Carol Costello used to anchor a late morning show at CNN, then moved to HLN last year. Now she’s out of a job. 

HLN dumps three anchors, brings all live programming back to Atlanta

Carol Costello, Ashleigh Banfield and Michaela Pereira are out

Originally posted Tuesday, October 16, 2018 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Struggling HLN is retrenching to Atlanta after moving most of its news operations outside of Robin Meade to New York and Los Angeles.

Three daily live shows have been cut: “Across America with Carol Costello,” “Michaela” and “Crime & Justice with Ashleigh Banfield.”

“I know that you will join me in thanking these incredibly talented journalists and their teams for their dedication and hard work,” HLN boss Ken Jautz said in a memo to staff today. 

About 15 jobs have been nixed. 

“We will shift some of our resources from live to long-form programming and produce our live shows in as streamlined a manner as possible,” Jautz continued. “The best way to do this is to centralize production of live news programming in Atlanta.”

Meade’s “Morning Express,” which has been based at CNN Center since 2001, will be expanded to 6 a.m. to noon from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. while “On the Story” will add an hour and go from noon to 3 p.m. starting October 29. “On the Story” will also move from New York to Atlanta. That show has been hosted by a rotation of people since Erica Hill moved to CNN in April.

This is rare good news for Atlanta, which has seen resources steadily shifted to other cities over the past decade. 

HLN over the past couple of years has tried to counter program while its sister station CNN, MSNBC and Fox News focused almost exclusively on politics. It attempted to capture Middle America housewives by focusing outside the Beltway but clearly not enough of them came aboard. (Coincidentally or not, all its anchors are female.)

The network will add more crime-oriented programming during its other hours, continuing to compete with ID and Oxygen, among other networks. 

Meade is an impressive survivor, courtesy of consistently solid ratings over her 17 years at HLN. (She arrived when it was still called CNN Headline News.) She has refused to leave Atlanta despite pleas by CNN boss Jeff Zucker to come to New York.

Otherwise, management has tried different ways to boost HLN ratings in other time slots. Clark Howard was part of the network for five years as it tried a mix of “news and views.” It briefly attempted to attract millenials in 2014 with shows such as a docuseries following a YouTube star and a game show focused on social media. 

The network lost its most prominent, most divisive personality  Nancy Grace in 2016 when she chose to leave her Atlanta-based show.  

It has since aired a mix of live news and crime programs hosted by the likes of Hill Harper and B.D. Wong

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.