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Local TV Anchors -- The Legends Are Disappearing

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The New York Times reports today that the veteran anchor, the mainstay glamor position in local TV news, may become a thing of the past.

Falling ratings, slashed budgets and the obsession to woo young viewers all has management axing legends who have been around for years in their market.

(The Times cites as an example Carolyn Campbell, who worked for KHOU for 26 years, but she wasn't really an anchor.)

One expert told the paper that anchors at top-rated stations in a local market are probably safe, but "if I were a very highly paid anchor of a No. 3 station, I'd be really nervous," he said.

So, who in the Houston market should be "really nervous"?

The culling of the anchor spot has been going on for a while here, so there aren't a ton of long, long, long-time anchors to choose from.

Bill Balleza of KPRC? He's been anchoring the main newscasts at Channel 2 for a while, and despite a slew of gimmicks ("Wheel of Justice," anyone?) the ratings still are lackluster.

The Big Kahuna, of course, is Dave Ward, who has been anchoring KTRK since shortly after the Earth cooled (Here's video of him doing a Crime Stoppers segment 21 years ago; his face hasn't changed much. Hmmmm.)

Ward has morphed from the Ron Burgundy prototype, drinking everyone under the table at Kay's back in the day, to somewhat distinguished elder statesman of Houston local news.

KTRK hung onto Marvin Zindler until they carried him out -- will they do the same to Ward?

Our guess is no. But we've been wrong before.

-- Richard  Connelly

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