Friday, January 07, 2011 By Aaron Brown
In a surprising announcement reported in today's Duluth News Tribune WDIO 5 p.m. anchor Sandy Drag said she would leave the station to work as regional public relations manager for Cliffs Natural Resources. Cliffs owns and/or operates several mines in northern Minnesota and Michigan, including Hibbing Taconite where I sometimes trespass. WDIO is, or was, the top rated news station in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, where toupee-wearing, mustachioed Iron Range broadcasting god Dennis Anderson has maintained a comfortable, resonantly-voiced choke hold on the viewers of our fair region.
The hard charging, better-lit folks at the confederation of stations known as Northland's Newscenter (the everything else except Fox affiliate) were already salivating, in high def, for Anderson's upcoming retirement. With his likely successor Drag now out of the picture WDIO finds itself in a world of hurt.
Drag, who is having a baby, is leaving because she wanted a regular job for her family. This happens with a lot of experienced reporters in Duluth's low-paying media market. Too bad.
I don't think Northland's Newscenter is guaranteed a win here, but there will be a lot of uncertainty in the Duluth market news battle for a year or two. Maybe an opening for Fox 21, the Charlie Brown in this equation?