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Anchor who slurred speech during broadcast leaves station

A television news anchor in upstate New York who went viral earlier this month over an awkward broadcast has decided to leave the station early.

Heather Kovar, the morning news anchor at CBS affiliate WRGB-TV (Channel 6), intended to leave the Albany TV station later this month when her contract was up at the end of the month. But that exit date was accelerated after Kovar slurred her speech and appeared unfocused and disheveled during a news broadcast earlier this month.

Kovar was placed on leave while officials at the station investigated the incident. Though armchair pundits on the Internet assumed she was drunk, Kovar eventually explained that she was sleep-deprived after dealing with the death of a close family member. This week, it was confirmed she will not be returning to the station.

Sinclair has tapped Jacquie Slater to fill Kovar’s slot. Slater joins the station several months after she left Hubbard-owned NBC affiliate WNYT (Channel 13) to take a full-time job as a technical recruiter at a local consulting firm. Her role with WRGB-TV is through a temporary contract that will have Slater anchoring the Saturday and Sunday morning broadcasts while she continues to work her other job during the week.

“I’m happy to jump in and help with the weekend mornings,” Slater told the Albany Times-Union newspaper.

Kovar has not announced where she intends to land next, though she has told local media outlets that she’s concerned the on-air incident earlier this month will follow her around as she attempts to secure a new television job.

“I’m just overwhelmed and appreciative of all the compassion and support I’ve received,” Kovar said in a recently-published interview.

Kovar’s last weekend at WRGB-TV saw her work an unusual schedule. That schedule included on-air appearances on Saturday between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., and again at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. The same schedule was to play out Sunday.

Most news anchors are required to put in several hours inside a newsroom before and after their broadcasts. Kovar anchored the 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. hour, then returned for the 6 p.m. hour — that broadcast was the one that went viral. She never made it to 11 p.m.

“I feel very bad and embarrassed — it was a perfect storm that, in the end, really hurt me,” she said.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is an award-winning journalist with more than 10 years of experience covering the business of television and radio broadcasting, streaming services and the overall media industry. In addition to his work as publisher of The Desk, Matthew contributes regularly to StreamTV Insider and KnowTechie, and has worked for several well-known news organizations, including Thomson Reuters, McNaughton Newspapers, Grasswire, Comstock's magazine, KTXL-TV and KGO-TV. Matthew is a member of IRE, a trade organization for investigative reporters and editors, and is based in Northern California.

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