WJLA's new hire from Massachusetts -- Gail Huff -- is politically well connected

By Lisa de Moraes
Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Gail Huff has been hired by WJLA, Washington's ABC station, as a part-time special project reporter. You may know her as Mrs. Scott Brown, wife of the new Republican senator from Massachusetts. The station says Huff will do medical, consumer and investigative stories -- but will steer clear of politics.

Huff, who has been working at WCVB-TV in Boston for the past 17 years, will start at Channel 7 after Labor Day, according to the news release WJLA is going to put out Tuesday, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.

She signed a two-year contract with the station -- which dovetails with the shortened term her husband won in the Massachusetts special election. Her deal was arranged by Bob Barnett, the local lawyer and talent maven who also brokered WJLA's hiring of weatherman Bob Ryan, who was an institution at WRC, Washington's NBC station.

WJLA is owned by Albritton Communications, which, in addition to owning a number of TV stations around the country, owns the newspaper and Web site Politico.

Comings and goings

Meanwhile, WRC has lost its general manager/president -- but gained a chief weatherman!

Michael Jack, who's been the station's GM/prez since 2002, was named Monday to the same title at NBC's flagship station in New York, WNBC. It's considered a big promotion, given that Washington is the country's No. 9-ranked TV market and New York City is No. 1.

Meanwhile, WRC announced Monday that Doug Kammerer has been named its new chief meteorologist and will start work in August.

A native of Herndon, Kammerer is replacing Ryan, who, after 30 years at the station, exited in February when he and the station could not agree to terms on a new contract. (Ryan landed at WJLA last month.)

Under Jack, WRC hung onto its position as Washington's local news leader, despite NBC's plunge in prime time -- including this past season's late-news-killing "Jay Leno Show" experiment. Under Jack, WRC also managed to grow the audience for the morning and early evening newcasts in May, year-to-year, by double digits, including 51 percent growth at 5 a.m. This was owing in part to the replacement of "Early Today," produced by the network, with a 4:30 a.m. local newcast, which improved that time slot by 41 percent.

NBC was mum on who's replacing Jack in Washington. Jack's expected to meet with his WRC staff Tuesday, though it's not expected that the network will announce his replacement that fast.

Kammerer, meanwhile, has spent the last several years working in weathercasting across the Philadelphia TV landscape. This includes gigs at that market's CBS station, KYW-TV; the CW Philly; NBC station WCAU-TV; and the MyNetworkTV (formerly UPN) station, WPHL-TV.

Something's cooking

Hallmark Channel is adding to its daytime lineup a show hosted by Martha Stewart's self-edit-deficient daughter Alexis, and another program in which the Martha Stewart company's executive food editor teaches us how to cook for men.

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