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Jax Daily Record Friday, Oct. 21, 200512:00 PM EST

Gionet heading back to Denver

by: Mike Sharkey

by Mike Sharkey

Staff Writer

After more than seven years with Ch. 12/25 Alan Gionet is leaving the station and moving back to Denver with his wife Kim and their four daughters.

Gionet is an evening news anchor and is usually paired with long-time Ch. 12/25 anchors Jeannie Blaylock and Donna Hicken. Station Manager Ken Tonning said Gionet’s last day hasn’t been determined, but the Gannett station — which owns USA Today and 20 other TV stations across the country — is already looking for his replacement.

“He will be leaving at some point and we will begin the search for his replacement. He’ll leave when everything comes together,” said Tonning. “We hate to lose him.”

Gionet joined the station in April 1998 after serving as an anchor and reporter in Denver and has teamed up with Hicken and Blaylock for most of his tenure at the station. Tonning said the station will look all over the country for Gionet’s replacement, but the current on-air reporters and anchors also will be considered for the prime news slot.

“Internal candidates will obviously get higher consideration,” said Tonning. “At the end of the day we want the best people in the right seat. We will do an extensive search. There are services available that will produce tapes for us of potential candidates.”

Tonning said no one internally has an edge at this point and getting demo tapes isn’t a problem. He said his news director gets about 20 demo tapes a week from reporters and anchors with more coming in during the winter months when most of the rest of country has experienced snow, sleet or other foul weather.

“It’s a high-growth market with a high quality of life,” said Tonning. “We always get a handful of Canadian applicants with some experience in the United States or looking for experience in the states.”

Still, finding the right fit is as much about chemistry as it is about an impressive resume or tape.

“There is a chemistry issue. It’s more difficult than filling a reporter’s position. But they are all difficult,” said Tonning, adding that Blaylock and Hicken will take part in the decision-making process. “We like their input and they will be included in the process. We value their input because they have to sit next to the person every day. It’s really all about making sure we have the right people in the right seats. Regardless of the position, our internal staff always gets primary consideration.”

Gionet began his television career in Tupelo, Miss., where he was an anchor and reporter. He has also worked in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Providence, R.I. He declined to comment on his departure at this time.

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