WRTV replaces Wallace as evening newscast anchor

WRTV-TV Channel 6 has decided not to renew news anchor Todd Wallace’s contract and has hired a replacement from New York, Todd Connor.

In addition, on August 30, WRTV will expand its 5 p.m. newscast from 30 minutes to an hour, giving it two hours of early-evening news programming.

Wallace, 45, came to Indianapolis in September 2007 from Dallas, where he was a weekend anchor for the NBC affiliate station. He started the same day as co-anchor Trisha Shepherd, who came from Des Moines, Iowa.

WRTV, an ABC affiliate, dubbed its two new anchors “Todd and Trisha” in a prominent marketing campaign. The duo had a joint blog at toddandtrisha.com. And Wallace got some attention on Facebook via a fan-created page called “Todd Wallace’s Mustache.”

But the new anchors didn’t change the ratings picture for WRTV. Its newscasts are competitive at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., but are still in third place behind WISH-TV Channel 8 and WTHR-TV Channel 13.

WRTV’s 7 p.m. newscast, which was launched when Wallace and Shepherd arrived, trails all other network programming at that time. And its 11 p.m. newscast audience isn’t close to the one drawn by WISH and WTHR.

“The market has not fallen in love with them,” said veteran Indianapolis media buyer Bill Perkins, president of Perkins Nichols Media. “They were running third then and they’re running third now.”

Don Lundy, general manager for WRTV, said the ratings were not there for Wallace and Shepherd, and that Wallace didn't “click” with the local audience.

“There really wasn’t anything he did wrong,” Lundy said. “Sometimes things click, and sometimes they don’t.”

Wallace’s last newscast was July 27, although his contract runs until the end of August. Reached at his home in Fishers, Wallace said he understands the change is "just part of the business."

"I've done nothing wrong. I tried to show up to work every day with my A game," Wallace said, adding, "I have no hard feelings. I'm looking forward to the next chapter in my life."

Wallace said he has been contacted by stations in other markets, but he is also considering options that would keep him in the Indianapolis area.

Todd Connor started at WRTV at the end of July. He is anchoring weekday newscasts at 5 p.m., 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Shepherd is staying on, anchoring the 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts. Ericka Flye, who filled in for Shepherd while she was recently on maternity leave, is co-anchoring the 5 p.m. newscast.

Lundy praised Connor, 44, who has spent the past 13 years working for Fox News and ABC News.

“He’s got experience at the national level,” Lundy said. “He’s been exposed to a lot of issues, and the culture I think you bring in after being at an organization like Fox News. That’s really what attracted us to him, was his ability as a reporter.”

The biography of Connor on WRTV’s website also plays up his Midwestern roots. He grew up in Illinois and, before going to New York, did stints at television stations in Terre Haute, South Bend and Louisville.

Perkins, the media buyer, said Connor’s Indiana experience might give him a better emotional connection with central Indiana viewers, compared with out-of-towners Wallace and Shepherd.

“They’re looking for better ratings and thinking maybe they’ll get a better show with this other guy,” Perkins said.

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