Reunited KYW newsrooms broadcasting from Spring Garden

At "the CBS Broadcast Center in Spring Garden," Steve Beck, digital media editor, maintains CBSPhilly.com. Relocating the KYW radio studios there means consolidated office leases and integrated TV, radio, and website newsrooms.
At "the CBS Broadcast Center in Spring Garden," Steve Beck, digital media editor, maintains CBSPhilly.com. Relocating the KYW radio studios there means consolidated office leases and integrated TV, radio, and website newsrooms. (AKIRA SUWA / Staff Photographer)
Posted: April 04, 2014

Since the early 1970s, all-news radio KYW-AM (1060) had been broadcast from "here on Independence Mall" - a touchstone for the region.

KYW anchors peppered the radio waves daily with that location as they fired off news bulletins that informed listeners of "the world" in 22-minute stretches.

"We had a gorgeous view," morning anchor Carol MacKenzie said recently of KYW's 10th-floor studios at Fourth and Market Streets. "The sunrises there were spectacular. I had so many pictures on my cellphone. It was a great place to be. We were part of the fabric of that part of the city."

MacKenzie and the other KYW personnel are now adjusting to a new Philly neighborhood with very different views: brick rowhouse rooftops stretching into gritty North Philadelphia.

KYW's employees relocated last month to the sixth floor of the former SmithKline pharmaceutical factory on Spring Garden Street, sharing a huge, seemingly endless, former factory floor with the CBS3 and the CWPhilly television stations. KYW now airs from "the CBS Broadcast Center in Spring Garden."

In a typical week, about one million people in the Philadelphia area listen to the radio station.

CBS executives said in an interview that relocating KYW's studios enabled CBS to consolidate office leases in the Philadelphia market and integrate television, radio, and www.CBSPhilly.com staffs for more efficient news coverage.

KYW reporter Paul Kurtz was the first CBS reporter to arrive at the massive Pennsylvania Turnpike vehicle pileup in February and helped with CBS3's coverage. CBS3's Jim Donovan airs consumer reports on KYW. CBS expects more of these coordinated approaches as radio and TV staffs rub elbows.

KYW's 75 employees and CBS3's 125 account for the manpower in the combined newsroom.

"This is a big operation, and we want people to feel that it's big," said Jon Hitchcock, president and general manager for CBS3 and the CWPhilly.

Hitchcock and Marc M. Rayfield, senior vice president and market manager in Philadelphia for CBS Radio, said there was no plan to cut news-related employees occupying the broadcast center, which encompasses more than two acres of floor space.

The two talked about the desire to broaden the reach of the CBS media properties and retain KYW's leadership in news radio.

In addition to KYW, CWPhilly, and CBS3, CBS's Philadelphia-area media properties include the radio stations WOGL-FM (98.1), SportsRadio WIP-FM (91.4), CBS Sports Radio WIP-AM (610), and Talk Radio WPHT-AM (1210).

In 2010, CBS consolidated four Philadelphia-area news websites - CBS3, KYW, WIP, and Talk Radio 1210 - into one, www.CBSPhilly.com, to aggregate traffic through one portal.

Expiring leases at the WOGL and WPHT radio station locations in Bala Cynwyd provided this year's impetus to integrate the KYW and CBS3 newsrooms, CBS executives said. The SmithKline building had the space for KYW, and WOGL and WPHT could relocate to KYW's old studios on Independence Mall, so CBS didn't have to renew the Bala Cynwyd leases.

KYW employees cheered the decision. That was because KYW and CBS3 operated out of the same building on Independence Mall between 1972 and 2007, though they didn't cooperate closely. In those years, the radio and TV stations' newsrooms were on different floors, or different parts of the same floor.

That building, at Fifth and Market Streets, was torn down and the property developed into the National Museum of American Jewish History. CBS3 relocated to the SmithKline building in 2007, but KYW relocated about a block away to stay near Independence Mall.

"People were upset when we separated," KYW's MacKenzie said of the 2007 split. "We weren't in the same newsroom, but people had worked together for years."

The integrated newsroom has been something of a "happy reunion," she said, adding, "You have extra eyes and hands to know what's going on in the area."


bfernandez@phillynews.com

215-854-5897

@bobfernandez1

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