Winds of change blow in TV, radio; Linnman going to KEX

Pete Schulberg/On Television

A chain reaction is tossing Portland's radio and television personalities around like some sort of rogue tornado lurking under the Doppler.

Paul Linnman, for 25 years a news anchor-reporter and 'A.M. Northwest' co-host at KATU (2), will soon take over as morning host at KEX radio (1190 AM). Linnman will be replaced on 'A.M. Northwest' by KATU morning news anchor Ken Ackerman. But here's the surprise: Linnman will continue to co-anchor KATU's

6:30 p.m. news.

The opening at KEX occurred when longtime morning host Bob Miller signed a deal to move to KPAM (860 AM). Because of a noncompete clause in his KEX contract, Miller will begin his new morning gig Sept. 2. (For the record: KPAM is owned by Robert B. Pamplin Jr., who also owns the Portland Tribune.)

Linnman has always been considered a company guy, and he has been chummy with several KATU management teams since returning to the station from a mid-'70s sojourn at KGW (8). But he's had a rocky road at the station lately. Last spring, against his wishes, Linnman and Cathy Marshall were removed as anchors for the 5:30 p.m. newscast. That resulted in a newsroom shouting match between Linnman and news director Mike Rausch.

Rausch now says that Linnman will remain 'a big part of our team' and that as far as he is concerned, Linnman can extend his tour of duty on the 6:30 p.m. newscast indefinitely.

However, Linnman will soon be looking at a workday that begins at 4 a.m. and won't conclude until 15 hours later. Colin Cowherd, doing similar double duty with a morning show on KFXX (910 AM) and nightly sportscasts on KGW (8), has been pulling that off for several years now. But Cowherd doesn't have 30 years in the business under his belt, so it remains to be seen how long Linnman will remain at KATU now that his primary day job is at KEX.

As for Marshall, she will stay on as 'A.M. Northwest' co-anchor, at least until she goes on maternity leave in the fall.

Gone and largely forgotten is KATU (2)'s Rob Marciano, who hightailed it to CNN in Atlanta after six years in Portland. He's been replaced by former KPTV (12) weatherman Rod Hill. Hill now works the 6:30 p.m. and

11 p.m. newscasts. Rhonda Shelby will continue her weather duties on KATU at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.

I've got to believe that Marciano sees CNN as nothing more than a steppingstone to a bigger local market. Does anybody tune into CNN for the weather?

Hill, who just won a Northwest Emmy as best meteorologist, has established himself as a solid, personable force in the local weather wars. His one-year contract at KPTV was expiring when he and Rausch began talking. Because of his three-month noncompete clause in his KPTV contract, Hill had to wait until last week to start at KATU.

In the last month or so, ratings on KATU's 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. newscasts have been inching upward, though the ABC affiliate's

11 p.m. viewership wallows in the cellar behind KGW and KOIN (6). Hill's addition to the 11 p.m. news can only help.

If KATU management was smart, they'd promote him like crazy during the many vacation weeks (more than two months a year) that Matt Zaffino has negotiated with KGW (8). This summer, KGW even had to coax Joe Sottile out of retirement on a temporary basis; he's subbing for morning weatherman Dave Salesky while Salesky steps in for Zaffino on evening newscasts.

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