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Updated: 10:16 a.m. Monday, May 2, 2011 | Posted: 7:41 p.m. Friday, April 29, 2011

Newscast will replace 'JB and Sandy Morning Show' simulcast on KEYE



By Gary Dinges

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

They'll still have their radio show, but Mix 94.7 FM morning hosts JB Hager and Sandy McIlree will end their TV gig June 30, replaced by a KEYE-produced newscast.

The 5 to 7 a.m. TV simulcast of the "JB and Sandy Morning Show" will be replaced with "We Are Austin Mornings," an extension of the station's 4 p.m. features-oriented "We Are Austin Live" program helmed by Bettie Cross and Jason Wheeler. KEYE reporter Erika Gonzalez will anchor the new morning show, with meteorologist Kelly Slifka handling weather updates.

Officials with KEYE, owned by Four Points Media, and Entercom-owned KAMX said they were unable to reach an agreement to keep the "JB and Sandy Morning Show" on Austin's CBS affiliate. Both sides said the split, which comes a year and a half after the show's TV debut, is amicable.

"We enjoyed having JB and Sandy on our air," said Amy Villarreal, KEYE's vice president and general manager. "The show did well. It was creative, and the ratings grew.

"This is not a reflection of the great work JB, Sandy, Sara (Osburn), Alex (Franco) and Cassiday (Proctor) do every day.

"JB and Sandy is such a great show, and it was a blast having them on both radio and TV," said Alan Kirshbom, vice president and general manager for Entercom Austin. "The KEYE team is great to work with. We wish them the best of luck with the new show."

The TV station said "We Are Austin Mornings" will offer audiences something not seen on competing channels. There will still be news, weather and traffic, but they're aiming to produce a program with the look and feel of NBC's "Today" show, ABC's "Good Morning America" and the CBS "Early Show."

"Erika brings energy and pizzazz to everything she does," said KEYE news director Suzanne Black. "The chemistry between Erika, Kelly, Jason and Bettie is outstanding. They're a fun team to start your day with."

Hager and McIlree said that they'll miss being on TV and that they hope fans understand they weren't a part of the negotiations and that the split wasn't their decision.

"This wasn't about us asking to be paid more," McIlree said. "We're sorry it didn't work out."

"There's no bad blood," Hager said.

McIlree will continue to report for "We Are Austin Live," and the Mix 94.7 morning duo hopes over the next two months to work out a way to still have some sort of morning presence on KEYE.

"We've got the cameras and lights already installed in the studio," McIlree said. "We enjoy doing it. It's a lot of fun."

gdinges@statesman.com; 912-5987

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