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Harris moves into WPGH weeknight co-anchor slot

Wednesday, December 29, 1999

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

WPGH has named Jay Harris as its weeknight co-anchor, effective immediately. He replaces John Huck, who had been at the station since it launched its 10 p.m. news in January 1997 and whose final day was last week. Huck's contract expired at the end of this month, and he and the station could not come to terms on a new agreement.

Harris, who started at Channel 53 as a temporary reporter and eventually moved into the weekend anchor desk where he was given a chance to shine, "has done a great job on the weekends for us," said Dick Singer, regional director for WPGH, WCWB and several other Sinclair Broadcasting stations.

News director Tom Burke reviewed more than 200 résumé tapes from anchors across the country. "He kept coming back to Jay as the best person for the job," Singer said yesterday.

Harris will work with Sheila Hyland on the hour-long weeknight newscast. "We are thrilled to have Jay work daily with Sheila Hyland, Alby Oxenreiter and Matt Morano. They give us the best and warmest anchor team in Pittsburgh," Michael Norten, general manager of Channel 53, said in an announcement. Oxenreiter is the lead sports anchor, while Morano delivers the weather forecasts.

Burke is on vacation and Singer said no decision had been made on who would replace Harris on weekends, although various staffers, such as Katie Sesny, have been substituting.

Harris began his broadcasting career in radio in Virginia. Sheridan Broadcasting then hired him as morning news anchor for Pittsburgh's WAMO-FM and WYJZ-AM in February 1991.

After three years, he was promoted to morning news anchor for the Sheridan Broadcasting Network.

He joined the Fox affiliate as a temporary weekend reporter in July 1997 and was hired full time later that year. In December 1998, he was named weekend anchor, replacing Leslie Pallotta, who left when her contract expired.

Harris earned a bachelor's in speech communications from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., in 1987. He has been recognized with an EXCEL Award from the Hampton Roads Black Media Professionals, and he started WAMO's AIDS awareness day, voter registration drive and "Stop the Violence" campaign.

Huck's departure means that Oxenreiter is the only on-air personality to remain from the station's launch of its newscast almost three years ago.

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