As it prepares to raise anchor — moving to a new office and studio site in Rochester — KAAL-TV has locked in one of its top anchors.

James Wilcox, who has worked at the station since 2009, signed a new deal through 2016. Wilcox will continue to anchor the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. news.

"I'm thrilled to continue delivering the news at the station I grew up watching," said Wilcox, who graduated from Hayfield High School. "I'm part of a great team and have formed some incredible relationships with our viewers. I feel at home here."

While Wilcox has been extended, the station is still searching for a reporter/photographer and a sports director/anchor.

Starting in February, Wilcox will be delivering top stories from a new spot. Last spring, Twin Cities based Hubbard Broadcasting, which owns KAAL, announced that the ABC affiliate would be moving from its current Rochester location, 2720 Superior Drive N.W., to a new facility in the TJ Maxx Plaza, 1300 16th St. S.W.

The new office and studio space will be three times the size of current station. News director David Springer said the relocation is on schedule and, despite winter showing up early, the new facility will be ready to go in 2-1/2 months.

"Major construction is nearly complete," Springer said. "The plan is to be operational as of Feb. 1 or earlier, and we started moving in set pieces (on Monday)."

Wilcox's signing comes on the heels of KAAL inking longtime KTTC-TV anchor Rachel Wick to do mornings. KAAL is also considering giving evening anchor Betsy Singer, who also previously worked at KTTC, her own news show, which could start in September.

While there have been a lot of moving parts at KAAL, Wilcox has been a consistent presence at 6 and 10. While at KAAL, Wilcox has been honored by the Minnesota Broadcasters Association, the Minnesota Associated Press, and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with a regional Emmy nomination for his investigative report looking into the growing number of homeless youth in Rochester.

"I'm very, very happy that James renewed with us," Springer said. "James could have easily taken a job in a much larger market and collected a much larger paycheck. The fact that he made a choice to stay shows his commitment to this area, his co-workers and our station."

Besides anchoring and reporting at KAAL, Wilcox also manages content for the station's social media pages.

"I love my job and love telling stories that have an impact," he said. "News isn't always good, so whenever possible I push for stories that bring something positive or spur change."

Derek Sullivan is a Post-Bulletin entertainment writer. Small Screen is a television column that runs on Fridays.

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