Following a strange year that included an on-camera slurring incident, an unexplained absence from the air, a backstage battle with a producer over racially biased coverage of missing-persons cases, and then a very public DUI incident, local anchorman Frank Somerville has been officially replaced at KTVU.
It was clear when KTVU let Somerville's contract expire earlier this year that he had no future at the station. And now, longtime KTVU anchor Mike Mibach, who's been anchoring Mornings on 2 for a number of years, will officially be the new weeknight anchor alongside Julie Haener starting next week, on May 2. The Chronicle first reported the news, and the Marin Independent Journal reports that staffers at KTVU News were informed of Mibach's promotion in a Zoom meeting on Wednesday.
Mibach will be at the anchor desk for the channels 5 p.m., 6 p.m., 10 p.m., and 11 p.m. broadcasts — with KTVU's 10 O'Clock News long holding the title of the Bay Area's highest rated newscast. KGO (ABC 7) oftens beats out KTVU for its early evening newscasts.
KTVU news director Amber Eikel said in a release that Mibach is a "dedicated storyteller who cares deeply about the community and our role as journalists in the Bay Area."
And Mibach has now issued his own statement, saying, "KTVU has been a part of my life for nearly five decades; from growing up in the Bay Area as a viewer, and for the last 17 years as a reporter and anchor. It’s an absolute honor to be trusted to deliver stories in a way that continues the legacy of journalistic excellence for which KTVU has always been known."
In his station bio, Mibach says he attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he studied broadcast journalism, and he was later accepted into the graduate program in journalism, which he graduated from in 2000. While he was born and raised in the Bay Area and his parents were both native San Franciscans, Mibach began his TV career as a photographer at WIBW in Topeka, Kansas, and then as a reporter and then anchor at KVOA in Tucson, Arizona, before being hired at KTVU in 2005.
Mibach is married with two kids and he coaches youth sports. "I love my 49ers and SF Giants, and heading up to Lake Tahoe," he writes. "I enjoy relaxing on the beaches along the Marin and Sonoma coasts and the trails up on Mt. Tam."
Somerville took over the anchor desk from longtime KTVU fixture Dennis Richmond when Richmond retired in 2008. Somerville had been with the station since 1991.
On the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend in 2021, Somerville went on air at 10 p.m. sounding clearly impaired, slurring words and appearing to have trouble reading from the teleprompter. He later told a reporter that the reason was that he mistakenly took an Ambien pill before the broadcast, believing it was something else.
But that explanation seems a little dodgy in retrospect. Somerville returned to the air briefly in August without explanation of his three-month absence, and then was officially suspended in late September, ostensibly for insubordination in some argument with Eikel over coverage of the Gabby Petito case — Somerville, who is the father of a daughter of color, wanted to give on-air context about the nationwide coverage of Petito's disappearance, which was widely seen as an example of "missing white woman syndrome" in the media. Then just before New Year's Eve in December, Somerville was arrested for a DUI in downtown Oakland in which he appeared to rear-end another car with his Porsche and then push it into a light pole. No one was injured in the incident.
Somerville was officially charged with the DUI in early April. His lawyer put out a statement at the time saying that Somerville was "attending meetings and working on himself. So, nothing like this happens again."