KQDS Fox 21 (Duluth) Anchor Dan Hanger is one of those that "gets" social media and he uses it to connect with his viewers and help promote his job.
“The old days of being a stiff anchor on the anchor desk — that’s over,” Hanger said.
The anchor also posts teaser clips of the stories the newsroom is working on and uses the space to remind viewers — or “critters” as he calls them — that the show starts in 10 minutes. It’s all part of a blurred-line, hyper-accessible approach to his not-so-personal personal life and very public professional life.
“I want to be real from beginning to end,” said Hanger, 31. “I think people appreciate the transparency … You have to be 100 percent in TV news. If you don’t share your daily life, you aren’t going to connect with your audience, and they aren’t going to follow you.”
In a lot of ways, he treats Facebook like the playground extension of his job.
This is where he has earned the trust of viewers and the subjects of his stories, he said. It’s where he can be found before bed, when he wakes in the morning and sometimes during commercial breaks. It’s where some of his stories are born and some of his stories are shared. It’s where he posts selfies with co-anchor Diane Alexander and leads viewers on virtual behind-the-scenes tours created during breaks.
Hanger’s got the support of Fox 21 news director Dan Clouse, who is pushing for a social media-forward new organization.
“People don’t just watch, they want to engage with you,” Clouse said. “Dan has been a champion of staying ahead of the curve in social media. He’s developed good contacts. People are familiar with him. He can interact with the police chief or the mayor or other people. A lot of people know him.”
Clouse said Hanger has a wide leeway to be natural and engaging. Still, finding the right balance of being a public figure with a personal life has required a few closed-door meetings between the anchor and his boss.
“My famous line is ‘Dan, there’s a line. You can get close, but you don’t want to cross it,’” Clouse said.
When he was 19, Hanger worked long hours for Internet Broadcasting, which gave him access to a wealth of broadcast news. He began to align himself with the anchors who were more conversational in delivery, like Robin Meade who now works for Headline News, and another famous anchor who has allowed viewers into private spaces.
Sorry Dan, no matter how much you use social media, you'll never be as cute as Robin.