Archive for June, 2012
The revolving doors continue to spin in Austin TV’s morning news scene. Just as Melissa Gale leaves KVUE-TV’s top-rated morning show, close competitor KTBC-TV FOX 7 has named Greg Kerr its new co-anchor for “FOX 7 News in the Morning” and “Good Day Austin.” Kerr replaces the veteran Joe Bickett, who retired in May to move home to Reno, Nevada.
Like Bickett, Kerr comes from a sports background. Most recently, he has served as a freelance anchor/reporter for FOX Sports Southwest in Dallas, TX. He began his career at KLST-TV in San Angelo, Texas before moving to Austin as weekend sports anchor/reporter at FOX 7 more than 20 years ago. He has also worked sports and news jobs in Greensboro, North Carolina, Oklahoma City and Springfield, Illinois.
“I’ve traded my sports hat and enthusiastically move over to the news side and I couldn’t be more excited about re-establishing myself with FOX 7 and the Austin area community,” Kerr said in a statement. “As I began my career here, I know firsthand the history of KTBC and the quality news programming this station delivers.”
Kerr earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Central Oklahoma.
FOX 7 has been locked in a tight ratings battle with KVUE in the high priority morning news race. In the May ratings period, “FOX 7 News in the Morning” won the 4:30-5 a.m. time period and finished just .1 of a ratings point behind KVUE in the 5-6 a.m. and 6-7 a.m. slots. The station’s “Good Day Austin” news program also performed well from 7-9 a.m. against the major network news competition, ABC’s “Good Morning America” and NBC’s “The Today Show.” At 9 a.m.,“Good Day Austin” tied with “Live With Kelly” on KVUE and beat “The Today Show” on KXAN.
Television news is a rough business, especially now in these hard economic times. Among the toughest decisions station managers and news directors must make involve on-air talent–hiring, firing, who stays, who goes, who gets moved to a new schedule and those ever-present compensation issues. Although there are some supposedly objective measures, like the ratings and audience research, in the end it is a very subjective call.
Despite the glamour, for the talent it’s always a tenuous existence, never knowing when a change might be coming for any number of reasons.
But, everyone knows what they’re getting into when they sign on for a TV news job.
Ratings were certainly not an issue. In the recent May sweeps period, Gale and co-anchor Bryan Mays led the 5-7 a.m. news segment and at 11 a.m., they trailed only “the Young and the Restless” on CBS and scored a higher rating than either KXAN’s or Fox 7′s Noon newscasts.
Gale won a slew of awards both here and in West Virginia, and on her KVUE web site bio, she called this gig her “dream job.”
So why is she leaving? We don’t know since neither she nor KVUE President and General Manager Patti Smith will agree to an interview. Neither owe me or you an explanation or an insight into their private discussions. So, we’ll have to take Gale’s June 22 on-air statement at face value:
“Today’s a big day for me as I have an important personal announcement to make. After many great years with KVUE, it’s time for a change. It’s been an amazing 14 years–years that have allowed me to share a variety of important news stories and meet so many wonderful people; people that have changed my life. I appreciate being invited into your homes, as you’ve become my second family. And I’m thankful for being a part of this wonderful KVUE team. So next week will be my last week on the air here at KVUE and I want you to know that I’ll miss you all. Thanks again for welcoming me into your homes all these many years.”
Gale departs less than a year after her longtime co-anchor, Olga Campos, also left KVUE after 16 years.
All that’s left is to wish Melissa Gale much success in her future endeavors. With her strong record of community service, she should do well. And, to wish Patti Smith and News Director Frank Volpicella luck as they choose a new co-anchor for Bryan Mays, either from within the station or from the outside TV news world.
Longtime KVUE morning reporter and 4:30 a.m. anchor Jessica Vess did the shows this morning with no mention of Gale. My guess—Vess is a lock for the job on a permanent basis.