Last night, longtime Fox31 anchor Libby Weaver bid the station adieu surrounded by her three kids -- her stated reason for stepping away from the outlet. But even as good wishes stack up on the station's Facebook page, media observers are speculating about whether her decision to leave has to do with the shrinking resources and tight budget constraints affecting broadcast TV these days. No denying that Weaver, who worked as a host of Extra in addition to stints at stations in Salt Lake City and Chicago before landing at Fox31, brought a new level of unabashed glamor to Denver TV news. Who can forget the 2009 Denver magazine "Men's Issue" cover that we described at the time like so:
The two women on the cover are literally busting out of their flirtatious attire, with the girliest of the two wearing a breast-boosting garment that turns her wiggle rack into an awesome blossom. Meanwhile, her more masculine partner is clad in an open shirt from which one mam threatens to escape as she perches spread-legged on a chair and holds a cigar that, with apologies to Sigmund Freud, isn't just a cigar in this case. As a bonus, the sitting woman has her arm looped suggestively through the crooked leg of her gal pal, whose crotch is at mouth height.
Scissor sisters relaxing on the set of their latest Skinemax sextravaganza, The Goodies: Live Hard, Get Hard? No, they're Libby Weaver and Natalie Tysdal, anchors for programs on Channel 31.
The magazine also included a complete behind-the-scenes slide show of images from the shoot, featuring images like this one:
Was Weaver's career was hurt by questions about the wisdom of a news anchor engaging in such male fantasy schtick? Hardly -- and her sense of balance was a big reason why. For the most part, she managed to offset her show-biz side with a down-to-earth persona epitomized by a goofy sense of humor and canny playing of the mom card. Add her obvious chemistry with co-anchor Ron Zappolo and you'll understand why she was able to last a dozen years-plus in the market.
Throughout that time, she and Zappolo were paid handsomely for their efforts. But in recent years, the rise of the Internet and new technology has reduced the audience for traditional TV news, and profits along with it.
As such, even successful stations like 9News began trying to get salaries under control. Note that in 2008, anchor Bob Kendrick's contract wasn't renewed -- and while he subsequently refuted reports that the move was largely dictated by cost (he was said to have been paid $400,000 per year), his replacement was station veteran Mark Koebrich, who cost considerably less.
No replacement for Weaver has been named at this point, but speculation suggests the gig will go to Deborah Takahara, another internal candidate who won't break Fox31's bank. Moreover, the station will likely save additional moolah when Zappolo moves from news back to sports, reportedly when his current contract expires this next March.
Did Weaver decide to step away now, on her own terms, knowing that she might be shown the door no matter how flexible she was during her next contract negotiation? No one's saying that, and no one will. But one thing's clear: The age of enormous paydays for mid-market TV anchors is a thing of the past.
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Here's the video of Weaver's goodbye.