Aaron Brown Will Leave Kiro-TV News Friday
Say goodbye to Aaron Brown.
The KIRO-TV anchorman, who for months had been rumored to be parting ways with Channel 7, will say farewell this Friday after his 11 p.m. newscast.
Being Aaron Brown, he probably will not go gently.
Brown, in a telephone interview last night after wrapping the 11 p.m. newscast, said he "hopes to be able to answer soon" questions about his next job - which sources say he already has landed (one recently published rumor had him joining a national network) - and the reasons he will no longer be a member of the KIRO staff.
Asked when he formally gave notice, Brown said only: "That's an interesting way to put it. I'm not sure that's the way it happened."
Brown, though tight-lipped, was not completely free of parting shots for his employer of the past five years. Will he still be in the journalism business?
"I'm not sure the word `still' applies," Brown replied.
Brown's boss, KIRO news director John Lippman, wrote a script for Brown to read last night on the air to announce his departure. Brown didn't read it.
"I'm not going to report `news' - and I use that term in quotes - about myself. It just didn't seem appropriate," Brown said after the newscast.
"A lot is going on in my head right now. I'm just trying to deal with it."
Brown's contract expires at the end of the year. With vacation, leaving Friday "was just the way it timed out," Brown said.
"This isn't a surprise," said Lippman today. "It's something we've been talking about for a long time. Months; a while."
Lippman would not say whether Brown's leaving was a decision set in motion by Brown or by KIRO.
"I've been very happy with the 11 o'clock broadcasts," Lippman added. "I know Aaron is going on to something that is going to be very good for him."
KIRO's 5 o'clock anchor team of Gary Justice and Susan Hutchison will take over the 11 p.m. newscast as of Jan. 6, according to Lippman. That, he said, brings the station in line with a national trend to use both newscasts as a showcase for the same set of anchors.
Brown confirmed that his wife, Charlotte Raynor, a KING-TV reporter, will be concentrating on raising their young daughter when Brown takes a new job, whatever it is.
A Minneapolis native and University of Minnesota dropout, Brown cut his broadcasting teeth at radio stations in the Twin Cities, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.
His first Seattle TV job came in 1976, when he joined KING as an assistant night assignment editor. Three years later he became a reporter, eventually rising through a series of anchoring and editing jobs to fill the 11 p.m. anchor chair.
With Brown as front man, the show became the most-viewed late evening newscast in Seattle.
With his editorially raised eyebrow or his smile that often looked more like a smirk, Brown seemed to evoke either love or hate from viewers. Call him the escargot of Seattle anchors.
In January 1986, Brown announced he'd be jumping to KIRO for a six-figure contract that reportedly made him the highest-paid anchor in Seattle history.
Brown was no Pied Piper, though. If KIRO's Lippman thought viewers would migrate with the boyish anchor and allow Channel 7's late newscast to equal the success of KING's, he was wrong.
In the past year, KIRO often appeared usure of how to use Brown's talent. For a brief time he even co-hosted the station's new local evening magazine program, "Inside Line," looking slightly out of place in a sweater or open-collared button-down shirt.
KIRO Broadcasting made national news last week when the company's president spiked, then OK'd a story about the legal problems of some University of Washington football players. That episode provoked a maelstrom of criticism inside the KIRO newsroom, but Brown - who wound up voicing the story initially being reported by Mark Sauter, who quit over the spiking - made it clear that his departure is unrelated to last week's "nonsense."
"My decisions," he said, "were made long ago."
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