WFLD details anchor changes

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Welcome back, Fox 32.

Plus: LA’s KTTV news director “resigns” after only two years

Fox’s WFLD fortified its news anchor lineup late Tuesday, detailing changes being made to its Good Day Chicago morning show and its 9 p.m. newscast.

Former WMAQ sports anchor Jon Kelley is being paired with former KDVR/Denver reporter-anchor Melody Mendez for GDC and Natalie Bomke, who joined the show last month.

The new hosts replace Anna Davlantes (who departs November 8) and Corey McPherin, whose status at WFLD remains unknown.

Kelly held a variety of TV gigs since leaving WMAQ in 1998, hosting The Mole, two Soul Train Music Awards shows, Extra, and working as an anchor for Fox Sports. Kelley was previously was morning co-anchor at NBC-owned KNTV in the Bay Area.

GDC regular Dawn Hasbrouck is succeeding Robin Robinson as co-anchor of the 9 p.m. newscast, being paired with recent arrival Jeff Herndon, effective November 28.

Meanwhile, we may have not heard the last from Robinson. According to Robert Feder, Robinson’s agent (Chicago attorney Andrew Stroth) may look for better opportunities once her WFLD contract expires. Interviewed by Feder on Tuesday, Stroth praised Robinson for being one of the being “one of the most accomplished broadcast journalists in the country” and her work on addressing issues relevant to Chicagoans.

WFLD wasn’t the only Fox O&O to make personnel changes this week.

In Los Angeles, fellow Fox O&O KTTV announced the resignation of news director Kingsley Smith after 28 months, and 20 years overall at Fox Television Stations. While Fox isn’t commenting about Smith’s departure, KTLA entertainment reporter Sam Rubin posted his own theories on Facebook:

“The real reason that Smith lost his job is that for the past two years or so he has been a willing and active participant is the ill-advised dismantling of a once popular and important news gathering organization. So after Smith followed orders, fired a ton of people at Fox 11; including very talented and popular on-air types like Mark Thompson and Dorothy Lucey; the ratings are a disaster, the news gathering abilities are destroyed; and guess who gets the blame….the sap who followed the orders, coming from higher-ups in New York incidentally, to cut KTTV to beyond the bone.

What really matters here, and this is where “executives” always make the biggest mistake, is that television news in 2013 is a personality business. There is simply nothing more important than “feel,” how a show sincerely feels to those who watch it. KTTV went from feeling fun and brash, to heartless and cold. Nothing more effectively communicates feeling than television. And when the atmosphere behind the camera is mean and mean-spirited; that stuff actually shows up on the air.

I don’t know Kingsley Smith, I have never met him, and chances are now I never will. But what he was ordered to do during the last two years was exactly the wrong thing to do. A smarter and stronger executive would have stood up to those giving the orders. Smith didn’t and now he too is gone.”

Their is no doubt the same atmosphere exists at WFLD, and a few other Fox O&Os.

During the week of September 23, KTTV’s morning show averaged only a 1.1 household rating and 4 share, down 31 percent from the same week last year. By comparison, KTLA’s morning show had a 3.0/11, up 20 percent during the same timeframe.

KTTV’s 5 p.m. newscast is a ratings dud, and its 10 p.m. newscast – which dominated a few years ago when American Idol was still hot –  is now in a dead heat with KTLA.

Earlier, Smith fired popular personalities from the station including Dorothy Lucey and Jillian Barberie Reynolds, both from Good Day LA, whose ratings have also tumbled (0.7/3 during the week of September 23.)

Smith also pulled the plug on sister station KCOP’s newscasts last summer.

In a recent interview with TVNewscheck, Fox Television CEO Jack Abernethy (obviously one of the New York types Rubin was referring to), said he wanted to reinvent local news. The only results he has so far is an inane Chasing Jersey show replacing a New Jersey-focused newscast in New York area and a Philadelphia anchor linking multiple shooting victims to the TV series Breaking Bad. How creative.

If Abernethy’s idea of reinventing local news means creating lame concepts, running newsrooms like dictatorships, firing people who don’t tow to the company line, anchors mocking shooting victims on Twitter, and driving away viewers, then by golly, he’s doing an outstanding job.