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Friday, June 28, 2019

Comedian Mike Polk Jr. to Join WKYC

Posted By on Fri, Jun 28, 2019 at 8:29 AM

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Local comedian Mike Polk Jr. has been hired by WKYC. Polk will appear on all WKYC news platforms, offering his take on daily news, and, according to one source, may even host the Friday 11 p.m. show.

The nontraditional hire for Channel 3, which has been confirmed by the station's executives and communicated internally to staff, follows a number of high-profile personnel moves for the Lakeside newsroom.

It was announced last month that longtime ESPN host (and Northeast Ohio native) Jay Crawford would be joining the station this fall and helping to launch a 5 p.m. program in 2020. Last week, Scene reported that veteran investigative reporter Tom Meyer would be retiring after 46 years in local news.

The Polk addition is the latest in a series of experimental hires at stations belonging to WKYC's parent company Tegna. Other markets have tried unconventional anchors, including comedians, for morning and evening broadcasts with mixed results.

Polk has been affiliated with other local news organizations as well. He hosted a half-hour comedy variety show — the aptly titled the Mike Polk Jr. Show — on Fox 8 beginning in 2012. And in 2016, he tried his hand at a column for the Plain Dealer. WKYC is banking on Polk, who Scene once described as "an observant humorist" who "Clevelanders cherish," to reinvigorate the late-night slot.

WKYC GM Micki Bynes, responding via email from overseas, told Scene that the station was "very excited" to have Polk on board, and that while no formal plans for the show are in place, "lots of ideas" are percolating. In a press statement she said that Polk would bring "a fresh perspective and smart sense of humor" to the daily news cycle.

In the same statement, Polk said:

“I was as surprised that WKYC offered me this gig as I'm certain everyone else is, and I told them as much. But for the life of me I could not manage to talk my way out of this tremendous opportunity. I love this city. It's a great place, for all of its nicks and dents and, to a certain extent, because of them. Cleveland's a real city with real history. It has a lovely soul and lots of interesting stories and people, past and present, and I look forward to exploring and presenting all of this to folks in a fun way.”

*Correction: A previous version of this story, and its headline, said that Polk would be appearing on the 11 p.m. newscast and anchoring the Friday show. According to WKYC, no decisions have been made about his shift.

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