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Levin has change of heart, returning to Channel 2

Less than three months after leaving WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) to work in the car industry, Channel 2 co-anchor Scott Levin is returning to the NBC affiliate as co-anchor alongside Maryalice Demler.

The station made the announcement this morning on its website.

Since Levin left in May, sports director Adam Benigni had been the news co-anchor alongside Demler. It is unclear if Benigni will return to sports or find another role in local news. He could be a strong candidate to replace John Beard on Channel 2's morning program "Daybreak" since Beard is leaving at the end of the year. Benigni will be co-anchoring "Daybreak" next week.

Levin's return in September to anchor at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. weekdays follows a brief time working for the West Herr Automotive Group that began after the May sweeps ended.

Channel 2 President & General Manager Jim Toellner said he has kept in touch with Levin since he left and joked with him about whether he he was ready to return but added the talks didn't become serious until about two weeks ago.

“After the recent triple tornado event in the Southtowns, I quickly realized that my heart for news, especially breaking news and reporting the stories of Western New Yorkers was still pumping hard, very hard, and I knew the WGRZ newsroom was where I really needed to be,” Levin said on Channel 2's website.

“As much as we all want to plan our lives, God has a way of surprising you with unexpected twists and turns, and His plan is always the perfect plan. I'm looking forward to joining my colleagues once again at WGRZ and the single best news team in WNY!”

In a brief telephone interview, Levin said his initial goal in leaving to spend more time with his family hasn't been lost.

"Jim and I were able to work flexibility with my schedule that will enable me to spend more time with my family," said Levin. "It is the most important thing to me."

He said that he enjoyed working at West Herr and added Scott Bieler, the president of West Herr, was "disappointed but very supportive and understood" his decision to return to broadcast journalism.

Levin's former -- and future -- boss is excited to have him back.

“We are thrilled to have Scott returning to his journalistic passions at 2 On Your Side,” said Toellner on Channel 2's website . “His love of WNY along with his acute and discerning perspective on the stories we tell made him an enduring viewer favorite.”

In  a telephone interview, Toellner also had praise for Benigni that suggests he may just stay in news.

"I have thanked him for filling in," said Toellner. "He has done a tremendous job. His adjustment has been swift and strong."

Channel 2 has to hope that Levin's return will blunt any momentum that its chief rival, Channel 4, has had since his departure.

During the recent July sweeps -- the first one without Levin -- Channel 4 was tied or No. 1 in household ratings in all time periods, except 6 a.m.  As usual, the news was better for Channel 2 in the age 25-54 demo that advertisers are more interested in. It won all time periods after 5 a.m. but even then its margins were shrinking.

Benigni to take Levin's anchor spot until final decision on replacement


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