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KEZI anchor to move to larger market.

Byline: SHERRI BURI McDONALD The Register-Guard

Lisa Verch, an anchor at KEZI TV, the local ABC news affiliate, is saying goodbye to Eugene and hello to Phoenix.

Verch, who has been an anchor and reporter at KEZI for eight years, is joining the investigative reporting unit at KNXV, the ABC affiliate in Phoenix. Her last day at KEZI will be next Tuesday.

Colleen Nelson, the 11 o'clock news anchor, will act as interim anchor while KEZI conducts a national search for a replacement, the station said.

Verch said the Phoenix job will be a high-profile position in a bigger market, and the timing was right for a move.

"I've been in Eugene almost 16 years," she said. "It was one of those crossroads in life."

The move will propel Verch to a much larger television market area.

Phoenix is the nation's 16th largest market, compared with Eugene, which is ranked 123rd, according to Nielsen Media Research. Portland is ranked 23rd.

Verch's departure is the latest in a series of personnel changes at KEZI. The station employs about 100 workers - roughly 30 in the newsroom, said Bill Nagy, chief operating officer of Chambers Communications Corp., KEZI's parent company.

Chambers also operates a film and video production unit, a cable television company in Sunriver, an Internet service provider and television stations in Klamath Falls and Medford.

Media companies around the country have struggled recently with a national economic slowdown and declining advertising revenue.

In December, Chambers Communications laid off 12 workers - two of them in the KEZI newsroom, Nagy confirmed Monday.

Sources familiar with KEZI say the station is going through a spate of high turnover, with about 15 people - roughly a third of the staff - leaving in the past year.

Turnover of 20 percent to 30 percent is not unusual for small stations, Nagy said. Small markets tend to be launching pads for young people who are building their careers, he said.

The newsroom Verch is joining in Phoenix is about three times the size of KEZI, in terms of staff, she estimates.

The station has two investigative reporters and a consumer reporter.

While at KEZI, Verch received the Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigative news series on a Sri Lankan woman who was traveling from her home country to Canada to seek political asylum. The woman was detained in Portland and mistreated by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, Verch said.

Verch's husband, David Fletcher, owner of Amadeus Salon in downtown Eugene, plans to sell his business and join Verch in Phoenix.
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Title Annotation:TV news: Lisa Verch accepts a key reporting job in Phoenix.; Business
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 26, 2002
Words:424
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