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Ch.2 has options as O'Connell's retirement date nears; Local All-Star Game rating takes big hit


As Channel 7’s expected hiring of former Channel 4 meteorologist Don Paul to work weekends in the fall illustrates, walking off the TV stage isn’t so easy if it is in your blood.

Channel 2’s top weatherman, Kevin O’Connell, may be pulling a Paul and considering working on a part-time basis after his contract expires in less than six months.

O’Connell announced more than a year ago that he would be ending his Channel 2 run of about a quarter of a century this coming January. However, O’Connell, who now works four days a week, said this week that he has had preliminary discussions with Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner about a new role after January.

“My intentions are to leave at the end of my contract,” said O’Connell. “Jim has indicated to me he’d like to have discussions about possible roles I could play at the station after that.”

It is no secret inside the halls of Channel 2 that there have been a parade of meteorologists being interviewed for an open position once O’Connell leaves.

Toellner has several options once O’Connell leaves his full-time post.

He could try and delay O’Connell’s departure while looking for the right candidate to join the station’s weather team of Patrick Hammer, Maria Genero, Kevin O’Neill and Jennifer Stanonis.

He could go with the original plan when Hammer was hired a year ago and considered to be O’Connell’s heir apparent and have Hammer take over on weeknights. Hammer’s legal problem last winter doesn’t appear to be an issue in the decision. He has appeared to recover on-air after a DWI arrest on Nov. 3, 2015 that resulted in him being off the air for more than two months.

Or Toellner could find someone he loves during his current interviews with meteorologists to replace O’Connell on weekend nights and decide to move Hammer to “Daybreak” in the mornings.

After all, Hammer worked in the mornings for years in Minneapolis. Genero, who supposedly was only a temporary morning fix after Andy Parker bolted to Channel 7 almost two years ago, has told friends she wants off those dreadful hours. If Hammer is moved to mornings, Genero could take his weekend role.

Toellner wasn’t revealing anything about his options and didn’t even want them to be discussed.

“I’m not talking about personnel matters in any way,” he said.

He did give Hammer some support.

“Patrick Hammer is part of this team and we hope he’ll be part of this team for a long time,” said Toellner.

All-Star Decline: The American League’s 4-2 victory over the National League Tuesday night had only a 2.2 rating on WUTV, the local Fox affiliate. That was less than half the 4.8 rating for the game a year earlier and an even bigger drop from the 5.7 in 2014. NBC’s “America’s Got Talent’ was the big Tuesday winner with an 11.3 rating on Channel 2. ABC’s coverage of the ESPYs, which featured a beautiful and poignant speech by on Craig Sager, the TNT announcer battling leukemia, had a 2.3 rating Wednesday on Channel 7.

Convention time: Channel 4 is planning to send Dave Greber and Teresa Weakley to cover the Republican Convention next week and Greber and Jordan Williams to cover the Democratic Convention a week later.


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