Staff cut in merger of WTEN and WXXA

Longtime television news broadcaster Ann Hughes and five other people lost their jobs Wednesday at A

Longtime television news broadcaster Ann Hughes and five other people lost their jobs Wednesday at Albany’s WXXA, Fox 23.

Sports director Kristian Read and chief photographer Barry Sanders also were laid off in cuts related to a recent merger with WTEN, News 10. Read had been on the job since last spring.

The three other people released were off-camera personnel.

“As we continue to try to aggregate our assets and manage our coverage, we just need to look at our staffing options and make some difficult staffing decisions,” said Andy Alford, vice president and general manager of WTEN.

“Ann did a great job and we’ll certainly miss her,” he added. “I appreciate everything she brought to the station. We just had too many anchors and we had to make some difficult decisions.”

The stations are involved in a shared services plan announced last summer by Shield Media LLC, which bought FOX 23, and Young Broadcasting, which owns WTEN.

Hughes, who joined WXXA in June 1998, made her final anchor appearance Tuesday. The station’s 10 p.m. newscast was a late starter, pushed back to 10:47 as Fox News covered the president’s State of the Union address.

“It’s just a sad day,” said Hughes, who also did health stories for WXXA. “It’s me and five other people that I worked with, a couple of whom were long-tenured at the station. It’s just sad.”

With two stations becoming one, staffers knew job reductions were possible. “I think everybody knew that there would at some point be consolidation of some sort,” Hughes said.

She plans to remain in the area. “Anything more than that, I don’t exactly know what the plans are,” Hughes said. “I’ll take a little time to think about things.”

Four supervisory positions have already been eliminated in the merger. Alford could not say whether more layoffs are coming, as WXXA personnel and equipment transfer into WTEN’s headquarters on Northern Boulevard.

“I honestly don’t know at this point,” he said. “Until we’re able to get both operations into one building, we’ll have to continue to assess our staffing needs, but we’re not there yet. We’re still a ways away from having both operations into this building.”

Alford said WXXA’s John Gray will team with WTEN’s Lydia Kulbida for WXXA’s 10 p.m. newscast. Gray and Kulbida currently co-anchor the 6 p.m. news on WTEN.

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