Monday, November 12, 2012

Simms says it's time for her to leave WBT mornings

Stacey Simms, a staple of morning radio for a decade on WBT's "Charlotte's Morning News," will leave the station in December.

Simms, 41, said Monday that she's at a stage in her life where she wants to spend more time with her children, a sixth-grade daughter and second-grade son. She gets up at 3 a.m. weekdays and usually heads for bed before 8 p.m.

"As they're getting older, it's not working out. ... I can't ask my middle-schooler to go to bed at 7:30. Believe me, I've asked," she said.

She will talk to listeners about her decision on Tuesday's show, she said.

"Since 2002, Stacey has been instrumental in the development and success of Charlotte's Morning News and has always displayed the highest level of professionalism, and dedication, to WBT,"  Rick Feinblatt, Greater Media's senior vice president, said in a statement Monday.

Stacey Simms
In 2002, Simms replaced Danny Fontana as co-host on the morning broadcast with Al Gardner. She moved into the position from WBTV (Channel 3), where she specialized in health reporting.

Simms' departure is the latest in a string at WBT-AM (1110). Over the last three years, the station has parted ways with Gardner, who went to a morning radio job in his native Philadelphia, program director Carl East, and hosts Vince Coakley, Tara Servatius and Pete Kaliner. Simms currently shares morning news duties with Bo Thompson and sports commentator Jim Szoke.

Simms has suffered health setbacks over the past year. In April, she took time off because she was run down and learned that medication she was taking for a back injury was causing liver problems. She had recovered from that when she was hospitalized over the summer with gastro-intestinal trouble. She lost about 20 pounds before healing and missed work for two months. She said she's over all that, but it was a setback because she lives a healthy lifestyle -- golf and jogging were part of her routine.

Simms said her contract expired with WBT in September, but she and WBT agreed to keep going on a month-to-month basis after she'd been out so long. She said she'd been thinking for the last three years that it was time to get out of a 5 a.m.-to-9 a.m. shift so she could spend more time with her children.

Simms is well-known for her advocacy on diabetes awareness. Her 7-year-old son, Benny, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes five years ago. She wrote a cookbook, "I Can't Cook, But I Know Someone Who Can," with chefs from the area that raised more than $12,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and has served on its board.

Simms joined WBTV in 1999 from the NBC affiliate in Syracuse, N.Y.

Simms will sign off on Dec. 14. Greater Media said a search for her replacement is under way.