Reviving “Eyewitness News This Morning” will be one of the first priorities of the new general manager at Channel 7.
Michael Nurse, who has been patiently waiting to take over as the GM of the ABC affiliate, was named Tuesday as Bill Ransom’s replacement, effective July 1. That’s the day after Ransom retires.
For the last 11 years, Nurse has been Channel 7’s station manager, vice president of sales and presumed heir apparent to Ransom. His appointment as president and general manager of Channel 7 was announced by Duane Lammers, chief operating officer of Granite Broadcasting.
As GM, Nurse will oversee the station’s operations and various programming and sales functions, Granite said.
In a telephone interview Tuesday, Nurse said he was “anxious to implement positive changes across the board. The biggest issue is improving our internal morale and perception of ourselves.”
The dominant news station in the market for decades, Channel 7 has since fallen deeply into third place in news across the board for multiple reasons. They include Buffalo’s entrance as a metered market in 2000; the loss of Oprah Winfrey as a news lead-in; and the financial problems of the station’s owners that led to the news department having the smallest staff in town.
Channel 7 is especially weak early in the morning, with “Eyewitness News This morning” receiving half the rating of first place Channel 2’s “Daybreak” and Channel 4’s second place “Wake Up!”
During the May sweeps, “Daybreak” and “Wake Up” both received ratings gains following anchor changes. Melissa Holmes replaced Jodi Johnston as John Beard’s co-anchor on Channel 2 “Daybreak” and Channel 4’s new “Wake Up” team of Diana Fairbanks and Jordan Williams was part of its first sweeps period.
“We’re reviewing the morning program,” Nurse said. “We’re looking at ways to revamp and reboot it to make it more competitive.”
Nurse’s job of revamping the morning may have been made a little easier by the decision of morning co-anchor Patrick Taney to leave at the end of July for a job as a morning anchor at WHEC-TV in Rochester. Like Taney, the contract of morning co-anchor Ginger Geoffery is believed to be up this fall. Her future is unclear, with the looming possibility that the station will decide to go with a whole new morning co-anchor team as Channel 4 has done.
A native of Boston, the GM-in-waiting said that coming up with a strategic plan to show his Granite bosses before he was named GM gave him “an opportunity to step back and look at our strengths and weaknesses.” He added he has another month to think about ways to improve Channel 7 because Ransom doesn’t leave until June 30.
“We have a good core of people,” said Nurse. “We have to do a better job packaging and presenting our news.”