Tag Archives: Sue Simmons

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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Remembering a Legendary Voice, Don Pardo Dies at 96

PardoHis deep voice was a throwback to the era of old time radio staff announcers. Don Pardo didn’t start his career welcoming viewers week after week to Saturday Night Live. It just seems that way. Pardo began a lifetime gig with the Peacock Network in 1944. Seventy years later he was still at the mic for SNL.

Pardo died Monday at age 96.

As Pardo joined the roster on radio, NBC and General David Sarnoff were experimenting with television. His voice would become even more popular on the burgeoning medium.

Pardo’s personality made him a go-to-guy among the NBC stable of voices for game show duty. He was announcer on the original Price Is Right and Jeopardy!. But as the latter ended its 11-year run in 1975, Pardo got another boost as SNL started later that year.

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Milestone Moment: WNBC’s Chuck Scarborough Marks 40 Years On Air

Chuck+ScarboroughAmerica was in the final throws of Watergate. It was March 25, 1974 when Chuck Scarborough debuted on WNBC. An anchor from the outset, Scarborough has weathered various co-anchor combinations, multiple news directors and a sale of the company.

Scarborough, 70, and WNBC would not participate in this piece, but this celebration of four decades on the air in New York goes on without the legendary anchorman.

He’s the longest serving anchor in New York behind only Rafael Pineda, who has been seen uninterrupted on Univision’s WXTV/Channel 41 since 1972.

Scarborough was hired to helm Channel 4’s new 5 p.m. edition of NewsCenter4. Ultimately, he was named lead anchor at 6 and 11 p.m.

He had his share of on-air partners from Pat Harper and John Hambrick, to Lynda Baquero and Jack Cafferty.

But, of course, he is most remembered for his time with Sue Simmons. Their 32-year tandem ended in June 2012. (See video clip below.)

Simmons recalls the night “Chuck and Sue” was born.

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Major Anchor Switch On Tap at WNBC

siblia-vargasIn 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.

Sue Simmons Makes Magazine’s List of Would-Be Hosts of The View

sue_simmons2012-med-wideNow that Elisabeth Hasselbeck is out at The View, the spinning and prognosticating begins.

The Hollywood Reporter gave its readers a list of the 15 best choices to grab a chair permanently on the ABC daytime show. Some of the names have been bandied about from their previous guest hosting stints, including Brooke Shields and Jenny McCarthy. However, former Today host Ann Curry is propped up at number two.

Even more intriguing is the magazine’s pick for number 11—Sue Simmons.

There’s no doubt Simmons, whose contract was not renewed by Channel 4 in June 2012 after 32 memorable years, has the track record and pedigree to take a role at the table or coach of The View.

Simmons’ longtime WNBC colleague Jane Hanson thinks it would be an awesome fit.

“She’d be perfect for them for adding insight and perspective, and she is a very good interviewer,” Hanson tells Tuned In.

All you need to know is three words–Live at Five. During that one-hour WNBC broadcast in the 1980s, Simmons showed a knack for hard news, softer features, and, of course, those countless celebrity interviews.

“That show rocked, and a big chunk of its success was Sue’s ability to interview, especially people in the music and entertainment business, which comes from her background,” Hanson says.

(Poll) Would You Like To See Sue Simmons as a Host on The View?

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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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Longtime Channel 4 Reporter John Noel is Dead of Brain Cancer

John NoelBy JERRY BARMASH
(@jerrybarmash)

Veteran WNBC reporter John Noel has died from complications of brain cancer.

We reported that Noel, the Brooklyn native and longtime Channel 4 reporter for the borough, had first suffered from brain cancer last year. He battled back before taking ill again last month. We’re told Noel was being treated at a hospice wing of Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn in his final weeks. The station says Noel was 62.

Tuned In obtained the email that news director Susan Sullivan sent to staffers this afternoon. She said Noel died during the overnight and quoted his brother Randy that John was comfortable and not in any pain at the end.

“What a courageous fight! John was an inspiration to us all,” Sullivan wrote.

Last month, his former WNBC colleague Sue Simmons called Noel “one of the good guys.”

Noel’s Brooklyn spirit, Sullivan wrote, helped keep him focused on reporting even as the treatments ensued.

“His regimen was one most of us could not keep up . He went religiously to the Dojo. But that was not enough for our John . There would be more exercise on the treadmill,” Sullivan said.

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Channel 4 Reporter John Noel Dealing with Brain Cancer

John NoelBy JERRY BARMASH

WNBC reporter John Noel is hospitalized with brain cancer. He’s reportedly being treated at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn. Noel, who joined WNBC in 1998, was first diagnosed with the disease last year.

Former Channel 4 anchor Sue Simmons wishes her one-time colleague a speedy recovery.

“John Noel is one of the good guys.  He battled back from the first brain cancer and came back to work,” Simmons tells Tuned In. “A job that everyone knows requires an ability to be quick on your feet.  As always he answered the bell with no fuss…no muss. We keep our fingers and toes crossed!”

A WNBC spokesperson refused to comment on Noel’s condition.

In February, the Brooklyn native appeared at the McDonald’s Black Media Legends event, at which Simmons was one of the honorees.

Noel has been off the air for at least two months. Tuned In has learned that Noel would occasionally show up at work, but was unable to cover stories.

Noel graduated summa cum laude from Brooklyn College. He earned a master’s degree at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

An Emmy Award winner, Noel also was the recipient of the 1999 New York State Broadcasters Award.

Photo: nbcnewyork.com