Longtime WKRC-TV anchor Cammy Dierking has told her bosses she's leaving the station at the end of her contract in December, multiple sources tell me.
Dierking, who was named Rob Braun's late news co-anchor in 2010, informed the station of her decision in April, two months before Braun announced in late June that he was leaving at the end of last month.
So WKRC-TV, which had been No. 1 in evening newscasts for most of the Braun-Dierking era, will need two new main co-anchors by the end of the year.
When I contacted Dierking while preparing this story, she would not confirm she had made any decisions about her contract.
"I'm not ready to talk about anything just yet. But thanks for the opportunity," she said in an email.
Dierking will be the sixth high-profile journalist to leave the station voluntarily since WKRC-TV aired Braun and Dierking reading a statement from owners Sinclair Broadcast Group complaining about media companies pushing "their own personal bias and agenda" in March last year, for which Braun got death threats. Gone are Braun and veteran reporters Deb Dixon, Joe Webb, Jeff Hirsh and Larry Davis.
Jon Lawhead, general manager for WKRC-TV and Sinclair stations in Dayton, Toledo and Lexington, did not respond to emails asking about the station's search for a new primary anchor team. After Braun's announcement, Lawhead said the station "will begin an immediate search – both internal and external – to find our next main evening anchor."
Dierking, a 1978 Sycamore High School and 1982 Miami University graduate, and Braun gave WKRC-TV a deeply rooted local anchor team. She is daughter of former Cincinnati Royals and University of Cincinnati basketball star Connie Dierking; he's the son of Bob Braun, host of WLWT-TV's longtime Bob Braun Show who started his TV career in 1949 on WCPO-TV.
Dierking became Ohio's first female sports anchor when hired by WKRC-TV in 1988. Before that she worked for Cincinnati's Sports Time cable network; WPTF-TV in Raleigh, N.C.; and KTVN-TV in Reno, Nev. She went back to Reno for a while, and came back home to WKRC-TV in 1992. She has been involved in many community projects, such as the Heart Mini-Marathon, HeartStone Bike Tour, JDRF Ride to Cure, Hike for Hospice, and Thanksgiving Day Race.
For 13 years, she co-hosted Good Morning Cincinnati with John Lomax and meteorologist Steve Horstmeyer. In 2010, she was promoted to Braun's co-anchor at 5, 6 and 11 p.m., replacing Kit Andrews.
Braun was the city's longest-tenured evening news anchor when he announced June 17 he was leaving after 35 years on June 28, at the end of his contract. He explained on Facebook that he turned down a "generous contract" offer because it was "time to move on. I don't feel I fit well with the Sinclair News model."
To replace Dierking, Channel 12 could turn to Sheila Gray, the popular Good Morning Cincinnati co-host. Gray jumped from WXIX-TV's morning show in 2013 to work for Lawhead, her former Channel 19 boss and "mentor… who first hired me in Cincinnati." She was the main evening co-anchor at WSAZ-TV in Charleston W. Va., when hired by Channel 19 in 1999. Channel 12 also could promote Paula Toti, Perry Schiable, Liz Bonis, Meghan Mongillo or Angenette Levy.
Internal male candidates for main news anchor likely include morning hosts Lomax and Bob Herzog; Kyle Inskeep, hired a year ago to replace Brad Johansen; or Sunday night anchor/investigative reporter Duane Pohlman. Among the outside candidates could be Johansen, who's back in town after being let go by a Raleigh, N.C., station after just one year.
Last week WKRC-TV announced that Gray and Herzog will host Channel 12's telecast of the 43rd annual Western & Southern/WEBN-FM Riverfest fireworks on Sept.1, a job done by main anchors Braun and Dierking in recent years. Could this a preview of Channel 12's new late-night news team?