Last week, we noted the impending departure of entertainment reporter Kirk Montgomery from 9News. Now, another veteran station staffer is headed out the door: sportscaster Susie Wargin, who's been a staple on the station's top-rated morning show for a decade.
Wargin's leaving the outlet, and the broadcasting profession, on her own terms. But her departure still raises questions about the economics of local-TV news in the 21st century.
Changes among the 9News sports staff have been in the works for a while. On April 2, a tipster brought to my attention a JournalismJobs.com listing for a full-time sports anchor opening at the station; messages left for news director Patti Dennis were not returned.
In the meantime, Wargin continues to work high-profile assignments for the signal, as illustrated by the following twitpic on her Twitter page:
— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) April 16, 2014
Twitter is also the first place she confirmed that she's leaving 9News, in a response from over the weekend that's on view below.
@TheKennyPeters Sorry Kenny, I'm not - needed more family time w/ kids getting older & staying up later - also started real estate career :)
— Susie Wargin (@SusieWargin) April 19, 2014
Wargin's mention of real estate -- echoed on her Twitter page, which lists her as "TV Sports Anchor, Realtor" -- isn't coincidental. She tells the Denver Post that when her current contract expires in August, she'll devote herself primarily to real estate in a business started by her mom, who's worked as a realtor for nearly four decades.
Occasional freelance jobs for 9News are also mentioned, and while such gigs frequently fail to materialize, I hope Wargin doesn't disappear entirely from local airwaves -- and not just because of the impressive coiffure that earned her Westword's Best Hair on a Media Personality, Female award in 2005. Her presence adds variety to the boys club of TV sports, and she boasts a confident onscreen presence supplemented by a sense of humor that holds steady even when the camera is switched off.
Case in point: In 2008, we published a blog post in which my daughter Lora, then fifteen, blistered Wargin for wasting much of her sportscasts on human-interest stories when everyone else just wanted to see Nuggets highlights. But rather than getting pissed off at the criticism, Wargin responded with a lighthearted note in which she invited Lora to visit the station and learn more about the way a broadcast works -- an offer Lora was too slack-jawed to accept.
Maybe Wargin really does want to leave TV and focus entirely on real estate. But like Montgomery, who chose to move to a smaller station in Lansing, Michigan, after not being offered a full-time contract, she's presumably getting more expensive to keep around.
With revenues at traditional media outlets like 9News getting tighter and tighter, managers are having to make tough decisions about costs and personnel. And that will likely mean fewer familiar faces on your television.
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Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Media archive circa February 2009: "Channel 9's Susie Wargin responds to her biggest critic."