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An even earlier start for Fox4's Good Day

Tim Ryan and Lauren Przybyl on her first day last Sept. Photo: Ed Bark

The early morning shift just got more taxing for Dallas-based Fox4's Good Day crew.

Sources say that beginning Monday, the program will be starting at 4:30 a.m., instead of 5, to get a jump start on rival waker-uppers on NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11.

Good Day, which runs until 9 a.m., also will be adding an "Ask Lauren" feature, via her Facebook page, in hopes of pumping up both the personality and visibility of co-anchor Lauren Przybyl. She joined Good Day on Sept. 21, 2009, replacing Megan Henderson, who left Fox4 at the end of that year's February "sweeps" ratings period and now is at KTLA-TV in Los Angeles. Tim Ryan has been Good Day's longtime co-anchor.

In this year's February sweeps, Good Day was No. 1 in total viewers from 5 to 5:30 a.m., but then yielded first place to NBC5 from 5:30 to 7 a.m. Good Day then bounced back to first place from 7 to 9 a.m. opposite the three network morning shows.

Among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming, Good Day trailed NBC5 for the entire 5 to 7 a.m. local news competition before beating Today, GMA and Early Show.

In this month's ratings, NBC5 has consistently won the 6 a.m. hour, but it's been a closer three-way race from 5 to 6 a.m., where WFAA8's Daybreak also is in the hunt before the program usually loses ground between 6 and 7 a.m.

Early mornings have become the second most important local news battleground in recent years, with only the late night newscasts a bigger priority. At KRIV-TV in Houston, which also is owned by Fox, the weekday morning news show stretches all the way from 4 to 10 a.m.

Messing around. Ryan, substitute anchor and reporter Krystle Gutierrez and Przybyl in a picture from Przybyl's Facebook page.

Also at Good Day, Krystle Gutierrez plans to take an extended four-month maternity leave later this year after having her baby.

Gutierrez was the principal interim Good Day co-anchor during the gap between Henderson's departure and Przybyl's arrival. She also has been a featured in-studio contributor during the program's efforts to boost its relatively flat ratings in recent months.