WNBC, Channel 4, in New York City confirmed Wednesday that it will not renew the contract of popular anchor Sue Simmons, whose pact ends in June after 32 years at the station.
The station did not explain why it is releasing Simmons, 68, while retaining her longtime co-anchor Chuck Scarborough, who also is 68.
“She’s the best. Talented, sassy, knowledgeable, able and familiar. Only soon she won’t be,” gossip columnist Cindy Adams wrote for the New York Post.
“Why? Nobody’s given us a reason,” continued Adams, who is a close friend of Simmons. “She looks great. Dresses great. Works great. Her ‘Q’ rating, which assesses popularity, is great. No reason.”
“We have tremendous respect and admiration for Sue Simmons. For decades, Sue has been a critical part of New York’s longest tenured anchor team in the city and has more than earned her iconic status,” WNBC said in a statement. “We have been engaged in ongoing conversations with Sue about her transition from WNBC and will continue to work with her on plans to celebrate her many contributions to WNBC and the New York market.”
Before moving to WNBC, Simmons had a successful run at WRC-TV, Channel 4, in Washington, D.C., co-anchoring with Jim Vance, who remains the co-anchor there for the 6 and 11 p.m. broadcasts.
Bob Butler, vice president/broadcast of the National Association of Black Journalists, told the online column “Journal-isms” that “NABJ is disappointed that one of the most highly respected news anchors” is losing her job. But, Butler added, “personality-driven news is not as important as it was years ago. Companies feel people are going to watch the news because of the content more than who’s delivering the news. It’s clear that when you have somebody with the reputation of a Sue Simmons, some will watch because of her.”
“I’m troubled by the fact,” he said, “that some of our NABJ members who have served for years and years and years are having their hours reduced, are being cut back or their contracts are not being renewed.”
“Sue is a legendary figure in the New York market. She was welcomed into the homes of millions of people for over 30 years in television,” NABJ President Greg Lee told BlackAmericaWeb.com. “WNBC decided to go in another direction by breaking up one of the market’s iconic anchor duos. But make no mistake about it – Sue is a pioneer, and NABJ salutes her career.”
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