MERRILLVILLE -- WYIN Channel 56 will resume producing its own nightly newscast Monday.
The station stopped news production at the end of December 1999 because it lacked the equipment to present a program with good technical quality and because the money and manpower used for the newscast took the assets away from the rest of the station's programming.
For the past year, Northwest Indiana's public television station has aired the newscast produced by AT&T Cable Services.
The contractual agreement with AT&T reduced the cost of WYIN's news programming by about 40 percent from the $165,000 the station paid annually to broadcast its own newscast.
"Saving money was one factor, but I was concerned that our production quality's not as good as I would have preferred. And now we've overcome those difficulties," said James Milner, WYIN's president and chief executive officer. "We tested a one-year collaboration, and we decided to move back to producing our own news."
The station's financial health has been improving during the past few years because the community has been more supportive, Milner said. Northern Indiana Public Service Co. and Bank Calumet are each underwriting a daily broadcast, and U.S. Steel is considering doing the same, Milner said.
"It has allowed us to get some bigger ticket production equipment
to enhance on-air presentation
," he said. "The underwriting sponsorship is a financial commitment to offset production costs, equipment, salary, graphics, computers and utilities."
Thus, the station has been able to put a good, solid production team in place, he said.
"We've also assembled a complementing news team with a collection of new faces from Northwest Indiana who will be regular contributors to the broadcast," Milner said.
The 56 Evening Edition will have a newsmagazine format, and v
eteran Channel 56 employee Tom Higgins will serve as news anchor as well as the station's news director.
will open with news headlines followed by a feature story on a top news item, Milner said.
Various local contributors
will present a collection of segments on different topics on which they have expertise.
John Davies, formerly of the Northwest Indiana Forum, will report on local business and economic developments. Charlie Blum, president of the Star Plaza Theatre, will do celebrity interviews and critiques. John Cain, executive director of the Northwest Indiana Arts Association, will provide weekly "Eye on the Arts" features and Tim Swisher of Fifth Third Securities will deliver daily stock updates and summaries.
Valparaiso University's meteorology department will provide local weather forecasts using Doppler weather graphics.
"It will be a real community partnership," Milner said. "
We've been working on it for a long time, and the proof will be in the pudding come next week."
The public television station serves more than 3.4 million homes in the Chicago area, while AT&T has 40,000 viewers in Lake and Porter counties.
Andrea Holecek can be reached at email@example.com or (219) 662-5336.