A look back at the biggest local TV stories of 2013
Editor’s note: This article was originally published December 20, 2013
It’s been a busy year on the TV beat.
Familiar newscasters departed our Austin stations, Central Texans popped up on a number of game shows and reality programs — and a whole lot more.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the top local TV stories of 2013:
- Ron Oliveira shocked viewers in February when he revealed KEYE hadn’t renewed his contract, leaving him out of a job.
A fixture on local TV news for three decades, Oliveira had spent the past eight years anchoring the CBS affiliate’s 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts. Previously, he’d worked at three other local stations: KNVA, KVUE and KXAN.
Today, he runs Oliveira Public Communications, a public relations firm.
Walt Maciborski, a former KVUE anchor who most recently worked in Indianapolis, was tapped to fill Oliveira’s spot at KEYE.
- Another former KVUE anchor also returned to Austin this year. After a stint at a station in San Diego, Christine Haas is now the 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. news anchor at KTBC.
- At KXAN, 5 p.m., 6 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. news anchor Leslie Rhode left last month to spend more time with her family.
A mother of two, Rhode said she plans to take a breather before searching for a new gig with hours that are more family friendly.
Her replacement was Shannon Wolfson, who has held a variety of reporting and anchoring roles at KXAN and sister station KNVA in recent years.
- KTBC morning news anchor Katherine Kisiel left the station this summer to follow her husband, former KXAN reporter Chris Willis, to Portland, where he landed a new job.
Longtime KTBC anchor Loriana Hernandez, who replaced Kisiel, will leave the station next month to move to Washington, D.C., where she, too, will be closer to her husband.
Former KTBC weekend anchor Jenni Lee is now spokeswoman for the Round Rock Police Department.
- When it comes to local news, KVUE and KXAN continue to be the stations Central Texans watch most.
KVUE finished first mornings, middays and at 10 p.m., while KXAN was No. 1 at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. for most of 2013.
- KXAN rolled out a new two-hour newscast on sister station KNVA in September, running from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. weekdays.
- A pair of new weekend morning newscasts debuted this fall on KTBC. “Good Day Austin Saturday” and “Good Day Austin Sunday” both air from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.
- And KVUE expanded its 10 p.m. Sunday newscast from 30 minutes to a full hour.
- YNN, Time Warner Cable’s 24-hour local news channel, underwent a complete overhaul this month.
In addition to new daily and weekly features, new graphics and new music, it’s also got a new name: Time Warner Cable News.
- KEYE’s new Timesaver Traffic Tracker, an SUV outfitted with five roof-mounted cameras, hit the streets for the very first time this fall, beaming back live images that now air throughout the station’s newscasts.
- Dallas-based Belo, owner of Austin ABC affiliate KVUE and TV stations elsewhere across the country, is in the process of being acquired by Gannett, whose media holdings include USA Today.
Austin gets real
- TV producers continue to be obsessed with Austin.
In 2013, “Family Feud” held an open casting call here that led to several local families being featured on the popular game show, which airs weekdays at 6 p.m. on KNVA.
Central Texans also wound up on “America’s Got Talent,” “The Voice,” “Let’s Make a Deal,” “Katie,” “The Steve Harvey Show,” Syfy’s “Face Off” and this month’s “Great Christmas Light Fight,” as well.
Next week, I’ll recap the top local radio stories of 2013.