Less than three weeks before what would have been her seventh anniversary as KSL's 10 p.m. anchorwoman, Ruth Todd, and Ch. 5 have parted ways.

But she won't be gone from the local airwaves for long. KTVX-Ch. 4 has announced that Todd will become their late-news anchorwoman sometime next year.

After months of contract negotiations, KSL and Todd "agreed to disagree," according to Ch. 5's news director Brink Chipman.

"It's hard," he said. "We feel badly about this. She's been part of us for eight years. We wish it could have worked out, but it's not our decision."

At press time, Todd had not returned messages left for her by the Deseret News.

In the end, the two sides simply couldn't come to terms. Obviously, money was involved, but details of those contract negotiations are being kept private.

The non-compete clauses in Todd's KSL contract are now at issue. (Such clauses could keep her off a competing station for six months to a year.)

Ch. 4's new owners, Clear Channel, are looking to improve the station's ratings, which have nosedived in recent years. In the recently completed November sweeps, KTVX's 10 p.m. news was seen in 60 percent fewer households than KSL's.

A BYU graduate and one-time KBYU news anchor, Todd began her professional TV career at KUTV-Ch. 2, where she was a reporter and producer from 1983-85. She worked at stations in Phoenix and Washington, D.C., before returning to Utah and going to work at Ch. 5 — as the Saturday-morning news anchor — in 1992.

Her professional, personable style quickly made her a favorite of KSL executives and viewers — 2 1/2 years later, she became the station's lead anchorwoman.

Now KSL is left to search for a successor, although that search is pretty low-key at the moment. Nadine Wimmer, who has been anchoring early-evening newscasts for Ch. 5, will take over at 10 p.m. immediately. "That's not a permanent decision, but it could be," said Chipman, who added that he plans to look at his current staff as well as outside candidates for long-term replacement.

That permanent replacement might come before the next ratings sweeps period in February, but it might not. KSL is "deeply into preparations for the Olympics" that month — as the local NBC affiliate, Ch. 5, will be the local TV outlet for Games coverage — and that's the priority.

"We'll make some adjustments," Chipman said. "If something falls into place, we'll do it. But this is a big decision for us, and we don't want to hurry it."


E-MAIL: pierce@desnews.com