The Austin Chronicle

Naked City

Oliveira Takes His Leave

By Kevin Brass, February 4, 2005, News

Ron Oliveira wants to make it clear he was "very, very happy" at KVUE-TV and that his third stint as the ABC affiliate's lead anchor provided "some of the happiest points of my career." And KVUE general manager Patti Smith calls him a "terrific guy" and "a personal friend." But that doesn't change the fact that Oliveira will leave the station March 7, after the straight-backed anchor and the station couldn't agree on a new contract.

Oliveira is saying only that he and the station "had differences" on certain terms, but he is unwilling to elaborate. When his contract was originally signed in January 2001, it was for a period of three years and two months, which means Oliveira will continue through the upcoming February sweeps ratings period.

News of Oliveira's impending exit from KVUE, consistently one of the top-rated stations in the market, immediately sparked speculation that station owner Belo was continuing its cutbacks. But Smith says Oliveira's contract breakdown had "nothing to do with Belo as a company." While it is not unusual for stations to banish lame duck anchors in the middle of the night, Smith announced Oliveira's departure to the newsroom last Friday. "I wanted people to have the opportunity to thank Ron for his many contributions to our success," she said.

But don't weep for Oliveira. He has consistently sandwiched other businesses between his gigs as a news reader, and is still a part owner of KNVA, Austin's WB affiliate. A former member of the executive board of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, he also helped launch KTLM-TV, a Telemundo affiliate in the Rio Grande Valley. With free time on his hands, he says he's contemplating possible forays into the restaurant business or buying another TV license.

But Oliveira, 49, says he's also open to cutting back on his schedule. Three of his close relatives, including his father, died of heart problems before the age of 51. The rumor mill already has him pegged to pop up on another Austin station in the near future, but Oliveira says he will honor a no-compete clause in his contract, which prevents him from working for a KVUE competitor for a year. "I'm in no rush," he said.

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