If your morning usually starts with Melissa Gale and Jason Hill on KVUE TV (ABC), it will be different Monday, March 23 and even more different later in the week.
Morning anchor Jason Hill was laid-off Friday as a part of another round of cost-cutting measures announced by Patti Smith, KVUE TV general manager. Also laid-off were a producer and two engineers, according to sources. (This is a rare time that I am not using direct attribution, and being a spring break weekend, on-the-record sources are not available.)
KVUE TV’s morning ratings had slipped in the past year after being a dominate #1. It is unknown whether the ratings erosion is what led to Hill’s departure. By Friday night, his picture and all references to him had been scrubbed from the KVUE web site.
Perhaps a more startling change will be coming later in the week when Gale is joined by her new co-anchor Olga Campos. Campos has been the 5 p.m. co-anchor for more than a decade, most recently teamed with 6 and 10 anchor Tyler Sieswerda. Now, new evening anchor Terri Gruca will co-anchor the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts with Sieswerda. Campos, reportedly, will not start her new morning gig until Wednesday.
Belo Corporation, KVUE TV’s parent company announced coming cuts in a March 10th news release:
The cost-saving measures include the suspension of Belo Corp.'s 401(k) matching contribution for all employees, a 5 percent salary reduction for employees who are part of the Company's management compensation programs, and a Company-wide staff reduction of approximately 150 positions. These additional cost-saving measures will become effective mid-April.
KVUE had already seen an earlier round of cost-saving measures.
Another change is coming to the morning line-up at a cross-town rival. Morning Traffic reporter Ellen McNamara is moving to Tampa, Florida to co-anchor a new weekend morning newscast on WFTS TV (ABC).
© Jim McNabb, 2009