WFXT has watched ratings slip since star Anchor Maria Stephanos signed off from the station abruptly.
“Losing Maria was a blow for Fox,” said one TV insider to the Boston Herald. “There’s simply no one like her in the market anymore — someone who people tuned in specifically to watch.”
WFXT took a hit in the critical 25- to 54-year-old demographic at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.
At 10 p.m., a newscast that the Fox affiliate historically has owned, the stationsuffered a 15.8-percent decline in viewers in the 25-54 demo from the August ratings period.
At 6 p.m., the station lost about .9 percent of the 25- to 54-year-old audience, while at 11 p.m., the numbers were flat.
Meanwhile, Stephanos and her agent declined to comment on her next move, but the hot rumor is that she will land at WBZ, reunited with her former Fox 25 co-anchor David Wade.
Insiders point out that Gary LaPlante, who was the assistant news director at Fox 25 with Maria, is now the news director at WBZ, and Wade, her former on-air partner, has become the station’s No. 1 male anchor.
“David and Maria were the best young anchor team in town,” said one station source. “It could be like Chet & Nat all over again.”
WCVB GM Bill Fine is also said to be a fan of Stephanos, but the station reportedly has Heather Unruh under contract for the forseeable future.
Stephanos’ departure also resurrected a long-simmering rumor about the future of WHDH. NBC is said to be hot to buy the station, but owner Ed Ansin has thus far refused to sell. However, NBC’s affiliation agreement with WHDH runs out at the end of 2016. At which point, the network could yank it’s programming and move it elsewhere — like, say, to NECN, which is owned by NBC’s parent company, Comcast.
“If that happened, it would make sense for them to want to make a splash with their new retooled newscasts by getting someone with Maria’s stature,” said the Herald's source.