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Jordin Wins, While Bob Hite Plans His Exit

What do American Idol champion Jordin Sparks and longtime WFLA-Ch. 8 anchor Bob Hite have in common?Hite150x190_2 Jordinbackyard06web300

Not much, besides the fact that I was forced to work up stories on both of them on tight deadlines Wednesday night.

It's a sad journalism truism that big news often breaks at a time when you're least prepared to cover it. And Hite's announcement that he was finally going to implement a retirement he had been threatening to take for years -- capping a 30-year career at WFLA and likely kicking off a furious battle for ratings supremacy in local news -- came just as I was all ready to spend the evening drowning in Fox's horribly bloated Idol finale.

First, Jordin's victory. Widely predicted and desperately needed to preserve idol's credibility, her win Wednesday not only kicked off a career I'm sure we'll be watching for some time to come, it preserved that odd friction within Idol itself between singers who are compelling personalities and those that are just great singers.

Blake The fact is, most idol winners are an uneasy compromise between the two values -- something we saw watching the cavalcade of champions perform in what proved to be the only benefit of the finale's two-hour-plus running time: up close looks at Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks and Ruben Studdard, post-Idol.

News reports had already said past winner Fantasia Barrino wouldn't appear due to her commitment to star in The Color Purple on Broadway, but two other million-selling non-winners also didn't show: Clay Aiken and Chris Daughtry.

If only Sanjaya could have gotten that memo. His version of You Really Got Me with Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry only underscored why America should have voted him off sooner. And Hicks' twitchy whiteguy soul man shtick wore thin midway through his first song -- unfortunately, he had another one coming.Sanjayahairclose

it all added up to a bright, bustling cavalcade of showbiz oddities mostly focused on making you forget you were waiting two hours to hear the answer to one question. Fortunately, this year, idol came up with the right one.

Bob Hite Retires After 30 Years

Hite150x190 it started with an email from a friend: Bob Hite had said at 6 p.m. he had a big announcement about his future prepared for the 11 p.m. newscast. I knew right away what it was going to be: he was retiring.

The plan is for Hite to stop doing the 11 p.m. newscasts after this week. At the end of the year, he'll leave regular employment at the station for good, with hopes to come back with the occasional documentary series -- which is what he expects to spend his days doing full time after leaving WFLA.

Calling me at home last night in between shows, Hite avoided using the term retirement. "I'm just getting off the night shift," he insisted, his familiar baritone rumbling the tinny speaker on my cellphone. "I'm not leaving until December."

if there was a specific incident which prompted him to take this step -- just months before his 60thKeithcatebobhitewarstories  birthday in august -- Hite didn't say so. instead, he talked about wanting to get off the anchor desk before he got to old to run around filming the documentaries he enjoys putting together in his spare time.

Keith Cate will take over the 11 p.m. slot and fill Hite's slot as the station's top male anchor when he leaves. 



[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:39pm]


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