Wyoming’s K2 Television Ends ‘Good Morning Wyoming,’ New Show Starts Monday
Editor's Note: K2 Radio News is not affiliated with K2 Television. Despite having identical call letters, the two outlets are owned and operated separately.
'Good Morning Wyoming' aired for the final time Friday on K2 Television, the latest in a series of changes implemented at the heritage station since new ownership took the reins at the beginning of June.
"We sincerely fell in love with this wonderful community," hosts Taylor Wirtz and Billy Floyd wrote on the show's Facebook page. "This run was phenomenal and nothing could ever touch us in a deeper way."
On Monday, the new morning show will begin, though it's not exactly clear what that new program will look like.
The new owners of the TV station -- Front Range Television, LLC, a division of Coastal Television Broadcasting, LLC, which is led by CEO Bill Fielder -- eliminated weekend news and the entire sports department last month after firing Anchor Jiani Navarro, Meteorologist Ryan Gold, Sports Director Kiera Grogan and Chief Meteorologist Erik Dean.
In addition to the terminations, several people familiar with the matter tell K2 Radio News that two tentative employees who had effectively been headed to Casper to begin working for the television station saw their job offers rescinded after ownership changed hands.
The weekends at K2 Television instead are now filled with programming from NewsNet. The Cadillac, Michigan-based outfit covers national and international news and distributes its programming to affiliates.
Coastal Television started using NewsNet at one of its Alaska stations, KTBY-TV, earlier this year after eliminating its entire local news staff April 1.
In a phone interview with K2 Radio News on Monday, Fielder said the coronavirus pandemic had forced his management team to pivot to NewsNet and cut local journalism positions earlier than they had planned.
The larger vision for KTWO-TV will have Anchor Maria Athens producing newscasts for Alaska from the Casper studio. In those newscasts, Athens anchors the NewsNet programming.
Athens and another new face to Casper were in town in June immediately after the four local employees were fired. Sources told K2 Radio News that Athens was working to train on the new computer system.
In fact, Fielder touted that new system as the "backbone" of what K2 Television will become. He maintained that the station's local news coverage will be more robust and of a higher quality going forward, despite reducing the number of local journalists in his newsroom, because of increased efficiency.
"With advanced collaboration tools, support for artificial intelligence, and improved mobile apps, Front Range brings its News Team into the modern news gathering age with a uniquely intuitive and equally powerful digital and linear workflow," Fielder said in a written statement on Monday.
Fielder told K2 Radio News that by freeing the remaining local journalists from production duties, they will have more time to cover Casper- and Wyoming-based stories.
Those stories will be included at the top of newscasts, sources say, with the remaining time largely filled by NewsNet programming.
As for the new morning show, Fielder said on Monday that he did not know what the program would be named. He said it would run for 90 minutes but did not go into detail about its content, only claiming that it would be superior to 'Good Morning Wyoming.'
But sources close to the situation at K2 Television are skeptical about the promised growth.
"I mean, we won't have any local sports at all," one person told K2 Radio News. "Sports were a big part of our viewer's lives and they took that away from them. I don't know if we'll have less, but I'm sad to say that I don't see it growing unless we get more reporters."
In their Facebook post Saturday morning, Wirtz and Floyd asked viewers to continue watching K2 Television as the changes move forward.
However, a number of commenters voiced their dismay and even some anger at the disappearance of 'Good Morning Wyoming,' with some saying they would no longer be tuning in.
For his part, Fielder said he is optimistic about the direction of K2 Television.
"I love Casper," he said during Monday's phone interview.