How TV Stations Create Marquee Anchor Teams

The Sun Sentinel looks at how TV stations come up with their Anchor teams. But, in the end, it's really just based on guessing and hope.

When station managers look to produce a new anchor team, the process can be more than skin deep. There's audience research, focus groups and sometimes luck in creating a marquee team.

It's a tricky formula that involves three C's: chemistry, credibility and a connection to the community.

"It's an inexact science," said Steven Wasserman, general manager of West Palm Beach NBC affiliate WPTV, where Michael Williams and Kelley Dunn have been anchoring the 5, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts for four years. "Putting anchors together is like orchestrating an arranged marriage. Typically what happens is that you put two people together who never worked together."

The idea is to have a pair of likable personalities that could deliver more viewers in the 25-54 age demographic, the group that advertisers seek to reach through local newscasts.

"You always want news people that you can identify with," said Bill Carroll, vice president, director of content strategy for the Katz Television Group in New York City. "Often, they put together teams that have different skill sets,'' he added, noting that one anchor may be more seasoned and paired with an up-and-coming news personality in the market.

WTVJ (Miami) general manager Larry Olevitch said he and his staff spent months using internal testing, focus groups and viewer feedback to come up with the Jawan Strader and JackieNespral (pictured) team at the NBC-owned Miramar station.

"I think Jawan has extraordinary charisma on the air and has this ability of delivering breaking news with the right energy and smarts. She does the same. She is a senior anchor in this market," said Migdalia Figueroa, WTVJ's vice president of news. "When you put these two people together here, they know what they are talking about, they understand our community, and they understand our viewers."

Strader moved from mornings to co-anchor evenings with Nespral. That move shifted Adam Kuperstein to anchor at 5:30 p.m. with Trina Robinson and for Kuperstein to focus on sports coverage at 11 p.m.

"In the TV world that we live in today, it is an evolution in that your pairings of your talent do evolve with the market,'' said Olevitch. "Jawan came to us in 2012, and he really has become an engaging and energizing force in our newsroom and in our community."

It also doesn't hurt that the anchors' first names have alliteration, which makes it easier to brand.

"Jackie and Jawan, that name pairing, it all of a sudden personalizes them as 'my' newscasters, the one I come home to trust," added Olevitch.

Not sure I ever trusted an Anchor team because their first names begin with the same letter...but ok?

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