How WHTC reporter Peg McNichol made a difference along the Lakeshore

For many of us, Peg McNichol’s reports on WHTC-AM/FM brought us our local news. The morning news anchor’s specialty is adding historical context to today’s headlines. She believes in the power of information to help us make better decisions and understand others better. 

“My hands-down favorite part of my job is checking facts and finding information for callers, especially when it happens live on the air,” says McNichol.
 
One example of this was when there was a question about whether a recent U.S. Department of Justice agreement with Amtrak involved Holland's train station. McNichol was able to find the list of all included stations and let listeners know Holland's station wasn't affected. She then shared a link to the online document on the station’s social channels so listeners could see it for themselves. 

Before she joined the WHTC team as the morning news anchor, McNichol worked for The Sentinel covering Ottawa’s County business in 2009, after a 2-year stint covering city-county news in Cape Girardeau for The Southeast Missourian, and in 2010 took a job at The Grand Rapids Press as a web producer.

"The Sentinel hired me in 2005 and I bought a home in Holland," said McNichol, who over the last nearly 17 years reported on Holland-area news during three stints at The Sentinel; two at WHTC, starting as an afternoon news anchor in October 2015; and one at MLive.

New gig at The Oakland Press

After reporting in the Holland market for a collective eight years, McNichol took an opportunity in January to move back near where she grew up to join The Oakland Press team. While we miss her local coverage, we can still follow her reporting.

At The Lakeshore, we feel a special gratitude for McNichol as one of her earliest supporters. She helped us develop the weekly interview, “Good Things Along the Lakeshore,” highlighting the stories we are reporting about people and organizations making a difference in Ottawa, Allegan, and Muskegon counties. 

“It’s been so fun to provide our audience with a quick group of positive stories along the Lakeshore, especially in light of the tough and ongoing COVID reporting that needs to be done,” she says. 

WHTC highlights

Here are some highlights of what McNichol accomplished during her four years at WHTC:

She led an effort to digitize the Evergreen Commons report, which airs just after 11:20 a.m. on weekdays, improving sound and clarity for listeners. Prior to that change nearly three years ago, the station relied on live phone calls, which could sometimes yield awkward and occasionally funny results when the person answering the phone at the community organization for older adults didn't realize they were live on the air.
 
It was her idea to add police calls to the WHTC website, so listeners can quickly get an idea of what is happening in their community. WHTC currently features reports from police departments in Holland and Zeeland, a project Patty Vandenberg — who wears many hats at WHTC — has led since shortly after the station started receiving the reports.
 
McNichol increased WHTC's social media presence, which has drawn listeners to its streaming service as far away as Arizona, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. She was the first WHTC reporter to live-Tweet breaking news.
 
“As part of our social media presence, we adopted a "no name-calling" policy in late 2019. It took a while for some folks to get the message, but most people who post comments now typically stick to points about policy, procedure, and governance, and can tolerate a spirited disagreement,” McNichol says. 
 
She leaves with a tip of her cap to for Kevin Oswald, market manager for WHTC and 927 The Van.
 
“He was a good boss. He listened to my suggestions and, more often than not, said, ‘Make it so,’” McNichol says. “That’s a gift of trust that I always appreciated.”
 
 
 

 

Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.