- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 19, 2003

Mike Buchanan will step down as a morning news anchor at WUSA-TV this summer, a move that is expected to trigger several changes in the CBS affiliate’s on-air lineup.

The popular Mr. Buchanan will become a feature reporter for WUSA (Channel 9), ending his on-air partnership with Andrea Roane, his co-anchor for most of the past 14 years. The date of the change has not been set.

“I have mixed emotions. The morning show is a winner, but I need to get some sleep,” Mr. Buchanan said. He had asked management to take him off the newscast, which airs weekdays from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m.

Morning news has become more competitive in the Washington area, as stations clamor to capture commuters. WUSA’s ratings dipped in May after more than a year of growth, and the station slipped to third place in the time slot, behind NBC affiliate WRC-TV (Channel 4) and Fox affiliate WTTG-TV (Channel 5).

The leading candidate to replace Mr. Buchanan is Mike Walter, a reporter for the USA Today Live television news service. Station management also has talked to MSNBC anchor Bob Kur.

Ms. Roane recently renewed her contract for five years and will stay on the morning shift.

Station management is considering moving weather forecaster Hillary Howard from mornings to the noon newscast, knowledgeable staffers said. Under one scenario, the station’s weekend meteorologist, Tony Pann, would replace Ms. Howard on the morning news.

“I love doing the morning show, and I hope to continue doing it,” Ms. Howard said yesterday. She declined further comment.

WUSA’s news director, David Roberts, also declined comment.

Mr. Buchanan’s contract expires in December, but he said he hopes to renew it.

He joined WUSA in 1970 and gained prominence as its deadpan crime reporter. He also did light-hearted segments, such as “On the Road,” in which he traveled rural areas in a battered Ford Crown Victoria.

In his new role, Mr. Buchanan is expected to deliver Andy Rooney-style commentaries and may revive his “On the Road” segments.

His son, Doug Buchanan, joined WUSA as a reporter in the fall.

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