Summer Fridays are usually a good time to sneak out a bit early and beat the getaway traffic, but the Cleveland stations are fully immersed in the LeBron James coming home story.
Call it the Return of the King—James announced on Sports Illustrated's website that he will rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers four years after leaving the team for riches and rings in sunny south Florida.
WKYC has been live since the announcement broke this afternoon, and—with the exception of NBC Nightly News—will stay live until 8 p.m. "We're going as hard as we can," says Brooke Spectorsky. "There are 20 reporters who've not had a break since they came to work today."
Spectorsky says WEWS was live for 60-90 minutes after the announcement, WOIO went for three hours, and WWJ stayed in regular programming.
WKYC.com features the all-LeBron home page, leading with a giant photo of James and the words "I'm Coming Home" from Sports Illustrated. The site features a story from sibling USA Today about the tight secrecy surrounding SI's huge scoop.
WJW too features "I'm Coming Home" on the Fox8.com homepage, referring to James' move as "Decision 2.0." (Decision 1.0, or, simply, "The Decision," was James' largely lambasted televised announcement that he was departing the Cavs for Miami.) LeBron dominates the WJW home page, but a few other, pretty frightening, stories do sneak on there, including "Dad captures wife delivering baby outside hospital on GoPro," "Mom suffocates baby she 'didn't want' anymore," and "Avon Lake victim’s head was wrapped in plastic."
WOIO too shows the Sports Illustrated photo of James on its home page, this one with a link to the story that broke it all. It also features a story about the Cedar Point amusement park offering to name a roller coaster after James.
While some in Cleveland remain miffed that James bolted the city in 2010, Spectorsky says it's a "declining percentage," thanks to the way he handled the announcement. At press time, James was on a plane to Rio, seemingly avoiding the media glare back home.
"There's been no showboating, no party, no strut, not 'I hate Miami'," says Spectorsky. "He's a totally different man than he was four years ago. On the street, we're not finding a lot of negative comments."
As WJW's homepage headlines indicate, Cleveland was due for some good news, and it certainly has gotten it this week; LeBron's announcement comes on the heels of Cleveland being awarded the Republican National Convention in 2016.
"It's the [most] positive week in Cleveland in a long, long time," says Spectorsky.