Smizik on TV: KDKA will not renew Steigerwald's contract

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KDKA-TV has declined to exercise its option on the contract of longtime sports anchor John Steigerwald, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.

Steigerwald, who has been with the station since 1985, will continue to work in his role as weekend anchor and reporter until the contract expires in October. After that, he will appear occasionally on KDKA but not on a regular basis.

KDKA news director John Verilli did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Steigerwald, true to the flippant style that made him popular and controversial, said, "We [at KDKA] have a policy that we're not allowed to talk to the media, and you can quote me on that."

Steigerwald, 58, has worked as an anchor in Pittsburgh television sports since 1978. After he leaves the full-time employ of KDKA, his main job will be the "John Steigerwald Show," which airs weekdays at 9 a.m. for one hour on WTZN-FM, 93.7. Steigerwald began the show earlier this month and is contracted to it until October 2008.

Sources close to Steigerwald said he was not dismayed by the decision and is looking forward to his radio work. Steigerwald is believed to be earning as much with his radio show and part-time TV work than he did in his full-time capacity at KDKA.

When Steigerwald's contract at KDKA expires, he will be free to work for other stations.

FSN Pittsburgh senior vice-president Steve Tello said, "If John Steigerwald were to become available, we certainly would like to explore some possibilities with him."

Steigerwald is a Pittsburgh native who grew up in Scott and graduated from South Hills Catholic High School. After college at Kent State, he worked, among other jobs, as a minor-league baseball announcer. He returned to Pittsburgh in 1977 as the sports director at KQV. Late in 1978, he was hired by WTAE-TV and by 1980 was the 11 p.m. anchor.

In a much-publicized change, he left WTAE in September 1985 to join KDKA. Because of a non-compete clause in his contract, he sat out a year before appearing on KDKA. He originally was the 11 p.m. anchor at KDKA, but when John Sanders left a few years later he anchored most of the weekday sports segments.

Bob Pompeani and Steigerwald have done almost all the sports anchoring at KDKA for more than two decades. Pompeani became the main sports anchor in 1996. Steigerwald continued to anchor during the week, but when the sports staff was reduced to two on-air talents he mainly anchored on the weekend and reported during the week. He has been a staple of the station's highly successful "Sports Showdown" on Sunday night. He is expected to continue in that role after his contract expires.

There was immediate speculation as to who would succeed Steigerwald, whose duties for about the past 18 years have included traveling with the Steelers and reporting on their games.

Mike Zuppone, a producer who has been doing more on-air work, will get consideration. Paul Alexander, formerly the No. 3 man in the KDKA sports department and now with FSN, also would be a candidate, if he is interested. If KDKA is looking for a female, and some insiders insist they are, Trenni Kusnierek, also of FSN, would be a leading candidate.

Sports anchor John Steigerwald


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