With the announcement that Sibila Vargas (left) is coming on board at WNBC in October, we’re left to speculate how the anchor changes will impact the station, and most notably, Shiba Russell.
Since she walked in the door at 30 Rock in 2011, Russell was tapped as the next Sue Simmons. But if the media helped create that idea, station management was on the same path. Seemingly from day one, she was “the” Simmons back-up. Of course, by last June she was understudy no more, when Simmons left WNBC. Russell joined another market legend Chuck Scarborough at 11. However, since Simmons returned from back surgery, she was no longer on the 6 p.m., leaving Scarborough to fend for himself.
Now with New York native Vargas installed as the 6 p.m. anchor with Scarborough, there could be a case of turf wars among the ladies. Vargas becomes the first evening female anchor to land at WNBC since Russell’s rapid ascension.
“I grew up watching WNBC. The news was always first-rate,” Vargas tells Tuned In. “Now I’m going to be part of the team. I am beyond thrilled! It is an honor.”
Is there more to this move?
Well WNBC has been in an uncharacteristic fight for last place, and that’s not all Russell’s fault. As much as loyal viewers lit up the blogosphere saying they’d stop watching the station without Sue. They wouldn’t, and didn’t. The bigger problem, as one insider tells Tuned In, quality has been sorely lacking.
Despite the ray of hope of Scott Stanford set to become a full-time news anchor with Tamsen Fadal, WPIX is still the home of eggshells and awkwardness.
Since that mega announcement, Tuned In has learned that reporter Hilary Whittier was fired yesterday. But news director Mark Effron was forced to do a temporary about face. The station realized that she couldn’t be axed without alerting the unions, two in fact. Instead, she’ll report to the newsroom for the next 30 days, likely without being seen on the air.
“She’s a nice person, but too green for the streets of New York,” one source contends.
Whittier, as a multimedia journalist, is a rare commodity. She shoots her own pieces, except when doing a story live. We’re told that Whittier, with PIX since 2011, was to be fired because they don’t like her work or her personality.
There was another behind-the-scenes maneuver today. Morning news executive producer Howard Dorsey resigned. His departure had been rumored for several weeks as, sources say, this was not Dorsey’s decision. He started at Channel 11 in 2010. Senior executive producer Sharon von Zweiten is expected to fill the gap on an interim basis.
Effron has also decided to make WPIX the alternate news station for New York City. We’re told he discussed the issue last week, placing a moratorium on the use of stories outside of the five boroughs. An insider says the concentration of coverage will be Brooklyn and Queens, “as that’s where the meters are.”
Marcia Kramer has been the political maven of WCBS/Channel 2 for more than 20 years. The chief political correspondent has amassed a plethora of honors, including a handful New York Emmy Awards and a couple of Peabody Awards. But there was no award-winning performance by Kramer as moderator of the New York City comptroller debate last week.
The one-hour debate was filled with the typical financial topics for Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and former governor Eliot Spitzer.
However, Kramer had something more up her sleeve, and not in a good way. Toward the end of the debate, she elected to have lightning round segments for the candidates. But these questions had nothing whatsoever to do with debating, in fact, most elicited a simple yes or no response.
Kramer: “Did you ever take an accounting course?”
For the record, they both said yes.
Kramer: “Should we eliminate the penny?”
Again, a pair of affirmative answers followed.
At least those extraneous questions had something to do with money, but not this odd choice.
WPIX has its evening anchor team in place. It’s a name that Tuned In told you exclusively last week was “95 percent” certain to get the gig. Scott Stanford will co-anchor the weeknight 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts with Tamsen Fadal beginning September 16.
Stanford has four New York Emmy Awards, but for sports anchoring. His personality has been on display as the weekend sports anchor at WNBC. Prior to his Channel 4 experience, viewers watched Stanford’s antics on WNYW and sister station WWOR. Stanford first gained a following as afternoon sports anchor on WCBS 880.
But his news experience is extremely thin. This year, Stanford began filling in as anchor on WNBC’s CoziTV (formerly New York Nonstop). No matter — news director Mark Effron is ready with his biggest hire since joining the station in April.
WCBS and reporter Derricke Dennis have parted ways. The lead 11 p.m. correspondent confirms to Tuned In that he is no longer employed by Channel 2. While Dennis would not elaborate about the departure, sources say this was a case of station management choosing not to renew his contract.
Dennis, who left the station at the end of July, spent three years at WCBS.
“I enjoyed my time at WCBS,” Dennis tells Tuned In. “I loved telling the stories across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and plan to do it again very soon.”
He covered the biggest stories during his time at WCBS. But he didn’t shy away from the bizarre. One such example took place last year, when he interviewed Patricia Krentcil, a.k.a. “The Tanning Mom.”
Before landing in New York, Dennis had a six-year stint as a reporter at WDIV in Detroit. He honed his craft in Richmond, Virginia. The Garden State native also worked at News 12 New Jersey.
The biggest move of the Mark Effron-era at WPIX is about to happen. Tuned In has learned that Scott Stanford (left) will be evening co-anchor with Tamsen Fadal. An insider says it’s a “95 percent” done deal that he’ll team with Fadal for the station’s 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts.
The station, and Effron directly, refused to comment on any talent changes.
Stanford is the energetic WNBC sports anchor who has occasionally done news anchoring on their digital channel Cozi TV. Despite that limited news experience, this insider believes it’s a good hire.
Every year’s election cycle is filled with controversies, but the transgressions of former congressman Anthony Weiner have upped the ante in 2013. The sexual scandal that caused Weiner to resign in 2011 reared its head after he began his campaign for mayor last month.
NY1 is set to televise the latest debate of Democratic candidates for mayor tomorrow night with anchor Errol Louis moderating. He tells Tuned In that the circus surrounding Weiner has dissipated, primarily because the voters have already spoken.
“The reality is that Weiner has not, in my opinion, overly dominated the coverage,” Louis says. “He got his turn in the sun because he was interesting and newsworthy. [Weiner] got his turn at the top of the poll, and now he has yielded that spot.”
Despite losing support from many constituents, Louis believes Weiner will be on the primary day ballot September 10.
“It would just be logistically almost as difficult to end the campaign as to finish it out,” Louis says.
The latest retransmission fee fight, isn’t necessarily as a fair fight as CBS remains shut out to Time Warner Cable customers in New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas.
California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein spoke out yesterday about Los Angeles without CBS programming. The Democrats sent a letter to CBS CEO Les Moonves and TWC chief Glenn Britt urging both sides to expedite an end to the dispute, now in its second week.
David Diaz spent 27 years as a reporter at WNBC/Channel 4 and WCBS/Channel 2. The TV news veteran, now a Distinguished Lecturer in Media and Politics at the City College of New York, provides some insight into the carriage stalemate.
“The power of the political establishment to weigh in because they’re hearing about it from their constituents and they know they can usually score some points by excoriating the big bad cable operators, and even the big networks,” Diaz tells Tuned In. “The more that enters the equation, there is definitely more pressure for them to settle.”
The return of Jodi Applegate to local morning television awaits! Applegate, sitting on the TV sidelines since leaving WPIX late in 2012, will join The Couch for the week of September 9.
We may be seeing quite a bit of Applegate on the WLNY two-hour morning show. Co-host Lisa Kerney just gave birth to her second daughter and is on materity leave. Colleague Carolina Bermudez, who is in the last trimester of her pregnancy, will soon have her own time off.
Applegate, who had her first child earlier this year via gestational carrier, was co-host of WNYW/Channel 5’s Good Day New York from 2004 to 2008. But she is looking ahead to her Couch appearance.
“It’s a great show. Informative and fun to watch,” Applegate tells Tuned In. “I’m looking forward to hanging out on The Couch!”
Applegate is also gaining a presence on radio with fill-in hosting on WOR. She returns Friday with Jack Ford, with whom she co-anchored NBC”s Weekend Today in the 1990s, for the 10 a.m. to noon shift.
(l to r) Gary Bernstein, Skip Dillard, Al Sharpton, Chales Warfield, Pres./COO, YMF Media, Deon Levingston, VP/GM,YMF Media.
Reverend Al Sharpton has taken his weekday syndicated radio show to WLIB 1190 AM. Keeping it Real will be heard live from 1 to 3 p.m. The program focuses on current topics, news, and issues affecting African American communities.
Skip Dillard, operations manager for WBLS/WLIB, states “Reverend Al’s weekday show is a perfect fit for WLIB, a station with a history of both inspiration and information. Rev. Sharpton has a long history with WBLS and WLIB. We’re super-excited to now have him at work with WLIB listeners each weekday!”
Gary Bernstein, Vice President of Programming for Reach Media Inc., attests, “We appreciated the tremendous support from our former affiliation with WWRL, but the opportunity of a live clearance on WLIB from 1p to 3p in the biggest radio market in the country was the motivation for us to make the switch. We are also enhancing what has been a special relationship with our friends at YMF Media and WBLS/WLIB.”
Few political figures have been more visible during the last two decades than Sharpton, the head of the National Action Network. His daily radio show, Keepin’ it Real with Rev. Al Sharpton broadcasts in syndication in more than 40 U.S. markets.