WESTMINSTER — For its customers who wake up hungry for the latest in local news, Prestige Cablevision will start a daily live broadcast at 7 a.m. Monday.
A 10-minute morning program, featuring news, weather, sports, school lunch menus and a preview of the day's events was one of the first major changes instituted by the station's new general manager, Marty Sonenshine.
Sonenshine, who began his job here Sept. 3, said changing the station's morning rebroadcast of the previous day's news became his first order of business.
With the cancellation of the noon news in July, viewers could not tune in for the latest local information until day's end. He said he created "A.M. Edition" to better serve the station's 20,500 viewers.
"We have always covered night meetings and headlined overnight events," he said. "It just made no sense to make viewers wait nearly 24 hours to hear about those events."
Sonenshine, 25, brings three years of full-time broadcasting experience to the county operation. While a student at Georgia State University, he began his career doing play-by-play at football games for the Atlanta-based Prestige's radio station.
After earning a bachelor's degree inbroadcast journalism, he worked his way through the advertising, accounting and editorial departments of the company's radio and television stations. He later became news director, responsible for one television and five radio newscasts.
For the past month, the staff has been monitoring the police scanner overnight and making arrangements to gather news with the sunrise.
"We don't plan a lot of features," he said. "If we get last night's news across, we'll be doing the job."
After airing promotions and staging trial runs all this week, he expects the program to be "in full swing" by Monday. He said the news staff is "going in with the idea of a smooth, perfect broadcast from Day One."
Elizabeth F. Hyatt, acting news director, said the staff was excited about the program, one more element in a year of changes.
"We just moved into a new building (in Englar Business Park), and starting this program, in which everybody has a part, is another great morale booster," she said.
Much responsibility for the program will fall on Sonji D. Briscoe, recently promoted from general assignment reporter to morning anchor.
Briscoe, 25, and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, started at the station a year ago as an intern from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. After a month, Prestige hired her as a part-time reporter, covering South Carroll.
She said her new full-time job will make her a more well-rounded reporter. She also must become a morning person overnight.
"I plan to get up at 4 a.m., make police rounds at 5 and get here to write stories by 5:30," she said.
Once she walks off theset, she will continue working with Hyatt on evening news items and acting as co-host for "Carroll '91," an interview show.
"The morning news will be a great experience for Sonji," said Hyatt. "She'll bedoing everything and developing all her skills.
Sonenshine said Briscoe, like the rest of the staff, will wear many hats. Three full-time and three part-time reporters often shoot their own footage and edit copy.
"This is small-market television," he said. "You learn to do it all, so you will be OK when nobody is there to help you."