WTAE-TV has shuffled its weekday news anchor lineup, ending a 13-year relationship with anchor Scott Baker, promoting Wendy Bell and moving sports director Andrew Stockey to the morning news desk.
The changes to the Channel 4 Action News team will become effective Monday, but it appears Baker has already left the station.
Baker had no comment yesterday, and news director Bob Longo said he could not comment on personnel matters, saying only that Baker is "no longer going to be an anchor with the station." Baker's bio has already been removed from the station's Web site.
Baker joined WTAE-TV in June 1993, co-anchoring the noon and 5 p.m. newscasts. He came from WSEE-TV in Erie.
Bell is the big winner in the realignment, moving from her weekday morning news slot to co-anchor the 5 p.m. news with Michelle Wright and the 11 p.m. news with Mike Clark. Stockey will take Bell's place on "Channel 4 Action News This Morning," co-anchoring with Kelly Frey.
Wright will co-anchor the noon news with Sally Wiggin, who will continue to anchor the 6 p.m. news with Clark.
"We've got a large and talented group of anchors," Longo said. "We're blessed with that. We like the configuration, we think it will work well, we think viewers will enjoy it and the newscasts, which are highly rated and winning national awards, will only get better."
All of the changes came from within WTAE's stable of talent. Longo said the station will perform a national search to replace Stockey as sports anchor, which will include a "serious look" at the station's own Jon Burton, who takes over many of Stockey's duties in the interim.
Bell joined the station in September 1998, serving as a consumer reporter and most recently a morning anchor. "She connects with the viewers as a solid storyteller, she's energetic, she's believable, and we think she'll team nicely with both Michelle and Mike," Longo said.
Speculation on possible changes at the station (reported by the Post-Gazette in April) was rampant this spring. With the May sweeps finished, it is a natural time for TV stations to make changes.
Baker, who gives seminars on careers in journalism, drew criticism in May 2005 when he wrote an online blog entry titled "I'm the Guy Who Taught Jeff Gannon Everything He Knows About Journalism." Gannon was a conservative online reporter who covered the White House under a pseudonym and resigned after liberal bloggers exhumed embarrassing information about him.
Baker said his online column was intended to be humorous.
On Saturday and Sunday, Baker is set to teach a two-day seminar in Arlington, Va., for the Leadership Institute's Broadcast Journalism School. The school describes itself as "a one-stop, full-service seminar for conservatives who want a career in journalism."
Baker lives in the North Hills with his wife, Nicole Johnson Baker, who was Miss America in 1999. He was formerly married to Post-Gazette columnist Ruth Ann Dailey.
Tim McNulty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1581.