Channel 7 has gone out West to find talent that it hopes will improve its prospects in the morning news wars.
Starting in early or mid-August, Cole Heath and Tiffany Lundberg will be the co-anchors of “Eyewitness News This Morning,” replacing Patrick Taney and Ginger Geoffery.
According to Channel 7, Heath is a native of Arizona and graduate of the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State and has recently worked as an anchor and reporter in Spokane, Wash. and Joplin, Mo. He started his career in sports in Missouri.
A native of California, Lundberg is a graduate of Cal-State-Fullerton and recently worked in Casper, Wyo. and Waco, Texas.
Channel 7 said they both have ties to the Western New York area.
Mike Nurse, who officially takes over as the station’s general manager in a few days, said he believed the new co-anchors are in their late 20s and acknowledged that the names Cole and Tiffany aren’t typical of TV anchors or reporters in this area.
“They certainly stand out,” said Nurse of the names. “Maybe that will be a plus. It is reflective of their age.”
He said the plan wasn’t to hire anchors in the younger demographic.
“It wasn’t by design,” said Nurse. “We were looking for a fresh start and something we could build with over time.”
He said the two anchors were found with the help of agents. Channel 7 then brought them to Buffalo for a few days for interviews. He praised their energy level and said they both have a strong likability factor. Nurse realizes that Heath and Lundberg won’t have it easy. Channel 7, which was the first station in the market to carry news in the morning, is a weak third now behind Channel 2’s first-place “Daybreak” and Channel 4’s second place “Wake Up!.”
Besides changing anchors, Nurse said a new morning set will be revealed when the pair make their debut.
“We view it as a restaurant,” said Nurse. “We’re going to change the menu, spiff up the place and ask viewers to try it.”
The station also has hired a new reporter to replace Kyla Igoe, who is leaving to work in her husband’s business.
Jill Perkins, a native of Pittsburgh and graduate of Carnegie-Mellon, arrives from WJET-TV in Erie, Pa., where she was a reporter and fill-in anchor.
Taney is leaving at the end of July to become a morning anchor in Rochester. Geoffery is expected to stay at the station until her contract expires in October unless she gets a new job before then.