Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: January 4, 2010

Paul Kangas, who has been with NBR since its debut 30 years ago, retired Thursday. His successor, Tom Hudson, will take over tonight anchoring from Miami, where “Nightly Business Report” is produced by the public station WPBT. He will join the co-anchor Susie Gharib, who will continue to be based at the New York Stock Exchange. We understand the new Nightly Business Report will include cool sets, new graphics and music and a new roster of commentators.

The NY Times Sunday edition reported on the transition as follows:

Three decades ago, “Nightly Business Report” led the way in dedicated business coverage on television, but its turf was encroached upon by cable channels, including CNBC and Fox Business Network, public radio’s weekday “Marketplace” program and myriad Web sites and mobile apps that give consumers immediate access to financial data.

So, 19 months ago, the program hired Jim Russell, a news consultant who created “Marketplace” in 1989 and ran it for many years, to come up with a new approach.

“They were particularly concerned, and I believe properly so, that the show was old-fashioned,” Mr. Russell said. “When it was born 30 years ago, it was novel, exciting, radical, but 30 years had passed.” Today, he said, as he analyzed the problems, “nobody waited until 6:30 in the evening to get stock market information.”

The show’s mission, he said, would not change: “To educate its audience and empower viewers to make better financial decisions.” And it will still avoid hyperbole and sensation, he said, but it will focus “less on being the show of record in terms of what’s happening.”

In addition to more analysis and enterprise reporting, Mr. Ward said, “we’ve been working really hard with our reporters, producers and photographers about the way in which we tell stories,” to make the approach more conversational, and “not deliver a message from the mount.”

Those associated with the show are prepared for some audience complaints, but Mr. Russell said that by introducing the changes over a year, the evolution should be less jarring to dedicated viewers. “We’ve got a very critical audience, and I’m sure we will continue to hear from them,” said Ms. Gharib, adding, “So far, the feedback has been very positive.”

Ratings have been slipping but remain strong; Stuart Zuckerman, vice president for sales and marketing for “Nightly Business Report,” said the program in November drew an average 205,000 adult viewers ages 35 to 64 each night, putting it ahead of CNBC’s top-rated “Closing Bell.”

WOSU airs Nightly Business Report at 7 pm daily on WOSU HD.

Tom Hudson, new co-anchor of Nightly Business Report

Tom Hudson, new co-anchor of Nightly Business Report