By Alan Pergament
WNED-TV will soon be looking to hire someone new to moderate the political debates it carries and to run the news department at sister radio station WBFO-FM.
Jim Ranney, who has spent almost 20 years with the local public broadcaster during two different terms, is leaving on March 28 to become the communications director for State Sen. Patrick Gallivan.
About to turn 48, Ranney said he was approached about the job with Gallivan recently and decided it was time for an "exciting new opportunity."
"Now is the time," said Ranney in a telephone interview. "If I didn't do it now, I probably wouldn't do it."
The station manager and news director at WBFO, Ranney also frequently moderated political debates carried by WNED-TV and helped during its fundraising drives.
He gave his notice last week.
"This is something I want to try," he said. "I'm excited about trying something different."
He said he only knew Gallivan as a reporter until the last few weeks, when he has gotten to know the Republican better before accepting the job.
"I've had a great time with a great staff," Ranney said of his work with both public broadcasting stations.
Ranney, who also teaches two communications courses at Buffalo State College, said he isn't leaving because of any big salary increase.
"It's a little salary bump," he acknowledged.
Donald K. Boswell, the president and chief executive officer head of local public broadcasting, said he was surprised when Ranney told him last week about his departure.
"We had looked to Jim to be a big part of our grand future," said Boswell. "He's been an integral part of station planning and development of WBFO. He was very important in the transition of our schedule (after the sale of WNED-AM, the former WEBR). Our audiences never have been greater at WBFO."
Boswell said he didn't try to talk Ranney out of leaving because the station manager was leaving the business and not for another job in broadcasting.
Boswell said the plan is to eventually bring in a vice president of radio to produce, create and oversea regional and national programs, a job that Boswell said didn't fit Ranney's skill set. As WBFO news director, Ranney has reported to John Grant, the chief programming officer, for the last few months.
Speaking of change, get ready for a new cast of Hockey Night in Canada this fall.
CBC host George Stroumbuolopoulos -- not to be confused with ABC's George Stephanopoulos -- will take over the host role of HNIC from Ron MacLean on Saturday nights. CBC will continue to air HNIC on Saturdays for four years under terms of a new 12-year, $5.2 billion deal with Rogers Communicatons that sends many more games to Canadian cable and other outlets that won't enter WNY.
However, MacLean will return as Don Cherry's sidekick on "Coach's Corner," which really is the main reason anyone in Western New York watches HNIC anyway since its telecasts here aren't in high definition on Time Warner Cable.
The 41-year-old Strombo -- as he is nicknamed across the border -- had a very short-lived CNN program last summer and also may be familiar to WNYers as the host of a CBC entertainment program in which he fawned over actors who visited or worked in Toronto. However, he reportedly began his career at The Fan 590 doing sports.
CBC obviously is doing the old American demographic dance of bringing in a younger host. However, it isn't like MacLean is ancient by American TV standards. He reportedly is 53, though having spent almost 30 years with Cherry might have aged him a little bit prematurely.
Luke Tasker, the son of Buffalo Bills star, CBS analyst and local commercial star Steve Tasker, makes his debut as a TV reporter at 7:30 tonight on WBBZ's "All Sports WNY" with Bob Koshinski. The younger Tasker was a football star at Cornell University and played wide receiver with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League last season after being a late National Football League cut. Tasker, who remains a Tiger-Cat, earned a degree in communications at Cornell.
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