KHSL shucks Cobb from evening news

Debbie Cobb

Debbie Cobb

This just in from the what-have-you-done-for-us-lately department:

An emotionally distraught Debbie Cobb said her on-air goodbyes Friday, Jan. 14, noting that after 20 years on the job “corporate consolidation” was forcing her out as the regular Channel 12, KHSL evening news anchor.

Just a week before, Cobb, who anchored the 6:30 evening news for KHSL and is the most experienced local on-air TV journalist, made cheerful mention at the end of a broadcast how nice it was to have “the team” back together, referring to weatherman Dave Vanore and sportscaster Chad Abramson.

John Stall, the station’s general manager, said in an e-mail reply to a telephone inquiry that the decision to replace Cobb as a news anchor was financial in nature.

“In regards to your question on Debbie Cobb: Due to budget constraints, we have repurposed our main anchor team to handle all newscasts in the evening (Mon.-Fri.) including the 6:30 p.m. news on KHSL-TV,” Stall wrote.

The station, a CBS affiliate, is owned by Catamount Broadcasting Inc. of Norwalk, Conn. For the past few years late-night TV news in Chico has been a cooperative effort between KHSL and NBC affiliate KNVN, Channel 24, which share resources. Together they produce Northern California News, or NCN.

Cobb’s anchor spot will be filled by regular NCN late-night anchors Maureen Naylor and Matt Keller.

A source told the News & Review that Catamount is cutting the station’s budget to the bone as it prepares to sell the station. Cobb, as a longtime employee, presumably received a relatively hefty paycheck.

Station director Evan Santee was laid off two weeks before Christmas.

Catamount did not return calls by press time.

Soon after Catamount purchased KHSL, it sacked sportscaster Royal Courtain, who’d been with the station nearly 22 years. A few years later, Catamount took popular weatherman Anthony Watts off the air and reserved his employment for “special projects.” He has since returned to weekend duty following a DUI arrest last May that led to the firing of his replacement, Christina Loren.

The station is also about to lose anchor Christa Evans, who is moving to Washington, D.C.

Cobb began her career at KHSL in 1984 as a part-time news assistant after graduating from Chico State University.

Cobb remains on the payroll, the station said. "Debbie will continue to be an integral part of our news team now and in the future," Stall wrote in his email.