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Tri-Cities, TN-VA

WCYB Reporter Jim Conrad Dies

Jim-Condrad

Veteran reporter Jim “Conrad” Blankenbecler passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday. He was 63 years old. Conrad first gained fame as the afternoon DJ on WETB, where he was known as “Cosmic Conrad.” He later joined Bristol Va, NBC affiliate WCYB in 1988 as a reporter, where he was best known for his folksy feature stories.

“He was a wonderful storyteller. I think his strongest attribute was listening,” WCYB vice president and general manager Jack Dempsey told TriCities.com. “You can’t tell a story if you’re not a good listener. He was very fair. Most of his stories were just nice, colorful stories about people in the region that deserve to be heralded.”

WCYB news director John Soares only worked with Conrad for eight months, but he left a lasting impression on him, “He was a professional, a great colleague, a great friend, and truly a great man with a lot of layers,” Soares said. “I will truly miss him.”

Conrad is survived by his wife, two daughters and five grandchildren.

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WCYB Adds Samantha Kozsey as Anchor

kpzsey_wcybSamantha Kozsey made her debut as morning news anchor on Bristol, VA, NBC affiliate WCYB.

Friday during an introduction by meteorologist Donnie Cox and co-anchor Preston Ayres, she told viewers, “I am just so blessed to be here and to get this second chance to do the news because this is all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

Kozsey replaces Tarah Taylor who left the station in December. Kozsey has worked in Charleston-Huntington, WV, as well as St.Louis, MO, and Washington, D.C. She started her career in Bluefield, WV.

Callan Gray Joins WCYB as Reporter

WCYB isn’t done adding to its talent roster. The Bristol, VA-TN, NBC affiliate announced Callan Gray will join the station as a reporter.

Gray last worked at WBNG in Binghamton, NY, as a freelance reporter.

Gray joins Jonathan Radford from WSMV in Nashville, TN, and Meaghan Smith from WBBH in Fort Myers, FL, as the third reporter hire WCYB has announced this week. News director Ken Smith told TVSpy, the additions are replacements for what he termed regular turnover.

Jonathan Radford to Join WCYB as Reporter

WCYB has hired Jonathan Radford as a general assignment reporter.

Radford comes to the Bristol, VA, NBC affiliate from WSMV in Nashville, TN, where he was an associate producer.

WCYB news director Ken Smith told TVSpy, Radford starts one week from Monday on August 26.

WKPT Revives Its News Department

WKPT, the ABC affiliate in the Tri-Cities area of northeastern Tennessee and southwestern Virgina, is resurrecting its news department. WKPT last produced its own newscasts in 2008.

“Over the past few months we’ve built a homegrown news team,” Jim Bailey, WKPT director of news and public affairs, told TVNewsCheck. “Our assistant news director, all of our reporters, my co-anchor and our meteorologist are all from the Tri-Cities area.”

Bailey began rebuilding the news department when he started at the station in January 2012. Read more

Johnny Wood to Retire After 44 Years at WCYB

WCYB morning anchor Johnny Wood will retire at the end of this year after 44 years at the NBC affiliate in Bristol, Va.

“I cannot tell you how much that you mean to me, you all who have watched my work here all these years,” Wood said on Monday’s morning newscast. “All the wonderful thoughts and prayers, notes of encouragement and times of fun and laughter mean so much to me. You folks are a large part of what made this such a tough decision to make.”

Wood has worked at WCYB since 1968 and has been the station’s morning anchor since 1978. In a statement, general manager Jack D. Dempsey said Wood will leave “knowing that he’ll always be a part of our station and the News 5 team.” Read more

Dan Cates Named General Manager at WJHL

Media General has named Dan Cates vice president and general manager of WJHL, the CBS-affiliate in Johnson City, TN. He begins in his new role on September 3.

Cates has worked for Media General since 1999. Most recently, he worked WSPA in Spartanburg, SC, where he has been director of digital content since 2009. Prior to that, he was news director at WKRG in Mobile.

“I am pleased to name such a talented broadcast professional to our Johnson City station,” VP of broadcast markets Jim Conschafter said in a statement. “Dan is a proven leader and involved community advocate with exceptional journalistic instincts.” Read more

Former WJHL Anchor and News Director Passes Away

Bob Lewis, who spent 40 years working in a variety of roles at WJHL, died last night. He was 66.

Lewis retired from WJHL, the CBS-affiliate in the Tri-Cities area of northeastern Tennessee and southwestern Virgina, in 2007. In his tenure at the station, he was a cameraman, announcer, morning anchor, noon anchor and news director.

“Bob was the heart of this TV station for more than four decades,” WJHL evening anchor Josh Smith said in a statement. “He hired many of us, shared his coffee with us, and lived life along side us and we are heartbroken he is gone.”

WJHL Meteorologist Off the Air Following Crossbow Attack During Home Invasion

WJHL meteorologist Rob Williams is recovering at home after being shot with a crossbow during a home invasion that occurred around 4:00 a.m. on Monday.

“I wish to thank everyone for their concern as I recover,” Williams said in a statement. “I am working with police as they continue their investigation into this matter. I’m looking forward to returning on air very soon.”

WJHL reports that police responded to Williams’s home early Monday morning and the meteorologist told them that a man had broken in through a window and shot him with a crossbow and also fired at him with a pistol. Read more

Longtime WJHL GM Moves to Rival WCYB

Jack Dempsey, who has spent the last 23 years as president and general manager of CBS-affiliate WJHL, is moving to Tri-Cities rival WCYB, and WEMT.

Bonten Media Group, which owns the NBC-affiliate in the Tri-Cities area of northeastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia, and oversees operations at WCYB, the market’s Fox-affiliate, announced today that Dempsey has been named vice president and general manager of WCYB and WEMT.

“We are fortunate to be able to attract so talented a manager as Jack Dempsey,” said Bonten CEO Randy Bongarten, announcing the hiring.  “His deep knowledge of and success in both television, in general, and the Tri-Cities market, in particular, will be a great asset to our company.” Read more

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