Stacey Donaldson-free Channel 4 morning show: The wheel hasn't been reinvented

Earlier this month, we let you know about the impending departure of Channel 4 morning forecaster Stacey Donaldson, who'd been brought aboard with great hoopla just three years earlier.

Well, Donaldson's gone now, and the station's latest team -- holdovers Brooke Wagner and Lynn Carey are joined by newcomers Alan Gionet and Jennifer Zeppelin -- has been in place for a couple of days. But thus far, the results haven't been showy or surprising. The program seems little changed -- a typical morning headline service presented in the typical way.

Granted, Channel 4 news director Tim Wieland didn't promise lots of crazy new features in an interview for the blog linked above.

"The changes won't be revolutionary," he said. "But we're going to get back to offering morning news viewers say they want the most when they wake up in the morning: what's happening right now, what's new this morning, and what's going to be happening later today. We'll be taking out the lighter fare to some degree -- not that there won't be light moments, because this is a fun team. But the content will be focused on important news and information as well as weather and traffic."

Thus far, however, the alterations are so subtle as to be essentially invisible. Indeed, the program seems like the standard major station morning show -- professionally rendered and brisk, with a rather traditional mix of news, weather and traffic that works as both headline service and background noise while eating a bowl full of Smorz cereal.

That makes sense. The departure of Donaldson appears to have been more about the size of her contract, and the decline in revenues at traditional media outlets like Channel 4, than a bold new plan to revitalize the medium.

Despite the musical chairs, there's much more about the morning program that's familiar than distinctive.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts