In a dramatic move, WNBC management has decided to make a change with its anchors. Sibila Vargas, who joined WNBC in October, will add the 11 p.m. broadcast opposite venerable Chuck Scarborough, a WNBC spokesperson confirms to Tuned In. Vargas will stay put on the 6 p.m. newscast with Scarborough, which she started upon her arrival from KCBS.
Related: Sibila In, Shiba Out at WNBC?
However, Shiba Russell loses her cushy 11 p.m. slot, taking the noon newscast in a swap with Vargas. The changes take effect February 3. Russell will remain the 5 p.m. co-anchor alongside Tom Llamas.
Whether it’s being deemed an official demotion, make no mistake, it is. Russell, from the moment she arrived at Channel 4 in three years ago, was labeled as the heir apparent to take Sue Simmons‘ job. Russell was on the fast track to succeed Simmons in 2012, being named a weekday anchor within of six months of her debut. She was also a lead fill-in for Simmons.
A WNBC spokesperson, though, counters the “demotion” theory, saying, “As a matter of course, schedule changes routinely take place at local stations, and this is no different. Both Sibila and Shiba play important roles on our anchor team and will continue to do so.”
Even before we got our first opportunity to see Vargas, Tuned In speculated that Vargas and Russell splitting the evening anchor newscasts would probably lead to a bigger change.
Related: Vargas Wins a “Barmash Award”
Once the Queens native showed up, the idea was apparently cemented. Many viewers have said that the seasoned pro injects more personality than Russell at the anchor desk. That trait helped Vargas win a “Barmash Award” earlier this month for “Best New Anchor.”
FTV Live first reported about the anchor switch.