CBS duopoly swaps anchors Shocknek, Tay, Garcia and Suh (and Taft)

Evelyn Taft, Rick Garcia and Sharon Tay vamp for San Francisco photographer Elena Zhukova on the KCAL news set.

CBS Los Angeles took a page from baseball and announced today that it is trading some of its big name on-air talent between stations CBS 2 and KCAL 9. The upshot is that Channel 9's evening anchors Sharon Tay and Rick Garcia, and weathercaster Evelyn Taft, will move to Channel 2 to be the foundation of the station's weeknday morning shows on at 4:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Veteran Kent Shocknek and Suzie Suh will move from the day-time hours at Channel 2 to the night shift at KCAL. Here's how the release spins it.

News anchors Sharon Tay and Rick Garcia and meteorologist Evelyn Taft, who currently appear on KCAL 9’s weeknight 8 and 10 p.m. newscasts, will move to sister station CBS 2 and anchor that station’s weekday 4:30-7:00 a.m. and 11-11:30 a.m. newscasts, beginning Monday, November 18. The announcement was made today by Steve Mauldin, President and General Manager, CBS 2 and KCAL 9.

Since Tay, Garcia and Taft began working together in August 2010, KCAL 9 ranks first in viewers among newscasts in the highly competitive 10 p.m. hour and has been No. 1 during seven of the last nine major sweep periods. And since the beginning of the new television season on September 23, the weeknight edition of KCAL 9 NEWS at 10 P.M. continues to rank first among local newscasts in the time period with an average of 160,000 viewers – up 28 percent versus comparable dates last year.

“Sharon, Rick and Evelyn are a proven winning combination,” Mauldin said. “They bring a tremendous mix of experience, insight and personality to every newscast and they know what it takes to achieve success in morning news. We are confident in their ability to help us grow our audience during the morning news daypart in the same way they’ve given us a big lift during primetime.”

Tay, Garcia and Taft will be joined by Stephanie Simmons, who will continue to serve as CBS 2’s morning traffic reporter.

Current CBS 2 morning anchors Kent Shocknek and Suzie Suh will join meteorologist Rich Fields to anchor KCAL 9’s weeknight 8 and 10 p.m. newscasts, also beginning November 18.

Mauldin added: “Kent Shocknek is second to none when it comes to anchoring breaking news events. Suzie Suh has been a rising star for us and successfully handled every assignment we have given her. And Rich Fields is among the most respected and charismatic meteorologists in Southern California. We feel great about having such an accomplished, well-rounded and likable trio joining our 9 p.m. anchors Sylvia Lopez and Leyna Nguyen to give us a primetime anchor team that will continue to uphold KCAL’s tremendous primetime news legacy.”

Paul Magers and Pat Harvey, who anchor on Channel 2 at 5 p.m. and 11 p.m., will also now do the 6 p.m. news. TV Guide's Michael Schneider calls the moves "unusual."

The move starts right in the middle of sweeps -- beginning Monday, November 18. It's a return to the morning shift for Tay, who spent many years in Southern California anchoring KTLA's early morning newscasts....

So essentially Tay and Garcia are swapping nights for mornings, while Shocknek and Suh are moving from early to late duty.

The move appears to be part of a plan to strengthen KCBS' morning news performance -- a daypart the station has struggled in forever. (KCBS isn't helped by the fact that CBS has never had a strong national morning show.)

I guess the change to early morning hours will be no problem for Evelyn Taft: soon she'll be up anyway.

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