Television viewers in the Albany area may have been checking to see if they were on the right channel as familiar local news personalities began showing up on other stations.
Two Capital Region TV stations have merged their news departments. Amy Cutler is one of WTEN ABC News 10's on-screen reporters now doing double-duty appearing on Fox's WXXA. Viewers got their first hint something was happening in December when Cutler appeared on Fox23 covering the Sandy Hook School Shooting in Connecticut.
The changes rise from the consolidation of the two Capital Region TV stations under a shared services plan announced back in the summer by Shield Media LLC, which bought FOX 23, and Young Broadcasting, which owns WTEN.
Six people, including Fox23 news anchor Ann Hughes, have lost their jobs as a result.
Morgan Hook with SKD Knickerbocker was a prominent anchor on WRGB CBS6 who left to work as Communications Director for Governor Paterson and then SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher. He also worked in Governor Spitzer's press office. Hook says news of Ann Hughes' departure is "not a big surprise."
Hook adds he thinks the quality of news in the market may suffer: one of those newspeople who "landed on his feet" is Steve Ammerman, who served 15 years as a news anchor on WTEN
Ammerman is now Manager of Public Affairs with the New York Farm Bureau. Lisa Jackson is News Director at longtime local news powerhouse WRGB - she says CBS6 is unfazed by the change.
Ann Hughes had been with WXXA for 15 years, sports anchor Kristian Read and chief photographer Barry Sanders also left the station.
Veteran anchorman John Gray writes about the changes in his Saratogian newspaper column.
This week's layoffs follow the elimination of four management positions in December. The TV stations broadcast from different studios, but are likely to both operate out of WTEN’s building along Albany's Northern Boulevard by April 1st. Andy Alford is now the General Manager for both stations. Alford did not return calls for comment in time for broadcast