Anchors away: Boise TV station overhauls newscasts with focus on ‘neighborhood reporters’

By Don Day

NOTE: This column first appeared on BoiseDev, November 16, 2023; it is reprinted here by permission.

For decades, getting news about your local area meant one of two options: a printed newspaper delivered to your doorstep or watching a couple of nicely dressed folks read you information on your TV.

But the last 25 years have largely eroded both of those models as news shifts largely to digital consumption. In Boise, the Idaho Statesman recently stopped printing six days per week, instead cutting to three days delivered in the afternoon by US Mail. Now, television station KIVI channel 6 is also making a major change.

Gone are the trappings of the traditional local TV newscast format. No anchors, no fancy set, or even a pre-recorded announcer voice. 

In its place is a steady stream of local stories. 

There’s Allie Triepke in Kuna. And Brendyn Jones in Downtown Boise. And Isaiah Sharp in Meridian.

The names of the team largely aren’t familiar – a corps of newly recruited reporters filing stories from their neighborhoods. 

“We’re doubling our commitment to bringing Boise-area audiences the news they want to hear,” station manager Laurie Asin said. “They did a lot of research locally and nationally, and people said they wanted more relevant coverage in their communities and putting more emphasis on engaging with the audience and connecting with them. That’s why we’re putting those neighborhood journalists into the areas they’ll cover.”

Don Nelson, who is one of the Boise market’s longest-tenured journalists and formerly anchored evening newscasts, is now a senior reporter, as is Roland Beres. Karen Lehr took a management role as executive reporter, helping coach and develop the group of journalists.

In addition to areas around Boise and Canyon County, Asin said they plan to place reporters in Valley County and Blaine County – as well as a reporter already in place in Twin Falls.

Cincinnati-based station owner EW Scripps is using a technology it calls Scrippscast to power the newscasts.  KIVI laid off a number of employees last month, as BoiseDev reported. Some landed new roles. The KIVI website lists 12 full-time reporters – that’s more than double the number of dedicated reporters at the area’s other two TV stations. (Though some folks at the other stations pull double duty, anchoring newscasts as well as occasional or part-time reporting.)

The Scrippscast-powered newscasts lend a bit of a TikTok effect – a series of videos strung together one after another, broken up only by commercial breaks — and of course, weather forecasts.  Market mainstay Scott Dorval still shows up giving a traditional TV news-style weather forecast, while a morning weather anchor does the same, mixing in traffic reports, too.

The newscasts no longer have a guiding voice or voices – and short items often pop up with voices you may or may not recognize. 

With the change in format, the station added a new 11 am midday newscast.

Don Day is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev and is a member of the Idaho Press Club board.