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Expatriate TV personalities: where are they now?

Recently retired KSDK-TV news anchor Karen Foss became a news item in February when she was appointed communications director for AmerenUE. But she is just the most recent in a series of TV anchors and reporters who have left journalism for corporate or nonprofit employment.

Foss' appointment came on the heels of her December retirement from KSDK-TV (Channel 5), after 27 years with the station. With Ameren under fire for high rate increases in Illinois, two major power outages last year and the catastrophic failure of the Taum Sauk reservoir, Foss, known as the "Face of St. Louis" (or at least of Channel 5) may have an uphill battle putting a friendly lace on Ameren.

Her newly created position includes managing a staff of nine, charged with media relations, customer communications, marketing and advertising, financial communications, nuclear information and outreach activities. She reports to Richard J. Mark, senior vice president Missouri Energy Delivery.

Foss considers her many years in television news as "good practice" at being a target, she told media and political acquaintances at Sen. Thomas Eagleton's funeral.

Speaking of targets, former KMOV-TV (Channel 4) anchor and investigative reporter Jamie Allman left the friendly confines of TV news in January 2005 to become St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke's spokesperson. He stepped into the crossfire of a controversy between the archdiocese and St Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church, which got only more bitter.

By the end of that year, Allman had balled out to return to radio, where he had started his broadcasting career. He now hosts "Allman in the Morning," a morning-drive talk show on KFTK (97.1 FM.)

The job of St. Louis Archdiocese communications director now belongs to Anne Steffens, another Channel 4 alum. The education reporter and weekend anchor left Channel 4 in December 2006 to take the archdiocese job. Steffens oversees all the archdiocese communications branches, including the Office of Catholic Education, Catholic Charities and the St. Louis Review. Steffens previously had served with several other media people on a media advisory board assembled by former Archdiocese communications director Steve Mammanella in 2000-2001.

The other large Catholic institution in town also has become a magnet for expatriate TV newspeople. St. Louis University attracted long-time Channel 4 anchor Julius Hunter upon his TV retirement to become SLU's vice president for community relations. He recently stepped down from his position at the University. After SLU's graduation last month, Hunter joined the St. Louis County Library in the newly created position of Author-In-Residence, a one-year volunteer appointment Hunter, who worked at Channel 4 from 1974-2002, was appointed by Gov. Matt Blunt in February 2006 to the St. Louis Police Board.

Both Jeff Fowler and his wife, Jean Jackson, former KSDK-TV (Channel 2) anchors, have landed at SLU. Fowler has been associate vice president of university marketing and communications since December 2000, overseeing the directors of marketing, marketing and Web services, medical center media relations, university communications, and publications and graphic design.

Jackson is now development director for SLU's Parks College, after spending some time in communications at St. Patrick Center and as executive director of HITEC, a media literacy group. In addition to Channel 5, Jackson had worked as a reporter and anchor at Channel 4 and KDNL-TV (Channel 30)'s ill-fated news department

Former Channel 5 "Show Me St. Louis" anchor Dan Buck left broadcasting in March 2003 to become chief executive officer of St. Patrick Center, a nonprofit agency that provides services to the homeless.

Nonprofit institutions and agencies often benefit from having former TV anchors and reporters (not to mention print journalists) on their staffs. Former Channel 2 anchor Donn Johnson has found a home as director of communications for the Missouri Historical Society.

After leaving Channel 2 in 1999, he worked for KTRS Radio and handled fill-in duties for various radio stations, then took the MHS job. He presents periodic commentaries on KWMU (90.7 FM), in which he discusses history as well as current social and local issues.

Former health reporter Al Wiman, who worked at Channel 4 from 1973-1998, landed at Webster University, where he was appointed communications director in 2003 and left in May 2005. Shortly thereafter, he took his current position of vice president of public understanding of science at the St. Louis Science Center.

Also on the university beat, former Channel 5 reporter and KMOX Radio reporter Steve Jankowski is now alumni affairs director at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

Like Foss, some TV expatriates go the corporate or for-profit route. Former KTVI-TV consumer reporter Jill Farmer was last seen pitching Amazing Siding in print and TV ads.

Dick Ford, who retired from Channel 2 in December 2005 after 39 years in local TV, including periods at Channel 4 and Channel 5, was recently seen on TV ads for Frontier Mortgage.

Don Marsh left Channel 2 in 1994 and subsequently survived a stint at the all-too-brief Channel 30 news. Marsh expanded his previous sideline, a small business creating training videos for law-enforcement agencies. He kept his hand in broadcasting by filling in for absentee hosts on KMOX and now hosts KWMU's daffy "St. Louis on the Air" at 11 a.m. Monday through Thursday.

Laurna Godwin spent the last half of her 20-year news career in St. Louis, first at KETC-TV (Channel 9), then at KPLR-TV (Channel II) from 1990-1998. She opened her own media relations and video production business. She soon joined forces with friend Jessica Perkins to co-found Vector Communications in 1998. Godwin now also serves on several local boards.

Dianne White, who started her career at Channel 5, then KSD-TV, in 1962 as the weekend "weather girl," served in nearly every on-air capacity during her 24 years at the station. After winning an age discrimination settlement following her abrupt dismissal in 1986, she moved on to radio and many other pursuits, but always in St. Louis.

For the past five years-plus, White has worked for the City of St. Louis, where she has been a special assistant to Mayor Francis Slay.

In the general Where-Are-They-Now category:

* Chris Condon, the anchor famous for his white hair and swivel chair, worked at Channel 5 from 1961-984. He is now reportedly operating cruises off Cape Hatteras in the North Carolina Outer Banks.

* Steve Schiff, former co-anchor with Julius Hunter at Channel 4, from 1972-1986, moved to Florida where he worked in television and other pursuits. He was in the news last year when he was hauled into St. Louis County Circuit Court on a charge of child non-support and was placed on probation.

Readers: Are there any other former TV anchors/reporters you'd like us to track down? Or maybe you know the whereabouts of a former local television personality. Let us know by emailing us at sjreview@sbcglobal.net: or by marl.

St. Louis Journalism Review

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St. Louis, Mo. 63132

Eileen Duggan is a free-lance writer and editor.
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Author:Duggan, Eileen P.
Publication:St. Louis Journalism Review
Date:Jun 1, 2007
Words:1150
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