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Rob Williams Named Fox 19 Evening Co-Anchor

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WXIX-TV
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Finally WXIX-TV anchor Rob Williams can sleep in again.

Williams, 46, who started co-anchoring Fox 19 mornings in 1998 with Tricia Macke, will move to the night shift and anchor with Macke starting March 14.

“Tricia and I did the pregame (newscast) before the All-Star Game last summer. We hadn’t worked together in years, and we didn’t skip a beat. It was like we had been anchoring yesterday,” Williams says.

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Credit WXIX-TV
Dan Wells

Weekend morning co-anchor Dan Wells, 37, moves into Williams’ anchor chair next to Kara Sewell on the 4:30-11 a.m. weekday morning show March 14.

Williams came to Channel 19 in 1995, at age 25, to co-anchor weekend evening newscasts with Macke. After three years working weekends, Macke and Williams replaced the morning team.

“They thought that Tricia and I had chemistry, and they moved us to mornings. I went kicking and screaming. I don’t like getting up the mornings,” says Williams, whose alarm is set for 2:15 a.m.

Debbie Bush, named Fox 19 vice president/general manager a year ago, noticed how well Macke and Williams worked together before Fox’s All-Star Game telecast from Great American Ball Park last July. At the time she was planning to replace anchor Scott Schneider. He stayed through November before going Chicago Fox affiliate WFLD-TV.

When Steve Hyvonen was hired as news/content director in the fall, he quickly figured out that any anchor search candidate would have to be better than Williams.

“He knows Cincinnati and is part of the fabric of the community,” Bush says. She also calls him “a respected newsroom leader.”

“It was a no brainer,” Hyvonen says.

The changes come as Fox 19 is on a roll. The 10 p.m. news in February sweeps household ratings has the second-biggest late-night local news audience (4.7 rating), larger than the 11 p.m. news audience for WLWT-TV (4.6) and WCPO-TV (4.5). Long-time top-rated WKRC-TV remains first (7.8).

At 5-7 a.m. weekdays, Fox 19 is third (2.7) behind WKRC-TV (5.0) and WLWT-TV (2.7).  WCPO-TV is fourth (2.5). (Yes, Channel 9 could end up fourth in mornings and late-night news ratings when February sweeps end Wednesday.)

At 7-9 a.m., Channel 19’s local show is tied for second with NBC’s “Today Show” (4.2).  “CBS This Morning” on Channel 12 wins (4.9), with ABC’s “Good Morning America” fourth (3.8).

Fox 19 also was No. 1 with viewers ages 18-34, and No. 2 with the 18-49 and 25-54 demographics, in late news viewers in January. 

Wells came here from his hometown of Erie, Pa., in 2008. He was a night reporter for two years, then switched to mornings. He anchored the first “Fox 19 Now in the Morning” weekend newscast in 2012. Both Williams and Wells say it’s a good sign to newsroom coworkers that Fox 19 is promoting from within.

Williams, born and was raised in Japan, didn’t figure to spend most of his life here. He arrived in 1995 with two years of TV experience insisting on a two-year contract, when offered a three-year deal.

He told his agent: "I just want two years, and then I’m moving on." He he never did.  “When I first came to Cincinnati, I had no idea I’d grow to love it so much. I think Cincinnati is such a great place to be. I’m proud to call Cincinnati home,“ Williams says.

“We’re not going anywhere,” Wells says.

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Credit WXIX-TV
Rob Williams joins Tricia Macke and meteorologist Steve Horstmeyer on March 14.