Television

KSHB’s Elizabeth Alex is pulling up anchor

Updated: 2013-02-25T23:07:58Z

By TIM ENGLE

The Kansas City Star

Elizabeth Alex says she’s an “emotional wreck” as she approaches her final KSHB newscast Wednesday.

She’s not sure why. After all, she quit, or at least tried to, two years ago, to take a job at a nonprofit agency. But KSHB’s general manager wanted to hang on to her, so Alex ended up working at both places but cutting back to just the 6 p.m. news.

Now Channel 41 is under different management. Was stepping away from the anchor desk her idea? Lots of people have asked her that.

“It evolved,” she says, “into this mutual decision.”

KSHB wanted someone full time; Alex had decided in 2011 she should be home at night with her teenage daughter. And stations generally prefer the early-evening and 10 p.m. anchor teams to be the same.

Alex may continue to turn up on 41 Action News. As a “special correspondent,” she hopes to contribute stories from time to time.

Meanwhile, she’s also community outreach and media relations director for Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, based in Kansas City, Kan.

Q. You know, leaving after just 17 years, you’ll never be known as the female Larry Moore.

A. (Laughs) There’s only one Larry Moore. I don’t think it would be wise for anybody to try to beat him at that game.

You’re a Kansas City anchorperson who actually grew up here. That’s not that common.

When I came here (from a station in Florida) I had had an offer in New York and I really kind of wanted to go there. The people at Channel 41 at the time didn’t even know I was from here. Once they did hear that I was local, they were even more interested, which made the decision easier for me. They were really welcoming. Of course my mom and my dad were thrilled.

You thought Kansas City would be just another stop on your career path.

I grew up in Overland Park, with a very protective family. I mean, my mom thought me driving to the Plaza would be really dangerous. So when I came here (to work), I discovered the whole rest of the city. In lots of ways it was like coming to a new community.

Are you going to miss covering big news events like the JJ’s fire and the snowstorm?

You want to be a part of it, if you’re a journalist at heart. Every time I think about it, I cry. I’ve cried a lot over the last couple of weeks.

I think you and Gary Lezak should start some annual event that you could co-host, maybe a fundraiser. You’re obviously fond of him.

You know, we have been through so many fun times, so many crazy nights of weather events. And we went through his cancer. Thankfully, (after treatment) there’s no traces of his cancer. He was there for me during my father’s death. His father died. My (first) husband got sick and died. Just so many life events you go through when you’re working with people this closely. Mark Clegg is the same, and Jack Harry, too. But I’ve been with Gary the longest. He just makes me laugh, every day.

Tell me about the orphanage you sponsor, the outgrowth of a reporting trip.

I have these 13 kids in Romania who would be on the street, probably, were it not for the efforts of a small band of people here in Kansas City and a couple of other states. I lead this effort to shake down every friend I have, every business associate, to try to help these kids. I think (leaving KSHB) is going to give me more time to work on this cause. I go to Romania a couple of times a year to administrate the house.

These are interesting times for local TV news. Larry Moore just scaled back, and there’ve been several management changes. Does it seem like Channel 9 is newly vulnerable?

Well, if you look at the recent overnight ratings, yeah, but they’re a very strong news operation. I think every (rival station) hopes they’re going to be vulnerable.

Do you see yourself returning to the anchor desk, some anchor desk, down the road?

I think it’s silly to close any doors. I guess I could be like Hillary Clinton: No! I’m not running! Well, maybe. (Laughs) But it’s not in my plan.

Maybe there’ll be some big snowstorm that they’ll need someone to come in for, and I’ll just happen to be in the neighborhood. You never know.

To reach Tim Engle, call 816-234-4779 or email tengle@kcstar.com. On Twitter: @tim_engle

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