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Anchors Away! TV Changes Start After Sweeps End

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Mike Berk
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Anchors Scott Schneider, Jack Atherton and Mike Berk have left the TV airwaves, changes since November sweeps ended last week.

And WLWT-TV is looking for a newsroom boss to replace news director Mike Neelly, who heads home to Mississippi to become general manager at sister Hearst station WAPT-TV in Jackson.

Berk signed off Sunday as WKRC-TV (Channel 12) weekend sports anchor after 2-1/2 years. He’s moving down I-75 to Lexington, where he’ll switch to anchoring news at WLEX-TV.

“About 90 percent of the inquiries I've had the last six to nine months have been about switching to news.  I also received this type of interest many, many years ago. So it is something I've been considering,” says Berk, a New York City native who has worked at TV stations in California, Oregon and Nevada.

Schneider, who contract was not renewed last summer by Channel 19, had been working on monthly extensions during Channel  19’s search for his replacement. He left Nov. 25, the final day of November sweeps, to anchor weekends at Chicago Fox affiliate WFLD-TV. He was brought here from Youngstown in 2013.

Tricia Macke's next co-anchor has not been hired, says Debbie Bush, Channel 19 vice president and general manager.

“We’re getting close on a replacement.  We have several good candidates.  Due to the holidays, the new anchor won’t be in place until next year,” she said.

Among the candidates could be Atherton, the former anchor at Channels 19 and 5, who auditioned with Macke this fall. Atherton is available. He left Dayton’s WKEF-TV/WRGT-TV (22  and 45) after three years when sweeps ended last week. Bush declined to comment when I asked if Fox 19’s original anchor (1993-2008) was a candidate.

“Can’t comment on specifics of the search, but we are looking at a number of candidates,” Bush wrote in an email.

Neelly starts Jan. 1 in Jackson, Miss., where he was a photojournalist and producer in the early 1990s. His successor at WLWT-TV will be the third TV news director (of four in town) hired since July.  Channels 12 and 19 also have new newsroom bosses.

More changes are coming to Channel 12, which won all weekday newscasts again in November sweeps overnight household Nielsen ratings. Channel 12 has posted a job opening for an investigative reporter. Longtime “Troubleshooter” Howard Ain will continue to work part-time.

“Howard is not retiring.  The investigative reporter position is a separate position,” says Jon Lawhead, group manager for Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Channels 12 and 64 here and Dayton’s Channels 22 and 45.