Monday, December 15, 2003

ABC affiliate WJLA-TV (Channel 7) will replace chief sports anchor Rene Knott next month with Tim Brant, a network college football announcer who ran WJLA’s sports department in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Mr. Knott, the station’s sports chief for 11 years, has worked without a contract since late September. He will serve as a backup sports anchor after Mr. Brant arrives Jan. 5.

“It’s kind of tough to be in that position and then be moved to a backup role, but you see it happen in football all the time. The main quarterback becomes the backup quarterback,” he said.

Christopher W. Pike, general manager of WJLA and sister cable network NewsChannel 8, did not return telephone calls yesterday.

Mr. Knott has talked to WUSA-TV (Channel 9) about becoming its main sportscaster. Frank Herzog — whom Mr. Knott replaced at WJLA in 1992 — has been WUSA’s sports chief since March, when Channel 9 moved newcomer Steve Davis out of the position.

WUSA’s general manager, Darryll J. Green, could not be reached yesterday. News Director David Roberts declined comment.

“As much as I want to stay here, I like being in the No. 1 position. It’s something I feel I’m good at,” Mr. Knott said.

Mr. Knott joined WJLA in March 1992 and became its sports chief that June, when WJLA fired Mr. Herzog after nine years. Eventually, Mr. Herzog returned to Channel 9, where he worked before moving to WJLA.

Mr. Brant was Channel 7’s sports director from 1978 until 1982. Under his new three-year deal with the station, his title will be vice president of sports.

He still will contribute to ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” and call college football games for the network. “I might be sleeping on airplanes and in the back of automobiles, but I won’t miss a lot of time at Channel 7,” he said.

Mr. Brant co-hosted the morning talk show at ABC-owned WMAL-AM (630) with Andy Parks for about 10 years until May 2002, when he decided not to renew his contract and left the station.

He said he talked to WUSA in the summer about becoming a morning news anchor before beginning negotiations with WJLA.

Mr. Brant’s addition marks the latest change on WJLA’s anchor desk. The station, which Allbritton Communications Co. owns, recently hired former CNN star Leon Harris as its main anchor. WJLA’s afternoon anchor, Del Walters, departed in September after working without a contract for more than a year.

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