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Ill Health Forces Sacknoff Off Air : Television: Sacknoff, top sportscaster for Channel 10, quits because of heart problems. He underwent emergency surgery in 1988 after a heart attack.

July 22, 1991|KEVIN BRASS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SAN DIEGO — Larry Sacknoff, the lead sports personality of the top-rated KGTV (Channel 10) news team, is leaving the station because of his health, the station has announced.

In 1988, Sacknoff, 38, suffered a heart attack and had emergency open-heart surgery. According to a memo posted in the Channel 10 newsroom Friday, "Sacknoff asked KGTV to relieve him of his on-air sports responsibilities because of continuing concerns about his health."

The memo said recent medical examinations showed "new complications, and his doctors feel the stress associated with sportscasting could have adverse effects on his long-range recovery."

No replacement has been named, and Sacknoff will remain with the news team while the station seeks one, News Director Paul Sands said. He was off the air last week undergoing treatment. There is no timetable for his return, although he may be back on the air as early as tonight, Sands said.

Sacknoff was unavailable for comment Friday. In the memo, he was quoted as saying, "My doctors are checking me regularly, and the station and I are following their guidance."

Sacknoff's contract with the station was scheduled to end in December. There had been speculation within the industry that the station was unhappy with Sacknoff's performance, and that he would not have his contract renewed.

But Sands emphasized that such considerations had nothing to do with the decision.

"The other speculation is moot because there are no grounds for it," Sands said. "His health is our primary concern."

Sacknoff joined Channel 10 in 1985 as a weekend sportscaster, assuming the role of weekday sports anchor in 1987. Before joining Channel 10, he worked with Satellite Television News in New York and WBBM-TV in Chicago.

During his tenure, Channel 10 was consistently the No. 1-rated newscast in all the main time periods.

In 1990, Sacknoff won a local Emmy Award in the performer category. In his emotional acceptance speech, he thanked Sands for sticking with him after the heart attack.

"He's my boss, but he's also my friend, and that's something I haven't had in this business," Sacknoff said.

It has been a tough year for Sacknoff and his family. His 4-year-old daughter was recently found to have a rare blood disease and is undergoing experimental treatment.

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