Valles and Wheeler
Take on Oprah
Plans for the new hour-long 4 p.m. live broadcast on KEYE TV (CBS) are beginning to take shape. Those plans are resulting in several staffing changes for the station.
The new broadcast will be anchored by Jason Wheeler and Michelle Valles. Valles moves from mornings to days, and Wheeler will move from the weekend anchor post to weekdays. Valles and Wheeler are both award-winning broadcast journalists. Both are native Texans.
“Jason Wheeler and I combined have 25 years of news experience and for me personally, I was ready to transition into entertainment news,” Valles said. “I found myself really enjoying and excelling in interviews with artists, musicians, and actors. It's come really natural to me, so why not just do it?”
“Their personalities are a perfect match for this community/lifestyle based program,” says Suzanne Black, KEYE TV news director. “The show will have some news and weather, but by and large, the focus is people, places and things of interest to Austin-area people,” Black says. The hour-long broadcast will debut Monday, September 14, 2009.
“Since day one KEYE has been very supportive of me and my personal goals,” Valles says. “I expressed early on that I would love to go down the ‘entertainment’ route, and Amy Villarreal [KEYE TV president and general manager] has found a way to meet my career objectives while at the same time providing Austin viewers with what we are really missing which is not another news program, but a lifestyle entertainment show that highlights the heartbeat of this town No one has been able to succeed in that area and we are committed with resources and staff to give it a shot.”
“Management has made it clear that isn't going to be the same format, feel or look like any of the other newscasts. We are even going to dress differently. Basically I'm going to really get to be myself and have a blast doing it,” Valles said.
Wheeler sees his move to a new 4 O’clock show as a transition. “I think leaving the weekend show is going to be excruciatingly difficult,” Wheeler said. “We have really built the show up in terms of content, and at times, ratings. I have been very involved in the producing, writing, and graphics elements of the show. If I don't write every script and tease, I usually re-write it. That's because I am a news guy through and through, which is part of the reason it's hard for me to make the move away from the weekends."
“I am ready to get in there and immediately start refining what we do with this show,” Wheeler continues. “No matter how heavily produced it is, I will do as I do with weekends and with every other project I undertake...I will make it mine, I will make it real and credible and respectable and worth watching. There's a lot of bad TV out there. I say it all the time as I scroll through the hundreds of mundane offerings listed on my TV guide. I don't intend for this show to be one of those that I would pass up as a viewer.”
“In addition to doing the 4pm, I have insisted that I want to continue doing in-depth and investigative reports for the 10pm. Expect to see me popping up there on days when there are major news stories as well...and I can't rule out a big fight with the bosses when there is a hurricane to be covered...old habits die hard,” Wheeler says. He will also be available as a fill-in anchor for the 6 and 10 O’clock news.
Longtime KEYE reporter Bettie Cross will also have a role in the new 4 p.m. broadcast. “Bettie is moving to the 4pm as a roving show and tell reporter,” Black says. Cross had been the KEYE morning reporter. She is also an award-winner and long-time Austin resident.
The broadcast will face tough competition against top rated “Oprah” on KVUE (ABC).
Judy Maggio and Ron Oliveira will continue anchoring the 6 and 10 p.m. news along with meteorologist Troy Kimmel and the sports tag team of Sports Director Bob Ballou and Chris Pelikan. No changes there. Maggio and Oliveira are now anchoring the soon-to-be-replaced 5 O’clock newscast. “That leaves Ron and Judy more time to focus on our 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts,” Black says. “[It] also provides them more of an outlet for some creative story-telling in those newscasts.”
With Jason Wheeler moving to the 4 O’clock, Austin native Katherine Stolp will move up to anchor on weekends. Stolp’s bio says that she knew that she was bound for broadcast journalism while a student in Austin High School.
For the time being Fred Cantu will be the only anchor for KEYE’s morning broadcast, and so far there is no morning reporter.
All KEYE profiles are posted on the station site. The URL of the site has also changed. It is www.weareaustin.com reflecting the branding of the station.
© Jim McNabb, 2009