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Forum Communications Co., Published November 24 2010

Johnson joining Grand Forks news team

WDAZ-TV’s newest on-air personality is no newcomer to local television: Charley Johnson, the longtime Red River Valley news veteran.

Johnson will be the Grand Forks station’s new co-anchor, with news director-anchor Cassie Walder, weeknights at 6 and 10 p.m.

He’ll start work at WDAZ on Monday and is expected to be on the air “shortly thereafter,” a station news release said.

Johnson will replace Milo Smith, a 15-year Channel 8 co-anchor and news producer who recently left to join the UND Alumni Association.

Johnson is a news veteran of more than 36 years who most recently ran KVLY and, later, KXJB-TV, too, as general manager through a joint operating agreement.

Johnson resigned in early May from KVLY-KXJB, citing personal reasons. “I have a lot of reasons why it’s a good time for me (to resign),” he said at the time, adding that it’s a decision he had thought about for “quite some time.” “There’s no scandal, and my health is good.”

Johnson served as KVLY general manager since 1998 and had been a news anchor until 2007.

He started his career in Grand Forks as a newsman at KNOX Radio before moving to television as a news anchor and, for a time, news director for KXJB-TV. He later was an anchor and news director before also becoming general manager at KVLY.

In a statement, Johnson said he was “ready to get back to the basics of journalism – the real reason he started in news to begin with” and doing so in Grand Forks is “a perfect place.”

“I started my career at KNOX Radio, so it feels very natural to come back here to help cover news,” Johnson said in a statement. “I’m very happy to get back into the newsroom environment, and I’m looking forward to working with Cassie and her team.”

Walder, who became news director in late 2004, called Johnson “the most recognizable face in North Dakota television news, and we are elated that he is bringing his wealth of news experience to WDAZ.”

WDAZ-TV is owned by Forum Communications Co., which also owns The Forum.