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Posts Tagged ‘WJLA’

President of Allbritton Broadcasting to Step Down

allbritton communications logoFred Ryan, the president of Allbritton Communications Company and CEO of Politico has announced he will step down from both roles by the end of the year.

According to Allbritton’s Washington, D.C., ABC affiliate WJLA, Ryan told staffers in a letter sent late Sunday night he will step down as soon as the sale to Sinclair Broadcasting closes.

Ryan, who has been with Allbritton for 19 years and once worked in the White House for then President Ronald Reagan, told the Washington Post, “I just felt this was a logical time to explore opportunities that have come my way. I have been approached about some things that have appealed to me and that I think are worth exploring, but I haven’t made any decisions.”

In the letter, Ryan told staffers his time at Politico was one of the highlights of his career. “We set out to create what I often called ‘the ESPN of politics,’” he added. “And we have succeeded beyond any reasonable expectations,”

Washington, D.C. Stations Break In to Cover Shootings at Navy Yard

After shots were reported around 8:20 a.m. ET this morning at the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters in Washington, D.C., local stations broke into to regular programming with coverage at around 8:30 a.m.  After brief updates, most of the stations went back to the network morning shows then returned for wall-to-wall coverage near the top of the hour.

First on-air with the news was FOX owned station WTTG. Anchor Tony Perkins was already on-air with the “FOX 5 Morning News” when he tossed to Allison Seymour at 8:35 a.m. Seymour gave viewers a quick update before returning to the regular morning show.

Next up was NBC owned station WRC which broke in to NBC’s “Today” show at 8:39 a.m. Anchors Eun Yang and Aaron Gilchrist updated viewers from the studio on the developing situation.

CBS affiliate WUSA broke in to a commercial break at 8:47 a.m. during “CBS This Morning.” Andrea Roane and Mike Hydeck anchored from the studio. WUSA also told viewers they could get updates on the breaking news from the station’s facebook and twitter feeds.

At 8:50 a.m., ABC affiliate WJLA broke in to “Good Morning America” with Jummy Olabanji anchoring from the studio. She quickly tossed to reporter Sam Ford who was live at the scene by phone. Ford said he lived close-by the scene and came over when he heard “all sorts of racket.” WJLA stayed on-air the rest of the morning.

One development worth watching was the use of social media by the stations. One example was WTTG @myfoxdc which kept viewers updated via twitter. See one of their tweets after the jump. Read more

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.

WJLA Meteorologist Jacqui Jeras to Undergo Double Mastectomy

Jacqui Jeras, meteorologist for Washington, D.C. ABC affiliate WJLA announced she’s taking time off from work to undergo a preventative double mastectomy.

Jeras’ co-anchors Jummy Olabanji and Scott Thuman wished her well at the end of this morning’s 6:00 a.m. newscast. “We’re all going to be thinking about you and we wish you the best,” said Thuman. “And we know everything’s going to be just fine.”

She told viewers on her facebook page,

“Dear facebook family, as you may have heard, I am taking some time off for my health after today’s show. I am having surgery next week. My health is great, but I want to keep it that way, so I am having a preventive double mastectomy. I have a strong family history of breast cancer including my sister who is battling the disease right now. My mom is a survivor, so are my Aunts and my Grandmother lost the battle. We don’t have BRCA1 or BRCA2, but we have something they haven’t figured out yet. I expect to be gone about a month and will post here when I can about my progress. Thanks for your support and prayers. Please remember to do your monthly self exams and mammograms and remind your loved ones to do the same.

Jeras has been at WJLA since last September. She came to WJLA from CNN where she had worked for 13 years.

Cynnè Simpson Named WAGA Evening Anchor

Cynnè Simpson is joining WAGA, the Fox O&O in Atlanta, as co-anchor of the 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts.

Simpson was most recently the morning and noon anchor for WJLA, the ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C. At WAGA, she replaces Amanda Davis, who retired in April after an extended leave of absence following a DUI arrest.

“We’re very happy to welcome Cynnè back to Georgia. We think she’ll be a great addition to our strong team of journalists here at FOX 5 Atlanta,” vice president and news director Mike McClain said in a statement.

Simpson will co-anchor at 5 p.m. alongside Tom Haynes and at 10 p.m. alongside Russ Spencer. Lisa Rayam, who currently anchors the 5 p.m. newscast, will shift to the 6 p.m. anchor desk alongside Spencer. She will continue to anchor the noon newscast solo.

TVNewsCheck: Duopoly Potential Driving Allbritton Bids

With bids for the Allbritton station group due Monday, TVNewsCheck floats the possibility that the company will pick two buyers — one for the valuable WJLA in Washington, D.C. and another for the rest of the stations:

A key consideration is the duopoly potential in Allbritton’s other markets: Birmingham, Ala. (DMA 42), Harrisburg, Pa. (DMA 43), Little Rock, Ark. (DMA 56), Tulsa, Okla. (DMA 59), Roanoke, Va. (DMA 68), and Charleston, S.C. (DMA 98).

“Gaining a duopoly is the most powerful driver behind broadcasting M&A,” says Michael Alcamo of M.C. Alcamo & Co., an investment banking firm. “So the directions that Allbritton’s stations will ultimately go will most likely be determined by who can establish duopolies in those markets.”

With at least two overlaps, Sinclair and Nexstar lead the list. Sinclair has stations in Birmingham and Harrisburg and Nexstar has stations in Harrisburg and Little Rock. LIN has a station in Birmingham, as does Raycom. Scripps has an overlap in Tulsa. Tribune, which recently came out swinging with its $2.73 billion Local TV/FoxCo acquisition, has a station in Harrisburg.

Jonathan Betz, Morgan Fogarty, Del Walters Joining Al Jazeera America

Jonathan Betz, Morgan Fogarty and Del Walters are leaving local news to join Al Jazeera America, the network announced today.

Betz, Fogarty and Walters, along with Richelle Carey, who joins the network from HLN, will be anchors based in New York City. Al Jazeera America is slated for an August launch.

“This talented and trusted group of on-air talent is a further indication of the quality and depth of journalism experience that Al Jazeera America is attracting,” AJAM senior executive producer for news and special projects Bob Wheelock said in a statement. “Their previous work across the United States will help to ensure that our daily newscasts include objective reporting on the stories from around the block and around the globe that have a real impact on each American’s lives.”

Betz joins AJAM from WFAA in Dallas, where he has worked as a field reporter and fill-in anchor since 2004. Fogerty previously worked at WCCB in Charlotte, where she has worked for 10 years, most recently as anchor of the 10 p.m. newscast. Walters joins the network from WTOP News Radio. Until 2010, he was an anchor and senior investigative reporter at WJLA in Washington, D.C.

TVNewser has more on the hires.

Kevin Lewis Joins WJLA From WNDU

After three years at WNDU in South Bend, Kevin Lewis is leaving for WJLA in Washington, D.C.

“For those familiar with Kevin’s work, and work ethic, it really is not that surprising.  The guy can do it all and do it superbly,” news director C.J. Beutien wrote in a memo to WNDU staffers. “…We will miss his competitive spirit and his constant strive for excellence.”

Lewis, who is an investigative reporter and weekend anchor at WNDU, will sign off on August 4. He will begin as WJLA’s Montgomery County bureau reporter on August 26.

NYT: Political Ad Revenue Makes Swing State Stations More Valuable

The New York TimesBrian Stelter takes a look at how political ad revenue is luring buyers to stations in battleground states. With more consolidation predicted in the local news landscape, higher political revenues and higher ratings make stations more valuable, Stelter reports:

When Allbritton, the media company that owns Politico, put its seven television stations up for sale this spring, analysts quickly singled out one as the most attractive: WJLA, the company’s ABC-affiliated station in Washington, D.C. It is the biggest of the bunch, the best known and, perhaps most important, a magnet for political spending.

WJLA took in $33 million in election-related and issue advocacy advertising last year. Only three stations in the United States earned more for political ads, and two of those were also in Washington. That’s because the stations’ signals reach citizens in a crucial battleground state, Virginia, as well as the political power brokers in the nation’s capital. If Allbritton were to sell WJLA by itself, it could fetch $300 million. Read more

Bob Ryan Announces Retirement From WJLA

After more than three decades as a meteorologist in Washington, D.C., Bob Ryan will retire from ABC affiliate WJLA next month, The Washington Post reports.

Ryan was chief meteorologist at NBC-owned WRC from 1980-2010. He joined Allbritton’s WJLA, where he is the 11 p.m. meteorologist, in 2010.

In an interview with the Post, Ryan said he is planning to continue writing and blogging about the weather, possibly even filling in on WJLA from time to time. He said Allbritton’s recent announcement that it is exploring a sale of its television stations contributed to his decision.

“I made the decision [to retire] before the new owner gets here,” Ryan said.

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