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Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo

Anchor Who Quit TV News in May Returns to TV News in December


Derek Francis, who announced he was leaving his job as morning anchor at Grand Rapids ABC affiliate WZZM back in May, has joined cross-town rival WXMI–just a matter of months after he said he was leaving TV news to work in public relations. “I took a brief step away from the industry, by choice, and my time away gave me an even greater appreciation for it and FOX 17,” Francis told the Grand Rapids Press.

Francis worked at WZZM for eleven years until he announced his departure with an on-air farewell.

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WZZM Loses One, Adds Two to Sports Department

ash_spence_mendGrand Rapids ABC affiliate WZZM has announced the addition of a sports director and a sport reporter.

MLive also reports, anchor Brent Ashcroft (picture center) is stepping away from the sports desk.

The station said Jamal Spencer (pictured right) will start one week from Monday as sports director. Spencer comes to WZZM from KVLY in Fargo, N.D. He has also worked at FOX Sports Detroit.

Adriana Mendez (pictured left) will come on board November 24 as a sports reporter/multimedia journalist. She comes to the station from KWKT in Waco, Texas.

“Our viewers will quickly see the passion and enthusiasm Jamal and Adriana have for local sports,” Taz Painter, WZZM news director, said in a statement. “They both want to focus on finding and telling the uniquely West Michigan stories of the athletes, coaches, fans, and sports programs in our area.”

The station said Ashcroft will stay at WZZM and report “in-depth, powerful” stories. Read more

Grand Rapids Station Tops in Nation for Airing Political Ads

wzzm_304Viewers of Grand Rapids ABC affiliate WZZM had a hard time escaping those pesky political ads this election season.

According to MLive, in the week before the election, WZZM aired 1,820 ads, the most of any station in the country. The report says the high number may not be a fluke, the station may make itself attractive to political ad buyers.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network observed the state’s top 150 political action committees raised $60.1 million since Jan. 1, 2013, through the end of October 2014 — a 73 percent increase compared to the previous election cycle.

Founder Rich Robinson and his organization now are busy crunching final ad spending numbers from across the state, but he said it’s likely WZZM had relatively inexpensive ad rates to attract a greater number of advertisers.

“There was a lot of money chasing a finite inventory of ad time,” Robinson wrote in an email. “Maybe its programming lineup had particular appeal.

“Also, it has chosen not to place ad contracts of ‘issue’ ads about state candidates in its public file. That probably makes it somewhat more attractive to entities that don’t want to leave a trail of their activity.”

Rick Mecklenburg Out at WXMI


Chief meteorologist Rick Mecklenburg is out at WXMI, the Fox-affiliate in Grand Rapids, Mich. Mecklenburg joined the station in May 2012, after filling in for Peter Chan in 2011.

The Grand Rapids Press spoke with WXMI creative services director Travis Henkaline, who confirmed that Mecklenburg is no longer working at the station.

“We’re currently considering our options as far as his replacement is concerned,” Henkaline told The Press writer Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk.

Mecklenburg acknowledged his departure from WXMI in Tweet last night:

Former Producer Returns to WZZM as Weekend AM Anchor

terhaar wzzmMeredith TerHaar has returned to WZZM as weekend morning anchor and MMJ.

TerHaar started at the Grand Rapids, Mich. ABC affiliate as an intern in 2003 and worked her way up to producer of the noon show. In 2009, she left for WJHG in Panama City, Fla. to work as a multimedia journalist and anchor. She was recently named assistant news director there.

“Meredith’s love for West Michigan is contagious and her excitement about anchoring and telling stories at her home station is clear,” WZZM news director, Taz Painter said in a statement. “I know our viewers will enjoy welcoming her into their homes as much as the WZZM 13 team will enjoy welcoming her back.”

The station said TerHaar replaces longtime anchor Jennifer Pascua, who moved to the 5:00 p.m. show.

WXMI Names New Morning Anchor

falzone croppedGrand Rapids, Mich. FOX affiliate WXMI has named Deanna Falzone morning anchor.

The Grand Rapids Press reports, Falzone replaces Sarah Brodhead, who recently announced she was leaving the station.

Falzone, a native of Harper Woods in the Detroit area, said she’s looking forward to the new assignment beginning Thursday.

“I am very excited to join the morning team and am looking forward to the sunrises that will come with the early wake up call,” Falzone said. “The fun, energetic atmosphere the morning team has created is one-of-a-kind in West Michigan, and I look forward to continuing that tradition.”

FOX 17 News Director Brooks Blanton said Falzone, who joined the Tribune Company-owned TV station in March 2013, approaches stories with passion and professionalism. Read more

WZZM Introduces New Evening Anchor Nick LaFave

When Grand Rapids ABC affiliate WZZM announced the launch of a 5 p.m. newscast in August, Nick LaFave was named co-anchor. This week, the station has begun introducing LaFave to viewers with a series of promos and appearances on WZZM.

LaFave makes his co-anchoring debut September 8, when the new early evening newscast launches:

“Nick is a multi-talented journalist, who effectively communicates on all platforms: on-air, online and social media,” said WZZM 13 President & General Manager, Janet Mason. “There are so many things we like about Nick: his passion for telling good stories, his involvement in community organizations, and his love for his home state of Michigan.”

“Nick is going to be a great fit at WZZM 13. He’s excited to be coming home to Michigan and he’s ready to work hard to get to know our viewers and invest in this community,” said WZZM 13 News Director, Taz Painter.

“This is a dream come true for my wife and me. Friends and family have been asking for years when we were coming back to Michigan. Now we can say, “Next month! And we don’t plan on leaving again! We’re truly blessed,” said Nick LaFave.

Michigan Station Postpones Debates. Can’t Get Candidates to Appear

Grand Rapids NBC affiliate WOOD has been forced to put off two planned televised debates after some of the candidates didn’t agree to them.

WOOD TV8 offered to host two televised debates in September that would have included the Republican and Democrat candidates for Michigan governor and U.S. Senate. In both cases, the Democrat in the race accepted the invitation: Mark Schauer in the gubernatorial race and U.S. Rep. Gary Peters in the Senate race.

The campaigns for Gov. Rick Snyder and U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land, both Republicans, never agreed to debate. It forced WOOD TV8 to postpone both events. Read more

Sarah Brodhead Leaving WXMI reports that after seven years at FOX affiliate WXMISarah Brodhead has decided to leave the Grand Rapids station. The morning anchor announced the news on her Facebook page.

“It’s just time for a change,” Brodhead said. “You won’t see me on TV anymore, but I hope I see you around because I’m staying in Grand Rapids.”

Brodhead joined the station in February 2008. Before that, she was an anchor and reporter at KREX in Grand Junction, Colo.

Her last day is September 19.

WZZM to Launch 5:00 p.m. Newscast

WZZM_2009_Logo (1)Grand Rapids ABC affiliate WZZM has announced it is launching a 5:00 p.m newscast on September 8.

Nick LaFave and Juliet Dragos will anchor the 30-minute show.

In a statement, Janet Mason, president and GM of WZZM said, “We’re very excited to be able to offer this important local newscast at 5 p.m. to West Michigan news consumers.” Read more