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Erik Burgess, Published July 11 2013

WDAY’s Nelson to replace Schauer as co-anchor on KVRR

FARGO – The lineup shuffle among local TV news stations continues.

TJ Nelson, producer and co-anchor of the 5 p.m. newscast on WDAY TV, will take over the empty anchor’s chair left by Austen Schauer at KVRR, the local Fox affiliate.

Schauer announced late last month that he’d be leaving Fox for a job at Park Christian School in Moorhead. His last day is Aug. 2.

At KVRR, Nelson will be alongside Candace Thornberg, co-producing and co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. newscasts.

With nine years under his belt at WDAY, Nelson called this a “natural step” in his career.

“It was not an easy choice,” Nelson said. “But these main anchor gigs don’t open up very often.”

Nelson’s WDAY seat with co-anchor Robin Huebner won’t stay empty long. Reporter and weekend anchor Todd Kurtz will step in at 5 p.m., said Jeff Nelson, WDAY news director.

“I think both Todd and Robin have a great dynamic, and I think they’ll complement each other well,” Jeff Nelson said.

Fox News Director Jim Shaw said TJ Nelson was the obvious choice to replace Schauer, a 36-year veteran in regional TV news. TJ Nelson has producing and anchoring experience, and he’s well-versed in local issue, Shaw said.

“He rose to the top as our best candidate,” Shaw said. “Everything just seemed to be a good fit with him.”

TJ Nelson started at WDAY in 2004 as a producer and quickly began anchoring at 5 p.m.

The Thief River Falls, Minn., native has been in broadcast for 27 years, getting his start at age 15 in radio in Rugby, N.D., where he went to high school.

Before his stint at WDAY, TJ Nelson worked as a TV weatherman and anchored a late night newscast in Minot, N.D., where he went to college.

“It’ll be nice to get back into that main anchor role,” TJ Nelson said. “They (Fox) have a great hourlong newscast now from 9 to 10, so that’ll be fun to tackle that. That’s a challenge in itself.”

It’s the second move from WDAY to KVRR in the last few months.

Shaw, Schauer and former Fox chief meteorologist Kip Hines were the “big three” when Shaw left WDAY in 2000 to start the Fox affiliate. Hines left Fox early this year and was replaced by former WDAY weekend weatherman Rob Kupec.

Kurtz, who started at WDAY in 2009 answering phones in the newsroom, said he felt “pretty fortunate” to move up quickly.

“It’s somewhat bittersweet when these things happen. Because it’s a great opportunity for me, but it does mean that we’re losing TJ,” Kurtz said.

Weekend co-anchor Katie Lange will continue solo until her new co-anchor is found, Jeff Nelson said, adding that he’ll be putting out a job notice by today.

TJ Nelson’s last day at WDAY will be July 23 and his first day at KVRR is Aug. 5. His first day on air has yet to be set, but Shaw said it could be Aug. 12.

Thornberg will solo anchor the 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. news on Fox until Nelson starts, Shaw said.

Kurtz said his first day co-anchoring the 5 p.m. on WDAY isn’t set yet.

WDAY is owned by Forum Communications Co., which also owns The Forum.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518