WKBW-TV anchor Joanna Pasceri is leaving the station after 22 years, the last nine as its primary female news anchor, according to sources.
Sources on Friday afternoon said Channel 7 General Manager Mike Nurse had emailed staffers to tell them that the 6 p.m. newscast Friday would be her last.
The move comes weeks after the E.W. Scripps Company station hired a reporter and fill-in anchor at CTV in Toronto to replace her.
Channel 7 still hasn’t announced the hiring of Los Angeles native Ashley Rowe, who recently left her job as a reporter and fill-in anchor at CTV in Toronto.
Rowe was believed to have assurances that she would co-anchor two or more of the weekday anchor slots at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. that Pasceri has anchored since December 2006.
Pasceri, 50, has been teamed with co-anchor Keith Radford for the last nine years during the once-proud station’s ratings slide. She is a capable anchor and can’t be blamed for the ratings slide. It had more to do with the station’s mismanagement and operating on the cheap until Scripps took over.
Scripps is believed to have unsuccessfully tried to persuade Pasceri to stay at the station in a reduced role until her contract runs out in April or May. Rather than accept a demotion to the noon or 5:30 p.m. newscasts, Pasceri apparently has decided to negotiate a contract settlement.
Almost a year and a half after Scripps bought Channel 7, it appears that it is shaking up the station’s anchor teams to try and get viewers to take a new look at the improved third-rated news station in town.
Scripps most likely has concluded that since its improved product hasn’t improved ratings significantly, a fresh face is needed to get Western New Yorkers to try the station’s newscasts again.
A Lockport native, Pasceri graduated from Lockport High School in 1983 before attending Fredonia State College. She rose through the ranks at Channel 7, becoming a full-time reporter in 1997. Nine years later, she became the station's primary female anchor.
Radford may not be at the station much longer, either. In September 2014, he signed a contract that ends in November 2016, a month after his 65th birthday.
Scripps may decide to team Rowe with Jeff Russo, who left sports to become the solo news anchor at 5:30 p.m., on one or more of the 5, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts before Russo eventually replaces Radford on all the newscasts.
According to Rowe’s CTV biography, she started her career as a reporter at CHCH-TV in Hamilton, Ont., and joined CTV in Toronto in July, 2011.
She was part of the station’s coverage of the controversy surrounding Mayor Rob Ford after he admitted to using crack cocaine, and she also was a reporter when gunfire erupted in the food court at Toronto’s Eaton Centre.
At CHCH, Rowe covered the G20 Summit in Toronto, the 2010 municipal election night, and the 2011 federal election night.
Before turning to television news, she was a newscaster for an FM radio station in London, Ont.
Her CTV bio ads that she is “a proud third generation news hound, her father is a prominent Canadian documentary filmmaker, and her grandfather, a newspaper editor and reporter.”
She is expected to join Channel 7 in January.