By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Local station 21 WFMJ-TV is ready to take on the weekend.
On Saturday, Oct. 26 the NBC affiliate will launch “WFMJ Weekend Today” — the Youngstown market’s first weekend morning newscast.
The show will serve as bookends to NBC’s “Today” (weekend edition) and will air Saturday from 6-7 a.m. and 9-10 a.m., and Sunday from 7-8 a.m. and 9-10:30 a.m.
The show will be co-anchored by WFMJ veteran Jennifer Brindisi, with newcomers Derek Styer serving as co-anchor and Jasmine Monroe as reporter.
In addition to news coverage, the show will include weather with an emphasis on weekend planning; sports, including high school recaps and sports previews; consumer news; and a host of lighter segments with a local angle, including projects, arts and history and even movie reviews with Mahoning Valley film buff Tyler Landis.
The new show will also include extended interviews with local newsmakers on Sunday mornings in a segment called “21 News Press Pass.”
Jack Grdic, WFMJ general manager, said in a statement the new show will fill a void for local news on weekend mornings.
“‘WFMJ Weekend Today’ represents a four-and-a-half-hour per week local news expansion,” he said. “The genesis of the show and planning have been a year-long process, and positioning the local newscasts between NBC’s top-rated ‘Weekend Today’ [on Saturday] and ‘Meet the Press’ [on Sunday] will make for solid news blocks.
“The market is ready and the early responses have been overwhelmingly positive,” he said, “We are fortunate to have local ownership that believes in our station vision and business plan of local news and digital growth.”
Mona Alexander, WFMJ news director, called the new show “a chance to report on stories that sometimes don’t get told, dig in on the local political landscape and feature more of the things that make the Valley a great place to live.”
To make room for “WFMJ Weekend Today,” the station’s Sunday morning community affairs program, “Community Connection,” will move to 6:30 a.m. with an additional new run on sister station WBCB at 11 a.m.
Also, the “Pastor Joe” show will move to 11:30 a.m. Sundays, while “The Casey Malone Show” will move to noon Sunday, beginning Oct. 27.
Co-anchor Brindisi will no longer be on “WFMJ Today.”
Brindisi, a Struthers native and University of Mount Union graduate, will lend an air of familiarity to viewers of the new show. She has been at WFMJ for two years and previously worked at other Youngstown stations.
“I’m looking forward to doing both hard news and lifestyle stories,” she said. “People want both on the weekends.”
Styer, the other co-anchor, is a St. Louis native who has worked the past 14 years in Montgomery, Ala. His wife, the former Kristie Welch, is a native of Champion. Styer has visited the Mahoning Valley before and said one of the reasons he pursued the “WFMJ Weekend Today” post is because his wife was ready to move back to the area.
He called his new position “a great opportunity to serve local viewers and give them information to help them get ready for the weekend and to showcase local people and events.”
The new show’s field reporter, Monroe, is a Pittsburgh native and a recent graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania.
This will be her first broadcast journalism job, but she said she has long been ready.
“My mother [works] for KDKA radio [in Pittsburgh] and she instilled the reporter’s job in me,” said Monroe.
, who got her first job as a newsroom intern at age 15.
She was also the first female anchor at Clarion’s station.