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Gators Breakdown podcast reaches 1 million listens

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When Dave Waters first began recording a University of Florida Gators-themed podcast in 2016, it was just a hobby. He never expected it to explode in popularity -- skyrocketing from 100 listens an episode to 6,000.

Now, nearly three years later, Gators Breakdown has become a top sports podcast on iTunes. This week, Waters reached yet another milestone on his journey by cracking the one-million listens mark.

“It’s still hard to believe that former players I grew up watching, ESPN and SEC Network personalities, reporters … trust what Gators Breakdown is doing and hop on to talk Gators football with me,” Waters said.

Waters, 35, got his start at WJXT in news production in 2006. Soon, he began volunteering to shoot football games. Still, it wasn’t until 10 years later that he parlayed his love of the Gators into a podcast. These days, he's a commercial production manager for WJXT.

Bob Ellis, vice president and general manager of WJXT/WCWJ, said he encourages all employees to pursue their passion, and in Waters' case, that's tracking the latest developments in Gators football.

"There's no substitute for someone who cares about the subject they're covering," Ellis said. "That's been one of the secret ingredients in our station's success over the years. Our team really cares."

As Ellis points out, podcasts like Gators Breakdown are just another way for the station to connect with its community ‑ and a reflection of viewers' and readers' appetite for high-quality sports content.

"Our commitment to local sports content -- high school and college sports especially -- on all of our content platforms is the best it's been in years," Ellis said. "Dave's been a big part of that."

Follow @GatorDave_SEC to stay plugged in, or click one of the following to tune in: Megaphone | iTunes | YouTube | Google Play

Graham Media Group’s podcast division partners with our broadcast television stations to create compelling, original audio content, bringing captivating stories to new audiences and giving listeners more stories to love. Headed by Zak Rosen, our podcasts have gained national attention with the popularity of the true-crime series Shattered, and the series Mismatch, featuring interesting stories about the incompatible, unsuitable and out of step. Learn more at grahammedia.com/podcasts.

WJXT-TV4 wins big in morning, early and late news areas in March

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THE Local Station is again Jacksonville’s No. 1 source for local news -- and swept all morning and late news areas with the Jacksonville viewers for the month of March.

Morning News leads the way with News4JAX at 4:30 a.m., more than doubling the nearest competitor’s HH ratings. News4JAX at 5 a.m. is No. 1 in the time period with a 4.4 HH rating, beating the competition combined.

At 5:30 a.m., News4JAX won with a 5.2. News4JAX at 6 a.m. is No. 1 with households in the 6 to 7 a.m. time period, garnering a 6.3 and an impressive 21 share. The Morning Show (7 to 9 a.m.), anchored by Jennifer Waugh, Bruce Hamilton and Richard Nunn, is No. 1 in the time period with a 6.4 HH rating and an 19 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's" third hour with a 4.9 HH rating.

In Evening News, News4JAX at 5 p.m. is most-watched in the time period, with a 5.4 HH rating. News4JAX increases that to a 5.8 HH rating and, again, wins the time period. News4JAX at 6 p.m., anchored by Tom Wills, Mary Baer and John Gaughan, is No. 1 with a 7.2 HH rating and a 14 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 5.6 HH rating and again at 10:30 with a 4.4 HH rating. News4JAX was No. 1 at 11 p.m. with a 4.2 HH rating.

WCWJ continues to see great growth in "Access with Mom" and "Blackish," increasing HH ratings year over year as well as month over month. "Dateline" at 10 p.m. has doubled the rating in the time period from March 2018, and increased its HH rating from the month prior.

“March was another terrific month with local events on our station that demonstrated our commitment to Jacksonville as the only true local TV station. In addition to our local news, our coverage of the only debate with all qualified mayoral candidates, election night itself, and our exclusive coverage of the Gate River Run were again indicators there’s no other station like Channel 4 in town,” said Bob Ellis, vice president and general manager of WJXT and CW17.

News4Jax team joins executive producer's fight, works to raise money for ALS cure

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You never know when life is going to throw you a curve ball.

For Sharon Siegel-Cohen, one of the executive producers on The Morning Show at Channel 4, it started as something quite innocuous.

“I tripped when we were on a family vacation and had trouble with my ankle,” Siegel-Cohen said. "The problem persisted for months and neither I, nor my doctors, could figure out what was wrong."

It took doctors some time, but they eventually figured out what was going on. Siegel-Cohen has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS -- sometimes known as Lou Gehrig's disease, a disorder that affects the function of nerves and muscles that tends to strike people between the ages of 40 and 70.

About 5,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year -- that's more than 13 new cases a day. It's estimated there are more than 20,000 Americans living with it at any given time.

"I was in denial at first," Siegel-Cohen said. “But then I decided to use my voice and fight this disease and do what I can to help find a cure.”

Since her diagnosis, raising awareness about ALS has become Siegel-Cohen's mission, and her family on The Morning Show is dedicated to helping her. Now, WJXT-TV would like you to join in on that mission.

On Tuesday night, Bruce, Melanie, Crystal, Richard, Vic and Elizabeth from Channel 4 will be working as celebrity servers at Brucci's Pizza near Beach Boulevard and Hodges, and Siegel-Cohen will be there, too.

All the money the Channel 4 team raises through tips between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. will be donated to the local ALS Society.

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The Florida Times-Union, also known as jacksonville.com, also recently featured Siegel-Cohen in a column by Mike Clark.

Clark described how he got to know Siegel-Cohen in 1980, as he reviewed movies for Channel 4.

"Sharon was my producer and helped me adjust to the demands of reading a teleprompter," Clark said. "Saying something meaningful in 90 seconds was a good writing lesson. Trying to appear both authoritative and relaxed was quite a challenge. Sharon, a first-rate talent, took good care. We even did a few standups outside the studio."

Clark also drew attention to Jacksonville’s Walk for A Cure, which will take place Saturday, March 30, at Tinseltown. You can sign up and contribute here.

"Sharon’s Songbirds" is the name of her group. Siegel-Cohen also will be honored May 4, as she's set to receive a Courage Award at a gala to benefit Augie’s Quest, a reference to Augie Nieto, co-founder and CEO of Life Fitness. Augie’s Quest is a nonprofit dedicated to helping find a treatment and cure for ALS.

WJXT-TV4 wins big in morning, early and late news areas in February

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THE Local Station is again Jacksonville’s No. 1 source for local news, and swept all morning and late news areas with the Jacksonville viewers for the month of February.

Morning News leads the way with News4JAX at 4:30 a.m. No. 1 nearly tripling the nearest competitor’s HH ratings. News4JAX at 5 a.m. is No. 1 in the time period with a 4.1 HH rating, more than doubling the nearest competitor. At 5:30 a.m., News4JAX won with a 4.9.

News4JAX at 6 a.m. is No. 1 with households in the 6 to 7 a.m. time period garnering a 6.1 and an impressive 21 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 5.9 HH rating and an 18 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 Show" third hour with a 4.1 HH rating.

In Evening News, News4JAX at 5 p.m. is the most watched in the time period with a 5.2 HH rating. News4JAX at 6 p.m., anchored by Mary Baer, Tom Wills and John Gaughan, is No. 1, with a 7.1 HH rating and a 13 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 5.0 HH rating and again at 10:30 p.m. with a 3.6 HH rating. News4JAX was No. 1 at 11 pm with a 3.7 HH rating.

“It is extremely gratifying to see how the people of Jacksonville trust News4JAX above all others for their local news,” said Bob Ellis, vice president and general manager of WJXT and CW17. “The commitment of our staff to tell important stories from all areas of town and make Jacksonville a better place is real. To know month after month viewers count on us as their primary source of news makes us fiercely proud and reinforces our commitment as this city’s only true local television station.”

First Coast Spelling Bee to crown regional champion

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WJXT will host the 75th annual First Coast Spelling Bee driven by Jenkins Hyundai of Jacksonville on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

Spellers representing 14 area counties will take the stage at Jacksonville University’s Swisher Theatre to compete for the opportunity to represent the First Coast at the Scripps National Spelling Bee near Washington, DC.

News4JAX Anchor Melanie Lawson again will serve as pronouncer while News4JAX Anchor Bruce Hamilton hosts the broadcast with analysis provided by Jeff Hess, FSCJ Dean of Communication. The First Coast Spelling Bee is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:45 p.m.

WHAT: First Coast Spelling Bee driven by Jenkins Hyundai of Jacksonville

WHEN: 8 p.m., Tuesday, February 19

WHERE: Jacksonville University’s Swisher Theatre 2800 University Blvd. North Jacksonville

The First Coast Spelling Bee will be broadcast live on WJXT Channel 4 and streamed on News4JAX.com from 8 to 10 p.m.

Participating Spellers in Spelling Order:

  1. Ansley Cutshaw of Nassau County
  2. Cassie Clay of Suwannee County
  3. Jenna Hinson of Madison County
  4. Cyanne Carey of Baker County
  5. Sarah Welch of Hamilton County
  6. Graham Glasheen of Duval County
  7. Patrick Narcowich of Union County
  8. Armand KÜykendall of Putnam County
  9. Brandon Plum of Bradford County
  10. Erik Williams of Clay County
  11. Addison Davis of Flagler County
  12. Nicholas Chowdhury of Columbia County
  13. Francheska Melendez of Alachua County
  14. Manischa Wijayawardhana of St. Johns County

WJXT announces 'HaLeigh Cummings: Into Thin Air' podcast and News4Jax I-Team special reports

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WJXT has announced a new four-episode podcast "HaLeigh Cummings: Into Thin Air," an original true-crime podcast.

Jennifer Waugh sets the scene of a little girl from Putnam County who vanished from bed. She was sleeping right next to her little brother. Hundreds of people searched for her, but she was never found.

“Ten years ago, this story captivated North Florida as details emerged after HaLeigh’s disappearance," WJXT VP and General Manager Bob Ellis said. "A decade later, there’s still more to learn about what happened. Jennifer Waugh was a major part of the coverage for the entire city when this happened ten years ago, and she’s spent the past several months investigating to provide fresh perspective with news stories for all platforms of News4Jax, including a riveting podcast.”

In addition, in the week leading up to the 10th year of HaLeigh’s disappearance, lead investigators broke their silence during a series of special reports. For the first time ever, they reveal their theories about who they believe is responsible for HaLeigh’s disappearance and where they think she is now.

WJXT hopes the "HaLeigh Cummings: Into Thin Air" stories and podcast series will generate new leads. Viewers and podcast listeners can call 888-277-TIPS and could be eligible for a $15,000 reward.

The "HaLeigh Cummings: Into Thin Air" podcast premieres Feb. 11. The entire series will be available for free on preferred podcast listening platforms. The series of special reports airs Feb. 4-8 on WJXT’s The Morning Show, Feb. 7 on News4JAX at 5 p.m., and Feb. 10 on The 10 O’Clock News.

WJXT-TV4 wins every major local news area in November

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Once again, THE Local Station is Jacksonville’s No. 1 source for local news, and WJXT has swept all major news areas with the adult 25-54 viewers -- the most coveted demographic for television advertisers.

Morning news leads the way with News4JAX at 4:30 a.m., beating the combined competition’s A25-54 ratings. News4JAX at 5 a.m. is No. 1 in the time period with a 2.5 A25-54 rating, again beating the combined competition of WTLV, WJXX, WJAX and WFOX.

At 5:30 a.m., News4JAX won with a 3.1, more than doubling the nearest competitors' A25-54 rating. News4JAX at 6 a.m. is No. 1 with adults in the 6-7 a.m. time period, garnering a 3.1 A25-54 rating and an impressive 19 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 2.6 A25-54 rating and a 16 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" beats "Today" with and without Megyn Kelly, with a 1.4 A25-54.

News4JAX at 4 p.m. and "Inside Edition" take the time period with a 1.4 A25-54, beating "Dr. Phil," "Judge Judy" and "Ellen."

In evening news, News4JAX at 5 p.m. is most watched in the time period, with a 2.1 A25-54 rating. News4JAX at 5:30 p.m. is No. 1 in the time period with a 2.1 A25-54 rating. News4JAX at 6 p.m., anchored by Mary Baer, Tom Wills and John Gaughan, is No. 1 with a 2.1 A25-54 rating and an 8 share.

The story continues in late news, with wins in The Ten O’Clock News at 10 and 10:30. WJXT is No. 1 at 10 p.m. with a 2.4 A25-54 rating and again at 10:30 p.m. with a 2.1 rating. News4JAX was No. 1 at 11 p.m. with a 1.8 A25-54, beating both the WJAX and WFOX Action News newscasts, even when added together.

“It is incredibly gratifying to our entire staff to see month after month, year after year, the viewers of Jacksonville choose News4JAX as their number one choice for local news,” Vice President and General Manager Bob Ellis said. “We are so proud to be Jacksonville’s only truly local television station, serving this community and seeing how they respond to our commitment makes us work even harder to make Jacksonville a better place to live.”