Longtime anchor set to leave Jacksonville TV news station

After 24 years, Paige Kelton is leaving Action News Jax.

In a note to viewers posted Monday to the TV news website and shared via Twitter, Kelton said it was “time to start a new chapter” in her life and career.

The move comes nearly seven years after Kelton and four other prominent Action News Jax presenters – Mark Spain, Lynnsey Gardner, Mike Barz and Tera Barz – were removed from their presenting roles in a reshuffle by owner Cox. MediaGroup.

Of the five, only Kelton remained with the news organization after the May 2014 announcement that made headlines in Jacksonville and the TV news industry.

“There’s never been a bloodbath here in this market like this,” Tom Wills, WJXT TV-4’s dean of local anchors, told The Times-Union at the time. “I’ve been here since 1975, there’s never been a time when a TV station cleaned the house of its on-air employees.”

“It shocked everyone,” said WXJT co-anchor Mary Baer. “We were stunned.”

Months later, following the hiring of main anchors John Bachman and Tenikka Hughes, Action News announced that Kelton would remain with the organization as head of its special projects team.

Paige Kelton aired on February 18, 1997, weeks after joining WAWS TV-30's new newscast.

Kelton began his Jacksonville career in December 1996 with the launch of WAWS TV-30’s new in-house news service and nightly newscasts.

Kelton joined co-anchor Kyle Meenan, weathercaster Bob Alan and sportscaster Drew Speier for the Fox 30 News debut at 10 and 11 in late December 1996.

After Monday’s announcement, congratulations from Kelton’s colleagues at Action News poured in.

“Paige: You are a mentor, an advocate, a teacher and a friend. You have been a champion for so many over the years, especially our children and veterans. You have had a lasting impact on our news family and this community. I am so happy for you and your amazing and exciting new journey ahead!” wrote Hughes on Twitter.

“One of the nicest people you know!” sports anchor Dan Hicken tweeted. “Good luck Paige…a pro of the pros.”

“Simply the best. The newsroom compass of @ActionNewsJax A genuine person and a talented reporter,” sportscaster Brent Martineau tweeted.

In its note to readers, Kelton said its last day on the air would be March 26.

“Thank you for allowing me the privilege of telling your story. Thank you for entrusting me with your most personal moments, both the joys and the sorrows. It never escaped my notice, when someone let me in in his life because he believed that I would do things right.

As for what’s next for her, Kelton simply wrote, “Stay tuned!”

Paige Kelton, facing left, anchor of the new Fox 30 news program on WAWS TV-30, interviews Danette Simpo, bottom left, assistant donor at the Florida Georgia Blood Alliance who recently graduated from Women of Distinction on February 18.  1997. At right is Noah Bullard, a TV-30 cameraman.