- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 2, 2003

WUSA-TV (Channel 9) announced yesterday that Mike Walter will become Andrea Roane’s co-anchor on its early morning newscast, succeeding her longtime partner, Mike Buchanan.

The CBS affiliate also said it has reassigned reporter Bruce Leshan to its new weeknight 7 p.m. newscast, where he will report a daily “cover story” segment.

Since 2000, Mr. Walter has reported for the USA Today Live television news service, which corporate parent Gannett Co. Inc. is slowly dissolving. Gannett also owns WUSA.

Mr. Walter said he is not intimidated by the idea of succeeding Mr. Buchanan, whose quirky chemistry with Ms. Roane has made them local television icons.

“If people are tuning in to see another Mike Buchanan, they are not going to find it. I have to come in and be myself,” said Mr. Walter, who will also do some reporting for the station.

He is no stranger to WUSA viewers. His USA Today Live reports regularly air on the station, and after he witnessed a hijacked airplane crash into the Pentagon on September 11, he discussed the experience during a memorable on-air exchange with evening anchor Gordon Peterson.

Ms. Roane and Mr. Walter will anchor WUSA’s news weekdays from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m.

The station also airs an hour of local news on weekdays at 9 a.m., but Ms. Roane will anchor that program alone, freeing Mr. Walter for reporting assignments.

He is scheduled to begin his new gig Aug. 4, three days after Mr. Buchanan is expected to give up his anchor seat to become a feature reporter and commentator for WUSA.

The changing of the guard will be limited to the anchor desk. Station management has abandoned a plan to move popular weather forecaster Hillary Howard off the morning news.

Mr. Walter is the latest refugee from USA Today Live. The service has been dwindling since its biggest champion, Tom Curley, stepped down as president and publisher of USA Today in May.

About half of the 16 USA Today Live positions are unfilled.

Lance Ing, a USA Today Live photographer, joined Fox affiliate WTTG-TV (Channel 5) this week. Another USA Today Live staffer, Sharon Lyons, is joining WUSA as a producer of the 7 p.m. newscast, which is expected to debut Sept. 8.

Mr. Leshan, who joined WUSA in 1995, said his new assignment as the primary reporter for the 7 p.m. show will allow him to do “meatier” stories that could be as long as three minutes.

The typical local TV news report lasts about one minute and 10 seconds.

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