Channel 2 morning anchor Jodi Johnston will be signing off television to accept an executive position with First Niagara Financial Group, it was announced Friday.
Johnston, who is 38 and the mother of an 8-year-old son, cited family concerns as a factor in her decision.
"My alarm won't be going off at 3 a.m. anymore," Johnston said. "I've been doing this schedule for a little more than 12 years, and from time to time I thought a lot about my career as my son gets older, trying to find that life/work balance. This will allow me some more normalcy. It will allow me to be there in the evening for some important activities he is doing."
In addition to co-anchoring "Daybreak" weekdays from 4:30 to 7 a.m., Johnston also anchored the 5 p.m. newscast. She will remain on the air at WGRZ-TV through the ratings period in November. In December, she will start at First Niagara as its director of corporate media relations and first vice president.
"I am thrilled to have someone of Jodi's caliber join our talented team," said David Lanzillo, senior vice president, corporate communications. "She brings a strong journalism background as well as energy, intelligence and creativity to a position that is vital to First Niagara's success."
Johnston started at Channel 2 in May 2000. She made her on-air debut the next month as "Daybreak" anchor, temporarily replacing Maryalice Demler, who was filling in for evening anchor Victoria Hong. During 12 years at the station, "Daybreak" rose in the ratings to become the top morning program in the Buffalo-Niagara market, according to station reports.
"Twelve years is a long time to wake up at 3 a.m., and to be on the air delivering the news as professionally and gracefully as Jodi has," said Jeff Woodard, WGRZ news director. "Her ability to connect with viewers, her genuine presence and demeanor, and her commitment to her community will be dearly missed."
Johnston worked briefly at WIVB-TV Channel 4 as an associate producer and news update anchor, a job in which she worked the overnight shift. She also worked for a time at Adelphia Cable. Since 1999, Johnston served as an adjunct instructor in the communication studies department at Canisius College.
Johnston gave up a modeling job at IMG in New York to attend Canisius College, where she earned a bachelor's degree in communication studies and master's degree in education. She was the subject of a Buffalo News profile in October 2008, written by Charity Vogel.
Johnston lives in Hamburg with her husband, Tom Quatroche, and their son, Max.
"My life has changed a lot in the last few years," Johnston said. "I have a son who is growing older, and I have wonderful roots in Western New York that I have established over the years. I'm from Buffalo. I love Buffalo. I've made the decision that I will raise my family here."
This year, according to Johnston, has been a "big year" for her son, who is in the third grade.
"He's much busier at night," she said. "When he was a baby, I would put him to bed, and then I'd go to bed. Now he's doing more sports. He's at that age."
Channel 2, meanwhile, will launch a search process to find a new co-anchor to join John Beard and Andy Parker on "Daybreak," according to Woodard.