First Coast News President Eric Land has resigned after two years at WJXX TV-25 and WTLV TV-12, he said Wednesday and ownership of the station has already named his replacement.
Land, who was also general manager at the ABC and NBC stations, said he made the decision Tuesday.
“I’m pursuing some other interests,” he said Wednesday. Land declined to discuss those interests or why he chose to leave.
Meanwhile, Gannett Co., which owns both stations, wasted little time in naming a replacement. Amber Allman, director of Gannett corporate communications, said Wednesday a new president and general manager has already arrived in Jacksonville to take over the top slots for the broadcast operations here.
Land’s replacement is Senior Vice President-News for Gannett Rob Mennie and will run the Jacksonville stations, Allman said.
Mennie has been part of the Gannett’s leadership team since 1997. Prior to his post as senior vice president of news, Mennie was vice president of news at WUSA TV in Washington, D.C. He joined WUSA as news director in 1995. Mennie went to Washington from WDTN TV in Dayton, Ohio, where he also served as news director. Prior to WDTN TV, he was assistant news director at Gannett-owned KPNX TV in Phoenix, Ariz. from 1993 to 1994. Mennie first joined Gannett 25 years ago as executive news producer for WXIA TV in Atlanta, a Gannett news release said.
Land began with the Jacksonville stations in August 2012 after four years in aviation related fields and a year as the chief operating officer of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He previously served as president and general manager at three television stations in other markets.
The top management shake up at First Coast News comes after another significant move this summer for the operation.
Longtime anchor Phil Amato, who handled two morning shows at First Coast News, left the station abruptly in June. Amato had been with the station since 1993, having worked before than in Idaho and Montana.
Allman declined to comment on the reasons for the departure of both Land and Amato.
The First Coast News changes also come amid a turbulent time in the Jacksonville television market this summer. Officials at Action News at WAWS TV-30 and WTEV TV-47, decided not to renew the contracts of five anchors, leading to an overhaul of the main anchors of that newsroom, which is still in progress.
Action News General Manager Jim Zerwekh also announced Tuesday that the call letters will change from WAWS to WFOX and from WTEV to WJAX. Zerwekh said the actual dates of the changes haven’t been set, but the Federal Communications Commission has approved all the letter switches for Cox Media Group, which owns those stations.
Allman declined comment when asked if the management switch at First Coast News was in response to the Action News developments.