Kai Jackson at the WJZ anchor desk with Sally Thorner on her final… (KARL MERTON FERRON / Baltimore…)
UPDATES (Nov. 30) AT END WITH JACKSON COMMENT.
After 20 years at WJZ-TV anchorman Kai Jackson has informed management that he is leaving the station at the end of the year.
Jackson co-anchors one-half of the 4 p.m. and all of the 5 p.m. weekday news on WJZ. He also reports for the 11 p.m. newscast.
He is the second high-visibility anchor to leave the station this year. Adam May left WJZ for Al Jazeera America in May.
WJZ president and general manager Jay Newman said no immediate replacement will be named. The plan by the CBS owned-and-operated station is to evaluate both internal and external candidates -- a process that could extend into 2014, Newman said.
“We’re going to see this as a opportunity to not just fill a position but look at how we can make it stronger,” Newman said Wednesday.
Here's the memo from Newman to staff. Jackson's email to the staff follows.
I want to share some news with you today.
Kai Jackson has let us know that he will be leaving WJZ at the end of this year.
He has been a strong contributor as part of our news team for over 20 years. Our on air broadcasts have greatly benefited from Kai’s professionalism at the anchor desk and his journalistic contributions
in the field.
Kai is a great colleague and friend. He will be missed.
Please join me in wishing Kai the very best in his future endeavors.
Here's Jackson's email:
I find myself in unfamiliar territory. After 20 years and 7 months at WJZ I’ve decided to leave at the end of the year. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to advance my career goals.
I feel fortunate to have worked at a television station with such a rich history. I mean it when I say that I’ve grown professionally and personally from the relationships with you, my colleagues.
Like many of you I’ve made a life here, started a family and I’m raising children. My decision wasn’t easy but was made in the best interest of my family.
I am very appreciative to our President and General Manager Jay Newman and our News Director Gail Bending for their continued support and I appreciate the experiences that I’ve had here over the years.
I look forward to staying in contact and I wish each of you the best that life has to offer. It has truly been a great experience working with you and being part of something very special at WJZ.
May God bless you and your families.
Jackson did not respond to interview requests Wednesday and Thursday, which only added to speculation about his reasons for leaving.
One line of industry speculation has him headed to a TV job in Washington. One logical place there would WJLA-TV, which was bought this year by Hunt Valley-based Sinclair Broadcasting. By hiring Jackson, Sinclair could both weaken a competitor in Baltimore and acquire a polished anchor for its new Washington property.
Viewers reacted to news of Jackson’s departure Wednesday on the Baltimore Sun Facebook page when Jackson's departure was first reported here at 1:15 p.m.
“Nooooooo!” Heddy Cassutto Haden wrote. “First Adam May, and now Kai? Good grief! I wish him the best. I have seen the first flecks of grey in his hair over the last 20 years. I remember when he was a rookie.”
UPDATE: Jackson said Saturday (Nov. 30):
"At this time, I am still weighing my options," Jackson said Saturday in answer to the question of where he's headed next.