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Jackson, MS

Court Allows TV anchor to Keep MLK Papers

A federal appeals court has upheld a ruling allowing WLBT anchor Howard Ballou to hold on to documents and other material tied to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The lawsuit, filed by MLK’s estate in September 2011, said Ballou’s mother, Maude (pictured left), kept items pertaining to King. Maude Ballou worked for King from 1955 to 1960 and said King gave her the items.

U.S. District Court Judge Tom Lee dismissed the lawsuit in March 2012 saying there was nothing to contradict Ballou’s assertion she was given the material. Lee’s decision was upheld by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Friday.

WLBT, the NBC affiliate for Jackson, MS, has the back story to the suit on its website.  Click here to view.

[abcnews.com]

Director of Digital Journalism Rick Russell Out at WJTV

Director of digital journalism Rick Russell is out at WJTV, the CBS affiliate in Jackson, Miss.

“I can confirm that Rick Russell is no longer with WJTV and we have begun the search for a Director of Digital Journalism,” general manager Jimmy Cromwell told TVSpy in a statement.

Russell, who officially exited the station Friday, had been in his position since October 2003.

After 23 Years as News Director, Dennis Smith Retires from WLBT

Dennis Smith, news director for Jackson, MS, NBC affiliate WLBT is retiring at the end of February.

“I have been truly fortunate to have worked for such top stations like WLBT and WWL,” Smith told TVSpy. “45 years in the business and over 23 years as ND here have been great along with being a retired Colonel in the Mississippi Army National Guard which has also been great a experience.”  Smith added, “It’s been a great ride. I have also been blessed to have such a great staff and a first rate Assistant News Director in Wilson Stribling.”

Smith was named news director at WLBT in 1989. He’s also worked for KATC in Lafayette, LA, WWL in New Orleans and WJTV in Jackson, MS. Read more

Trinity Buys WRBJ from Roberts Broadcasting

Trinity Broadcasting Network has purchased the Jackson, MS CW affiliate, WRBJ from Roberts Broadcasting.

Trinity will use the station to broadcast its Christian programming.  “We know that the Greater Jackson, Mississippi region will welcome the Trinity programming,” Steve Roberts, president of Roberts Broadcasting said in a statement released by Media Venture Partners, who represented Roberts Broadcasting in the sale.

WRBJ was one of the four Roberts stations that filed for bankruptcy last year.

CBS Money Watch reports the sale is pending approval from a St. Louis bankruptcy judge.

[Broadcasting & Cable]

WESH Hires Travell Eiland as Reporter

Travell Eiland will be joining Orlando’s NBC affiliate, WESH, as a reporter, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Eiland has been a morning anchor for WAPT in Jackson, MS for a little more than a year.  Both WESH and WAPT are Hearst owned stations.

Eiland, who joins WESH in two weeks, previously worked in Las Vegas, Sarasota, FL and Decatur, IL.

Anchor Keegan Foxx Joins WAPT From WTVA

Keegan Foxx has joined WAPT, the ABC affiliate in Jackson, Miss., as morning co-anchor.

Foxx moves to Jackson from Tupelo, where she was the morning co-anchor at WTVA. She has previously worked as a reporter at two other stations in Mississippi: WDAM in Hattiesburg and WCBI in Columbus.

“Keegan is a solid, experienced news anchor and journalist with deep Mississippi roots and sound knowledge of the issues that affect our state. We are thrilled to have her co-anchoring 16 WAPT Morning News,” WAPT news director Bruce Barkley said in a statement.

Foxx’s first day alongside Megan West at the anchor desk was Wednesday.

Suspect Surrenders to WLBT Anchor After Stand-Off with Police

A man wanted by police for pulling a gun on his neighbor surrendered to WLBT anchor Bert Case on Friday, ending a massive manhunt.

After an altercation with his neighbor, 57-year-old Rodney Hill involved police in a stand-off at his home on Thursday, before slipping out of sight.

Case and WLBT videographer Jim Duncan were at Hill’s property on Friday covering the developing story when Hill emerged from hiding and approached them, wanting to tell his side of the story, according to WLBT. Read more

Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr. Sues WLBT Anchor Howard Ballou

The Georgia estate of Martin Luther King, Jr. has filed a federal lawsuit against Howard Ballou, claiming the WLBT anchor has historical documents — including photographs, transcripts and handwritten letters from the civil rights leader — that rightfully belong to the estate.

The lawsuit claims Ballou — who is the son of a former secretary of King’s — has “irreplaceable” archival material valued at more than $75,000, according to the Clarion-Ledger.

“Mrs. Ballou had access to many documents, photographs and other personal effects that belong to Dr. King,” the lawsuit says. “Although she was entrusted with property belonging to Dr. King, as his employee she did not have any personal rights or ownership of these documents.” Read more

Jimmy Cromwell Upped To VP-GM at WJTV-WHLT

Jimmy Cromwell will take over as vice president and general manager at two Media General stations in Mississippi, WJTV in Jackson and WHLT in Hattiesburg, on September 19. Both stations are CBS affiliates.

The move marks a promotion for Cromwell, who has been WJTV’s director of revenue since 2009. Before that, he has held sales management positions at Birmingham’s WBMA, Atlanta’s WGCL and Jacksonville’s WJXX.

“Jimmy is a sales veteran and his familiarity with the region and our Jackson and Hattiesburg markets makes him well-suited to deliver for us,” John Cottingham, Media General’s Mid-South president and market leader.

Cromwell replaces Robert Romine, who starts as president and general manager of WSPA-WYCW in Spartanburg next week.

WAPT Welcomes 2 New Members to News Team

WAPT, the ABC affiliate in Jackson, MS, has added two new members to its news team: anchor Travell Eiland and sports director Aslan Hodges.

Eiland, who will anchor the morning broadcast alongside Megan West and meteorologist Ethan Huston, has been an investigative reporter for WBBH in Fort Meyers since 2009. He joins WAPT on August 16.

“We’re committed to the mornings, and Travell will make us stronger,” station president and general manager Stuart Kellogg said in a statement. “People all over the community are asking who’s accountable for issues that affect them. Travell is committed to finding answers.”

Hodges will join the station’s 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts on August 10. He will contribute sports reports to the evening broadcast alongside Stephanie Maxwell, Darren Dedo and chief meteorologist David Hartman. Hodges was most recently the sports director at KBZK-KXLF in Bozeman, MT.

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