Shuffling the Anchors in South Florida

You almost need a scorecard to watch TV News in South Florida.

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There have been a number of anchor stations in SoFlo.

In the Fort Lauderdale-Miami market, WPLG-Ch. 10 recently reassigned reporter Jen Herrera to co-helm the morning weekday newscasts; and morning anchor Kristi Krueger shifted to afternoon and evening slots.

The Sun Sentinel writes that WTVJ-Ch. 6 rearranged its weekday morning news team, having Jawan Strader join Pam Giganti, and moving Keith Jones over to the weekend evening shift.

In the West Palm Beach market's WPEC-Ch. 12, evening anchors Suzanne Boyd and Eric Roby shifted over to the morning show in October, and John Discepolo became a main evening anchor with Liz Quirantes.

General managers and industry observers say there are several reasons why viewers have been seeing a wave of anchor shuffles on local TV news. Some newscasters may have time off and their colleagues are filling in.

Then there's the on-air chemistry between anchors. With television being such a visual medium, co-anchors must complement each other.

But generally, "it's always about the ratings," said Teresa Ponte, chairwoman of the journalism department at Florida International University, acknowledging there seems to be more than the usual activity on anchor desks. "I can't remember when there was this kind of a switcheroo."

In fact, the question of who is going where and why has sparked a guessing game on local blogs and websites. On local TV blog, sfltv.com, some viewers have weighed in on the recent anchor changes. Wrote one viewer of WTVJ's changes: "Good call, didn't seem like Pam and Keith had much chemistry."

Another viewer commented on the WPLG shift: "Probably testing the waters to see if they can boost sluggish ratings. Jen Herrera may bring some viewers to the morning show"

Dave Boylan, general manager for WPLG in Pembroke Park, confirmed that his recent anchor changes are not permanent. He said Herrera is covering for Krueger, who is pitching in on afternoon and evening shifts because main anchor Calvin Hughes has been dealing with a loss in the family. Morning anchor Jason Martinez has a sick relative.

"Adjusting people at various times of the day is part of the business … it is the 24/7 nature of the job," Boylan said.

Also, recent departures have opened up positions. At WFOR-Ch. 4, Strader's departure to WTVJ allowed the CBS affiliate to bring Josh Benson as a morning weekday anchor with Rhiannon Ally.

An upcoming change at WPLG will be the addition of former WSVN-Ch. 7 meteorologist Julie Durda, Boylan said. Her arrival this month, in a yet undesignated role, comes as the station's weekend anchor Michael Smith prepares to exit in April.

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