A few days before the start of the Buffalo Bills training camp, WKBW-TV has announced it is reorganizing its sports team.
Shawn Stepner, who has been at Channel 7 for almost nine years and has been the primary sports anchor since Jeff Russo left sports to become a news anchor in January of 2015, is leaving on Aug. 31 when his contract expires.
Michael Nurse, the station’s general manager, said Stepner decided against renewing his contract and plans to move to Maryland “for family concerns.”
According to station sources, Stepner and his wife are the parents of an infant daughter who has experienced health issues. He is originally from a Washington, D.C., suburb and came to Channel 7 from a station in Hagerstown, Md.
With Stepner leaving, Nurse has promoted Western New York native and Buffalo State College graduate Joe Buscaglia to sports director. It is a meteoric rise for Buscaglia, who joined the station in April of 2015 after seven years at sports station WGR radio.
Buscaglia will remain the station’s Bills beat reporter, a job in which he first impressed at WGR when he became a NFL draft expert and analyzed and graded game film of the performance of every Bills player.
“Joe has done an outstanding job as Bills beat reporter on air and on digital platforms,” wrote Nurse. “He is ideally suited to delivering compelling sports stories, analysis and driving our sports department forward."
Another Buffalo State graduate, Matt Bove, is moving from his job as a reporter on the station’s morning newscast to fill out the station’s three-person sports team. Nick Filipowski remains the weekend sports anchor.
Nurse said Bove “has been an outstanding contributor to our morning news. We also are fortunate Nick remains a key part of our sports team. He is a gifted storyteller and has worked very hard covering high school and college sports.”
A multiple-media journalist, Bove also is a WNY native and graduated from Niagara Wheatfield High School. Full disclosure: Bove also was a student in one of my classes at Buffalo State, where he earned a degree with honors before being hired immediately after graduation.
According to his Channel 7 biography, Bove “is a loyal Bills and Sabres fan, learning at a young age that supporting the home town teams requires perseverance.”
Now that Bove is part of Channel 7's sports team, he undoubtedly realizes from his Buffalo State classes that he’ll have to get over being a fan.
Channel 7 has hired Rochester TV reporter Jeff Rusack to fill Bove’s opening but it hasn’t decided who will replace Bove on the morning program.
Another former morning reporter, Desiree Wiley, has her last day at the station Thursday before moving to Boston to work for New England Cable News.