Why CBS3’s Janelle Burrell is off the noon news

It’s been more than two months since anchor Janelle Burrell vanished from the CBS3 noon news.

Yet I know she’s still at the station.

Janelle Burrell (right), without wedding band, anchors with Jim Donovan

Where is she?, I wondered.

Since what TV calls “talent” (I call them journalists) need permission to talk to other journalists, such as me, I made a few quiet inquiries to people I know from the Good Old Days, when covering television was one of my specialties.

I’ve been a fan of Burrell’s since I discovered the CBS noon news last year.

Not just because of her rhyming name, or because she (like me) grew up in Brooklyn,  or that (unlike me) she’s an alum of Penn State, and earned a master’s at Columbia. No, she’s a great news reader, she projects warmth and has a mega nova smile that almost makes me reach for sunglasses. She’s one of those people who project through the glass of the TV screen.

From station sources I learned that she did something highly unusual for TV: she stepped down from the noon anchor chair in order to do reporting. She remains co-anchor of the 4:30-8 a.m. news. 

Since surrendering anchor time is unusual, and unusual = news, I wanted to talk to her. CBS3 instructed me to reach out to Mike Nelson, senior vice president, communications, CBS, who would have to greenlight his journalist speaking to this journalist.

A couple of my emails were unanswered, so I reached Nelson on the phone on Aug. 2 and requested an interview with Burrell. I followed up with reminders on Aug. 10 and 14. No response.

It’s like I wanted to interview Taylor Swift, or Queen Beatrix.

Burrell and I (and CBS) are all in communications. I have a long record, a very long record, as a Philadelphia journalist. What’s the big deal?

Since the greenlight man retreated into an executive protection plan, I will resort to a cut-and-paste job.

That’s where I scour published sources and build a Burrell profile, and also lean on CBS3 staffers who spoke to me with a promise of anonymity because they could be in trouble for speaking to another journalist, as irrational as that sounds.

Burrell is described as a hard worker, “wicked smart,” serious but friendly, who keeps pretty much to herself. She’s a foodie, but does not like chocolate. 

While she likes to anchor, she let the station know she wanted to do community reporting, and management said OK. That is the unusual part: Usually you get to anchor after proving your chops as a street reporter. Then you get to write and read copy and no longer have to go out in all kinds of weather chasing stories. Or speak to unsavory people. 

But that’s what Burrell wanted to do — dig out stories that make a difference. I would have liked to ask her what kind of stories, and why? How would that complete her? But CBS, in the communications business, did not cooperate.


She arrived at CBS3 (a/k/a KYW) in April 2019, replacing Rahel Solomon, another glamorous anchor, and she still co-anchors the early morning show with Jim Donovan.

She broke into broadcast work as an intern at WPSU-TV while at Penn State, majoring in English and minoring in biology.

Prior to joining CBS3, Burrell worked as a general assignment reporter and anchor for WCBS-TV in New York City, joining the station in 2013. She was also a part of the anchor team that helped launch the station’s digital channel, CBSN New York.

On WCBS-TV, Burrell contributed to the news team’s coverage of major events including the Pope’s visit to New York, the 2014 Super Bowl, and the terrorist truck attack on Manhattan’s West Side.

She met national morning radio news anchor Derricke Dennis in July 2010 at a journalism convention in San Diego, according to published reports. They married in October 2015 at Liberty House in Jersey City’s Liberty State Park — her first, his second, according to The New York Times. He was 41, she 32. He is a native of Brooklyn and a graduate of Howard University.

While there is no record of a divorce, Burrell doesn’t wear a wedding ring on-air, nor in her station publicity shots. She does not talk about a husband, according to station sources I spoke to, who believe she is single. Burrell lives in a one-bedroom condo within walking distance of the station, according to online records.

I don’t like not being able to nail down pertinent details, but that’s a result of CBS’ obstructionist policy. CBS — the communications company.

21 thoughts on “Why CBS3’s Janelle Burrell is off the noon news”

  1. Stu-
    Returning to your routes when you were the TV columnist for the DN! Remember those days when the TV stations, their on air staff and off air drama ruled the roost? There still are some bright spots in local tv news and their surviving is just as important as any form of journalism.

      1. I wrote ‘virtually.’ The lives of TV talking heads is of very little interest… to most.

          1. Wow, I must be an oddball as I find it difficult to understand why talking heads on TV are of such interest. My bad to assume all think as I do.

          2. Not an oddball, but working off the fallacy that what YOU find interesting, others do, and what you do NOT, others don’t.
            See, I “think” everyone cares about politics. Look at the comments on this blog. But when you examine election turnout, you learn very few people actually care.
            But since EVERYONE (virtually) watches television, they all have a rooting interest. And, to repeat, media KNOWS that people love to read about TV stars.
            On Facebook, there are more comments on my Janelle Burrell post than any recent
            Political post — except for D. Trump, because he has his own force field.

  2. Leaving the news desk and returning to on the street reporting makes one wonder. Sounds like a demotion to me.There is a story there somewhere. Stay on the job Stu, if anyone can get to the bottom of this you can.

  3. I actually think it’s pretty cool that she wanted to hit the streets and do “real” reporting rather than be a talking head. And as for Benedict Vincent, speak for yourself. When you make statements like that for others, you come off looking like a dope.

  4. It is a sad commentary on local station management in these times. At one time a stations PR Director was the second most important person at the station after the station manager. The important title in todays world of senior vice president, communications is just that, a title.

    Being the son of a former nationally respected local television columnists, and myself having worked at a local station for forty seven years, I know because at the beginning of my career the highly respected nationally respected PR Director kept the station in news in positive ways by communicating with community leaders, law enforcement, politicians, press and the general public on a daily basis. By the time I retired the so called PR person was nothing but a title occupying a desk. It appears nothing has changed since I retired fifteen years ago.

    1. The communications person is now charged with NOT communicating. It’s true almost everywhere, but hypocritical in the communications business.

  5. Reminds me of the old days, when dealing with Channel 6 was like dealing with the Kremlin. Rather than embrace and cooperate with the reporters covering the local-TV beat (geez, remember when a bunch of us actually did that on a full-time basis?), the main job of the station’s two PR people appeared to be to discourage coverage.

    You’d think in a time when the local-news audience is (literally) dying off, Channel 3 would be thrilled for the coverage you tried to provide (of course, they no longer have the all-time monarch of local-TV PR, Joanne Calabria, guiding their decisions, which helps, in large part, to explain their cluelessness).

    1. Channel 6 philosophy was, “We’re No. 1, we don’t need publicity.”
      Very arrogant. And, yes, network viewing levels are crashing, so you’d think they’d like PR, quite aside from my belief that they are REQUIRED to cooperate with other communicators. Ethically.

  6. CBS has rearranged so much I am very disappointed Kate Bilo was so great now she’s on at daytime as the main meteorologist now there’s another and another. What happened to Vittoria she was very entertaining and something new every week now let’s talk about the main man Ukie he shares his time with Sofi Why ? I’ve emailed them the network no response ? Very disappointed I now switch channels to 3 6 & 10.

    1. There seems to be a thing with some businesses that build a wall between themselves and their customers. They seem to forget they have competitors and people can switch.
      Even for journalists, getting someone to respond can be challenging.
      I did a piece the other day that called for me to get comment from the Washington Commanders.
      There was NOTHING on the website with details on how to reach ANYONE in media relations or communications. I would up emailing someone in fan relations and asked her to pass it along to the right person. I never heard back from them.
      See, I am required to try to get comment. They are not required to respond.

Comments are closed.