WFAA8 anchor Gloria Campos mulls her options while getting ready to relinquish "Wednesday's Child"
05/21/10 02:47 PM
By ED BARK
Longstanding WFAA8 anchor Gloria Campos, who has helmed the Dallas-based station's weekly "Wednesday's Child" segments since 1989, will be relinquishing them in September, likely to colleague Cynthia Izaguirre.
In a candid email exchange with unclebarky.com, Campos also says she has had a "couple of conversations" with news director Mike Valentine about scaling back her hours -- and accepting a requisite pay cut -- either before or when her current contract expires at the end of 2012.
"I've been told by many that I'm the 'Queen Bee' and very valuable to our news department," she says. "However, I am already laying the groundwork for my next step and/or career . . . It is my hope to end my broadcast career here, but one never knows, considering the economy and changing nature of our business."
NBC5 in recent months ended the long 10 p.m. run of veteran anchors Mike Snyder and Jane McGarry, re-assigning them to the 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts while requiring both to take substantial pay cuts. Stations around the country have either been cutting or demoting longtime, high-priced anchors in favor of cheaper, younger labor. In other cases, anchor duos have been downsized to solo acts.
Campos joined WFAA8 in 1984, becoming the ABC affiliate's first Hispanic anchor. She has been co-anchoring WFAA8's 6 and 10 p.m. weekday newcasts with John McCaa since August 2002.
Campos emphasizes she has "no immediate plans to scale back." But she has grown weary of regularly anchoring the 5 p.m. news, as well as the 6 and 10 p.m. editions.
"It will be two years in August when Macie Jepson was laid off," Campos notes. "I did the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. for six months. Then Jeff Brady left and management decided to alternate me and John at 5. You do the math. Last I asked, there are no immediate plans to hire a new 5 p.m. male anchor to work with Shelly Slater. Considering my active schedule as mother, wife and community volunteer, it's become a sometimes grueling schedule and I wonder how long realistically I can keep it up without starting to slip. I have seen other anchors 'PHONE IT IN.' (her emphasis). I have too much pride in what I do to EVER DO THAT . . . My job is definitely more than the 2:30 to 10:35 p.m. shift I physically put in."
Campos and her husband, freelance writer/broadcaster Lance Brown, have twin sons who are now teenagers.
Valentine, in an email response, said, "I have no comments on any of this and would never comment on rumors." He said that WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin was out of town until Monday (May 17th) and "I would suggest at least waiting to see if he has any comments."
Two emails sent to Devlin, one on the day of his return and the other at mid-week, have not been returned. Both asked him if he wanted to comment on Campos' remarks.
Campos says she eventually would like to make a "gradual transition" at WFAA8, "sort of like Troy did (retired weathercaster Troy Dungan). Who knows how it will really pan out?"
She would reconsider scaling back if WFAA8 ever hires a permanent 5 p.m. co-anchor, Campos says. "But that said, my husband might shoot me! He wants me home more."
The dean of D-FW anchors, Fox4's Clarice Tinsley, currently solo anchors at 5 and 10 p.m. after management declined to renew co-anchor Baron James' contract. Pure economics were part of the reason he was let go.
"As far as Clarice goes, she said publicly at a luncheon honoring her, me and Jane (McGarry) that she wants to work until she is 70," Campos recalls. "I DO NOT!"
In the current May "sweeps" ratings period, which ends next Wednesday, WFAA8 and CBS11 are locked in an airtight battle for first place at 10 p.m. in total viewers. And among advertiser-favored 25-to-54-year-olds, it's a very close three-way contest among NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11.
WFAA8 likely will narrowly win in total viewers at both 5 and 6 p.m. But among 25-to-54-year-olds, Fox4 is in a strong position to sweep at those hours.
Devlin, in a pointed statement last December on the value of the total viewers measurement, said that "others may count children as part of a 'victory'; however, the fact is all local stations make a living on adults between 25 and 54."
McCaa turned 56 in February and Campos is right in that ballpark. Their appeal in the only audience demographic WFAA8 really cares about may be waning while rival stations for the most part all have younger anchor teams in their key newscast slots. Namely Heather Hays and Steve Eagar at Fox4; Brian Curtis and Meredith Land at NBC5; and Doug Dunbar and Karen Borta at CBS11.
It's another way of saying that WFAA8 management may be perfectly willing to cut back Campos' anchoring hours as well as her pay when contract negotiations begin in earnest. In times of dwindling newscast audiences and problematic economics, few veteran anchors have the bargaining leverage they once did.
For now, though, it's still a bit "premature," as Campos says. But it all bears watching.