After more than 20 years at WJZ-TV, Kai Jackson is joining Sinclair… (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore…)
Kai Jackson, whose departure from WJZ after more than 20 years was first reported here last month, said Thursday that he will be joining Sinclair Broadcasting as its national correspondent based in Washington, D.C.
"Yes, I'm going to Sinclair," Jackson said in a telephone interview. "I'm really excited. It's a company at the forefront of the industry, and I appreciate that they think I have something to offer."
Jackson said he will start his new job with the Hunt-Valley-based broadcaster Jan. 2.
"Kai will be a special correspondent covering stories in the nation’s capitol for all of the Sinclair news operations," Scott Livingston, VP for news at Sinclair, said in an email response to The Sun."He will develop stories that focus on our commitment to advocacy journalism. Our goal is to produce stories that give context to the hot button issues in Washington."
Livingston added: "I’m excited to have him join our staff. Kai is a talented anchor/reporter. In my opinion, he’s the top talent at WJZ, Baltimore, where he has been anchor/reporter for more than 20 years. I have a tremendous amount of respect for his work and he is one of key reasons for WJZ’s ratings success. He is a true pro with a great ability to connect with the audience."
In writing about Jackson's departure from WJZ last month, I speculated that he would be joining Sinclair as it continues on a path of massive expansion in ownership of TV stations, including WJLA-TV in Washington, which it is in the formal process of taking over.
I suggested that by hiring Jackson from WJZ, Sinclair could both weaken a competitor in Baltimore and acquire a polished talent for its new Washington property. Read that here.
Jackson declined to comment Thursday on whether or not he would have a role at WJLA. But I would not be surprised to see WJZ's former 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. anchor on the D.C. airwaves once Sinclair starts running the Washington property.
Nor would I be surprised once his no-compete clause expires (usually a year) to see Jackson on WBFF (Fox45) in Baltimore. Sinclair and Jackson have several anchoring options if they want to go that way.
But whether or not anything happens at the anchor desk, being a national correspondent for Sinclair is a big and influential job in the TV news industry given the giant footprint of the company.
Since its size seems to be changing weekly with new acquisitions, here's the self-description from Sinclair's website:
"Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. is one of the largest and most diversified television broadcasting companies in the country today. Sinclair owns and operates, programs or provides sales services to 163 television stations in 77 markets, after pending transactions. Sinclair's television group reaches approximately 38.7% of US television households and includes FOX, ABC, MyTV, CW, CBS, NBC, Univision and Azteca affiliates."
Sinclair owns and operates WBFF-TV (Channel 45), has a local marketing agreement with WNUV-TV (Channel 54), and a local sales agreement with WUTB-TV (Channel 24) in Baltimore.
Jackson is the second anchor to leave WJZ this year for a national reporting job. Adam May joined Al Jazeera America in June as a national correspondent on its "America Tonight" primetime weeknight show.
WJZ is owned and operated by CBS.