Courier exclusive: Lisa Washington leaving KDKA on Nov. 13 – moving to Scranton’s WNEP-TV to become evening news anchor
by Rob Taylor Jr. – Courier Staff Writer – 5:15 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020
Oftentimes, what you experience early in life sticks with you for a lifetime.
As a fifth-grader at Bennettsville Elementary School in Bennettsville, South Carolina, Lisa Washington was enamored at a local television news anchor who visited her school.
The way that news anchor spoke, the way that news anchor related to the students, the way that news anchor carried themselves…it had the young Lisa Washington hooked.
Come tomorrow, Nov. 13, Washington, now married with two children, will anchor the noon newscast on KDKA-TV (2) in Pittsburgh, her professional home for the past five and a half years.
It will be her last day at KDKA. She’s accepted an offer to become a main anchor at WNEP-TV (16) in Scranton, Pa. Washington will begin anchoring the 6, 7, 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts later this month.
Becoming a weekday evening anchor in local TV news is considered prime real estate. While there are some reporters who love being in the field and don’t want to sit at the anchor desk, many reporters, like Washington, love the anchor desk. It takes continuous effort and talent to get promoted from reporting to anchoring on a regular basis.
“You bring reporting skills to the anchor desk,” Washington told the New Pittsburgh Courier in an exclusive interview, Nov. 12, “but I also feel that at the anchor desk, you have that commanding presence to connect with the viewer and to share their stories. I was interested in anchoring because it allows me to show more of my personality. I think I connect well with people.”
Washington had anchoring experience prior to coming to Pittsburgh. She was an anchor and reporter in both Huntsville, Ala., and Memphis, Tenn., before heading to major-market San Francisco to be a reporter on KPIX-TV (5), a CBS affiliate.
Washington became a reporter for KDKA in 2015 and, almost instantly, commanded an on-air presence that was palpable. With African American heavyweights like Lynne Hayes-Freeland, Bob Allen and Harold Hayes also reporting at KDKA at the time, Pittsburgh’s African American community openly welcomed Washington into their homes.
LISA WASHINGTON, third from right, with members of Pittsburgh Chapter of the Links, Inc.
In addition to reporting, Washington added weekend morning anchor duties, and, in the past year or so, has been seen anchoring weekday morning and noon newscasts.
Washington has hosted numerous events in Pittsburgh over the years, but she told the Courier she was proud of the volunteer work she was able to do in the city, through organizations such as the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Links, Inc.
“I am certainly going to miss the people, seeing them everyday, but the friendships will last a lifetime for sure,” Washington said.
Before Washington became familiar with the people of Pittsburgh, she had to become familiar with her new surroundings at KDKA. A local juggernaut in the business stepped up.
“When I was deciding where I would sit in the KDKA newsroom, I think the best decision I made was sitting across from Lynne Hayes-Freeland, and that was the best decision I made from my first day at KDKA,” Washington told the Courier. “Lynne has not only been a mentor, but she’s truly become a great friend.”
(Lisa Washington with Lynne Hayes-Freeland)
Washington earned a bachelor’s degree in mass media arts/journalism from Clark Atlanta University and a master’s in business/corporate communications from Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C. She’s traversed the country reporting on some of the biggest stories to share. And in a few weeks, she’ll be sharing stories to her new Scranton family of viewers. Yes, that Scranton, the birthplace of President-elect Joe Biden.
“This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Washington told the Courier. “Also, my mother used to always make me watch the evening news, so I did really well on pop quizzes when I was in school. I wanted to be a journalist from a very young age.”
LISA WASHINGTON, often seen around town at different functions, said goodbye to her Pittsburgh viewers at the conclusion of KDKA’s noon newscast, Nov. 13.