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KTVX WEIGHS ANCHORS, DROPS RIESEN

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Phil Riesen is out and Randall Carlisle will be slipping behind the anchor desk at KTVX-Channel 4 in early December.

The longtime Channel 4 anchorman is being replaced by one of his former competitors: Carlisle anchored the news at KUTV-Channel 2 from 1980 to 1988."This has been a long evaluation process that began 15

months ago," said KTVX general manager Peter Mathes. "We've been evaluating where we are and where we could go.

"Phil has been aware that we were making this decision."

Mathes and Channel 4 news director John Edwards both praised Riesen, acknowledging the anchorman's contributions over the past eight years as the station rose from a mere blip in the ratings to a virtual tie with Channel 2 and Channel 5 in the early evening news and a strong third at 10 p.m.

The decision by KTVX officials indicates that they feel a change had to be made so Channel 4 could continue to improve its position in the ratings. KTVX will honor the remainder of Riesen's contract, which expires early next year.

Riesen had no comment, but he was reportedly less than happy with the decision to replace him. Kimberly Perkins anchored Channel 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast solo Thursday - the first time in recent memory that the station has gone with just one anchor.

Edwards said Riesen would not appear on the air Friday, and no decision has been made on when, or if, he'll be back to bid KTVX viewers farewell.

Riesen may not have been surprised at Thursday's announcement, but his colleagues - including Perkins - were caught completely unaware.

"I have totally loved working with Phil," Perkins said. "I'm looking forward to getting to know Randall and working with him."

Riesen has actually had two stints with Channel 4. He joined the station as a weekend anchor in 1973, moving to the weekday slot later that year. In 1978, he left complaining about the "happy talk" format favored by those running the station at the time.

After five years as a DJ with KALL radio, Riesen returned to the Channel 4 anchor desk in 1983. He made headlines in February of this year when he underwent brain surgery for an aneurysm, but he fully recovered.

In Carlisle, KTVX has found an anchor who is both familiar with and familiar to Utah viewers. And someone who's more than thrilled to be coming back to Salt Lake City.

"I want to come home. I'm ready to settle down," Carlisle said from Fort Worth, where he ends his anchoring duties at NBC affiliate KXAS on Friday. Carlisle wasn't born here, but he says, "It's where I met and married my wife. It's where my daughter was born. It feels like home."

Carlisle left KUTV in 1988 to anchor the news at the ABC affiliate in Minneapolis, KTSP. After two years there, he moved on to Dallas/Fort Worth, a top 10 television market.

"One day it struck me that you sort of search and search and search for the right thing, and then you realize that it was where you were to begin with," Carlisle said. "I think there's something in all of us that wants to see how far we can go. I managed to get to the eighth-largest market. But then you realize that it's not necessarily better because it's bigger."

Carlisle had a year remaining on his contract in Texas, and he approached the KXAS general manager "with great trepidation." But the newsman said that, to his surprise, his boss understood his reasons for wanting to return to Utah and released him from his contract.

"We were really lucky," Edwards said. "We didn't really think he'd be available."

Carlisle will join Perkins as anchor of Channel 4's 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts, and he'll be rejoining several other former Channel 2 employees like Carl Arky, Chris Vanocur and Craig Worth.

"It's not like I'll be going in as a stranger," he said.

And as for Riesen, "I think he's a great journalist and a good anchor," said Carlisle. "I wish him well."