When Tom Houck jumped up to ask the first question at last week’s Atlanta Press Club TV news director’s forum, he referred to local news anchors as “icons.” He asked a very good question: Given the contraction of the news business, how long will local TV stations be able to justify paying large salaries to TV personalities like Monica Pearson at WSB, and Brenda Wood at WXIA?
Marian Pittman, news VP at WSB interrupted the question to say Pearson was “worth every penny. Plus some!”
Unfortunately, only Pittman and Budd McEntee at WAGA answered the question. McEntee’s answer consisted of a lengthy justification of the presence of iconic anchors. He also artlessly dodged moderator Denis O’Hayer’s follow-up question about whether anchors would continue to pull in “the kinds of money” they do as newsrooms tighten budgets.
Pittman, employer of Pearson (who is Atlanta’s most iconic anchor and undoubtedly brings home the largest paycheck in local TV news) had a more interesting answer. After saying that Pearson was “worth every penny,” Pittman referred to a Radio and Television News Directors Association survey that pointed to a likely decline of anchor salaries. She also noted that across America, iconic anchors are losing their jobs because of tightening budgets.
Hear their answers to Houck’s “will anchors keep making big money” question below.