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Published: Wednesday, 5/30/2001

Black anchors find limits in local TV jobs

DeWayne Walker believed he had paid his dues as weekend news anchor for WNWO-TV, Channel 24, and wanted a more high-profile position.

So, toward the end of his three-year contract, he asked the station's management if he could co-anchor the 5:30 p.m. newscast each weekday. His proposal also had him serving as a reporter for the 11 p.m. newscast.

Management rejected the idea, and Walker left the NBC affiliate when his contract expired earlier this month.

Walker's departure means the Toledo television market - the 67th largest in the country - is without a male African-American news anchor.

“They told me, `You're doing great on weekends. You're really improving. We love the job you're doing.' But there was never any mention of Monday through Friday, even when I brought it up,” the Chicago native said. “They were well aware of what I wanted, but I just didn't feel like I had options. As a result, I did not want to renew my contract.”

WNWO's 5:30 p.m. newscast is co-anchored by Jon Clark and Nora Murray. Clark also serves as co-anchor of the station's 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts.

“There were no openings available,” WNWO news director Michelle Sloan said. She indicated that Clark is on the three newscasts in an attempt to increase his exposure. She said the station shuffled its on-air lineup to give Walker the opportunity to anchor two Saturday newscasts.

Walker suggested that his plight at WNWO is symptomatic of a larger problem. “When I look at Toledo TV, it just sickens me,” he said. “If you came to Toledo and turned on the news, you'd think black people didn't exist.”

Television is not alone - the same criticism about a disproportionate racial mix probably is valid at all of Toledo's other media outlets. It's a national problem.

Toledo's population is 23.5 percent black, according to the 2000 census.

Walker, 29, predicted that he will land in a Top 50 market. Meanwhile, he will freelance for the NBC News Channel, which feeds news stories to NBC affiliates.

RADIO DAZE: WSPD-AM (1370) talk-show hosts Mark Standriff and Scott Sloan need to get their stories straight.

Remember the recent “tiff” between Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and a 23-year-old city hall employee? On May 17, Standriff told his morning listeners that Sloan “broke” the story the previous afternoon.

Just one problem with Standriff's version: Sloan reported no such thing. Furthermore, during his May 18 show, Sloan took this newspaper to task for even running the story.

WSPD wanted to have it both ways. Standriff boasted that WSPD “broke” the story and, therefore, gave the impression to listeners that The Blade was playing follow-the-leader by running it the next day. Meanwhile, Sloan slammed The Blade for doing the very same thing that prompted Standriff's boasting - breaking the story.

Let's see, Standriff spreads misinformation over the airwaves (he never corrected his error) and Sloan makes excuses for getting beaten on a story. Perhaps WSPD's parent company should revive its “What a Pair” billboard.

Readers may contact Russ Lemmon at 1-419-724-6122, or e-mail rlemmon@theblade.com.



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