By Steve Kabelowsky Contributing Columnist Published Jan 15, 2014 at 8:37 PM

And then there were four.

Earlier today, WTMJ-TV Ch. 4 officially announced that starting on Monday, its weekday morning newscasts will start at 4:30 a.m.

"People’s morning routines are changing. As more of our viewers are getting up earlier, we want to be right there with them," Steve Wexler, the NBC affiliate’s GM and the executive vice president of Journal Broadcast Group, said in a statement.

The move means the "Live at Daybreak" team, anchored by Susan Kim and Vince Vitrano, will air from 4:30 to 7 a.m. weekdays. Scott Steele provides the weather forecasts each morning and Caitlin Morrall is the traffic reporter.

Now, all commercial TV news operations in Milwaukee will start at 4:30 a.m.

"We want our viewers to leave the house each morning with a feeling they have everything they need to get their day started right," said WTMJ News Director and Vice President of News for Journal Broadcast Group Bill Berra.

"Giving them the option of an earlier newscast is part of that commitment."

WTMJ is the fourth station to be on at 4:30 a.m. with a local newscast. WISN-TV Ch. 12 and WDJT-TV CBS 58 are also on from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. each weekday.

The local Fox affiliate, WITI-TV Ch. 6, is on the longest from 4:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. with its WakeUp newscast. At 9 a.m., the station has its local news and features program "Real Milwaukee."

"Crazy. Stupid. Nuts. Ridiculous (that one came from my own mother). All adjectives folks have shared about our decision to begin ‘Live at Daybreak’ at 4:30 on a regular basis," Vitrano posted on Facebook on Wednesday morning. "Thankfully, I have ‘excited’ to add to the list."


Usually, there’s more to it than just having the idea and making the decision to keep the signal on longer for when a station may expand a local newscast.

Without having all of the details at this time, it is hard to say why the move for WTMJ didn’t happen earlier. But, if I had my best guess at it, it came down to a bunch of numbers.

Numbers like the amount of advertising spots for local and national ads were probably discussed. Other numbers could be the latest ratings of lead-ins like Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon and NBC’s primetime and how that relates to the ratings of Ch. 4’s 10 p.m. newscast. There’s an important correlation between what station is on the dial when the set is turned off at night. When the set comes back on in the next morning, that can affect the ratings among viewers known as samplers. They are different than the other viewers that we usually see having some sort of preference and sense of brand ownership.

And, then there’s the performance of NBC’s flagship property "Today."

So beyond the necessary staffing and content changes needed on Capitol Drive, there was quite a bit of give and take that took place before this newest initiative could move forward.

Steve Kabelowsky Contributing Columnist

Media is bombarding us everywhere.

Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.

The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.