WKBW-TV has removed its top anchor team of Keith Radford and Susan Banks from the third-place 5 p.m. newscast in favor of two female co-anchors.
Melanie Pritchard, who had anchored on weekends, and Bridget Blythe were officially announced Monday as co-anchors of the hour-long 5 p.m. newscast, effective immediately.
Banks and Radford remain the co-anchors at 6 p.m., where 7 News finishes second, and at 11 p.m., where it is third. Ken Houston, who had been co-anchoring the 5:30 p.m news with Blythe, has left the station.
Channel 7 General Manager Bill Ransom said the decision to go with two women was partially based on research. He added that several markets nationally have dropped the common but unspoken policy of having a man and a woman co-anchor newscasts.
"We have our reasons [for the change]," said Ransom. "It is [partially from] confidential research."
Ransom wouldn't give any reasons for the departure of Houston, and the former co-anchor declined to comment. Ransom said nothing should be read into the removal of Radford and Banks from the 5 p.m. newscast.
"They are our key anchors and key anchors usually work the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. and that's what we're doing," said Ransom.
7 News, which dominated the local news scene years ago when it was called Eyewitness News, finished in third place during the February sweeps everywhere on weekdays except at noon and 6 p.m., when it finished second to news leader WIVB-TV.
-- Alan Pergament