When veteran Houston sports anchor Bob Allen stepped down in January after 38 ½ years at KTRK (Channel 13), he pledged to viewers that he wasn’t retiring.
And he isn’t. Allen will join KHOU (Channel 11) on April 22 as the station’s new weekday sports anchor. His first broadcast will be April 25.
Allen will fill the vacancy left by the unexpected departure in February of KHOU sports anchor Butch Alsandor. He said a “casual conversation” with Channel 11 officials heated up in the last two weeks, culminating in Thursday’s announcement.
“I had no idea I would have the opportunity to do this. It was the farthest thing from my mind. When Butch stepped down, I didn’t even think about it,” Allen said. “But I’m recharged and energized and ready to go and looking forward to this.
“At this point in your life, you don’t get to start over again too often, so I’m pumped.”
Allen’s hiring was announced Thursday afternoon on the station’s website and on its 5 p.m. newscast.
“Bob Allen is a sports icon. He has longevity and talent and has been a familiar face for nearly four decades. He knows everything there is about covering sports in Houston,” said Phil Bruce, the station’s news director.
Bruce said Allen’s talents are in keeping with the station’s goal that its sportscast “maintain the same level of journalism that we do on the news side. We want more than highlights and talking to coaches and players after games.”
“(Allen) has a lot of stories still in him to tell. He has not only the experience but the energy and enthusiasm to approach these stories in a way few other people could. He has the context, he has the years of experience and he is the right guy in so many ways for us.”
Susan McEldoon, the station’s president, said Allen’s hiring confirms Channel 11’s commitment to sports news. He will join veteran Matt Musil and Daniel Gotera on the station’s sports staff and will anchor weeknights at 6 and 10 p.m.
“At a time when stations have diminished investment in local sports, we feel this time in Houston is unprecedented with the Texans really in the hunt for an AFC championship, the Rockets clinching a spot in the playoffs, the Astros rebuilding and the Dynamo always in contention for championships,” she said. “We know there are so many great stories that can be told about all of that, and we believe (Allen) is the right guy to do it.”
Allen said he planned to spend his post-Channel 13 career working on a book and developing projects with his own media company. Those projects, he said, will be on hold with his return to local TV newscasts.
“It’s like Al Pacino in ‘Godfather III,’” he said. “Once you get out, they pull you back in.”
He said he relishes the opportunity to compete against his former colleagues at Channel 13, and station officials acknowledged that it’s no coincidence his return to the air coincides with Nielsen’s May sweeps, one of four quarterly periods that stations and advertisers monitor to set advertising rates.