WGN-TV changes news anchor line-up

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Posted by chitownradio.com on September 17, 2009 at 12:53:37:

WGN's Allison Payne moves to expanded noon news; Micah Materre officially gets 9 p.m. slot

WGN-Ch. 9 said today it is shuffling anchors Allison Payne, Micah Materre and Lourdes Duarte next month, and expanding its midday and early-evening newscasts by a half-hour each, effective Oct. 5.

Payne, the station's lead female newscaster for close to 20 years, moves to the what will be a two-hour 11 a.m. newscast, where she will be reunited with her long-time 9 p.m. co-anchor, Steve Sanders, who moved to middays last year after the station signed former WFLD-Ch. 32 anchor Mark Suppelsa.

Duarte takes over Payne's slot alongside Suppelsa on the 5:30 p.m. news, which will become an hour-long show. Materre officially becomes Suppelsa's co-anchor at 9 p.m. newscast.
The 9 p.m. change at Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Co.'s WGN may be unnoticed by some viewers in that, unofficially, Materre has been Suppelsa's primary co-anchor on the prime-time newscast for some time. Payne, who has held the 9 p.m. co-anchor title since 1990, has remained in the program's opening credits but has been absent from the broadcast for much of the past two years.

WGN said she was rehabilitating from a series of mini-strokes when she was off the air last year from January to April, some time in September for tests at Minnesota's Mayo Clinic and then from November to the beginning of 2009. Upon her return to Channel 9's 5:30 p.m. broadcast last January, the station said she would stay off the 9 p.m. show to "allow her to continue with her rehabilitation."

In a statement today, Payne called the move to the noon news "a mutually agreed upon scenario that was initially brought up by me,"

"Management has been so understanding of my rehabilitation over all these past months," she said. "It's been a long road from when I first suffered those strokes; I so appreciate the support all my WGN family has given to me. I couldn't be happier at the prospect of rejoining Steve."

Materre, who joined WGN after eight years in Detroit in January 1998, has been designated the main reporter for "Chicago's Very Own" features as well as Suppelsa's 9 p.m. co-anchor.

"It has always been a dream of mine to be a lead anchor in the city in which I grew up," Materre, whose broadcast career began as a reporter and producer for WBEZ-FM 91.5, said in the announcement. "Chicago is the ultimate news town with so many great stories within our vast communities. ... I look forward to this amazing opportunity and cannot wait to start this fabulous ride."

Duarte joined WGN-TV two years ago as a general assignment reporter after stints in Detroit, Indianapolis, Peoria and Miami. She got her start in Chicago as a freelance reporter for Telemundo.

"I grew up watching WGN, so you can only imagine what a great day this is for me," Duarte said in a statement. "I feel incredibly lucky and I'm going to work my hardest."

Greg Caputo, WGN's news director, said the moves "solidify our midday, evening and [9 p.m.] anchor teams," and said the station was "excited to have Steve and Allison continue their 15-year partnership, working together again on the midday news."

Referencing WFLD's decision to drop its 10 p.m. newscast in favor of reruns of NBC's "The Office" after this week, Channel 9 boss Marty Wilke noted that "at a time when other television stations are cutting back on news, WGN-TV is proud to be devoting more programming hours to local and breaking news than any other station in Chicago."

With the newscasts expanding, back-to-back half-hours of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" will air at 1 p.m., followed by a single hour of Maury Povich's "Maury" at 2 p.m. and a repeat and fresh episode of "The Tyra Banks Show" at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively.

Posted at 03:42:00 PM by Phil Rosenthal, Chicago Tribune

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