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WPXI morning news hits streets

Tuesday, September 28, 1999

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

It's like "Today," only earlier.

WPXI will take its morning newscast to the streets of Downtown Pittsburgh next week for its 5 to 7 a.m. newscast and the "Today" show cut-ins that air at 25 and 55 minutes past the hour until 9 a.m.

Channel 11's morning news will broadcast from the plaza in front of One Mellon Bank Center at Fifth Avenue and Grant Street.

Anchors Bob Bruce and Newlin Archinal will be live on location with weathercaster Julie Bologna (traffic reporter Katina Forte will be in Chopper 11). News director Jennifer Rigby said viewers are encouraged to bring signs to wave in the background.

Morning has become the premiere battleground because it's one of the few time periods that's seen viewer growth in recent years. Two weeks ago ABC's "Good Morning America" unveiled a new studio in Times Square and CBS's "The Early Show" will debut with a sidewalk-level set in November.

Locally, KDKA-TV launched a new salvo with the addition of Don Cannon last week; now WPXI is going live from Downtown.

"Certainly it's taking a page out of the 'Today' show," Rigby acknowledged. "We finally have a morning team together and I've been looking for a way to showcase them and get them out in the community."

Rigby said the ability to cover new Downtown development offered another reason to go live from street-side.

"The whole city is under development and a lot of the stories we can do while we're down there are relevant and timely, so it just made sense," Rigby said, adding that competition was also a factor. "Certainly it's a competitive time period and nobody is relaxing and not pushing for their morning shows."

Bruce and Archinal are expected to chat via satellite with "Today" show hosts Katie Couric and Matt Lauer at 7:25 a.m. Monday and Rigby is lobbying the "Today" show producers to use a shot of the Pittsburgh crowd during "Today" sometime next week.

Rigby said she resisted going live from the great outdoors during November sweeps out of concern for lousy weather. Even in October a torrential downpour could force WPXI's morning anchor team back indoors, but, Rigby said, "a little rain won't stop us."

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