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Plug about to be pulled on Channel 2's 5:30 p.m. newscast

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The death of Channel 2's 5:30 p.m. newscast, which will occur following Friday's edition, shouldn't shock anyone. In "Channels 2 and 31 Mix It Up in Denver," an October Message column about the new partnership between these longtime rivals, Dennis Leonard, the vice president and general manager of Channel 31, a Fox affiliate, confirmed that the 5:30 offering would be going away soon. The late-afternoon effort has remained on the air since then to give Channel 31 time to gear up its own afternoon 'cast, an hour-long block co-anchored by Ron Zappolo and Libby Weaver that's set to debut on Monday, January 12.

The next decision to be made involves the 9 p.m. Channel 2 newscast, and whether it will be moved to a startlingly early 7 p.m. start that would shift the outlet's CW-network programming (like Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill) back an hour. But whatever happens, the newscast as presently staffed feels severely undernourished. With longtime desk-sitter Ernie Bjorkman gone, the anchoring duties are being carried out solely by Kellie MacMullan (pictured), and while she's certainly capable of reading double the usual number of stories, she seems lonely up there. For decades, stations in major metro areas have always employed two anchor setups, with folks rarely, if ever, going solo except during the wee hours of the morning. A skeleton-crew look won't attract new viewers, and it will likely cause loyalists to flee -- but unless something changes, this seems to be the plan. Good luck with that. -- Michael Roberts

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