Fates & Fortunes Round-Up: April 19 – 26, 2010

News seems a little sparse in TV land: when the biggest story of the day is how The Back-Up Plan flopped, you know it’s a slow news day. I think it’s just the calm before the upfront storm, however.

Follow Fates on Twitter @BCFates or my mostly TV tweets @PaigeA. Forward fates to me at BCFates@gmail.com or at palbiniak@gmail.com.

Programming Prospects

David Shaye has been named director of development at Evolution Media, the production company behind Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise and other unscripted cable series. Shaye was previously an independent producer. He also served as a development exec for MTV, and Jennifer Lopez’ Nuyorican Productions.

Journalism Jumps

F&F bids fond farewell to B&C utility player Alex Weprin, who is joining Media Bistro’s TVNewser and WebNewser as co-editor. We’ll miss him, but we’ll still be assiduously reading his stuff.

B&C friend and rival Joe Adalian joins New York Magazine’s blog on all things pop culture, Vulture, departing online entertainment trade The Wrap. Adalian also has had stints as a senior editor at TV Week, and was Variety’s long-time TV editor. We wish him well and will be following his posts and tweets just as closely as we ever did.

Robert Kittle has been named director of news planning and content at KUSI San Diego, reports MediaBistro. Kittle previously was opinion editor at The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Much has been made about the layoffs at ABC News, but last week the organization promoted two, reports TVNewser: David Reiter, who had been VP of newsgathering, was named domestic managing editor; Tom Nagorski, formerly senior producer at World News, was named foreign managing editor.

Meanwhile, Rachel Martin, formerly a reporter at ABC News, landed at NPR, where she’s been named national security correspondent, reports Fishbowl DC.

Vaughn Ververs, formerly the senior editor at Politico, Allbritton’s Washington newspaper/Web site that has become a top Hill news outlet, has joined MSNBC.com as political editor.

Station Switches

Belo Corp. EVP of TV operations Peter Diaz has been promoted to president, media operations. Formerly the president/general manager at KHOU Houston, Diaz has been executive VP since November 2007 and joined the Belo management committee February 2008. Diaz joined Belo in 1984 as national sales manager at KHOU and served in various sales management roles for Belo stations in Houston, Tulsa and Dallas. He returned to KHOU as station manager in 1995.

WFIE Evansville General Manager Debbie Bush is moving to Tucson to take over Raycom-owned CBS affiliate KOLD. She starts tomorrow and replaces Jim Arnold, who is retiring.

KGMB Honolulu News Director Chris Archer, who helped orchestrate the merger of three Honolulu stations’ news operations, has joined the media consulting firm SmithGeiger as a strategic consultant.  Archer is the second news director SmithGeiger has hired this month. Former KCTV Kansas City newsroom boss Tracy Brogden Miller came on board as a senior consultant April 7, and will be based in Los Angeles.

Heidi Godman, veteran anchor at WWSB Sarasota, Fla., signed off the air last night after she was unable to come to terms on a new contract with the station, reports Florida News Center. Lauren Dorsett, formerly of WWSB’s sister station, WTXL, will take Godman’s place.

Chandra Bill, anchor at Scripps-owned WPTV West Palm Beach, Fla., retires on May 28.

Tisha Powell is joining join Steve Daniels as co-anchor of WTVD Raleigh-Durham’s 11 p.m. news. Powell and Daniels have worked together before, having co-anchored the 10 p.m. news at WTVD’s sister station, WLFL. On WTVD, Powell replaces Angela Hampton, who is moving over to community relations, a change Hampton requested to spend more time with her daughter. Powell now will anchor four of WTVD’s weekday newscasts.

Nancy Alvarez, formerly an investigative reporter at WKMG Orlando, will become a weekend anchor at WFTV Orlando in May, reports Hal Boedeker of the Orlando Sentinel.

Corporate changes

Lisa Fischer has been named SVP, network sales, at Ion Media Networks. She will be based in New York.  Fischer comes to Ion after 10-plus years at Discovery Communications.

Tribune-owned cable network WGN America continues to beef up its staff. Kevin Connor has been named SVP of affiliate sales at Tribune’s WGN America. Connor had been VP of finance and administration for the cable network since 2008. John Carrozza joined the network on April 19 as VP of strategic sales, while Dana Bernard has been promoted to director of strategic sales and planning.

Gerard Broussard has been named VP of research and analytics at Canoe Ventures, a cable backed company tasked with developing an advanced advertising platform. Broussard most recently was managing partner at WPP’s MediaLab

Frank Donaldson has been named SVP and director of sales strategy and marketing at Katz Media Group. Previously, Donaldson was SVP, director of network sales for V-me Media, a New York-based Spanish TV network. Prior to that, he was at Univision for 11 years.

Multiplatform Moves

Gregory Gittrich and Lora Le Sage both have been promoted to VPs of digital media at NBC Local Media. Gittrich previously was VP of content/editor-in-chief for NBC Local Media’s digital group. He retains his editor in chief title in his new position. LeSage previously managed NBC Local Media’s digital efforts from Chicago. Brian Buchwald, who previously led NBC’s Local Integrated Media team, is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities.

Shara Zoll has been promoted to VP of pperations a Syfy.com. Zoll has been at Syfy since 2002, when she joined as director of project management.

Scott Lewers has been promoted to VP of multiplatform program planning and acquisitions. Most recently, he was VP of program planning and acquisitions.

Tech Trades

Steve Jacobs has been named president of Ubiquity Broadcasting. Most recently, he was VP of broadband strategy and alliances for Sony Electronics


Christopher Ornelas has been named EVP and chief strategy officer at the National Association of Broadcasters. Ornelas most recently served in the Washington law offices of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck (BHFS), focusing his practice on telecommunications and technology policy. Prior to joining BHFS, Ornelas was chief counsel on communications and technology policy in NAB President Gordon Smith’s U.S. Senate office, overseeing all matters relating to communications, media, entertainment and technology before the Senate Commerce Committee. Ornelas’s career also includes nearly a decade in the Washington offices of law firm Wilkinson Barker Knauer.

In Memoriam

Ron Scalera, 49, executive VP and creative director of the CBS Marketing Group, died suddenly on Wednesday, April 21, in Los Angeles, according to CBS. Scalera had been with CBS since 1997, when he joined as senior VP/ creative director, of advertising and promotion. He created and launched promo campaigns for the CSI series, Big Bang Theory, and most recently reality show Undercover Boss, among others. He was named EVP in 2004. Scalera is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; two children, Rachel and Michael; his mother, Kathy; and brother, Paul.

Weather forecaster Harry Wappler, 73, died on Wednesday, April 21, the day after suffering a stroke at Bellevue’s Overlake Hospital Medical Center. Wappler spent most of his career at KIRO Seattle, except for a three-year stint spent at WNBC New York. He retired from KIRO in 2002, and was replaced by his son, Andy, who joined the station in 1994 and left in 2008.

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.