A year after being purchased by Sinclair Broadcast Group, it looks like a big shakeup is in the works at WPMI and sister station UPN.
In addition to moving a number of on-air staffers around, the station is not renewing the contract of longtime Sports Director Lance Crawford, and is bringing in a new morning show host from Kansas City, Mo.
Crawford confirmed he is leaving the station by at least Sept. 16 in a move that seems to follow the trend of local stations downgrading their commitment to sports coverage. The move will leave Clement Townsend as Local15’s only sports anchor/reporter. Both WALA and WKRG also have one-person sports departments now.
“Yeah, I found out they weren’t renewing my contract. They said it was not based on performance. A new company bought us and my contract was coming up,” Crawford said.
He said he and his family would love to stay in the area, but he’s not sure that will be possible.
“I’ve done 15 years in the Mobile market — 10 years at Channel 10 and five years hear. It looks like my Mobile TV career may be ending,” he said.
Crawford added that he is hopeful something will open up locally in television, but said he’s more interested in making sure his family is happy and is considering all options.
Crawford’s departure also means reporter/anchor Andrea Ramey will take over hosting Sunday night’s “Law Call” as of Sept. 22. The legal call-in show airs live every Sunday night at 10:30 and Ramey anchors the 10 p.m. newscast.
Another big change taking place is on “Local 15 Today,” the station’s morning show, where Tami Brehse is being replaced by Kelly Jones, who joins the morning team Sept. 9. Jones comes from KCTV in Kansas City where she worked as an anchor, reporter and host.
“I am excited to have such a well-rounded journalist joining our news team,” said Local 15 News Director Bob Noonan in a press release. “Kelly brings a great personality plus strong story telling skills.”
Jones is a 13-year news veteran who has previously worked as an anchor and reporter in California, Michigan, Montana and Arizona. WPMI’s press release also said Jones has worked at the American embassies in Tirana, Albania, and Brussels, Belgium, as well as serving as a Family Readiness Officer for military personnel and their families at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, Calif.
It’s not yet clear whether Brehse will continue anchoring as well as reporting.
The changes don’t stop there, though. Insiders say meteorologists Dietra Tate, who works weekends, and Kelly Foster, who works mornings, will switch positions. We’re also told the morning show will soon kick off earlier in the day at 4:30 a.m., and Local 15 will add a 6:30 – 7 p.m. newscast on UPN 44. Efforts to confirm those details with station management were unsuccessful prior to deadline, however.
Sinclair Broadcast bought both stations last summer as part of a $412 million deal between Sinclair and Newport Broadcast.
More newspaper real estate on the block
It looks like the Press-Register isn’t the only newspaper getting rid of its offices. Gulf Coast Newspapers has listed its warehouse/offices in Robertsdale and the Fairhope Courier offices for sale.
Insiders confirmed the sale, and the Robertsdale property is listed online at Coastal Real Estate and Development as having more than 12,000 square feet, with a price of $578,500. The warehouse serves as the printing plant, business hub and editorial offices for the Robertsdale Independent.
As the P-R has done in its deal with Bishop State Community College, GCN is said to be looking for a buyer willing to lease back the offices. GCN is comprised of the Independent, Courier, Baldwin Times, Foley Onlooker and The Islander, which serves Gulf Shores/Orange Beach.
The Fairhope property has served as the Courier’s offices for more than 50 years and is a historic building that was actually Fairhope’s first post office. The building is nearly 3,000 square feet, and the asking price is not known at this time.
What the sales mean is unclear at this time. GCN management did not respond to inquiries prior to deadline.