“It’ll all be better in the new building” is a funny-only-once line doubtless uttered countless times around WXIA of late. Last weekend, it seems WXIA actually made the transition away from 1611 Peachtree to “the Hill,” the spot occupied by WATL off Monroe Drive. No doubt, staffers are comforted by the fact that both locations have excellent views of scenic I-85. And they may also take comfort in the fact that WXIA is finally moving, geographically, out of the shadow of its humongous (LAF still isn’t a fan of “ginormous”) next-door neighbor, WSB.
Sunday, WXIA threw the proverbial switch, broadcasting its first newscasts from the new building. Based on what we saw Sunday, it appears the station decided to move first and rehearse later.
Sunday at 11, weekend anchor Valerie Hoff appeared solo, in a fixed one-shot that dared not move. Reporter Duffie Dixon appeared on set to toss to a package. The camera angles seemed oddly stilted, with various portions of the two women appearing awkwardly during the transition. Hoff never interacted with the weather and sports guys.
The weather guy, Paul Ossmann, had the roughest spell. He struggled mightily to get his graphic gizmo to display the forecast, repeatedly admonishing his “clicker” on air. He punched the buttons, then disappeared off camera for a few seconds. Then a series of lovely, very slow-moving graphics appeared. When the forecast finally came up, Ossmann wore a look of blessed relief. He blamed “the transition.”
WXIA’s move to the WATL site made sense. Gannett bought WATL in 2006. In the 1990s, Fox owned WATL. The station had planned to launch its own 10pm newscast, which would have competed with WGNX’s (now WGCL) “news at ten.” WATL built a brand-new building on Monroe Place to accommodate a news studio and a news department. It hired ex-AJC columnist Dick Williams to be news director. Then in 1994 Fox stunned the world by buying WAGA and a bunch of other big-three network affiliates across America. Fox sold WATL and its plans for news were scrapped. And WATL suddenly had a new, too-large building.
Gannett built a new wing onto the Monroe Pl. building in recent months. Web producer Josh Roseman has posted a bunch of photos on WXIA’s web site.
Too bad WXIA couldn’t use the dough to tamp down its current streak of cheapskatedness: Forcing reporters to shoot their own stories, denying photogs (starting in October) the privilege of taking their news cars home.
We know, we know— different budgets. Sorry to be so negative. We’re sure the new building is lovely.