Who's Who On TV News? Your Guide To TV's New Faces
What happened to Barak Shapiro? Where's Aly Cohen? How will WLW-TV fill Lisa Cooney's anchor job? And who are all these new TV reporters on Cincinnati newscasts?
Before May ratings' sweeps start Thursday, here's a look at the major changes and new faces on TV since last May:
GONE: Lisa Cooney retired after 30 years April 5. Reporter Emily Wood left the station in January.
CHANGES: Since Cooney left, weekend morning anchor Megan Mitchell has filled her chair.
"Viewers will absolutely see Megan Mitchell, Colin Mayfield, Randi Rico and Vanessa Richardson Monday-Friday from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. during May sweeps," says Branden J. Frantz, WLWT-TV president and general manager. Replacing Cooney with Mitchell "was an easy decision" since she had been "backing up Lisa and leading the way on Cincinnati’s No. 1 weekend morning news for the last 2-1/2 years."
Weekend mornings "during this time" will be anchored by Alexis Rogers and Andrew Setters, he says.
NEW REPORTERS: Long Island native Helena Battipaglia started this month as an evening reporter from sister Hearst station WPTZ-TV in Burlington, VT. While attending Syracuse University, she was the first student to win an Edward R. Murrow Award.
Pittsburgh native Jatara McGee was hired in November from WSAZ-TV in Huntington-Charleston, W. Va. The University of Maryland graduate was a competitive cheerleader who won a silver medal at the Cheerleading World Championships.
Ashley Kirkland started in August as an anchor-reporter after working in Macon, Ga. She attended Warren Central High School in Indianapolis and Indiana University, and taught English in South Korea before starting her journalism career.
GONE: Meteorologist Barak Shaprio left Feb. 27 to be a stay-at-home dad with his two young daughters. Traffic reporter/BenGal cheerleader Jaclyn DeAugustino, a Florida native, left Feb. 27 to do traffic for WESH-TV in Orlando. Veteran reporter Tom McKee and part-time weekend sports anchor Ken Broo retired in December.
CHANGES: "We’re interviewing for all three positions (meteorologist, traffic and news reporter) and hope to make announcements soon," says Jeff Brogan, WCPO-TV vice president and general manager. "We are filling the part-time position as well. Our interviews for the positions continue."
NEW REPORTERS: Kate Flexter joined the news team in November from an internship at the Ohio Innocence Project. The Cincinnati Country Day School graduate was a reporter for two years for WWSB-TV in Sarasota, Fla., then worked as the City of Sarasota's communications specialist.
Josh Bazan came to Channel 9 in January after 2-1/2 years at Scripps' WKBW-TV in Buffalo, N.Y. He attended Syracuse University in his hometown.
Jasmine Minor, who came to Channel 9 in October, previously worked for ESPN and Scripps' WFTX-TV in Cape Coral, Fla. She played tennis for the University of Oregon, and earned a masters degree in broadcast journalism from Northwestern University.
GONE: Veteran reporters Deb Dixon, Larry Davis, Joe Webb and Jeff Hirsh have retired since last May. Meteorologist Brandon Orr left in August for WPLG-TV in Miami. Sports reporter Aly Cohen turned down a contract renewal to return to Pittsburgh, her hometown, in March.
CHANGES: WKRC-TV managers did not respond to my emails asking about possible changes for May sweeps; if Cohen would be replaced; and when the station would name a chief meteorologist. It's been three years since chief meteorologist Tim Hedrick died.
NEW FACES: Reporter David Winter was hired in March after two decades of TV news experience in Montana, Nevada, Texas, Illinois, Michigan and his hometown of San Francisco. He last worked at a TV station in November 2017, as a co-anchor at KTMF-TV and KYWB-TV in Missoula, Mont.
Kathryn Robinson was hired in February after three years as a reporter, anchor and producer at WSAZ-TV in Huntington-Charleston, W. Va., where she was honored as "best reporter" by the West Virginia Broadcasters Association. The Syracuse University graduate grew up in Russell, Ky., north of Ashland.
Reporter Tessa DiTirro joined Channel 12 in September after three years as an anchor-reporter at WTRF-TV in Wheeling, W. Va. The Akron native attended Ohio State University, and interned for WSYX-TV in Columbus and WOIO-TV in Cleveland.
Queens native Walter Smith-Randolph came here in September after six years at two of Sinclair's Michigan stations, WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo-Grand Rapids and WEYI-TV in Flint. Before that, he was an award-winning reporter at WENY-TV in Elmira/Ithaca, N.Y.
Kyle Inskeep took over Brad Johansen's evening anchor shifts in June, after anchoring mornings for two years at Indianapolis' WXIN-TV. A 2012 Tim Russert Fellow, Inskeep spent a year working in the NBC News bureau in Washington D.C. as a researcher.
Meteorologist Brad Maushart from Indianapolis' WISH-TV replaced Orr in December. He grew up in Guilford, Ind., and attended East Central High School in St. Leon.
GONE: Reporter Jordan Villines left Jan. 27 "to pursue new opportunities."
CHANGES: Lauren Minor from Lexington's WKYT-TV, a sister Gray Television station, was recently hired to replace Villines as morning reporter. After graduating from Northern Kentucky University, she was a WKRC-TV assignment editor and production assistant before going to WTWO-TV in Terre Haute.
"Lauren actually lives in Union, Ky., and has been driving to Lexington every day. We’re happy to have her here at the station," says Debbie Bush, WXIX-TV vice president and general manager. "Other than that, nothing has changed. We continue to rock in the morning and night – No. 1 in morning and No. 1 late news."
NEW REPORTERS: UC grad Lauren Artino joined Fox 19 in July after three years at Evansville's WFIE-TV, a sister Gray Television station. She's also worked at Cleveland's WOIO-TV and Mansfield's WMFD-TV.
Brittany Harry came here in August also from WFIE-TV. The St. Louis native attended Southeast Missouri State University.