This was originally posted on by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 and updated on Wednesday
Shiba Russell, hired earlier this year from New York, will take over for Brenda Wood early next year as evening anchor at 11Alive, the NBC affiliate.
Russell will be joining co-anchor Jeff Hullinger on WXIA-TV.
Wood announced last month that is leaving 11Alive after 20 years, saying it was time to retire on her own terms.
When WXIA-TV picked up Russell earlier this year from the NBC affiliate to join the morning show, speculation began immediately behind the scenes that she would be taking over for Wood at some point. I was unable to ascertain at the time if that was true but apparently it was.
Wood told 11Alive officials back in February she wanted only a one-year contract with plans to retire. That gave 11Alive plenty of time to find a replacement.
“From day one, Atlanta has welcomed me with open arms, and I have loved every minute here. I look forward to bringing our viewers the news they need before they go to sleep,” said Russell in a press release Tuesday morning. "I cannot wait to connect with even more of our viewers.”
"I'm excited about this new opportunity," Russell said in a follow-up interview Wednesday. "Brenda's willingness to help with the transition and introduce me to the community has been amazing. It makes it even more special to get her support. She's a role model, particularly for young women. I'm hoping to carry on her tradition of hard work and authenticity. She is so real."
Russell's final morning shift will be December 30. She will be a temporary third anchor at 5 p.m. with Wood and Hullinger from January 5 through February 7. She will co-anchor with Hullinger at 11 p.m. starting January 5. Wood will continue to anchor 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. from January 5 through her final day February 7. Russell will take over co-anchoring at 5, 6 and 11 starting February 8.
In January, Cheryl Preheim, who has worked at Tegna-owned top-rated Denver station KUSA-TV (9News), will replace Russell on the Atlanta Alive morning team, which includes Vinnie Politan, Jaye Watson, StormTracker Chesley McNeil and TrafficTracker Crash Clark. She has been in Denver for 18 years and has done evening anchoring as well there.