THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1996, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Tuesday, January 16, 1996 TAG: 9601160263 SECTION: LOCAL PAGE: B1 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: BY JON FRANK, STAFF WRITER DATELINE: NORFOLK LENGTH: Medium: 54 lines
Dr. Duane Harding has been replaced as weatherman at WTKR Channel 3 as the station continues to restructure its local news format to overtake market leader WAVY TV-10.
Harding was told Monday that his contract will not be renewed when it expires in July. He will be retained as a consultant until then or until he finds another job, said Barbara Hamm, WTKR news director.
``We are just going in a different direction in terms of our news coverage and in terms of our weather coverage,'' Hamm explained. ``We decided to make a talent change.''
Elden Hale, president and general manager at WTKR, said Harding is not scheduled for broadcasts this week but said Harding would be employed at the station into the summer.
``Duane was not abruptly dismissed,'' Hale said.
Harding disputed Hale's characterization of the move.
``I was fired,'' Harding said Monday night. ``They just said I didn't fit in with the image they wanted.''
Harding said he has left the station and will not be seen on Channel 3 again.
Meteorologists Greg Padgett and Pete Grigsby will continue broadcasting weather on WTKR, which is the local CBS affiliate.
Hamm said additions to the weather staff will be made ``as soon as I find someone who is compatible with the news team I have.''
That team is headed by Tom Randles and LeAnne Rains at 6 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. At 5 p.m. the anchors are Ed Hughes and Jane Gardner. John Castleberry and Jim Hale divide sports duties.
The station, which was purchased in June by the New York Times Co., finished second to NBC affiliate WAVY in the November sweeps, moving out of third place and ahead of the ABC affilitate, WVEC Channel 13.
Hale credited the ratings climb in part to changes made since he arrived at the station in June. Hale has added a 10 p.m. news broadcast, as well as broadcasts on Saturday and Sunday. Padgett and Grigsby were hired to do weather, and in August Rains was hired and installed as an anchor.
``We've made a lot of changes in seven months,'' Hale said Monday night.
``Duane understands that there were differences in what we wanted and how he wanted to present the weather.'' ILLUSTRATION: [Color Photo]
Channel 3's Dr. Duane Harding