Albany anchor says she was exhausted after death of father, working split shift when she appeared on now viral newscast

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An upstate New York anchor says exhaustion lead to her appearing to slur her words while anchoring a newscast July 9, 2022.

Heather Kovar said that she had recently returned to work at Albany’s WRGB after her father’s death. She was out on personal time and said she returned “early” from that leave, according to a statement NBC News obtained.

She also noted she anchored the station’s 6 a.m. newscast the same day and was “sleep-deprived and exhausted” during both broadcasts.

The 6 p.m. newscast that evening was what caught viewers’ attention: Kovar appeared to be slurring her words and struggled through copy. At one point she mixed up the name of the meteorologist on duty.

Some viewers took to social media expressing concern that she might be having some sort of medical problem, while others speculated that she was under the influence of something.

WRGB announced that it had suspended Kovar pending an investigation.

Kovar, meanwhile, said that she had notified the station July 8, 2022, the day before the now-viral newscast, that she would not be renewing her contract, which is set to expire July 31, 2022, and would presumably be leaving the station.

Video of the newscast went viral over the weekend, with many commenters finding it amusing that she was obviously not on her game — no matter what the reason.

The clip is a wake-up call for the effects the grueling hours that TV news anchors, reporters and crew often work, including split shifts as Kovar was doing at the time of the newscast.

News anchors and crew often have to report to work in the early morning hours in order to prepare for morning newscasts that can start as early as 4 a.m. local time. This means getting up in what is the middle of the night for most people in order to get into work as well as full hair and makeup by airtime, in the case of on-air talent.

That, coupled with the pressure of the news business and live broadcasting, can be a perfect storm for creating incidents such as Kovar experienced. She is not the first and certainly will not be the last anchor to be caught on air in less than ideal conditions.

It is true that there have been incidents in the past where anchors and reporters have appeared on-air while drunk or otherwise under the influence, but it is well documented that exhaustion and have similar effects on the body.

Kovar’s situation appeared to be coupled with personal issues that likely left her mental health in shatters, having the apparent pressures of both the death of a parent and making an employment decision within a short period of time.