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What happens when a popular evening news reporter moves to mornings? Good question

WCCO's morning team: Jamie Yuccas, Jason DeRusha, Kim Johnson and Matt Brickman

In May 2013, WCCO This Morning, the 4:30–7:00 a.m. local news program, was lagging in ratings. It came in last of the four local morning shows at the 6 a.m. hour for the coveted 25- to 54-year-old demographic, and third overall. The next month, reporters/weekend anchors Jason DeRusha and Jamie Yuccas were reassigned to the program, formerly anchored by Mike Binkley and Angela Davis. (Binkley and Davis moved to Sunday evenings.)

“The business side of this is, yeah, Jamie and I together were brought on to say, ‘Let’s go after that demographic, let’s get that audience,’ ” says DeRusha, whose primary focus for the previous five of his 10 years at ’CCO was the popular “Good Question” segment on the 10 p.m. broadcast.

Having relied on viewer suggestions for “Good Question,” DeRusha continued to engage them in his new role as well. “Jason was an early adopter of social media,” says WCCO news director Mike Caputa. “It gives him a very good idea of what people are interested in, and we can translate that into content in the newscast and translate that into viewers.”

The morning anchors integrate social media users into the show using a technology called TV Interact, which pulls Facebook and Twitter posts onto the screen. In its first year, the new crew grew the morning show’s Facebook page from 7,000 to 14,000 fans.

“When you wake up, most people I think are checking their work email and checking their Facebook feed or their Twitter feed,” says DeRusha. “And so we want to be in there. We want to have something from our show that makes people say, ‘Oh, I better turn those guys on.’ ”

The most notable content addition to the program is “4 Things You Need to Know,” a segment at the end of the broadcast that quickly highlights four stories for viewers to talk about that day. The concept was, DeRusha says, “if we’re going to strategically go after growing an audience between 6 and 7, let’s give them something substantial in that time period.”

Twin Cities BusinessAfter DeRusha and Yuccas’ first year on mornings, WCCO’s 6 a.m. ratings for the 25–54 demographic had risen to second place (after KARE), and placed first in that demo at 4:30 and 5 a.m. Overall, WCCO This Morning ranked No. 1 for the 4:30, 5, and 6 a.m. day parts. Correspondingly, advertising sales have increased.

“Everything is up, up, up,” says DeRusha, “which is exciting.”

This article is reprinted in partnership with Twin Cities Business.

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by jason myron on 09/26/2014 - 01:11 pm.

    I’m still baffled

    why local morning news is even a thing. I think the only time I’ve ever tuned in was during a snowstorm to see what I’d be driving into, or if I should even try.

  2. Submitted by Bill Kahn on 09/26/2014 - 02:18 pm.

    Morning news shows are mostly background noise for family folks getting ready for the day, I think; like much of the news media enterprise, they beg the question of what we really get for granting the ongoing franchise that is milking whatever value there is in reaching us.

    Storm info, a restaurant tip, or useless trivia is the most we can hope for in licensing these stations and their product, but it makes me wish for something like the BBC when I experience what we get instead.

  3. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/26/2014 - 03:39 pm.

    News reporter?

    I must have missed something: is WCCO broadcasting news again? They have moved past lifestyle directions, shopping tips, and mind-numbing banter?

    Who knew?

  4. Submitted by Jerome Hoffman on 09/28/2014 - 09:10 pm.

    News Reporter Moves

    I continually amazes me that the hiring, firing and moving of TV news readers becomes big news for all of us to share our thoughts.

    These people are not part of our family folks!

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