As expected, Lynn Sawyer has ended her 22-year career with KDKA-TV. The consumer reporter's contract expired yesterday, which also was her last day.
Her final story was about the "Waiting Child" series she has produced for 17 years and which helped to find permanent homes for children with special needs. Three Rivers Adoption Council credits the series with the direct placement of 1,484 children and indirect placement of another 3,174 -- a result of the informational tagline at the end of the twice-monthly feature.
As Sawyer worked on the segment yesterday, she said it would be "short and sweet," a montage of faces of children who appeared through the years. It was scheduled for last night's 6 p.m. news.
In a brief statement issued yesterday, KDKA News Director Jeff Weissbart said, "We very much regret that we have been unable to reach a mutually acceptable contract extension with Lynn Sawyer. Our viewers and the station sincerely appreciate her many years of service, and we wish her all the best in her future endeavors."
In the early '80s, Sawyer co-anchored the noon news with Bill Burns. She said yesterday, "I grew up with Bill Burns. I had my sandwich with him with my mom before the soaps came on. To have had the opportunity to sit next to him, anchor next to him and continue to do other things at KDKA has been a blessing.
"It was like a fairy tale that I was able to do that. I'm very grateful for that opportunity."
There is no word on whether Sawyer, who most recently had been working part-time, will turn up on another station here, but she plans to stay in Pittsburgh. Sawyer, a Baldwin native who still lives in the South Hills, is married and the mother of children ages 18, 17, 15 and 13. "A house full of teen-agers will keep me busy enough," she said of her immediate plans.
She said it had been a special pleasure to work in the town where she was born and raised, and where the viewers have been so kind and generous. "I can't say enough about the people of this city. They've been so wonderful to me and my family."
The adoption council, a consortium of agencies that works to find families for children, is hoping the "Waiting Child" segment will continue on KDKA, possibly with sponsorship by Wendy's International. That would allow the feature to air more frequently.
"Since the beginning, Lynn has just had a wonderful way of connecting with children," said Martha Ross, executive director.
"And she has an ability to bring out just whatever is special about that child and, at the same time, I think she's very realistic that many of the children who have been on the 'Waiting Child' have very special needs."
Ross added: "It is so important that the person who is replacing Lynn, if something is worked out, just be a very sensitive person and very understanding of children. That's what has been her real gift. And she's done such a wonderful job of educating the public about the children who are waiting -- it's been such a plus. A marvelous service for children."