Need to Know anchor Stewart to step down in September

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Host Alison Stewart is departing WNET’s Need to Know, reports the New York Times Media Decoder blog, when it switches to a 30-minute format on Sept. 16. The shortened show will focus more on the 2012 election, and Stewart said she decided to bow out. “For a show about politics you have to have someone available and present 110 percent of the time,” and able to travel extensively, she said. Between a book she is completing and her 3-year-old, she said, “I didn’t feel like I was the right person and that it was the right time to continue with the show.” Her last appearance is expected to be Sept. 9.

Stephen Segaller, WNET programming v.p., said NTK was being condensed for both financial and time-slot reasons. He said PBS has not only reduced the show’s funding but also has scheduled a festival of arts programs on Friday nights this fall. He declined to comment on Stewart’s successor but expects to have an announcement around Labor Day.

Stewart has been solo anchoring the hourlong show since Jon Meacham became a contributing editor of the program in April.