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Knoxville

Frisky Rabbits Steal the Spotlight on WBIR Morning Show

WBIR_bunnyloveKnoxville, TN, NBC affiliate WBIR had some rabbits on its morning news set Friday to get people in the Easter mood.

Instead it was the bunnies who got in the mood, the mood for some lovin’.

“They can’t do that up here,” said anchor Russell Biven who asked co-anchor Moira Kaye to stop the rabbits from, well, being rabbits.

The rabbit love helped the team segue to a bit about a WBIR photojournalist’s new baby.

When they came back to camera, one rabbit was gone and Biven told viewers, “We will announce the third rabbit’s name in nine months.” Watch the video after the jump. Read more

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WBIR Gave Taz Painter a Goodbye to Remember Before He Left for WZZM

Painter goodbye WBIRTaz Painter started work at his new job as news director of Gannett owned Grand Rapids, MI, ABC affiliate WZZM today.

Last week, his old station, Gannett owned WBIR in Knoxville, said goodbye with a list of what Painter would find in Grand Rapids, videotaped tributes from colleagues, and an appearance by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, who brought a bag of Chuy’s Mexican Food and a proclamation declaring April 9 “Taz Painter Appreciation Day.”

“And I understand what this qualifies you for, if you pull out of town and you’re speeding,” said Burchett while handing Painter the proclamation. “If you show that to the sheriff’s deputies that they just put the taser on stun.”

Watch the video after the jump. Read more

Sports Director Jim Wogan Leaving WATE After 24 Years

jim wogan wateAfter more than two decades at WATE, sports director Jim Wogan is leaving the Knoxville ABC affiliate. Wogan has accepted a position as the director of communications with the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville.

“He will be sorely missed by his colleagues and by WATE viewers,” general manager Dean Littleton said in a statement. “We hate to lose Jim but we are happy for him that he is pursing an opportunity that is close to his heart.”

Wogan, who joined WATE in 1990, will sign off in June. He said making the move “was not an easy decision.”

“I like it here and I love the group of people I work with, but this move goes to the core of who I am as a Catholic,” Wogan said.

‘She Was the Antichrist’: Woman Confesses On Camera to Stabbing Her Mother


Hilary Magacs, a reporter for Knoxville, TN, CBS affiliate WVLT, was covering a stabbing at a local apartment complex when the victim’s daughter walked up and confessed on camera to trying to kill her mother.

Katie Nichols told Magacs she stabbed her mother because she believed her mom was the ringleader of a local satanic cult. “When I left, she was still breathing. I stabbed her three times and she should have died,” said Nichols. “She was still breathing. I don’t know what happened to her afterwards or where they took her, but she was the antichrist – she did not die.”

Nichols’ mother was rushed to the hospital for treatment. Katie Nichols has been charged with attempted first degree murder and especially aggravated kidnapping.

Weekend Anchor Change at WVLT

wheeless_estrada_cropCasey Wheeless (pictured left) is moving from weekend morning anchor to weekend evening anchor for Knoxville, TN, CBS affiliate WVLT.

Wheeless, who started at WVLT in August, replaces Lorena Estrada (right) who is leaving the station for WSVN in Miami.

A WVLT spokesperon told TVSpy Wheeless will start her new role January 3.

Before working at WVLT, Wheeless was an anchor and producer at WBKO in Bowling Green, KY. Estrada worked at the South Florida News Service before joining WVLT.

Ted Hall Set to Join WVLT in Knoxville

ted hallTed Hall is joining WVLT, the CBS affiliate in Knoxville. Hall comes from WXIA, the NBC affiliate in Atlanta, where he has worked for seven years.

“Welcoming Ted Hall back to Knoxville and to the VLT Local 8 News Team!” WVLT anchor Lauren Davis wrote on the station’s Facebook page. “You’ll see his familiar face on VLT in January!!”

Before WXIA, Hall worked at WBIR, the NBC affiliate in Knoxville. [h/t Access Atlanta]

Dean Littleton Named VP-GM at WATE

Dean Littleton is joining WATE, Young Broadcasting’s ABC affiliate in Knoxville, as vice president and general manager.

Littleton comes from rival WVLT, the CBS and MyNetwork TV affiliate in Knoxville, where he was the vice president and general sales manager. Before joining WVLT, he worked at KUSA in Denver and WBIR in Knoxville.

“I am thrilled to have Dean lead WATE and become a part of the Young family,” Young Broadcasting president and CEO Deb McDermott said in a statement. “He is a well-respected and proven leader whose extraordinary sales and journalism skill set, broad managerial experience and extensive knowledge of the market mesh perfectly with our strategic goals.”

Littleton replaces Stan Knott, who has been serving as interim general manager of the station in addition to his role as VP-GM at WKRN, Young Broadcasting’s ABC affiliate in Nashville.

The official announcement is after the jump. Read more

Erin Barnett, Marco Villarreal Named Morning Co-Anchors at WVLT

Erin Barnett and Marco Villarreal have been named morning co-anchors at WVLT, the CBS affiliate in Knoxville, Tenn.

Barnett joins the station from WSLS in Roanoke, Va., where she was a general assignment reporter. Villarreal most recently worked as a general assignment reporter at KTNV in Las Vegas. They replace Bob Yarbrough and Michele Silva, who signed off from WVLT Friday.

Allie Spillyards, who moves to weekdays from the weekend anchor desk, will handle the headlines and breaking news. Heather Haley will continue as the weekday morning meteorologist.

Watch a promo for the new morning show after the jump. Read more

Bob Yarbrough, Michele Silva Anchor Final WVLT Broadcast

WVLT morning co-anchors Bob Yarbrough and Michele Silva both anchored their final broadcast at the Knoxville CBS affiliate this morning (video above).

“A lot of exciting things are happening here at Channel 8. One of them being that we’re finally going to be able to get some sleep,” Silva joked on their final broadcast.

Silva is transitioning to a behind-the-scenes position as WVLT director of promotions and community service. Yarbrough is planning to remain in the area and expand a radio news and sports network he launched six years ago. He said he is eager to spend more time with his two young daughters, which his schedule has made difficult.

WVLT Adds Weekend Morning Newscast

Knoxville CBS affiliate WVLT is launching a weekend morning newscast later this month, the station confirmed to TVSpy.

The hourlong newscast will debut April 20 at 7 a.m. Allie Spillyards (pictured), a multimedia journalist at WVLT, will anchor alongside meteorologist Mike Simon.

The show will be the earliest locally-produced newscast in the Knoxville market.

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