Fox29 has hired its third news director in a year.

Kingsley Smith, last at Fox's KTVI in St. Louis, was named yesterday to run the station's news department, ranked fourth among the town's four stations that present original news.

Smith, who was in St. Louis a year and a half after a long turn at the Fox station in Dallas, follows Phil Metlin, who started in May and left this month to run news at the Fox station in Washington. Metlin replaced Holly Gauntt, who left suddenly in January after 21/2 years. Gauntt is now news director at KOMO, the ABC station in Seattle.

Smith, 42, will start Jan. 7. He has a wife and two children.

Smith was himself in the news two weeks ago when he defended his station's broadcast of rumors surrounding the Mitchell report on performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball. On the morning before the report's release, KTVI reported rumors that two members of the Cardinals had been named. In fact, neither player was named.

Smith told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that his station differs from the others in town because its affiliation with the Fox network allows it "a certain sense of edginess and aggressiveness."

Contact staff writer Michael Klein at 215-854-5514 or mklein@phillynews.com.