News & Politics

Bruce DePuyt Out at NewsChannel 8 and WJLA

DePuyt, left, with DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. Screenshot via NewsChannel 8.

Add NewsChannel 8’s mid-morning host Bruce DePuyt to the body count at the local cable-news channel and its sister station, ABC affiliate WJLA. DePuyt, the longtime host of NewsTalk, is the latest veteran of the channels to exit since their 2014 purchase by Sinclair Broadcast Group.

DePuyt’s final show at NewsChannel 8, which was first reported by the Washington Post‘s Robert McCartney, will air January 31. Reached via Twitter, DePuyt says he does not have a non-compete clause in his current contract, “so I’m a free agent come February 1.”

DePuyt, who joined NewsChannel 8 in 1993, did not give the specific reason for his departure. Still, it puts him in the queue of personalities leaving the Rosslyn studio from where NewsChannel 8 and WJLA broadcast. On Monday, the Post reported that longtime DC anchor Maureen Bunyan, who was one of the first African-American women to lead a nightly-news broadcast, had been told her contract is not being renewed. Leon Harris, who jumped from CNN to WJLA in 2003, left last September in a decision he said was “not my choice.” Veteran sports reporter Tim Brant and entertainment reporter Arch Campbell also left, while Gordon Peterson retired just a few months after Sinclair purchased the station from Allbritton Communications.

But in cutting DePuyt loose, Sinclair is dealing an added blow to Washington’s local-news ecosystem. While not in the most alluring time-slot—weekdays at 11 AM—NewsTalk was often the best platform to get local and regionals stories on television for more than a couple minutes. Along with the usual retinue of elected officials and police chiefs, DePuyt frequently asked reporters from a wider band of sources than just major publications to come on the air. Several former editors of websites like DCist—including me—made their first TV appearances at DePuyt’s desk.

Sinclair purchased WJLA, NewsChannel 8, and the rest of Allbritton’s television stations in 2014 for $985 million after Allbritton decided to focus on Politico. The purchase made Sinclair the nation’s largest operator of local-television stations, with 173, and also one of the most costly, with more than $4.9 billion in liabilities.

DePuyt says he’ll let Sinclair speak to the particulars of why the company’s letting him go. Washingtonian has asked the company for comment and will update if it responds. In the meantime, DePuyt sounds pleased with his 24-year stay at NewsChannel 8.

“I can say it’s been a great run,” he says. “I have no complaints. I truly enjoyed this opportunity and I’m proud of what the show has become.”

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.