Washington—Longtime CNN anchor Leon Harris will leave the cable news net and join WJLA-TV Washington, anchoring the station's 5, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts with Maureen Bunyan and Kathleen Matthews. Station President and General Manager Chris Pike said, "Leon's hiring is a huge stride in our ongoing investment to dramatically reposition WJLA." The station, which has merged its newsroom with co-owned local cable Newschannel 8, has been lauded by the Project for Excellence in Journalism with an A grade but still trails in ratings in the highly competitive market.
Bangor, Me.—The Black Bears of Maine have been caught in the Web. WABI-TV plans to put its live coverage of University of Maine football and later hockey on the Internet. Through a partnership with Norwalk, Calif.-based Web-site developer SyncCast, the station will offer Black Bears fans the opportunity to watch games wherever they are for a $15 fee. Naturally, the station counts on Web business being out of the market, since, even on broadband, the coverage is unlikely to match broadcast quality, so it plans to market through university alumni as well as on sports Web sites. The station tried something similar for a university hockey game a few years ago, but the experiment failed. Program director Steve Hiltz says the station has more confidence in its current plan.
New York—WCBS-TV on Sunday debuts a political-affairs program hosted by veteran political reporter Andrew Kirtzman. Kirtzman & Co. will feature interviews and roundtable discussion with local pols and reporters. The show will alternate on Sundays with Marcia Kramer's political program, Sunday Edition, as part of the 7-9 a.m. CBS News Sunday block.
Baltimore—WXII-TV Greenville, N.C., News Director Michelle Butt will be moving up in markets to Hearst-Argyle Baltimore sister station WBAL-TV. Current WBAL-TV News Director Margaret Cronan resigned earlier this summer to move to Philadelphia for personal reasons. The station is considered competitive for the news lead in a tight market against competition from Viacom and Scripps Howard stations.
Butt is credited with helping transform WXII-TV from a perennial third-place finisher to a contender and winner in late news. She'll be replaced by current Assistant News Director Barry Klaus.
Miami—WFOR-TV launches a weekend morning newscast this Saturday. The hour-long 8 a.m. broadcast will be co-anchored by Jason Wheeler, who has been with the station since 2002, and Susan Barnett, who will join WFOR-TV from Viacom sister station KDKA-TV Pittsburgh later this month. Also featured will be newly hired meteorologist Jeff Taylor, from WCIU(TV) Erie, Pa.
Chicago—WBBM-TV's fall lineup still features an 11 a.m. newscast while adding one at 4 p.m. The late-morning news has been the subject of speculation and could still be replaced by syndicated programming but only if the station decided to add a 6 p.m. newscast, sources say. The new 4 p.m. program will be anchored by Mary Ann Childers and Derrick Blakley, with weather from Jim Tilmon, entertainment news from Bill Zwecker, and sports highlights from Mike Adamle.
Six of California's leading gubernatorial candidates—but not Arnold Schwarzenegger—participated in a debate last week sponsored by KTVU(TV) San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose and the newspaper The Contra Costa Times. On the panel (l-r): Democrat Cruz Bustamante, Independent Arianna Huffington, Green Party candidate Peter Camejo, and Republicans Peter Ueberroth and Tom McClintock.