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December 21, 2006
Where's Jen?

jen park
If you are wondering where Fox40 morning news anchor Jennifer Parker has wandered off to for the past few days - reporter Nina Mehlhaf has been sitting in - not to worry.

She's on maternity leave. Parker's second child is due Jan. 15 and, as she says, "I've always worked the holidays, so I decided it was a perfect opportunity to spend the holidays with family without the burden of going to bed so early."

Parker is scheduled to be back from leave at the end of April, at precisely the same time her Fox40 contract expires. That leads some (OK, me) to ask whether she'll return and seek a new contract with the station. (Yeah, we at Media Savvy are rude and prying, but that's what the job entails, folks.)

Here's Parker's response, via e-mail:

"I love anchoring the news in my hometown. It's why I got back into the business after leaving Seattle. And, as a journalist, I'm an adrenaline junkie, so when Fox40 approached me with this prototype newscast for Tribune Corporation, I thought I'd try it out. I was done by 8 a.m., which worked with the rest of my day.

"When I moved back to Sacramento in 2004, I also got involved in my family-owned- and- operated company, Parker Development Company. I'm the kind of person who'd love to be able to do it all...I am at my best when my plate is full. I'd like to think I can be the perfect mom, wife, journalist, and take part in the company my grandfather started 50 years ago.

"At the same time, I've never had two kids before and I'm sure it's going to be hectic. At some point, I may decide I need to sleep more than four hours a night."

Hmm. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, news director Tom Burke says the morning newscast will expand to two hours (6 a.m.-8 a.m.) starting Jan. 8. Mehlhaf, sitting in for Parker, will co-host with new hire Natalie Bomke (right), who currently is a morning anchor in Champaign, Ill.

Will the focus of the program change?

"Not dramatically," Burke says. "Anytime you add a co-anchor, a news show changes on its own. But we don't plan anything major."

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