David Zurawik

Longtime WBAL news anchor Marianne Banister returning to airwaves at Fox45

Longtime WBAL newscaster Marianne Banister will join WBFF Fox45 as anchor of a weekend morning news program that will launch Jan.19.

The station announced that another Baltimore veteran, meteorologist Tony Pagnotti, will also join that station's news team.

"We recognize outstanding talent and wanted both Marianne and Tony on our staff," Mike Tomko, station news director, said in an email to The Sun. "Their professionalism and long history in the market made for a perfect match here at Fox45."

Banister left the local airwaves in July 2011 after 15 years as co-anchor of a WBAL team that always finished first or second in the key news time periods.

Typical of her candor, Banister told me the choice of leaving the station at age 51 was not hers. The station chose not to renew her contract. You can read my report on that much-discussed move here.

Pagnotti moved from full-time to part-time status at WMAR under an agreement reached during a buyout in 1999 after almost 15 years at the station, according to a Sun report at the time.

WBFF's weekend morning newscast will air from 6 to 8 a.m. on Saturdays. On Sundays, the show will air from 7 to 9 a.m. After an hour of "Fox News Sunday," it will return from 10 to 11 a.m.

"We saw a real opportunity to serve a need in the community and continue to grow our news product by expanding to weekend mornings," WBFF General Manager Bill Fanshawe said in an email to The Sun. "We already lead the market in morning news by producing 25 hours of content a week. Expanding to the weekends allows our viewers to enjoy our product seven days a week."

The weekday version of "Fox45 Morning News" launched 12 years ago.