Susan Koeppen and Kimberly Gill to join KDKA-TV as news anchors

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Susan Koeppen's job as evening news anchor at KDKA-TV won't feel like a homecoming; in many ways, she never left Pittsburgh.

On Monday Ms. Koeppen debuts as 6 p.m. co-anchor with Stacy Smith and at 11 p.m. with Ken Rice. KDKA also announced Monday the addition of former Cleveland morning anchor Kimberly Gill, who will co-anchor with Mr. Smith at noon and 4 p.m.

Ms. Gill arrives on Oct. 3.

After working as a consumer reporter for WTAE until 2004, Ms. Koeppen moved to New York City to work for CBS News. But she and husband Jim O'Toole, a doctor, returned here in 2008 when he received a good job offer -- "So we moved back to the same house, even the same phone number," she said.

Ms. Koeppen continued to work for CBS but began a hectic existence where she'd fly to New York on Monday mornings and return Wednesdays. Much of her consumer research could be done from home, and occasionally she'd visit KDKA, the CBS affiliate, to file reports.

"Plenty of stories I did from Pittsburgh -- the G-20, the LA Fitness shooting," she said. "The people at KDKA are a good bunch. I feel like I've worked there a long time."

Somewhere in "living out of a suitcase for the past seven years," she and Dr. O'Toole found time to start a family; they have three children ages 6, 4 and 2.

The retirement of longtime anchor Patrice King Brown last January was a major event among Pittsburgh-area viewers, and Ms. Koeppen was quick to note that "it's definitely a tough act to follow. There is no replacing Patrice King Brown. ... She was a wonderful person and always super sweet to me."

It helps that Ms. Koeppen is already a familiar face and a native speaker.

"I know how to pronounce all the town names," she said with a short laugh. "Once, CBS wanted me to shoot a story in Duquesne, and when I asked, 'Where am I going?' they said, 'A town called Doo-kes-nee.' "

"Even when I was away, I still felt a connection [to Pittsburgh]," she said. "I'd be on the subway, and someone would say, 'We remember you; we're from Pittsburgh.' "

For Ms. Gill, who worked the early anchor shift at ABC affiliate WEWS until two months ago, Pittsburgh represents a new career challenge as well as a more reasonable work day.

"When I was doing morning here in Cleveland I had to be in at 2 a.m. My first alarm clock went off at 12:45, so I am not going to miss that one bit.

"I am just looking forward to doing the best job I can at KDKA, and I hope they'll have me around for a long, long time."

A die-hard fan of sports teams at her alma mater, the University of South Carolina, Ms. Gill worked her way through school by driving 18-wheelers for FedEx. She said she used her time on the roads to work on smoothing out her Southern accent.

"Even when I was in high school I wanted to be a news anchor, and I knew that opened up your marketability," said Ms. Gill, who can still slip back into a drawl when visiting family in South Carolina.

"I would tape record myself reading something and then work on the words that didn't sound 'neutral.'

"Driving trucks, I could listen to tapes and critique my voice."

KDKA-TV general manager Christopher Pike said he expects Ms. Koeppen and Ms. Gill to quickly adapt to this market.

"I think both women are excellent additions to our staff, very talented, very professional. I think viewers will like them as well," he said.

Maria Sciullo: or 412-263-1478.


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