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A long search ends as CBS11 names veteran Russ McCaskey as new early morning co-anchor

Russ McCaskey

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After nearly an eight-month search and a few false starts, CBS11 finally has settled on Dallas native Russ McCaskey as its new early morning co-anchor.

Due to start on June 1st, he replaces Brendan Higgins, who was dropped on August 19th after being arrested in Aspen, Colo. on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Higgins since has settled the matter out of court and twice apologized for his actions.

McCaskey arrives from KJRH-TV in Tulsa, where he has been 5, 6 and 10 p.m. news anchor for the NBC affiliate. He joined the station in fall 2000, according to his KJRH bio. McCaskey previously co-anchored KJRH’s morning and midday newscasts with his wife, Deb.

“Russ is a very skilled journalist with deep Texas roots,” CBS11 vice president of news Mike Garber said in a statement Wednesday. “It’s going to be terrific to have two native North Texans side-by-side on the anchor desk each morning.”

McCaskey will team with Karen Borta, who moved to the early morning shift on Jan. 12th after nearly 20 years as one of CBS11’s featured P.M. anchors. The Plano Senior High School and Texas Christian University grad also has worked for KWTV-TV in Oklahoma City and KXII-TV in Sherman, TX.

“I am thrilled to be coming home,” McCaskey said. “It’s the best possible scenario to be able to do a job you love in a place you love, and as a bonus, be close to family and friends.”

CBS11 investigative reporter Jason Allen has manned the early morning anchor desk since Higgins departure. In a separate memo to CBS11 staffers, Garber said he “would be remiss to not highlight Jason Allen, who accepted a great challenge filing in. Grateful is not nearly enough to describe how we feel about Jason and we all look forward to his future at KTVT.”

Allen will remain in the saddle until McCaskey’s arrival. CBS11 has never been better than fourth in the early morning news race. But since the Borta shift, the station lately has been consistently outdrawing Gannett8 and sometimes NBC5 in the key 25-to-54-year-old demographic, which is the main advertiser target audience for news programming. CBS11 narrowly trailed Gannett8 among 25-to-54-year-olds in the February “sweeps” ratings period.

CBS11 is still using former veteran NBC5 traffic reporter Tammy Dombeck as its principal early morning roads scholar after Whitney Drolen resigned on October 24th. The station has interviewed numerous potential “permanent” replacements without yet deciding whether to retain Dombeck or bring in another new face.

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