honored that the Edward R. Murrow judges selected two of our stations for this prestigious recognition,” said Emily Barr, president and CEO of Graham Media Group. “I’m so proud of our teams at KPRC and WDIV-Local 4, who always put in extra effort to tell the stories of their regions with dignity and creativity. This award gives national recognition to the necessity and value of local reporting.”

The Radio Television Digital News Association has honored outstanding achievements in electronic journalism with the Edward R. Murrow Awards since 1971. Winners will be honored at the annual RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Awards Gala on Oct. 14 in New York City.

Graham Media Group, a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC), operates seven local media hubs -- each in a top-70 market and all recognized as news leaders: KPRC–Houston, WDIV–Detroit and WSLS–Roanoke (NBC); KSAT–San Antonio (ABC); WKMG–Orlando (CBS); WJXT–Jacksonville (fully local), and WCWJ–Jacksonville (CW).

Based in Detroit, Graham Digital is a digital media and technology development group widely recognized as a leading industry innovator. Social News Desk, headquartered in Atlanta, provides its 2500+ worldwide newsroom-customers with a single dashboard to publish, measure, curate and monetize local news content on social platforms. Website: https://www.grahammedia.com/

WJXT-TV4 wins the 2018-19 TV season

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The 2018-19 traditional Nielsen television season has come to a close and WJXT Channel 4 | THE Local Station is No. 1 in all local news areas and beat several major broadcast networks in entertainment programming in prime time, once again.

The station's newscasts delivered No. 1 result in all dayparts, continuing a run of dominance in the Jacksonville market.

“It’s incredibly humbling to see month after month, year after year how the community continues to make us their first choice for local news,” said Bob Ellis, WJXT vice president and general manager. “We take being Jacksonville's number one source for news very seriously. We know viewers look to us first for important local stories that make a difference in Jacksonville. That's our focus. That’s what being The Local Station is all about.”

Morning News continues to lead the charge, winning every major demo 4:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and in most time periods, beating all news competitors in the market combined.

News4JAX at 4:30 a.m. is No. 1 by 88% for Adult 25-54 ratings. News4JAX at 5 a.m. is No. 1 in the time period with a 2.4 Adult 25-54 rating, tying the combined competition of WTLV, WJXX, WJAX and WFOX.

At 5:30 a.m., News4JAX won by 93% with a 2.9, once again tying all other news competitors combined. News4JAX at 6 a.m. is No. 1 in Adults 25-54 ratings in the 6-7 a.m. time period, garnering a 3.2 Adult 25-54.

"The Morning Show" (7‑9 a.m.), anchored by Jennifer Waugh, Bruce Hamilton and Richard Nunn, is No. 1 in the time period with a 2.5 Adult 25-54 rating, beating out all other newscasts including the national broadcasts of NBC’s "Today" on WTLV, CBS "This Morning" on WJAX and ABC’s "Good Morning America" on WJXX. May 2019 marks "The Morning Show’s" 95th consecutive month winning the time period in HH ratings. At 9 a.m., "The Morning Show 2" beat "Today" with and without Megyn Kelly.

In evening news, News4JAX at 5 p.m. is most watched in the time period with a 1.9 A25‑54 rating. News4JAX at 5:30 p.m. is No. 1 in the time period with a 2.0 Adults 25-54 rating. News4JAX at 6 p.m. anchored by Tom Wills, Mary Baer and John Gaughan is No. 1 with a 2.2 Adult 25-54 rating, beating the closest competition by 22%.

The story continues in late news where WJXT is No. 1 with "The Ten O’Clock News" with a 2.3 rating and again at 10:30 p.m. with a 1.9 rating for Adults 25-54. News4JAX is No. 1 at 11 p.m. for Adults 25-54 with a 1.8.

WJXT continues to be a prominent choice for prime viewing in Jacksonville. The lineup of "Last Man Standing" and "The Big Bang Theory" beat ABC prime in every major demo for the 2018-19 season overall.

Source: Nielsen September 24, 2018-May 24, 2019 average. PAVs for News programming. Prime is based on time period averages WJXT and WFOX M-F 8p-10p, WTLV, WJXX, WJAX, WCWJ 8p-11p.

News4JAX partners with Visit Jacksonville for JaxBest Guide

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News4JAX.com has partnered with Visit Jacksonville to create an annual voter-centric guide highlighting the best local attractions and businesses that shape the city.

This resource will live year-round on the News4JAX.com website with new voting categories populated monthly. Winners of each category will be announced at the end of each voting phase, and will reign as the category winner over the next 12 months.

“Visit Jacksonville makes the perfect partner for the JAX BEST promotion because it is our mission to promote the best that Jacksonville has to offer to the world every day, so who better to help us find those top options than our local residents?” said Michael Corrigan, CEO and president of Visit Jacksonville. “We invite Jacksonville to watch WJXT and WCWJ for updates on the JAX BEST campaign, vote and help us choose the best attractions, parks, breweries, museums and experiences available in Jacksonville. We want the people that live here to help us spread the word on their favorite places in Jax!”

The first round of voting began June 17, and will cover the following 10 categories: Best Breweries, Trails, Dog Parks, Public Art, Coffee, Fishing Charters, Surf Spots, Animal Encounters, Golf Courses and Water Sports Rentals.

Winners from the first round will be announced the week of July 8, followed by a new set of categories the week of July 15.

“We’re extremely excited to be working with Visit Jacksonville to create the ultimate guide of all the best things our great city has to offer,” WJXT and WCWJ Vice President and General Manager Bob Ellis said. “The best local spots chosen entirely by local people is what makes this the definitive ‘Best of’ list. We can’t wait to unveil it.”

The inspiration behind JaxBest stemmed from the mutual desire to further educate residents and visitors alike on local businesses, events and attractions as our city continues to flourish. JaxBest will permanently live on News4JAX.com as an informational guide for users seeking new experiences around our city. To vote, please visit News4JAX.com/jaxbest.

KPRC-2 welcomes Graham coworkers as Houston hosts IRE 2019 conference

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Some of the best journalists in the country gathered in Houston for this year’s Investigative Reporters and Editors conference.

The event was held last week. KPRC-2, our Graham Media Group station in Houston, hosted a meetup for corporate employees along with a social event called Treat Yo’ Self at Grotto downtown.

The mission of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) is to foster excellence in investigative journalism.

The team at KPRC welcomed the folks from Graham with some good old Southern hospitality and some truly excellent Texas BBQ.

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The group had the chance to share its passion for investigative journalism with some of the other top reporters in the country. It was an opportunity to mix, mingle and more.

IRE was formed in 1975 to create a forum in which journalists throughout the world could help each other by sharing story ideas, newsgathering techniques and news sources.

IRE provides members access to thousands of reporting tip sheets and other materials through its resource center and hosts conferences and specialized training throughout the country.

Jacksonville chooses THE Local Station again in May 2019

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There were several big stories in the month of May in Jacksonville, including a passenger plane skidding off the runway at NAS JAX, and once again, THE Local Station, News4JAX finished the month as the No. 1 source for local news with Jacksonville households.

Morning news leads the way with News4JAX at 4:30 a.m., earning a 2.7 rating and 12 share for households. News4JAX at 5 a.m. is No. 1 in the time period, with a 3.3 household (HH) rating. At 5:30 a.m., News4JAX won with a 4.3, more than doubling the nearest competitor’s HH rating. News4JAX at 6 a.m. is No. 1 in the 6-7 a.m. time period, garnering a 5.8 HH rating and an impressive 20 share.
"The Morning Show" (7-9 a.m.), anchored by Jennifer Waugh, Bruce Hamilton and Richard Nunn, is No. 1 in the time period with a 6.1 HH rating and a 18 share, beating out all other newscasts including the national broadcasts of NBC’s "Today" on WTLV, CBS "This Morning" on WJAX and ABC’s "Good Morning America" on WJXX. At 9 a.m., "The Morning Show 2" beats "Today" by 91% with a 4.4 HH rating.

"River City Live" was No. 2 in the time period with a 2.0 HH rating for May. News4JAX at 4 p.m. did a 2.8 HH rating, beating "Judge Judy" and "Ellen."

In evening news, News4JAX at 5 p.m. is most watched in the time period, with a 5.2 HH rating. News4JAX at 5:30 p.m. is No. 1 in the time period, with a 5.4 HH rating. News4JAX at 6 p.m., anchored by Mary Baer, Tom Wills and John Gaughan, is No. 1 with a 6.1 HH rating and a 12 share.

The story continues in late news, as "The Ten O’Clock News" is the most-watched late newscast in the market. WJXT is No. 1 at 10 p.m. with a 4.8 HH rating and again at 10:30 p.m. with a 3.8 rating.

“We are very proud to again be the go-to place for local news in Jacksonville,” said Bob Ellis, WJXT and WCWJ vice president and general manager. “When reports came in that a passenger plane was in the St. Johns River, we knew it was a big story. Our coverage by the news team that the viewers of Jacksonville know and trust was appropriate and thorough. I’m very proud of how we covered this important breaking news story and helped the people of our community again this month.”

WKMG instrumental in getting texting and driving bill signed into Florida law

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WKMG-TV is pleased to announce that after nearly three years leading the charge to change the texting and driving law in Florida, a new bill has been signed into law.

This new law will make texting and driving a primary offense, which allows law enforcement to stop motorists who are texting while driving and write them citations.

Florida was one of only four states left in the country in which texting and driving was not a primary offense.

“It was a long and hard fight,” News 6 anchor Matt Austin said. “But now after nearly three years, 100 stories, more than a dozen trips to Tallahassee, and thousands of miles driving around Florida to track down decision makers, I am relieved Florida politicians finally did the right thing. They made safety a priority."

Austin has been the one of the driving forces in changing the law -- and one of the most outspoken proponents of this new legislation.

Together with News 6, his quest to create change began one night in September 2016.

In his car on the way home after the 11 p.m. newscast, Austin was stopped at a red light. Suddenly, there was a blinding blow to the back of his head. He was knocked unconscious. Hit full-force by a driver who never even tapped his brakes, Austin had been rear-ended by a driver who admitted he was texting and driving.

The impact was so forceful it sent his little girl’s car seat directly into the back of his head. When he regained consciousness, bloody and in a state of confusion, Austin struggled to dial 911. His immediate thoughts were, "My three little girls are usually always sitting in the back seat!"

The driver who hit Austin was not ticketed for the crash. The police at the scene said there was nothing they could do under the existing law. While at home recuperating from a severe concussion and 10 stiches to his head, viewers began asking why Austin wasn't at the news desk. He shared his story via social media and the flood gates opened.

Austin heard from people who had experienced similar situations, and those who had even tragically lost loved ones. He knew he had to be their voice.

Austin’s journey to drive change began the very next day, a journey News 6 has called “Driving Change.” The initiative's goal has been to make texting and driving a primary offense in the state of Florida.

“We started by bringing awareness to the holes in the current texting and driving law,” WKMG news director Allison McGinley said. “Then we knew we had to share the stories of those who had been directly affected by texting and driving. That included our own Matt Austin, who testified before the Florida Legislature's Judiciary Committee in Tallahassee.”

“This crisis we have in our state right now of texting and driving wound up in my back seat,” Austin said before the Judiciary Committee.

“Matt Austin told his story and that of many Floridians endangered by those who text and drive," Vice President and General Manager Jeff Hoffman said. “His commitment to see this through over a nearly three-year battle represents the very best of all who get results for WKMG News 6.”

News 6 almost saw a victory in 2017, but the bills to toughen the texting and driving law died in both the state House and Senate committees. There was a glimmer of hope again in 2018 when the House overwhelmingly approved a bill that would finally make texting and driving a primary offense, but it was stalled in the Senate.

This year, both the House and the Senate worked to pass a bill to bring Florida in line with the 44 other states. That bill was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis on May 17, 2019.

“As a local television station, this is the role you hope you can play for the community you serve," Hoffman said. "You see a problem, and together with your neighbors, you work to solve it. When you can ultimately change laws that can save lives, well, that is what good journalism is all about. That is what being of service to your community is all about."

The entire timeline of Matt’s Austin’s fight to bring this bill into law can be found by clicking or tapping here.

WDIV, Graham Media Group to launch revolutionary Next-Gen TV by 2020

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Get ready for the next big thing to hit your television screen, and it's guaranteed to revolutionize your viewing experience.

WDIV-TV and its parent company, Graham Media Group, announced Wednesday that WDIV will be launching Next-Gen TV services by the end of 2020.

This is exciting news for viewers because it will provide more stunning pictures, immersive and customizable audio, and other innovative features to get you all of the content most relevant to you, greatly enhancing services and viewership.

The internet protocol-based broadcast platform can deliver data to millions of receivers at once without bottlenecks from online traffic, and it will provide information and entertainment to equipped receivers, along with digital and mobile devices.

“The collaborative effort needed to launch this new technology requires that broadcasters work together for the benefit of our viewers," Graham Media Group President and CEO Emily Barr said. "Graham and WDIV look forward to launching the new Next-Gen TV station and the eventual launch of our own advanced signals on this platform. The future of television insures a more expansive experience, with high dynamic range video and advanced audio features that will immerse viewers as never before."

Next-Gen TV is powered by the new internet Protocol-based ATSC 3.0 standard, which allows consumers to integrate the most popular and pervasive video service -- broadcast television -- into their digital lifestyles.

Viewers can rest assured this does not necessarily mean a new TV will be required to take advantage of Next-Gen TV. Just as other devices have emerged with existing TV sets, adaptors and gateways will be made available.

WDIV, along with other broadcasters within the Top 40 markets, will be among the first to convert to the service in the rollout coming to viewers next year.

Click here to learn more about Next-Gen TV.

WSLS embraces cutting-edge technology in new studio

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In late April, WSLS-TV celebrated its first day in a new building, which hadn't happened in more than 63 years.

The team unveiled the new set on "Virginia Today." The new studio is the culmination of many months of hard work, and more than a year of planning.

Roanoke's first television news station has moved from downtown to a location that's close to the Berglund Center. WSLS now boasts a brand-new, state-of-the-art set with all the latest television broadcast technology.

Graham Media Group CEO Emily Barr said it's as much the viewers' home as it is the station's.

"The building by itself is going to be the key," Barr said. "It's the magic that happens inside."

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WSLS team members spent weeks extensively training on the new set, doing rehearsal after rehearsal. The production department put in a lot of long days and nights, learning the ins and outs of the new advanced system. Without this team, the newscast couldn't happen.

It took at least 15 miles of cables to make this set come to life.

"This set embraces a lot of new technology (and) a lot of display technology that's just being developed," said Michael Wright, a set designer.

Wright meticulously designed every square inch of this set.

"It's like having a baby," Wright said. "It really is giving birth to something and it's a lot of moving parts -- a lot of interrelated pieces so I am super proud of it."

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There's a news cube wall, which allows a 90-degree turn in video.

As Wright explains, it's the tiny details that really make the set pop.

"The hard scenics on the set are fabric, printed fabric," said Wright. "Like you print shirts in the store, they can now print fabrics for scenery and that's built with internal lights so that instead of the old days that you front light from the studio, this is internally lit so it has more of a luminous feel -- and that in turn makes talent look good."

The new set also enhances Storm Team 10's ability to track severe weather.

KPRC salutes service members, families during Military Appreciation Month

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Throughout the month of May, KPRC 2 salutes the service and sacrifice of our service members and their families during Military Appreciation Month.

KPRC 2’s 2019 Military Appreciation on-air and digital campaigns will feature our reporters and anchors who have served, are serving, or have family members who are in the military or are veterans.

KPRC 2 News Today meteorologist Britta Merwin, traffic reporter and anchor Jennifer Reyna, reporter Vincent Crivelli, reporter Brittany Jeffers, and anchors Bill Balleza and Khambrel Marshall salute the service of their family members and each other in on-air promos.

KPRC 2’s multiplatform campaign is also spotlighting a partnership with the Houston Chapter of the Blue Star Mothers of America service organization. We encourage viewers to “join our mission” by sending care packages consisting of new and unused personal hygiene items, unworn socks, snacks, reading materials and any other items that will lift the spirits of our brave men and women serving in combat zones and overseas. KPRC 2 will host an internal station drive for supplies, joining forces with the Blue Star Mothers to assemble, wrap and ship the care packages to our local service members.

Another digital component will be the return of “Tell It 2 Us,” our man-on-the-street forum, where Houston-area veterans are given the opportunity to speak about topics like their reasons for enlisting, life lessons learned and veteran-based issues they would like to address.

Viewers will also be encouraged to make their voices heard by recording their own thoughts on these issues on camera and then emailing them to tellit2us@kprc.com or Militarymay@kprc.com. Submissions should be 30 seconds or less, and files no larger than 30MB. Videos will be shared to KPRC 2’s Facebook page and on click2houston.com/military.

“We are proud of the service and sacrifice of our extended KPRC 2 family,” KPRC 2 Vice President and General Manager Jerry Martin said. “We salute the mission of the Blue Star Mothers and our service members both on-air and throughout our Houston community.”

Join our mission by following or posting using these hashtags: #KPRC2 #KPRCMILITARYMAY #TELLIT2US and by visiting click2houston.com/military.

Blue Star Mothers of America Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)3 service organization dedicated to supporting members of the armed forces and their families while promoting patriotism. The Houston Chapter sends more than 1,200 care packages over the course of a year.

Graham Media Group, a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Co. (NYSE: GHC), owns seven local television stations, each in a top-70 market and all recognized as news leaders: KPRC–Houston, WDIV–Detroit and WSLS–Roanoke (NBC); KSAT–San Antonio (ABC); WKMG–Orlando(CBS); WJXT–Jacksonville (fully local); and WCWJ–Jacksonville (CW), as well as Social News Desk, a leading provider of social media management tools designed to connect newsrooms with their users.

The stations also broadcast digital channels focusing on classic television and lifestyle programming, in addition to operating market-leading websites, mobile sites and mobile apps delivering breaking news, weather and community news, reaching millions of users across each platform. All are deeply involved in local initiatives and public service projects designed to serve, inform and improve their respective communities.

WKMG lands major 'Celebration of Service to America' win

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Graham Media Group's WKMG-TV has been selected as the "Service to Community" award-winner in the large-market television category, for its work serving as a legislative lifeline for first-responders.

The National Association of Broadcasters Leadership Foundation (NABLF), formerly the NAB Education Foundation, just this week revealed the winners of the 2019 Celebration of Service to America Awards, which recognize outstanding community service by local broadcasters.

WKMG-TV presented a series of investigative reports featuring first-responders diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, providing a platform for these men and women to expose the state’s failure to recognize PTSD as a real medical injury.

Under Florida law at the time, workers’ compensation insurance was not available for those diagnosed with PTSD unless they could prove they were also physically injured during the emergency call.

The station’s reporting began with the story of one of the officers assigned to remove the dead from the Pulse Nightclub shooting.

This segment led to a flood of responses from first-responders struggling with PTSD who had been afraid to come forward.

On March 27, 2018, then-Gov. Rick Scott signed the Workers’ Compensation Benefits for First Responders Act into law.

Scott said WKMG-TV’s reporting was instrumental in the passage and signing of the new law.

WKMG, among the other winners, will be honored at the Celebration of Service to America dinner, held June 11 at The Anthem, a riverside venue in Southwest Washington.

“America’s local radio and television stations have a deeply rooted commitment to public service,” said NABLF President Marcellus Alexander. “This year’s STA winners epitomize broadcasters’ devotion to positively impacting their communities and creating a lasting difference. We look forward to recognizing their exceptional work.”

From August 2016 through March 2018, WKMG-TV investigated and presented its series of reports. Florida first-responders and their families reached out to WKMG-TV to help them bring awareness to people quietly suffering with PTSD.

News 6's reporting marked an opportunity to build community awareness of the unseen injuries that left a trail of broken souls and suicides. It all began with Orlando Police Department first-responder Gerry Realin, one of the seven assigned to remove the dead from the Pulse Nightclub. His story led to a floodgate of first-responders struggling with PTSD, but afraid to come forward. That was the constant theme of the reporting, and the evidence was clear: These victims needed someone to recognize PTSD as a real illness deserving of medical compensation.

“Stories about the people affected made the difference," Scott said. "That’s how legislation gets passed.”

WJXT-TV4 wins every major local news area in April

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THE Local Station continues to be Jacksonville’s No. 1 source for local news and swept all major news areas with adult ages 25-54 viewers, the most coveted demographic for television advertisers.

Morning news leads the way with News4JAX at 4:30 a.m. earning a 1.9 rating and 13-share for adults 25-54.

News4JAX at 5 a.m. is No. 1 in the time period with a 2.3 A25-54 rating. At 5:30 a.m., News4JAX won with a 2.8, nearly doubling the nearest competitor's A25-54 rating.

News4JAX at 6 a.m. is No. 1 with adults in the 6 to 7 a.m. time period, garnering a 3.3 A25-54 rating and an impressive 20 share.

"The Morning Show," which runs from 7 to 9 a.m., anchored by Bruce Hamilton, Jennifer Waugh and Richard Nunn, is No. 1 in the time period with a 2.5 A25-54 rating and a 15-share, beating out all other newscasts, including the national broadcasts of NBC’s "Today Show" on WTLV, CBS "This Morning" on WJAX and ABC’s "Good Morning America" on WJXX.

At 9 a.m., "The Morning Show 2" beats "Today" by 50%, with a 1.5 A25-54.

News4JAX at 4 p.m. and "Inside Edition" take the time period with a 1.3 A25-54, beating "Dr. Phil," "Judge Judy" and "Ellen."

In evening news, News4JAX at 5 p.m. is the most-watched in the time period with a 1.9 A25-54 rating. News4JAX at 5:30 p.m. is No. 1 in the time period with a 2.0 A25-54 rating. News4JAX at 6 p.m., anchored by Tom Wills, Mary Baer and John Gaughan, is No. 1 with a 2.3 A25-54 rating and a 9-share.

The story continues in late news, with wins in The Ten O’Clock News at 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

WJXT is No. 1 at 10 p.m. with a 2.8 A25-54 rating and again at 10:30 p.m. with a 2.3 rating.

News4JAX was No. 1 at 11 p.m. with a 2.1 A25-54, beating both the WJAX and WFOX Action News newscasts, even when added together.

Late news has seen year-over-year growth, particularly at 10 p.m., where it is seeing a 27% increase over last April.

“In a month with a tremendous amount of important local news and severe weather that threatened the safety of our viewers, we’re proud to be the go-to place for critical information for our community,” said WJXT/WCWJ Vice President and General Manager Bob Ellis. “Serving Jacksonville as The Local Station is what we’re all about.”

Graham Media Group honored with 6 prestigious Murrow awards

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Three Graham Media Group television stations are proud recipients of a combined six Regional 2019 Edward R. Murrow Awards by the Radio Television Digital News Association.

Houston’s KPRC 2 received three awards, including the highly coveted Overall Excellence in Large Market Television, which recognizes the station’s commitment to quality journalism. KPRC’s entry in this category featured examples of breaking news, investigations and special event coverage, as well as community service initiatives and digital content.

Another of KPRC 2’s Regional Murrow Awards was presented for Best News Series in Large Market Television for “Inside MS-13,” Anchor/Reporter Jacob Rascon’s in-depth reports on the notoriously violent transnational gang, and the evolving fight against it from El Salvador to Houston.

KPRC 2 News at 6 p.m. was awarded Best Newscast in Large Market Television for “Tragedy in Santa Fe,” which featured team coverage of the May 2018 school shootings in Santa Fe, Texas. The KPRC team worked to provide complete and compassionate coverage to its community in the immediate wake of such a horrific event.

WDIV-Local 4/ClickOnDetroit received two awards, including Excellence in Sound in Large Market Television for “Criss-Cross Crash,” a beautifully crafted story that exemplifies the art of audio. WDIV-Local 4/ClickOnDetroit’s second Regional Murrow Award was presented for Social Media in Large Market Television, recognizing several examples including “Death of Aretha Franklin,” and “Meteor in Michigan,” to name a few. Their digital efforts offer unparalleled social media coverage to provide useful, concise information on topics important to the audience.

Roanoke’s WSLS 10 was recognized for Excellence in Innovation in Small Market Television for “In the Navy,” a series featuring what it’s like to be a sailor for a day with News Anchor John Carlin attempting the Navy’s water survival training course.

“We’re honored by our team’s recognition by our peers in the Radio Television Digital News Association,” Graham Media Group President and Chief Executive Officer Emily Barr said. “Our main mission is to inform and celebrate the communities we serve. We share these awards with our viewers and the communities we so proudly cover.”

Graham Media Group’s six regional winning entries will now go on to the national RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Awards judging round. Winners will be announced in June, and presented at the annual RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Awards Gala on Oct. 14 in New York City.

The Radio Television Digital News Association has honored outstanding achievements in electronic journalism with the Edward R. Murrow Awards since 1971. Award recipients demonstrate the spirit of excellence that Murrow set as a standard for the profession of electronic journalism.

Graham Media Group wins 5 Local Media Association Digital Innovation Awards

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Graham Media Group took home five Digital Innovation Awards from the Local Media Association earlier this week.

The contest recognizes the best digital innovation in the industry.

Newspapers, TV stations, radio stations and digital news sites competed for top honors, making this the only contest of its kind.

Below are the award specifics:

Best Social Media Strategy

--Second Place: WDIV/Graham Media (Above 750,000 unique visitors)

Best New Digital Initiative

--Second Place: KPRC/Graham Media, Eyes of Texas (Above 750,000 unique visitors)

--Third Place: WKMG/Graham Media On the Go (Below 750,000 unique visitors)

Best Contest and/or Promotion

--First Place: WDIV/Graham Media (4Frenzy)

Judges’ comments: "The promotion earns rich engagement from the community; the revenue is one thing, but the community’s brand affinity will pay dividends for years."

--Third place: Third Place: WDIV/Graham Media (4theBest)