FishbowlNY: Year in Review

As we get ready to usher in 2012, let’s take one more look at the biggest broadcasting stories that FishbowlNY covered in 2011.

In January, Scott Clark closes out a brilliant career at WABC, retiring after nearly a quarter-century at Channel 7.

Maurice DuBois makes his debut as WCBS/Channel 2 lead anchor when he is promoted to nights opposite Kristine Johnson. Chris Wragge shifts his energy to The Early Show, but that wasn’t the last we would hear from him.

Also as 2011 began, veteran radio talk host Curtis Sliwa adds an afternoon shift to his Apple/WNYM duties.

In February, among the notable events, WNBC/Channel 4 welcomes home Shiba Russell from Boston. She was named weekend anchor with David Ushery. Russell fueled speculation that she was Sue Simmons’ “heir apparent,” as the main (if not exclusive) fill-in for the legendary anchor, who started at Channel 4 in 1980.

On the radio, Craig Allen, a veteran in his own right, agrees to a three-year extension as WCBS 880’s chief meteorologist. Two months later, Allen marked 30 years at the station.

In March, Allen’s former colleague—Jared Max jumps ship to WEPN/1050 ESPN, where he hosts a morning show and provide local updates on Mike and Mike’s national show. Two months later, he got even more ink by outing himself on the air.

One-time Hot 97/WQHT DJ Megatron (real name Corey McGriff) is killed outside of his Staten Island home. It took another month before there was some closure when a grand jury indicted two suspects in Megatron’s death.

In April, after suspending, and ultimately, firing Heidi Jones for her bizarre story of fabricating a sexual assault in Central Park to police, WABC/Channel 7 hires her replacement as weekend morning meteorologist—Amy Freeze.

WABC also made news by planning for life without Oprah. The station adds a 4 p.m. newscast with Liz Cho and David Navarro a month later.

MSG Network wins the most New York Emmy Awards (11), while WPIX/Channel 11 was decorated with 10 trophies.

In May, along with the aforementioned new Channel 7 broadcast, Don Imus’ sidekick and so much more, Charles McCord shuts the mic for the final time—ending his nearly 40-year association with the “I-Man.”

Local stations provide non-stop coverage of the night many thought would never happen—the death of Osama bin Laden.

In June, longtime former WNBC sports anchor Len Berman returns to his old digs at Rockefeller Plaza. Berman is back with his monthly highlights Spanning the World, which he popularized during his nightly local reports.

In July, Mike Francesa, already having reduced his Mike’d Up schedule, gives up his self-titled Sunday night program. WNBC sports anchor Bruce Beck, who replaced Berman, hosts the show permanently.

WNET debuts MetroFocus, a local news and information Website. The site would be caught in the crosshairs between covering and becoming the story at the Occupy Wall Street protests in September.

In August, it is wall-to-wall, all-hands-on-deck coverage as Hurricane Irene set its sights on New York.

Sports anchor Sam Ryan walks away from WCBS/Channel 2 for the MLB Network, while Spero Dedes joined MSG Network as the Knicks play-by-play radio voice.

Merlin Media debuts FM all-news station WEMP.

In September, we get the first word exclusively that Jim Watkins would no longer work for WPIX. It took until October for PIX management to make it official. Before that happened, Watkins’ longtime colleague Lolita Lopez heads to KNBC in Los Angeles.

With rumors of change coming to The Early Show, Chris Wragge rejoins WCBS as 6 p.m. co-anchor. Don Dahler gets his contract reworked to handle weekend anchoring.

In a surprise to many in the industry, Steve Malzberg is out at WOR. Former Governor David Paterson takes over the two-hour afternoon slot.