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.”

Mark Effron Exits WPIX; Who’s Next as News Director?

PIX11_LogoThe winds of change are blowing through WPIX. News director Mark Effron was scheduled to leave the station October 31. But insiders say he officially exited Friday. We’re told Effron was primarily a figurehead since management made the decision to let him go, something Tuned In first told you last month.

The plan on paper was to have the new news director in place for a few weeks before Effron left. With his early, albeit, not surprising departure, station brass are forced to expedite their search.

We’re told two big name television programmers were approached to succeed Effron. But they balked. Kenny Plotnik, the longtime Channel 7 news director, ultimately ended his courtship by taking a VP role at New England Cable News in September.

More recently, Dianne Doctor‘s name surfaced as a possible replacement. Doctor is VP of the mythological newsroom at Fox’s WWOR. Insiders tell Tuned In that she also declined the offer.

Speaking of Fox, Emad Asghar is the WNYW assistant news director with ties to PIX. He was another person that was interviewed for the opening, and he was another individual who said no.

While the station has received dozens of resumes, it appears to be a two-horse race.

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Fond Memories of Veteran Radio Programmer, Kevin Metheny, But Not for Howard Stern

methenyTo millions of Howard Stern fans, Kevin Metheny will forever be ”Pig Vomit,” his character
in the 1997 autobiographical film Private Parts, played by Paul Giamatti. (Stern called him “Pig Virus” in real life.)

While Metheny never worked in New York City after being fired from WNBC, he did build a deep resume as a go-to radio programmer in numerous markets.

Metheny died Friday night of a heart attack while on the job as operations manager at Cumulus’ KGO and KSFO in San Francisco.

Stern this week referred to his former boss as a “Nazi vampire.” Although he was sad to learn of Metheny’s death and that he leaves behind two daughters, Stern is not sure he “ever fully recovered” from the way Metheny ran WNBC.

Stern was hired as afternoon personality in 1982. Private Parts documents Stern’s journey to becoming New York’s top rated DJ.

In 2012, marking the 30th anniversary of Stern’s arrival, Metheny told me that the movie and book were not gospel.

“I think [there's] a fair and appropriate amount of artists’ liberties taken with factual elasticity in order to make a more interesting project,” Metheny said.

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Looking for a ‘Fresh’ Start; Jim Douglas Out at WWFS

Jim-DouglasVeteran morning personality Jim Douglas is on the radio sidelines after his exit from WWFS/Fresh 102.7 this week. Douglas had been teamed with Kim Berk for nearly 20 years, including the last five at the CBS-owned FM.

“I wish my partner, Kim, well,” Douglas tells Tuned In. “She’s an amazing talent so whomever they put in that chair, she’ll make them better than they thought they could be.”

But for now, sources indicate Berk will fly solo on the morning show.

Douglas and Berk, a.k.a. “Jim and Kim” started waking up Long Island listeners in the mid-1990s at KJOY/WKJY (now branded K 98.3). The native New Yorker was born in Bellerose, Queens, and grew up on Long Island.

WWFS is housed on Hudson Street with the entire stable of CBS New York radio stations.

“I got to know lots of the people at WINS AND WCBS AM. I’ll miss watching the amazing work they do,” Douglas adds.

No word on Douglas’ next venture, but “I['ve] got lots of golfing to get in!”

Death of WCBS Reporter John Slattery Shocks Colleagues

johnslattery1He was a consumate pro, who was one of the great New York TV street reporters. John Slattery passed away suddenly early Thursday. Tuned In has learned that the veteran WCBS-TV reporter died of an apparent heart attack in his sleep. A spokesperson could not confirm his cause of death. He was 63. His death comes just hours after filing a story for the station.

His death stunned colleagues and competitors alike.

“We are saddened by the unexpected passing of our friend and colleague John Slattery… He was great at reporting the news and was someone we counted on to cover big stories for us, both here in New York and around the world,” Peter Dunn, WCBS President and GM, said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with John’s wife, Suzie, and their children and grandchildren.”

During a legendary 35-year run in New York City, Slattery intersected with some of the most famous anchors the market ever saw. After a stint at Philly’s WCAU, Slattery reached the big time when Eyewitness News came calling in 1979. He spent five years with WABC, where Roger Grimsby and Bill Beutel still ruled the roost. The station also added Ernie Anastos and Tom Snyder while Slattery was pounding the pavement. While there, he was part of Channel 7′s John Lennon assassination coverage. In 1981, Slattery made history as the first reporter to conduct a post-Watergate interview with former president Richard Nixon.

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Breaking: WCBS Veteran Repoter John Slattery Dead of Heart Attack

johnslattery1He was there for the biggest stories during a career than spanned more than 30 years in New York. John Slattery died of an apparent heart attack overnight, Tuned In has confirmed. He was believed to be 63 or 64.  Slattery was a fixture at WCBS, joining Channel 2 in October 1984. The general assignment correspondent covered everything from Superstorm Sandy to the Miracle on the Hudson, and of course, the 9/11 attacks.

Prior to that, Slattery spent five years on the street at WABC-TV during the Roger Grimsby/Bill Beutel era.

Slattery was a four-time local Emmy Award winner.

More details to follow.

Photo: WCBS-TV