Your Friends, Your Favorites, Your Fox, Locally
by Melissa LaScaleia
WFXB is a Fox affiliate news station broadcasting locally from the Market Common. They host three shows daily: Carolina AM, a live morning talk show hosted by Greg Rowles and Audra Grant; live coverage of Fox midday news; and in the evening, Not the News— a lighthearted satire of the news, also hosted by Greg and Audra.
“The morning show is something to engage the community,” says Audra, who co-produces the show with her colleague, Laura Pence. “It’s unique in this market— something where people can grab a cup of coffee and sit down to be informed and entertained.”
For the first ten minutes of the show, Greg and Audra chat unscripted— and as it’s a live broadcast— anything spontaneous or quirky, or both, can occur.
“It could be something funny that happened before the show began,” Audra says. “We let it go where it leads.”
Carolina AM covers a variety of topics. There is always something health-related, like statistics on exercise, or a latest nutrition find. Sometimes a dating tip. They’ll always do a show biz highlight, in which they relay the top four news-worthy stories involving celebrities. And then there’s a cooking segment.
Often top chefs will appear as guest educators; at other times Greg and Audra will teach each other how to prepare a dish.
“But it’s the things that people can relate to,” Audra says. “How to save $30 at the Dollar Tree, or create your own spa at home. I’ll bring something in from my home that I love, whether it’s an appliance or a favorite cleaning product, and do a segment about it.”
It’s also highly interactive.
“We’re always looking for ideas from our viewers,” Audra says. “The show is a real give-and-take. We want to engage with our audience. We get notifications from our audience in the moment, and we’ll relay that content and respond to it.
“Our goal for the show and in general is connecting with the community. We share information in a different light, and a personal one. The world can get so heavy. We want people to be able to relax and watch the program with their kids or their best friend, engage with us in real time if they choose, and not worry about having a heavy heart afterwards.”
Audra went to school for journalism at Winthrop University. Her first job out of college was as a weather anchor and a reporter.
“I still had a few more months of school left when I was offered a full time job as a weatherwoman and reporter at a small local station in Rock Hill, SC,” she says. “I didn’t know anything about the weather, so I would watch all the other weather networks in the area, and take the average as my prediction.”
“What else was a college student going to do?” she says laughing. “It was a low budget cable station, and there was no cable affiliate. In between classes, I would draw the weather patterns with a magic marker, then run over to the station and give the map of my predictions to the graphic designer who would design it for the show. Then, after class I would record it.”
Later, Audra’s career took her to WPDE in Florence where she left the duties of the weather for Channel 15 to Ed Piowtroski.
“He was hands down the best meteorologist in this area,” she says. “And when I told him about what I did, he had a good laugh.”
Audra worked as a general assignment reporter, then as an investigative journalist, then moved into anchoring and producing. She is best known for an expose she wrote on the Florence County treasurer’s office many years ago.
“As a journalist, people send you info all the time,” she says. “And one day I got a tip that I felt I should pursue. Over the course of six months, I followed a trail and put the pieces together to discover that the treasurer for the county owed about 1 million in taxes that he hadn’t paid. He ended up being indicted.”
Audra first worked at WFXB ten years ago, covering feature stories and co-hosting Not the News. While taking time to raise her family, she worked as a freelancer. Then, this August, WFXB called and asked her to fill in for Not the News once more, as well as their newly formatted Carolina AM with Greg; and she never stopped.
Not the News follows the 10pm news at 10:30pm so that people can relax and unwind with something humorous before bed.
“Not the News is so much fun it doesn’t feel like a job,” Audra says. “I’ve learned a lot from it. Initially it was very challenging for me to do because it’s a spoof, and I was trained as an anchor to be serious. But Greg has a great sense of humor and can come up with puns relating to a story. I’m not funny at all, but I know how to set him up, so we work together really well.”
The general format of the show follows a protocol that is designed to be so ridiculous that you can’t believe the topics are being discussed.
“We make fun of the news, of off-the-wall things, and bring an air of light-heartedness to our viewers after they’ve watched the news so they can have a fun laugh,” Audra says.
“We don’t talk politics at all. We have our Man-on-the-Strand, Tyler. He hasn’t been out since the pandemic, but typically he’s out and about in the community, asking people questions and relaying the information on air.”
Audra gets up at 4am every morning and commutes from where she lives in Florence to Myrtle Beach, to do the work that she loves.
“We never know how what we will say will impact someone’s life,” Audra says. “Greg and I are not afraid to share about our lives spontaneously, on air. The ugly side, the vulnerable side. When we all share our stories, we all feel a little more normal, because we’re all human, experiencing the same things.
“The acknowledgement of my humanity makes me feel empowered to speak about those things that don’t feel pretty in the moment. But when I reflect, I realize they are pretty because they are real, and that is truly beautiful.”
WFXB Fox 43
Carolina AM: w/ Audra Grant & Greg Rowles: Weekdays at 9am
Midday News: w/ BJ Kinard & Laura Pence: Weekdays at 12:30pm
Not the News: w/ Audra Grant & Greg Rowles: Weeknights at 10:30pm
Message Audra and Greg via Facebook during the morning show to connect live. For a more personal message contact Audra via email.