NY Daily News: Shiba Russell SAS'97 makes the move to WNBC/Ch.4 as weekend anchor

NY Daily News
February 8, 2011
BY Richard Huff

Anchor Shiba Russell has heard the talk she's joining WNBC/Ch. 4 to replace Sue Simmons.

She's flattered, really.

"It's a great compliment," says Russell, who joins the station next week as a weekend anchor and correspondent. "Sue is an icon. She is a legend. I'm a huge fan. I have been for years, and I'm looking forward to working with her.

"I'm not here to replace Sue Simmons," Russell continues. "I'm here to be me. I can't predict the future. I do know I'm going to work my tail off, I'm going to tell great stories, and if it leads to more opportunities, that would be great."

Russell, who was born in Boston and raised in New Jersey, left WCVB-TV in Boston last month to take the job at Ch. 4.

Starting Valentine's Day, she'll spend time reporting three days a week and working as a co-anchor with David Ushery on weekend 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts.

"I'm pursuing a dream to be working in my home market and at NBC's flagship station," Russell says.

Her hire comes at a time when there's been chatter about Simmons' future with the station. She recently returned from back surgery to a reduced work schedule. Right now, she's co-anchoring only the 11 p.m. newscast. The station has said the one-show schedule is something Simmons is comfortable with and that she is "an integral part of our show, of culture here."

Russell says New York has always been her home market, with Boston being like a second home. She has family spread between the two cities.

"My goal has been to be in one of the top markets and eventually move back home," she says. "My dad gave me a lot of grief when I moved to Pittsburgh."

Early in her career, Russell worked at News 12 The Bronx and for Neighborhood News 12 in Long Island. She then landed a job at WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh, which led to Boston.

She's been off the air for a few weeks, getting set up with a home here and getting her daughter enrolled in school. Like any mom, she had tears in her eyes when she dropped her daughter off for her first day.

"I feel like I'm sending her off to college, but I know I'm going to pick her up at 3 p.m.," she says. "I knew it was going to be difficult."

Being away from the business for the past few weeks left Russell missing news, too.

"I actually do miss going out and talking to people. Especially the people of New York," she says. "They always tell you like it is."

Russell says she tries not to define herself by her work - she calls herself a mom first, but also a journalist.

"I have missed my work, which is going out and reporting the day's news," she says. "I really enjoy breaking news."

She's fond of weather stories, she says, largely because of the way people react while she's on the street. She'll get a shot at that next Monday when she begins working at Ch. 4.

"I hope I'm busy and it's a sweetheart of a day," she says. "I would love for breaking news."