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The station's co-anchor and top political reporter was also a skilled debate moderator.
Monday, April 15, 2013
Jay Warren, anchorman for WSLS-TV’s evening news since 2008, will anchor his last newscast on Friday.
Warren is leaving Channel 10, where he started as a reporter in 1998, rose to the anchor chair and became a top political reporter who interviewed presidents and moderated debates between national and statewide candidates.
“It’s been a great, great, great place,” Warren said Monday during an interview on the WSLS set. “I have loved every second I have had here. It’s been a wonderful opportunity. This is where I grew as a professional.”
Warren’s future plans are uncertain, he said. He might stay in the area and work in media relations, or he might move closer to family in north Texas.
“I’m still sorting that out,” he said. “I’m looking for an opportunity to either be closer to my family or a job that has the flexibility to allow me to get home quicker and more frequently.”
His schedule has been full at Channel 10, where he anchors the station’s primary evening newscasts at 5, 5:30, 6 and 11 p.m. alongside co-anchor Karen McNew. He also co-anchors the 10 p.m. news with Becky Freemal on WFXR-TV (Channel 21/27), on which the two stations partner.
Warren’s departure comes just one week before the ratings sweeps period begins, when The Nielsen Co. measures local television viewership.
“Jay is such a huge asset, it doesn’t matter what month it is” when he departs, said WSLS news director Melissa Stacy. “It’s something we will feel, regardless. He is a coach, a mentor. His experience and viewpoints will really be missed.”
A native of Canyon, Texas, Warren, 41, joined WSLS after working in Texas. He was soon promoted to weekend anchor and he specialized in political reporting.
Over the years, he moderated several high-profile debates between Virginia senate and gubernatorial candidates when they debated in Roanoke. He moderated a Senate debate between Tim Kaine and George Allen in October, as well as congressional debates.
Warren received the Walter Cronkite Award for Individual Achievement in 2003 for political coverage.
“When I came here in 1998, we barely covered politics,” he said. “It was a struggle for me to prove [to management] that we could do an effective job and have an impact. We started building and building, and finally success breeds success and we had the best political team in the commonwealth.”
Coincidentally, that political team lost another member when it was announced Monday that WSLS political analyst Bob Denton is moving to rival station WDBJ-TV (Channel 7).
After longtime anchorman John Carlin left Channel 10 in 2008, Warren was elevated to co-anchor the evening newscasts with McNew.
The station is planning several segments to honor Warren during 6 p.m. newscasts this week.
“Jay is one of the kindest, most professional individuals I have ever met,” said Leesa Wilcher, Channel 10’s general manager. “He will be missed.”
Warren said he will miss the chance to pepper those in power with questions.
“I have loved every second of it,” he said. “I hope that my legacy, if that’s the right word, is that I left the place a little better than I found it and helped move politics to the forefront.”
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