Media Moves: Peoria TV News Departures, More GateHouse Buyouts Announced

Aug 14, 2019

Peoria TV viewers are accustomed to seeing new faces appear on their screens as talent jumps to bigger markets. Get ready for a few more changes.

Goodbye, Peoria! Hello, New Cities!

WMBD/WYZZ evening anchor Lauren Langer's last day at the station was July 31. She leaves the CBS and Fox stations after about two and a half years in the Peoria/Bloomington market. She's reportedly headed to CBS affiliate WKMG in Orlando, Fla., to work as a reporter. Langer, an Illinois native, came to Peoria from WTVO in Rockford. 

Meteorologist Lauren Rainson is leaving WMBD's morning and midday shows after five years on the job to become the senior broadcast meteorologist at AccuWeather Network. She was born and raised in Central Illinois. She previously worked at NBC affiliate WAND in Decatur. 

Rainson's last day at WMBD and WYZZ is Tuesday, Aug. 20. 

Heart of Illinois ABC Weekend Anchor/Reporter Mason Dowling is leaving Peoria after nearly three years. His last day is Sunday, August 18. He's headed to WAOW, the ABC affiliate in Wausaw, Wis. Dowling is stepping off the anchor desk and into a management role. Both stations are owned by Quincy Media. He came to Peoria from WPSD in Paducah, Ky. 

Buyout and Layoff Rumors Revving up at GateHouse Papers

Talk of buyouts and layoffs are already starting at GateHouse papers across the country, just a week after GateHouse parent company New Media Investment Group announced its intention to merge with Gannett Corp. to form the nation's largest local newspaper conglomerate. 

The Rockford Newspaper Guild, which represents journalists at the Rockford Register-Star and Freeport Journal Standard, said voluntary buyouts were offered this week. Poynter reported on other impacted papers on Wednesday. 

There's no word on if the Peoria Journal Star or other GateHouse-owned papers in Central Illinois are impacted. WCBU recently talked to longtime Journal Star columnist Phil Luciano about the GateHouse-Gannett merger and his take on the rounds of layoffs endured by downstate Illinois' largest newspaper over the past few years.

Federal regulators are expected to approve the newspaper merger deal by the end of the year.

Full disclosure: WCBU and WGLT operate under a news sharing agreement with WMBD. Reporter Tim Shelley is a former employee of Heart of Illinois ABC.