Tag Archives: David Ushery

WNBC Shakeup: Shiba Russell Out; Brynn Gingras CNN-Bound

ShibaRussell_WNBCShiba Russell is gone from WNBC. The anchor’s days were numbered at Channel 4 since Sibila Vargas came on board from Los Angeles in October 2013, supplanting Russell as night time co-anchor with Chuck Scarborough.

Tuned In speculated even before Vargas put her Channel 4 mic clip on for the first time with the headline, “Is Shiba Russell on the Way Out at WNBC?

Russell’s five-year tenure at 30 Rock started with such a promising note, perhaps too promising. Most believe was hired from the ABC affiliate in Boston with the ultimate goal of replacing legend Sue Simmons.

Her star immediately soared. Shortly after starting out on the weekend anchor desk, Russell was promoted to weekdays, putting her in the perfect “wait in wings” position.

Simmons was pushed out in 2012, and there was her heir apparent to pick up the pieces.

However, the chemistry never worked between Scarborough and Russell. The pairing would not come anywhere close to the 32 years of Chuck and Sue’s famous “marriage.” In fact by early 2014, Vargas, who already sat with Scarborough for the 6 p.m. newscast, replaced Russell on the 11 p.m.

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WNBC Moves Forward at 5 p.m. with Split Newscast

WNBC140908172527Without any publicity or fanfare, WNBC quietly unveiled its revamped 5 p.m newscast without Tom Llamas.

Channel 4 opted to break the traditional one-hour broadcast into two separate 30-minute shows. Chuck Scarborough and Sibila Vargas anchor the first half. We’re told the “anchor” leg features a rotating male presence of either David Ushery or Rob Schmitt, alongside Shiba Russell.

At first blush we notice the previously demoted Russell is getting the short end of the stick again. She has the noon duties but loses a pivotal half hour of face time.

Of course, Chuck and Sibila are already the station workhorses as the lead team at 6 and 11 p.m.

It’s uncertain if this is a stopgap measure. In addition, Tuned In learned the station did not let the staff know about the changes.

“Newsroom insiders are concerned these changes will be confusing to viewers,” a source admits.

At 5 p.m. viewers have multiple options for local news. WCBS and WABC, usually performing better than WNBC, are joined by WPIX and WNYW.

Several years ago, Channel 2 tried a split 5 p.m. news that featured a lighter news slant at the bottom of the hour. There’s no word on what the direction for WNBC’s version will be.

Llamas departed for ABC News last month.

Erika Tarantal Exits WNBC for Boston

erikaAfter six years, Erika Tarantal has anchored her final newscast at WNBC. Tarantal is headed to Boston’s ABC-affiliate WCVB as an anchor and reporter.

“I will always treasure my time at WNBC and be thankful I had the opportunity to work at News 4,” Tarantal tells Tuned In.

She says a start date has not been decided.

Co-anchor David Ushery made mention of Tarantal’s departure during the 11 p.m. Sunday newscast with sports anchor Bruce Beck.

“We’re a little bit sad, Bruce, right?,” Ushery asked.

Highlighting his soon-to-be former colleague’s assets, Beck said, “Her versatility, her charms, her smarts, everything about her, and we wish her the best of luck.”

The broadcast ended with Ushery giving Tarantal a fist bump toward her future endeavors. As Beck’s Sports Final show began he added, “Hold the tears off.”

Tarantal says, “WNBC is a station filled with great talent and great people who I will always consider family.”

Here are the 4th Annual Barmash Awards

Eyewitness News TeamThe holiday season isn’t over until we hand out the Barmash Awards. Our 4th annual list highlights the best TV news personalities of 2013 in New York.

The category of Best Anchor–a competitive group, to be sure. But our choice is WABC/Channel 7’s Bill Ritter. He is the most confident and has the best chemistry with his co-anchors.

Honorable Mention: WNBC’s David Ushery and WCBS’s Cindy Hsu. We didn’t make a separate anchor category for the weekenders. But Ushery and Hsu are no “second-class citizens,” holding their own with their weekday brethren.

Ushery and Hsu have many years of anchoring experience, and both have been passed over for a larger presence during the week. Ushery, though, has been a main fill-in for venerable Chuck Scarborough.  Plus, this election season, he was the host of WNBC’s debate programming.

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‘No Incentive’ for Chuck Scarborough and Shiba Russell, Who Complete First Year Together at WNBC

ShibaRussell_11debutBy JERRY BARMASH
(@jerrybarmash)

It still doesn’t have the familiar ring, but WNBC is marking one year for anchor team Chuck Scarborough and Shiba Russell at 11 p.m. It’s also a year since Channel 4 parted ways with the extremely popular Sue Simmons.

Not surprisingly, even the legendary anchorman found “The Chuck and Shiba Show” slow at the outset. Multiple requests to interview Scarborough and Russell for this article were denied by Channel 4.

“They’re better now than they certainly were a year ago when they started,” an insider says. “It’s been hard for Shiba. It’s been an adjustment for her too.”

That adjustment, the insider says, involves her switch from daytime to late hours, with a young daughter.

“She’s hanging in there, I think.”

Russell may have struggled in the high-profile role, but she was clearly on the fast track to succeed Simmons from day-one at 30 Rock in 2011. Also clear, Chuck and Shiba are not a long term answer for WNBC. Scarborough is 69, Russell is 37.

The numbers have been steadily below average at 11 p.m., consistently losing to WABC, and battling WCBS for second. Earlier this year, the late newscast got a kick in the teeth when NBC registered its first-ever fifth place showing in prime time.

“Sometimes you come in to work the next day after what you’ve done with your show, and it still doesn’t make a difference,” the insider states. “To have to go through that day in and day out is hard.”

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Debate Time in New York; NY1, WCBS, and WNBC Get Selected

WNBC new logoBy JERRY BARMASH
(@jerrybarmash)

Election season is upon us, and that means we’re about to be inundated with debates. The New York City Campaign Finance Board yesterday made its debate sponsors official. Actually the stations were announced exclusively by this reporter in April.

The confirmation and schedule is now available. NY1, WCBS/Channel 2, WNBC/Channel 4 will participate in up to 15 citywide debates, of course led by the mayoral campaign. A Democratic mayoral runoff is planned as needed. But there will be a four primary debates, two for each party.

WNBC will host one of each. The Democratic debate is scheduled for Tuesday, September 3 at 7 p.m. The following Sunday at 11:30 a.m., the Republican hopefuls spar about the issues. Both debates will also be broadcast by WOR Radio.

A WNBC spokesperson tells Tuned In that anchor David Ushery and political reporter Melissa Russo will lead the questioning. They will be joined by journalists from sister station Telemundo Nueva York/Channel 47 and the Wall Street Journal.

NY1 and WNYC broadcast the other Democratic primary on August 21 at 7, while WCBS-TV and WCBS 880/1010 WINS air the other Republican debate.

As for the general election, there are two debates on the docket. First up is the Channel 2/WCBS 880-WINS triumvirate on October 22 at 7 p.m. Sister station WLNY airs the debate in Spanish.

The next Tuesday, October 29, also at 7 p.m., WNBC and WOR 710 have the final mayoral debate.

Election day is November 5.