What shows are on your DVR? Ray Donovan, FBI, Blue Bloods, Chicago P.D.
Favorite podcast? Pardon My Take from Barstool Sports. Anything politics.
Books on your nightstand? My Amazon Fire remote (lol). The Audacity of Hops by Tom Acitelli.
Recent memorable meal? Spitfire lamb and beef at Sin & Grin in Gaithersburg, Md.
Bucket list vacation? Haven’t been to Italy and need to make that happen.
Under the supervision of Patrick Paolini, Fox-owned WTTG and WDCA Washington deliver content to the nation’s capital on all available platforms. WTTG has a lively podcast strategy, which includes the general manager’s own The Paolini Perspective and several others hosted by staffers.
The D.C. TV stations also have a relentless local news strategy, starting the day at 4 a.m. and continuing through the 11:30 p.m. show The Final 5, which routinely tops the network late-night players. Paolini is also planning a relocation, with WTTG and WDCA moving a couple of miles up Wisconsin Avenue in 2021. “We’re going to have state-of-the-art facilities,” Paolini said. “It’s been a major undertaking and the staff is excited.”
Paolini spoke with senior content producer, programming Michael Malone in January about how WTTG and WDCA connect with viewers, and users, on a range of platforms.
Tell me about the podcasts. I do my own every Tuesday and it comes out Wednesday. Usually, it’s a combination of politics, pop culture, some fun stuff. Whatever is trending for that week is usually what we talk about. I’ve done 40 episodes.
You’re always trying to find ways to reach viewers on different platforms, or maybe attract new viewers. You want to expose listeners, viewers to your talent that may not otherwise be. Our first podcast was called I Still Have a Key Card With Sarah Fraser. It was a behind-the-scenes look at our talent and it was fairly successful.
We did some research about what works in the podcast world. True crime is obviously one of the top genres. Our first news podcast was called The Mansion Murders. It was a family in D.C. that was murdered in their home; it has in-depth interviews, goes behind the scenes. We really got a chance to expand on what you could typically do in a minute, minute-thirty news package.
We built out a podcast studio within our facility. We’re rolling a bunch of them out. Missing Pieces is a murder mystery in D.C. It takes a lot of research, a lot of time, some major investigative, but the payoff is great. You get authentic, in-depth analysis of cold cases. And you see a different side of our talent, which is fantastic.
We’ve morphed into a few different genres. One of our anchors, Wisdom Martin, does Unconventional Wisdom, his take on being a dad with two kids, being a basketball coach. It’s a positive, upbeat podcast. Another one, The Good Word, is a faith-based podcast.
It’s really given our talent a chance to expand their skill sets and do some more in-depth, long-form [reporting]. It’s been received well. And it gives content back to news. One of our Missing Pieces was done by Melanie Alnwick and we’ll bring it up on the evening newscast to hear about what she learned. It’s given us reverse content back to the newscasts.
Is there revenue tied to the podcasts? The scale of the revenue right now is small, but there is revenue tied to it. As we increase scale, the revenue will increase. This year is going to be a big year for us.
How many hours of local news a week do you do? Local news and information, 73.5 hours. That includes Like It or Not (7 p.m. Monday-Friday) and The Final 5, which we do Monday through Friday at 11:30 p.m. That’s both stations combined.
Is there room for more? I think there’s room for more. Every time we’ve expanded, it’s worked. The way people consume news now is on multiple platforms throughout the entire day. People’s lifestyles are evolving, and my philosophy is, we need to be in as many places as possible.
Tell me about a station story you’re proud of from the last few months. We do something called ‘Pay It Forward,’ which highlights people in the community who do great things. We try to pay it forward through them. It’s a really uplifting, inspirational weekly feature. We did one on a woman who is retired, who gets out of her house and hands out candy and is just there for the kids. She did a lot of positive things for the community, so we highlighted her.
We live in a time when there’s a lot of negative stories in the news and social media, so I think it’s important to showcase positive stories. It’s what we should be doing as local news organizations — it shouldn’t always be about the negative story.