Was watching Justin Morneau and the Twins club Detroit at Target Field this afternoon, so let me be the last on the media block to tell you Cyndy Brucato is leaving her 6:30 p.m. anchor job at KSTP after the State Fair.
With the news out, let’s go to this musing: Who will be the first woman to grow old in a local anchor chair? When it comes to silver hair and AARP, will we ever have a female Don Shelby or Dave Moore?
At least by my recollection, we’ve never had a woman age into retirement anchoring a signature Twin Cities evening newscast; former Fox9 anchor Heather Hardin briefly discussed the dynamic here. As Pioneer Press media writer Amy Carlson Gustafson implies, Brucato was brought in for a second anchor stint in 2004 under emergency conditions, after Hubbard Broadcasting axed both lead anchors. The former political and business p.r. pro survived at 6 p.m. until being shifted to the less-heralded 6:30 p.m. slot last summer.
KARE11’s Diana Pierce, who must be in her 50s despite looking like she could play the lead in the female version of “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” has the seniority. But in recent years, she, like Brucato, has been shifted off the 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts; Pierce now anchors 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.
With Robyne Robinson gone, Brucato leaving, and Pierce in afternoons, the leading senior-anchor hopefuls are KARE11’s Julie Nelson and WCCO’s Amelia Santaniello. But they have a long way to go; both are now in the prime of their careers. Economics may conspire against them — with ratings and ad bucks slipping, big-money anchors are being pitched overboard nationwide, no matter the gender. Once Shelby leaves, I don’t think there’ll be any older men anchoring the key newscasts, either, though Fox9’s Jeff Passolt is the leading candidate to enter the Shelby Zone.
There are silver-haired women anchoring local newscasts in other cities, and Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer have settled in at the national level. It’s just odd that in this supposedly enlightened place, we’re still waiting.