Added June 20, 2008: Susan Lennon returns to San Diego TV News...click here for details!
San Diego lost one of its few class acts in morning TV news today. Susan Lennon has left the largely unwatchable KUSI Morning News (aka the renamed "Good Morning San Diego." befitting the station's 70s unintentional retro feel). Lennon, who has been there since at least 1999, has left to spend more time with her family. Working a killer shift (the show runs, I believe, from 5:00-9:00am, weekdays), one can readily see why she's getting out of Dodge, but she will be missed.
One of a long line of blonde anchors on KUSI (I believe the blonde theme extends to the station owners' wives, also), Lennon was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise barren wasteland. San Diego's morning news shows are HORRIBLE, peopled with some of the worst talent, particularly live feature reporters, that I've ever had the misfortune to view. Paired with the unfortunately peppy Dan Plante, Lennon was a calm, intelligent, humorous presence among the whirling dervishes around her, including Plante and the increasingly-creepy Rod Luck. Sadly, it looks like Susan's replacement will be the vapid Bridget Naso, who anchors the weekend morning news. Naso carries on the station's blonde tradition.
And that's really a shame since, for once, KUSI has a real find in new reporter Kristen Cusato. I first saw Cusato a few months back when she filled in for Naso on a weekend. She was smart, personable, funny and never gave you the impression that reading was a new thing, something she was experiencing for the very first time ever, live that morning. Alas, Cusato is a brunette (and a strikingly tall one, at that), so she'll never succeed at KUSI.
My favorite Susan Lennon story shows both what a class act she is and what a great sense of humor she has. Lennon had a penchant for wearing, well...not exactly lingerie on the air, but one day she had on this green top that looked like a chemise, under her jacket. The anchors regularly read e-mail sent to them during the course of the show, and Lennon received one that mentioned how much a male viewer, watching at home, was "enjoying" what she was wearing. Lennon commented she couldn't read the e-mail she was just handed, but she did say, "People do interesting things while they watch our show," and "Steve, I was glad I was able to help." Then they threw to Rod Luck on a live remote, and Luck paused, saying, "Wait! We're not done yet..."
We laughed and laughed. I'm going to miss Susan Lennon. I'm hoping, in the strange anchors moving across town tradition San Diego seems to have, she'll show up soon on some other local station, later in the day, but just as smart, funny and enjoyable as she was every morning.