Hell Be Missed  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  The Beat
From AJR,   December 2002

Hell Be Missed   

Washington, D.C.'s WJLA-TV loses popular newsroom chief Steven D. Hammel.

By Kathryn S. Wenner
Kathryn S. Wenner, a former AJR associate editor, is a copy editor at the Washington Post.     

Steven D. Hammel, whom staffers credit with dramatically boosting morale during his two-and-a-half-year tenure as vice president, news at Washington, D.C.'s WJLA-TV, departs for a warmer climate and a promotion. As the new station manager at KPHO in Phoenix, he'll be responsible for news and promotion at the CBS affiliate. Hammel, 47, says he's proud of having improved the news product and beefed up the weather operation at Washington's ABC affiliate. He helped oversee the transition when WJLA and its sister cable station, NewsChannel 8, combined their news operations this fall. Hammel notes that the Project for Excellence in Journalism gave WJLA the only "A" among Washington's local stations last year. "We have a staff of very experienced journalists," Hammel says. "They were able to teach me about Washington, and I was able to lead them in putting on quality news programs." Staffers say Hammel is refreshingly honest and even-tempered in a business full of pressure-cooked personalities. "He pulls out what you are good at and what your interests are and allows you to do good work," says reporter Kevin Schultze. "I'm really sorry to see him go."