Diana Williams Takes Leave of Absence from Channel 7

wabc_bio_dianawilliams_160x200Longtime anchor Diana Williams is taking a break from her duties at WABC-TV. She wrote on her Facebook page that she’s stepping away to care of her ailing husband.

“On Friday we said our goodbyes. For those who have been following me via social media my husband will begin a bone marrow, now referred to as a stem cell transplant, starting today. And I will be at his side as he gets a new birthday,” Williams tells her Facebook followers. “I bid farewell to the best team you could ask for on Friday as I take a leave of absence from work. I don’t know how long I will be gone but I couldn’t do this without the support of my amazing co-workers. God bless them and all of you.”

If, or when, Williams will return is undetermined. Her tenure at WABC started in 1991. She co-anchored several years with Bill Beutel. These days Williams has been the co-anchor at 5 p.m. with Sade Baderinwa.

It’s been a difficult several weeks for WABC staffers. Last month, Sarah Wallace abruptly quit after three decades covering stories. But the station was emotionally rocked on March 20, when reporter Lisa Colagrossi died suddenly from a brain hemorrhage.

Photo: 7online.com

Michael Jack Successor Expected to be Named Monday

mj+new1WNBC is ready to hand over the reigns of power. Tuned In has learned that Channel 4 is holding a staff meeting at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

While details haven’t been revealed, it appears the newsroom will learn that WCAU President and GM Eric Lerner is succeeding Michael Jack in those roles.

At that same time, sources say NBC’s WCAU in Philadelphia has called its own full staff meeting.

Jack previously announced his Channel 4 retirement for June. He has been in charge of the NBC flagship station for five years.

During Jack’s tenure at 30 Rock, Comcast completed its purchase of General Electric, which was finalized in March 2013.

Under Jack’s leadership, there was tumult in the ratings. A handful of anchor changes dotted the landscape in the last few years and viewers needed a scorecard to know the talent.

Tom Llamas left for ABC News last year, causing Channel 4 to form a split newscast at 5 p.m. Speaking of split, the anchor team of Chuck Scarborough and Shiba Russell was broken up in early 2014. Russell, hired in the summer of 2012, was swapped with Sibila Vargas, who along with Rob Schmitt was brought in from KCBS in Los Angeles. Another anchor added to the roster was Stacey Bell, who joined WNBC on the weekend desk last year.

Jack’s WNBC bio indicates that he managed the local website nbcnewyork.com and additional platforms including taxis and PATH trains.

Lerner has been with WCAU for four years. Prior to that, he had a six-year stint as GM at KIRO, the CBS affiliate in Seattle.

Photo: nbcnewyork.com

Colleagues Cope with Loss of Lisa Colagrossi

11081013_402089466636141_5445076497163986496_nFriends and co-workers are in mourning after the stunning death of Lisa Colagrossi. The veteran Channel 7 reporter died from a brain hemorrhage after covering a story Thursday morning. She was 49.

Longtime WABC-TV anchor Bill Ritter says what most close to Colagrossi are feeling.

“We are all crushed, devastated,” Ritter tells Tuned In. “Lisa was the ultimate pro, and set the bar for how to work hard and effectively as both an immersed reporter and an immersed mom and spouse. I’m filled with sorrow, but also with joy for having known her.”

A familiar face since joining WABC in 2001, at home Colagrossi was hockey mom to her two sons.

In a statement, Dave Davis, President and GM at WABC, says, “All of us in the Channel 7 family are in shock over her sudden death, Our attention is now focused on helping her husband and two children through this difficult time.”

After finishing her morning shift covering a Queens house fire, Colagrossi collapsed in the news van and was rushed to the hospital. Unable to regain consciousness, she died Friday morning.

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Channel 7 Reporter Lisa Colagrossi Dies From Aneurysm

wabc_bio_lisacolagrossi_160x200Lisa Colagrossi, well respected within the walls of WABC-TV and among her many peers, died after suffering a brain aneurysm while on a story Thursday in Queens.

Tuned In learned the family made the painful decision to remove Colagrossi from life support Friday morning. She was 49.

She worked the early shift on Eyewitness News This Morning to spend more time with her boys, ages 11 and 15.

Colagrossi joined Channel 7 in September 2001, freelancing just days after the 9/11 attacks.

One good friend and local broadcaster describes Colagrossi as “kind, generous, and a women’s woman in a business that is tough for women to be together.”

Perhaps shocked, the station did not air a tribute Friday. Many colleagues, however, turned to Twitter and Facebook to grieve.

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Sarah Wallace Appreciates ‘Great Support’ from Former Channel 7 Co-Workers

wabc_bio_sarahwallace_160x200There is shock and sadness still permeating Channel 7. It’s been a week since venerable investigative reporter Sarah Wallace left the station. Questions remain as to why she’s no longer part of the “Circle 7″ staff after more than three exemplary decades.

Did Wallace quit? Did she get fired? Was she pushed out by News Director Camille Edwards?

While it may take time for those answers to be revealed, it is clear that the station is devastated by the abruptness of her departure and lack of closure.

“People are heartbroken at the loss. Sarah is respected, admired and loved by her colleagues,” a station insider tells Tuned In. “It’s like a death in the family.”

One veteran anchor takes it a step further for her longtime friend and colleague.

WPIX’s Kaity Tong writes on her Facebook page that Wallace is “absolutely THE most dedicated, tenacious, fair, and professional journalist around. She is brilliant. And has been brilliant for more than 30 years.”

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Veteran WABC Reporter Sarah Wallace Quits After Three Decades

wabc_bio_sarahwallace_160x200Longtime investigative reporter Sarah Wallace is no longer at Channel 7. Insiders tell Tuned In the award-winning reporter abruptly left the station Thursday.

There is some confusion surrounding her departure.

“We don’t know what happened,” a source says. “She’s a great reporter and a huge part of the Eyewitness News team. But why this happened – no one has said and no one seems to know.”

But we do know she is beloved by most at the station. Her former co-workers started sending an email chain sharing how they felt about her work.

“The outpouring of support for her has been huge,” another insider says.

That outpouring is apparently not extending to management. News director Camille Edwards sent a two-sentence note to staffers saying, “I wanted to let you know that Sarah Wallace is no longer with Eyewitness News. We want to thank Sarah for her many years of service and wish her the best,” FTVLive reports.

It all started for Wallace at WABC in 1984, originally as a consumer reporter.

But she found her calling on the investigative beat, where she would chase down subjects with a kinder/gentler version of Mike Wallace’s ambush theater perfected on 60 Minutes.

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WPIX Set to Promote Amy Waldman to News Director, Expand Evening Newscast

AmyThe ratings are improving at WPIX, but the internal strife is still present. Part of the problem, no one is officially steering the ship in the newsroom.

Tribune hadn’t named a successor to Mark Effron, who was bounced in October. But that is about to change. Amy Waldman (left), the station’s managing editor, who has primarily handled the day-to-day operations since Effron’s departure, will be the Channel 11 news director, Tuned In has learned.

VP/GM Rich Graziano addressed staffers in two separate meetings this week to announce the hire of new Senior VP of News, Bart Feder, a New York veteran, replacing Katherine Green.

Graziano was asked in the first meeting about the elephant in the room, the lack of a news director. He told the group that Vickie Burns is back in the building, but not in a managerial role. Graziano said Burns is a consultant, who will guide and mentor Waldman, who just needs some “tweaking.”

Burns ran newsrooms at WNBC and KNBC.

While not specifically addressing a promotion for Waldman, Graziano told employees that he’s stopped taking phone calls from people applying for the news director position.

 

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MSG Network and WPIX Top Emmy Award List

Tamsen ScottThe tuxes and gowns will flow with the champagne. But first, nominations for the New York Emmy Awards. MSG Network leads all outlets with 61 nods, while WPIX is best among broadcast TV with 54 nominations.

Some highlights:
Chris Wragge is in the Best News Anchor category. He’s joined by a trio of talent from WPIX, Sukanya Krishnan, last year’s winner Tamsen Fadal, and surprise nominee Scott Stanford (left).

Stanford is also in the running for Best Sports Anchor. He competes against former WNBC collegue Bruce Beck, MSG’s Al Trautwig and Bob Lorenz from the YES Network.

Wragge has a shot to take home multiple trophies. He’s among those vying for Best Live Reporter against Josh Einiger at WABC/Channel 7, Scott Rapoport from WCBS and WNYW’s Teresa Priolo.

WCBS’ Lonnie Quinn is the only person nominated from an English language station in New York City as Best Weather Anchor.

Despite no longer working at WPIX, Larry Mendte has a handful of chances to add hardware to the mantle. He’s nominated in the Best Political category opposite former Channel 11 cohort Mario Diaz and WCBS’ stalwart Marcia Kramer.

Mendte is batting another one-time PIXer, Lionel, as Best Commentator/Editorialist.

As for play-by-play, MSG’s Mike Breen has to beat three members of YES: Ian Eagle, Michael Kay, and Ryan Ruocco.

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More Tumult at Tribune’s WPIX

PIX11_LogoIn another shakeup at WPIX, Katherine Green is out.

The Senior VP of News at Tribune’s local stations failed to see much improvement at Channel 11. Green, with the company since May, clearly had a WPIX bulls-eye on her back.

During her short stint, the station got rid of its news director, Mark Effron, who hung on for 18 months. Two general managers also exited in the last three years.

The only (somewhat) ratings bright spot is in a crowded field at 5 p.m.  But the station has had no success bringing extra viewers to the 10 p.m. newscast.

“The November book was supposed to be a game changer,” the insider says. “Instead, people changed the channel to other stations.”

WPIX still needs to name Effron’s replacement, and apparently that long process is coming close to an end.

Insiders tell Tuned In that three candidates are left standing for the management position.

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Dow Jones Cuts the Cord with Wall Street Journal Radio

wsjIt’s happened before and it will likely happen again. In this case, Dow Jones has abruptly decided to cease its Wall Street Journal Radio Network and Marketwatch Radio operations.

It’s the ultimate reduction of staff–completely doing away with all content and talent, effective December 31, making for a bittersweet holiday season for those with pink slips in their stockings.

It’s believed approximately 15 people at WSJ and a few dozen others at Marketwatcb are impacted.

On a personal note, I’ve been a freelance anchor for the Wall Street Journal Radio since July 2013. But fortunately, since February, I have a full-time job at 77 WABC as my main gig.

Dow Jones’ parent company is News Corp. Dow Jones CEO William Lewis says in a statement, “It will come as no surprise that in order to do even more, we must do fewer things that are not core to our business so that we can move faster in pursuit of our goals.”

Since the 1980s, the Wall Street Journal Radio has been heard on hundreds of affiliates, including WCBS 880.

There are also national Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Money reports.

On WCBS, you’ve likely heard Jen Ursillo giving the biz headlines with afternoon anchors Wayne Cabot and Steve Scott. Bruce Vale is veteran of the WSJ and WCBS.

Joe Connelly, the popular, longtime morning anchor, known for his witty repartee.

Another voice “giving the business” on 880 is Frank Cipolla, a man with so many years and experiences in the industry that he recently penned an autobiography (It Shocked Even Us).

Cipolla says he’s treasured the six years at the WSJ, but had a weird feeling just hours before the fateful announcement.

“[Tuesday] night – while I was alone in the newsroom – there was this very heavy feeling in the room. Almost dark. Then as I left after my last newscast I did something very uncharacteristic.”

At that point, Cipolla realized he didn’t have a photo of his work space.

“I stopped, took a shot of the newsroom and walked out,” Cipolla says. “[The next] morning the phone call came that it was all over. I’m not big on sixth senses, but I did sense something last night.”