Out at KDKA, Don Cannon to head west

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Longtime Pittsburgh broadcaster Don Cannon says he'll never fully retire but he's ready to work a part-time schedule in California, where he plans to spend most of his time.

Cannon, who hasn't been on the air at KDKA-TV since last fall, no longer works at the CBS affiliate. His photo is gone from the station's Web site, and his contract was not renewed.

Budget cuts swept through CBS-owned stations last month, eliminating about 10 positions at KDKA, mostly behind-the-scenes. Even before that, it seemed unlikely that Cannon would return to the air.

Last July, after awkwardly anchoring a 6 p.m. newscast, Cannon disappeared from the air for several months. He returned as a reporter in late September, but by December he was absent again and never returned.

Cannon, 68, has a public history of battling depression and alcoholism, something he discussed in a January 1995 interview with the Post-Gazette. Other medical issues arose for Cannon late in 2007.

Reached on his cell phone yesterday, Cannon said he was "feeling OK, not terrific, but OK" and didn't want to discuss his personal medical situation.

"I just don't like recycling the same story from 10 years ago, and that's what it's going to be," Cannon said. "I certainly miss what I did, I enjoyed what I did, but it's time to move on."

Cannon held assorted positions at Channel 2 since returning to the Pittsburgh market in 1999, most recently weekend anchor/reporter. He praised his KDKA colleagues.

"Even though I'm not working there, they're my friends and they will continue to be," he said. "I have no ill will against the company or anybody."

A fixture of Pittsburgh broadcasting since he started working at WTAE-TV in 1969, Cannon and the late Paul Long forged a successful team along with meteorologist Joe DeNardo. Later, Cannon was paired with Sally Wiggin.

Cannon left WTAE and Pittsburgh in 1995 after a few tumultuous years during which he was arrested for drunken driving and suffered an on-air meltdown. He worked briefly at the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia and spent several years as an anchor at a San Diego radio station. He has owned a home in California since then and plans to spend the majority of his time in the Golden State.

"I'm never going to retire," Cannon said yesterday. "I'm not a person to sit around and do nothing."

Although he's not sure what he will do in California, he plans to mine his broadcasting contacts there.

Cannon said he has appreciated the concern shown by Pittsburgh viewers.

"People in Pittsburgh have been absolutely fabulous," he said. "You couldn't have better friends on the whole planet than the viewers and friends I've made in Pittsburgh over the last 37 years. I'll miss that most of all.

"I still go in Giant Eagle and people say, 'Hey, Don, how are you doing?' When I go to [West Coast groceries] Vons or Ralphs in San Diego, nobody says that," Cannon noted. "I'll miss that around the cantaloupe counter."

TV editor Rob Owen can be reached at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1112. Ask TV questions at post-gazette.com/tv under TV Q&A.


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