After 17 years of covering city government and anchoring the news at WMAR, Terry Owens is leaving the station - and Baltimore-area viewers are losing another familiar TV face.

Owens, who with Mary Beth Marsden is the second high-visibility WMAR 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. "So after much soul-searching, prayer and talking with my family, I have decided to look at other possibilities."

For the past two years, Owens has been the anchor of the 5:30 p.m. newscast and a reporter for the 11 p.m. broadcast. For almost a decade before that, he specialized in covering City Hall and Baltimore government.

For the past 14 years, Owens has been host of "2 the Point," the longest-running public affairs show on Baltimore TV. The program brought new and diverse voices to local television.

Coupled with the Dec. 2 departure of 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. 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 severance package has been offered to members of the station's two unions.

WMAR finds itself caught up in powerful economic and technological forces affecting third- and fourth-place stations in larger cities. Increased competition from the Internet and declining advertising dollars may create TV markets with only two or three full-scale newscasts, rather four or five.

With more than six decades of broadcast news history, WMAR is one of the pioneering news stations in the country.

Owens came to Baltimore from a freelance job in San Francisco 17 years ago.

Owens said he might become involved in 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.

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