Television reporter Susan King has jumped from WRC-TV's Channel 4 News to WJLA-TV's News 7, her new employer announced yesterday. King, coanchor of the 6 p.m. Channel 4 newscast, did her final show for Channel 4 last night and begins her Channel 7 broadcasts on Sept. 28.
"This is my last newscast after 4 1/2 very fulfilling years," King said at the end of yesterday's 6 p.m. newscast and told viewers they could still see her "a few notches up the dial. I will miss many of my colleagues here who have been so much a part of my life here, those of you who are still on strike, those who have helped us during it . . . I'm looking forward to my new challenges."
In addition to coanchoring WJLA's "News 7 at 5 PM" with Paul Berry, King brings her signature news piece, "Susan King's Cover Story," usually an analysis of timely national and international issues. The segment was a regular feature on Channel 4's weekday 11 p.m. newscast.
"I am thrilled and excited and thrilled and excited," said WJLA-TV Vice President and Executive News Director Tom Doerr. "Susan King is a first-rate journalist. She's among the best there is."
Meanwhile, Channel 4 released a statement yesterday -- which King herself wrote -- saying that the station and King "have failed to come to terms with respect to another contract." WRC spokesperson Kelly Williams said the station had not decided who would replace King on the 6 p.m. newscast.
King, a graduate of Marymount College in Tarrytown, N.Y., began her career in television news at WGR-TV in Buffalo, moving to Washington in 1975 to work as a reporter and weekend anchor for Channel 9 (now WUSA-TV). She joined the Washington bureau of ABC News in 1979 as a political reporter, and then joined Channel 4 in 1983.
She turned 40 in June, which she celebrated in March by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. "I made it to the top," she said yesterday, laughing. "It changed my whole perspective."
She says she has switched to Channel 7 "because I got a better deal."
In many respects her duties will be unchanged, but WJLA offered her a larger financial package and plans to syndicate her Cover Story feature, according to King. She said she had decided earlier this year that her next priority would be syndication.
"There's a real gamble in this," King said. "The syndication thing could fail. That's the challenge." At WRC, she said, "With the changes of management in the last few years it didn't seem it was going to be the priority for them that it was for me."
Of syndication, Doerr said, "We think that's something we can do very easily." Doerr also suggested that the subject matter of King's Cover Story feature might be wider than before. "Basically it's what she thinks of as interesting and important."
King said, "I feel I cover Washington like a foreign correspondent. I try to make sense of what the headline is."