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Birmingham

Helen Swenson Named GM of WIAT in Birmingham

wiat logo_304x200LIN Media has named Helen Swenson president and general manager of Birmingham, AL, CBS affiliate WIAT.

The move had been rumored after former GM Bill Ballard‘s contract wasn’t renewed.

Most recently Swenson was the senior vice president of Live Programming for The Weather Channel. Before coming to The Weather Channel she was the senior multimedia consultant for Frank N. Magid Associates. She has also held management positions at local TV stations in Pittsburgh, Miami and West Palm Beach, FL, including a stint as news director for KIRO in Seattle.

“Helen is a highly strategic and skilled broadcast executive with a proven track record of achieving growth by developing innovative and superior products that better meet the needs of our viewers and advertisers, ” Scott Blumenthal LIN Media’s executive vice president of Television said in a statement. “We are pleased that she is stepping into the leadership role at WIAT.”

General Manager Bill Ballard Out at WIAT

wiat logoAfter 10 years at WIAT in Birmingham, president and general manager Bill Ballard is out at the CBS affiliate, The Birmingham News reports. LIN Media did not renew his contract, which expired Friday.

“I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished. I wish the station and the people there nothing but the best,” Ballard said.

The Birmingham News reports that a replacement could be announced as early as today. Helen Swenson, a former senior vice president of live programming for The Weather Channel, is reportedly a leading candidate.

WATCH: It’s Not the Size of The Dog, Birmingham Anchor Insults Weatherman

When the morning anchor team for Birmingham, AL, CBS affiliate WIAT were talking about a local doggy dress up contest, anchor Gina Redmond let loose a double entendre that hit meteorologist Mark Prater right in his manly bits.

“Mark has a little weiner,” said Redmond, wondering about what it took to win such a contest.

“What have you dressed him in Mark?” said co anchor Stephen Hauck. “Come on. Be honest.”

“Long johns,” Prater answered, looking like he knew awkwardness had been the real winner.

[Hollywood.com]

Bettina Boateng Replaces Andrea Lindenberg on WVTM Evening Newscasts

Bettina Boateng (left) has moved from mornings to evenings at WVTM, the NBC affiliate in Birmingham, Ala. She replaces Andrea Lindenberg, who departed from the station last month after her contract was not renewed, the Birmingham News reports.

Boateng took over as co-anchor of the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts, alongside Mike Royer, last week. “Bettina has become a friend to me and my family over the years,” Royer said in a statement. “Now, I’m really excited to work with her every day.”

Boateng joined WVTM in 2007 as a weekend anchor and was promoted to morning anchor in 2010. Before moving to Birmingham, she was a weekend anchor at WCBD in Charleston, S.C.

According to the Birmingham News, Lindenberg wrote on Facebook that she will seek a “more simple life” with her family.

“Though this was not my decision, it is one I’ve wanted to make but was always too scared to do on my own,” she wrote.

Sports Anchor Melissa Kim Heading to WIAT

Melissa Kim is headed South from Bangor, ME, NBC affiliate WLBZ to WIAT in Birmingham, AL.

Kim will join the Birmingham CBS affiliate as a sports reporter on September 16.

Kim joined WLBZ in March 2010 as a multimedia journalist. Before coming to WLBZ she worked at WBAL in Baltimore, MD, News 12 Networks in New York City, was a researcher/writer at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and a news producer at News 12 in The Bronx.

[Bangor Daily News]

Birmingham TV Stations Interrupt Morning News with Reports of Plane Crash

Birmingham, AL, TV stations were already on the air when first reports of the crash of a UPS cargo jet came in. The Airbus A300 crashed on approach around 5:00 a.m. Central Time en route from Louisville, KY, killing the pilot and co-pilot.

NBC affiliate WVTM – “Today in Alabama” anchor Lisa Crane told viewers about initial reports of the crash at 5:14 a.m. She said the station was sending crews to the scene and promised updates. The station showed first video of the crash shortly after 6:00 a.m.

ABC affiliate WCFT  - Anchors Sheri Falk and Ebony Hall tossed to Candace White at 5:31 a.m. White started out in the newsroom and confirmed the crash with Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport’s public relations director. The station showed its first video tape of the scene at 5:51. By 6:00 a.m. White was on scene reporting by phone.

CBS affiliate WIAT – “Wake Up Alabama” anchors Stephen Hauk and Gina Redmond broke the news at 5:38. They had reporter Rick Jackson live on the scene at East Lake Boulevard near the airport in East Birmingham.

FOX affiliate WBRC – Anchors Janice Rogers and Sarah Verser told viewers about the crash at 5:45 a.m. and went to Clare Huddleston live on scene at 5:54.

Natalie Tejeda to Join WIAT as Weekend Anchor

Yesterday we reported Natalie Tejeda was leaving San Antonio CBS affiliate KENS. WIAT news director Bill Payer confirmed the rest of the report in the San Antonio Express-News that had Tejeda leaving KENS in August for the Birmingham, AL, CBS affiliate.

Tejeda told viewers on facebook, “OK Friends – The cat is officially out of the bag! I have accepted a Weekend Anchor/Nightside Reporter position at WIAT in Birmingham, AL. My last day at KENS 5 will be on August 9.”

>UPDATE: Tejeda told TVSpy, “I am thrilled to be working with such an incredible team at WIAT. Everyone is so talented and I knew from the moment I walked through the door that this was the place I wanted to call my new home.”

Tejeda has worked at WOAI in San Antonio, KMSB in Tucson, AZ, KYMA in Yuma, AZ. She was a freelance helicopter reporter at KABC in Los Angeles.

KENS Loses Traffic Reporter, Names Replacement

KENS traffic reporter Natalie Tejeda is leaving the San Antonio CBS affiliate.

“Natalie has done a wonderful job for KENS 5,” KENS news director Triston Sanders told the San Antonio Express-News. “She has a very bright future ahead of her. I know anchoring is a focus for her, and we’ll miss her, but I absolutely applaud her for pursuing her dreams.”

According to the Express-News, the station has announced Danielle Saar will replace Tejeda once she leaves in August. Read more

WIAT Adds Meteorologist Gene Norman

Former Houston meteorologist Gene Norman has joined WIAT in Birmingham, AL, as chief meteorologist.

Norman, whose bio is already on the CBS affiliate’s website wrote, “I’m looking forward to working with a strong team committed to giving Alabama viewers life-saving information when the skies grow dark.  When it’s time to get out and enjoy a sunny day, I’ll tell you that too.”

WIAT news director Bill Payer told TVSpy, Norman goes on-air Monday. He will anchor the 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. newscasts.

Norman last worked as chief meteorologist at Houston CBS affiliate KHOU. He left the station November 2012.

According to Houston media blogger Mike McGuff, WIAT has seen recent staff changes.  The station recently lost morning meteorologist Kalee Dionne to Kansas City NBC affiliate KSHB.

[Mike McGuff] [Houston Chronicle]

VIDEO: Roof Collapses During Interview About Tornado

The effects of severe weather in Birmingham, Alabama added a dramatic punctuation mark to an interview being conducted by WIAT photographer Scott MacDowell.

The photographer for the CBS affiliate was talking to local resident Clint Thornton about a tornado that tore through a North Birmingham neighborhood when the roof of Thornton’s house collapsed.

In the video (which can be seen after the jump) Thornton describes how he and his wife escaped injury during the tornado.  He is suddenly distracted by shouts coming from inside the house which are quickly followed by the sounds of the roof collapsing.

“Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God,” said Thornton as the camera captured the tail end of debris falling.  “Ya’ll OK?” asks Thornton a few times before what sounded like women in the house telling him they’re fine.

“Your roof just collapsed!” said MacDowell.  “It just collapsed,” replied Thornton who added, “These things can be replaced.”  Watch the video inside. Read more

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