News director and chief meteorologist Steve Bray will depart WISH-TV Channel 8 next month, several industry sources told IBJ.
It’s not clear if Bray is stepping down or was terminated, but sources familiar with the situation said he has agreed to stay at WISH through the critical television ratings sweeps period, which concludes May 20.
Bray and WISH officials did not return calls seeking comment. He notified WISH staffers on Thursday about his departure. He didn't elaborate on the reason, but said it was the right time for his exit.
Bray has steered WISH through a tumultuous time. Last August, CBS announced it would end its 58-year affiliation with WISH and move it to WTTV-TV Channel 4. That change happened Jan. 1.
In the wake of that announcement, WISH expanded its local news programming by 20 hours a week—to a total of 56 hours—and early this year became a CW Television Network affiliate.
Also in the wake of the affiliation change, WISH lost a number of high-profile employees, including traffic reporter Julie Patterson, meteorologist Pamela Gardner, chief investigative reporter Karen Hensel, anchor and reporter Daniel Miller, and reporter Jessica Hayes.
The man who promoted Bray to news director, Jeff White, was fired as president and general manager of WISH and sister station WNDY-TV channel 23 in May 2014. White, who had managed WISH for 11 years, was replaced by industry veteran Les Vann.
Sources close to WISH said Bray has been under increasing pressure to maintain the station’s local news audience despite not having major network shows to bring in viewers and serve as a platform to promote local programming.
One industry insider who has talked to Bray this week about the departure said Bray would be “taking some time to decompress and determine his next move.”
Bray joined WISH as a meteorologist in January 1995 and was promoted to chief meteorologist in 1999. In 2009, he was named news and weather operations manager. He became WISH’s assistant news director in 2011 and, in late 2012, was named WISH’s news director while retaining the title of chief meteorologist. Bray ascended to news director following the August 2012 ouster of WISH news director Patti McGettigan.
Bray has won several Emmy Awards for his work as a meteorologist, reporter and producer, including for his coverage of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse in 2012.
Prior to joining WISH, Bray was a meteorologist for WALA-TV in Mobile, Alabama; KPLC-TV in Lake Charles, Louisiana; and WAND-TV in Decatur, Illinois.
He graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1985 with a bachelor of science degree in meteorology in 1985.