Cable news veteran Ashleigh Banfield will host a late-night talk program on WGN America, replacing the third hour of the cable channel’s nightly news show.
The show will take the form of an intimate conversation program in the style of “Larry King Live” or “Charlie Rose,” featuring interviews with celebrities and newsmakers of the day.
The program will be a departure from Banfield’s traditional news reporting that viewers have long been accustom to during her stints at CNN and MSNBC, something she acknowledged in a recent interview.
“I’m an avid news junkie,” Banfield said in an interview with Variety. “Something that’s been missing for me as a consumer has been the center lane — I’m exhausted by the breathless fights in cable news and I long for the days when I could just be informed of what was happening nationally and internationally without attitude.”
Banfield said she was inspired by the interview style of Larry King and would franchise some of his style for her now show.
“Larry King used to dig deep into his subject matter. He had the time and he wasn’t rushed,” Banfield said. “He wasn’t worried about bells and whistles and graphics. He had the time to slow down, dig in and really feel the story.”
Banfield’s show will originate from a studio in Connecticut, Variety said. Nexstar Media Group, the parent company of WGN America, has already started hiring to fill positions for the show.
Banfield’s program will replace the third hour of “NewsNation,” a national prime-time newscast on WGN America that launch last year to much fanfare but has struggled to find an audience since then.
NewsNation’s struggles are partly owed to its carriage on WGN America, which is available on most cable and satellite systems but has yet to launch on many over-the-top streaming services. Nexstar has made it a point to negotiate carriage agreements with streaming services that already distribute its local broadcast stations; this year, Dish Network’s Sling TV, Google’s YouTube TV, Disney’s Hulu with Live TV and sports-centric Fubo TV will all add the channel, which could help boost its ratings.
Executives at Nexstar are hoping Banfield’s talk program could also help draw more of an audience to WGN America in prime-time.
“As WGN America begins expanding its programming and distribution in 2021, Ashleigh’s national appeal and network experience will help us reach new viewers seeking balance, not bias in news reporting, and talk programming that offers several points of view,” Sean Compton, an executive with Nexstar, said in a statement. “We are excited to add Banfield to our growing lineup of news programming.”
The new program will debut March 1 on WGN America.