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Ch.4 adds some suspense by hiring new anchor

By Alan Pergament

If you think it is tough to find out the condition of the foot of Buffalo Bills star Mario Williams, try finding out what Channel 4 is planning to do with a new female anchor that it appears to have hired.

Here's what I know and how I learned it about Channel 4's new anchor.

A couple of sources told me that Channel 4 was very interested in Teresa Weakley, the main female anchor at WKBN in Youngstown, Ohio. Youngstown is the 109th market in the country, so moving to the No.51 or No.52 market here would be a major step up. Both WKBN and WIVB-TV (Channel 4) are owned by LIN Media.

I looked up Weakley's station on the internet and discovered that it had a job posting on its website for a new co-anchor to replace its departing co-anchor.

I then asked a source in Youngstown where Weakley was headed and was told she was joining the LIN station in Buffalo. That's Channel 4.

In other words, Weakley's LIN station has announced she is leaving but Channel 4 hasn't announced that she is arriving at its LIN station.

So I called Weakley. She answered the telephone and claimed that she couldn't hear me. She asked for my telephone number and said she would call me back. I was as suspicious as Columbo might have been about the hearing problem. I hadn't heard that one before.

I am still waiting for her call back. Columbo wouldn't have fallen for that one.

Naturally, I called her back a few minutes after she claimed she didn't hear me. Her line was busy. I'm guessing she was on the line with Channel 4 officials and asking them if she should talk to me or what she should say. Or maybe she was just on a story. Or perhaps she was ordering a pizza. 

In any event, she never called.

I also called and emailed Channel 4 General Manager Rene LaSpina for some clarification about Weakley's duties. It was late in the day so perhaps LaSpina had gone home. Or maybe she had more important things to do than to deal with a reporter since she is running a couple of TV stations. As I write this, I haven't heard back. 

I tried to get a hold of Diana Fairbanks, who is the co-anchor of Channel 4's "Wake Up!" program, via the phone and a text to ask her about speculation inside Channel 4 that Weakley might have been hired to do the mornings. I never heard from Fairbanks. Her sleep schedule -- she probably goes to bed at odd times with her shift -- could have had something to do with it. But I doubt it.

I wasn't terribly surprised.

Fairbanks was surprised in January that she was moved from her 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. weekday anchor shifts to team with newcomer Jordan Williams. At the time, she told me "it is something we're going to try. I was asked if I would like to give it a shot."

"We're going to check with each other to see how it is going," added Fairbanks, noting that one "one huge plus" was she was going to see her daughter more. 

The ratings results of the Fairbanks-Williams pairing seemed to be positive, especially in May when "Wake Up!" became more competitive with first-place "Daybreak" on Channel 2.

I wanted to ask Fairbanks Tuesday how she is enjoying the early shift and whether she expects to stay there. I would expect it wouldn't be easy to have your life disrupted twice in eight months with a schedule shift that impacts your family life.

If Fairbanks does expect to stay in the mornings, Weakley would appear to be headed to the 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. slots that Fairbanks used to occupy and now are being anchored by the overworked Jacquie Walker and Don Postles.

I will say that failing to get a call from either Fairbanks or Weakley has made me a little suspicious of whether some politicking is still going on and Channel 4 officials haven't actually decided what they are going to do with their new anchor.

I'll guess I will just have to wait by the phone and hope some answers arrive today.

I know answers will eventually come. After all, it was nice to wake up this morning and find out Williams' foot will be OK.




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