If there was one constant in local media this year, it was change. Here are some of 2021’s notable comings and goings in the Asheville area’s media landscape.
- We begin on a sad note with the recent passing of longtime and beloved local sports journalist Keith Jarrett. He passed away at 62 on Dec. 8 after suffering a tear in his aorta. The McDowell County native, who covered local sports for the Asheville Citizen-Times for 29 years before retiring from the paper in 2015, was lauded for this reportorial flair, generosity and humor.
- David Feingold, general manager and CEO of Blue Ridge Public Radio, retired this December after a long career in news broadcasting capped by six years at the Asheville-based network of NPR-affiliated stations. He’s credited with overseeing significant reinventions and expansions while transitioning the former WCQS to BPR. Mark Vogelzang has been named interim general manager.
- WLOS-TV, the local ABC affiliate, saw significant staff changes with moves by three of the station’s key personnel: longtime anchor, reporter and editor Frank Kracher retired in March; station Vice President and General Manager Joe Fishleigh retired in May; and veteran reporter and resident funnyman John Le departed in November for a new job at Fox 46 in Charlotte.
- Two of the Asheville Citizen-Times’ local fixtures moved up in their parent company’s ranks in 2021. Longtime food writer, editor and author Mackensy Lunsford (also a former Mountain Xpress food writer) recently relocated to Nashville, Tenn., to work as the USA Today Network’s new food and culture storyteller for the South. And earlier this year, longtime reporter, editor and columnist Casey Blake was promoted to North Carolina statewide team editor for the same network.
- Lastly, Xpress’ managing editor, Virginia Daffron, stepped down from her position in June. Daffron began her work with the paper as a city reporter before taking on the position of managing editor in October 2017. She is replaced by Thomas Calder.