Kyle Inskeep and Paula Toti, who have co-anchored WKRC-TV newscasts for nearly two years, were named Channel 12's permanent primary anchors replacing Cammy Dierking and Rob Braun.
The announcement came five days after the Inskeep-Toti team won the household ratings at 6 and 11 p.m. in February ratings' "sweeps," which ended Wednesday, Feb. 26.
"Replacing Cammy and Rob was never going to be easy but the transition to Paula and Kyle has really been seamless. I couldn’t be more pleased with how the community has responded to these changes," says Jon Lawhead, Channel 12 general manager and Sinclair Broadcast Group Manager for stations in Cincinnati, Dayton, Toledo and Lexington.
"I'm also thrilled for Paula and Kyle. They're both such great people and have wonderful chemistry together. They deserve this," Lawhead says.
Inskeep and Toti will co-anchor Channel 12's weeknight newscasts at 5, 6 and 11 p.m.
Channel 12 conducted a nationwide search "to secure the strongest anchor team to lead the station to the next level in 2020," Lawhead says.
"All the information, including focus groups pointed to Paula and Kyle. Not to mention their ratings, which have been outstanding," Lawhead says. Research "made it abundantly clear to us that the team we'd put together in June of 2018 was exactly what the viewer and user wanted to see."
Inskeep was hired in June 2018 to replace Brad Johansen as Toti's co-anchor at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., and anchor Channel 12's news at 10 p.m. on WSTR-TV (Channel 64). Toti was hired in 1997 as weekend anchor and general assignment reporter from Columbus, Ohio.
Channel 12 had been searching for an anchorman since June, when Braun left the station after 35 years when his contract expired. Dierking left in December after 31 years when her contract expired to become a personal trainer at Five Seasons Family Sports Club.
In the end, Lawhead chose to promote from within rather than bring in anchors from one of the 293 other TV stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, or try to lure anchors from a competing station.
The most successful news anchors in Cincinnati TV history have been homegrown – either Tri-State natives (Braun, Dierking, Sheree Paolello, Tricia Macke, Lisa Cooney, Steve Horstmeyer, Nick Clooney, Al Schottelkotte, Nick Clooney, Dennis Janson, George Vogel) or personalities who have been seen on the airwaves long enough to be considered one of our own (Clyde Gray, Tim Hedrick, Sheila Gray, Carol Williams, John Lomax, Kit Andrews, Norma Rashid).
"Yes, I think Cincinnati does prefer familiar faces," says Lawhead, a former Channel 19 manager who lured Gray from WXIX-TV to WKRC-TV. "While promoting from within wasn't necessarily our primary objective, I'm happy that the results clearly told us that the audience prefers this news team."
Inskeep, a 2012 Butler University graduate, was a morning anchor and reporter for Indianapolis' WXIN-TV (Fox 59) for two years.
The Indiana native covered everything from the 2017 presidential inauguration and Kokomo tornadoes to the Indianapolis 500 and Colts training camp. As a 2012 Tim Russert Fellow, Inskeep spent a year working in the NBC News bureau in Washington, D.C. as a political unit researcher.
Toti, born in New York and raised in California, majored in communication studies at California State University-Sacramento. She worked at TV stations in Cleveland; Richmond, Va.; and Green Bay. She also has experience as a stockbroker, and hosted a nightly businesses segment in Columbus, according to her WKRC-TV bio.
In the February sweeps ratings, Channel 12 won the average for all weekday newscasts – 5-7 a.m., noon, 4-6:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. – as it did for years during the Braun-Dierking years.
Here's a link to the Channel 12 announcement.