ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, the top-rated station for local news, is aggressively expanding its local news footprint. Starting Aug. 2, WLS will add an additional half-hour to its early news show, which will now run from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m.
The WLS early morning anchor line-up, including Judy Hsu and Hosea Sanders, meteorologist Tracy Butler and traffic reporter Roz Varon, will not change. WLS is bringing on an additional reporter to cover breaking news on its early morning news. She is Jessica D'Onofrio, who had been with WKMG-Channel 6 in Orlando, Fla., for the past six years. Chicago is D'Onofrio's hometown.
WLS also is adding an additional hour of news on Saturday mornings starting at 8 a.m., effective Sept. 4 The station already has a 6 a.m. newscast on Saturdays. Stacey Baca will anchor both Saturday newscasts along with meteorologist Mark Bishop.
WLS news director Jennifer Graves clearly intends to ensure that WLS remains positioned as the go-to channel for local news in the Chicago market. "This is a great opportunity for us to fill increasingly important morning time periods for viewers who are in the habit of turning to ABC 7 for news and weather," said Graves.
WLS's move to add an extra half-hour of early news programming on weekdays comes on the heels of Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9's decision to add an additional half hour of early news, effective Aug. 16. NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5's early morning news has started at 4:30 a.m. since January of 2007.
WLS also is adding its half hour on the same day that Anna Davlantes and Corey McPherrin take over as co-anchors from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. of Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 9's "Good Day Chicago" early morning show.