Stephanie Watson leaving KDKA-TV; may take job on West Coast

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Coming to Pittsburgh from the Southwest Florida news market in 2006, Stephanie Watson has learned a great deal about the city and its people.

Now she's leaving; her last day on air is Sunday.

"KDKA has given me a wonderful experience. I've grown as an anchor and a reporter, and I have to thank them for that and especially the people in this town," she said. "I know I'm an outsider, not homegrown, and people were absolutely wonderful and embraced me."

"We thank Stephanie for her contributions and wish her continued success," said KDKA-TV general manager Christopher Pike.

Ms. Watson celebrated her fifth anniversary with the CBS affiliate this month, but it also marked her second year without a contract. She said she has two offers on the West Coast -- she grew up in Newport Beach, Calif. -- but still is going through the interview process.

She turned in her resignation Sept. 12. Ms. Watson said she had been keeping her options open at the station because she had hoped KDKA would make her the permanent weekday evening news anchor, a position she and Kristine Sorensen filled after the January retirement of longtime anchor Patrice King Brown.

Instead, the station recently announced the addition of two new anchor/reporters: Susan Koeppen, who made her evening debut Monday, and Kimberly Gill.

"Was it a tough decision? Absolutely. But it was something I personally needed to grow, and to get the security of a contract," Ms. Watson said.

There was another factor as well. Her mother has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's, and Ms. Watson viewed this as an opportunity to move closer to her.

Ms. Watson worked as an associate producer on shows such as "Extra" and "Hard Copy" before becoming a news anchor in Beaumont, Texas. She also worked at WBBH in Fort Myers, Fla., before coming to KDKA.

"I'm going to miss my colleagues at work and the people I've met in Pittsburgh, who have been so welcoming," she said. "And I'll especially miss the charity work, especially with Family House."

Maria Sciullo: or 412-263-1478.


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