It's the end of an era in Utah television news — KUTV-Ch. 2 is set to announce that longtime anchorwoman Michelle King is retiring.
With 23 years as Ch. 2's lead anchorwoman, King is the longest-tenured woman in that position at any station in the state. No other woman at any station in Utah has even come close. (Hope Woodside has been at KSTU-Ch. 13 for 13 years; former KSL-Ch. 5 anchorwoman Shelley Thomas was at that station for the same length of time.)
And there are few stations in America where any anchor — male or female — has shown the kind of staying power that the always congenial King has had at Ch. 2. But she has been contemplating retirement for some time.
"This has kind of been a long time coming," said David Phillips, KUTV's vice president and general manager. "It's something that she's been struggling with, and we've been talking about for some time. And she's just decided that she just wants to spend more time with her family."
King will continue to co-anchor Ch. 2's 10 p.m. newscast through the November sweeps, which conclude Nov. 28. Phillips said the station plans "a celebration of a great career" to coincide with her retirement.
The station will name Shauna Lake — currently co-anchor of KUTV's 5 p.m. newscast and national-news desk anchor at 10 p.m. — as King's replacement. It's a move that should surprise no one given that KUTV has been "planning it for years."
"We've known that (King's retirement) was inevitable, so developing Shauna and having her in place, ready to step in, is just kind of a natural transition," Phillips said.
King, 49, has spent her entire career at KUTV. A native of El Monte, Calif., she graduated from Brigham Young University (where she was homecoming queen) in 1978 and started work at Ch. 2 that same year. Hired as a part-time consumer reporter, she was a general-assignment reporter and noon anchorwoman before becoming one of the primary anchors of KUTV's evening newscasts in 1984.
King is the second longtime Utah news anchor to announce she's retiring at the end of November. She'll join KSL's Dick Nourse, who's stepping down after 43 years as the lead anchorman at Ch. 5. (He will continue to work there in what KSL describes as a "senior capacity.")