We barely had time to take a deep breath since the night time changes at PIX, bouncing Scott Stanford to sports and rolling out the red carpet for John Muller (more in a moment), when another salvo struck.
The PIX (early) Morning News was upended today, right before our eyes. Marysol Castro, who rejoined Channel 11 in September, anchored for the final time today. Tuned In confirmed it from multiple sources and she alluded to her dismissal in the closing seconds with on-air partner Dan Mannarino.
“Hey dude, it was nice knowing you,” Castro told Mannarino.
“It was fun,” he replied.
As for Mannarino, his status is a bit muddy. He’s been part of numerous rumors for months. But we’ve learned on good authority that Mannarino is taking some time off to decide on his future. Another definite, if Mannarino returns it won’t be behind the anchor desk.
That’s not all for the PIX changes in the morning. With Castro out and Mannarino uncertain, the station is cutting back newscasts. Starting June 16, Tuned In has learned, Krishnan and Kori Chambers will anchor an expanded broadcast from 5 to 9 a.m.
Messages left for WPIX were not returned.
Castro’s exit is yet another discredit of news director Mark Effron’s work. Sources say Effron is largely a figurehead as major decisions are being made by GM Rich Graziano and/or Tribune exec Katherine Green.
Perhaps in one last power play, the station press release regarding the Stanford move stated Muller will report to Effron.
One New York broadcasting veteran says, “I’ve never seen the amount of radical change in such a short period of time in the number one market.”
An original member of the PIX Morning News in 2000, John Muller is heading back to succeed Scott Stanford on June 23.
The current morning crew welcomed Muller back, with a brief mention Wednesday. Krishnan was smiling broadly, but meteorologist Linda Church took it to another level (see video below). She started with an off-mic chant, “I love him, I love him,” followed by a veiled dig at management.
“I’m just so happy to see the station make such a great, smart move.”
Less fanfare, but Stanford still has a job at PIX.
Hired as the lead male anchor opposite Tamsen Fadal in September, Stanford now is charged with rebuilding the sports department. We’re told that Stanford was fuming when the announcement was made earlier this week.
The question begs to be asked: Will Stanford remain at WPIX with his first love? Insiders say if Effron stays put, despite rumors to the contrary, Stanford would be more likely to walk. Still other intimate he’ll wont get (or take) an extension to his one-year contract.
Despite his likeable personality, Stanford has had a hard time crossing over to news, never leaving his comfortable sports delivery far behind.
“More than anything, this is an embarrassment for Scott within the industry,” an insider speculates. “Not so much with the general public, but within the industry.”
Of course, there’s plenty of egg on the face to go around. Effron made the call to hire Stanford with his extremely limited news anchoring experience. Having said that, Effron, Graziano or whoever should have given Stanford more time to get acclimated.
“I think Mark is a dead man walking. He could get a job in another state at another station,” a source says. “Scott is the face of the station. He has to continue to be here, live here, and work here.”
Another PIX insider says the news director’s poor decision-making is his Achilles’ heel.
“[Stanford] seems like a nice guy who made the mistake of trusting Effron’s judgment.”