After 17 years of covering city government and anchoring the news at WMAR-TV, Terry Owens is leaving the station, he said Thursday.
Owens, who along with Mary Beth Marsden is the second high-visibility anchor to take a buyout offer in recent days, said his last day at Channel 2 will be Dec. 4.
"They've had the buyout offer on the table, and the date to accept is fast approaching," Owens said Thursday. "So after much soul searching, prayer and talking with my family, I have decided to look at other possibilities."
For the last two years, Owens has been the anchor of the 5:30 p.m. nightly newscast and a reporter for the 11 p.m. broadcast. For almost a decade before that, he specialized in covering City Hall and Baltimore City government.
For the last 14 years, Owens has been host of "2 The Point," the longest running public affiars show on Baltimore TV. The 51-year-old journalist has made a major contribution to the community with this show, which brought new and diverse voices to local television.
"It was a chance to bring back into the community," Owens said of the show. "One week, you might see [actor] Charles Dutton. The next show might be on World AIDS Day -- as it was last week. It was the thing that kept us going."
Coupled with the Dec. 2 departure of Mary Beth Marsden, who anchors the 5, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts, Owens decision to take a buyout offer leaves the station with almost no frontline anchors -- and means the loss of another familiar face to area viewers. WMAR is a station going through tumultuous change with more resignations expected before the buyout window from E.W. Scripps, owner of the station, closes. The offer has been extended to members of two unions.
WMAR finds itself caught up in larger economic and technological forces affecting third and fourth place stations in larger cities. With new online outlets competing just as advertising becomes more scarce amid the recession, there simply is not enough revenue to support three and four full-scale local news operations on the type Baltimore area viewers have come to expect. With more than six decades of broadcast news history, WMAR is one of the pioneering news stations in the country.
Owens, who came to Baltimore from a freelance job in San Francisco 17 years ago, said he has enjoyed "tremendous support and encouragement" both at WMAR and the larger Baltimore community.
The past president of the Association of Black Media Workers said, "I have been given the chance to grow from a cub reporter to a main anchor. And now I get to explore new opportunities."
Owens said he might become involved in some joint media ventures with his wife, Deborah Owens, a local author, radio show host and expert on personal finance. The couple has two children, ages 17 and 22.
"I will stay active in the community," the Michigan State University graduate said, adding that he will remain on the boards of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Maryland and the Board of Child Care. He said he is also actively involved in the Bridgeway Community Church.
See photos of Terry Owens.