Here’s a little secret. TV stations have no trouble staffing early-morning newscasts, whose grueling schedules require workdays beginning anywhere from midnight to 3:30am.
It’s not just because, in this economy, any paying job with a decent salary can get filled. In the below live shot, you see two perfectly sensible dayside TV news veterans engaging in a perfectly ridiculous 5:30am live shot, working that shift because they want to be there.
When you turn on your TV at 5am (or 4:30am — and apparently, plenty of you actually do this), odds are good that the cheery newscasters and reporters you’re watching have kids at home. At WXIA, the folks who schlep into work at the ripe hour of 3am have a very good chance of exiting the property by 12:30. That gives them a chance to get home, maybe grab a catnap, then actually function as parents when school lets out.
(Not all workplaces are so predictable, schedule-wise. One Atlanta TV station has been pretty well known for abusing their 3:30am reporter, putting him through the morning live shot grind, then assigning him a story at 9am to produce for the evening newscast. That poor SOB almost never left before 3pm. And no, reporters don’t get paid overtime.)
When Ted Hall anchored WXIA’s evening news, you could tell that the format stifled his folksiness and easygoing charm. The below live shot shows him drily unleashed.
Likewise, Jaye Watson has an erudite ice-queen quality when delivering stories for the evening news. The live shot below shows the amusing and impulsive Watson known by her coworkers. It’s the kind of thing that you’d never see during the evening news.
On Thursdays and Fridays, when she works mornings, nobody in the newsroom looks more content than Watson, a mother of two small children. Except maybe Ted Hall. Or Jennifer Leslie, who has cheerfully worked the 3:30am shift as a reporter for years.
Especially at 12:30pm.