Starting this fall, mid-Missourians can watch their weeknight newscast at a new time and station with a new anchor. The local Fox affiliate, KQFX, plans to debut its first live newscast by late October at the 9 p.m. time slot.
The station joins more than 125 Fox affiliates across the country that broadcast their nightly news an hour ahead of the traditional networks.
Curtis Varns, news director for KQFX and KMIZ-TV, said the local Fox station will be in step with other Fox affiliates that aim earlier newscasts at “a younger and fast-moving audience,” who are not routine news viewers.
KQFX is Channel 11 on Mediacom cable in Columbia and Jefferson City, and a weak antenna signal for the station is available on Channel 2. In the past, Fox11 has aired the 6 and 10 p.m. news from KMIZ, but right now the only KMIZ news being broadcast is the tape-delayed morning show. Varns said Fox11 plans to replace the rebroadcast with its own programming.
Springfield’s Fox affiliate, KDEB, has been successful since it launched a similar 9 p.m. newscast in 2000, according to the station’s news director, Polly Zan Doren-Orr. She said that with people working longer hours and going to bed earlier, they are finding the new time more convenient. Zan Doren-Orr said the Fox newscast attracts about three times more viewers than the 10 o’clock show on Springfield’s ABC station.
Another similarity between the Springfield station and Columbia’s KQFX is a dependency on a station already established. Zan Doren-Orr, who serves as news director for both the Fox and CBS stations in Springfield, said the stations share some of the same resources, especially in the weather department. Some of the employees at KMIZ will cross over to KQFX as well.
“I’ve told the staff, it’s like at KMIZ when we had a 5 and 6 o’clock newscast, now we’ll have a 9 and 10,” Varns said. “Basically, we’re gonna make both stations work.”
The Fox11 show will have a few more news stories and less emphasis on sports, according to Varns, because many of the games are not over by 9.
Bridget Blevins will take the lead role as anchor and producer of the Fox11 newscast. Varns said Blevins will be given editorial control over the show and do most of the writing, anchoring and editing. The job won’t be anything new to Blevins –
she’s held the same two-pronged title at KQTV in St. Joseph for three years.
Zan Doren-Orr said the key is to make sure each station has a different look and feel. She described the Fox show as a quickly paced newscast that does more stories off the beaten path.