Fates & Fortunes Round-Up: May 12 – May 19, 2010

Time flies when you are sorting through upfront announcements and watching Lost finales and thus I now owe you two weeks of Fates round ups. Woe is me.

Before we get to it, a public service announcement: The Broadcasters Foundation of America has teamed up with the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters to deliver emergency aid to any local broadcasters and their families who have been affected by the recent flooding.

Any broadcasters in need should call 212-373-8250 or check out www.broadcastersfoundation.org.

Follow Fates on Twitter @BCFates or me personally @PaigeA, although depending on workload, computer health and desire to avoid season finale spoilers I’m not always as twittery as I should be. Forward fates to me at BCFates@gmail.com or at palbiniak@gmail.com.

Big Kahunas

In what came as a bit of a surprise, at least to me, WABC New York President/GM Rebecca Campbell was named president of the ABC Owned Television Stations Group, succeeding Walter Liss, who announced his retirement after the transition.

Campbell will report directly to Disney Media Networks co-Chairman/ABC Television Group President Anne Sweeney and will have “chief management responsibility for the 10 ABC owned television stations and for ABC’s national television sales rep firm,” ABC said in a statement.

Campbell was highly visible during the recent retransmission consent spat between WABC and Cablevision, eventually winning top fees for WABC.

Liss, who’s always run the ABC stations a bit like Oz behind the curtain, took over the group in 1999. Under Liss’ leadership, the ABC owned stations have remained some of the country’s strongest with top-rated local newscasts and consistent syndicated programming, such as Oprah, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!

According to B&C’s Mike Malone, Campbell — who will relocate to Burbank, Calif., from New York — plans to focus on building out the ABC stations’ digital platforms while keeping them focused on providing strong local news coverage.

Liss plans to depart by next year, which is also when Oprah Winfrey will end her syndicated talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which has been vital to the ABC-owned stations’ local news lead-ins, typically in early evening. Most believe ABC will expand local newscasts in key markets, although Campbell says they’re fortunate to have plenty of time to come up with the best possible alternatives to Oprah.

Programming Prospects

Live with Regis and Kelly’s Regis Philbin will host CBS’ 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards live from the Las Vegas Hilton on Sunday, June 27 at 9 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, Sean Hayes, formerly of NBC’s Will & Grace and now starring on Broadway in Promises, Promises, will host CBS’ telecast of Broadway’s Tony Awards live from New York’s Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 13 at 8 p.m. ET.

Journalism Jumps

Campbell Brown, a former NBC correspondent, is stepping down as anchor of her eponymous 8 p.m. program on CNN due to low ratings, Brown said in a May 18 statement.

Steve Lange, vice president of content at KNBC Los Angeles, resigned, saying that under his four-month purview the station had not lived up to its “journalistic standards,”,particularly noting one incident when the station aired a “faked-up news segment in February about new federal credit card rules.” That segment featured one of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, a program that airs on NBC-owned Bravo, posing as a reporter, reports the LA Times.

John Avlon, a political columnist for TheDailyBeast.com, has been named a regular political contributor for CNN.

HBO boxing analyst Max Kellerman has joined CNN as a contributor. Kellerman will weigh in on sports and pop culture issues on CNN American Morning and other programs.

Mimi Gurbst, vice president of ABC News, is retiring from the network and will attend a master’s program at Harvard with the aim of becoming a high-school guidance counselor, reports The New York Observer’s Felix Gillette. At 57, Gurbst has been with ABC for 30 years.

Chris Burrous was named morning anchor of Tribune’s WPIX New York’s morning news, which airs from 4:30 to 6 a.m.  He joins the station from KMAX Sacramento.

Rob Nelson, a former reporter with the New Orleans Times-Picayune and morning anchor at WWL New Orleans, has been hired to co-anchor ABC’s overnight news broadcast World News Now.

Robyne Robinson, anchor at Fox’s KMSP Minneapolis and the first African-American to anchor a local prime-time newscast, is leaving the station to focus on her ROX Minneapolis jewelry line.

Susan Kimball — reporter at WCSH Portland, Maine, since 1985 — retired after 28 years on TV.

Peabody-winning reporter Lilia Chacon contract is not being renewed at Fox’s WFLD Chicago, where she’s worked for 21 years. Chacon joins other station vets Jack Conaty, Lauren Cohn, Byron Harlan, Nancy Loo and David Viggiano, reports Roger Feder.

Likewise, the contract of anchor/reporter Chris Salcedo was not renewed at KTXA Dallas, reports Uncle Barky’s Bytes.

Tony Cipolla, anchor and reporter at KSBY San Luis Obispo, Calif., is leaving the station after 20 years over a salary dispute, reports The San Luis Obispo Tribune.

Anchor Don Shelby will retire from CBS’ WCCO Minneapolis/St. Paul at the end of the year. Frank Vascellaro will take Shelby’s place on the 10 p.m. news on Monday, Nov. 22, joining Amelia Santaniello. Shelby has been at the station since 1978.

Station Switches

More changes are coming to WCCO: VP/GM Susan Adams Loyd is leaving the station on June 4 to join her family’s book publishing business, Beaver’s Pond Press, reported the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Loyd has been running the station since July 2006.

Scripps TV Senior VP Brian Lawlor is the new chair of the NBC affiliates board, succeeding Michael Fiorile, who becomes chairman emeritus, reports B&C’s Michael Malone. Fiorile, who runs Dispatch Broadcast Group, presided over the group during a tumultuous time for NBC affiliates.

Chris Sehring has been named GM at Hoak Media’s KVLY/KXJB Fargo, N.D.  Sehring leaves Sioux Falls, where he ran Hoak’s KSFY. Hoak’s Fargo stations are NBC and CBS affiliates.

New Orleans native John Cruse was named VP/GM at Tribune’s WGNO/WNOL New Orleans, after serving as director of sales since 2005. Cruse had been the director of sales for the pair, an ABC-CW duopoly.  Cruse replaces Phil Waterman.

Corporate changes

Doug Thomas has been promoted to EVP/GM at Tribune365, the company’s national sales solutions group, which was designed to offers advertisers a one-stop resource for multi-market, integrated and creative cross-platform sales and marketing solutions. Previously, Thomas was SVP/GM for Tribune 365’s western and retail division. He joined Tribune Company in 2000.

Barbara Abseck has been promoted to VP, East Coast, CBS Communications, heading CBS’ New York entertainment unit. Abseck has been with CBS since 1993, when she joined as an assistant.

Multiplatform Moves

Internet Broadcasting President/CEO David Lebow has resigned after nearly three years atop the web solutions outfit. He succeeded founder Reid Johnson in 2007, as first reported by the Twin Cities news site MinnPost.com. Lebow’s contract was up and he was unhappy with the constant commute between St. Paul and the East Coast, reports the site. CFO Steve Johansen will take over oversight of day-to-day operations while the company seeks a new CEO.

DC Denizens

John Flynn has been named the FCC’s outside executive – officially the senior counsel to the chairman for transactions — to manage vetting of the Comcast/NBCU merger review. Flynn has been EVP of ICO Global Communications, a wireless broadband executive and attorney, formerly with Wilmer Hale. Flynn is also a former clerk to two Supreme Court Justices, Byron White and John Paul Stevens.


Tony Burman has been named chief strategic advisor for The Americas to accelerate Al Jazeera’s expansion into North America, after his successful launch of Al Jazeera English in Canada.  Burman has served as managing director of Al Jazeera English since May 2008. Prior to that, he was editor in chief of Canada’s CBC News for eight years and also worked extensively throughout the U.S. and Latin America.

In Memoriam

Comedy writer Allan Manings, who co-created One Day at a Time, wrote many other TV shows and was active with the Writers Guild of America, died May 12, of a heart attack in Beverly Hills. He was 86.

Professor Fritz Sennheiser, Ph.D., audio pioneer and founder of Sennheiser, died May 17, only a few days after his 98th birthday.

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.