The Best (And Worst) Nashville News Channels On TV

Which Nashville news channel do you prefer to watch on TV in the mornings? (And for that matter… in the afternoons and evenings, too.)

I guess I have some issues with how the news is covered on local television stations.

Check out my favorite (and least favorite) Nashville news channels…

nashville-tv-by-NashvilleCorps

 

In Search Of Good News

I frequently wake up as early as 4AM or 5AM some mornings.

When I do, I’m always glad that the local news is on that early — because there’s definitely not a lot of other “good” programming to be found on TV at that time.

Unfortunately, I’m starting to realize that there’s really not that much good content to be found on the local news channels either.

Instead, most of the TV stations simply rehash the exact same news reports that they already covered earlier in the broadcast. It’s as if each of the morning’s 30-minute news segments on any given network are completely identical, leaving the news anchors to somehow make it sound different or more interesting the second (and third and fourth and fifth) time around.

As a result, if you happen to catch the local news at the top of the hour when it first begins in the morning… from that point on, every 30-minute news segment that follows (for the entire rest of the morning) is simply a repeat of the exact same news reports that just aired moments earlier! Nothing new is ever added. (That is, unless we happen to be in the midst of a weather storm or something… then the “reporter on the scene” will have moved to another block downtown to show what things are like a mile away from the last time they reported on this “big news”.)

That’s just not a pleasant viewer experience, if you ask me!

And do we really have to go through the exact same weather & traffic reports as well? Heck, it’s not even the ‘news’ anymore… it’s really just traffic & weather. Alright already… it’s going to be “[enter your favorite weather adjective here]“. Watching the weather report once (or twice) is plenty! Not to mention the fact that the local weather is constantly flashing before our eyes in the ticker at the bottom of the screen (or in the lower corner). If we want to know the weather, we know how to find it — you really don’t need to force it upon us so much.

Same with traffic… boring!!! Yes, there are thousands of commuters heading to work each morning, but I have to wonder how many of them actually check the local news for traffic reports in the first place? I mean, I used to drive in rush-hour traffic from Franklin to Nashville for years, and I never once changed my route to work based on a morning traffic report! I’m just wondering if the local news stations have considered polling local drivers to see if this is a valuable service they’re offering. Perhaps it is. But perhaps it could be fine-tuned a bit, included in the ticker at the bottom of the screen, etc.

And yes, I am fully aware that many of the morning TV viewers probably aren’t watching the news for as long as I am each morning — since I’m simply working (at home) during that time, rather than rushing to get to work. But I have to think that there are plenty of other homebodies (entrepreneurs, stay-at-home-moms, etc.) who watch the news like me and might appreciate a less-repetitive newscast.

 

The Best Nashville Morning News Channel

So, which of the 4 Nashville morning news channels I prefer to watch? Tennessee Mornings (on FOX).

It starts a little later than the other news channels do (6AM). But they never rehash or repeat their news reports. In fact, they don’t really focus on the local news so much as they do other “relevant” national news stories that Nashville area viewers would likely be interested in.

In addition, they have “live” segments featuring local businesses. Basically, they’re presenting an upcoming event, or a new product or service that Nashvillians might be interested in trying.

Overall, the news angle at Tennessee Mornings is much more personal… much more friendly… much more real… much more consumer-related… and much more FUN!

Kelly Sutton, Charlie Chase, and Brooke Austin are worth their weight in gold in terms of being down-to-earth real. They come across as just average people like you & me. They’re worlds apart from the boring, stiff, stuffed-shirt newsheads on those other channels. (And yes, even the traffic guy David Park is worth a few good laughs each morning.)

For the record, it seems like Tennessee Mornings runs about one-third of the traffic & weather reports that the other local news channels do — simply because of the way they present it. It’s still too much, if you ask me. But I like the other parts of their news, so I stay tuned.

 

How The Nashville Morning News Stations Rank

Overall, I’d rank the morning news channels in this order:

 

Outside of the morning news, however, I prefer to watch the local news channels in this order:

 

What’s Up?

Not that it matters, but here are some questions & comments I have for the local news, weather & traffic reporters on TV:

Kristin Calpino (Channel 5 traffic reporter) – What’s with all your mis-matched pantsuits? And it’s obvious that those short-short jackets are still your connection to the 80′s.

Lelan Statom (Channel 5 weather reporter) – You are one stylin’ dude. And I appreciate your low-key, yet genuine, approach to the weather. You’re always brief and to-the-point… thank you.

Jeff Ray (Channel 2 weather reporter) – Get a little life there, buddy. A little kick in your step. A little bit of reflection in your voice as you report on the weather — even when it’s a ho-hum weather report — would be nice sometimes.

Jennifer Herron (Channel 4 traffic reporter) – Your cheery smile is certainly a welcomed sight in the mornings, but your sugar sweet delivery of the traffic is almost too much sometimes. Even when there’s a traffic crisis, your delivery makes it seem “funny” or a tad comical at times.

Brad Schmitt (Channel 2 celebrity gossip reporter) – For what it’s worth, I think you’re much better as a newspaper gossip columnist in the Tennessean than a celebrity gossip reporter on News Channel 2. But that’s just me…

Steve Hayslip and Amy Watson (Channel 5 news reporters) – You two try hard to keep it fun on the set (especially you, Steve), but it’s Amy’s soft-spoken and to-the-point delivery that I prefer the best. Amy’s charm overcomes Steve’s goofiness, in my opinion.

John Dwyer and Julie Kroenig (Channel 2 news reporters) – It’s probably not your fault… I’m sure with all of the changes that have taken place at WKRN over the past year, you’ve probably been instructed to behave exactly as you do while on the air. But it’s annoying! You two try to make the news sound so earth-shattering that you’re both overly demonstrative with your voices and hand gestures. And all of that pointing to the computer monitor that’s set up as an on-air prop is a bit over-the-top. Not to mention all of the “hot off the web” news that you guys cover — gimme a break. WKRN Channel 2 is trying just a bit too hard to be different, if you ask me. (And Julie, open your eyes, dear.)

And on that note…

 

WKRN Was On Top… Now They’re Rock Bottom

What the heck happened to to good ‘ol days — back when Neil and Heather Orne humbly reported on the news together? When Heather took her pregnancy leave, the WKRN Channel 2 morning news fell apart, if you ask me. (And by the way, what happened to NeilOrne.com and HeatherOrne.com? They each put a lot of time & effort into those personal blog posts… now they’re just gone.)

In my opinion, WKRN Channel 2 needs to get its act together before they lose all confidence of the local viewers. The website is just one place where they’ve got some work to do. For example, clicking on “WKRN Blogs” at the top of this page took me here. Just try clicking on any of the links for the people found on this page! C’mon, you guys used to be on top of cutting-edge technology and you used to “think outside the box” (in a good way). But now it seems like you’ve gotten a bit too big for your britches and you’re messing things all up!

 

Which Brings Me To Another Point That’s Somewhat Related…

Actually this pertains to all news media TV stations — including the national news leaders NBC, CBS, and ABC.

Here’s my beef: It’s next to impossible to find anything on your websites!

When you say, “For more info go to ABCNews.com” (for example… they all do it)… please make it easier for us to find what you said we’d find there! Usually even a “search” on these news websites doesn’t help. (To be honest, Nashville’s Channel 5 does a fairly good job of saying on air, “For more info, go here, then here, under here on our website.” But it’s still difficult to find things in a hurry.)

Here’s a thought: Quit trying to post every single thing that you think is “big news” on your homepage. Instead, try organizing your content a little better. If your website is for the benefit of your viewers, why not ask for some input from the viewers about what they’d like to see?

Fox 17 Tennessee Mornings: Get some website help, folks. It’s long overdue. I watch your program, I like what I see on air, I want to read more, learn more, go to relevant websites… I get nothin’. Your website offers nothing of any interest to viewers.

 

UPDATE 2008:

The morning news has seen some changes recently. Most start at 4:00 or 4:30 each morning now. Neil Orne has rejoined News 2 in the mornings, co-hosting with Julie Kroenig. That has helped some, but even he seems to be trying too hard at times. Despite the fact that I wish it would be the Neil and Heather show again (his wife, they used to co-host together), Neil and Julie seem to feed off each other rather well. Oh, and I really like how they ditched the “traffic reporter” position, and instead Neil and Julie mention the current traffic situation from their perch at the news desk. Finally!… We just don’t need that much attention to traffic — something that all commuters are used to dealing with on a daily basis.

Perhaps the most dramatic change in formatting is Fox’s morning news (that I raved so much about above). Unfortunately, Kelly Sutton and Charlie Chase’s program Tennessee Mornings got pushed back an hour later to make way for Fox’s new morning news segment from 5AM to 7AM featuring Nick Paranjape and Sharon Puckett. Ugh!!!

First off, Fox 17 actually took a step backward on this one by deciding to be just like all the other (typical) morning news programs. The news format itself is a huge bore — the exact same repeats that all the other morning news programs are doing. And poor Nick tries to be hip and cool, fun and lively, but his co-host, Sharon just brings him down — way down. She’s about as outdated in her style and delivery as her 80′s hair! (Sorry.) As a result, Nick is mildly uncomfortable to watch because he’s uncomfortable that Sharon doesn’t dialog well with him.

The best thing Fox 17 did was to bring on board Craig Edwards — perhaps the world’s best meteorologist. Not only does he have a personality (so he can offer up interesting discussion and insights during the boring morning news segments), but he also has a great sense of humor and fits right in with the folks on Tennessee Mornings. Yep, he works the long shift, covering the weather for both shows. Tennessee Mornings is still the best news each morning in Nashville. Unfortunately, there’s just less of it now.

 

UPDATE 2010:

There was another switch at Fox 17. They did away with the stiff “morning news” portion of their broadcast and made it all Tennessee Mornings all morning long from 5AM to 9AM. While I miss Charlie Chase, I do kind of like the show with Kelly Sutton and Shane Tallant better now. The only downside: it’s pretty much just a “let’s chat with the people on Facebook today” kind of show now. So, for that reason, I’m still a channel surfer. These were the local news winners in the Nashville Scene’s readers poll this year:

Best Local TV News Station

  • Channel 4 WSMV
  • Channel 2 WKRN
  • Channel 5 WTVF

Best Local TV News Personality

  • Demetria Kalodimos
  • Neil Orne
  • Leland Statom

 

UPDATE 2011:

Well, I’m still a work-at-home morning news channel surfer, but I enjoy the local news less and less these days.  Least favorite: WKRN Channel 2′s morning show! Neil tries so hard to be funny, but it just comes across as smart-alicky. It’s not fun to watch. So I pretty much surf between the NBC affiliate, CBS affiliate and Tennessee Mornings on Fox. I do not have a favorite in the mornings — especially since they let Shane Tallant go at Tennessee Mornings. He and Kelly really had a good thing going. I’m afraid Nick Paranjapay is no substitution. He’s a nice guy, but he lacks the on-air personality and fun in the mornings that Shane (and even Charlie Chase) had. I will say that during storm warnings and major weather events, I prefer to get the local weather from WKRN’s Channel 2. (I occasionally flip to Channel 4, WSMV for some variety.) These were the local news winners in the Nashville Scene’s readers poll this year:

Best Local TV News Station

  • WSMV Channel 4
  • WTVF Channel 5
  • WKRN Channel 2

Best Local TV News Personality

  • Demetria Kalodimos
  • Neil Orne
  • Joe Dubin

 

UPDATE 2012:

My local news favorites have changed… again. More and more, I find myself choosing WSMV Channel 4 for most news and weather. I always check their weather first since they currently have the only live doppler radar. (I know, kinda hard to believe they’re the only one with this technology, but they proudly remind us each time there’s a major weather storm that they’re breaking into local programming to keep us updated. And on their Facebook page: “The ONLY true live radar on television in Middle Tennessee.”) These were the local news winners in the Nashville Scene’s readers poll this year:

Best Local TV News Station

  • Channel 4 WSMV
  • Channel 5 WTVF
  • Channel 2 WKRN

Best Local TV News Personality

  • Stephanie Langston
  • Neil Orne
  • Demetria Kalodimos

 

UPDATE 2013:

Nashville’s Channel 4 WSMV swept TV morning news awards at the Mid-South Emmy Awards, while Channel 5 WTVF swept the awards for investigative news. Here are the local winners:

Newscast/Morning

  • Channel 4 News Today: Opryland Explosion, Thomas Davis, Ian Reitz, Holly Thompson, Matthew Parriott, Julia Bruck, WSMV

News Excellence

  • NewsChannel 5 Network, Sandy Boonstra, Michelle Bonnett, WTVF

It seems Fox 17 has decided its time to change faces on the set. First, they let Nick Paranjape go, and now Kelly Sutton is gone.

Lynnette Walczak

I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money -- so I frequently write about "outside the box" ideas that most wouldn't think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed several years until switching gears to pursue things I was more passionate about. I've worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo -- to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun websites).

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Fun From Around the Web

  • Anonymous

    kelly on tn. morning’s needs to go. she’s too stiff and can’t turn her upper body due to her hair being too long. she thinks she is really hot and also thinks she’s very funny. she needs to be replaced with ericka now,

  • http://thefuntimesguide.com/ FunTimesGuide

    Jackie – I was wondering the same thing! His name is Tim Ross. I just found this:
    ” He said the station was trying to squash the humor on the morning show and go a different direction. So he’s started a new website with the same oddball humor and weather. http://www.twangtowntv.comSource

  • http://thefuntimesguide.com/ FunTimesGuide

    Bonnie – Not exactly sure why Sharon Puckett left the show. She cut her hair (at the viewers’ request), then she left! Here’s a video of her on the show.

    I did just see her in a commercial for the upcoming Home Show in Nashville. The long hair is back :-D

  • fairoaks

    I prefer channel 5 for the news and weather ….Recently I started watching Tennessee Mornings on Fox 17… would prefer Charlie and Erica but still watch it anyway…. mainly because it is all local and we don’t have to deal with any of the CBS morning show host and their segments…
    somtimes I watch channel 4 …still miss Bill Hall …the weekend weather lady is a real bore..
    don’t even try and watch channel 2…everytime it rains the weather woman talks about being under the gun…

  • Sdavis006

    Did Neil and Heather Orne get a divorced?

    • Djwsharp

      Neil is not wearing his wedding band and Heather is not in the Facebook picture with Neil and the girls. 

  • Billy

    I have to make a comment about Neil Orne. I must agree with your comment he tries so hard to be funny, and the sad truth is—he’s not funny. Except to himself. Who is the person at Channel 2 who told him he was, and to laugh at his own humor.. He has conned someone at Channel 2… I’ve noticed watching Channel 2 lately, the station is always running some promo about Neil Orne and the early morning news. They run it over and over and over. Why is that? He’s not even a little humorous  . I would like to suggest to station management the people who think he’s funny is in the minority. The majority would like him off the morning news. Just another reason why Channel 2 is in last place.

  • Jmarvell

    I agree with all the comments.  This is what I think about the news situation….it all sucks.  Steve Haislip needs to be doing something besides news.  Holly Thompson is not nearly as cute as she seems to think she is although she hasn’t been quite as obnoxious since the last baby.  Thank goodness she is no longer doing the cooking segments on the noon news.  The guest chefs couldn’t be the star because she always had to be even though she admitted she never cooks at home.  The girl on 5 that does the weather should be ordered to report to the nearest hair dresser.  She would look so much better if she would do something with that stringy mess.  However, she does do a great job reporting the weather…better than anyone on any of the other channels.  Neil Orne seems to have bottomed out on his cuteness and his attempt at humor, especially on serious news, is not appreciated.  He just needs to professionally report the news and keep his comments to himself.  Now, in my opinion, the worst of the worst is Kristin Priesol on 5.  She talks so fast one would think the boogey man is chasing her and is almost about to catch her.  I watch 4 in the morning for the first 30 minutes on the hour, then change to 17 for the next hour, then over to HLN or CNN for some real news. 

  • D Lally1636

    I love ch 5 News in the am. I love the way Steve Hayslip and Any Watson feed off each other. They make the news interesting an fun. Love Lelan Statom and the weather and even Dave’s traffic. Best news team. Ch 2 team is so boring, all of them. They have tried numerous people and they just don’t click. What happened to the the blonde who always picked on Neil and Jeff Ray…..she constantly picked at them and it was so obvious she had to be in charge. Love Ch 5!!!! Debbie

  • Carmen Randolph

    Who the heck is this Jessica Ralston? Her helmet hair and super high eyebrows remind me of Christina Applegate’s character in the movie “Anchorman “. She bobs her head from side to side and this way and that. I was mesmerized more by what her head and eyebrows would do next than anything she had to say. I definitely miss Kristen and the chemistry just wasn’t there for Rhori. I rarely watch the local news but now that I’ve seen this I know I’ll just go straight to the web to find my news.

  • Bill Massey

    Personally, I think you all have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. How about a few + POSITIVE + critiques?

    My take…Julie Kroenig was the best lady newscaster the Nashville market has had in years. She had it all…journalistic abilities, looks, great personality, kindness, and poise. Heather Orne was second. Channel 2 let both of them slip away. Channel 4 never appreciated what they had in Regina Racoolia (sp. ? — sorry Regina) until she left. She should have been made an anchor and some of the others released, or not hired. I can’t get excited about any of the male newscasters. John Dwyer doesn’t do a bad job. Neither does Bob Mueller, if he’d loosen up. Allen Frio tries hard. Weathercasters? Dan Thomas is the man. He’s smooth, knowledgeable, and handsome. I also like Davis Nolan and Paul Hagan. Davis has been in Nashville a long time and knows his stuff. Paul is brilliant…he just needs to slow down. He’s not in Minnesota any more. The rest of them are either aging or they talk too fast. Sports? Gimme Audra Martin any old day. At least she isn’t a jock. Finally, kudos for Nancy Amons. She has guts, especially for a little lady.

  • DJ

    The reason the morning shows can get away with rehashing the same stories, is that most viewers just touch base in the mornings. The research shows, people only tune into the news in 15 – 20 minute chunks of time in the morning. They want weather, traffic, and the news that will help them be informed about the day. Mornings are too busy for anything else. Most people cannot invest an hour or more watching TV as they prepare for the day. You are the exception to the research.