TV Q&A: Native TV information could be a transitional enterprise

Q: What’s going on at WTAE?

The station has lost what I consider to be an extraordinary, diverse on-air talent. Chris Lovingood and David Kaplan left unexpectedly, but Kelly Frey, really? WTAE needs to know this is not a good look for them and I am sure they will take a big hit on sweeps. What do you make of it?

– Diane by email

Rob: If there is one constant in the TV news business, as in all areas of life, it is change. Viewers should anticipate the change in the faces that come into their homes on television – nothing lasts forever – and accept that this is a reality of business.

As mentioned last week, reporters kept coming and going to the Pittsburgh market, but probably more now than in the past.

It’s not uncommon for Chris Lovingood and David Kaplan to move to jobs in larger television markets that will improve their careers and, likely, their financial security as well. It would be more unusual if they stayed in Pittsburgh their entire career.

The trend for new hires is for stations to hire younger talent (re: less expensive), professionals whose bios show that they have their second or third job after college (not their fourth or fifth job), like the most recent WTAE Beginners Tom Garris and Kalea Gunderson. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad broadcast journalists, just a little less experienced and maybe more willing to learn.

Surely this trend is a change. As Lynne Hayes-Freeland pointed out last week, Pittsburgh was a top 10 television market when she first got into the business in the 1970s, a place reporters worked after after climbing through the market ranks several stations. Pittsburgh is now Market # 26, which means western Pennsylvania is more of a stepping stone, rather than a destination, especially for reporters, weather forecasters, and weekend anchors.

In terms of anchor changes and the impact on ratings, broadcasters often take a short-term hit when there’s an anchor team refresher, but the order in which Pittsburgh stations stack in ratings over a period of time often drops to the mean above that longer term.

Q: Where was Kylie Walker from WTAE? I haven’t seen her report for a long time.

– Sherry, South Hills

Rob: Walker is now reporting for the WTAE morning news.

Q: To what time did you postpone the Sunday screening of “TMZ”? It was 6 p.m. on the WPNT. I enjoyed the pop culture references and it keeps this old man up to date with these kids today.

– Bill, Morgantown, W. Va.

Rob: The weekend run on WPGH-TV was postponed to 1am on Sunday. Set up your DVR!

“TMZ” is broadcast on WPNT-TV at 3:30 am on weekdays. “TMZ Live” runs on weekdays at 10 a.m. on WPNT.

You can reach television writer Rob Owen at or 412-380-8559. Follow Rob on Twitter or Facebook. Ask TV questions by email or phone. Please enter your first name and your place of residence.

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