KBJR, CBS 3 join forces as Northern News Now
Local newscasts are now on CBS at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. weekdays.
"Local television viewing today centers on live, local programming with a commitment to community. It is our mission to continue to deliver the information that our viewers have grown to rely on," Todd Wentworth, Northern News Now vice president and general manager, said in a news release.
Northern News Now will deliver over 25 hours of original local newscasts weekly on its NBC and CBS affiliate stations. Changes include simulcasts on channels 3 and 6 of the morning (5-7 a.m.) and late-night (10 p.m.) programs. The move allows for local newscasts on CBS at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on weekdays.
Prior to being acquired by Atlanta-based Gray Television, Inc. in August 2021, the stations were owned by Illinois-based Quincy Newspapers Inc. since 2015. Wentworth has been with the station for 40 years as it has undergone periodic changes in Federal Communications Commission rules.
While Gray Television is the second-largest broadcast company in the country, Wentworth said it provides complete autonomy to run the television stations in Duluth and Superior as the stations see fit.
Gray Television owns four primary local stations in the area: KBJR (an NBC affiliate), NBJR (a CBS affiliate), KBLH (CW) and OBJR (Heroes & Icons and My Network TV), known locally as My 9 with sports programs such as University of Minnesota Duluth athletics.
Coverage extends from the Canadian border to Cloquet and northern Pine County, to Northwestern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Neither the geographical coverage area nor distribution to cable and satellite of the station will change, Wentworth said.
Under the previous structure of the newsroom, CBS and NBC operated two separate control rooms at the same Canal Park location, 246 S. Lake Ave., to provide two distinct, locally produced programs, Wentworth said.
"News distributors struggled with that. In a smaller television market, there may not be quite as much news happening as in a major market, so you see a lot of duplication. Combining the newsrooms and resources allows them to go out and cover more stories," Wentworth said. "The key is to put more content onto our television stations at a variety of times for people to watch when it best suits their lifestyles, known as a checkerboard programming."
The decision to combine the newsrooms was based on research and consumer input, according to Wentworth.
The station's staff of more than 30 reporters, producers, photojournalists, interns and web content designers were notified of the change in April. Wentworth anticipates potentially expanding the newsroom in late 2023, as more content production will equate to more people needed.
A gradual introduction to the new structure began earlier this summer and increased in September on Labor Day weekend. The stations ran a simulcast over Fourth of July weekend and during primary election day Aug. 9, Wentworth said. Branding updates to the KBJR and CBS social media and websites is underway.