So Long to Suki at WPIX, Tribune Sale Impending

Shocking to many, long overdue to others, Sukayna Krishnan is leaving WPIX. The veteran morning anchor gives an emotional announcement at the close of Wednesday’s broadcast.

“My time here at PIX is coming to end.”

She’s leaving at the end of May with no mention of future plans.

Krishnan started at Channel 11 in 2001 and rose to morning anchor in 2004. But there was rarely a dent in the ratings and, one by one, co-anchors were shown the door. Krishnan, for better or worse, was the constant for waking up watchers.

She put her best foot forward, decking out in a blue dress for the New York Emmy Awards Saturday night. Krishnan wrote on her Facebook page, “I wasn’t going to go but I decided that life is too short and every moment and accomplishment must be celebrated, especially now.”

Krishnan could have exited with some sweet revenge, but didn’t take home the Best News Anchor award.

In a touch of irony, the trophy goes to Kori Chambers, who had been Krishnan’s morning co-anchor before being switched to weekends and fill-in weeknights. Double irony, as Chambers’  AM replacement Scott Stanford wins for Best Sports Anchor.

It was Stanford who had the duty of giving his on-air partner the final two minutes for a rare “timed release’ goodbye,

“Your support have given me confidence to be me, the strength to embrace every challenge, and that special bond is something I will always carry with me,” Krishnan tells viewers while fighting through tears.

Expect another emotional moment when Krishnan says her final goodbye in a few weeks.

In March, TunedIn speculated that her time might be running out at WPIX. It’s uncertain if this is a salary dump related to the impending Tribune sale.

Three players are in the running: Fox, Sinclair and Nexstar, but Bloomberg News reports Sinclair Broadcasting is close to completing the acquisition at $45 a share to gain its first foothold in New York City. However, sources say Fox is trying to block the deal.

A Fox purchase would be the most devastating to staffers on East 42nd Street. 21st Century Fox has an interest because many of their affiliates are on Tribune stations. An insider says in a best case scenario they sell off Channel 11.

Fox could keep WPIX and let the bloodletting ensue. Not competing against its WNYW/Channel 5, Fox could cancel the morning show and early evening broadcast, while moving the 10 p.m. newscast to 11 p.m. If it sounds familiar, think WWOR. Of course, we remember how that ended? The other possibility—like the Channel 9 debacle–pull the plug on news entirely and have another clearinghouse for Fox programming.

“Tribune wants to get out of the television business,” one PIX insider says.

Insider: Krishnan Apprehensive About Future at WPIX

Time heals all wounds. Unless, of course, you’re referring to WPIX. With ratings still in the tank, nerves are rattled that an overhaul is on the horizon. But for now, morning executive producer Chuck Carter is exiting this week.

He and news director Amy Waldman didn’t forge the best relationship. Ironically, while many staffers are upset with the station direction under Waldman, sources tell Tuned In that Carter is no fan favorite either among the East 42nd faithful.

“I can’t tell you how many people have left under Amy’s watch,” a source says.

Insiders say another big name could join that list as veteran morning anchor Sukanya Krishnan is apprehensive about her future at Channel 11. Her contract is expected to expire within weeks, and a move could free up large sums of cash for Tribune. Krishnan is part of PIX since 2001, and was named anchor of the Morning Show in 2004.

Many people speculate that upstart 5 a.m. anchor Kala Rama could be waiting in the wings to replace Krishnan.

The Morning Show did lose its longtime meteorologist Linda Church, who left in January, despite begging her to stay on through the February sweeps period. She declined. We’re told Church had become increasingly fed up with management.

For those who remain looking up in the ratings at the other newscasts, they continue to scratch their collective heads wondering how Waldman is still in charge.

One source calling her “clueless” and others say she should have been fired a long time ago.

Channel 7 Anchor Announces ‘Death’ of Hillary Clinton

joeHours after Hillary Clinton apparently collapsed abruptly exiting the 9/11 ceremony, WABC-TV hit the air for its 6 p.m. newscast. Instead of leading with the pneumonia diagnosis, anchor Joe Torres told viewers about the “death” of the Democratic candidate for president.

Channel 7 spokesman Jim Gorham says, “During a live introduction to a story about the health of Hillary Clinton, Joe Torres inadvertently said “death” when he meant to say “health.”

That’s fine, but a mistake of that magnitude should have been caught immediately by Torres, if not anyone else in the studio or control room.

However, the spokesman says there was no apology because it was “clear from the context of the story, the reporters’ information and graphics on the screen that Secretary Clinton was alive and recovering.”

Actually, that’s not completely true.

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Kaity Tong Back to Weekends at WPIX; Kori Chambers Heads to Weeknights

kori-chambersWhile Brenda Blackmon is officially out as anchor at WPIX, her 6:30 p.m. co-anchor is staying put at the station. Kaity Tong is returning to weekends as solo anchor of evening broadcasts.

Multiple sources confirm Kori Chambers (left) is moving to weeknights, where he’ll join Tamsen Fadal at 5 p.m. John Muller maintains his anchor role alongside Fadal at 6 and 10 p.m.

PIX has been unable to find the secret sauce for sustaining an audience, leaving staffers perpetually frustrated.

“This is the third anchor switch in less than two years,” One station insider tells Tuned In. “All management is doing is rearranging bad talent that doesn’t work in any daypart.”

Tribune ended the 6:30 newscast Friday. Viewers will get the syndicated game show Celebrity Name Game instead in that time slot. 

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WPIX Pulling the Plug on the 6:30 News

blackmon300It was an experiment that never took off. The anchors didn’t gel and the ratings plummeted from its start in early January.

Now, Tuned In has learned, Channel 11 is turning its back on the 6:30 p.m. broadcast within the next few weeks. Interim GM Greg Easterly made the announcement to staffers.

The future of Kaity Tong and Brenda Blackmon (left) is uncertain, although sources say Blackmon is done at PIX. It’s believed the former WWOR anchor has a one-year contract. She was respected within the newsroom but the cancellation didn’t surprise many at the station.

Tong, a WPIX lifer, may return to the weekend anchor slot.

“How do you compete against network news? They could have cancelled it after two months,” a PIX insider says.

While there was no mention of layoffs, the fate of 6:30 p.m. Executive Producer and former meteorologist Chris Knowles is up in the air.

“Every newscast, talent and manager are being looked at,” a source tells Tuned In. “Hard to see how others survive when ratings aren’t there for any show.”

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Kaitlin Monte Leaves WPIX for Reporting in Houston

WPIX160629090038Morning traffic anchor Kaitlin Monte is embarking on a new start to her burgeoning broadcasting career. After two years at WPIX she exited for the Fox station in Houston, where she’ll be a general assignment reporter.

Monte, who returned from her honeymoon last week to say goodbye to WPIX, tells Tuned In that she wants to spread her wings.

“I was always concerned that I’d be pegged as a traffic babe.” But Monte says that job is not trivial. “For fear of anyone accusing me of just showing up and reading maps in a pretty dress, it was very important to me that I got other opportunities to do more than that.”

So instead, she’s padding her resume in the Lone Star state.

“My new role is going to give me a lot of different types of experience,” Monte says. “A big goal for me was, before I turn 30, getting as much as experience within the industry as possible…also cutting my teeth. A big element of this was getting a chance to leave New York City.”

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Graziano Out, Easterly in at WPIX; Is Waldman Next?

richgrazianowpixAnother victim in the WPIX carousel. President and GM Rich Graziano is out. As the newscasts have struggled to find viewers, especially on the new 6:30 p.m. broadcast, Graziano becomes the latest member of Tribune management to face the fire. Tribune says in a statement that Graziano “decided to leave,” although multiple sources confirm that he was fired. Staffers saw him carrying boxes out of the office at 3 a.m. Tuesday.

Graziano takes the high road in his departure letter, as he ends a 17-year association with the media company.

“Here in NY we have accomplished much at WPIX. I’m very proud of and thankful for the leadership team and all of the staff that is so dedicated and passionate about PIX 11.”

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WPIX Expanding News Programming to Weekend Mornings

kori-chambersChannel 11 is ready to expand its morning news coverage to seven days. Tuned In has learned WPIX will start a Sunday broadcast from 7-9 a.m. in June. The station will add Saturdays to the mix in September. No word on who will anchor the shows.

Despite the extra pre-dawn news, WPIX is seeing little to no viewers during the week as the May sweeps get underway.

Mornings got an overhaul last month when Kori Chambers was sent packing to weekend nights, while Scott Stanford gave up his sports desk for the second time, now to become Sukanya Krishnan‘s co-anchor.

Since the changes, Tuned In has received multiple comments from readers putting the blame on one person–Krishnan, who has had at least four on-air partners since arriving in 2000.

A sampling of the responses:

L. Fields writes, “After watching Sukanya’s on-air coolness toward Kori during boardcasts, I get the impression that Kori never got a fair chance. There’s a distinct difference in her demeanor and [the] interaction now that Stanford is in the seat.” 

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Big Changes at WPIX; Chambers to Weekends, Stanford Back to News

Scott_StanfordIt’s time to play musical “anchor” chairs. WPIX is making major moves to its weekday morning show and weekend news programming starting Monday.

First off, Kori Chambers has been demoted to weekend nighttime anchor. The rumbles about his dismissal due to lack of chemistry with Sukanya Krishnan have been almost immediate since his arrival in 2013.

Its another news turn for longtime sports anchor Scott Stanford (left), who replaces Chambers. Stanford, whose teaming with Tamsen Fadal didn’t spark enough interest, has been an occasional fill-in opposite Krishnan, since the failed experiment.

Krishnan is the one constant in the ever-changing PIX morning landscape. In fact, by last count, that’s at least four partners she’s worked with on the sunrise newscast since joining the station in 2000.

kori-chambersWith Chambers (right) flying solo on the weekend, that means Kala Rama and Craig Treadway are being shuffled too. The team just started in January, and are now headed to a revamped 5 a.m. PIX Morning News lead-in. 

Rama, whose husband is WPIX morning reporter Anthony DiLorenzo, joined PIX this year from Channel 7, but Treadway is another PIX lifer, headed back to his morning roots.

Andy Adler takes the weeknight sports duties.

“It’s just another shift of chairs on the Titanic,” says a PIX insider. “The next move is obviously a change in management.”

Of course, Channel 11 has their own spin room in place.

Tuned In obtained the email News Director Amy Waldman sent to staff Wednesday.

“To maximize the talents of our news team, we are making some exciting changes in the news department.”

Waldman wrote that Chambers will handle political coverage during the weeknight newscasts. He’ll also work on special consumer reports.

Despite Waldman saying she’s excited about plans for the upcoming book, ratings have been regularly tanking across all dayparts.

Additionally, Dan Mannarino writes on his Facebook page that he’s switching from morning drive to night side reporting.

Shakeup Could Be in the Works at WPIX

AmyThe noose is tightening for management at WPIX. It’s only three months since the Tribune flagship added a 6:30 evening newscast. But it’s not too soon to realize it’s a disaster. The ratings for the Kaity Tong/Brenda Blackmon 30-minute broadcast, aside from the first week curiosity, are in the tank. Channel 11 performed better with Craig Ferguson‘s poorly received Celebrity Name Game in syndication, previously holding down the slot.

Multiple sources confirm to Tuned In that executives are upset with the PIX direction led by news director Amy Waldman (above) and GM Rich Graziano, who promoted her once Mark Effron was shown the door.

“Graziano was honest about why he greenlighted Waldman- her market knowledge” an insider admits. “But knowing how many live trucks your competition has does not make a news director. Now Graziano is tied to dismal ratings, low morale, and an unimpressive news director.”

Insiders say that Waldman, who took on the high profile positiion last April, will not survive beyond the May sweeps. But Graziano’s days could be numbered as well for orchestrating the creation of the 6:30 p.m. newscast.

Another indication that he may be on the hot seat, Tuned In has learned that Bart Feder, Tribune’s SVP of News will lead the search for Waldman’s replacement–not Graziano.

All of the backdoor maneuvering comes as Tribune is reportedly up for sale. What that could mean for WPIX remains a mystery.

Update from Feder:
“I am absolutely not engaged in a search for a new news director at WPIX, nor is anyone else. Amy Waldman is our news director. Period.”