The station had been touting the fact that its anchors also put in long days as reporters -- which company execs thought could give them an edge over their nemesis, perennially number-one-rated Channel 9 ("Anchors Away," April 4). Helling knew, however, that his "greatest value is as a reporter," and even admitted to having insecurities about his anchoring, noting that he agonized over fumbled lines.
"I'm not upset at all," he told the Pitch after the station announced its changes. "In some ways it's better for me professionally and personally. As I told [Pitch reporter] Joe Miller, I want to be a good anchor, but anchoring is not my ultimate goal. My ultimate goal is to be the best reporter I can be, and that will be helped by the new schedule. I can work days, when more of my stuff happens, so I can do a better job covering the news. The decision was made by [new station management], and I respect that completely. I was surprised, but pleasantly surprised maybe."
As of April 15, Channel 5's bedtime team will be anchored by Russell Kinsaul and, weirdly, Anne Peterson -- who already lost that job once, back in 1994 (after putting in what must have been an insufferable fifteen years next to Wendall Anschutz). The Star's then-TV critic, Barry Garron, noted that Peterson's demotion appeared to be part of a "youth movement" at the station. "Peterson, in her late 30s, is nearly 10 years older than [replacement Tracy] Townsend," Garron wrote. Then-station-manager John Rose explained the shift only by saying, "We are always concerned if we are not No. 1 in the ratings."
All these years later, that's still a problem for Channel 5. But wonderboy news director Regent Ducas, who made last week's changes after just 96 hours on the job, apparently knows exactly what will seduce coveted younger viewers. Here's to you, Mrs. Peterson.