After joining KAAL-TV in 2009 as a reporter and evening anchor, James Wilcox had his final day on air there on Wednesday.
Wilcox, who grew up in Brownsdale and graduated from Hayfield High School before going to St. Cloud State University, is heading back to Nebraska, the state where he had a previous TV job. He'll join the staff at KETV in Omaha, the 74th largest U.S. TV market. (Rochester is 154th.)
"I'll be an anchor/reporter with KETV, the ABC affiliate and the No. 1 station in the market," Wilcox said.
While at KAAL, Wilcox was nominated for a regional Emmy award for his investigative story on the growing number of homeless students within the Rochester Public School District, and his reporting received recognition from the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists.
"Few people in television news get the chance to work in their hometown market," he said. "I consider myself lucky. ABC 6 took a chance on me, and the station always let me be myself. For that, I'm grateful."
"Leaving ABC 6 has been one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make," he said. "I'm sad to say goodbye, but I'm excited for a new adventure. Thank you to everyone who has made me feel so welcome. It's been an honor being your newsman."
With Wilcox leaving, it softens the blow to know we will have a familiar face taking his place. Karsen Forsman is moving from the field to the anchor desk.
"I look forward to being someone that the community can count on," he said. "I have the chance to be a leader in the community. I take pride in that."
Forsman grew up in the small town of Dassel, about an hour west of the Twin Cities, so he feels at home in Southeast Minnesota. He graduated from St. Cloud State University in 2015, then started at KAAL shortly after.
In his almost two years in Rochester as a general assignment reporter, there have been a lot of stories that stuck out for him but one in particular sticks out.
"Last summer I covered a bomb scare in Spring Grove," he said. "Multiple agencies responded to the threat. The St. Paul Bomb Squad came that night, which the threat ended up being fake. It was a long and eventful day."
His passion for television news first was ignited in high school, when he was sports anchor for his community station. "It grew into something more when I started anchoring and reporting in college for UTVS News," he said. "From there, I found that I love story-telling and working with new people every day."
Rounding out the changes at KAAL, Olivia York just took the position of weekend anchor.
Born in Chicago, York moved to Edina at age 4, then moved to Los Angeles when she was 16, so a good chunk of her childhood was spent in Minnesota.
In California, York tried acting (she appeared in a film with Anna Kendrick), but there was a quick stop between acting and TV news.
"I wasn't feeling very fulfilled with acting and wasn't getting too many opportunities to do it, but I had a dream of living in New York, so I went to law school in New York for a year," she said. Then "I worked for a summer in Dublin, Ireland, and it was there that I realized I was still lacking something — the ability to tell stories. It occurred to me that I could sort of marry the two (law and acting) and be in front of the camera doing broadcast news."
York started at KAAL in October 2015 as a general assignment reporter, then last February became the evening reporter.
"I've been on weekends for most of my time on ABC 6 News," York said. "I'm really amazed and blessed by the crew and producers here, consistently the weekend crew is really supportive, so I love that, and I look forward to keep growing. I really hope I can learn all I can with this opportunity."