NEWS- Kristina's world: Back in anchor chair in bigger market

"Kristina really sold us when she walked in the door," says Cruise's new boss at WLWT Channel 5 in Cincinnati.FILE PHOTO BY WILL WALKERsmall>

NBC29's one-time star anchor, Kristina Cruise, demoted earlier this year, has disappeared from the NBC29 website. But not to worry, Cruise fans.

The exuberant blonde has a new job with another, much larger NBC station: WLWT Channel 5 in Cincinnati. She's a reporter for its morning news show, and since October 17, she's back behind an anchor desk, filling in for the next month for an anchor on medical leave.

"We've seen her anchor, and we know she can do that," says WLWT's news director, Brennan Donnellan.

And indeed, Cruise anchored NBC29's news at noon and 5pm until April, when she was unceremoniously sent home by the station, purportedly for talking to the Hook without authorization, although a former NBC29 staffer says her "special assignment" back to general reporting was a move long planned by station management to make room for a new anchor, Sharon Gregory, and one returning from maternity leave, Laura French.

Cruise, who was unavailable for comment, is moving not only to the Buckeye state but also leap-frogging from Charlottesville, America's number 181 media market, to the 33rd largest, Cincinnati.

"I see a lot of tapes and DVDs from candidates for positions like this," says WLWT's Donnellan. "Kristina really sold us when she walked in the door. Her attitude, her love of journalism– there was a passion there and a sincere commitment to reporting."

Donnellan points out that television news gathering is a team effort, and that Cruise displayed the same kind of passion for being a team member. "We talked with other people who knew her, and they confirmed that," says Donnellan.

The Hook has never been able to learn why NBC29 exerted such Cruise control. Previously, tele-journalists Norm Sprouse, Stephanie Cornwell, and even station-changing Beth Duffy had given extensive interviews with the Hook.

A call to Cruise's old news director at Channel 29, Neal Bennett, was not returned before press time.