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January 30, 2007
Who'll be KCRA's new news director?

anzio

It could be this man - Anzio Williams (right), currently the news director at Hearst-Argyle-owned station WDSU in New Orleans.

Williams, say our sources in the newsroom, toured Channel 3 this morning, a day after Dan Weiser resigned after a little more than three years in the job.

Elliott Troshinsky, president and station manager at KCRA and My58TV, would not comment on whether Williams is a candidate. "We'll do an extensive search and get the best talent available," Troshinsky tells us.

Here's what we do know: Williams, who will turn 35 in February, is something of a TV news prodigy. While in college at North Carolina A&T, he was the producer of the morning news show at a station in Greensboro, N.C., and two years after graduating, he was producing the 6 o'clock news.

Since then, he's had producing and/or news director stints in Cincinnati, Miami and Orlando before his current stop in New Orleans. While there, he guided the station through its award-winning Hurricane Katrina coverage. And he has started a popular 30-minute, late-night news and public affairs program, "6 on Your Side Live," which the Columbia Journalism Review praised for being "pugnacious" in holding public officials accountable.

New Orleans (the 54th largest media market) certainly is smaller than Sacramento (No. 20), so this would be a move up for Williams. His youth and energy also may be a good fit for Channel 3, which remains the top-rated station in Sacramento but has been beset by what many in the newsroom say is low morale in the past few months.

In the past year, meteorologist Patty Souza left to go to News10, anchor John Alston left in a contract dispute, sports director Ron Hyde left for an online venture, and longtime reporter Tana Castro left to spend more time with her family after having her work hours changed. Also, two evening news producers -Cameryn Beck and Carolyn Thomas - have bolted to Channel 13.

Dan Weiser.JPG
Several newsroom sources say the staff welcomes a fresh start because Weiser (left) "lost the confidence of the troops...The best thing KOVR and News10 had going was that Weiser was the news director here," one of the sources says.

Troshinsky would not address the question of low morale, saying only, "We're in terrific shape going into (February ratings sweeps). All the things we're working on are coming together. We have a great team that continues to be the leader in news."

But Mike Bond, who was among a group of five employees who was laid off Friday, says that move hit the staff hard. Certainly, he says he had no clue that it was coming.

"It was instantaneous," Bond says. "One minute, I'm an employee; the next, I'm shown the door. I sat there in the 3 o'clock meeting and got my story (for that night), and then the news director (Weiser) called me in and gave me the news."

Bond says morale sank particularly low because of the manner that the employees were shown the door. One photographer, for instance, had just come back from family leave after his wife had a child, Bond says.

"And (the) photographer was just sitting on the curb outside the building, waiting for a ride," Bond says.

Bond says that, in his case, he suspects the reason he was laid off had to do with the direction that station management wants its soon-to-be unveiled morning newscast on My58TV
to take.

"I think they're going to go for a goofy copycat of (Channel 31's) 'Good Day Sacramento,' and that's not the kind of reporting that's my strength," Bond says.

Troshinsky, however, has said My58TV's new morning newscast will be an alternative to the "soft" news of "Good Day Sacramento."

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