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Network vet Fernandez fills KTLA morning chair

Oct 29, 2001  •  Post A Comment

KTLA-TV, Los Angeles, shored up its morning house with the start of Giselle Fernandez in the co-anchor chair last week.
Until last spring, the identity of the “KTLA Morning News” was co-anchors Carlos Amezcua and Barbara Beck, weatherman Mark Kriski and entertainment reporter Sam Rubin. But when Ms. Beck abruptly departed the show in April, KTLA News Director Jeff Wald launched a nationwide search to find her replacement. His choice was Ms. Fernandez, a veteran reporter and anchor.
“Barbara left a great legacy behind her,” Ms. Fernandez said. “She was one of the team. And I think there was enough time between her leaving and my coming that I don’t feel like I’m replacing anybody. I’m filling a void that needed to be filled.”
Ms. Fernandez, who worked at KTLA early in her career as weekend co-anchor and reporter for “KTLA Weekend News at Ten,” spent the past decade working in various news broadcast posts for the CBS and NBC networks. She also co-hosted syndicated entertainment newsmagazine “Access Hollywood” and most recently was co-anchor of “This Week in History” on The History Channel.
“I like live television,” she said. “I liked that morning format, so when this came up, I thought that would be fun. I also wanted to plant roots. I wanted to become a voice in my community-my Latin community and the women’s community here.”
Mr. Wald, who hired Ms. Fernandez when she joined KTLA 15 years ago, said the key to hiring Ms. Fernandez was chemistry. “It’s not only the chemistry on the air,” he said. “You also want good newsroom citizens, people who will really pitch in and work together. I just knew Giselle would be perfect for this.”
Station executives are hoping Ms. Fernandez will give the show a ratings boost in its tight morning race with KTTV’s “Good Day L.A.” For the just-ended October sweeps, “KTLA Morning News” finished a tenth of a ratings point behind “Good Day L.A.” (KTLA averaged a 3.0 Nielsen Media Research rating and 10 share to KTTV’s 3.1/10). That was the reverse of the July sweeps, when KTLA finished first with a 2.9/11 to KTTV’s 2.7/10.
For the first three days of last week with Ms. Fernandez co-anchoring, the show averaged a 3.7/13 to KTTV’s 2.9/10 average.
In addition to adding Ms. Fernandez to the news team, “KTLA Morning News” executive producer Marcia Brandwynne said the way the show is produced has been altered to accommodate news related to the Sept. 11 attacks.
“We’re in a very strange time because of what’s happened,” she said. “Frankly, the way the show is getting produced right now is [on] pure gut feeling. I want to give people some relief from the sadness and the depressive nature of our news situation, but on the other hand I need to treat the news with great respect.”
Ms. Brandwynne said she thinks hiring Ms. Fernandez will get the show back on its feet after it suffered slightly this summer. “We’ve been limping a little in the last months since we lost Barbara,” she said. “[Now] we’ve got everybody in place, and now we feel like we’re back.”#