KTVU anchor Frank Somerville, one of the most recognizable of the Bay Area's news personalities having been on the air at KTVU since 1991, was pulled from a Sunday broadcast and has not returned since after slurring his speech on air.
The local Fox affiliate has yet to comment on the incident, and as the Mercury News reported, Somerville has declined to respond to them for comment. Somerville did reply to local media commentator Rich Lieberman on Monday saying he'd be back on the air that night and that the incident was simply a mistake regarding his prescription medication. In further comments to Lieberman over the phone, reported on his 415 Media blog, Somerville allegedly insisted he had not been drinking, and had just mistakenly taken Ambien before going on the air. "I feel like a total idiot," Somerville allegedly said.
You can see video of the Sunday 10 o'clock broadcast below, in which Somerville has difficulty reading from his teleprompter. By the end of the broadcast, co-anchor Julie Haener had taken over solo, and did the signoff for the show.
KTVU News Director Amber Eikel has allegedly taken Somerville off the air until further notice, as Liberman reports.
On Wednesday night's 6 o'clock broadcast, Heather Holmes anchored the show with Andre Senior, saying at the top of the hour, "Frank and Julie are off tonight."
Somerville, 63, took over as anchor of the six o'clock and ten o'clock news broadcasts at KTVU in 2008, following the retirement of Dennis Richmond.
AdWeek's TVSpy blog is covering his disappearance from the air as well.
KTVU's "Ten O'Clock News" has long held the top spot for the Bay Area's highest rated news broadcast.
KTVU's news division was infamously responsible for broadcasting the offensive fake names of the pilots of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 following a July 2013 crash at SFO, a mistake they blamed on the National Transportation Safety Board who, in turn, blamed a summer intern. Somerville was not involved in that flub.
Update: A spokesperson for Fox tells the Mercury News, "We can confirm Frank is taking time away from the desk to focus on his health and we welcome his return when he is ready."