WNBC New York’s David Ushery slides into the 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. anchor desk in early October, pairing up with Natalie Pasquarella and departing the 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. News 4 New York newscasts. Ushery has spent 17 years at WNBC, and will have anchored every newscast on the station’s schedule upon making the move.
“I’m excited about it — it’s a good evolution for me,” he said. “There’s so much going on in the city and in the country.”
Ushery succeeds Stefan Holt in the 4 and 11 p.m. slots. Holt, son of NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, is moving to WMAQ Chicago, also part of the NBCUniversal group.
Ushery is well-liked at WNBC, getting a standing ovation, albeit one from a less-than-capacity newsroom in these remote times, when his appointment was announced. “It was not a hard decision for me,” said Amy Morris, VP of news at WNBC. “David is a great teammate to have.”
Morris described Ushery as curious, a good listener and a man who knows New York well. He has a knack for finding the story in a long, drawn-out news conference, she added. “He’s all those things you like to have in an anchor, you like to have in the newsroom,” Morris said.
Ushery grew up in Hartford, Connecticut, and was exposed to anchoring at an early age. When he was 11, a talent scout from syndicated newscast Kidsworld visited his school in search of young talent. Students were asked to visit the library and read a script. Ushery aced his audition and became host of the Connecticut edition of Kidsworld.
He spent seven years on the program, even venturing to New York to interview Walter Cronkite when he was 11½. “It was clearly a highlight,” he said, acknowledging that Cronkite was on most every evening in the Ushery house when he was growing up. “Little did I know how much I’d be following him on that journey.”
Ushery called it an “honor” to take on the 11 p.m. anchor chair, mentioning WNBC’s longtime 11 p.m. team of Chuck Scarborough and Sue Simmons and former WABC New York anchor Bill Beutel as influences. Scarborough called Ushery “a triple threat — a brilliant writer, a superb news anchor at his best when breaking news forces him to throw the script away, and a superb reporter who can cover anything anywhere.”
Ushery describes co-anchor Pasquarella as curious, and offering the perspective of a mother as an anchor. “She brings energy and enthusiasm every day,” he said.
Morris said changes will likely come to the newscasts after Ushery moves in. “We’ll look to play to his strengths,” she said, mentioning strong interview skills and in-depth reporting.
Local TV is up against a broad array of competition for viewers’ eyeballs. Ushery said a well-established station remains in a strong position. “Viewers know they can come to us when things go wrong,” he said. “They still want to know we are there, and know they can trust us.”
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.