“My South Texas adventure did not last as long as we originally planned, but I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity,” Towne wrote in a social media post on Saturday.
Towne is expected to start at KXTV later in the month, according to a source familiar with the move. She will join Jill Manuel, KXTV’s digital news director, who was hired in mid-2019.
After spending most of her career in smaller newsrooms, Towne’s hiring by KXTV quickly catapults her to one of the most-powerful newsroom positions in the country’s 20th largest television market.
She began her journalism career as a reporting intern at The World newspaper in Coos Bay, Oregon before shifting to a similar position with hyperlocal news organization Patch.com. She transitioned into the television industry in 2013 after being hired by KTVL (Channel 10), a Sinclair-owned CBS affiliate in Oregon.
For several years afterward, she transitioned through mostly small television stations in Oregon, New York and Pennsylvania before landing at KIII in June 2019.
TEGNA is hoping Towne can turn things around at KXTV: While the station has a commanding digital news presence in the Sacramento market, it lags far behind the other three English-language news outlets in the region, placing fourth in the overall ratings behind KCRA (Channel 3, NBC), KOVR (Channel 13, CBS) and KTXL (Channel 40, Fox).
In recent years, KXTV has tried to move the ratings needle by hiring top talent who established themselves in other newsrooms: The station brought long-time news anchor Walt Gray, formerly of KCRA, and entertainment reporter Mark S. Allen of KMAX-TV (Channel 31, CW) into the mix, placing them front-and-center of a newly-relaunched morning news program called “ABC10 Morning Blend.”
Largely driven by social media efforts, Morning Blend has brought mixed results to the station: More people stream ABC10’s morning news program online compared to rivals KTXL and KCRA, according to an analysis of data reviewed by The Desk, but it still lags behind a KMAX-KOVR simulcast of “Good Day Sacramento,” which has been the market’s morning news leader for more than two decades.