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Posts Tagged ‘Leon Harris’

Leon Harris Returns to WJLA After Severe Illness: ‘I feel like I got a second chance’

After a monthlong medical absence, Leon Harris will return to the WJLA anchor desk next week. The Washington, DC ABC affiliate reports Harris spent two weeks in the hospital last month battling a life-threatening case of necrotizing pancreatitis, a severe inflammation of his pancreas.

Harris was rushed to the hospital on August 1 after waking up with severe stomach pains, WJLA reports:

He was airlifted to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, where he was was placed on a ventilator and had several tubes placed past his vocal chords into his lungs. But Harris says he couldn’t stand the tubes and reflexively tried to tear them out. He was then given drugs to help calm him down and was placed in restraints. Harris, who weighs 230 pounds, is 6-foot-1 and works out every day, broke free of three of the restraints, earning him the nickname “Bear” from the hospital staff.

He says he fought against the tubes because they made his breathing so difficult that he felt like he was drowning.

“It was like trying to snorkel across the Potomac with a cocktail straw,” he says, adding that he was eventually placed on an anti-psychotic drug to keep him from pulling out the tubes.

Harris lost 15 pounds and spent two weeks in the hospital before he was released. “I feel like I got a second chance,” he said.
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Leon Harris and Alison Starling Mark One Year as Evening Anchors with Cupcakes from Diane Sawyer

ABC’s Diane Sawyer took some time during the “World News” tease on WJLA last night to recognize the one-year anniversary of Alison Starling and Leon Harris anchoring the 5 p.m. newscast (video above).

“I just think sometimes you have to pay attention to an anniversary,” Sawyer said, as boxes of cupcakes appeared on the anchor desk. “Eat and be merry, and we celebrate you.”

WJLA Juggles Anchor Lineup

WJLA anchors Cynne Simpson (far left) and Alison Starling (near left) will be taking on new responsibilities at the ABC affiliate in Washington, DC.

Starling, who has been WJLA’s morning anchor since 2004, will join Leon Harris on the 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. nightly newscasts.

The 5 p.m. news is currently anchored by Simpson, who will take over Starling’s morning duties on “Good Morning Washington.” She will also anchor WJLA’s “News at Noon.” Simpson has been with the station since 2007.

According to station manager Bill Lord, the staffing changes are an effort to build on last month’s strong ratings during May sweeps. “Moving Cynne and Alison to these new assignments will bring even more energy and vitality to our news coverage,” he said.

 

Brushing TBD.com Aside, D.C.’s WJLA Prepares to Launch New Website

The name has turned out to be more accurate than perhaps originally intended as TBD.com, Allbritton’s local news site launched in partnership with D.C. ABC-affiliate WJLA last August, is about to take on a new identity following Allbritton’s decision to give command of the property to WJLA’s Bill Lord.

In a post on Monday, TBD and WJLA announced that they will be launching a “two-pronged online approach to covering news, traffic, weather, and much more” next week.

Previously TBD had served as the umbrella site for WJLA, as well as Allbritton’s regional cable news station News Channel 8, but now, as part of what Lord has called a “mid-course correction” for the online property, WJLA will launch a new, more autonomous website. Read more